Archive for the 'birth' Category

Caught on camera: egg emerging from ovary

This story comes from RedSpiral (not from her blog but from a doula listserv we are both members of).

During the hysterectomy of a 45 year old woman, gynecologists in Belgium happened to catch the beauty of her egg emerging from a ripe follicle on her ovary. This is something that has never been captured on camera before. Most theories on how an egg is released suggested something akin to an explosion, but this egg took 15 minutes to slowly, naturally make its way into the world. Kind of like a birth, wouldn’t you say? The egg’s “birth” is slow and gentle, needing no intervention for a safe journey.

What would have happened if we would have had the ability to see this process long ago?  Would we have set parameters on what the normal length of egg release is?  Would we have augmented it, even if when it was working well?  And I wonder  (warning: fairly hippy-dippy comment) – does the egg keep this “memory” and use it during birth once it has become an infant, emerging from the womb?

Enjoy the pictures – I think they are gorgeous. And here’s the complete story from BBC News.


Riding that endorphin high

I attended my first homebirth in the wee hours of the morning a night ago – mom stoically sat in the birth pool, the only sign that she was working hard was light tapping of fingers and the occasionally quiet moan.  As soon as that birth wrapped up – about 6am – I get a phone call from my actual client.  “I think I’m in labor”.  Wee ha!  I go home, catch three hours of sleep, shower, then quickly shuttle kids off to grandma.  As kids are pulling out of the driveway, I get another call.  “My water just broke – we’re headed to the hospital.”  She was a trooper –  always had planned on an epidural but it didn’t take well and there were a couple of hours of really rough labor.  I got to earn my money, which always feels good.  Baby born right before midnight.  Both beautiful births – and I needed it.

Today is my little girl’s birthday – and driving home after a couple of births was the perfect way to kickstart it.  Now I’ve got to clean furiously for a birthday party this afternoon that I haven’t had the chance to plan.  Funny thing is I’m not even tired.  Ahhh…birth hormones (yep, the doula gets them too).  Don’t you love ’em?

Thomas Beattie: First Pregnant Man

Thomas and Nancy are a loving, happily married couple living about 4 hours away from me.  They are expecting a child, due in July.  Their doctor says this is a perfectly normal pregnancy.  The only difference – Thomas is the one that’s pregnant. Thomas, who was born Tracy, is the first legally male person who is going to give birth.

“…our situation ultimately will ask everyone to embrace the gamut of human possibility and to define for themselves what is normal.”

They appeared on Oprah here:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

He wrote an article for here:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I’m feeling sort of deflated when I read the comments on the Youtube videos.  Many of them say Thomas is just a gay woman having a baby…and many quote the Bible, etc.  I think it is interesting that they choose to ignore the parts of the Bible where Jesus directly asks them to not cast their stones and not to judge lest they be judged.

I believe that gender is not defined by what “parts” we might have, whether we are talking about penises, vaginas, testicles, ovaries, or chromosomes.  You might choose to define females as someone who has XX chromosomes and males XY.  But how about someone with XXY or XYY?  How about babies born with both female and male genitalia?  How about “females” that grow a penis at puberty (I learned about this in sex education back in college – unfortunately I cannot remember the name of this syndrome or find a link).  All of a sudden, being able to assign gender gets a lot more fuzzy.  The way I see it, if you can’t medically assign gender all the time, the only true way to determine gender is within.

As a doula, I’m trained to deal with the emotional side of childbearing.  I have no doubt in this couple’s being fit to bring a child into this world – any child would be blessed to have this gentle, loving couple as their parents.  I do feel for them, though – they’ve already experienced opposition from their first doctor, who dropped them as a patient because he made the staff uncomfortable.  Pregnancy and childbirth brings up strong feelings for any couple, often requiring time to work them out, and they are probably no exception. I see a host of emotional possibilities here (just as I do with any family).  I think an experienced, sensitive doula or perinatal counselor (pregnancy counselor) would be a valuable asset to their team.

One thing is for certain – they are a loving couple and will be wonderful parents.  I applaud their ability to open and share themselves with the world – being able to put faces on stories like this is exactly what the world needs to break down misconceptions of gender and sexuality.  Way to go Thomas and Tracy – thank you for the gift of your story!

The things kids say

Bear with me, guys, this post does not end up being about birth.

We’re driving down the road as a family.

Connor:  Mom, what’s it like being a nurse?

Me:  I’m not a nurse…but would you like to hear about what nurses do?

Connor:  Oh – I mean a doula.  What’s it like being a doula?

Me:  Well, it’s the best job in the world.  Having a baby is hard work, and moms are sometimes scared, and I get to help them stay calm and relaxed.  And the dads are often scared too, and I get to help them just as much.

Connor:  I’m getting scared just thinking about it.

Me:  Oh?

Connor:  Yeah – about that part where I have to stick my penis into her vagina…

Me:  Oh…..yeah….actually I’m not there for that part.  (Dying now, trying so hard not to laugh)

Rich:  Connor, don’t worry, it may seem scary now, but when you are older and you meet the right person you’ll think that part is a lot of fun, and it will pretty much be all you can think about.

We interrupt this blog for a public service announcement

A family member on bedrest in the hopes of lengthening her pregnancy.  A friend who spent days in the hospital’s NICU with her premature infant, waiting for the day she could bring her baby home.  News of a devastating pregnancy or newborn loss from someone we know and love.

The fact is each and every one of our lives has been touched by premature birth.  Since 1990, the number of preterm babies has climbed more than twenty percent and is the leading cause of death for newborn infants today.  That’s why Rich serves on the local March of Dimes board of directors, and why I am excited to be a part of this “first” March for Babies.

On Saturday, April 26th we’ll be walking alongside 1000 other walkers to raise money for this important cause.  The March of Dimes has changed the name of their annual fundraising walk from Walk America to March for Babies to remind us exactly who we are walking for – all babies.  We’ve started a team – with Rich’s company (FE&C) as the team name.


Kristina’s page:

Rich’s page:

In addition, I’d love to hear your personal stories of how prematurity has affected your life.  Post one or send it to me, and I’ll post it here.  Thank you for making a difference in every baby’s life.

Richard and Kristina French

My birth-hero

This article in the Seattle Times illustrates perfectly why I love my doula trainer, Penny Simkin.  She’s not just a great role model for birthy-types; her gentleness, passion and openness makes her a great role model for anyone.  Thank you for a lifetime of work, Penny!


Currently here’s everything “extra” – besides, you know, being a mom and a wife – that I’m doing with my time:

– Went on a hospital tour, doctor’s visit and had a doula meeting with my client and her partner who are due in mid-March – gentle, loving souls who desire very intuitive, non-interventional birth.  They will be my first clients from Walla Walla (about an hour away) and my first “surprise” baby (they don’t know if it is a boy or a girl).  So far, I’m pretty impressed with the hospital they’ll be attending.

– Meeting with my mid-April clients tonight where we will go over their birth preferences and their expectations of me.  They are pretty trusting of medical technology (and I’m not in the business of ripping that trust away from her – I just work with her needs and desires) and she knows she’ll want an epidural at some point.  They are smart and funny and it is fun to work with them.  They hired me on a recommendation from a friend who had a great experience with having a doula at her birth.  At her birth, I’ll be there mostly, I think, to reassure them that everything is going well, that her body knows what it is doing, and to provide reassurance to hubby and provide comfort measures such as massage, cold/heat, suggestions of positions, etc.  My two clients are so different and I love supporting women in different ways.

– I have another very strong “nibble” of someone due in late April.  I already have an April client and need to talk it over with her before I take someone that possibly could give birth on the same day as her.  If I decide not to take her, they’ve expressed interest in hiring me just for some prenatal stuff which could be really fun – sort of like a private mini-childbirth educator session.  I’ve also passed along information on other area doulas (as I always do, even if I am available).

– I’m working on putting binders together for my clients – notebooks of interesting articles and other information that I rarely have time to go over with clients in our limited meetings together.  The idea is that they get it at their first prenatal, then return it to me at their last appointment (or if they lose it, pay me $75 – the cost of putting it together).  So far the notebooks are about 300 pages long (ouch).  If I left myself unchecked, I could easily make the notebooks 1000 pages long.  There is so much info in there – things like perineal massage, positions, rights of childbearing women, studies, breastfeeding, postpartum depression stuff.  I’ll probably be adding to (and hopefully taking away from!) them for a long time to get them just right.

– A friend asked me to serve on a college scholarship committee to my alma mater.  The two of us are going through resumes/applications of high school students and scoring them, then we’ll interview ten and pick our top five.  Each application has merit (and is better qualified for college than I was at the time!) and it is going to be impossible to choose between them all.   Our decisions are due in the second week of March and we’ve just begun.  We have 135 applicants and a scoring system to keep in mind.

– At some point we need to sit down and plan for our garden.  Rich and I had grand plans of actually educating ourselves on the finer points of organic horticulture over the winter – and I did absolutely nothing toward that goal.  I’m hoping, though, to build some raised bedssolarize our soil to kill the weed seeds and such, and do something with the smelly hunk of discarded fruit and vegetable scraps that I pretend to call our compost bin.

– Since I’ve been working on all of this, the house is a wreck, the laundry is piled up, bills have been forgotten (but noting overdue or anything – I just have no idea what my bank account balance is), recycling is atrocious, I haven’t cracked any of the books piling up on my nightstand, etc.  Gotta get to all that “normal” stuff soon.

Hello, you!

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