Monday, July 25, 2016

Soothed by Tim McGraw (Even From the Womb)

Funny story to tell. When I was pregnant with my last baby, it was the year Tim McGraw came out with the 'Live Like You Were Dying' album. To this day, it's still my very favorite album. I listened to it a cazillion times that year it came out. Not exagurating. I am not a singer, but I sang my heart out to that album. You get the picture.

Fast forward a few months. My darling Darcy was born, and she was just about perfect. She was a few month old -- maybe about 5 months -- and we were on a family trip in Indiana. She was crying in her car seat, and I happened to put that CD in the player. She instantly stopped crying. We did an experiment and took the CD out. She cried. Back in? Quiet. She recognized Tim! 

And so it was for over another year. In fact, my dad died unexpectedly when Darcy was 16 months old. We threw everything in a suitcase and jumped on a plane. We rented a car and quickly realized that we had left all of our (Tim) CDs in the car back at the DFW airport. We stopped in at a Target and grabbed the 2 Tim CDs Darcy was most familiar with. Needless to say, that's all we listened to for 2 weeks, from New Mexico to Illinois and back to Texas. It beat listening to her cry! And let's face it, I was in heaven. The rest of the family, not so much... 

The moral of this story? Your babies hear from the womb! They hear your voices AND your music! Choose carefully, as it may be all you listen to for the first couple of years of their life!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Which is Right for You - Homebirth or Birth Center?

To birth at home or at a birth center... That is the question for couples wanting an out-of-hospital birth. We devote an entire class at Birth Boot Camp to birth places, care providers, and policies that may affect your birth, but I felt a blog post of questions might be helpful, too. Of course, where is you live is likely a factor and these options may not be available to you depending on your state laws and insurance coverage.

Photo Credit: Birth Boot Camp

Here is a nice little list of questions and considerations:

Birthing in a Birth Center:

1. Do they charge more, or less, to birth there? 

I've seen this go both ways. I've seen a discount given if a couple is willing to come to the birth center, but I've also seen midwives charge a lot more money (as in over $1000) to birth at the birth center. If I were a midwife, I'd want everyone to come to me at the birth center. I'd know where all my supplies are and not have to haul them all over town. That being said, I'd also have to do the clean up and disinfecting for the next couple. 

2. How long will you be allowed/encouraged to stay at the birth center? Under what conditions might you stay longer? Who is watching after mom and baby in the immediate postpartum period?

It's pretty typical to be out of the birth center within 3-6 hours. Are you OK with that? Does the midwife stay with you, or someone else? What is their training and expertise? 

3. Who and where is their emergency backup? 

Often, the birth centers choose locations that are close to their emergency backup, but not always. You need to ask. If you need to transfer, will your insurance cover their backup hospital and/or care provider? I've heard many couples complain of paying for their birth twice.

4. Do you have your own space to labor? What if someone else is in labor at the same time? What about your family? Will they be sharing space?

How do you feel about the possibility of sharing space, even if you are in separate rooms? Will you feel self-conscious if you are vocal? Do you each have your own bathroom, too? A lot of women like to labor at length in the bathroom...

5. Speaking of family... Are siblings welcome? Or just tolerated? 

If you are wanting your other children at your birth, take a Birth Boot Camp Sibling Birth Prep class, or even just pick up a workbook. You won't regret it. Has your child(ren) met the midwife and toured the facilities with you? If not, make sure that happens before the big day.

Photo Credit: Birth Boot Camp

Birthing at Home:
Many of the same questions apply, but there are some other things to consider. 

1. If an emergency were to arise, where is the closest hospital? Are they friendly towards homebirthers and your midwife? How does your midwife feel towards them? Is it her usual backup? Is she familiar with their protocols, or will you be met with uncertainty and hostility? 

Under normal circumstances and great preparation, I don't expect anyone to transfer, but I believe the fear of the unknown can play into your emotional relaxation. Knowing the answers to these questions is important.

2. Who does the cleanup? 

I've seen some midwives clean everything up, down to draining the tub and putting fresh sheets on the bed. I've also seen midwives do nothing. This is a good thing to know so there aren't angry feelings because of unmet expectations. 

3. If your labor is on the long side, does your midwife have space to rest? Are you feeding her meals and snacks? 

If you are birthing at the birth center, she will have her own space and food. Discuss this with her at your home visit. You both will be glad you did.

4. Are you the type of person that is going to be stressed out about cleaning beforehand? Is this going to be how you spend your early labor - cleaning? If things aren't cleaned up, are you going to have a hard time relaxing with "visitors" in your house?

You know yourself better than anyone. The times I have seen this become an issue is when labor came on fast and furious and there was no time to straighten up. Once the baby came, mom was up and cleaning before the midwives were even out the door, instead of bonding with her baby.

5. This isn't really a question, but more of a comment. Many people (especially dads) take comfort in driving somewhere. Truth is, generally, in a homebirth, the midwife is just bringing everything to you.

In most cases, there really isn't much difference except those things I've listed here. They are important, however, and they should all be carefully and thoughtfully considered and answered. 

Friday, May 27, 2016


The first "adulting" meme I saw was this:

I actually thought it was hilarious. Life is hard. Sometimes running away seems like a great option.

But then, I started seeing more and more of them.

You get the idea. If you google "adulting memes," there are literally dozens of them. What do these messages say to our children? Many children and teens are on social media, and these memes are impossible to escape. They want to feel secure in their world, that they are being led by capable adults. How scary to think that adults wish they were children, that they don't feel capable of leading others, or they can't even function in their own lives.

It got me thinking - If social media had been around when I was growing up, I can't imagine what I would have thought if I had had messages like this posted by adults (even my own parents) that I was expected to respect. 

We are responsible for raising the next generation. How can we expect them to become responsible adults when they are bombarded with these messages? Didn't we just give them an "out?" What do they have to look forward to?

My 17-year-old and I were talking about this the other day. She couldn't believe all these memes. She's actually the one who brought up adults expecting to be respected and how impossible it is when they post stuff like this. She said she sees them in a totally different light after they've posted one of these memes. 

As adults, we all know that life has its ups and downs. I'm not trying to convince anyone that life is easy. But honestly, would any of us want to go back? NO! Even at 45, I wouldn't want to go back to 35, or even 25, let alone 15! We have responsibilities and bills to pay, but we grow from these experiences and learn from these challenges.

In the meme above, she's "adult" enough to drink a bottle of wine by herself, but NOT adult enough to carry on with her day. It's appalling. Give me a break! Grow up! You ARE an adult! Act like one! Show the next generation how it's done! 

As an adult, I'm kind of offended that "adult" is used in a negative way. When driving down the highway and a building is titled "Adult Bookstore" or "Adult Videos," it seems to assume that all adults view pornography. It's just a little something that, as a responsible adult, annoys me. 

If you actually feel this way, the adults in your newsfeed may find it humorous and even agree with you, but remember - they are very likely not the only ones reading your posts. We have a responsibility to the next generation and these memes undermine the awesomeness of adulthood. And it is awesome! Someone make a meme about it!

Friday, May 6, 2016

A New Place

Do you like the facelift my blog received this morning? It was time. I'm in a very different place - literally and figuratively - than I was when I wrote this blog on a regular basis. My kids are older now, ranging from 11-19, so I'm not doing the baby thing anymore or attending play groups.

My husband took a job in Rapid City, SD, so we uprooted and moved to the Black Hills. For real - we actually live in the Black Hills National Forest. It's so beautiful here and the ski area is about 45 minutes from my home.

It's also like going back in time about 10 years. DVD shops are alive and well here. We can't stream video in the Hills. I have to stay in the kitchen near the cell booster to make a call. We are about 20 minutes out of town, sharing pasture with deer and horses. My life is very different than it was in Ft. Worth, to say the least.

Not streaming video has changed my family's life, too. My teenagers aren't all hooked up with the current YouTubers, but they've picked up a lot more books. They've hung out in the kitchen talking to the family a lot more, too. Hmmm.... Maybe this isn't so bad afterall!

When we moved up here, we lived in a hotel for 6 weeks with almost none of our belongings. That was an eye opening experience as well. After straightening up in the morning, we were free to get out and explore. It made me realize how much time all of our "stuff" steals away from us. I'm trying to become a minimalist, but it's extremely difficult.

Birth Boot Camp has grown so much, it's a full time job. I haven't integrated into the birth community here, and I'm not sure I will. I still have lots to say, lots of observations to speak about though. Expect a post at least once a month here. I'm back!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy 4th Birthday Birth Boot Camp - A Personal Post

Hard to believe my baby is FOUR. I feel rather sentimental about it. I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on this special day.

I wrote this blog for many years as a childbirth educator and I loved it. This was my baby. I am truly sad that I have let it go. It was never my intention. Nor was not teaching childbirth classes. Sometimes if we could see the evolution of something, we can look back and realize we might have done things a little differently, or even not at all. I'm not saying that I wouldn't have started Birth Boot Camp, but there are downsides that I didn't see coming. I honestly had no idea I was getting a more-than-full-time job! Ignorance is sometime blissful, not to mention necessary!

Ironically, I keep a list of blog topics in my phone - last count was 13 - that I'd like to write about, but I just haven't gotten over to it. I have made a decision to write once a month though. If you've read my blog, ever, you know I don't do it for SEO or to make money. This is just a simple place for me to share my thoughts, no matter how unpopular they may be! So be on the lookout once a month. I'm going to do this!

Back to Birth Boot Camp ... Just to refresh your memory, I had all my childbirth classes on DVDs and was shipping them all over the world. It was crazy! I was like Blockbuster burning DVDs and renting them out! I told my good friend, Ceci Massa, that I wanted them to just be on the internet. She said she could help me with that. I started writing curriculum and shared it with another good friend, Hannah Reasoner, and she declared she'd like to teach it! Oh my. This took things a different direction, for sure.

I knew I couldn't do this by myself. I pulled in several people, including my good friend, Sarah Clark (you might know her as Mama Birth) but I'd known her long before either of us were childbirth educators. It was the best move I made in this endeavor! She's a machine! And I love her dearly.

We held a Launch Party from my house in Mansfield, TX, showing off the materials and online classes. It was quite a day! I remember feeling so proud and excited, but also anxious. We had our internet launch on Monday, March 26, and almost immediately online class registrations started rolling in. I knew we were on to something big!

Some highlights you might enjoy -

We've trained nearly 200 instructors from about 40 states. It has been an absolute pleasure to get to know all these women from all different backgrounds. I am honored and humbled to work alongside them.

We launched a doula program in November 2014. As you all know, I am not a doula, so I had to rope in some talented ladies, Amanda Devereux and Maria Pokluda, to write the program. It's absolutely amazing and I couldn't be more proud of that program. They keep the atmosphere professional, respectful, and drama free. That's something to be proud of when you work with all women! They've trained approximately 75 doulas so far. If you are interested in becoming a doula or childbirth educator, join us at Birth Boot Camp's Love What You DOULA Facebook group.

Our inital materials were rather dark in color, but adding the doula program pushed us to change our materials and brighten things up. This is a prime example of if you knew how much work something was going to be, you might reconsider starting the whole thing! Well, it was worth it and I'm glad we did it. I can say that now that it's done!

Oh wait, we keep coming up with great ideas! We aren't done! 

We've just recently announced two new classes, our Early Pregnancy Class and a Sibling Birth Prep Class, complete with beautiful workbooks. You can take a live class which will include much more, or you can just buy a workbook and study at home with your partner or family. These were so much work for Sarah and I, but we could not be more proud! We keep having babies!

My Instructor Advisory BoardDoula Advisory Board, and Management Teams have grown to inlcude 15 people in total and they are all vital to this organization. I'm incredibly lucky to work with such a diverse and talented group of women who put their heart and soul into Birth Boot Camp.

And finally, look for two HUGE announcements in June. We can't wait to share them with you!

I've often said, especially before launching Birth Boot Camp, that I wish I had a crystal ball and could see what things would look like for the company a year from now, 5 years from now, 20 years from now. At 4 years in, I have to say, I am incredibly proud of all that we have accomplished. It looks very different than what I expected, but I wouldn't change a thing! We are exactly where we need to be at this exact time. We have dealt with some ugliness, our product has been copied, we've seen some people come and go. But at the end of the day, I believe that if you go forward with integrity and kindness, that will trump all negativity.

Here's to another incredible 4 years!  If you are interested in becoming a Birth Boot Camp Instructor, read about our requirements here and apply here.

Dying to become a Birth Boot Camp DOULA? Our program is the BEST! Register today!

Pregnant and wanting a supportive online community? Join the conversation at Your AMAZING Pregnancy Facebook group. Join us on all forms of social media. If it exists, we are there!

Happy birthday Birth Boot Camp!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Questioning Water Birth -- My Most Unpopular Post Ever

It's been months since I've published anything here. I've written plenty, just not published them. At 44, I've finally learned when to keep my mouth shut. The birth community has really changed in the last couple of years, too, so there's that. I'm not overly excited about arguing with other birth workers when good will not come of it. Negativity breeds negativity and I really don't want to be a part of it. How about an actual blog post about birth, not business or the birth community?! Let's do it!

There is something that has weighed on my mind since the viewing of Microbirth back in February. I spoke up at the discussion afterwards about several thoughts I had during the movie, but they were not well received by the majority of the room, well, except for the longest working midwife in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Helen Jolly, who wholeheartedly agreed with me.

If you haven't seen the movie, here's a sneak peak:

I've hesitated to talk about the thoughts I had as I watched this movie because they won't be popular in the natural birth world. I own a company, Birth Boot Camp, that promotes natural birth and midwifery care, and the last thing I want to do is make people upset. The purpose of this post is a discussion. I'm not saying I'm right whatsoever, but I do want to bring up some points that I feel might be ignored or overlooked in the natural birth community. People are free to make their own decisions, as always.

A fascinating statement was made in Microbirth that a baby passes through over 400 beneficial bacteria in the vagina when they are born. They did a great job of addressing the complications that cesarean birth may be causing for these babies who are not receiving these bacteria. They proposed swabbing the vagina and rubbing it all over the the baby's face and in its mouth, etc. after it is born. If you are anything like me, you find this awkward to do after the birth. I'm curious how often this will actually be done. I have yet to hear of it.

As I'm watching this movie, and getting all this information about beneficial bacteria in the vagina, and then witnessing water birth after water birth, I can't help but think about the bacteria being washed off the babies immediately after the birth. When I mentioned this after the screening, one woman immediately started talking about how much she loved her water birth. That's not the issue! There are chemicals in the water and some babies are spending a lot of time in the water after the birth. Moms, or midwives, will keep washing water over the babies to keep them warm or wash off "goo" and inadvertantly, the beneficial bacteria. Even if they are taken immediately out of the water, doesn't it make sense the water likely washed some away?

What if this is part of the problem? What if we are doing damage - or at least not helping -  the baby to receive the benefits of vaginal birth because s/he is born in water? What if?

The mom is also submerged and anything that came off the baby that would have been on her, is also washed off. I wrote a post several years ago called The Sense of Smell Connects Babies and Mothers. When a baby is born in water, they do not have these same benefits of smell. The smells of amniotic fluid and "goo" are good for mom and baby to keep for a while! And while I'm not writing an entire post about it, I'll just add that mom wearing a bunch of essential oils when her baby is born may also be a distraction in this important smelling and bonding process.

As with so many of the things we do during labor and birth, I feel an important question to ask is, is this part of the natural process? Are we altering how God intended birth to go? Are babies intended to be born into water? I don't know. I had a water birth over 14 years ago, before it was trendy or popular. In fact, I'd never known anyone to have one before. Ironically - or maybe not - that child is my only one who has asthma and skin issues. I'm sure it's a coincidence, but what if it's not? Asthma was one of the main issues addressed in the movie.

I'm just putting this out there to think about. I could be totally wrong, but I think it's irresponsible to not at least explore the possibility of the harm water birth might be doing to our babies. We are so quick to "judge" cesareans and blame them for so many health problems, but perhaps we are doing damage by doing something so "natural."

Again, people love their water births. I don't want to take that away from anyone and I'm certainly not anti-water birth. I think it's super important that it is an option for women. I've said for years that water is a "midwife's epidural" and I believe that. Labor feels different in the water. It does good things for a laboring woman, but I am having serious questions about the actual births taking place in the water.

Since we are here, talking about water... Let's just touch on herbal baths. It's been explained to me that it is beneficial for the mom's perineum. OK. But does it have to be done so soon after the birth, with the baby submerged in the water again? It just seems like this is a photo opportunity and people like it, but again, is it possibly doing harm? Just putting it out there.

Bottom line - are we doing things because they are trendy, and are they really benefitting moms and babies?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas in the Land of Pinterest

I haven't written a blog post here since August! I wish I could say that it's entirely because I am so busy with Birth Boot Camp, but the truth is, I feel like the culture in birth/breastfeeding has changed so much, it's not really fun to write anymore. You can't say anything without being criticized for offending someone. It's exhausting and sad. It's easier to keep my mouth shut. Am I the only one who thinks that we've taken political correctness too far?

At any rate, I feel compelled to write this post. It has nothing to do with birth or breastfeeding or raising children. It's about Christmas. I've had so many thoughts this season, and I've been writing this in my head for days and having lots of conversations with people who feel the same way.

I'll be 44 next month, so a part of me wonders if I have these thoughts because I'm getting older or if our society has really changed so much over the last few years. I've concluded it's probably a little of both.

As Thanksgiving was approaching, I was in the throes of work, having just completed our first Birth Boot Camp DOULA training. I was dreading the holidays. I had several things to do for work before Jan 1 and was feeling super overwhelmed with the fact that the holidays were in the mix too. I found myself saying things like "The holidays are getting in the way of work," and "Can't we just not do the holidays this year?" I was only half joking.

For the first time in 19 years, my Christmas letter still isn't written and Christmas is less than a week away. Yes, I could have written the letter instead of writing this blog post, but again, I felt compelled to write this. Perhaps David will write the letter this year... Something I did that has been on my list for over two years? I wrote each of my children a letter this year. It took an entire afternoon, but I'm so glad I did that. I hope it'll be the most special thing they open this Christmas. The tree is up, the presents are wrapped, gifts are mailed, lights are on the house. It should be this simple, right?

The list is very long of the things I didn't do. I only donated one toy for Toys For Tots (instead of the 4 I was asked to donate), I didn't participate in the Angel Tree at church, I didn't do the cookie exchange, I only gave 2 teacher gifts, and I only gave money to one bell ringer outside the store. I haven't attended any Christmas musical programs or gone to any Christmas parties (other than the one at church that I helped organize). These are all wonderful things to participate in, there's just too many of them. The list is longer of things I didn't do that what I did do.

I'm not really one for guilt, and I actually don't feel guilty for not doing these things. To me, if feels like the holidays are on steroids now compared to what they used to be, even a few years ago. I blame Pinterest. Before all the Pinterest lovers get up in arms, the reason I do not have an account is because I know I would love it. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not good with moderation. I would go overboard, big time. I would be forced to do the things there because I wouldn't be able to get them out of my head. It would be the world's biggest time suck. Not just the actual time spent there, but then the time creating. There are so many ideas that are quite amazing. With good intentions, people (mostly women) want to make and do and participate in all these amazing things, but time just doesn't allow it. Many women I've talked to are overwhelmed with guilty feelings over not being able to do it all. And then when they actually do it all, they are exhausted and cranky, as are their families.

If everything else stopped during the holidays, maybe we could pull if off. But we still have to work, make dinner, clean the house, do homework, make lunches, do carpool, etc. But we throw all this extra stuff on top of it and we have a bunch of people walking around saying "I can't wait till Christmas is over!" People are grumpy and it's supposed to be the happiest time of the year!

Did you ever read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham? It was made into a movie called Christmas with the Kranks with Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. I read the book when it first came out and laughed till I cried. I thought it was so entertaining. The message behind it, I'm seeing now, was much more serious than what I originally thought. Even if you want to, you really can't get off this ride. The pressure is immense to not be the only one on the street that doesn't put up Christmas lights. I can't imagine what will happen if I don't send out my letter this year! If you haven't read the book or watched the movie, you should. I'd say more about it, but I don't want to spoil it for you. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

As long as I can remember, people have talked about not taking "Christ" out of "Christmas", reminding us that He is the "reason for the season". And yet, we've created all these distractions that truly take us away from remembering Him. My church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, launched a video campaign right after Thanksgiving and I haven't been able to get it out of my head - and heart. #SharetheGift. The people in the video are busy with preparations for Christmas, shopping, fighting a cold, standing in long lines, addressing envelopes, etc., but as the video goes on, things slow down as we are reminded of the birth of our Savior and the peace that He brought to the Earth.

As people around you are not participating in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, maybe they are not Scrooge or the Grinch after all. Perhaps they are trying to do the simple things, staying focused on their family and actually enjoying the season because they have not over-extended themselves. I have found, as I watch this video over and over, I feel my Savior's love, am more able to enjoy this Christmas season, and put aside the things that don't really matter.

Merry Christmas to each of you.