Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hospital...or Zoo?

One of my friends (and the wife of one of the students in the Urban Cultures school) just gave birth to a beautiful, amazingly tiny-- yet absolutely healthy-- baby boy last Wednesday. I had the opportunity of talking to her about birth a number of times during her pregnancy, the intensely challenging yet wonderfully incomparable experience that it is. While she had some fears about her capacity to give birth, her husband and her decided to go to La Maison de Naissance, or Birthing Center. Unfortunately, 3 1/2 weeks before her due date, she was told that the baby was too small and there was not enough amniotic fluid: they would have to send her to the hospital for an induction. Reporting to the hospital, they found out that the fluid had doubled (??), but the baby was still too small, so they would keep the induction scheduled (too small of a baby= take the baby early???!). When I heard that she had given birth vaginally and had only labored from 6 am- 2 pm in such an environment, I was proud, ecstatic, amazed. Her statistics were beat the odds/ beat the system kind of statistics. Sounded great, but hearing her story of her experience I realized it was anything but.
She arrived at the labor ward to hear screaming; yes, screaming. Like in the movies kind of screaming. Doors would not be closed- nurses wanted the doors left open so they could enter and exit at will (without the strain of opening the door?)-, bright lights everywhere (too difficult for a nurse to work in a dimly-lit room: let's make sure to accommodate the nurses...). Because she was being induced and monitored, no movement was allowed-- not even to turn on her side. She was lucky enough to be in labor while a group of students were following the nurses and doctors around... there were actually FIFTEEN people in her room during the birth. She was asked the same questions repeatedly-- during contractions-- and was given an epidural when she was fully dilated because there was no doctor around to check her and they just went ahead with it, not knowing. She had reached that point of "I just can't go on"-- and little did she know she was at 10 cm and the baby would be out after 6 pushes. I could go on and on...
This all took place at a NICE hospital in Montreal. In fact, one of the best hospitals. I know that many, many women experience this every day-- it's normal. And it doesn't really matter anyways, right, because the baby is healthy... or does it?? I want to make sure and say that I DO NOT believe that birth is the say all, end all experience: if you have a traumatizing birth experience, you are not necessarily going to be scarred for life, nor is your baby. The health of the baby truly is the most important thing. However, I DO believe that birth has the potential to be an incredible, spiritual, formative rite of passage for a women. It carries the potential of being an incomparably empowering experience in a woman's life, and can be an extremely gratifying way of beginning a lifetime of parenting, for both the woman and the man.
The fact that the situation I portrayed is completely normal tells me that something is horribly wrong with the way we see and treat a birthing woman. A birthing woman is not sick. She is not (usually) suffering. Often, a birthing woman is not even in need of anyone or anything except an extremely strong support person and people. A birthing woman is intuitive and powerful, not the opposite. I would as far as saying that the situation described can be degrading and abusive. I really do hope I am not offending anybody, but I truly believe that women, especially those about to be the mothers of the next generation, need to be shown respect, treated gently, and empowered as women, as mothers, and as people. How can we strap a woman to a bed, turn on the brightest of lights, bring in strangers to look at all regions of her body, ask her annoying questions during labor, tell her when and how to push, keep her up at all hours after the most trying of physical activities, and then send her out and say 'Good luck!' ?
I'm very thankful that many hospitals around the country who are working hard to change maternity care and bring dignity into the labor ward. Not all hospitals are still treating women like this, but it is still very common.
Sooo...I'm goin' into the warzone. =) Being a doula will put me right there in the hospital next to these strong, capable women. I hope I can help to slowly change our birthing culture in the US and Canada, one beautiful birth at a time. Let me know what you think, and be gentle (or not-- I suppose I wasn't). =)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Some Housekeeping

For those who are interested in seeing our latest videos, we're having some technical difficulties with the blog. It keeps showing random videos from back in the day (you know, last year). So, here is the link to our youtube channel where you can catch the latest. Just click here and have a blast.
We'll have some new pictures up soon! Happy 14th Seaside!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Quotidian Mysteries

I was just reading in Le Metro (the daily newspaper that is distributed for free in the subway) that according to a recent survey, 1 in 2 Montrealers suffer from loss of energy and small bouts of depression during the winter months of January and February. Living in a very wintery place, where the days are short, and the climate biting, this is a reality I have become acquainted with this winter season. Lauren and I have both noticed a loss of energy and a lack of motivation (although I think I've been a bit more susceptible than she this season for some reason). Fortunately, I picked up a book back up that I had started this summer and remembered as pertinent for the daily grind we now face in these unwelcoming months. It's called The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris. It's a very small book based on some lectures she gave at a conference on women's spirituality. The sub-title of the book is "Liturgy, Laundry, and 'Women's Work'". Ironic as it may sound, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this seemingly female-oriented book the last few weeks because of the wisdom and inspiration it provides for the mundane tasks of daily life (i.e., changing a diaper, feeding your toddler, picking up all the food he throws on the ground, sweeping, taking out the trash, organizing, and on and on and on). The author, also a poet, describes how God has given us these seemingly-endless daily tasks much in the same way he has given us the task of worship. Both are never fully completed, and, thus, both require repetition: a repetition that at times (say in January or February) can seem deadening and worthless. However, we know all too well that the house must be cleaned, and the diaper changed and that we always feel better afterward. Much in the same way, our worship of God as the source and giver of life is an ongoing process, full of peaks and valleys, exultation and boredom. Yet we're asked to continue it through all seasons, and as we do that, our sanctification is fleshed-out in the fabric of our very ordinary days.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Return of Lauren

Yes, it's true. I am here; I am alive; I am well. It's Lauren, and I've sat down and told myself that I must write a blog. Short it may be, as my men are expecting me in 20, but so be it. It's time to let you all in on a little piece of my life. Hard to know where to begin exactly, but I suppose I better jump in where Denny said I would: Summer plans, it is.
So, I've been playing with the idea of doula-hood (not a medical term despite the professional sound) for some time now. I found this amazing-sounding training school right when we arrived last year (2008, that is), but it didn't seem like the right timing with Denny starting the DTS and a 3 month-old to nurture and adore. However, I've continued to be interested in it, and recently got in contact with the woman running the show, Lesley Everest (check out her blog, or her facebook page, MotherWit Doula Services). Turns out they're taking a bit of a break with the 9-month-long school and she is running a week-long intensive training this July. It will include the same amount of classroom hours as the 9-month school, which met one Monday a week, and if desired, students can follow up that week with an apprenticeship with an experienced doula. I had loved the sound of the Holistic Doula Training School because it was offered over a long period and not just a weekend seminar like most doula trainings, but this intensive week grabbed my attention because of the possibility of an apprenticeship and continued relationship following the training week. So, I did a little soul searching of what it is I'm really looking for in a career, what my passions and interests are, and what this means for my family, and decided that now is the time to chase after this. It encompasses so many different interests I have (health, nutrition, natural childbirth, fitness, spirituality) and is such an incredible way to empower women, teach on parenting, and put birth back into the hands of women.
So, I have applied, corresponded with Lesley many times over e-mail, and will be meeting for an interview very soon. I've begun doing some reading, and in the next 4-ish months will begin my journey towards becoming a doula by attending breastfeeding support group meetings, childbirth education classes in the hospital (to see what parents normally learn in the hospital) and writing a few reports on required reading. July 18-25 I will attend the week-long training session about an hour outside of Montreal, and in the months following I will be required to attend 5 births before I am a MotherWit Certified Holistic Doula!
I am just so blessed by this opportunity to pursue something so close to my heart and something I love so passionately. I'm excited about all the things this could potentially lead to in the future, as well as other trainings I may want to receive in the future to be a more capable and holistic labor assistant.
Doula: labor assistant, may provide prenatal education, continuous labor support (including pain relieving techniques), postpartum visits and care. >