November 26, 2017 at 7:00 am #63516
Bobbie Jo Van Den PlasAdventurer@bobbiejo
Oh @mars! How I love reading your entries here. I want to see these plays you speak of. I can feel them through your words. Very powerful. You are such a gift! Grateful to be on this mountain with you! Beautiful how so much is unfolding and flowing for you!! Very exciting!!! Congratulations! Oceans of love!!!November 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm #63561
You are all so very kind. I think that I’m enjoying this challenge so so much. I can feel the things that I need to write about rising, but first I have to pour out the words that are in the way.
So here is today’s writing. Nothing to do with my course, but making space for it. 16,414 words in 19 days. Not bad at all.
I didn’t listen to my body. I ignored her. I ate food that she doesn’t like. I got out of bed too soon. I didn’t drink enough water.
I flooded the kitchen this evening. I flooded the kitchen because I’d decided that I wanted to empty the huge box full of sterilising fluid and rinse through my placenta equipment, pop it to the side and leave it to dry.
My body told me that I was too tired.
As I began to tip the box out of the door, so that the fluid would flow into the garden, the box split. A huge, gaping hole appeared. HUGE! I managed to save my equipment, so at least I don’t have to wash them again, but my poor kitchen floor. Litres upon litres of water. I had to scoop up all my clean, freshly washed and dried towels, and scatter them all over the floor. The mop couldn’t cope. Frankly, I couldn’t cope, with the rivers of water all over the floor.
So now I have cold damp feet and no towel to dry them on. And I’m so annoyed. Annoyed with myself for not leaving it until the morning. For not accepting that my body feels clumsy and uncoordinated. For forgetting that I’m in the middle of a heavy bleed and all my body wants is to be left alone to sleep and renew.
I ate wheat and sugar last night. My body doesn’t like wheat and isn’t keen on sugar. This isn’t a dietary fad. It’s a fact. But I was out to dinner and ate wheat at the first restaurant (where I went to have a meaty meal) and sugar at the vegan restaurant that I had been invited to. Almost immediately my stomach began to cramp up and my bleed became a flood. I knew that I needed to be at home, but confess that I was enjoying the company and being out. I arrived home and after spending a few minutes digesting the evening and thinking about the new connections that I had made. I went to bed.
Then I woke early. I meant to close my eyes and roll back over after I had visited the bathroom, but no. I forgot to ignore my phone. Oh my goodness, but how addicted are we to our phones. Then I started a conversation with a friend who was awake and had messaged me. By the time we’d gotten deep into conversation, my household was awake and I couldn’t find my way back to sleep.
I spent most of the day lounging on the couch. I was too tired and too lazy to move and so didn’t eat breakfast. Now that’s an idiotic thing to do. A few minutes in the kitchen making breakfast would have set me up for the day. I couldn’t nap. I love naps. I’ve been taking naps for about 25 years now… since I first had children. But for some reason, I couldn’t, didn’t nap today. I wasn’t listening to my body.
I watched Columbo. An old detective story. It was what my mind needed, because there was nothing that I needed to think about. The stage was set and the murder was shown. l knew who had murdered the victim, I knew how, but I didn’t know why. Faye Dunaway starred in this episode. She flirted with the bumbling detective, and he flirted right back, all the while asking ‘unimportant’ questions that took him closer and closer to the truth. Perfect Sunday afternoon viewing. My eyes were heavy, but I couldn’t sleep.
The family came and left. They are at the age when hanging with me isn’t their first port of call, but frankly I had no energy for conversation, so they drifted in and out. This was the first Sunday that the no work Sunday rule seemed more than reasonable. I had no desire to look at my work at all. The downside of working for yourself is that you spend a huge amount of time thinking about your work, doing your work and planning more work. My brain couldn’t cope with that.
I wanted to read, but that wasn’t happening. To be honest, I’m not sure that I could have coped with the stimulation. So mostly, I just stayed in the one spot. It looked like such a beautiful day outside and I would have loved to have gone out in it – though I bet it was freezing. I was invited to a Black Tie Reception, but I knew that it wasn’t going to happen. There was no way that I would have made it there and or back.
I tend to have large bottles of water beside me to ensure that I drink lots of fluids. I’m not even half way down it.
My bleed and my body were telling me to be still, but I wanted to just quickly get a couple of things done. So I went to the kitchen to empty the sterilising fluid from the huge box and organise my equipment for tomorrow.
Then the box burst and I couldn’t even cry, because I’m just too tired. I should have listened to my body. So now I’m off to my bed.November 26, 2017 at 3:43 pm #63569
@mars – HUGS. I think we all do things like that. We do things even though at the moment we’re doing them we know it’s the wrong thing to do. When it catches up with us (and it usually does), it reminds us that we’re human and keeps us humble. And those are good qualities to be reminded about – humanity and humility.
I hope you can go easy on yourself tomorrow 😉November 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm #63747
Today, I felt like I was back in the room. As I come through my bleed, I feel myself becoming more grounded. Had a good day today and am recording everything to remind myself to take care of myself. My kitchen floor is very clean, by the way.
Here’s today’s writing. 793 words, just thrown on the page. Tomorrow I begin to order them, flesh them out, and put together an actual book proposal.
So, I’ve been asked if I would like to write a book. My hope is that this does come into being, so whilst I’m waiting, it is time to work on the book proposal.
I would need chapters. The book is to be about colouring in the landscape of birth. It would need to start with the chapters. Though I’m not sure that I have titles yet. So let’s start with the premise, or basically chuck things down on paper and hope to pull out the good stuff.
It would need to start with the traditions of birth and birthkeepers. This is easy to find across The Pond, so I’m going to have to dig deep to find out what happened over here. Of course, whilst black people have been in the United Kingdom for centuries, there is not enough information to mine for details. I can talk about the granny midwives of America and how they came about and how they were demonised and eventually ‘trained’ out of their own living. I can of course mine the information from Africa and her many countries and the Caribbean and her countries. To do this I would need to talk to all the older Aunties and take as many notes as possible. Trying to get my own birth story from my mother has taken my entire doulaing career. It started with a simple ‘I went to the hospital and you were born’ and developed into ‘I went into labour. Your father was working. I had to wait for him to come home to take me to the hospital, so I got on with things at home. I arrived and got in trouble with the midwife because ten minutes after I arrived, I gave birth to you. The midwife say that I should have been there earlier. I didn’t understand why because I had you, then I came home’.
Whilst running my courses, I have spoken to my trainee doulas about their family traditions. I’ve heard different traditions and customs courtesy of my Caribbean doulas. I shall be asking them to bring me as many of their stories as they can.
I need to collect and collate the statistics on the maternal morbidity rate amongst black and asian women. I will also need to collect and collate the neonatal morbidity rates of black and minority ethnic (BAME) babies. The only downside to this is that they may well have changed by the time the book is published, but I think that they will speak to the history.
More things to consider. Systemic racism within hospitals, the NHS, the medical journals and within the antenatal and postnatal support. This will cover all BAME women. It will be interesting to chart the public rise of racism towards the Muslim mothers. I have collected stories of some appalling abuse from years ago, so I am not looking forward to the more contemporary stories.
I need to cover the traditional books about birth. By traditional I mean books written, edited and published in the United Kingdom. Finding images of black and asian babies in these books is not easy. Often the black imagery is negative. So I would need to explore where and why this imagery is used. Until recently the images of black women birthing have been African women or indigenous women from across the world. These were often accompanied by the captions and headings that talked about birth before it became ‘civilised’, or pre medical advances. We do not see images of white women here.
Another area to cover will be the advent of modern obstetrics on the back of black women. It was not just black women, though it was predominately so. Here in the United Kingdom, it was also on the backs of poor, lower class, white women and prostitutes. So it looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time in the library checking out as many facts as possible. This will prove interesting as there are not many studies about black and asian women as the norm is considered white. Once again the bulk of the information will come from across The Pond. I shall have to call on every contact I have within the NHS and the birth world to collate the information that I will need.
So. I need a timeline. I need to chart the history and I need to talk about what has and hasn’t changed within maternity and the birth world for women of colour. I need to talk about the issues and propose some solutions. Whilst I want this to be a realistic account, I don’t want it to be tome of doom. I need to keep the ideas flowing and it will start to take shape.November 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm #63896
Today’s writing has got me delving into research and microbiomes. This will eventually be honed and used as a blog post and as part of my book about colouring in the landscape of birth, and/or reproductive justice.
Today I’ve been reading about the microbiome. Now, there have been lots of studies around the microbiome in birth. When a woman has a caesarean, the baby does not collect the microbiome from the vagina. Some women will take swabs into theatre with them so that they can seed the microbiome. I have begun to read books about this to understand it better, and to watch webinars and make notes. What I discovered today in another article was that the microbiome of a black woman is different to that of a white woman. Now this is very interesting because what the differences may well tell us are how a mother’s environment affects her microbiome. We may also find out whether or not stress, racism etc., contributes to the microbiome and what that means for both the mother and the baby.
Significant research has been done to try and discover why the adverse outcomes of black babies are disproportionately high compared to white babies. Perhaps the microbiome has a clue. Of course, the studies done into the microbiome has largely, in fact pretty exclusively, concentrated on the microbiome of white women. The few black women that have been included in the study make their statistics negligible. It was originally thought that it was the poor diet of black women that made their outcomes three to ten times worse than that of white women. Other reasons given were socio economic ones. It is only recently that research is being done into the intergenerational stress that black women suffer as a result of systemic racism. There has been much said, which blames black women, for the disparities and poor maternal and neonatal outcomes. What I have read and discovered is that in America, African Caribbean women are far more likely to suffer adverse outcomes than African women who move to America. It was this that caused people to look beyond the diet and socio economic state of African American women. It could no longer be assumed and said that it was down to poor living and lifestyle choices. If it was not social status and standing, economic concerns nor diet, it had to be something else that all African American women had in common. Beyonce is at great a risk of dying in childbirth, or having one of her children die during the neonatal period, as an African American woman living in abject poverty. What both women have in common, is system racism and the chronic stress of the many micro aggressions they live through daily.
We know that it is not good for a mother to be stressed whilst pregnant with her baby. The cortisol levels increase and that is not good for either of them. So small wonder that living within a racist society, going back generations, has an adverse effect on black women and their children.
Black women are far more likely to have preterm babies. This is where the study of the microbiome is important, as the microbiome functions associate with one or more of the known risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes, which include the programming and maintenance of the immune system and protection against infection. If the differences in the microbiome continues through pregnancy, then a clear link to disparate outcomes might also exist. A study, exclusively about the microbiome in black women, has recently begun in the United States of America. What we need here in the United Kingdom is our own study of black and minority ethnic women. The maternal and neonatal morbidity rate is higher for these women than white women. It is not just an American problem.
These studies would need to look at black women in the continent of Africa, as well as those that have been scattered by the diaspora. It would be good to see and learn about the differences in the descendants of the enslaved Africans, and the Africans who have migrated by choice. More comparisons would have to be made with those that stayed within the African continent and of course those that were/are victims of racism and maltreatment by those that went to Africa to colonise her.
There is a lot that those studies need to look at, including the character and dynamics of the oral and gut microbiome of black women in early and later pregnancy as well as post pregnancy. The changes would need to be charted alongside any biobehavioral factors, including chronic stress, lifestyle, risk and protective behaviours.
This is a truly fascinating subject and I look forward to the day when the films and studies about the black vaginal microbiome is as talked about as the white. We need the black researchers, doctors and scientists to take this on, so that there is no risk of misinterpretation of the results. Perhaps in doing this, we may begin to close the disparate gap in diverse outcomes and we may begin to show that black babies matter.November 29, 2017 at 4:19 am #63952
Everytime I read your reflections and especially those you wish to put in the book… I am floored by
November 29, 2017 at 4:43 pm #64080
- I have never heard this or thought about it that way!
- This is SO DAMNN important to share!
- The impact this will have on so many women in how they view child birth… I imagine it will change many many women’s lives in ways that if this book does not exist, they would be less aware and able to understand what they are going through and how they are not alone…
Thank you @davidj I really appreciate you saying that. Sometimes I wonder if the message will get out and be heard by the people who need to hear it. Then I get encouragement like yours and I think… yeah. Perhaps they will.
Here is today’s writing. I wasn’t sure if it would become a rant, but I think that I restrained myself enough. I do want to work on it and edit it and make it sharper, as I think that it is one for the blog. Probably on my personal doula site, rather than my doula training site. Oh and it’s exactly 750 words lol
What is a doula worth?
I’ve started to get a series of enquiries that has me wondering what people think a doula is worth. Many are shocked when I quote my fee. This is to be expected as I am rather expensive, however, when I ask what they were hoping to pay, I’m shocked. I’m genuinely shocked. They would pay twice to three times the amount for a baby buggy, in addition to many other must have baby gadgets. It is completely their right to buy these things, as it is their money and should be spent as they see fit.
So let’s break down what a doula does.
Once you have booked your doula, she will be available on the telephone and via email for as long as you need her. There will be many times when you have a doctor or midwife appointment and you will come out with questions. Who do you call? Your doula. How long might that call last? Twenty to forty minutes. You might be unsure about your choice of hospital. This will require multiple texts, emails and calls to your doula.
You will have a minimum of two antenatal sessions with your doula. These will last about two hours each. Your postnatal visit will last a minimum of an hour. Let’s say ninety minutes. You may require another antenatal session as there is a complication, or your health care professionals want you to have an induction.
Your doula will do some research for you. These will help you make informed choices. How do you want to birth your baby? Where do you want to birth your baby? Who do you want around you, and with you when you birth? Your doula will research and point you towards studies that talk about any particular medical considerations that you have.
When you go into labour, your doula will come to you and keep you home for as long as possible, unless you are already in hospital. She will stay with you throughout your labour and she will support you and your partner. If you don’t have a partner, she will be your partner. She will ensure that you are fed and watered. She will step forward as you need her, she will step back when you don’t. She will hold your hand. Massage your back, the base of your spine, your sacrum. She will remind you of your options and your choices. She will prop you up emotionally, she will hold you physically. She will hug and kiss you and bring you back from the brink of despair. She will cheerlead and tell you that you are amazing, when you think that you are not. She will not empower you. She will recognise that you are powerful. And when she leaves, you will know that YOU did it. If your labour is eighteen hours, she will stay. If your labour is fifty hours, she will stay. She is not on the clock. Her clock has stopped for you.
Before you labour, she will put her life on hold. For a minimum of four weeks, her calendar and diary belong to you. She will not go on holiday. She will not go more than ninety minutes from your home, now matter the temptation. She will be ready to leave parties at the drop of a hat. She will miss school assemblies, her children’s birthdays, her best friend’s dinner, weddings, christenings etc., if you go into labour. Spontaneous weekends away with family, lovers etc., will not happen whilst she is on call.
Post birth, she will come to marvel at you, your baby or babies. She will listen again and again to your birth story. She will remind you of the goddess that you were in birth. She will hold you as you cry because the birth wasn’t what you wanted and hoped for, or because it was. She will hold your space in your most vulnerable and intimate moments. She will be wholly yours for as long as you need her and she will step back and close the door when you are ready for her to leave.
So I suppose what I question, in the expectation you have of low fees, is what is a doula worth to you. A buggy? A state of the art travel system? A supply of shoes? A designer dress or coat? There’s a credit card advert that jumps into my mind. Baby equipment equals X, but a doula? Priceless.November 29, 2017 at 7:15 pm #64087
Wow. This is really powerful. Not a rant, just an item by item list of your value as a doula. I don’t think it needs much work at all. And this could easily slide into a rant but it doesn’t because you state everything so matter-of-factly. I especially love your closing statement and a comparison to the excesses women spend on their babies. Very specific and powerful comparison.
You made me think – this is actually one of the last things to do for MOM before the baby arrives and takes over her universe, isn’t it? Maybe that’s one of the reasons we undervalue it so much. Because it is women’s work on both sides (Mom, doula) and because women are so apt to undervalue their wants and needs st this time. Like they’d do anything for the baby. But herself? That must be indulgent. Just a thought.November 30, 2017 at 2:20 am #64105
Thank you @laurakoller – I’ll think about that, because you’re right. That’s so important.November 30, 2017 at 3:27 pm #64165
And that’s it! This challenge is complete. It’s been brilliant fun. And since using 750 words, I’ve written just under 20,000 words. Wow. So if I can do that… well, I can do anything. Right?
Today is the final day of the Great ECourse Adventure, or as I like to call it, the Grady Course. This has been a wonderful challenge. I had forgotten how much I liked writing. I used to write stories at school. I was never fond of using speech, probably too lazy to use the punctuation. I really do like descriptive text. And so I used it a lot.
So, let me tell you about my day today, as it is the final day of the challenge and I have some stuff that I’m going to want to write in this coming week. I was supposed to go and meet my godson this morning, but he has a cold and his mother is over protective. She has PFB Syndrome. Precious First Born Syndrome. We all had it with our firsts. The baby cries too much, doesn’t cry enough. Sleeps too much, doesn’t sleep enough, etc., etc. She wrapped the baby up, gave him some calpol and cancelled my visit. Actually, that was a blessing in disguise as I was up far too late last night and so was glad of the lie in.
I packaged up some placenta capsules and a cord keepsake, ready to send to a new mum. I was deep in conversation, via WhatsApp, with a friend and so the day passed nicely. Then I went to meet my lovely friend, and theatre partner, Julia, who has moved out of London. She works in London occasionally, and when she’s here we try to get together to see a play or at the very least have a coffee. Today we managed to see a matinee. I love working for myself. I love the opportunity to pop out to the theatre and to get a meal. Today we saw a play by Henrik Ibsen called ‘The Lady From The Sea’. It was fantastic. I love the way Ibsen takes the presumed view of what it is to be female, and how they should be treated by society and shakes it to it’s core. He always seems to have some form of infant loss within his plays, though I may be mistaken about that. Note to self… research. What was beautiful was the diverse cast with no mention of the diversity. All of the actors were strong, well, mostly all. I wasn’t so convinced by Eludia’s husband, but she was strong and I really felt the emotional, mental turmoil she was going through. Eludia got married, 7 years previously to a man who had taken her away from her place of peace. The sea. Eludia’s heart belonged to another man that she felt was lost to her. A short while previously, Eludia’s five month old son died. A young, wanna be artist, who was clearly dying of consumption, talked about a man he met on a ship. This man was the one who held Eludia’s heart. Ibsen takes complicated family dynamics and complicates them further with old love affairs and new, blossoming affairs.
Julia and I were transfixed. It was so fabulous to see. There’s something rather decadent about going to the theatre in the middle of the day. Of course, another bonus was going out to an early supper afterwards. We were able to get a pre theatre deal. We went to a fabulous Mexican restaurant and had three courses, with a martini each, for £25. Such a great deal and totally gorgeous. The waiter prepared the guacamole by the side of the table. I have to say, I love that he squeezed the lime juice into the bowl and then mixed in the salt and pepper before adding the avocado, onions, tomatoes and coriander. I loved eating it more. Julia and I were stuffed by the end of the meal. She had a really delicious looking sea bream and I had baby back pork ribs. My children don’t like pork, so I don’t get to make it much at home. So it was lovely to have those succulent ribs prepared for me.
It was good to catch up on each other’s lives. I should mention that Julia is my accountant, so it was a win win situation. I was able to give her all of my paper receipts. She needs to submit my tax return before the end of 2017. I love the lack of stress in doing my accounts. I forward all emailed receipts and keep the paper receipts to hand over. I tot up my income and Julia does the rest. Perfect.
I came home and did my Italian practise via the Duolingo app. Apparently I am now 47% fluent in Italian. I’m going to need to do some extra practise to ensure that I remember words and phrases. I’m loving it though. Then it was time to put fingers to keyboard and whack out my 750 words.
Tomorrow is the beginning of the weekend, so I’ll have to do my writing earlier in the day, alongside my Italian practise. I’m thinking that I might do that nawiho wotsimmy and get my book done. I’ve got the website and I saw that the November challenge was a 50,000 word novel in a month. So I’m looking forward to seeing what they want for December. It may well be the same challenge. All I know is that this challenge has really gotten me into a good habit and it is one that I wish to continue. So from tomorrow, I’ll be writing specifically for my books. Thanks GEA. Great challenge.November 30, 2017 at 4:49 pm #64173
Bradley MorrisMountain Guide@bradleytmorris
@mars, that piece you did on the value of a Doula was so powerful. That shoudl be sumitted to EVERY doula organization around the world. So powerful, so true. I hope you choose to try to get that out far and wide. Seriously. People will share that. Especially doulas!
Way to go with the challenge this month. You have written a lot.
What have your top 2-5 insights and pieces of clarity been?December 1, 2017 at 7:54 am #64232
My top insights and clarity have been:
December 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm #64265
- How much I enjoy writing
- How important it is to just let the words out
- That writing doesn’t have to be chore, it can be simply fun or cathartic
- That daily writing unclouds my brain, so that the things I want to say, and put out in the public domain, have space to grow and come into being
- It is a new habit and helps me eat the elephant – one bite at a time
I wrote again today. Yup. This is a habit.December 1, 2017 at 4:55 pm #64268December 1, 2017 at 7:23 pm #64288
Bradley MorrisMountain Guide@bradleytmorris
So stoked for your clarity and insights @mars. It’s been a delight to watch you learn, grow and tackle every challenge since arriving at the mountain. You are a “get’er done kinda gal” and I love that about you. Thanks for sharing your stories, inspirations, hardships and process this month.
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