by Robyn

Back to School

August 29, 2016 in Doulas, Education, LDS History, Midwives, Robyn, Thoughts, Uncategorized by Robyn

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My kids have been back in school for a few weeks, and well, so have I.  Actually, I started taking some online classes this summer at my local university.  I was nervous to go back to school, twenty years after graduating with my degree from the University of Utah.  What I have found is that I still know how to do the school thing. But I chuckle to myself when I have to type in my online introduction.  I should probably just start with, “So I’m probably one of the oldest people in this class, if not the oldest.”  It isn’t too hard to guess that from me saying I am a mother to six children.

One thing I noticed through the years of teaching childbirth classes is that I would get more than my share of university professors and students in my classes.  And now I know why, evidence based research is highly emphasized on college campuses.  University folk tend to want to educate themselves on the topic more than someone outside an academic setting.  And they are great for giving referrals.

The truth is, I am actually enjoying the experience more this time around. It is nice to take one or two classes at a time and really soak in the material. Life experience really does count. The two psychology courses I took this summer emphasized how internalizing the concepts and applying them to real life is what will help us remember them.  I just have more life experience to apply them to now.

I’m not going to lie.  I am mourning the passing of the stage of life of having babies.  At the same time I am excited for what lies ahead.  It is a whole new chapter I am beginning and I’m not exactly sure where it will lead. I just know that for now I’m on the right path with taking prerequisites for the nursing program.  In one way or another I will continue with my love for childbirth and mothering.  In the midst of taking classes this summer I was blessed to be present for five beautiful births as a doula, each so unique and different, each with their own rich lessons to leave me with.

This fall I am taking a Library Sciences course.  I love it.  I finally have better tools to tackle a project that I have wanted to do for a few years now, researching the history of midwives in Idaho.  I had little pieces here and there but with the added knowledge from how to search and organize from my class, I now have a list of over twenty midwives.  While that is encouraging, I still need more and better sources so, just in case you have any information, I am asking for stories of Idaho midwives whether they be pioneer, settlers, immigrants, or Native American.  I have really struggled to find stories of Native Americans because they passed on information orally.  So if you have any hints for me of where to look, I would really appreciate it.

Why am I doing this? Karen Cornwall Madsen was able to put it into words for me:

The century-long struggle of women to gain legal equity and political equality, to obtain opportunities for education and economic self-reliance, as well as their ubiquitous efforts to address social welfare and community needs are all stories formerly excluded but integral to what we call American history. Moreover, they are fascinating accounts that introduce a whole roster of intelligent, capable, articulate, and imaginative women into the pantheon of American heroes. We women today are their heirs, beneficiaries of their convictions and their courage to turn those convictions into reality. If one is left a legacy from an unknown source, there is usually a natural curiosity to know the identity of that source and to discover the connections that have linked them together. This kind of curiosity has driven the interest in women’s historians to connect with their own past and to write the missing pages of history. They are not like physicians dispassionately dissecting the corpse of history. They are both intellectually and emotionally connected to their task. As women, our lives have been shaped by our collective history. It has given us “a usable past,” a frame of reference in which we can better understand ourselves and our own personal histories. To be deprived of that past is indeed a loss of an enriching and motivating spirit. (“History: A Journey of Discovery,” September 29, 1998.)

Wish me luck!

 

 

We will be at the Christ Centered Energy Healing Conference

June 13, 2016 in Education, Energy Healing, Events, Sheridan by enjoybirth

I am so excited to announce that The Gift of Giving Life will have a table at the Christ Centered Energy Healing Conference in Ogden Christ Centered Conferencethis week, June 16th and 17th.  Sheridan will be there to sell the book (at our special conference pricing), talk to our biggest fans – you and share with new readers!

I don’t know how many pregnant people will be there, but we all know our book is for ALL women of ALL ages and stages of their lives.  So it will be fun to share the message of the spirituality of pregnancy and birth.

Sheridan will also be talking about her classes and services she provides with Enjoy Life.   She loves helping moms as they transition through pregnancy, birth and parenting with classes as well as one on one support and emotional clearing.

 

by Robyn

What Lack I Yet? New Years Resolutions

December 28, 2015 in Education, Forgiveness, Free Agency, Holy Ghost, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

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It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.

–Spencer W. Kimball

It’s that time of year . . . you know, the one you try to avoid?  Ok, maybe it’s just me who tries to avoid setting goals because I know I won’t complete them!  For me, the Eternal Warriors program is what I needed to make me accountable to setting goals and reaching them.  It is an excellent way to overcome weaknesses and tackle behaviors you want to change.

 

 “Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better.”

–David A. Bednar

As a part of the class you identify 3 target behaviors that you want to improve at. Such as:

  • Controlled use of video games
  • Controlled use of social media
  • Waking up at a certain time each day.
  • Eating limited sweets.
  • Daily family prayer.
  • Daily meditation practice
  • Exercise
  • More patience

Along with the target behaviors you are required to do the following daily actions:

  • 5 min prayer 2x daily.
  • letter to God or future spouse.
  • 5 min reading scripture or recommended literature.

I am so glad that Sheridan invited me to take her class.  I really wanted bedtime to be a smoother more peaceful process.  Sadly, it was not uncommon for me to lose my cool.  Yelling was a normal part of the bedtime routine that I wanted to change.  It was not an overnight change for me.  I needed to be accountable everyday with my journaling and being aware of what was triggering me and how to stop the cycle.  And eventually, I got there.  Bedtime may be chaotic but I am not. Yelling is no longer a part of the process.  Can I get round of applause?!  Seriously, it wasn’t happening with just writing the goal down in my journal.  I needed the knowledge and drills that are a part of Eternal Warriors.

 

What have you been waiting to change about yourself? 

Stop wishing and get started!

This class is great for adults and youth.

A new series of classes begins January 7th.  Sign up here!

“If we are humble and teachable, the Holy Ghost will prompt us to improve and lead us home, but we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way.”  Larry R. Lawrence (source)

Maybe the Most Important Family Home Evening Your Family Will Ever Have!

September 18, 2015 in Education, Motherhood, Sheridan by enjoybirth

I was so thrilled to see that the church came out with this great Family Home Evening Lesson.

What Should I Do If I See Pornography?

Some of you may be thinking, this doesn’t apply to me.  I just have little kids.

The average age of first exposure to pornography is 8 years old!

Many are exposed on the playground at school or on the bus, by friends with cell phones.  Or even playing at a friends house.

This video the church made is so great and perfect to watch with all ages of kids.  Even a 3 year old could watch it.

Please watch the video and then share with your children.

Things I love about it…

  • It talks about how our brain works and why we are curious and want to see it again.
  • It gives steps to follow if you are exposed.  Including talking to parents.
  • It shows children of all ages that could be affected.
  •  I also love that it shows girls as well as boys. Pornography is not a boy problem!

Another wonderful resource is the book

I have 3 boys and pornography is something that I want to inform my children about, so they feel comfortable coming to me if they are exposed.  My older 2 have been exposed and came to me.   My 9 year old not yet, but I feel quite confident he would, as it is something we talk about on a consistent basis and without shame or fear.

It isn’t a question of IF they will be exposed. The question is WHEN will they be exposed and will they know what to do if they are?  It is often from a friend who shows them, or accidentally stumbling upon it.

This is why I think this is one of the most important Family Home Evenings your family should have on an at least yearly basis.

Other good resources – for teens and adults

 

by Robyn

Their Hearts Were Changed

August 24, 2015 in Adversity, Cesarean, Depression, Doulas, Education, Fear, Grief, hospital birth, Love, Postpartum Depression, Pregnancy, Robyn, Uncategorized, VBAC by Robyn

“Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” Alma 5:14

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Life as a doula. Every birth changes me in some way. I always learn. Often the lessons are unexpected. A little over three years ago, I attended at birth that I recognize as one of those unexpected yet key experiences that shape a doula. I still talk with this friend and I mentioned to her that this birth changed me profoundly. She asked me to explain. I have to admit that I struggle to put it into words on a page because it was a change in my heart and mind. So I will make an attempt to put words to how my heart was changed but just know that I’m not sure I can fully capture what I want to express.

To explain I should start with experiences that shaped my thinking in regards to birth. I grew up being afraid of birth and that transferred to my own first birth experience that ended in an unnecessary cesarean section. I was filled with love as I held my baby for the first time but I felt robbed of something. Somehow I felt something wasn’t right. I knew I wanted more children but struggled to know how I could possible accomplish it with all of the fear I felt inside me.

I replaced my fear with faith and knowledge. I read and studied birth and took a comprehensive natural childbirth class. I admit I felt anger and guilt after realizing my birth could have been very different. I didn’t want other women to have to do things the hard way. After the beautiful natural VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) of my son I became a childbirth educator. I was a birth activist. I had an Us vs. Them mentality as it relates to birth. We, the birth advocates, were fighting the establishment and all of the lack of informed consent/information and cultural misconceptions of the mainstream birth world. Even though I was teaching a lot of good information in my classes I know that I taught with my own bias because of my own experiences. I was often judgmental of the birth experiences of others if they didn’t turn out “ideal.” I worried when someone was making a decision differently than I would. I didn’t want them to suffer through the emotional baggage that I had.

Well, four years ago I met my friend whose birth I am referencing. She was easy to talk to and fun to be around. We quickly became close friends. She had had two cesarean births. All of her sisters had cesarean births. It seemed it was the just what they had to do in her family. I was quick to share with her that I believed she could have a VBAC. I had done it. She was open to learning more. I kept feeding her information which she read and studied. She wanted to have a VBAC. She became pregnant after we met but soon experienced extreme fatigue and nausea while at the same time being weighed down by prenatal depression. We went on walks most mornings. I checked on her often. We carefully talked over her options and made a plan. She took a childbirth class with her husband, planned to have me as her doula, chose a supportive caregiver that she had to drive 45 minutes to see. I was excited. I felt like the Lord brought us together so we could experience her VBAC together.

And then she moved to another state in the last trimester. We scrambled to find the right birth place and birth team. She found a supportive group only to be faced with a cesarean birth because her body seemed to not be cooperating as she passed her due date by 10 days without any change. She was in tears. I was two and half hours away. I jumped in my car and made it there just before she was wheeled into the operating room. I sat in their room and waited. I paced the floor. It felt so long. I wracked my brain. What could I have done differently? What does this mean? Why were we brought together if this is how things were going to unfold?

As she was wheeled into her room with her perfect baby boy, a quiet reverence surrounded her. All of my questions melted away. I stifled my own tears as I watched her tears fall. She had given what she could.

This past July I had the privilege of listening to Dawn Armstrong speak. She is the “missionary mom” from Meet the Mormons. Her story is not your typical missionary mom story, it is powerful, it is messy, it is real. And that is how I felt a little with this birth, that we are all here very different children of God having a human experience, just trying our best to find our way. Sometimes it is messy, fully of tears and heartache, but it is real. It is someone’s life experience and journey to find their way back to their Heavenly Home. Along the way we experience disappointment but hopefully we also experience God’s hand in lifting us up. Hopefully those experiences open our hearts to the greater scope of the plan, love. Christlike love. I couldn’t judge my friend’s experience. I could only be there for her. Mourn with her. Be a friend.

See? I know I didn’t fully capture here the change in my heart. But let me just say that now, when I encounter someone and they are telling me about their birth, I don’t have to judge what they have experienced. It is liberating to just love them and listen.

What heart changing experiences have you had as a doula or midwife (or birthy momma)?

by Robyn

Interview with a Student Midwife

July 27, 2015 in Doulas, Dreams, Education, Faith, home birth, Marriage, Midwives, Motherhood, Parenting, Placenta, Prayer, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

Angela Geurts

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a student midwife? I asked my friend, Angela Geurts, to answers some questions about life as a midwife in training. – Robyn

 

Tell us a little about how you were guided to become a midwife.

Sometimes each of us may feel that we have a calling in the church stamped on our foreheads. For me, it has been the calling of ward/stake Emergency Preparedness Specialist. Not sure how or why, but it seems to be a calling of choice for me regardless of where I live. I’ve learned all about food storage and rotation, using wheat and stored foods, having a home apothecary of natural remedies, etc. After my 5th baby was born at home I realized “Wow, I now have four daughters. Four daughters that will grow up in uncertain times, which may very well need my help during their child bearing years and experiences… and I do not know enough.” My emergency preparedness focused in sharply on how I could be prepared for this eventuality….

The decision to become a midwife was a difficult one for me. I have always valued being at home with my children and supporting my husband as he works to provide for our family. It took me about 2 years of soul searching, scripture study and earnest prayer before I made the decision to enter this occupation of sacrifice, with my husband’s support. Many scriptures spoke to me, but I felt my answer was found in Abraham 1:2; mainly in the line “desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge.” That is what I most desired; to have the knowledge necessary to help my daughters, and women in the church to have a beautiful and safe birth regardless of what the circumstances might be. To have the knowledge, skill set and experience to provide care for them in a home setting. My world view includes the belief that in the near future hospitals may not be available in times of catastrophe or chaos as an option for birthing women, and so my focus is on gaining all the skills that may be needed in such situations.

I also was influenced by the midwives who attended my personal births, and the care and great birthing experiences that they provided for me and my family including Nancy Mooy, CNM (Utah, retired), Michelle Bartlett, CPM (retired), Kathy LeBaron, LM, CPM and Valerie Hall, LM, CPM, with whom I am now an intern. Each one of my personal birth experiences taught me important life lessons and added to my desire for other women to have the birthing options and experiences that I enjoyed. Particularly my home births, where we together as a couple received a great strengthening power from working together and relying on each other; that is when I realized “Wow, this is what birth is meant to accomplish for a family.”

 

What midwifery school and training did you decide upon?

I decided on the National College of Midwifery in Taos, New Mexico, because it was a program that I could complete from home while raising my five children, and it seemed to me the best financial option at the time; according to my financial plan, I could achieve the needed training for state licensure for about $15,000.00.

 

At what point in your path as a midwife are you at?

I am in the beginning of attaining my Primary Under Supervision numbers, with 27 credit hours of academics still complete. For births as Assistant, I have 39 out of 20 required, and for Primary births I have 6 of 25 completed. I will complete all of my academics and numbers by August of 2016 and apply to take the NARM either fall of 2016 or early 2017.

 

What is a typical day or week for you as a student midwife?

A typical week… is basically fly by the seat of your pants… taking care of my home (cooking meals, cleaning – admittedly these activities have gotten fewer and fewer with all the load of midwifery), my five daughters ages 1-17, writing to my missionary son, making appointments and scheduling for the midwifery practice, completing office details like charting, keeping contacts current, and doing MANA statistics, trying to squeeze in 10 hours per week of academic classwork, attending prenatal visits 1-2 days per week, performing massages (for continued income) of 4-6 per week on average, providing placenta encapsulation services and limited doula births, and working on my current church callings (ward emergency preparedness & stake assistant emergency preparedness coordinator). A typical birth load for our practice is about 3 births per month, although births don’t usually happen like that-sometimes we have no births in a month and sometimes 6-7-there is always an ebb and flow to birth work.

 

How has your commitment to become a midwife affected your family?

Being a midwife is one of those professions that require the whole family to sacrifice and bend and flow. Particularly in home birth settings where being on call is something that is constant, and induction of labor is not an option, being ready to jump and go at all times with a young family involves multiple layers of planning and back up plans. Scheduling vacations is difficult, and often needs to be done at least 9 months in advance. There are some good things; for instance, my children often have to step up and take care of younger siblings, meals, cleaning, and planning for alternate ways to take care of their activities and commitments if Mom is not available to help. Finding the balance between meeting my family’s needs and having just the right amount of clients/clinic days/office work is a constant process. The first few years of my midwifery training, working at a birth center one hour from my home I thought was going great and the kids were adjusting and everyone was happy. Then I conceived our 6th child, and stepped back from the rate I was doing midwifery. The relief from my husband and children was tangible, and they often mentioned how happy they were to have me home again. When it came time for me to get back at it, each one of my children had different nightmares about me leaving/being gone/being injured. That is when I realized that though I thought all was well before, it really wasn’t. Finding that balance for my family is something that I intend to seek for direction from the Lord in prayer and humility for the rest of my career.

 

What are some of the blessings and challenges you have faced?

Baby number six takes the cake for being the biggest challenge (and blessing) to my midwifery education. I was half way through my training and numbers when I conceived, and really it’s taken a toll of extending my training a good two years. And accepting that, like in birth, the speed of my midwifery education and control of the outcome is in God’s hands and not mine. I’ve really tried to settle in to the fact that maybe He just wants me to get all the experience and education, and is less concerned about how quickly I accomplish it or whether I become licensed. (Of course, I do not intend to practice illegally, either). I’m just doing my best and relying on, trusting in and following the divine direction that I receive. By the way, there is plenty of ‘no clue what God wants me to do.’ So that just equates to moving forward with what I do know He wants me to do, and trying to let go of the worry over everything else.

 

What advice would you give someone who is considering whether or not to begin training to be a midwife?

With a young family in tow, midwifery learning can begin in the books, long before you ever decide to begin formal training. You might also consider completing doula training or workshops, becoming a childbirth educator, taking a midwife assistant class, and perhaps some courses in counseling women with breastfeeding issues; each of which will give you more tools to help mothers if you decide to pursue midwife. I would recommend purchasing all of Anne Frye’s books including Holistic Midwifery, Healing Passage and Diagnostic Tests. Next in line would be Varney’s Midwifery, and LLL breastfeeding answer book. And of course, learning about dietary needs, herb’s and tincture’s goes right along with midwifery in all its glory 😉

 

What is one of the most spiritual experiences you have had as student midwife?

I think the most touching and spiritual experiences are when the whole family participates in the birth; or when other small children are brought in with mom, dad and the new baby. But for the most part, spiritual experiences for me happen each day, mostly when I am talking with parents about how birth may go, and the type of experience that we are trying to create for them as providers. It is in those moments when I share something that is absolute truth and feel the spirit witness to me that it is true, that is part of each visit day and hopefully each birth. It’s kind of a little divine witness that helps me remember the importance of what I am doing and how I am trying to do it. Most of the time those witnesses are associated with the importance of family, and the way God has designed for families to come about, through the process of experiencing the birth together, and putting their faith in God and efforts towards educating themselves, taking responsibility and preparing themselves for the process.

 

Has working in midwifery affected your testimony? How does your work as a midwife combine with your testimony?

The supreme courts’ recent decision on marriage, and the recent laws that have been passed in my state which have threatened my personal religious freedom (as in mandating that I cannot choose what clients I serve as a midwife without responsibility for litigation) caused me to reflect and soul search about why I am putting so much effort, time, money and sacrifice into midwifery training. This caused me a bit of grief and anxiety for a while, until I came to my real purpose: supporting, upholding and sustaining the family unit through a birth environment and experience that enables, teaches and empowers. Birth is meant to physically draw a couple together in a unified purpose which allows them to experience trial, work, long-suffering and unsurpassed joy together. That is why I am becoming a midwife, and I know in this pursuit I am absolutely using my daily work to “promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

Watching and learning from my preceptor, Valerie Hall, as she uses and seeks for inspiration and direction with each client and each birth has been a great blessing. There is no differentiation between religion and work, they are rolled into one; together they define each of us. Getting an answer to prayer takes effort, and keeping yourself in a position to receive answers quickly when under pressure necessitates that daily effort is made to pray, read the scriptures, spend time strengthening my marriage and my family… and still it is difficult to obtain answers quickly in times of decision making… so it’s a talent I’m trying to develop and tune into in all aspects of providing midwifery care.

by Robyn

The Path of a Modern Mormon Midwife

June 16, 2015 in Angels, Book, Education, Faith, Fear, home birth, hospital birth, Jesus Christ, joy, Midwives, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

An Interview With Valerie Hall, LM, CPM

So what is it like to be a midwife? Valerie Hall LM, CPM, graciously agreed amidst her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me about her work as a midwife.  I have known Valerie since she began her journey by becoming a childbirth educator.  She was also present at the birth of my sixth child.  I also loved taking part in the Midwife Assistant classes she offered.   My favorite part of the class was the beginning when she would ask the “hard questions,” meaning, the thought-provoking ones that cause you to search your soul a little bit. While I am not ready to begin as a student midwife yet I value the training and experiences I had in her class.  It allowed me to peek into the world of a midwife and evaluate the blessings and sacrifices associated with it.  I hope that other such classes will be offered for other women trying to decide upon the path of midwifery. Valerie has a website for her practice, Generations Homebirth, and she also has a facebook page.   –Robyn

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photo by Cali Stoddard

Tell us a little about how you were guided to become a midwife.

I believe my first step toward midwifery was the firm conviction I had even before I was married that it was essential for me to give birth without medications. I’m not sure why that was planted in my heart, but it was very clear. Our first baby was born in a California hospital without medications but certainly not without unwelcome interference. It was a long time before I processed the pain of that experience, but it made an activist out of me. “Activist” is the word my Dad used to describe me because it was nicer than “fanatic”.

Five more babies came along, all born in hospitals and all without medications. My activism went dormant when it became clear that most people just didn’t want to hear about it. When our 4th child and 1st daughter was expecting her first baby, she called to say that she wanted a natural birth and asked about what classes were available. From there it was a slippery slope for my husband Steve and me. We became Bradley Method teachers, then I started attending births as doula and took the DONA training.

My very first job turned out to be a precipitate birth where I beat the paramedics by about 7 minutes and the baby did not breathe for what seemed like forever. This was definitely beyond my training level! All turned out well. In the first year of doula work I caught the baby 3 times and I promise it was never my fault. At that point Steve started urging me to look into Midwifery school.

I started looking but quickly realized that at 51 years old I was way too old to start this career. But Heavenly Father would not take NO for an answer and I felt actually shoved into midwifery. Doors opened. Money appeared (usually at the last moment). Previously planned doors closed. Things fell into place. I kicked and cried and fretted and worried but always sought the next little patch of light which never failed to appear just as I was about to give up.

 

What is a typical day or week for you as a midwife?

I do all my care in my clients’ homes except for a few who come from a distance and choose to meet me at my house. So a typical week looks like this:

Monday: Office work. This never, ever ends. It’s like dishes or laundry. You can’t catch up. I’m not good at sitting in front of a desk for hours on end so I’ve learned strategies for survival, like taking a break and doing crazy dances with my grandchildren who live with me.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Usually at least 2 of these days are spent traveling to clients’ homes. My assistant Angela Geurts does all my scheduling for me, bless her. So on one day I go north to the Rexburg area and on one day I go south as far as Blackfoot or Pocatello. If I can’t get all the visits in, then I do a 3rd day. I also serve on the Board of Directors for Midwives College of Utah and of the Idaho Midwifery Council (I’m giving that up soon) and on the Idaho Board of Midwifery. So there are often online or phone meetings for those organizations and also projects that I have to do for them. I try to fit those in on the days when I don’t have too many visits. Sometimes I’m gone from 8 am to 6 or 7 pm, although that usually doesn’t happen more than once per week. I schedule a full hour for each visit plus driving time. Sometimes a student travels with me.

Fridays: In the morning one of my students comes for a few hours to help with things like organizing the office (a spare bedroom in our home), making up birth kits, scanning and entering documents, sterilizing instruments, restocking my bags, etc. Sometimes I can do home chores while they’re doing this but I usually need to be close at hand to answer questions.

Of course, if someone has a baby we have to revise the schedule unless the whole thing takes place at night. Angela has a big job!

 

What led you to begin offering assistant midwife classes?

I had been thinking of offering Midwife Assistant classes for a long time. When I first went out into solo practice I didn’t think I was likely to get students who wanted to get their clinical credits with me because I don’t do a high volume of births (about 25-30 per year) so it would be quite slow. I needed trained assistants. I realized that there are many women who are not ready to jump into midwifery but who would like a gentle introduction. Also, there’s a great need to educate women so there will be someone to help at births in case of emergency. That’s something I feel very strongly about. Birth knowledge is not something that should be kept as a professional secret available only to the few. It belongs to all women. Every ward should have someone who is at least somewhat prepared to help in cases where professional help is not available. Of all the emergency scenarios people talk about, emergency childbirth is the one you’re most likely to encounter in your life. It happens every day.

As it turned out, I do have students so my need for assistants is much less than I had expected. But I’m going to keep offering the classes as long as there’s any interest because it’s a good introduction to midwifery. There are now three licensed midwives in my area and I think there might be demand for good trained assistants.

 

What advice would you give someone who is considering whether or not to begin training to be a midwife?

I don’t have a lot of advice for people considering midwifery training. Just like any other major life decision, it needs to be searched out diligently and then prayed about. I do believe that it will soon become important to attend an accredited school. There is no royal road or shortcut to competence in midwifery. It’s a very responsible job and can be hard on a family if not approached with care. It’s worth taking your time and really investigating before jumping in. The rewards are great but so are the sacrifices. It’s worth investing in a quality education. “Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every byway, till you find your dream”. If it’s the path for you, you will come to know that.

 

What is one of the funniest experiences you have had as a midwife?

There are so many good stories! This is why midwives write books. I will too someday. Stories are mostly funny after the fact, and I’m the victim in most of them. Once I was attending a mother for her 3rd baby, and I’d been present as a student for the first two so I knew that this mom always worked hard to get her babies out. This time she was birthing on her bed in a suspended squat, supported from behind by her husband. Baby was finally almost crowning after a real effort at pushing. In the intensity of the moment I forgot the fact that her water hadn’t broken yet. I was practically lying across the bed with my hands outstretched and my face right in the path. Sure enough, the water broke and caught me full in the face, completely drenching my hair. But Baby was right behind it and I barely had time to run my arm across my face to clear my eyes before I had to catch. Baby needed a bit of stimulation to get started, so there wasn’t time to do anything about cleaning up for quite a while. When I finally had a chance to go into the bathroom and wash, I looked like a creature from the Black Lagoon. Naturally, this was a birth that took place fairly far away from my home and the mom had Rh negative blood type, so I had to take blood samples into the lab before I could go home and shower. I can only hope the lab people were pretty bleary-eyed at 4 am and didn’t think strange things. Angela was my assistant and she’s still laughing about that.

 

What is one of the most spiritual experiences you have had as midwife?

To be a midwife is to be a watcher at the gates of life. Every birth is a spiritual experience. Sometimes I’m very aware of the watchers from the other side of the veil. One of the richest experiences was the birth of one of my grandsons. My daughter-in-law was laboring well and there was deep peace in the room. As the birth drew near I became aware that the room was full of women. I couldn’t quite see them but I knew who some of them were. My Great-Aunt Dade who delivered many babies as a rural nurse, my Great-great-great grandmother Morilla Spink Bates who was a pioneer midwife, my own grandmothers, and other ancestors. I also recognized the presence of many whose names I did not know; they were ancestors of my daughter-in-law. I did not say anything but knew those women were there to lend support and to usher my grandson into his mortal experience.

 

Tell us more about the projects you are working on.

I’m currently working on several projects for the MCU board and the Board of Midwifery. At the same time I’m working on a book on Emergency Childbirth. It’s meant to be an updated manual like the old classic by Dr. Gregory White. But I’m also considering including it as a chapter in a longer work on preparedness for women and babies. I really need an illustrator! I’m also considering how I can complete my Bachelors degree in midwifery (I graduated with an AS from MCU). And of course I want to update my files so that all my notes are in electronic form and well-indexed so that I can find what I need easily.

Has working in midwifery affected your testimony?  How does your work as a midwife combine with your testimony?

 

My testimony of the Gospel and of my Savior’s grace has been greatly strengthened by my practice of midwifery. I know for certain that my strength is weakness and all power comes from Him. His plan is perfect, though we are not. I can testify that He lives, that He leads us along and knows of our needs and answers our prayers.

One of the great problems for midwives is fear. I think every midwifery student encounters this. There are so many things to be afraid of, but fear and faith cannot exist in the same person at the same time. Therefore faith must prevail. That which you feed is that which grows. I have learned to feed my faith, not my fears, and I have learned to rely on the strength of the Lord instead of my own. I must not carry fear or resentment or pride into the room where a birth is occurring. Since I never know the day nor the hour when I will be attending a birth, I must keep my repentance current.

I was given a powerful gift 38 years ago on the day I received my endowment for the first time. I believe that it was in some way tied to my mission among women. For some reason, the Lord saw fit to roll back the veil and let me truly understand the relationship of men and women on this earth and in the eternities. In one instant I saw the glory and nobility and unity of the sexes. Then it closed down and I could never explain it in words to myself or anyone else. But I had seen and understood for that one second, and in all the years since I have never had any troubles or doubts about the place of women in the Lord’s plan. It is glorious. In the World we have tribulation and uncertainty and sometimes anger or resentment about these things. But in the Lord we have peace everlasting. It is my testimony that we can choose where we will live, in Babylon or in Zion. We can choose whom we accept as authorities, the philosophies of men or the messengers from our Heavenly parents. You may have different questions or struggles than mine, but the source of light is the same for all of us. Let there be Light in your life.

 

by Robyn

Back to the Basics: Why You Should Read to Your Kids

June 10, 2015 in Education, Guest Post, Parenting, Power of Words, Relief Society, Uncategorized by Robyn

I was excited to get this blog post in our inbox about the importance of reading to our children.  I will never forget the first Relief Society Enrichment meeting that I attended after my first baby was born.  It was a presentation on reading to your children.  My baby was only about a month old but I immediately started reading to her from that day on.  I am forever grateful that another woman shared with me her passion for reading to her children.  My family is forever changed by it.  I know it prepared my children for school but more importantly it strengthened my relationship with them.  I have never regretted the time I spend cuddled with my children reading.  I especially love finding my children reading to each other.  And as I read with my children I also remember my mother’s voice reading to me before bed.  It was a treasured time.   I knew I mattered and I enjoyed the adventure and warmth of listening by her side.  I hope this post ignites in you a passion for reading with your children.  –Robyn

 

(Image credit: jbird via Flickr Creative Commons)

(Image credit: jbird via Flickr Creative Commons)

Many of us have fond memories of our parents cuddling with us in bed, a book propped up on their laps and our little fingers eagerly reaching over to help flip to the next page. Those nights spent reading books with our parents will always be treasured, and it’s unfortunate that not many children are able to experience that nowadays. In a world where time is moving faster than ever and parents hardly feel like they have time for all their responsibilities, they often dismiss reading as an unnecessary activity, unaware of all the benefits they could be missing out on. If you haven’t read to your children in a while, here are some reasons why you need to reconsider:

1. Reading Helps Build Language Skills Reading aloud with a child doesn’t just help them become more familiar with sounds and the words of your language, the healthy exchange of ideas is also essential in helping them construct their own sentences. There have been studies that showed that children who are read to do better in school, and this can be attributed to how a child’s vocabulary expands as parents read to him. With a better grasp of the language and the ability to communicate, they’re able to perform better in school.

2. Reading Makes Them Better People The imagined worlds of books help thrust kids into situations they otherwise wouldn’t experience in the real world. As a blog post on Tootsa MacGinty explains, the regular reading of books can help “create empathy toward other people, because literature values humanity and celebrates human spirit and potential, offering insight into different lifestyles while recognising universality” – a good excuse to pick up a book if ever you needed one!” By reading to them, we help our kids identify with the different characters in books, and appreciate their situations and learn how to react to them.

3. Reading Together Strengthens Bonds When your kids reach a certain age, you’ll find that they’ll be spending less and less time with you, and the cuddle time you used to enjoy when they were younger will be few and far between. Reading together helps recreate this cuddle time and strengthen your relationship. As you go through a book, make sure you ask your child about their opinions on the story and the characters, as this will give you the chance to get to know more about your child, and his or her interests.

Do you still read to your children? What do you think is the biggest benefit you can get from reading to your kids?

Author Bio: SleepyMum Ram J is an advocate of childhood literacy, and she has dedicated much of her life to helping parents rediscover the joys of reading to their kids. When not spreading the word of childhood literacy, she sometimes volunteers at local daycares.

by Lani

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 1

November 4, 2013 in Birth Stories, Cesarean, Depression, Education, Faith, home birth, hospital birth, Lani, Midwives, Personal Revelation, Postpartum Depression, Prayer, Preparation, Traumatic Birth, VBAC, Waiting by Lani

1011942_669099829783949_352451545_nCherise is an Arizona Mother, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Placenta Crafter, and Creator of the marvelous “Big Baby Project” (a website full of empowering vaginal births of babies 9 lbs and over). I love how her story illustrates what I wrote about in my essay “Unity with Providers of Care” in The Gift of Giving Life. I love that Cherise continued to search and pray until she found the right care provider for her. -Lani

 

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 1
By Cherise Sant

My first encounter with childbirth started with the birth of my first child. That experience was eye opening, disappointing, affirming, traumatic, magical, overwhelming and set the stage for the worst depression of my life. I had resisted an induction but eventually caved to the pressure I was receiving from my obstetrician. The ultimate result was a healthy baby boy born via cesarean and my broken heart and body.

My second birth was an empowering vaginal birth in the hospital, but I was met with mistrust, abandonment and even violence though I had carefully chosen my provider and a “natural birth friendly” hospital. Even more disenchanting was to have my baby caught by a resident student as there was no obstetrician in the hospital at that time. If something catastrophic had occurred, I would either have had to wait until someone arrived or transfer to another hospital. It was then that I asked myself, “Why did I get out of my bathtub at home and tear down the freeway in transition to come here and meet negativity and contention when the help I was going to the hospital to potentially receive wasn’t even there?” I knew my next baby would be born at home. Should a need arise, I would then go to a hospital.

Three and a half years later, the month after my daughter weaned, I became pregnant again. Thankfully, there were a handful of midwives who had extra credentials, allowing them to legally attend me in a VBAC at home. I began to interview them. The first one I interviewed was “the one” – or so I thought, until I knelt down and prayed to know if she was. Very clearly, the answer was “no.” I was stunned. I knelt there in a sour stupor, trying to work out what that meant. Did that mean I wasn’t supposed to pursue a home birth? Was I willing to go back to the hospital? The next couple of weeks reflected no progress on the part of my attitude. I knelt down again and asked, hoping maybe I wasn’t clear that first time, but very clearly, the answer that came again was, “She’s not the one for you.”

I didn’t know whether this birth would involve a tragedy, but there was one person that did know all, and that was the Lord. So I resigned my will and continued the search. I was not only searching for a provider, but also asking whether home birth was the Lord’s will for my family. I really had to search myself- why did I want this? After a lot of prayer and contemplation I concluded that it was because I wanted my birth to be treated as sacred. I wanted the spirit of love to be unrestrained. I knew that would best be achieved in my home, with people I knew beforehand rather than meeting a stranger in a hospital and hoping for the best.

I interviewed another midwife, and then another. Their philosophies clearly did not match my own and I was feeling defeated. At the time I was teaching childbirth education at an obstetrician’s office, and knowing that she was more mother-baby-friendly than most, I considered choosing a hospital birth with her. Still, there was no peace and approaching my 17th week I felt like I was running out of time. I did NOT want a last minute scramble. I continued to pray, search my scriptures and explore my thoughts and feelings about all of the possibilities.

One weekend, I was volunteering at a birth event where a screening of a popular birth movie was taking place. I was sharing my dilemma with a friend and fellow birth worker. She then told me about a midwife who was credentialed to attend VBACs at home and that she’d been in practice for 30 years. In that moment, something came over my body, mind and Spirit that had never happened before. My bosom burned like a fire, and my mind flooded with messages of love and support from my Heavenly Father. I knew for certain that she was the one I was looking for. I got her information and sat down for an “interview,” though I already knew she was the one.

It turned out that not only did our philosophies match but she was the only midwife in the state (of whom I was aware) with the skills and support I was looking for. (And I was pretty picky.) In particular I wanted someone who was comfortable enough to use only her fetoscope during labor instead of the Doppler. I wanted access to herbal knowledge and teas – which she had an abundance of! The Lord knew exactly what I was looking for and wanted, and he was providing for me. I felt so loved.

Even still, the weight of my decision caused me to doubt. I prayed and sat down with my scriptures yet again. I opened right up to scripture which basically said to me, “I already answered your question, don’t keep searching for what you already have.” I prayed prayers of gratitude for my answer and continued to prepare.

Look for Part 2 (the birth story) in a future post…

by Robyn

Polly Block, Mormon Midwife Part 1

March 25, 2013 in Church History, Conversion, Education, Faith, LDS History, Midwives, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

Polly Block midwife

I wanted to share some information about Polly Block, a more recent LDS midwife.  I had the privilege of connecting with her daughter, Jeanette, who provided me with this background information about her.  She also kindly wrote about her mother’s life of service in the church.  What a treasure to have this information.  Thank you Jeanette! If you would like to contact Jeanette about ordering a copy of Polly’s Birth Book you can go to their Facebook page.  Polly’s Birth Book is a nice addition to your emergency preparedness library. Tune in tomorrow for part 2 of this post.  –Robyn

***

Polly Block is a world renowned and highly respected midwife. Midwives from all over the United States and worldwide frequently seek her counsel in midwifery (natural childbirth) & pregnancy, because of her broad experience with special birthing techniques. Polly was invited by a scholar from a national foundation to assist in research on birthing customs in different cultures. Home obligations prevented her from accepting this honor.

Polly’s special interest has been the effect of herbs on pregnancy, labor, and delivery of birthing mothers. She has also developed an extensive home nursing file in natural childbirth and midwifery skills, which stresses diet, massage therapy, natural food supplements, and advanced first aid techniques as the basis for preventive health care and home preparedness. Polly has often been invited to share her data with leading researchers and practitioners, as well as midwifery schools in the field of home birth, natural childbirth and midwifery.

Polly was guest speaker at University seminars on childbirth and midwifery. She taught six-day training classes in midwifery in many of the states. Polly participated in the Carol Sakala research, reported in Content of Care by Independent Midwives, published in the Social Science & Medicine Journal, printed in Great Britain in 1988. She was asked to donate six weeks of training to a newly developed program, The Russian Birth Project, in St. Petersburg, Russia, wherein three of the nineteen maternity hospitals were being devoted to the training of midwives. Polly did not attend, but both Polly’s Birth Book and A Superior Alternative, Childbirth at Home were used.

At retirement, the author was a great grandmother, and spent a lot of time writing good family reading materials to “help raise” some of the many children she helped bring into the world. Her sixteen titles and Polly’s Birth Book speak for her. All of Polly’s birth books, A Superior Alternative Childbirth at Home, Aaron your Awesome and other writings of her writings are paperback and very affordable.

In 1988 the Utah County Sheriff’s Emergency Preparedness Department asked Polly Block to enroll as an Emergency Midwife in the event of a natural disaster. Polly was also asked to prepare the Emergency Childbirth Handout issued from their office for the public.

 

It is a well-known fact that in disaster situations triage rules the day! This means that women will be told to stay home or go elsewhere to deliver their babies because childbirth is not a life threatening emergency! Rightly, the Sheriff’s office wanted to help the layman to become prepared to assist a mother in natural childbirth. While Polly’s Birth Book alone lacks the element of hand-on experience for the reader, nevertheless it is by far the most sought after childbirth “how-to”.

Polly's Birth Book

 

 ***

In the words of her daughter, Jeanette:

She was a convert from the Bible belt. After her conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saint she served two full time missions. After her missions she met my father, and then introduced him to the “singing mothers? (Today this is the female part of the Mormon Tabernacle choir.) He felt it was the most beautiful thing he ever heard and there they fell in love. But she would not marry him until he had chosen, of his own free will, to become LDS. He was due to go back into the services and could not live any longer without her…. so … he was baptized in the Jordan river in Lehi, Utah. (I remember he always thought it was so special that Christ was baptized in River Jordan and he was in the Jordan river.)

While he was gone, she continued and hungered for more about the Lord and the gospel. She actually was the oldest person in the seminary class that she enrolled in. However, she didn’t care and was soooo happy and grateful to have the opportunity to have it.

She got her degree in personology. When my father returned, she had four miscarriages, so she started learning how to prevent such a tragedy from happening again and became an herbalist. She then had  four children.

During this time she was a writer. She published, off the top of my head, I want to say 27 times. Her works were varied, anywhere from the most fabulous children stories, pioneer stories, family history, to Aaron’s accident (all of which are for sale).  She also kept avid journals as they are the record in heaven.

She always remembered that if she did the Lords bidding she would be OK. “Remember the Lords simple love, He loves us …. simply because we ARE. He sent us down here to gain a body and to learn.” This she did willingly while learning all she could.

She really did put 110% into what she did. That was until she started midwifery, then it turned 160% after a tragedy in our town … a newborn was found in a dumpster. This just devastated her.  I was about 10 at the time and I remember her saying, “This is such horrendous thing happening to these little innocent, sweet spirits, abortions, and now this! I need to help the Lord to bring these sweet spirits to this earth as safely and a healthy as I can, and as inexpensively as possible, after all these years, I feel this is my calling in life.”

She then wrote A Superior Alternative, Childbirth At Home. I guess we were at that age where my little brother, Aaron (4 years younger), and I were… uh shall we say “demanding” of her attention, and it drug out the process of the book. So she made arrangements for a “nanny”, locked herself in the remodeled garage for what seemed forever (it wasn’t really, it just seemed forever) and there Polly’s Birth Book was born.

She lectured many seminars on birthing during and after she retired actual birthing babies (except for mine).

She supported a long journey with my father through the Boy Scouts of America, 62 years, until my father’s death. In fact, twenty minutes after his passing, we received a phone call to see if they could have an eagle interview with him. She even designed many of the patches for the BSA.

About six months before she passed away the Russian government contacted her and said they would take care of all her needs, medical and housing, if she would just come teach their people HOW to birth their  babies as their mortality rate was sooo bad. (Now Russia will not allow adoptions out of their country.) She was ready to go. I gently sat down and said, “Mother, it’s a red country, a third world country, they don’t have the medical help you need, and you’re diabetic and quite simply … we will never see you again , they will keep you there cause you are helping them so well.” She replied,” that’s OK dear, I’ll see you again in the next life. You will always know I am there.” (AND SHE IS)   I SMILED SOFTLY AND SAID,” Mother, kindly call them back, tell them thank you for the honor and invitation, BUT your daughter said you couldn’t go …. and send them books…..so she did….

She loved the Lord and it shows in her writing. The very best advice she gave was to utilize the Lord and the Priesthood, pray often AND stop and listen and feel his guidance.

SHE WAS A PREPPER! She thought of so much more than the norm thought to prepare for … lol. She just didn’t get her fallout shelter.

She prepped right down to a wood burning stove and a ton of coal…. that is as beautiful today as the day she put it in the ground…40 yrs ago/ lol I remember my father came home from Geneva Steel and there is this huge square hole dug very nicely and a very heavy gage black plastic laying nicely in the bottom overlapping the outskirts of the hole by about 3 feet. OHHHHHH BUDDY! WAS HE MAD! “YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR YOU HAVE TORN UP MY GRASS! IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.” She simply said, “I have got it all planned out very carefully, and you will have your grass back, it won’t go bad, and easy to get to when we need it, BUT when the Prophet said to get prepared, I took him for his word and as she raised her eyebrow, and said and if you don’t like it then you are just going to have to look the other way.” He said nothing as he really loved the fact that she would be taking care of their family way after they were gone. And really, he took joy in huge gardens, bottling, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and prepping himself.  And I know they are proud of me and my husband as we take up where they left off.

OH BY THE WAY she folded the outskirts of plastic over the top of the coal then had another sheet of the plastic over the top and tucked way down the sides so that water will pass by.

She was sharp as a tack and was reading stories to her grandchildren right up to a few hours before she died with grace and honor. I am blessed and honored myself to have her stories still so close to me as they have truly taught me the plan of salvation. I love them.

Polly spent her life dedicated to helping, uplifting and educating in the field of midwifery and emergency preparedness bringing children into this world as safely and affordable as possible, through midwifery and training midwives.

“Healthy children should not only be born to the rich.”

We will miss her as she has returned home to her sweetheart and Father in Heaven in November of 2007. It is my intention to keep her legacy by helping to the best of my ability and keeping her midwifery books in print, available and affordable.