Friday, December 28, 2007

It's not you, it's the system

How many times have I heard a woman say "I feel like my body just doesn't work", "I feel like my body failed me", "I guess I just can't have vaginal deliveries", "I guess I just can't breastfeed".

Listen up.

It's not you. It's our completely messed up system.

YOU are fine. YOUR BODY is fine. Birth works, boobs give milk, boys have foreskins for a reason and no, your baby is NOT too big.

What kind of a sick system/society do we live in and with, that we've taken a nearly perfect process in which a woman's faith in herself and her body's ability is so key and completely anihilated it? To the point where instead of complete trust, there is only distrust and fear.

Apply this to ANY other bodily function and you'll see how fucked up it really is.

Do we need robotic legs to make our legs walk and run and dance? Do we need to have our rectums cut open in order to shit? Do we need scientists standing over us, telling us how to fuck?

No, of course not. We'd be crazy to suggest such things. But we absolutely CAN NOT believe that women's bodies, which have been carrying and birthing babies for MILLIONS of years are actually self sufficient and good at what they do. We crave more and more technology, more vaginal exams, more tests, more more more. Instead of high tech, what we really need is high touch.

I hear women talk about being "allowed" to eat and drink. "Will my doctor 'allow' me to labor out of bed?" "Will I be allowed to keep my baby with me?" This is YOUR body! This is YOUR baby! This is YOUR birth! Once you give up your own body you are complicit in your own slavery to this system!

Women forget, you have a RIGHT to decline ANY and ALL: tests, procedures, vaginal exams, etc etc etc. But I fear that, like any other right, if we do not use them, they will disappear.

A good birth is your birthright. Your body is your own and no one else, and NO ONE has the right to invade it without YOUR permission.

So the question should not be "Will I be allowed this that or the other" but rather "Will I allow the doctor/nurse/midwife etc..."

The Winds of Change are Blowing

I jumped without a net.

This week I gave notice of my resignation at the BIG CITY HOSPITAL. Walked past a woman laboring in the hall, all nicely hooked up to IVs, wearing her "property of the hospital" gown like a good girl and it turned my stomach a little.

I want to imagine something different.

I find it massively fucked up that it's totally okay to go to school, and get an education on how to care for long as they're not your own. It's great to get a degree in educating long as they belong to someone else.

So ironic, when Sage was a baby, I felt COMPELLED to work (actually WAS compelled to work as the "state" was providing it's meager provisions to me and mine) just so people wouldn't think I was a "lazy" welfare recipient. But sneaky me, I got jobs, nothing sexy, which allowed me keep my baby with me, and until he was eighteen months old, and I was back in school for a few hours a day, he never was without me.

Now, dare I hope, after waiting so long to have another baby. After doing it by the book I could stay home and take care of my baby? Not likely. The capitalist machine keeps grinding.


I have a plan

There is a possibility that I might be able to do what I love. Educate women about birth, care for pregnant women, without being a nurse. I'm talking, of course, about being a doula. Not labor, not yet, not while Poppy's so small and needs me so much, but rather a post-partum and pre-natal doula. God knows, with as many high risk pregnancies out there I'd have a niche.

I wonder though, why it is that I lack the faith in myself to try to do this? I'd like to believe that I'm stronger than that. That I haven't swallowed the message that a) nothing can be done with out the permission of the capitalists and b)you must continue to live at the level of comfort to which you are accustomed.

Fuck that, let's live dangerously! Let's throw out the cable T.V! Dig up the dirt in the back yard for a garden, sell beautiful things! MAKE beautiful things! Grow rich in character and experiences and not in stuff!

I think I can do it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Poppy's Birth

A special thanks to Dark Daughta for getting me off my ass to finally write this.

Towards the end of my pregnancy my blood pressure started to rise. As I wrote in my previous blog, it was causing some concern, so I stopped working entirely and just concentrated on caring for myself and my babe. I recognize how fortunate I was to have been able to do this.

I have never eaten so much protein in my life. The shakes were nasty but I gave my normally vegetarian self permission to enjoy some salmon guilt-free, grateful to the fish nourishing me and my baby.

The day I was "due", I met with my family at the hospital where my aunt was being cared for. Her Hep C was killing her. She'd been on the transplant list for nine days and her Meld score kept rising and rising, she looked nothing like the vibrant, sassy, beautiful Italian woman I'd known all my life. Unresponsive for days, she had, I feel, given her all, the machines kept her alive, but barely.

I know my aunt Cara had given everything she had to try to get Tawn a liver, but, as the doctors told the family, even if a liver had arrived at that moment, there were other complications which basically revoked Tawn's candidacy for the surgery. After having our questions answered, it was decided that the most humane act would be to remove life support. I have no doubt that this was the right thing to do, the medications and interventions were prolonging her suffering and postponing her death, more than they were keeping her alive.

We surrounded her bed after all the lines had been removed, speaking words of love, holding her hands and gently touching her limbs and face. I provided some oral care for her and made sure her dry lips were given balm. We wished her well on her journey, gave her permission to be free of her pain, and waited. She passed into whatever is to come later that night.

While arrangements were made over the next few days I just prayed to the universe and the baby to wait a little while longer. Friday arrived, three days after my due date and I woke up to a bit of bloody mucous in the morning. Oh yes, sex will surely help a woman who is ready along. The memorial would be on Saturday and I felt confident I'd make it.

Saturday morning I found a huge mucousy clot when I first went to the bathroom, and new I wouldn't be pregnant much longer. I had woken up at five in the morning, unable to sleep, so I just got ready for the day. For an October in Minnesota it was ungodly hot, we were looking at a high of eighty-five for the day and I certainly didn't want to be laboring in that kind of heat.

It was going to be a very busy day, as Pam England, of Birthing from Within fame was presenting a workshop in town that day. I planned to attend the morning session, then go to the memorial in the afternoon.

I felt loved, surrounded by so many doulas, midwives, and birth workers in the community, I personally knew well over half of the hundred or so women who attended the morning session. Everyone knew I was close to delivering and were eager to know how I felt, I was happy to report that I was very near labor, and indeed began to feel contractions every twenty minutes or so as we sat and listened to Pam.

At the noon break I was able to chat with the midwife from my son's birth as we ate Indian food at a local restaurant. It all felt like destiny.

The memorial was a testament of my aunt's crazy, colorful life. She was loved by so many people, my family laughed and cried through the service.

Afterwards I went home exhausted, with well-wishes from my family, to a much needed, but brief, nap.

That evening, refreshed, I went to listen to Pam recite the story of Innana. How fitting. The story of a woman dying to herself, to be reborn as something else. Life and death are ALWAYS with us, but in our death-denying culture, we are so fearful of what is to come, of what is unknown, of what is beyond, we have lost the ability to trust ourselves, our bodies, our births, and we cannot let go when death (both literal and metaphorical) is the best option. When I said good night to my birth work sisters I told them I'd have a baby within forty eight hours.

Sunday was a bit cooler, the wind had picked up and the weather was due to change. I knew my baby would be coming soon and I was busy with last minute preparations. Contractions came every twenty minutes, then every seven, but they didn't hurt so I acknowledged them but didn't stop what I was doing. That evening, as dusk fell, we walked around the lake, knowing I would not be pregnant the next time we did this.

That night the contractions picked up, but I was able to sleep well until three at which time I moved from the couch to our bed and tried to sleep just a bit longer. At that point I felt contractions every five minutes, but fell asleep between them. They were stronger than menstrual cramps but by no means unbearable so I stayed where I was.

Finally at five I woke up and started making ginger compresses and herbal pads for my perineum, I knew I was going to meet my baby very soon. At six thirty, more lonely than anything else I woke my husband who asked if I should call the midwives or the doula, I said I didn't want to bother them at least until sunrise.

Spurred by some maternal instinct my Mom called around seven o'clock. When I burst into tears she asked me if I was in labor and I told her that I was, she asked if I'd called the midwife and I told her that I was about to, she agreed that that was a good idea and wished me well, telling me to call her as soon as the baby came. I promised I would. As soon as she hung up I called my midwife and my doula who agreed to come right away, I assured them they had time for a shower and to grab some coffee and that I'd expect them within the hour.

It was eight on the dot when they arrived, my primary midwife and my friend and doula arrived first to find the candles from my blessingway lit, my birth alter arrayed with flowers and essential oils we might need. My secondary midwife and another friend arrived soon after. By then I was vocalizing loudly through contractions which swept over me ever two to three minutes, I spiralled my hips and sank into a squat with each contraction, dropping my shoulders and saying "Open", willing my body into birth. I felt like I was really in my head and thought I might be behaving a little melodramatically since I couldn't possibly be that far into labor. Could I?

The bath was being filled and when I finally got in I thought "liquid epidural my ass!" Where was the sort of euphoric relief I'd been expecting? Though not as nice as I had hoped it would be, the birth tub did take the edge off, especially between contractions. Even though it was only around eight thirty I felt like the contractions weren't stopping.

There were some sort of amusing moments. Although I felt like I was laboring hard I was still aware of what was going on around me. I'd hear my son ask a question of someone else during a contraction, but once I came out of my contraction I'd answer him. At one point everyone was giving my verbal support telling how well I was doing, how strong and brave was, how beautiful, and I said I felt like this was payback for every time I'd said that to a laboring woman in the past nine years. My midwife laughed and said "It's just a dance" to which I replied "I like the dance that got the baby in better".

The contractions were coming fast and furious at this point and I asked to be checked. It was now ten to ten. My midwife found me to be a dissapointing (to me) three cm. Not possible! I thought; I was working too hard to be a mere three centimeters! Never the less I got back up and talked to the baby, pleading with each contraction "Please baby, please baby, please baby" I continued to walk and work and squat and spiral, contractions moving through me less like waves and more like huge breakers, tsunamis, I learned to surf them, moving through each one as best I could and trying not to drown.

Soon it was time for another blood pressure check. Too high, the midwife encouraged me to labor on my side for a time. This did NOT appeal to me, but wanting to bring my reading down I agreed to do so for a little while. As I as walking to the bedroom my water broke on our wooden floors, splashing down my naked leg. I was sure I saw meconium and waddled to the bathroom to check. Sure enough, the toilet paper was stained a light green.

Not terribly worried, but hoping the baby chose to come sooner rather than later I moved to the bed asking to do "just one more" before getting in. At the very end of that contraction I couldn't help but grunting just a bit. Intense pressure. I heard one midwife ask the other from another room "was that grunting?" I called out "Yes! yes that was grunting!"

I lay down and from that moment on it was all I could do NOT to push. My "pah pah pahs" sounded more like "Pahpahpah pah pah paaaaaahhhhhhuuuunnngggrrr" I couldn't NOT push! Finally, frantic I asked to be checked again, my midwife found just a small cervical lip to one side. She asked me if I'd like to move to the tub "Yes" I said "Now" I knew there wasn't much time left.

I moved to the tub and the moment I was was in I felt the baby's head fill my vulva. I pulled away from the sensation physically and mentally, but only a milisecond later resolved to open.

It was less an experience of pushing the baby out than allowing my body to open to the baby. With the next contraction I felt the baby's head fill me again, and I allowed the baby's head to crown up into my hand. I felt so much hair and at that moment of first contact I knew it was a girl.

At this point my Midwife said something like "Now, when the head crowns..." but I interrupted her, "The heads already out" I said calmly, I was concentrating, and in a completely present state, I checked for the baby's cord and found nothing, I heard everyone and sensed a lot of activity around me but I was simply too busy birthing my baby. Another contraction and her body slid from me. Such ecstasy. I love that feeling. I brought her slowly from the water and up to my chest. Having made such a gentle entrance into the world she took her time deciding to breathe, but her cord still pulsed with Oxygen rich blood and cooed at her, telling her to come into her body, calling her by name "Poppy Ireland Jones" and welcoming her into the world.

When I asked what time it was someone told me it was eleven thirty nine in the morning. "Seriously?" I said. I couldn't believe it went so fast! Soon I felt a separation gush of blood and stood with the help of my husband and the midwives to get out of the tub so I could birth the placenta. A birth stool was placed just outside the tub and after a few minutes I pushed a bit and the placenta was out. I was helped to the bed and checked for tears. Not even a skid mark, and in truth, I didn't feel as though I'd just had a baby. Even with a fairly decent blood loss of eight hundred milliliters I felt fine, if a little hungry.

I snuggled down with my beautiful daughter, my son, and my husband and soon she was nursing like a natural.

I am grateful to my midwives, my ancestors, my body, and my faith in myself for this empowering, and blissful birth.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


It's been a complex couple of weeks. Just visiting the farmer's market last weekend was a reminder of how bittersweet life is. Harvest is a beautiful time of year, but we know that just around the corner lies winter, the corn is going out, the squash is coming in.

My "due date" (which of course is irrelevant) was yesterday, I don't anticipate baby for another good week.I enjoy the last few days of pregnancy before birth.

On the other side of the coin, my aunt, who fought Hepatitis C for the last few years and who had been awaiting a liver was deemed to ill to remain on the list, and was removed from life support yesterday, she died last night.

On top of all of this, my blood pressure has been rising, which in and of itself does not concern me, it rose just before Sage was born as well. But in order to go into this birth "clear" I've had to come to the understanding that my perfect homebirth may not happen, I have shed many tears at that thought. I don't believe I'm sick, I don't feel sick, but I know it's not just about me. I am doing everything in my power to bring it down, the Brewer diet, Calcium and Magnesium, tincture of Linden Blossom, rest, but my Midwives must protect themselves too, despite how strongly I feel that all is well.

Birth is the door that opens both ways, I sometimes think that I've allowed the negativity of the hospital to affect me. Now is time for faith in birth.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's the rush?

I sent yet another Mama home today after she was given medications for "therapeutic sleep" and she awoke eight hours later, very much not in labor. We spoke at length about her desire to have the baby now (a week shy of her due date) and how she was achey and so on and so forth. I gently told her that her body and her baby would work together to come at just the right time, that our bodies get better at being pregnant and giving birth with practice (this was her second, first had come spontaneously at 38 weeks so she probably felt overdue) and that sometimes the hardest part of pregnancy and labor was simply have the patience to wait to go into labor.

Our culture of social inductions has done women and babies such a world of harm. I'm not going to even go into all the of the reasons why women shouldn't jump into induced labors.

It's funny though, because right now, my feelings are just so contrary to popular thinking. Right now, I'm already missing being pregnant!

I remember after I had Sage I grieved the end of my pregnancy. I remember thinking "it was so easy to protect him when he was inside of me". I remember deeply missing the feel of him kicking inside of me.

This time around I'm in NO rush. Baby you can stay inside of my just as long as you want. I trust you to come when you're ready to be born. I welcome you with loving arms but I love feeling you moving inside of me, I love getting to know your haracter without being able to see or hear you. I love this special, intimate time we have together, just the two of us. When you're ready my uterus will massage you into readiness to breath, my moans will be the song you are born to, my cervix, and vulva, and legs will open to accomidate your passing from uterus to earthside and my hands will be the first to touch you and lift you into the light.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Couple of Days in the Life of...

Thursday I was charge nurse (have I told you how much I hate being charge?) and since, the night before, the house was apparently full, a woman in sickle cell crisis had been placed on our unit (did I mention I work OBGYN/Midwife?) for the obvious reason that she had a vagina! I begged the house supervisor to find her a bed on a medicine floor, as my nurse most of whom were "casual" not staff were having a heck of a time caring for her. Fortunately, the house sup. saw the wisdom in my thinking and we were able to move her after a few hours during which three nurses were unsuccessful in placing an IV in her dehydrated veins. No me gusta.

Later that night we got a Woman in through the ED whose uterus had been perforated by her recently placed IUD. Yikes! And I am SUCH a huge proponent of IUDs. I totally loved mine and know that the risks of perforation are super low but nevertheless I was not happy to hear about this poor lady's situation.

Last night was slow and sleepy until about eight pm at which time I got a call from the frantic husband of a frantic first time mome who refused to get on the phone had contractions coming every 3-5 minutes and suspected ROM. When I told them there was no midwife on duty but that I would call one immediately and could they please wait until hearing from her they replied that they were comeing in. Now I had a sneaking suspicion that Mom was NOT that far advanced in her labor, but since I wasn't able to so much as hear her breathing through a contractions I really had no idea what was going to come through the doors. My thoughts were "Either she's going to push this baby out the minute she gets here or she's going to be one cm dilated and just can't cope." Well, ten minutes after I paged the midwife stat and told her she had a labor rolling in, I get a call from the MIL of the laboring woman saying now the contractions weren't so bad, and maybe they'd wait a little while and then come in. I tried to verify whether or not her water had broken as they were pretty unclear on that and asked them to please pool for ten minutes or so and give me a call back.

So, by this time the midwife has arrived and I've got the delivery cart and the baby warmer all set up, and we get another call from the MIL stating they're coming in but still doesn't have an answer regarding the state of Mom's bag of waters. Oh well. About ten minutes later they arrive, Mom's in a wheelchair covered with blanket follwed by Dad, Dad's Mom, Mom's sister, and her four year old niece. I get everyone settled and it's clear Mom isn't coping well so I work with my labor Spanish to try to get her to relax. "Respira profundo, mas despacio, relaje' la boca" etc. I attempt to get an admission strip but leave the room briefly and come back to find that she's taken off the belts. Again, oh well. Then the midwife comes in and attempts a cervical exam. Oh boy. Mama is NOT having that. My first thought, and question to the Dad was "to your knowledge, has she ever been sexually assaulted?" She was simply UNABLE to relax enough to have two fingers inserted inside her. After a lot of sweet talking and words of encouragement from everyone present she allowed a very brief exam. I was wrong on both ends. She was 7 cm.

Long story short she had her baby about an hour and a half after getting to the hospital with no meds over a very, very, VERY long perineum (differences in human bodies never cease to amaze me!) and her little boy was one the cutest babies with the longest eyelashes I'd seen in many months. She also had such a lovely reaction to her baby who went right up onto her chest. It always makes me rather sad when women are too stunned, or too drugged out or too something not to react with delight and excitement over their new babes. But this one, the ecstasy was HEAVY in her voice. It was lovely.

I cared for them this evening and have done virtually nothing, only because they haven't needed me for anything! This baby breastfeeds like a champ and I've just poked my head in occasionally "Necessitas algo?" and the answer's always no.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Universe Responds?

I had my 36 week prenatal a few days ago, it was SO good to see my primary midwife who'd been on "sabbatical" for the summer. Baby looks great perfect straight OA at that moment, measuring RIGHT at dates, wiggling like crazy (this baby isn't much of a kicker)with heart tones in the 120's (which I got to hear through the fetoscope! It's always been way too subtle for me prior to this). Basically a boringly normal healthy pregnancy which is JUST FINE with me. I want this pregnancy and birth to be just about downright dull for my midwives.

So after chatting for a good hour about travel and sex and food and swollen ankles and good books and nesting, you know, all the normal stuff that comes up at prenatals, my midwife's partner and the woman who has been giving me such marvelous care in my midwife's absence, mentioned that another midwife and friend of hers was looking for a midwife's assistant and would I mind if she gave her my name.

Would I mind?

I was overjoyed! Could it be just that simple? The answer to my question AND an opportunity to jump back on that convoluted path?

Well, I don't have the position yet but I'm hopeful and excited for the possibility.

I'm also excited about the fact that on Saturday I was voted one of three "at large" board members of the Childbirth Collective, here in Minnesota. I hope to take it in a slightly more radical directions, especially reaching out to underserved communities such as young and urban mothers and moms of color. I was also really pleased that another of the doulas elected to the position was a doula of color. It's about damn time.

Change is slow to come, but as Alice Walker said "We are the ones we have been waiting for".

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Day of School and a Miraculous Recovery

What a bittersweet day! Although I am happy to get a bit of downtime now that Sage has gone back to school, one can't help worrying about the new teacher, wondering if there will be bullies, and of course, the concern of a mother for her profoundly dyslexic son.

I had always envisioned homeschooling my kids, little did I know what the Universe had in store for me. Sage has always been a bright kid, very socially outgoing, engaged and interested in the world around him. But even as a little kid, he seemed to have problems processing information in a way that showed up as "good" test scores. He's brilliant when it comes to politics and framing a photograph, but he reads at a first grade level and is currently entering fourth grade.

Last year his phenomenal teacher, Mrs. Gonzalez, was incredible, never has anyone advocated for him so well, never had anyone seen his great potential and how deeply dyslexic he is. And having only been diagnosed officially at the end of 2nd grade, there was a LOT of catch up to do.

Nevertheless, he actually chooses of his own accord to read out loud to my husband and I sometimes. I think he's proud of what he's accomplished and so he should be. He's worked hard and though I know school will probably always be somewhat of a struggle, he's finally getting some building blocks with which to create his world of education.

Really though, I can't say enough good things about his school. It's a public school with a fine arts focus, they teach violin AND Spanish starting in first grade. The walls are COVERED with murals created by the students depicting civil rights activists and abuses. And the school is very, very mixed. I believe thirty percent is African American, thirty percent is Latino, and the remaining thirty percent is a mixture of native born Caucasian, Hmong, Somalian and "other" students. As the Caucasian mom of a multi-racial child this is SO important to me. It's like the hospital I work at, a gorgeous mixture of races, cultures, and ethnicities.

So, I finished up my four-shifts-in-three-days and am enjoying the day off before I go back tomorrow evening. Just four or five more shifts until I have the option of going on maternity leave! (which I won't, but at least I have that option and I can thereafter make my own schedule. Whoopee!)

Yesterday was another day in the nursery. A sort of steady stream of babies. One little guy was SO hirsute! He was such a cutie, but sadly he'd had thick mec at so all that hair was coated in poo. Another baby yesterday was pretty "mec-y" and though I KNOW that our protocols about washing babies so quickly is all balderdash I really couldn't wait to wash and comb all that stuff out of his lovely fuzzy hair. One thing about me is that I have a real aversion to gunk in peoples ears so I ever-so-gently took a few swabs and wiped out his wee ears. I did NOT however get aggressive with his vernix. At least I'm that savvy.

But the real kicker yesterday was when a woman, a victim of the recent bridge collapse who had been pregnant at the time, came down to visit the nurses who cared for her baby for the last month while she teetered between life and death. What a miracle! I won't say much except that she looks great and her child is fat and happy. I wanted to cry I was so overjoyed for her recovery. I think that kid must be destined for something great.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Critical Mass Ride Ends in Police Brutality

My comments are at the end.

Police attacked a Critical Mass in downtown Minneapolis during the pReNC today and arrested at least twenty people using mace, pepper spray, tasers and brutal force on crowd of cyclists with no provocation.
A strong critical mass of around 400 or more cyclists were attacked by the police at the corners of LaSalle and Grant as the tail end of the Mass went under the bridge.

"They just drove into the crowd and nearly hit me, it was totally unprovoked" proclaimed a cyclist who was in the last 5 bikes.

After arresting one biker for allegedly "driving straight towards cars," Massers turned back and swarmed the cops, chanting "let him go." Unsurprisingly, since they were outnumbered 2 to 500ish, the cops let him go.

Half an hour later, another few bikers are arrested by cops (now following the Mass at the back). After bikers turn back to get legal information and collect badge numbers, suddenly a dozen or so squad cars show up. Unprovoked, the police start attacking the crowd, first with excessively violent arrests, then mace, pepper spray, brandishing batons and using tasers on bikers. They arrested at least one utterly uninvolved bystander just for taking pictures as well as several minors. The cops created a riot style line of police that arrested a cyclist who made the mistake of falling behind the others. According to an eyewitness as she attempted to move from behind the police line to join her friends she was told "Get of your bike and get on the ground."

At this point around 20 people are believed to be arrested as the police force of Minneapolis flexes its brutality in the midsts of the PreNC anarchist and anti-authoritarian planning happening during this weekend.



Cruisers #993 and #9980 drove into the back of the mass at the corner of LaSalle and Grant and started to arrest a few cyclists. More arrests ensued with police resorting to pepper spraying the crowd and creating a line in which they advanced and arrested those who fell behind.

Badge and car numbers that we know of:
4151 (maced people)
4046 (tazer, excessive force)
956 (tazer, excessive force)
car 999 - pushed into an individual's bike
unmarked car, license plate RVX-707, cop with badge number 6837 - hit an individual

Tasers, pepperspray and mace. As well as at least one cop attempted to ram and run over a cyclist.

If you witnessed this police brutality contact Joe Vacek at

Everyone who was arrested have been released on bail except Hunter Gsoell who it is clear will be staying until at least Wednesday. Sympathy letters and the like can be delivered at the Jack Pine.

How livid this makes me! I expect we'll see much more trampling of civil liberties (yep, it's that crazy right to assemble!) as the RNC approaches. But hey, we're just a bunch of wacky anarchists, rabble rousers, no-goodniks right? It's not like I'm an RN, a mother, a wife, a human being. All you folks who tsk and sneer at our protests and our antiauthoritarianism just remember, we're out there protecting YOUR right to assemble, YOUR right to dissent too.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Anarchafeminist Manifesto

Just in case you want to know what I mean by Anarchafeminist

Manifeste Anarchof√É©ministe
Anarchafeminist Manifesto
Translated from French (Bulletin C.R.I.F.A. No 44 mars -avril 1983 p. 12)


All over the world most women have no rights whatsoever to decide upon important matters which concern their lives. Women suffer from oppressions of two kinds: 1) the general social oppression of the people, and 2) secondly sexism - oppression and discrimination because of their sex.

There are five main forms of oppression:

- Ideological oppression, brainwash by certain cultural traditions, religion, advertising and propaganda. Manipulation with concepts and play upon women's feelings and susceptibilities. Widespread patriarchal and authoritarian attitudes and capitalistic mentality in all areas.

- State oppression, hierarchical forms of organization with command lines downwards from the top in most interpersonal relations, also in the so-called private life .

- Economic exploitation and repression, as a consumer and a worker in the home and in low-salary women's jobs .

- Violence, under the auspices of the society as well as in the private sphere - indirectly when there is coercion because of lack of alternatives and direct physical violence.

- Lack of organization, tyranny of the structurelessness which pulverizes responsibility and creates weakness and inactivity.

These factors work together and contribute simultaneously to sustain each other in a vicious circle. There is no panacea to break the circle, but it isn't unbreakable.

Anarcha-feminism is a matter of consciousness. The consciousness which puts guardians off work. The principles of a liberating society thus stand perfectly clear to us.

Anarcha-feminism means women's independence and freedom on an equal footing with men. A social organization and a social life where no-one is superior or inferior to anyone and everybody is coordinate, women as well as men. This goes for all levels of social life, also the private sphere.

Anarcha-feminism implies that women themselves decide and take care of their own matters, individually in personal matters, and together with other women in matters which concern several women. In matters which concern both sexes essentially and concretely women and men shall decide on an equal footing.

Women must have self-decision over their own bodies, and all matters concerning contraception and childbirth are to be decided upon by women themselves.

It must be fought both individually and collectively against male domination, attitudes of ownership and control over women, against repressive laws and for women's economic and social autonomy and independence.

Crisis centers, day care centers, study and discussion groups, women's culture activities etc. must be established, and be run under womens's own direction.

The traditional patriarchal nuclear family should be replaced by free associations between men and women based on equal right to decide for both parts and with respect for the individual person's autonomy and integrity.

Sex-stereotyping in education, media and at the place of work must be abolished. Radical sharing of the work by the sexes in ordinary jobs, domestic life and education is a suitable mean.

The structure of working life must be radically changed, with more part-time work and flat organized cooperation at home as well as in society. The difference between men's work and women's work must be abolished. Nursing and taking care of the children must concern men just as much as women.

Female power and female prime ministers will neither lead the majority of women to their ends nor abolish oppression. Marxist and bourgeoisie feminists are misleading the fight for women's liberation. For most women it is not going to be any feminism without anarchism. In other words, anarcha-feminism does not stand for female power or female prime ministers, it stands for organization without power and without prime ministers.

The double oppression of women demands a double fight and double organizing: on the one hand in feminist federations, on the other hand in the organizations of anarchists. The anarcha-feminists form a junction in this double organizing.

A serious anarchism must also be feminist otherwise it is a question of patriarchal half-anarchism and not real anarchism. It is the task of the anarcha-feminists to secure the feminist feature in anarchism. There will be no anarchism without feminism.

An essential point in anarcha-feminism is that the changes must begin today, not tomorrow or after the revolution. The revolution shall be permanent. We must start today by seeing through the oppression in the daily life and do something to break the pattern here and now.

We must act autonomously, without delegating to any leaders the right to decide what we wish and what we shall do: we must make decisions all by ourselves in personal matters, together with other women in pure female matters, and together with the male fellows in common matters.


The origin of the Anarchafeminist Manifesto.

8 March, International Women's Day, is a special relevant day to remember the Anarchafeminist Manifesto. The origin of the Anarchafeminist Manifesto is in Norway. The Anarchafeminist Manifesto is the summary of the feminist political program unanimously agreed upon by the third congress of the Anarchist Federation of Norway 1 - 7 of June 1982. The manifesto was first published in Norwegian in Folkebladet (IJA) no 1 1983 pp. 4-5. Soon after the Manifesto was published in CRIFA-Bulletin no 44 mars-avril 1983 in French (p. 12) and English (p. 13) language. Later on the French version was used as the basis for a translation to English that was published on the Internet, see above. The Manifesto is also translated to other languages.

Ever Closer to Maternity Leave

I'm am so ungodly tired today. After working a double yesterday (day to evening) I returned for my scheduled day shift this morning. For whatever strange reason I was assigned to the nursery though I'm here so rarely that I didn't know about the changes in charting for double-checking on circ consents and I much prefer to be on the midwife unit.

Two nights ago I was at a critical mass after party in my aunts back yard eating the Vietnamese springrolls I'd made and the fantastic chocolate cake her next door neightbor brought. With the recent rain we've had in the region came an onslaught of mosquitos, so though we've been suffering through a drought this summer we didn't have to contend with those tiny wing-ed vampires. If you can think of anything that mosquitos like better than swollen pregnant feet I wish you'd tell me. I got home and my feet, toes, ankles and soles were COVERED with bites. Que Miserable. They didn't bother me Friday night, but last night I woke for my middle of the night pee at three thirty and when I got back to bed I was overcome by an itch fit. I scratched at my poor feet, I kid you not, for twenty minutes, in the process waking my poor husband who galantly offered to see if we had something to spray on them. Fortunately we had some bactine which worked quite well, but at four a.m. I got on a coughing fit (I think the air conditioning makes me a wee bit phlegmy) and ultimately didn't fall asleep until sometime around four thirty. Then there was the regular tossing and turning (or rather lifting and turning that a thirty six week pregnant woman does) until the alarm clock rang.

Suffice it to say I am uber exhausted today and every cry, from every baby sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. These kiddoes should be with their mamas, dammit! Not some cranky nurse in the nursery. As much as I'd love to rock and sshh them I don't have the arms or the time for it, we've got about ten discharges today, only three circs, but it looks like I'm going to have a new baby on my hands sometimes soon.


To top it all off my large scrubs are getting too small for this burgeoning belly. I fully expect a ten pounder, but I still feel sometimes like this belly is just going to pop! one day. Maternity leave can NOT come soon enough.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Gorgeous Birth Pictures, Gorgeous Hospital birth

I especially love the picture of the baby in a full crown. Navelgazing Midwife is AMAZING. Her photography just gets better and better.
Navelgazing Midwife: A Birth Unfolds in Photos & Words

The Midwife Conundrum

I've known for a very long time (more than ten years) that I was meant to be on the path to become a midwife. I had always envisioned being a lay midwife and had gone so far as enrolling in Ancient Arts Midwifery Institute, an at-a-distance school when I found out I was pregnant with my son. After an empowering homebirth I felt the need to find a way to support us and so, after much encouragement from my family and despite my own personal misgivings I began to pursue my nursing degree. Along the way I became certified as a doula and childbirth educator, I took a course in prenatal and postpartum massage, and tried to stay "true" to my trust in birth and love of homebirth.

Fast forward to the winter of 2004 when I received my ASN, let's not forget that I was a single mom, struggling to pay the rent, I needed my degree but fast! I spent six months on a high risk L&D unit in a hospital in St Louis, horrified by the nearly 100% epidural rate, the lack of family centered care, and the laissez faire attitude of the docs towards their highly interventive births. It did however give me greater respect for the need for heroic medicine when it was really necessary. It opened my heart to the tragedy of fetal demise, and I found that I was actually really good at caring for families who had experienced the death of their babies.

After moving home to Minnesota, I took a position on a midwife unit in a large metro hospital, and here I sit, feeling that I'm spinning my wheels, disillusioned by what should be a closer-to-homebirth setting, and feeling burned out by demanding management, high needs (and sometime high risk)patients, and lack of staffing.

I need to move forward. The question is...which direction?

As a direct entry/lay/certified professional midwife I'd certainly go back to my first love:homebirth. The problem is, I can't leave my family or ask them to move so that I can attend a school like Birthingway or the Seattle School of Midwifery. And I don't feel that I'd learn as well from an at-a-distance course like AAMI. Additionally, it's difficult right now to part with my considerable income. I know that I'm very fortunate to make this kind of money, and parting with one half of our income is simply not possible.

On the other hand, I could easily attend the local University's Midwifery program (after obtaining my BSN of course) and I could continue to work part while I did it. I could also receive a dual degree as women's health Nurse Practitioner/Certified Nurse Midwife, which would be great because I love well woman care and I'd be able to do all sorts of neat things like insert IUDs (fyi I am a big IUD lover!). Problem is, I have NO desire to catch babies in hospitals. None whatsoever. And practicing as a CNM doing homebirths in Minnesota ain't easy. We used to have a few CNMs who did them, but the political climate either pushed them back into the hospital, or out of state all together.

So I'm at the crossroads, wishing someone would read my future and tell me what path to take. But of course, no one can. I've got to find my own (very convoluted) path, and will only know years from now if I chose right. Though, there may very well be no right, only right for me. Who knows? I'll keep you informed.

Spirals, bellydance and birth

I recently watched "Birth as We Know it", a beautiful Russian documentary on waterbirth in which the narrator talks briefly about "spiralling" one's hips during labor and touched on the existence of other spirals in nature. I wish she had gone further! Spirals are a huge part of nature, from the Fibonacci number to the Galaxy, spirals are everywhere. Our babies spiral (somewhat) as they are born of us, performing the cardinal movements as they emerge. Certainly spiraling our hips can assist the baby in his or her rotations and eases the discomfort of labor.

Which brings me to bellydance. I was lucky enough to begin bellydancing when I was pregnant with my son, ten years ago. Little did I know the huge connection between this ancient art form and birth. Many believe that bellydance, or raqs sharki, was the original childbirth preparation. I always say that the sounds and movements that get the baby in, also get the baby out. So the undulations, and certainly the spiraling of one's hips aid labor. Plus, it feels good and makes you feel sexy even when you're fifty pounds heavier than usual with gigantic ankles! It's a lovely almost perfect form of low impact exersize that looks great if you're a sylph or a goddess sized woman. (I tend to believe that goddess size women are particularly beautiful when performing bellydance, it's mesmerizing). Trilling, ululating, or zagareeting (all different words for the same vocalization) too play a part in birth. Women ululated during a friend or family member's labor and it's said that when they hit a certain pitch, it would resonate throughout the laboring woman's body, erasing the pain! Having used a LOT of vocalization during my labor, I can attest to the fact that there are certain pitches (low, long, loose) that decrease pain and some (high, tight) that increase it.

Bellydance is finally becoming more mainstream, women in the smallest town can order bellydance DVDs off the interenet, or find a class at the local community ed center. Bellydance in birth is becoming more popular too. Here are a few websites to look into to better acquaint yourself with the art of bellydance. Hope you enjoy them and happy shimmying!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First Post

Here's a little something I submitted to Hip Mama magazine, it was summarily rejected but who better to receive a rejection letter from than Ariel Gore herself! I'm not hatin' I just know I've got to tighten up my style. Still I hope someone finds it useful.

As in Labor, so in Parenting

Nothing prepares a woman for parenthood so well as labor. As in parenthood in labor we are asked to do the impossible, as in parenthood, in labor endless resources are required of us: patience, energy, strength, courage, compassion. And as in parenthood no amount of reading, classes or well meant advise can ensure a trouble free navigation of our experience but can only guide us and give us an idea of the endless choices available to us.

Both labor and parenthood require amazing flexibility. We must always be ready to admit "this isn't working, now what?". My son is profoundly dyslexic and we've been facing difficulties lately. Simply telling him to clean his room is an insurmountable challenge. I'm learning that every small step must be broken down to it's very smallest component. It's frustrating, and sadly I came to this revelation only after years of nagging, anger, and disappointment over the child he is and grieving the child he is not. And how many women have been "stuck" in labor at three or seven centimeters? For hours and hours they may try rocking in a chair, or on their hands and knees before they come to the conclusion that "this is not working" and they begin to squat or lunge or attempt some other trick which helps turn the baby and they begin to dilate once more.

In labor and parenting each stage brings it's own joys, fears, and sorrows. We open and let go, open and let go. Opening our hearts and setting ourselves up for the inevitability of the pain of rejection and change. When parenting, we can close ourselves down, make ourselves hard and unyielding, when faced with teenage rebellion, a toddler's tantrum, a child's whine, how easy it is to do so! But we learn from our labor lessons that the more tense we are the more painful contractions feel. We learn to relax into contractions, opening our throats and pelvises, softening our jaws, dropping our shoulders along with our defenses. What if we responded to the pain of parenting in the same way? What if we listened instead of shutting down? What if we opened our hearts instead of hardening them?Both parenting and labor require tremendous sacrifice. The unexamined use of medication in labor can cause more problems than it solves, but it can require iron resolve not to use it. The constant needs of an infant can exhaust us and it sometimes requires our very last bit of strength to resist giving a bottle of formula. Dealing with adolescent surliness can drain us to the last ounce of our compassion and still, in all scenarios, more is required of us, and then yet more.

Labor is an ecstatic, painful, messy, beautiful, difficult, joyous experience. So is parenting; but only when we do so with love, the support of others and often a great deal of equal parts grace, humor, and mental toughness. And never imagine that you will be the perfect parent or have the perfect labor. Let go of perfection and instead, reach for something better: your own imperfect, loving, humbling, stunning, miraculous, authentic experience.