[Friday Wrap Up]: 27

Doula care in low-income communities, an awesome new children’s book on where babies come from, a pair of articles exploring infertility, a rocking birth story, thoughts from a 20-something who’s tired of being asked when she’ll start having kids, and a gorgeous photo essay of Muxas, or ‘third’ gender folks in Oaxaca. Another beautiful week of vacation reading that left me inspired, provoked, intrigued and more.


The Amazing People Who are Changing How Low-Income Moms Give Birth

A great article exploring the rise of doulas in low-income communities and the ways in which doulas can improve birth outcomes in these communities.

You should really pair this with Miriam Perez’s great blog post earlier this spring about the future of the doula movement. I appreciate the hard questions she asks about the intersections of doula care, sustainability, finances, etc. The real question is…as we move more towards seeing Medicaid reimbursement for doula care, what does that mean for the way in which the doula role might shift?

What is the end goal of the doula movement? What are we working toward? Many doulas would likely say—and I would have been among them just a few years ago—that the end goal is to have a doula at every birth. But I no longer believe that’s the right goal.

I think doula work is valuable and important, and I also don’t believe the essence of doula work—non-judgmental and unconditional support for pregnant and parenting people—needs to be locked away in a system that says only a certain amount of training, certificates, or other paperwork bestows upon someone the right to provide this support. We run the risk of replicating the model we’re trying to revolutionize. And I don’t think that is where real social change happens.

What Makes a Baby

An awesome new book by Corey Silverberg. In his words:

What Makes a Baby is a children’s picture book about where babies come from that is written and illustrated to include all kinds of kids, adults, and families. 

Geared to readers from pre-school to about 8 years old, it teaches curious kids about conception, gestation, and birth in a way that works regardless of whether or not the kid in question was adopted, conceived using reproductive technologies at home or in a clinic, through surrogacy, or the old fashioned way (you know, with two people and some sexual intercourse), and regardless of how many people were involved, their orientation, gender and other identity, or family composition.

Just as important, the story doesn’t gender people or body parts, so most parents and families will find that it leaves room for them to educate their child without having to erase their own experience.

Fertility Diary (a new Motherlode blog feature by Amy Klein)

This I.V.F. stuff is hard. It is my first time in the trenches, but I already feel as if I need some sort of medical degree to do this — or at least a medical technician degree to give myself daily shots. Some women I know hire nurses to come to their homes to do it. Other women have to take two shots a day.

and related to this, an editorial called Selling the Fantasy of Fertility:

As former fertility patients who endured failed treatments, we understand how seductive that idea is. Americans love an uphill battle. “Don’t give up the fight” is our mantra. But the refusal to accept physical limitations, when applied to infertility, can have disturbing consequences.

It’s no wonder that, fueled by magical thinking, the glorification of parenthood and a cultural narrative that relentlessly endorses assisted reproductive technology, those of us going through treatments often turn into “fertility junkies.” Even among the patient-led infertility community, the prevailing belief is that those who walk away from treatments without a baby are simply not strong enough to run the gantlet of artificial conception. Those who quit are, in a word, weak.

I LOVED this birth story, from Mutha MagazineS. LYNN ALDERMAN’S Ugliest, Beautiful Moment (Or, Fuck Ina May): 

But inside my head, I could not believe what was happening. How painful it was. How terrifying. I felt helpless. And degraded and humiliated by there being witnesses. And at the same time, I felt so, so alone.  I remember at one point saying, completely out of my mind, “I don’t understand why no one is doing anything to help me! Please help me!” Della reminded me that what I was feeling was the baby coming. That I was doing just what I was supposed to, having the baby, right then.

26, Unmarried, and Childless

This post comes from a Christian-focused blog. I found the perspective quite intriguing. I grew up in a Catholic family, in which having children was seen as a way of manifesting God’s love and fulfilling our God-given role as men and women. Reading this article brought up a lot of memories of arguments with family members about this argument can lead to hurt feelings for those who experience infertility…or simply don’t want to have children or be parents.

Instead of relishing in the freedom, blessings and limitless possibilities that this stage of life offers me, I am left frozen, feeling like I’m not enough. Like what I’ve done doesn’t really matter or that I’ve accomplished nothing. I’m an outcast. I’m defective. I’m panicked. When you comment on my life stage as if there was something I could do to change it, it makes me feel inadequate. Most days I truly do love where I’m at right now, but when people question my marital status, I think I’m messing up my chances to do anything worthwhile with my life.

Striking Portraits of Muxes, Mexico’s ‘Third’ Gender

Before Spanish colonization blanketed Mexico with Catholicism, there were cross-dressing Aztec priests and hermaphrodite Mayan gods; gender flexibility was inherent in the culture. In much of the country now, machismo prevails and attitudes toward sex remain relatively narrow. But things are different in the southern state of Oaxaca where more pliant thinking remains. In the Zapotec communities around the town of Juchitán, men who consider themselves women—called “muxes”—are not only accepted, but celebrated as symbols of good luck.

Turning the Corner

I’ve been a bit relaxed these past few weeks on the blog…and by relaxed I mean non-present. We’re already into week 3 of the term…just took my first stats test today. Nothing too complicated. In fact, I’m finding that aside from the rather tedious homework, I’m actually really enjoying the class so far.  Granted, this isn’t rocket science (just standard deviation and z-scores…) but I enjoy reading research and thinking about all the cool projects I’d love to explore someday…which leads to me to think about how I could design studies of my own.

So, when registering for my last official term of pre-reqs this fall, I signed up for Stats II along with my Microbiology class. I’m pretty stoked for the fall–I’ve been pining for micro since I first took cell bio last fall. I loved the professor, and now I’ll get to be in her class again, as she teaches her speciality.

I got my transcript review back from the main program I’m hoping to attend, with a thumbs up on all my classes.  As long as I pass the next two terms  with B or better, I’m all set. To apply, that is. Applications open September 1, which has me both super excited.

In the meantime…I’m reading up on respiration and digestion for my first A&P mid-term next Tuesday…and when I’m not doing that, I’m reading something from this stack.

I’ve also got two clients who are hoping to meet their little ones in the next month…and I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear back from GOAL about my application to First Trip Home 2012. Hopefully I’ll find out tomorrow!! Also looking forward to another shadow day with a wonderful CNM I know here in town. I’ll be observing her on call during a day shift at a local L&D unit…can’t wait.


Oh, I know, I have a loooong ways to go…but it felt so satisfying to check off the winter term courses in the countdown widget on the right (scroll down).

And, just because, I checked to see if any grades were posted this morning…and my A&P instructor had indeed posted!  And…it was an A!!!

Truth be told, I was not quite sure, especially after that last lab final…but I definitely felt a surge of relief.  I know grades aren’t everything, but it’s really hard not to feel the pressure of getting straight A’s when I think about how competitive some of these programs are.

Anyway.  I’m about to shut down my computer for a week (!!), as I leave in a few hours to visit a dear friend in CA, who’s due with her first wee one in early April.  Not to worry, I’ll be bringing some reading with me…the first few chapters of my nutrition text, and a couple of books I ordered from Amazon, one on DNP programs and the other on nursing theory.  Yes…I am one of those people who actually likes reading about theory. For fun, I’m reading Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Emperor of All Maladies…there’s a reason this book won the Pulitzer–it’s fascinating and incredibly well-written).

And yes…I am one of those people considering applying to DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) programs in midwifery.  I know they’re pretty controversial, but the more I read about them, the more I can see the value of extending entry-level education of advanced practice nurses to the doctoral level.  If nothing else, the thought of a more extensive clinical residency, with research opportunities, is really appealing.  I’ve been talking about it with people and still haven’t come to any conclusions yet (hence the book), but I’m looking forward to hearing more people’s thoughts and experiences.