Friday, June 26, 2015

Feature Friday: The Empty Womb

Today's guest post is written by a dear childhood friend of mine, Jamie McWhorter. I reached out to her earlier this week and asked her to compose her thoughts on the subject of infant miscarriage and loss. I am at a loss for words to describe the beauty with which she responded to such an intimate request. Be forewarned, the subject matter is not light and although it is painful, it is important to give a voice to such loss.


When you look up the word miscarriage, one of the definitions is "an unsuccessful outcome of something planned."

I planned you, and although my plans for you were unsuccessful, God's were not. He gave you to me and let me carry you, for however brief....but why?
I've asked myself this one worded question over and over. I have asked the doctor, my husband, and God. 

You needed me in those few short weeks and months, to create a small body. A heartbeat, so that you could return to heaven for a greater work than you were meant to do down here. That does not mean you didn't have a purpose or matter though.

You changed me.

"The Empty Womb" is a photography project I put together of 6 images for a class project on depth. I remember talking to my sister Amanda about it and my ideas, but having doubt in myself that I could ever put how I felt into words. I've always loved making images that told a story--that moved my clients and myself. Although this has been one image that moved me more than anything, and I hope it has you as well. 

This last year was not the first time I have lost a child. When we first got married in 2009, we had thought that I was pregnant, only to go in and learn that there was no longer a fetus.

I hate that word, fetus.

It IS a least, it was. I picked myself up and pretended that it did not happen. We had two beautiful girls later on, who we love so dearly. Two years after our last, we hit a long patch of let downs. 

I was 8 weeks.......

........6 weeks........

.......11 weeks pregnant

and then I'd lose them.

The last set we got to 11 weeks and no longer had a heartbeat. Given no other explanation at the time but that the babies had passed.

Your body is fighting against you. I hated my body. I felt it had betrayed me. I hated myself and I hated God. I felt women were meant to have babies and to give birth to them. I could no longer do the one thing my body was meant to do naturally. No one talked about them, it was like they did not exist.

They were just another unsuccessful outcome of something planned.

With the love and support of an amazing friend and doctor, I talked more about them. I opened up more. I was able to turn back to my Heavenly Father for help--instead of turning my back on Him. 

More women lose a child before 20 weeks than we care to know. But it's every 1 in 4. Those are real numbers, real women. That means your mothers, your sisters, and your friends. They are suffering alone. 
Talking about your babies brings a light on the painful subject. It lets other women and men know they are not alone, and it's ok to grieve.

I remember a funeral of a dear friend's mother when I was young. The speaker said, "We do not ever grieve for the lost. We grieve for ourselves. They have no worries and are no longer in pain or suffering. How can they see cause to grieve being engulfed in our Heavenly Father's peace and love? We grieve on Earth for ourselves, so that we may come to terms with our loss. When you do not allow yourself to grieve and put your burdens on the Lord, it only adds to you own sorrows." 

These words have stayed with me, but I do not ever thing I truly felt their meaning until the day I embraced our family's loss.


Thank you Jamie for sharing your heart with us. I truly believe that the fires we pass through in this life sear a lasting reminder so that we can guide others through that same path. 

I have never experienced this kind of loss, but my heart knows pain. It's an empathy that I've often feared to dive too deeply into for fear of losing myself. 

Recently I have learned that being afraid of the things that make us beautiful keep us from experiencing the most painfully wonderful things in this life. With that in mind, I have decided to add another layer to my doula work.

I have taken the leap of faith and signed up to begin certifying as a birth and bereavement doula with Still Birth Day. My stomach is in knots and my heart is pounding, but the tears in my eyes have the names of the women I have not yet met etched into them. 

 Here we go.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Not Your Gym Teacher's Guide to Menstruation

I'm gonna have to save my media rant for another day, but I'll let you in on a secret: things are only as horrible as you imagine them to be.

It's true.
Attitude makes all the difference.

So my question then is, why have we bought into this idea that a woman's menstrual cycle should be the equivalent to damnation on earth?

Don't believe me?
Walk up to someone right now and say "menstruation". Or "cramps". Or "period blood."

Depending on who you're talking to, the reactions will range from mild curiosity to abject horror.

Words are important.
Women who use hypnosis to manage childbirth pain have this figured out like pros. They talk about waves, power, rushes, sensations, etc.

Does that mean that contractions don't hurt? Absolutely not. It just means they're putting their focus on something besides the pain.

So bear with me for a second use your imagination.

Imagine that when you were 12(ish) and you started your period, that your parents pulled you aside and told you how happy they were for you.
That they said, "Your body is powerful and amazing. You're at the threshold of womanhood and you have this incredibly important sign that all is working just as it should be."
Imagine that you dad said, "I don't ever want you to be embarrassed to talk about it. Almost every woman I have ever respected has experienced this moment. You are special to me, and your body is something to be honored."
Imagine that your mom said, "welcome to the club darling! It's true, there are parts of it that can hurt and even make you wanna swear. But this gift of life we have, it's not anything to be ashamed of. It's part of why we're here. Hold your head high. You are precious. The hormones are a wild ride. Give yourself grace. The blood can be difficult to manage at times. Teach yourself to laugh. And if cramps have you curled up in bed, know that your body is working just as it should and that your mama will always be there with a cup of hot cocoa and our favorite chick flick. Honor yourself as we honor you."


Every interaction with our daughters is a chance for growth and connection. What will you choose?

There is power in knowing yourself. 
There is power in knowing your body. 
It is important that we raise a generation of women who are not afraid to look in the mirror. 

That begins with education. Don't be afraid to talk about these things with each other. Empower yourselves with the knowledge that is out there. 

Most teenage girls don't truly understand what the menstrual cycle is. Heck, most women don't know or care until they are trying to get pregnant. That needs to stop. If we want the world to take our body seriously, then that must start with us.

So here it is.

The average cycle lasts 28 days. 
The Day 1 is the first day of your period. 
Through the next 28 days, your body will prepare for pregnancy and then shed the weeks of preparation when no baby making happens. 

If this is not happening, you should talk to your care provider.

If you are experiencing extreme discomfort, you should talk to your care provider.

If you are bleeding too much, then you should talk to your care provider.

Take control. Track your cycles. Keep a record. Talk to your care provider if you notice anything is off. It is YOUR body. The power of creation is YOU. Honor it, celebrate it, and protect it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Feature Friday: Kim Lane with Home Birth Midwifery Service

I am so excited to feature our first midwife on the blog today! Kim is an incredibly skilled midwife who recently moved to Utah. She blew in like a breath of fresh air and leaves a little magic in her step. I can't wait for you to get to know her. I know you'll fall in love!

Meet Kim

Q: Welcome Kim! Please tell us a
little bit about yourself.

A:I am a NARM Certified Professional Midwife with 22 years of out-of- hospital birth, midwifery training and experience. My practice is called, "Home Birth Midwifery
Service" which serves both SL & Utah Counties.

I recently have begun a collaboration with Angie Blackett and Maria Cranford to open a birth suite in Draper. We will be making an official announcement about that venture VERY

I am the mother of four grown children and just recently became a first time Grandmother. I had the privilege and blessing of catching my own Granddaughter on May 20th!
I am 53 years old (yes, really). Aquarius and born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger. I am an Army Brat, born in California and raised across the U.S. from coast to coast. I have lived in, visited, or traveled to 36 of the 50 states and have vacationed in Canada and the Bahamas as well.

I am a true "Girlie Girl" and a consummate Diva (if you cut me, I bleed red glitter). I have a pretty awesome collection of stiletto heels. I love EVERYTHING glitzy and glamorous.
I love Italian food, chocolate (which is its own food group), computer and smartphone technology, Lady Gaga (she is a genius!), and fashion. As a Midwife, I am an equal balance of holistic and evidence-based care provider. I am "crunchy" on the inside while conveying a professional approach on the outside.

Q: What are the benefits of a midwifery model of care?

A: By definition, The Midwives Model of Care™ is a fundamentally different approach to pregnancy and childbirth than contemporary obstetrics. Midwifery care is uniquely nurturing,
hands-on care before, during, and after birth.

Midwives are health care professionals specializing in pregnancy and childbirth, who develop a trusting relationship with their clients, which results in confident, supported labor and birth. While there are different types of midwives practicing in various settings, all midwives are trained to provide comprehensive prenatal care and education, guide labor and birth, address complications, and care for newborns.
The Midwives Model of Care™ is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events. The Midwives Model of Care includes:

* monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle,

*providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support,

*minimizing technological interventions, and

*identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.
The application of this model has been proven to reduce to incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.

Q:  What would you tell a newly pregnant mom who is searching for a care provider?

A: I would encourage her to do loads of research first on the type of care she desires and the modality of birth she wants. These two points will help her decide which model of care she should consider. Her risk factors, if any, also are key points in her consideration. If she desires a natural birth with a very personalized mode of care, wherein she and her partner play key roles in decision-making, then working with a midwife or group of midwives is in her best interest. Her desired PLACE of birth then factors in to WHICH midwife(ves) to hire.
I would explain to any woman thinking about a out-of-hospital birth, realize that home and birth suite/center birth are basically the SAME thing. There is no higher level of safety between the two places, except when considering WHERE your home or birth suite/center is in relation to the hospital in regards to a transfer due to complication or emergency. Women should ask and confirm that the midwife can legally carry and administer medications, is CPR and NRP (Neonatal resuscitation) certified (check to be sure her renewals are current), and brings a qualified (CPR & NPR certified) assistant or second midwife to the birth.
Training and experience are a key factor for women planning to have a baby, especially first time mothers who obviously don't have any of their own experience to turn to. Having the care and attendance of an experienced birth attendant is a valuable asset, particularly with out-of-hospital birth. Ask for both client and professional references and then actually check them out.  Find out if she is licensed and if so, is her license current/expired/suspended/revoked? Check as to whether there are any complaints or judgments on her record. If she is not licensed (legal to practice without a license in Utah), check her out on the internet, "GOOGLE" her and investigate her practice. What kinds of reviews does she/her practice have on Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yellow/Super Pages, etc...

And finally, consider VERY carefully how MONEY factors into your decision. Too many people are choosing their care provider solely based on "the bottom line" because finances are tight or the family is under or uninsured. I have never understood this rationale in relation to maternity/newborn care. Today, people spend much more time and decision-making effort on their cell phone plan or on the purchase of a car than they do on the selection of their midwife and the QUALITY of the health care for both mother and baby! While out-of-hospital midwifery care is relatively inexpensive compared to paying out-of-pocket for physician/hospital care, comparing midwife to midwife services can be like comparing Apples to Oranges. Women should be SURE to understand ALL the services, products, inclusions, and exclusions that each midwife is offering. Just because her fee is "cheaper" does NOT mean its the BEST offer. Remember that "You Get What You PAY For" so if you choose CHEAP, that
is exactly what you are getting. Be careful and do your own diligent search and investigation of each midwife your interview.

Q: Many people do not know that midwives are prepared for emergency situations. Would you please elaborate on the training, tools, and expertise that goes into managing those rare occasions?

A: While it is true that midwives are basically and generally "prepared for emergency situations" it is still important to understand that education, training, skills, and experience are key factors that come into play when having discussions about emergencies and safety. This is why women need to ASK questions about a midwife's training & skills! Being able to manage a hemorrhage or resuscitate a baby are essential skills. And her merely answering "Yes I can" to your question ISN'T an adequate answer! The midwife should be able to comprehensively answer the questions related to her training, skills, and experience with the management of obstetrical emergencies. She should carry the requisite equipment to monitor the mother and baby while in labor, to manage a hemorrhage, and to resuscitate a baby. Women need to KNOW that Unlicensed midwives are NOT ALLOWED to carry or administer emergency medications (prescription drugs) except oxygen, such as Pitocin, Methergine, or Misoprostol (for postpartum hemorrhage), antibiotics (for Group B Strep treatment in labor), I.V. (for dehydration, hemorrhage, or shock), etc. Thus having a Licensed Midwife (LDEM) in attendance is a overarching safety consideration for women planning an out-of-hospital birth. Consider that postpartum hemorrhage is the #ONE cause of maternal death around world and that is primarily because of three factors:
1) lack of access to anti-hemorrhagic medications;
2) birth attendant w/out adequate education, training, skills, experience;
3) distance to medical facility capable of handling obstetrical emergency
Thus, the education, training, skill, experience AND credentials of the midwife are ALL factors that should be considered when hiring a midwife.

Q: What do you want young girls to grow up knowing about their bodies?

A: Seek out great mentors, other strong and powerful women from which to gain words and pearls of wisdom & knowledge. Be PROUD of who you are and learn EVERYTHING you can about EVERYTHING! You are capable of SO MUCH more than just your own small space in which you stand. BE BOLD... EXPLORE! GO TO COLLEGE or TECH/TRADE SCHOOL!! BE YOUR OWN PERSON BEFORE YOU CREATE OTHER PEOPLE YOURSELF!!! Being a mother is wonderful and lovely, but to be the very best mother, you must BE YOURSELF FIRST!

You are divinely created to give birth! Your body is intrinsically designed to create, grow, birth, feed and nurture your babies! There is NOTHING to fear about birth. LEARN about the biology of the human body and especially the female body! It is an amazing design of bio mechanics, chemistry, and spirituality. There is indeed a mind-body-spirit connection which each young girl should foster and nurture in her own discovery of her self and her uniqueness!

Q: Favorite way to relax after a birth?

Thank you so much Kim! I especially enjoyed your message of empowerment to young girls. I do believe that if those were the words our girls were raised on, the women of this society would revolutionize the birthing industry. I look forward to working side by side to do just that!