My Role as a Woman (in Honor of International Women’s Day)

March 8, 2013 § 5 Comments

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day as a national public holiday here in Zambia.

Since becoming a mother last June, I have been contemplating my role as woman and what that means for my identity, my family, and my work.

Growing up, my Dad was the sole breadwinner and my Mom worked to take care of our home. She home-schooled my brother and I through high school. I’m forever grateful to both my parents for their sacrifices for my education, well-being, and spiritual upbringing.

I had my own ideas about what being a woman would look like, which in my mind was the same as being a mother. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Mama’s First Day of School!

August 27, 2012 § 4 Comments

Today is my first day of graduate school! I am now in the Masters of Science in Nursing program to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife. I’m a bit excited (and nervous!) but am ready for the challenge. It’s a completely online distance program. I’ll start the program remotely in Lusaka and then my clinicals (practicum) will be done in Seattle under Nurse-Midwives. If all goes according to plan, I’ll graduate Summer of 2014!

The road to being a midwife has been long. I was born at home in 1985 with FraNa Ready as my Mama’s midwife. All my growing up years, I would hear the story of my birth and I just thought home birth and midwives were the norm. I remember being 14 years old and checking out pregnancy, labor, and birth books from our local library. I even created a business plan in Sue (Anderson) Robert’s high school class for my future home birth practice as a midwife (Thanks for that, Mrs. Anderson!).

Throughout college, I had worked at a few different ICU’s as a nursing assistant. When I graduated nursing school, I got my first job working in a pediatric ICU. It was hard work and rewarding at times but I just wasn’t that passionate about it. Through my work as a birth doula and delivering babies in rural Malawi I rediscovered my desire to work with pregnant women and help them give birth.

It probably seems a little crazy to adopt a child and then go to graduate school but I believe I can do nothing else. My time here in Africa has shown me the need that exists for well-trained midwives and how I must steward my gifts and abilities.

When Life Gets in the Way of Being a Doula

August 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

Here’s a story from my doula days…I haven’t had a birth since May and I’ve been missing it a little. This is a short piece I wrote a while ago about life as a doula. Enjoy!

I just experienced one of the more painful experiences as a doula – I just missed my first birth. I had my backup doula just in case but it still felt terrible telling my client I couldn’t be there at her birth. She is a good friend and was my first doula client 15 months ago (before I even considered myself a doula, just a “helpful friend”).  I have had 7 births so far and haven’t needed to call my back up doula until today. So this first time experience left my heart sad realizing that I truly can’t do it all and that the world really does goes on without me.

 

Living as a doula means being prepared at all times to drop what you’re doing and head to a birth. For me, these have been birthday parties, dinners at home with spouses and families, church services, and outings with friends.  People are always very understanding of my work but it does come at a cost. This weekend, we were celebrating my dad’s 60th birthday in the mountains at their cabin by the lake. I had births the past two weekends and my next client wasn’t due for two more weeks. Now would be a great time to leave town. She was a week late with her first. This is perfect. Boy, do babies sure do have a funny sense of timing!

 

When I got the call from my friend at 630am on a Saturday morning, my first groggy thought was, “Surely, she’s not calling because she’s in labor.” Dang. After listening to her on the phone, I knew that even if I wanted to try to make it, I couldn’t. Women having their second babies with intense contractions 4 minutes apart generally don’t have very much time left in their labor! Not only that, she kept saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore!” Double dang. She’s in transition. I ran through in my head how I could get home and attend this birth. I quickly realized that was not possible – it would be at least 3 hours speeding home through the mountains. I notified my back up doula and burst into tears realizing that I couldn’t be there. I am not super-doula. I can’t do everything or be everywhere. But that is OK. I felt like my soul needed to breathe a bit and so I took a walk while the rest of my family slept.

 

I knew I made the right decision but it was so hard. As doulas, living on call can be difficult and tiresome at times. But we can’t live our lives just waiting for the phone to ring. While I was in the situation, I was reminded of an article I had read in the DONA magazine a few months before stating the exact same thing. As doulas, we can’t put all of our lives on hold just because we have clients due to give birth. It was incredibly challenging to stay put and not go to my friend in labor. I wanted to help her focus, breathe, and encourage her. I wanted to help welcome her baby (who is also my godson) into the world. As doulas, we are doers. We don’t wait very well. While out on my walk, I read my Bible to help encourage my heart and enjoyed the sunshine and mountains. I knew that I had made the right decision in staying, even though it was difficult. I knew how important it was to my dad that we could be together for his special birthday. My phone rang and my friend let me know that she had delivered a healthy baby boy only 2 hours after she called me. I cried again, rejoicing with my friend. She was elated and I was happy to know that she had the kind of birth she wanted. I hadn’t been there, but all was still right in the world.

{Movie Monday} Loving the Mother – Penny Simkin

April 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

This video by Penny Simkin (one of Seattle’s mothers of the doula profession) is such a beautiful picture of why I love being a doula

Loving the Mother: Penny Simkin from The Common Language Project on Vimeo.

Recent Reads: Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart and Baby Catcher

February 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

It’s the weekend and I thought I’d share a few of my recent reads with you. I recently got an iPod Touch (for free – thanks, Keybank!) and have been loving the Kindle app. As most of you know by now, I work nights half of the time and so often this leads to laying in bed but not able to sleep. The iPod is great because I can read without waking up my sleeping husband. Yes, I know it’s a backlit screen and too small…yada, yada, yada. I don’t care. I like it.

 

The following two books are childbirth/doula/midwifery oriented. I have two doula clients due in the next 6 weeks so perhaps I am getting my mental gear in motion.

*** Average

The first book I read was Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart by Carol Leonard.  It was an interesting read about an apprentice-trained lay midwife on the east coast in the 1970s and 1980s. It had some suspense and good chuckles. It does have some strong language at points and the author is quite prolific in talking about her New Age spiritual beliefs. It wasn’t a book I’d necessarily pick up again but it wasn’t something I wanted to leave unfinished either. My rating (from 1-5 stars) is 3 stars or average.

 

4.5 **** Almost Excellent

I read Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent next. This is a story of a Labor and Delivery RN who became a Certified Nurse-Midwife in the 1970s and 1980s. Now, this was a book I COULDN’T put down. I read this on paper (you know, the old fashioned way?) and I was glad I did because I nearly finished it during the 4 nights I worked last week (when it’s slow we’re allowed to read). Wow…Peggy is an excellent writer who had me giggling out loud at points then cringing in anticipation of the next twist of her very real stories. It was amazing reading about her journey to midwifery, helping women and their partners in all walks of life, and the sacrifices she and her family gave so that she could live out her calling as a midwife. It also has some unnecessary language (thus the 0.5 point dock) but could be appropriate for a mature teen interested in being a midwife. I know I would’ve loved to read it as a teen!

 

What are your recent reads??

Happy 2011!

January 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

At my birthday dinner, Ben and I reminisced over 2010 and some of the major events we experienced over the year. So, dear blog readers, here is an abridged version for your enjoyment.

 

JANUARY

In the first month of the year, I had my first doula client and the birth of my god-daughter. What a blessing to be at her birth!

My first doula client and one of my best friends Holly and baby Winter Grace

We then headed to Palm Springs, CA for a midwinter vacay. Contrary to the snow you see high up on the mountain, it was sunny and mid 60s.

A Snowy Palm Springs Vacation

 

FEBRUARY

We packed and moved out of the city

Enjoying our old Green Lake apartment

 

MARCH

We had our first overnight guest! Winter (3 1/2 months) and Ben having some fun together

Winter imitating Ben...probably after talking about the Seahawks latest trade

 

APRIL

We had the help of a designer student to decorate our living room. It looks perfect! I love being home.

Our new apartment fully decorated!

 

MAY

I met Ben in New York while he was on a work trip and we celebrated his birthday lying on the beach in Virginia with the incredible Casey Tait

 

In the Library of Congress

We also spent time in Portland at the Young Professionals Weekend Getaway.

Hiking Multonomah Falls with YP

 

JUNE

I helped teach a birthing class though the City Church City Group. What a fun experience to work with an amazing doula (Holly Cervantes) and her husband and to help teach these expecting parents about labor and birth.

The City Church Birth Class

 

JULY

We celebrated our 2 year anniversary with a trip to Orcas Island

On the Ferry

Doing model shots for fun

My handsome husband

If you’ve ever wondered where my avatar blog picture came from, here it is!

Sunset on Orcas

 

AUGUST

We celebrated my wonderful mom’s 39th birthday

The Leyde 5

I hit up Chelan with some girlfriends (remember this post?) while Ben was in Africa on business

Lovely ladies

 

SEPTEMBER

Then I finally met up with Ben in Uganda! He finished his business with World Vision in Kenya and Zambia and met me outside customs in Entebbe Airport in Uganda. What a welcome sight! I was very sick (see here for more details) before leaving but God healed me and gave me strength, I took antibiotics, and it was a wonderful trip (more here).

Kyambura Gorge - going chimpanzee tracking

 

Ben preached

 

I nursed

 

OCTOBER

We made the difficult but wonderful decision to transition to Mars Hill Church (read more here). We are so thankful to be at a church that is missional (http://www.acts29network.org/) and is centered on the Gospel. The word that has resonated with both Ben and I the most this year is community. We have such a rich community in the body of Christ with such wonderful relationships. If you don’t have a good community, there’s hope! God will place you into a family. You don’t have to live life alone.


I’ve also been learning how to do ultrasounds for my volunteer work at Carenet (more here) this past year

 

NOVEMBER and DECEMBER

We celebrated birthdays, holidays and more holidays, and more birthdays (including mine!). We worked hard this year, experienced a lot of heart ache and difficulty, but God was faithful. And we can see His hand on us throughout the year.

 

JANUARY 1st,  2011

Here’s to a wonderful new year full of true Peace and Joy. Happy 2011!

Lake Chelan

{Movie Monday} Monty Python ‘The Meaning of Life’ (birth)

January 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

For the very first {Movie Monday} of the year, I thought a video about birth and new beginnings would be appropriate. This is a classic. Cheers to 2011!

 

 

By the way, while I’m on the subject of birth, EVERY pregnant woman needs a doula. Check out my new and improved doula website www.theheartofbirth.net for more information!

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