Thursday, March 31, 2011

Owning Our Practice

When we are working with such an elemental and mysterious thing as birth, it is often hard to tell where the lines that define ourselves and others can or should be drawn. I was speaking with another very experienced doula the other day who took exception to something I said. I suggested that inexperienced doulas may not be as successful at preventing unnecessary cesareans as a doula who has had years of experience working in a hospital environment with many diverse clients.
She countered, and rightly so, that the essential role of the doula is to offer companionship and respect, and those qualities will triumph, whatever the outcome.

I agree. To a point. Love works wonders. But a combination of things are at play, especially in a busy hospital that may or may not have a sensible approach to natural birth. A younger, less experienced doula may not know quite how to respond when a resident reaches for the amniotomy hook as she is doing a vaginal exam and prepares to do an amniotomy, all without saying anything to the laboring woman. Although we don't like to admit it, it is true that even the presence of a more experienced doula will help doctors to exercise caution. A less experienced doula will not know the policies and protocols of the various hospitals as well as a more experienced one. She will not have built relationships with the medical staff she is working alongside. All these elements can and sometimes do lead to the inexperienced doula accompanying a woman along a very different path than the one they had hoped.

That said, is that not our ultimate mandate? To accompany? To be a companion as the woman makes her journey? If we are beside a woman and her partner as they are becoming parents, and we are there to support, to love and respect, as the woman moves through labor, is that not sufficient?

Yes, if the environment she is birthing in is a sane and healthy one. Definitely. But what if a woman is birthing in an environment where the professionals are overworked, the infrastructure is crumbling, the focus is on risk instead of health, statistics are distributed as freely as narcotics, and the emotional and spiritual side of bringing a child into this world are more or less ignored? Then, possibly, a birthing woman needs more than a companion in love. She needs a watcher, a guardian. Experience, skill, humility, and an open heart are the foundation blocks that a doula can build her practice upon. And one important rule is: never stop learning. When you have a chance to change your mind, change it. When you feel you know enough, know you are wrong. The responsibility is great, the stakes are high. Ego should not take part in the miracle of birth.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Natural Birth

Here in Montreal, a woman has a few choices when it comes to giving birth:

We have several large hospitals, most of which have maternity centers. If you are birthing in a hospital, you will be followed either by a family physician or by an obstetrician. Because doctors here in Montreal get paid less, are more overworked, and have to work under worse conditions than in the rest of the country, there is a real problem of access and availability. This means that a woman may not find a doctor who necessarily agrees with  her approach to childbirth. The larger hospitals are also teaching units, so women in labor are under the care of several people other than the doctor she is officially being followed by.

There are three midwife-run birthing centers in Montreal. Two of these offer women a choice to birth either at the center or at home. The third provides home-birth midwives to eligible women. Demand for these provincially registered midwives is high, and the eligibility requirements are strict.

There are women in Montreal who do not want to follow the provincial rules, and these women have two choices. Some hire "lay midwives", who have been trained elsewhere and are not registered with the Quebec college. Still others give birth on their own or with their partner or a friend.

For years I was getting swamped with requests from women who were desperate about their chance of having a natural birth. The conversation would go something like this:
 "I was on the waiting list for the Birthing Center but I know I have a very slim chance. So I've decided to go with Doctor x at y hospital, because I have heard they have a more natural approach. I would like to give birth at home with a midwife but I do not feel comfortable with an unassisted childbirth, and my husband is not happy about hiring a lay midwife. So we feel our best choice is to hire a doula."

Yes, the presence of a doula can reduce interventions. Yes, my c-section statistics (6%) compare well with most of the Montreal hospitals' statistics (25-30%). Yes, birth can take unexpected turns and you are well advised to have a trained attendant. But to be able to stay in your own bed after giving birth, and bring your child into an environment that is your own means a great deal not only to the mother, but also to the newborn.

And my concern is, I am not getting those phone calls any more. The calls are still about hiring a doula, but they are usually not from women who are serious about natural birth. The women who are on the midwives' waiting lists are actually getting in to the birthing centers. They are not hiring lay midwives, and they are not giving birth unassisted. I know that the birthing centers are not working at over capacity; they have rules about how many they can take on. So my conclusion can only be that the desire for a midwife-assisted birth is becoming more rare, and this makes me wonder. Is the doula-accompanied birth in the hospital the way of the future?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Peek into the Doula's Year

… you are assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss. Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening. If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge. When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: “We did it ourselves.” Tao Te Ching

January 23 … I make myself comfortable on the couch in the living room … they have the lights on low and there is a sweaty, earthy smell in the air. The cat hovers around my ankles. I hear another contraction coming and going. Its 3 a.m. and I have been here for two hours. In the morning, we will go to the hospital, driving on the highway at dawn. The baby will be born by breakfast time. Everything is good.

March 16 … I am sitting in the Jacuzzi room, kneeling quietly next to the bath as I splash water on her back.


July 3 … She wants to dance during contractions, back and forth across the small room, keeping me moving as she holds my hands.

October 1 … I speak gently to the father-to-be, explaining that her pain is normal and his anxiety is perfectly natural.

December 23 … She calls me at home at 2 a.m. I awaken and answer the phone quietly. She says she is in labor and wants me to come to her. I hear from her voice that she is not ready so I speak to her for a while through a few contractions and suggest that she tries to sleep. She calls me at 7 a.m., after sleeping for four hours. She was woken by stronger contractions and she calls me to find out if it is time to go to the hospital. I reassure her that she is coping very well and I talk her through a couple of contractions over the phone. As she is still able to talk through them, I know that I will be able to start my day as planned. She calls me after lunch to say that she has lost a pinkish mucus plug and that she can no longer speak through contractions. I reassure her that everything is going well. At 9 p.m. her husband calls and I can hear her moaning in the background: they want me to meet them at the hospital. We arrive together and the doctor finds her cervix is seven centimeters dilated. She is given a room and she continues to labor well. Her back is hurting and I use St John’s Wort oil to relieve the pain. Her husband is by her side, letting her know that she is doing a great job. She turns to me and says that she needs pain relief. I tell her that this intensity of pain probably means that the baby is almost here. With her next contraction she starts to push. The nurse comes into the room and notices that she is pushing and calls the doctor. As the doctor arrives, it is clear that the lady is pushing and her baby will be born soon. The doctor greets her patient and as the nurse prepares everything on the delivery cart, there is silence and peace as the woman relaxes in between her contractions. As she gets ready to push again, her husband gently wipes her face as he murmurs words of encouragement. I know that with this contraction, the baby will be born. And he is. The doctor tells her patient to reach down to take her child; as she does, her husband bursts into tears. The nurse helps her to place the baby on her chest and covers them both with a warm blanket. I look at the doctor and we smile at each other, happy with the team effort.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Meconium Happens

I have had a week full of surprises - dead cars, no electricity, troubles at my son's school, indiscretions at a dinner party (don't ask)... But I feel ok, because with every strange turn of events, I have seen my husband's smile, or my youngest has drawn me a picture, or one of my sons showed me they care.

The more I live this life, the more I am convinced that the deal is, it is not what happens to you that matters so much, it's how you accept it (or not). I have been to births that have been really challenging and tough, where the woman accepts the labor and is thrilled with the whole experience. I have seen other women fight against labor and birth, one contraction at a time.

How can we nurture a woman so that when labor comes, she will embrace the experience instead of fighting with it? What happens to a woman when she has a vision of a natural, normal birth and she arrives at the hospital and things start to go haywire? Is it possible to convince women to stay at home, at least until they are in active labor? What about the woman who feels every contraction, from the very beginning, like torture; the woman who can't separate her labor contractions from an abuse she experienced years ago?


These topics and more will be covered in my upcoming Doula Workshop. Please try to join us, and tell your friends!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Viagra?

I was listening to our national radio the other day in the car. There was a rather lame comedy show that took the place of a mock debate, with canned laughter and all. The debate was supposed to be about the perils of Big Pharma.
With a half an ear on the radio, one eighth of my attention on the road, and the rest of my thoughts on the woman I had just visited, I waited for a laugh - there must be some gags you can get out of the idea of drugs and the common man.
Into my consciousness blurted the voice of a youngish man, explaining the increase in Viagra's popularity over the past few years. In a ham-handed way, he was attempting to turn the problem around, and according to him, the reason why a 65 year old man couldn't get it up was because - oh, when he looks at his wrinkled, saggy, old 65 year old wife, what's there to turn him on?
I quote almost verbatim.
I was shocked. This is national radio! How can he be allowed to present older women, and older men, in such a light? Whoever talks about a long marriage with such disrespect? And how's it anyone's business anyway?
Then I remembered, of course, this is the 21st century. My 9 year old watches hockey games, where men are getting their necks broken by other men (I thought the game was about shooting a puck at a net?), and during the commercial breaks, he learns about Viagra, and imagines it is a pill you take when you are tired of going on walks.
In our drug-happy, Pharma-controlled society, little wonder that women do not expect to give birth without pharmacological pain relief. Men and women cannot maintain a long marriage without Viagra. Children cannot be controlled without Ritalin. For every mild ailment there is a pill. You can take a pill if you are shy, if you are sad, if you are scared.
But why not go through the real emotion? If you look at your old lover's body and see all the scars and lumps that were not there when you met, wouldn't that fill you with love? And if the love isn't Viagra love, so be it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Volunteer Doulas

Imagine you were alone. Imagine you were new to a country where everything was different - the climate (cold), the language (confusing), the way people act towards each other (are they angry?), the system....
Imagine your country was at war, and imagine that no one in your family could be found.
Imagine, now, that after experiencing violence and abuse at the hands of strangers, that you found yourself pregnant.
We are very lucky, us Canadians. We live in a place where you can have your baby in a safe place, where you can get medical care if you need it, where people have the luxury, the possibility, to help others. And though there are problems, and though we don't all get the birth experience we always dreamed of, we are fortunate.
Montreal Birth Companions accompany women in need through their pregnancy, labor and birth. A volunteer doula will be on call and available for questions day or night, before a woman goes into labor. She will be by the woman's side as she labors, and she will share in the joy when the baby is born.
The Montreal Birth Companions doulas and administrator (yours truly) having been working on a shoestring since 2004. We are dreaming of growing, and for real growth to occur, we need cash.

Dining for Social Change is putting on a gourmet dinner tomorrow night. People will join together to eat good food, have fun, and the proceeds will go towards providing a doula for every woman in need.
I love having things fit together - and this event is one of those times. It is the hormone oxytocin that stimulates the woman's uterus to contract so that the baby can be born. This hormone is also important in breastfeeding. It is called the "love hormone". And it is produced when people are eating together.

So, a toast to all of you! Life, love and happiness to the women we serve, to our volunteers, and to our joyful diners!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Birth Conspiracy?

I remember seeing a medical student who was attending his first birth. It was a normal, natural hospital birth. The woman was on the bed, her husband was by her side, I was next to him, there was an intern helping with the delivery, a nurse, the physician in charge, and a young medical student. The baby came out, everyone was happy, the new parents were exhilarated and crying, and then the medical student exclaimed loudly: “Look! Look! Look at its little toes! Look! They’re like real toes. They’re just like real toes!”
The attending physician looked at him and whispered: “Philip, get a grip!”, but I was hoping that that simple amazement and wonder would stay with him throughout his career.
For some people, this story may be full of problems and issues. What do I mean by a “normal, natural hospital birth”? Can a woman have a natural birth in a hospital? I remember hearing from an obstetrician that among some women in our city a “natural” birth was when you didn’t wear much makeup when you gave birth. What is a normal birth? If a hospital has a 90% epidural rate, does that mean getting an epidural is normal?
And certainly, we can’t have trained professionals going gaga over newborn’s toes, can we?

We are living in an age when we are terribly concerned with our health, yet it is an age when human life expectancy is at its highest. We worry and fret endlessly about our children, but have difficulty finding time to spend with them. We are living a life that is far from nature, yet we yearn for the “natural” and the “green”. We are so divorced from our own bodies that a surprising number of pregnant women do not know where their cervix is or how a baby is supposed to come out.
In our world, human life has become so complicated that every simple activity has a huge structure built up around it. This structure is built upon a foundation of information supplied by an army of experts. Simple processes such as eating, healing, making love, giving birth, breastfeeding, caring for children, have all become complicated and institutionalized. When a woman decides she wants to have a child, one of the first things she will encounter is the structure we have built up around birth. She will be met with a mountain of information and much of it will be conflicting.
In the birth world everyone wants to have a little piece of the birth experience. The birth practitioner wants a piece of even the most physical and elemental. Here is an example: It is often very tempting to do a vaginal exam. Why? We want to know what’s going on; if the baby is moving down, if the cervix is opening, where the baby’s head is positioned. What most practitioners will not admit is that this intimate physical connection with a woman is important to them: it is an amazing thing, to feel a baby’s head coming down the birth canal! But how often is it really necessary? Does the laboring woman actually want to have so many exams? How many vaginal exams are done for the sake of the birthing woman, and how many are done for the attendant?
The birth practitioner, or any birth “expert”, also wants a little piece of the bigger picture: we want the woman to have a natural birth, with no epidural and no interventions. Or perhaps we want her to have an epidural so that she can be more comfortable. Or we are convinced that surgery will be less risky. Either way, we want to convince her that we know best. In fact, we do know best: we are more educated, we have seen more births, we have seen more pregnant women and we know what to do.
Or do we?
The Birth Conspiracy is this: It is an understanding, created by all of us, that we cannot function without experts. We cannot give birth without birth experts. We cannot labor without assistance, without classes and checklists. We cannot make our own decisions, or accept consequences for our own actions. It is a way we can avoid responsibility for our lives. Those of us who are experts want and need to control the process. It is very hard to sit on your hands and wait while a woman labors. It is much easier to interfere, to preach, to suggest, and to control.

Interested? You can order your copy of The Birth Conspiracy soon - watch this space!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baby Milk

Being one of the bottle-fed generation, I wasn't brought up with an intimate acceptance of breastfeeding. Two years travel in Africa took care of that. In the countries I visited, it was common to see babies and toddlers snacking on milk at all times and in all sorts of places. Women would sit down for a minute, to get a little break from their work, and a toddler would run up for his milk break. A woman would be walking on a path, with a heavy sack on her head, and her small baby nursing from her sling.
Breastfeeding for me was a straightforward event. And for most women, it is, or it should be. Unfortunately, many women who are giving birth in the hospital (reality check: over 90% of North American women) are being educated wrongly about their breasts and breastfeeding and end up having painful difficulties with what could be such an easy and joyous activity.
Most women's breasts are well equipped to produce milk. Some women have nipples that aren't perfect, and some have had surgery that makes it more difficult. But there are a few simple ingredients that make up a happy breastfeeding relationship:
Skin! is one of them. Take your bra off - take your clothes off - take your baby's clothes off!
Remember when you first met your true love? You probably spent a lot of time in bed without any clothes on. That's the way new babies like to relate with their new mothers.
No interference! is another. Forget the bottle, the pump, the soother, the baby equipment. If you want to get breastfeeding off to a good start, you and the baby are all you need. Later, you can play with all the baby toys.
Position! is important. Make sure the baby is taking the breast correctly. Breastfeeding should not hurt for longer than about thirty seconds at the beginning of the feed. If it does, remove the baby and place her on again. Get someone to observe you feeding if you are in pain - and call someone in soon to prevent problems. Call your doula! Do not suffer in silence!

It is such an indescribable feeling, looking down at a fat and happy breastfed baby and knowing that your body helped that child to survive and thrive. Remember that your body created a newborn, and it can create enough milk for that newborn.

This post is dedicated to Luna, who is transcending her limits.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day: Festa della Donna

March 8 is a day for us to look at our lives as women, a day of taking stock. Who am I, and what does my life as a woman mean? What does it mean to be a woman? Women all over the world are fighting for freedom, on March 8 as well as every other day. Women are trying to feed their families, they are putting their children to bed, they are collecting water from a communal pump. Women are working, hoping their children are doing okay. Women are trying to get along with their men, and trying to get along with each other.

Today I heard of a sad rift between two good women, women who are changing the world. I read that women had been shot in the Ivory Coast.I spoke with a woman today who is angry about her unnecessary c-section. I spoke with another woman who said "hasn't anything changed since the seventies?!"

What has changed for you over the years? How do you think your life is better or worse than your mother's or your grandmother's life? What do you know about your great, great grandmother's life?

I remember one March 8 like it was yesterday. I was in my favorite city, Rome. It was spring and I was expecting my third child. We went to the airport to meet some friends.Women were standing by the doors with bunches of mimosa flowers that they were giving to every woman who entered. One unsuspecting lady took a liking to my young sons, and she gave each of them a sprig as well. Well, of course the mimosa branches turned into swords, and the first International Women's Day battle was fought, on the shiny and slippery floor of the airport lobby.

We are small and fragile, like the blossom of a mimosa. Let us try to take care.

International Women's Day: Festa della Donna

March 8 is a day for us to look at our lives as women, a day of taking stock. Who am I, and what does my life as a woman mean? What does it mean to be a woman? Women all over the world are fighting for freedom, on March 8 as well as every other day. Women are trying to feed their families, they are putting their children to bed, they are collecting water from a communal pump. Women are working, hoping their children are doing okay. Women are trying to get along with their men, and trying to get along with each other.

Today I heard of a sad rift between two good women, women who are changing the world. I read that women had been shot in the Ivory Coast.I spoke with a woman today who is angry about her unnecessary c-section. I spoke with another woman who said "hasn't anything changed since the seventies?!"

What has changed for you over the years? How do you think your life is better or worse than your mother's or your grandmother's life? What do you know about your great, great grandmother's life?

I remember one March 8 like it was yesterday. I was in my favorite city, Rome. It was spring and I was expecting my third child. We went to the airport to meet some friends.Women were standing by the doors with bunches of mimosa flowers that they were giving to every woman who entered. One unsuspecting lady took a liking to my young sons, and she gave each of them a sprig as well. Well, of course the mimosa branches turned into swords, and the first International Women's Day battle was fought, on the shiny and slippery floor of the airport lobby.

We are small and fragile, like the blossom of a mimosa. Let us try to take care.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Carnevale!

I only ended up in Italy by accident, falling in love with a man who had spent the happiest time of his life in Rome. So we moved there and made a life in the Italian countryside, raising children, making wine, and living on a shoestring.
I enjoyed life there - it was a fun place to raise kids, and life was always interesting. There were two things, though, that we could never get right. One was the time change - the annual Daylight Saving. Because we lived such a rural and isolated life, without a TV, computer, or much of a connection with the modern world, we never knew when the time was supposed to change, so we would consistently miss the first few appointments after the time change, or get there too early.
The other thing we could never get right was Carnevale. In our area, the children would dress in costumes and eat sweets, bringing back memories of the trick-or-treating of my Canadian childhood. It was a fun time; there would be a parade, and either a few days before or a few days after, the school-aged kids would dress up to go to school.
This celebration was called "Cicicoco," and our timing for this little holiday was consistently wrong. We would either bring the kids to school dressed up on the wrong day, or everyone else would be dressed up and they wouldn't be, or we would dress them as the wrong thing.

So, you may be wondering, what does all this have to do with birth?
I went to two births last week, and both experiences were poignant in different ways. Both the births taught me, again, that birth is never predictable, and we can never know enough to be able to say "I knew that would happen", because we never do.
No details, because both my mothers are having their "babymoons" and I don't want to tell their stories. But it seems to me that we need the humility to laugh at ourselves, if we are going to enjoy the show. We need to be able to wear a mask, and to dress up as someone else. We should be sweet, and we need to be gentle. And we have to realize that timing is everything, and nothing. Babies don't come when they're asked, sometimes not even when they're pushed. Women don't go into labor on set days, and usually if you work on call as a birth attendant, the baby you are waiting on will arrive the day you've scheduled something else.
When we are born we get dressed up in our bodies, and we eat sweets for the rest of our lives. Let's celebrate! Blessings to all you new mothers and fathers!

Carnevale!

I only ended up in Italy by accident, falling in love with a man who had spent the happiest time of his life in Rome. So we moved there and made a life in the Italian countryside, raising children, making wine, and living on a shoestring.
I enjoyed life there - it was a fun place to raise kids, and life was always interesting. There were two things, though, that we could never get right. One was the time change - the annual Daylight Saving. Because we lived such a rural and isolated life, without a TV, computer, or much of a connection with the modern world, we never knew when the time was supposed to change, so we would consistently miss the first few appointments after the time change, or get there too early.
The other thing we could never get right was Carnevale. In our area, the children would dress in costumes and eat sweets, bringing back memories of the trick-or-treating of my Canadian childhood. It was a fun time; there would be a parade, and either a few days before or a few days after, the school-aged kids would dress up to go to school.
This celebration was called "Cicicoco," and our timing for this little holiday was consistently wrong. We would either bring the kids to school dressed up on the wrong day, or everyone else would be dressed up and they wouldn't be, or we would dress them as the wrong thing.

So, you may be wondering, what does all this have to do with birth?
I went to two births last week, and both experiences were poignant in different ways. Both the births taught me, again, that birth is never predictable, and we can never know enough to be able to say "I knew that would happen", because we never do.
No details, because both my mothers are having their "babymoons" and I don't want to tell their stories. But it seems to me that we need the humility to laugh at ourselves, if we are going to enjoy the show. We need to be able to wear a mask, and to dress up as someone else. We should be sweet, and we need to be gentle. And we have to realize that timing is everything, and nothing. Babies don't come when they're asked, sometimes not even when they're pushed. Women don't go into labor on set days, and usually if you work on call as a birth attendant, the baby you are waiting on will arrive the day you've scheduled something else.
When we are born we get dressed up in our bodies, and we eat sweets for the rest of our lives. Let's celebrate! Blessings to all you new mothers and fathers!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Writer's Life

Writing this book was the easy part - it was very satisfying to sit day after day and work on my knowledge and my words. I carefully filtered fact from fiction, and decanted my prose from other bits and pieces I had picked up along the way. I researched and searched, and came up with sometimes surprising conclusions. At times I was discouraged, when I felt the writing would never be done, then I would start a new chapter and feel renewed.

When I started writing, I was going through difficult changes in my life and writing the book was a way of anchoring myself. Then I spent a summer in Italy, at my safe summer hideout.
Every morning I would see to lunch and then settle in the kitchen, and write. When I looked up I could see "my" mountains. I could hear my family and volunteers building, or working down in the meadow, reclaiming it from forty years of neglect.

The book grew. Back in the wintry city, our new house provided me with a wood stove to feed, and endless cups of tea. I sit at the kitchen table, a window behind me and a window in front, and I write.
Of course, there were births to go to, volunteer organizations to run, and family to feed. But when I look back on that winter, I remember with pleasure my fingers moving over the keyboard, and my mind searching for the right word and the most accurate description

Writing kept me going through my winter blues, through the ups and downs of family life, and into the spring. Tickets were bought again for the summer and I found myself looking at my mountains again, with an almost completed manuscript on the screen.

But that summer, my laptop died, and no intensive care was available in the small neighboring town. I focused on other things and took a break from writing. In the fall, thanks to a friendly geek, I retrieved everything and started working again - and two years after I started, I had a finished book! I thought that was it! My work was over!

When you make a baby, your work is far from over when the child is born. Now I am raising the child - preparing it to send it out into the world. I hope it can stand on its own. I will accompany it, of course. I will let everyone know that I am responsible for any errors, omissions, miscalculations. Essentially, though, it will be independent of me. It will (hopefully!) be read by people who don't know or care who I am - they are not reading a book so that they can be my friend.

To help send it on its way, I have sent out my book to a few reviewers "in the field". I am wondering if anyone else is interested in giving it a look-over and providing me with comment and blurbs.

The Writer's Life

Writing this book was the easy part - it was very satisfying to sit day after day and work on my knowledge and my words. I carefully filtered fact from fiction, and decanted my prose from other bits and pieces I had picked up along the way. I researched and searched, and came up with sometimes surprising conclusions. At times I was discouraged, when I felt the writing would never be done, then I would start a new chapter and feel renewed.

When I started writing, I was going through difficult changes in my life and writing the book was a way of anchoring myself. Then I spent a summer in Italy, at my safe summer hideout.
Every morning I would see to lunch and then settle in the kitchen, and write. When I looked up I could see "my" mountains. I could hear my family and volunteers building, or working down in the meadow, reclaiming it from forty years of neglect.

The book grew. Back in the wintry city, our new house provided me with a wood stove to feed, and endless cups of tea. I sit at the kitchen table, a window behind me and a window in front, and I write.
Of course, there were births to go to, volunteer organizations to run, and family to feed. But when I look back on that winter, I remember with pleasure my fingers moving over the keyboard, and my mind searching for the right word and the most accurate description

Writing kept me going through my winter blues, through the ups and downs of family life, and into the spring. Tickets were bought again for the summer and I found myself looking at my mountains again, with an almost completed manuscript on the screen.

But that summer, my laptop died, and no intensive care was available in the small neighboring town. I focused on other things and took a break from writing. In the fall, thanks to a friendly geek, I retrieved everything and started working again - and two years after I started, I had a finished book! I thought that was it! My work was over!

When you make a baby, your work is far from over when the child is born. Now I am raising the child - preparing it to send it out into the world. I hope it can stand on its own. I will accompany it, of course. I will let everyone know that I am responsible for any errors, omissions, miscalculations. Essentially, though, it will be independent of me. It will (hopefully!) be read by people who don't know or care who I am - they are not reading a book so that they can be my friend.

To help send it on its way, I have sent out my book to a few reviewers "in the field". I am wondering if anyone else is interested in giving it a look-over and providing me with comment and blurbs.