One line at a time

Hi blog, it’s me, Kim. Just here to catch up ’cause, ya know, it’s been little crazy around here! In case you missed it, H turned one… which means we’ve been at this parenting thing for over a year now too. We survived!

At her birthday party, (one week after her actual birthday) we had all the neighborhood babies over for a splash party in the yard. The cuteness was almost unbearable.

Us parents gathered around the baby pool to gaze adoringly at our gaggle of girls, who were delighting each other by splashing and giggling. A good friend and fellow mama recalled that the same day the year before, she had dropped off a casserole for us (I was bedridden after giving birth and friends very kindly brought us meals!)

I was surprised she remembered, because after all, she was also keeping up with a toddler. She shared she kept a single line diary and had checked back on this date a year ago, and her entry was basically “took casserole to the Newton’s”!

I considered my own writing efforts over the past 20 years or so since I started journaling… and how hard I found it to just churn out an entry sometimes. Why?? Didn’t I have so much going on, so many thoughts and so much to get out of my brain?! I knew though, that like too many things in my life, I judged myself harshly if I didn’t have something polished, just right, dare I say, nearly perfect. The freedom of having a one-line diary seemed simply wonderful.

Why have I put such pressure on myself? Surely, no one but me cares whether I write one line or 500. I know it’s social conditioning, and that a significant factor in why I experience these feelings is because I’m female…I’m not alone in feeling this way. As mothers, partners, and co-workers, we live under the false idea that unless our work is anything but perfect we might as well not try at all.

Well, I’m making a turn and am aiming to try something totally radical: I’ll sum it up with the phrase “one line at a time”.

Instead of perfection, these days, I’m aiming for progress. Instead of trying to be everything for everyone, I’m taking a step back and reframing my own expectations of what I should or shouldn’t be able to accomplish without also being Wonder Woman. I’m giving myself a little grace to be more myself and less what others might expect. I’m trying (and it’s really hard) to be OK with one line at a time, instead of churning out polished perfection… because that kind of expectation isn’t realistic. It’s not human! It’s super-human.

So, to all the human mamas out there… remember, one line at a time, one breath, one day… and it’ll all add up to wonderful, glorious progress.


Secularism for a better future

It’s 6am. I’ve been up more hours than I’ve been asleep, partly because my daughter, who is 6-months old today, wants to nurse every two hours (it’s like she’s growing or something), partly because my mind is on a small town in Florida, where I know other parents are not sleeping tonight, and partly because I know that some of my friends – other new moms – are also losing sleep this week, worrying about the world they brought their babies into, and whatever it is we’re supposed to do to make it right for them.

She’s asleep between us. I roll over, silently admit that I’m addicted to my phone, and scroll through my Facebook feed. Amid the posts, most lamenting our country’s ineptitude about gun violence, I spot a re-post by one of my mom-friends. It’s an image of a post-it, scrawled with a handwritten note:

thoughts & prayers
policy & change

My mom-friend and I have a lot in common, and a lot not in common. Our religious beliefs are quite different. Regardless, I love her. And her post, to me, represents something else that I think we can probably agree on: our society, and our government, needs secularism.

Apple Dictionary helps me out here:

secularism | ˈsekyələˌrizəm | noun
the principle of separation of the state from religious institutions: he believes that secularism means no discrimination against anybody in the name of religion.

secular | ˈsekyələr | adjective
1. denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis

Policy & Change is something that we the people can accomplish through our government in order to make our society a safer and more inclusive place for all, including those that believe in a higher power and those that do not – all faiths, and none. While individuals may find Thoughts & Prayers to be personally comforting, even essential in these times, calling for prayer in the face of issues that require changes in policy distracts us from the task at hand: making the world better for all of our kids.

I believe that our government can and should strive to be secular insofar as it should not establish religion or favor religious beliefs over policies and practices that protect the health, well-being, and personal dignity of every person.

So, I charge our politicians to be mindful about when and how they choose to say things like “our thoughts and prayers”, because these are not what your constituents need from you in your role as a public servant. Falling to this now hollow phrase undermines the establishment of secularism in our government. We need your actions and your cooperation to create a safer society by enacting common sense gun control laws and universal medical care, so that we can move on from these dark days of gun violence, mass shootings and overdose epidemics.


EC at the Doc

In my last post about EC (elimination communication, or baby potty-training), I shared how we got started with teaching our daughter to associate eliminating (peeing or pooping) with a cue sound (psss!) Over the last few months this has gone pretty well! Even her babysitters and grandma have helped with introducing her to the potty.

When I first learned about EC, I read about parents being unsure about how to talk to friends and others about their choice to potty train their baby.

People’s reactions to EC sometimes reveal that they think it’s harder than conventional diapering, but we haven’t found that to be the case for us. It doesn’t take up much more time than cleaning up a poopy diaper – sure, it requires a little more patience, but the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

Recently, a trip to the pediatrician’s office convinced me that not only is EC great because we have fewer soiled diapers, but it also saved our daughter from an unnecessary delay in medical treatment and from an invasive procedure. I’m now even more convinced that teaching babies to use the potty early is a great tool for both their development and health.

Little H was having a bit of a fussy morning when we noticed she was feeling hot – and as it turned out, she had a fever. So, we called up the doc and took her in. I suspected that it was the return of a recent ear infection, but her ears were clear. The pediatrician narrowed her diagnoses to two possibilities: a virus or an UTI (urinary tract infection). The doctor started to explain that in order to test for a UTI, they’d have to catheterize her, which would be invasive and rather unpleasant! To avoid this, the doctor began recommending that we monitor the fever and treat it with Tylenol, and then bring her back if her symptoms didn’t go away after a few days… uh! As the reality of delaying my daughter’s treatment sank in, I realized there was a better way to get the test the doctor needed. I asked if I could have her go in a cup or potty liner for the urine test. The doctor and the nurse looked a little surprised, naturally! The nurse fetched a potty, and within 15 minutes, my super baby had peed in the sterilized liner and the doctor had returned with the results – positive for bacterial infection. The doctor was visibly blown away by what had transpired. Clearly, without EC, testing for a UTI would’ve been delayed and our baby would have suffered for another several days with discomfort and fever with little relief. The doctor explained that, because we could test so early, and without a catheter, we probably caught the infection on Day 1. This, no doubt, not only saved our daughter from unnecessary delay in treatment, but also saved us time and money as well. Had we needed to return to the doctor for follow up, we’d have another bill, another test to pay for, and more prescriptions to buy… and a very unhappy baby.

So, yay for the potty!



We love books.

Whenever we’re on vacation or visiting a new place, we alway seek out the used book stores. We spend hours browsing, carefully selecting our “loot”, which inevitably takes up the bulk of our luggage space. At home, we have what you might call a bookshelf problem… there’s just not enough room for all the tomes we’ve accumulated over the years.

Now, our bookshelf problem has a new dimension: where to put all those board and picture books! We were very lucky to get many classic titles for our little one’s shelf from family and friends. Some titles are so classic and popular that we received multiple copies of them… including no fewer than 5 copies of Guess How Much I Love You.

Before little H was born, we’d talk about the types of books we’d want to share with her. Now that we can, we’re adding to her bookshelf and our Amazon wishlist every week. We’ve already started quite the collection! The nursery bookshelf holds our favorite classics, like The Giving Tree and Watership Down, to more recent additions, like the new illustrated Harry Potter collection! (We’ve also been geeking out about how family road trips will necessarily include the HP audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale…)

Here are a few books we’ve come across that we look forward to reading with our daughter. These stories celebrate many of the values we want to share and explore with her: diversity, community, critical thinking and empathy. Enjoy.

(Book descriptions excerpted from Amazon!)

Annabelle & Aiden: The Story of Life
by Joseph Raphael Becker

In this “delightful illustrated book written in rhyme” (as endorsed by Lawrence Krauss), Annabelle asks “Why do we look, the way that we do? With hands and feet, in neat sets of two? What made my eyes? And what made my nose? And the shape of my body, from my head to my toes?” A wise owl answers by taking the characters on an incredible journey through Darwinian evolution. Join our characters as they visit outer space, watch the Earth go through its earliest stages, and gaze in wonder at the earliest forms of life. Young readers will gain a basic understanding of evolution, and perhaps more importantly, what we can learn from it: to be kind to one another, as we are all related in the same family tree.


Red: A Crayon’s Story
By Michael Hall

A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as “red” suffers an identity crisis in this picture book by the New York Times–bestselling creator of My Heart Is Like a Zoo and It’s an Orange Aardvark! Funny, insightful, and colorful, Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way.


Counting on Community
By Innosanto Nagara

Counting on Community is Innosanto Nagara’s follow-up to his hit ABC book, A is for Activist. Counting up from one stuffed piñata to ten hefty hens–and always counting on each other–children are encouraged to recognize the value of their community, the joys inherent in healthy eco-friendly activities, and the agency they posses to make change. A broad and inspiring vision of diversity is told through stories in words and pictures. And of course, there is a duck to find on every page!

The Family Book
By Todd Parr

There are so many different types of families, and THE FAMILY BOOK celebrates them all in a funny, silly, and reassuring way. Todd Parr includes adopted families, step-families, one-parent families, and families with two parents of the same sex, as well as the traditional nuclear family. His quirky humor and bright, childlike illustrations will make children feel good about their families. Parents and teachers can use this book to encourage children to talk about their families and the different kinds of families that exist.

And Tango Makes Three

By Justin Richardson

At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

Psss Poop Poop: Learning to Go

There is a small human that has completely turned our world upside down.

She grunts and snorts, making sounds not dissimilar to a baby dinosaur. Despite her small capacity, this little one can belt louder than Bette Midler, especially during bath time. She has the suction strength of a Dyson, which – let me tell ya – has turned me into a milk-making machine. She can fill a nappy faster than Wyatt Earp could sling a gun, and then do it again as soon as a clean one is on, sometimes before!

She also has a wonderful curiosity. She sees all for the first time. Ceiling fans, lights through windows, shadows on the walls – none escape her attention. Her eyes drink in her expanding world. She is wise.

Prior to our daughter’s birth, I didn’t give much thought to the mental capacity of babies. I grew up around plenty of them (more on that in another post), but I hadn’t considered just how much a baby works to communicate its needs to its caregivers. Every waking moment is filled with her intense and innate need for connection. We are being put through our paces just to keep up with her!

Like all new parents, we’re still learning how she communicates with us – picking up on her movement patterns and the little noises she makes when she’s hungry, or sleepy, or about to go poo. We were mildly prepared for more poo and pee from already having a dog, but having a baby certainly takes it to the next level! My desire to want to be as environmentally-conscious as possible when it came to diapering led us to choose cloth diapers. Through my research on cloth diapering (including hours spent reading blog posts and Amazon reviews), I was even more delighted to read that cloth diapering can help babies learn to communicate about their need to eliminate.

Some of you are reading this and remember a time when cloth diapers were the only ones available! But for millennial mums like me, cloth diapers seem to be making a slow but steady comeback. The disposable diaper industry is expected to reach a global high of US$54.5 billion this year. There’s a reason why, too. Those disposables are very convenient at times! However, they also pack our landfills. Surely we humans must have figured out a better way by now to do the most basic of jobs: help babies eliminate with as little mess and effort as possible!

My search for cloth diapers led me to a relatively unknown movement in our Western culture: elimination communication (or EC). Now this makes sense to me. Like most mammals, humans will not want to soil themselves or their immediate surroundings, like their cot, or mum’s lap. EC builds on a baby’s natural instinct to communicate her need to go by giving parents the tools to respond to her cues. EC is not conventional potty training. It is a way to help a baby become aware of her elimination and to offer her an opportunity to go somewhere other than her diaper. Cloth diapers help in this process by allowing babies to feel the moisture on their skin, something that little H certainly doesn’t like!

There are many great resources out there about EC, including godiaperfree.com and The Diaper Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative by Christine Gross-Loh. I ordered Gross-Loh’s book when H was just a few days old. At the same time, I ordered a BabyBjörn Smart Potty. I figured that we might start using the potty after a few months and, initially, I put it in the nursery closet for storage.

Once I started reading Gross-Loh’s book, I was amazed by the testimonials of other parents who had started using EC with their newborns. I thought, “why not?” and Geoff and I began to use a verbal cue whenever we heard her go in her diaper. “Pssss Poop Poop” became the first words we’d share with our new baby! We said it a lot and changed a lot of diapers in those first few weeks. When H not quite two weeks old, I decided to try to sit her on the potty. I said the cue, “Pssss Poop Poop”, and wouldn’t ya know? She went. I was overjoyed! Who knew that such a small thing like cueing my baby to use the potty would be so exhilarating? But it was! I rushed into our bedroom and dragged Geoff into the nursery so that he could look at the little yellow spot in the bowl.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve continued cueing her, and I feel like I’m getting to know when she is likely to need to go. Now, more often than not, I lay her on the changing pad and open her diaper only to find it a little wet. The potty now has pride of place beside the pad, where it’s easy for us to hold her over the little bowl and say our cue. Usually, within about 30 seconds of cueing, she will use the potty! I praise her with kisses, then lay her back down to put on a fresh nappy. Once she’s settled in her crib, I rise the potty using a sprayer connected to our toilet. Voilà! We’re on our way to having a diaper-free baby.

So far, EC is a natural choice for me as a mum and as a humanist. Humanism aims toward allowing all humans – even the littlest ones – to achieve full development, to have dignity, and autonomy. I love that EC is about acknowledging my child’s natural instincts and that it is helping us form a relationship built on trust and communication. In time, I know that EC will also give our daughter confidence and pride in her ability to use the potty independently, and that makes it all worthwhile!



My Body is Wise: A Birth Story

Up to the 40th week of our pregnancy, I had successfully distracted myself from the ever-looming question, “Is today the day?” I baked zucchini bread, created artwork for the nursery walls, and even cleaned and organized the pantry. I tried some natural induction strategies, including forgoing my dislike of spicy food to have the hottest curry ever, drank raspberry leaf tea, took a few relaxing baths, and continued to walk 2.5 miles on our daily outings to the park with our dog, Henry. Once we hit 40 weeks, I could tell that the other park walkers were also having some baby disappointment. We’d pass the old man in the blue jacket who gave us his obligatory good-morning nod and smile. This week, he was clearly not as chipper about his greeting, since any morning now, he too anticipated that we’d be pushing a stroller and was obviously feeling a little blue too.

Then Geoff started coming down with flu symptoms. Suddenly we had to shift gears again. Now we were hoping the baby would hold off until he was feeling better. His symptoms worsened: chills, night sweats, high fever, and a cough. I went into nurse mode, waddling around the house cleaning everything in sight, dispensing Geoff’s medicine, and doing all the cooking. “My turn will come!” I thought. I knew Geoff would have his hands full after the baby arrived, having two of us and Henry to look after. Geoff’s fever finally broke on Tuesday, but his cough was lingering. By now I was 41 weeks exactly. My midwife Emily assured us that if I were to go into labor while he was still sick that we could still use the birth center, but they’d have him wear a mask. I was relieved, and decided that if this baby wanted to wait another week, so be it!

The next day I decided to get busy again and gathered up all the blankets in the house to take to the laundromat, went to Lowes for new air filters, and proceeded to do all the chores and cook dinner before finally collapsing into the rocker in our living room. “I over-did it,” I told Geoff, feeling weepy and exhausted. I climbed the stairs to bed.

At 11pm, I woke up feeling crampy and went to the bathroom. I wiped and looked at the tissue, as I had been doing for weeks, anticipating with each trip to the toilet that I’d see some bloody show. There it was! I was too tired to feel very excited, but I felt relieved. I didn’t want to get my hopes up either, since I knew that true labor could still be days away. I crawled back into bed and told Geoff. After about 20 minutes, the cramps weren’t letting up. I decided to start timing the contractions using an app on my phone. They were coming consistently but at odd intervals of 4-7 minutes apart, lasting 1-1.5 minutes each.

I drifted into a sleep, and then into a lucid dream. I was standing on a beautiful beach, facing the waves and feeling the surf rush up to my ankles and recede again. The sky was brilliant pink and purple, dotted with bright stars, and the rays of a rising sun. The sand was warm. Geoff stood beside me, holding my hand, facing the vast ocean in front of us. “You’ve got this. I love you,” he said, looking at me with a fervent intensity, filled with love and confidence. Each time a contraction came on, so did a wave, and with each wave, my dream self looked at Geoff and told him how much I love him.

I drifted back to reality, and several hours had passed. I could feel the contractions strengthening. This was the real thing. Geoff took over timing and texting updates to Emily. Finally the contractions were coming 2-5 minutes apart. Emily told us to meet her at the birth center.

On the half-hour car ride, I kept trying to visualize the beach. Between contractions, I thought, “All these other drivers have no idea that there’s a laboring woman in the car beside them!” We arrived at Brookhaven just before 8am.

Time seemed to stand still over the next 12 hours. I labored on my side for a long time making slow progress. I managed to move between the bed, toilet, tub, floor and yoga ball a few times over the course of the day. Since this was a birth center and not a hospital, I could still eat during labor, and I did! I knew I would need the energy. I had grapes, a granola bar and some peanut butter chocolate cake. Cake never tasted so good. As my energy waned, I kept trying to get back to the beach, chanting “wave” with each oncoming contraction, and rocking back and forth to allow the discomfort to disperse through my body instead of settling in one place.

Laboring in water was soothing but seemed to lengthen the time between contractions. Geoff was by my side. Another one came. “My body is wise.” The thoughts and words formed simultaneously as I breathed them out. I realized then I needed to surrender to the ancient wisdom of my body – the inherited knowledge that lives in my muscles and bones, my very DNA. My body is wise. I didn’t know what to expect next, but I knew I didn’t need to be afraid. My body knew what to do.

Finally, Emily checked me, and I still wasn’t fully dilated. She and her assistant Megan offered me a combination of homeopathic treatments to help move things along and to release my tension. Within 30 minutes, the contractions changed, coming one after another. I writhed with the pain, letting my head press to the bed. This was intense. I held Megan’s arms to give myself some leverage. Then I vomited. A few times. There went the cake. Then the midwives put a peanut ball between my legs while I lay on my side on the bed. Suddenly it felt like my entire body was being squeezed and every muscle was bearing down to move everything inside to the outside. If this was the transition to “feeling like pushing” then I’d put pushing on the low end of the spectrum. My body took over, and push or no, this baby was coming out. I recall Emily saying that she saw the baby’s head and no cervix. They called Geoff back into the room. I held his arms through more contractions.

Somehow I managed to move to the tub again, which the midwives had refilled with warm water. I leaned forward on the edge, facing the room, looking up at Geoff. My mind oscillated between “I can” and “I can’t.” My pelvic floor was giving way. Desperate for a sign that I’d survive this, I looked at Geoff. He nodded at me with confidence and reassurance, and I knew it was almost over. I let out a primal shriek, which we both later recalled took us by surprise. I heard the midwives encourage me to pant and breathe low. I grunted. They urged me to shift and lie on my back. I moved my legs under me and let my body fall back into the water. Another contraction, and I screamed again. I think someone said that the baby was almost here, and they could see her head. Another contraction, and a rush of panic surged as I could feel her press through me. I opened my eyes, and the pressure released. Her head was born! Almost instantly another contraction brought the rest of her into the water. Then she was in my arms. Hazel Rose, the most beautiful sight. I wept with joy and amazement. Geoff came to my side as we stared down at our child, our healthy daughter, who was crying in my arms. I counted her fingers and toes, in awe of their perfection. Geoff cut her umbilical cord. I looked into her face as she opened her eyes for the first time. Hazel Rose was born. A mother and father were born too. I kissed Geoff.

The midwives placed Hazel into Geoff’s arms while I moved to the bed. They brought Hazel to me, and we learned to breastfeed. The midwives examined me and said I had some tearing. After surviving labor, I accepted that I would have some scars to show for my experience and declined stitches. Geoff came to my side, and we took in the first moments of being together as a family. Before long, my parents and brother arrived. Geoff called his parents in the U.K. We were surrounded by love.

I got up from the bed and hobbled to the toilet. Nothing would come out. It took about 15 minutes for me to find the strength to go. The midwife’s assistant helped me back into bed. Exhaustion fell over me. We slowly gathered our belongings and placed the newest little human into her car seat. I put on a nursing nightgown I had packed in our birth center bag. Geoff put Hazel in the car, and we made our first journey as a family through the quiet streets back home. It was 2am. We settled Hazel into the bassinet beside our bed. Then we slept, as a family, for the first time in our little nest.


Putting the Human Back Into Birth

The human female is unique among all species of animal on this planet in that she is the only one that can doubt her ability to give birth, despite the fact that most human females are perfectly physically capable of doing so (we evolved to give birth and the system works pretty well!)

The medical and health-related decisions that face any pregnant woman today are too numerous to count. Which doctor to see? How frequently should I exercise? What medicines or food should I avoid? What tests should I get? How often do I need an ultrasound? What delivery options do I have? What happens if I choose to be induced? What happens if I don’t? What circumstances might lead me to have a C-section? What postpartum care will I need? How am I going to pay for this? How am I going to support the new life I’m carrying? What if I don’t have the strength to give birth naturally? How will I handle the pain? What if something goes wrong?

Our medical system (and media) profits on this doubt. In many ways, it dehumanizes mothers, casting unnecessary fear and anxiety into the birth experience and making them the objects of medical processes and policies that prioritize profit. This is manifest in our staggeringly high national C-section rate of 32%.

When we discovered we were pregnant, we were over the moon, but also full of anticipation about how our lives were rapidly changing. I took the happy news in stride, knowing that we would have several months to plan and prepare to bring a baby home. But home from where, I wondered? I knew that most people give birth in a hospital, but I have a friend who delivered her first child at a birthing center. She, however, was the only friend or even acquaintance I knew at that time who had not birthed in a hospital.

At first, I was apprehensive about not being in a hospital. After all, if we had a complication, I wanted to be as close to medical help as possible. I was more concerned about cost. I knew our insurance company would at least partially cover a hospital birth, but I doubted it would cover any other alternative birthing place or method. I knew that if at all possible, I wanted to have a natural birth experience – to give birth vaginally without medication or other medical intervention. My own birth was the complete opposite. My mother endured hospitalization for nearly her entire pregnancy with me, and I was delivered by C-section at 35 weeks, weighing just 4 lbs, 6 oz. Fortunately, for this pregnancy at least, I was experiencing none of the complications or hyperemesis that my mother had. By all accounts, according to my OB, I was set to have a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy. Great! Now what?

I started taking the Centering Pregnancy class that my doctor’s office offered for free to all expecting mothers. The class was run by one of the Certified Nurse Midwives at the practice and combined group lessons on birth and parenting with our prenatal checkups. I liked this option rather than scheduling individual prenatal appointments because, if I took the class, I would be sure to see the same two nurses at each visit. I wanted to get to know my care providers.

In the first class session, we were told that any one of the nurses and doctors at the practice might be on-call the day we are admitted to the hospital, so it would be impossible to know who would actually be with us on Delivery-Day. Hm. Then, we were told we could labor in water using one of the tubs in the delivery room – but then we would be moved out of the tub to actually deliver, since the hospital doesn’t permit water births. Hm. I wasn’t too discouraged by these two new pieces of information, but it gave me a chance to consider more deeply how important it would be to me to know the people in the room with me on D-Day. I had read that unfamiliar people coming and going from a delivery room could stall labor.

Then I really started to dig into my research. I looked up our local hospital, Augusta Health, to check out its C-section rates. I had seen previous news stories that the C-section rate in the US was staggeringly high, but how high was high? I was shocked to learn that the hospital’s last reported C-section rate for low-risk births was 27% (I would add a citation here, but the Consumer Report I originally found is no longer available at the link I saved. Augusta Health declined to participate in the 2017 Leapfrog Group Hospital Survey.) This, I thought, wasn’t a good sign. I didn’t want my chances of having surgery to increase by over 20% just by stepping foot into the hospital. Other mothers I spoke with also shared stories of how they were pressured into having C-sections, usually after a cascade of other interventions (typically starting with induction). Others shared that they were told if their labors didn’t progress fast enough (after 10-12 hours or so) that they would need to have C-sections. This didn’t seem right. Labor, if allowed to progress naturally, could take just a few hours or over 24 hours. I wasn’t feeling up to being under a hospital or doctor’s time limit.

According to a report by the LeapFrog Group, “One of the most effective ways to lower your chance of having a C-section is to have your baby in a setting with a low C-section rate. Overall, women who labor in a birth center are much less likely to have a cesarean than similar women in hospitals.”

I decided to transfer my care to Brookhaven Women’s Health and Natural Birth Center. Fortunately, our insurance company covers birth center facilities. We were a step closer to the natural birth experience I hoped for. We are lucky. There are only about 345 freestanding birth centers in the US in 37 states and DC. This means that very, very few women have access to this out-of-hospital option.

I continued my research and found the following books and articles to be very informative and helpful in preparing us in our birth decisions:

Women have the right to make their own choices about their birth experiences, but our medical system is designed in such a way that too often a mother’s choice is removed or significantly impacted by unnecessary interventions and practices that do not place her or her baby at the center of the birth experience. Doctors’ schedules, hospital policies, time (and therefore money) too often take priority, leading to interventions that are usually not in the best interest of mother or baby.

Once we actually get to D-Day, there’s no telling just how things will go. I know, however, that I feel confident in my ability to give birth naturally, and that should I end up in the hospital, I’ve informed myself about the possible decisions, processes, and interventions that might be part of our experience there. My hope is that we can bring greater awareness to the risks of our nation’s high C-section rate and better inform women of their birthing and delivery options. We need a more humanistic approach to the care of pregnant women, mothers, and babies that honors our natural ability to birth and which promotes natural birth as a healthy, safe, and optimal choice for low-risk women.


The Beginning

I have a confession. I’m not quite a mum… yet. It’s 3:49am, and today is my due date for our first child, who is quietly napping inside me. She is the beginning.

Like most females at full term, I have all the classic symptoms of a condition called motherhood. So far, my progress to this point has been smooth sailing. A transformation is on the horizon. I’m anxious, achy, and have some insomnia because my brain won’t quite shut off. I’m waiting for it to make the switch from my higher-functioning, reasoning brain, which is concerning itself with logic and the statistical probabilities of  birthing a child within the next week or two (hopefully not longer), to my more primitive brain: This is the brain that comes out after dusk, leading me to deep breathing and stretching on our living room floor. It’s the brain that savors the nighttime sounds of the birds and locusts, listening for the wind in the trees and peering through the moonlight shadows. This is the brain that I know will lead me through labor, birthing our daughter into the light, beginning her independent journey on this blue sphere of stardust.

I have titled this blog “Humanist Mum” because my writings here will come from the parts of my identity that relate to my life philosophy of humanism – love and compassion for fellow humans – and to my new role as the mother of another small human. And so it begins.