Monthly Chai: 1


I’ve been wanting to join Stephanie over at Feminist Midwife in her Monthly Chai posts for a while. I love the idea of pulling up a virtual chair and a real cuppa chai and settling in for a chat about life, the universe and everything. So, in the spirit of developing more community and connection across the Digital Divide, welcome to my inaugural Monthly Chai post!

As I inhale the spicy sweet aroma of my chai, I’d excitedly share that I had the chance to meet another midwife blogger this weekend, for the chai photographed above. Robin, who beautifully blogs over at The Mindful Midwife, happened to be in town, so we met up. We were both feeling a bit bummed that we couldn’t be in Denver for the ACNM Annual Meeting, but it was lovely to have an impromptu “satellite” meeting. I got to hear about her first week in her new job, and she shared some great advice about how to develop those hands-on skills that are so essential to midwifery care (getting my hands on every round object possible to start teaching my hands how to measure dilation, for example). I left feeling a bit more inspired and confident that I’m on the right path and grateful for the support and encouragement that seems to flow from every corner of this wonderful community of midwives.

While savoring the warmth of my chai (spring in Portland means I go back and forth between wanting hot chai or iced chai–today’s a warm chai day), I’d sigh a little bit about the hoop-jumping of school right now…but then I’d reassure you that really, overall, this term has been a good one. In terms of my clinical skills, I finally feel like I’m honing in on being able to do a full assessment and chart it before 9am…as long as I’m only responsible for one patient!

Sipping slowly, I’d sheepishly admit that I haven’t been the greatest at self-care this past month or so…especially in the realm of physical activity. It’s easy to get into that funk…”oh, I haven’t been for a run in a week. Ugh. Why start now?” Well, let me be the first to say it, friends, I feel pretty cruddy and can definitely tell that I’m not sleeping as well because of it. I am grateful that my clinical this term is close enough I can walk, which creates a lovely 30 minutes three days a week of walking…but let’s be clear–that is not the same as an aerobic workout!

I always know that things are moving fast when it’s been two weeks plus since the last blog post. Times like these are a good time for me to remember the sage advice of my patho and pharm professor, who would assure us that we would still learn all we needed to learn by doing it in smaller chunks: “You can’t eat the whole watermelon,” she’d say. “One slice at a time…and if you feel like it’s still too difficult, you can slice it even smaller.” Just don’t look at the rest of the watermelon waiting to be sliced on the counter.

So, yes to starting small. One slice. 30 minutes of jogging, with no attention to distance or speed.

As I approach the now cooling chai, I’d reflect a bit on the wonderful questions that Stephanie poses in her Monthly Chai:

What definition of may most resonates with you this month? For what are you expressing gratitude lately? How is your emotional health when you think about the short and long term of this life? What is coming up for you next? What fiction and reality and teaching and learning are reflecting on your work? What do you hope we could talk about next month, that you could put into writing now, and perhaps make it intentional going forward?

I’d reply that I’m fully embracing both the expectation and desire of may…as in, “I may be more excited about my upcoming summer practicum on L&D/MBU than the current GI stuff I’m studying right now.” Or, I may decide to not worry about the NCLEX until after I take a three week study-vacation to Mexico in September…because I refuse to buy into the group angst about this one exam…and because I technically have until December to pass!

I’d share that I’m constantly expressing gratitude to my husband B, for his patience with the way that my school life sometimes overruns our relationship…and his honesty when enough is enough and we need to regroup.

Getting down that part of the cup where all the concentrated spices have settled, I’d laughingly point to the stack of books on my night-stand, most of which have sat unopened since April. However, I’d wave my hands in excitement if you’ve been reading Emperor of Maladies, by Siddartha Mukherjee. The chapters are short enough that I can usually squeeze in one before bed and it’s such a well-written analysis of the intersections of medicine, politics, research and money in the “War Against Cancer.” And I’d point out that both Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being and Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah beckon enticingly, purchased over spring break in a momentary hopeful in “Maybe I’ll have time for a fiction read this term!”

Finishing the last drops, I’d also excitedly share that I’m about to get involved with the planning of a reproductive health elective course offered each year on campus…which, to me, represents being just one step closer to being able to focus on repro health full-time. One slice at a time.

What are the “slices” of your watermelon that you’re focusing on now? What are the things you’re looking forward to this week, month, and summer? I know one thing that I will be exploring this summer is really focusing on building my practice as a clinician…starting to integrate the discrete skills into a holistic way of being with those I serve. I look forward to talking more about that process with anyone else who wants to share a chai next month!





[Friday Wrap Up]: 30

So many articles this week! Some of the highlights: exciting news for APC’s in California, one woman’s experience of a later-term abortion, new trends in prenatal screening, a call to action to end the shameful shackling of laboring patients in prisons, and an awesome, awesome story about transgender parenting from Canada. Read on!

California Expands Abortion Access!

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday expanded access to abortion in California, signing a bill to allow nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants to perform a common type of the procedure, an aspiration abortion, during the first trimester.

Oregon, Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire allow nurse practitioners to perform such abortions, which use a tube and suction, while several other states, including California, permit nonphysicians to provide drugs to terminate pregnancy.

But the new California law goes further, allowing a wider range of nonphysician practitioners to perform surgical abortions. While other states have passed a tide of laws restricting abortion access, California has gone against the political tide.

It Happened to Me: My Late-Term Abortion Was a Nightmare, But It Didn’t Have to Be

Stories like this break my heart…and make me angry. As an aspiring abortion provider, I can’t fathom how anyone involved in abortion care would let personal judgment get in the way of providing compassionate care for their patients, especially in situations like this. I want to believe that all health care providers bring good intentions to their work…but experiences like this remind me that we have a long ways to go.

Was I expecting too much, some special treatment because I wanted my baby, because I felt like my situation was particularly emotionally fraught? Maybe I expected the clinic to feel sorry for me, and they treated me like any other woman having a “regular” abortion. Except no abortion is a “regular” abortion, and no woman having an abortion should be treated with suspicion and disrespect. Every woman having an abortion for any reason deserves a little kindness and warmth. It could make a world of difference.

Breakthroughs in Prenatal Screening

“Breakthroughs”…but with a lot of nearly impossible ethical dilemmas to ponder. I so admire the work of thoughtful genetic counselors–it’s not an easy job and the growing number of tests makes this one of the more dynamic professions in health care today. Unfortunately, this article doesn’t really delve into the ethical questions of what it means to have more testing available, however, it does touch on some of the financial aspects of testing–which really, is another ethical dilemma of its own.

In the nearly four decades since amniocentesis became widely accepted, new techniques have gradually improved the safety and accuracy of prenatal diagnosis. Prenatal tests for more than 800 genetic disorders have been developed. And the number of women who must undergo amniocentesis or C.V.S. has been greatly reduced.

We Need to Stop Shackling Women in Prison–Now

The headline says it all.

One of the first women who shared her story with Birthing Behind Bars was Linda Rosa. She learned that she was pregnant with twins after entering jail in 2008. Linda Rosa recalled being shackled each time she was taken to see the doctor: “They used to shackle my hands and my legs. I would have to walk with the shackles on my legs, which would leave cuts on the back of my ankles.” Linda had to undergo a C-section and was shackled while recovering in the hospital. She recalled having stitches and staples from her c-section and shackles on her wrists and ankles when she visited her newborn babies in the ICU. “Everywhere I had to go, I had to wear shackles,” she said.

Transgender Pregnancy: The last frontier in assisted reproductive technology

Loved. This. SO. Much. We need to hear more stories like this. It’s so important.

It took nine rounds of intrauterine insemination for Heller to become pregnant. The first four experiences at a Montreal fertility clinic had been quick and impersonal. But their fifth try was worse than usual. The doctor rushed in, never said hello or gave his name, never looked at the women. He asked “insemination?” and they said “yes.” He was quick and rough, Heller recalled, and she bled afterward, something she’d never experienced. He left the lamp on between her legs as he rushed out of the room, they say.