Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Yesterday, December 27, 2016

I went over to a friend's place early in the morning to deliver a package for my son. Then down to the cafe with some supplies and ingredients for our baking extravaganza. Then over to pick up a gift for a friend who is grieving.

Then home for a minute, and I spoke to a postpartum mother who is healing from  c-section and learning how to breastfeed. Spoke to another postpartum mother who is finally getting the hang of feeding, and we discussed poop and the color of poop and breasts and all that baby talk.
I went for a run, I was going to do five k but man! the sidewalks were icy, I came home after a slippery run of 3 and a half k.

Back to the cafe, to pick up a meal for my grieving friend. I dropped it off at her house, full of love and sadness.

Then off with my family: three sons, husband and "daughter-in-love". We went shopping! I bought my lovely DIL a pair of sandals to wear indoors, and we got some booze, and didn't buy anything else but laughed together at the crazy consumer-inspired road rage happening.

I love my family - all for one and one for all! L'Chaim!!

Then back home, a bit to eat, drive downtown, to the movies!! Rogue One! I brought drinks in my purse because Cymbalists don't like to pay $7 for a small Coke.

Hey, the battle between good and evil? Good wins!!! But everyone dies in the end.

Then out for a drink, and we got a big plate of nachos, but they had chili con carne on them which we don't eat, so we got it to go and dropped it off for a homeless man on St Catherine - he ate well last night!

Then a different bar, the Whiskey Cafe, our regular. Drank good Scotch, had a blast, went home to our warm house, welcoming dog, and comfortable bed.

I lay in my bed so happy, so full of love and gratitude.

People living in Greece right now who have escaped the bloodshed in Syria? They had lives much like mine! Ok, maybe without the really insane Boxing Day consumerism, and no going to bars, but they had nice clothes and furniture and real houses and devices and good jobs and cars.

Now they have nothing. Tens of thousands of them are living in Greece, and I want to go there for three weeks to help young families with newborns, or those who are pregnant, so that their lives and the lives of their children, can be made a tiny bit better.

Please donate to my campaign, and share if you can!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Mothers and Babies

Many years ago I decided to interrupt my studies and go to Africa. I visited my parents in Botswana, then traveled for months through southern and east Africa, visiting the place I was born and the countries I last saw when I was very young.

On a border somewhere in East Africa, two things happened on the same day that deeply affected me and led me to where I am today. As I was waiting to cross to the other side, a young woman leaned heavily on the fence, clearly having labor contractions. She was on her own; a group of women crowded around her and led her away.

A few hours later, a woman came to me with a baby. The baby was sick, clearly dying. The mother explained to me that the baby had diarrhea and asked me if I could help. Back then, I was 23 years old, and although I knew quite a bit about First Aid, herbal healing, helping survivors of sexual assault, and the English Romantic Poets, I knew nothing about newborns or breastfeeding.

I didn't know that around 20% of all infant deaths were due to diarrhea, I didn't know about the links between malnutrition, formula feeding, breastfeeding, and infant death.

She thought I could help her, and I couldn't. I hope you never see a baby and mother looking at you like that.

I realized that day that I wanted to devote my life to making a safer world for mother and babies. I had a lot of other things to do with my life  as well, though, and spent several years meeting my true love, raising five sons, running an organic farm, studying midwifery, and working as a doula. 

Now I am ready, I have the skills to share and the time to spend. I am going to Greece to contribute to the effort to provide prenatal, childbirth and breastfeeding assistance to families in Greece who are living in very difficult conditions. Temperatures are low; people do not have good winter clothing; they are living in tents, in squats or in the streets. Babies are still being born, and children are still being raised.

“…statistics showed that in serious emergency situations, such as the one currently facing those affected by the Syria crisis, disease and associated death rates among under-5 children are higher than for any other age group.
The risk of dying is particularly high because of the combined impact of communicable diseases and diarrhea together with possible increases in rates of under-nutrition as people flee their homes.  The people inside Syria and those displaced may find themselves often in very difficult and unsanitary conditions thus can be at major risk of serious water-borne diseases. Breastfeeding confers critical protection from infection especially where safe water is unavailable and there is poor sanitation. Breastfeeding saves lives.” from

I have created a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for my trip. If you have been wondering what you can do to help, this is it! Please help me help mothers and babies in Greece!


Please share my campaign, and if you can donate even a small amount, it will be gratefully appreciated. The funds will go towards my air travel, accommodation, transport, and supplies while I am there, and any left over will be donated directly to the organizations in Greece who are working with mothers and babies. 

I am wishing you all a year full of health, joy, peace and love.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Grateful for X?

Sometimes, that is the question. It's not about being an ungrateful person, just that sometimes things don't seem sweet.

I'm grateful for X today. Not certain what it is, but I'm sure there's something. If I name it I might jinx it, so I won't say it. I won't name that elusive X that I am grateful for.

What's so important about being grateful, anyway? I'm not planning on going down the privilege rabbit hole right now. I'm talking about a more profound reason to be thankful. What does that feeling do to our souls? What does it do to our bodies? Our minds?

Is it even a good thing to be grateful? What am I doing when I'm "being grateful"? I'm feeling a feeling of .... of what? contentment? No, not really.

Am I feeling happy that I have something that someone else doesn't have? Am I comparing myself to someone else?

How else would I know that I was grateful? Am I saying thank you for having something? Who or what am I thanking?

I am grateful to be alive. I'm grateful for my health. I'm grateful for having five kids and a husband. I'm grateful for the love I feel around me.

Why though? What makes me grateful? Is it all just a big ole hoax?

So ... what do y'all think?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Run, lady, run

Well, I ran my ten k (68 minutes, I'll tell you why in a minute). I was signed up for a half marathon but my heel was hurting and I was afraid of the dreaded Plantar's fasciitis, and the Running Room wouldn't let me push it forward so I downgraded to a ten. It was fun but, as always with running, I learned some things along the way that I would like to share with y'all.

These tips are all interconnected, and if you follow them you will have a better time and make a better time too!

1. Get to your place destination an hour early! I arrived at the race area (no public transit, it was in a beautiful spot in the country), had to park in a distant parking lot, took the race bus but I ended up at the start line four minutes late (with a bunch of other runners).
If I had gotten there early, I would have had time to figure out where I was going, check in to the washroom (see next point), and get to the starting gate early.

2. Pee before you run! Gotta do it, even if you don't think you need to. Get in there and pee! Especially those of us with the female anatomy, it takes longer to pee at the side of the track, and its not always seemly to dribble as you run.

3. Figure out what's going on!!! If you're in your home town, or even your home country, you will probably be able to read the directions or at least understand what the MC is saying (btw, just a shoutout to my favourite Canadian mc Mark Stein). But what if you're somewhere you can't understand the mc? What if you go to Rome in the spring? (Check it out!)
All the more reason to GET THERE EARLY!! You need to know where everything is so you don't have to try to understand what is being yelled in a foreign language through a loudspeaker.

4. Wear a running watch or your smart phone so you can log your distance. Smaller races don't show you the kilometers, and of course its nice to know, even if you don't have your eye on your pace.

So why did I clock in at 68 minutes? I got to the starting gate, but I was with a large crowd of runners from the bus. Everyone was jolly, walking fast, and the mc was yelling loudly in French. All good. I was also walking fast because I wanted to get to the REAL starting gate. Then we passed a small red sign that said "1K". Shit! I started my TomTom watch and started sprinting, so basically ... my pace for nine of the ten was ok but for one of the ten it was snail slow. Also, yes, because of my late arrival I did have to make use of the Portapotty at k 5 ... so ... live and learn.

Looking forward to getting faster and stronger.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Runner's Blues

This is where I want to be!

But for now, I'm limping around the house in my old running shoes with a sore heel, a sore neck, and a sometimes pain in my hip.

What the hell happened?

Well, the first thing that happened was I started running minimalist. Three years ago I got my first pair, a pair of Merrells that were amazing! I have always worn flats, flip flops, and I have super strong feet...
Then I got my first pair of Vibrams. The first run I went on wearing them, I literally ran the fastest I had ever run! I love these shoes! But, like anything you love, I overindulged. I ran many, many kilometres with them and I ran down the heel... and hurt my bod.

And, all you social justice warriors out there, you say, why do we care about what shoes you run in? Granted. I remember how guilty I used to feel while the South Africans were fighting for justice and I was going to university, drinking, and having a good old time. It tore me apart. I remembered when I was in Africa and someone brought me her baby, the little one was dying. There was nothing I could do... 

But when I look at the running movement around the world - man, we are just out there running, in shoes, without shoes: men, women, girls, boys, wombin, people that identify as whatever they damn well please so long as it includes "runner" somewhere in the title. Titles mean so much to us though, don't they? I don't call myself a midwife, or do I? Do I do midwife stuff? Is it a duck or a zebra?
A duck LOOKS like a duck. A Zebra LOOKS like a zebra. A runner LOOKS like anyone. 

So, I was supposed to be running a half marathon on Sunday but I can't do it because I don't want to hurt myself any more. So I'm just doing a ten k and really looking forward to the challenge! 
I ran the other day in my new shoes, Sayonara Wave, it was great! No pain, just a little tired after five k, a little out of shape. I spent my run trying to empty my mind, had a sore neck as well from tension, because of some awful witch hunt thingy I heard about, also worrying about the inaccessibility of decent midwifery care and midwifery education for people who can't afford it.

But I ran anyway. Then I ran yesterday, lovely to be back out there, I ran through a leafy suburb behind our house, trying to keep my pace under six but I didn't, I kept it under 6 and a half though.
The thing about running is, you're competing against yourself, even if you're in a race, you just want to run faster and better than you've ever run before. You empty your mind: you don't worry about your kids, or why you ever left the farm, or how the people in the birth community are treating each other so badly, or why the good people die young. You just run.

It's kind of like life that way. You just keep doing it, and trying to do it better and better and better and better, and it feels so good to keep on keeping on!
So, wish me luck! And wish y'all luck and - hey, give it a try! You might like it!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

W is for Why

As we move through this world on our way to who knows where, many of us try to do good. But we can never know whether what we do makes a difference or not, so what to do?

I just spent time at a conference about all things birth and beyond. I presented on several different topics, and met some lovely people there. I stayed in a room with the powerful Beth Murch, BirthKeeper and poet extraordinaire. We compared poems and had a laugh.

I met someone who was raised by her father, another one who has been drawn to herbs her whole life. One person who almost died giving birth to her child who stayed on the other side, dead in birth.
I met someone who is scared to tell people about her joyous and deeply satisfying birth because she has heard that people with unpleasant birth experiences will feel badly.

I spoke to someone I have admired for fifty years who has suffered loss and difficulties and still provides encouragement and belly laughs for others.

I met someone who I thought was a bitch and then she told me her story. She isn't a bitch. 

Someone else told me about her concussion and how she is moving forward with her life.

I met old friends and sat in their Sukkah and we told stories and made fun.

The tapestry is being woven, our lives continue or not, there's really only one way forward and that is through.

Through love, no fear.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

V for Victory!

I got lazy with my gratefulness alphabet.

But I am super thank full that V stands for Victory, and now I want to talk a little bit about victory:

Victory means winning against yourself. It means means overcoming obstacles. It means admitting you're wrong. It means staying up all night with a birthing mother even though you're tired. It means getting up in the morning and going for a run even though you don't want to. It means feeling good about yourself when you know you could have done better.

It means being content with your bumpy old body, even when you feel like you're still 23. It means taking risks and laughing through them. It means holding out a hand for someone you think you don't like. It means doing what you believe in, even if its dangerous and difficult.

It means keeping your damn mouth shut sometimes. It means speaking up for what you believe. It means moving forward. It means sitting on your hands and not doing anything. It means being true to who you are.

It means having babies, any old way, or not having them, raising your children or not, living with someone your whole life or not, being alone, being an enemy, being a friend. Being a sister, or a brother, being a mother.

Image result for fist
Hasta la vittoria siempre

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Herbs and Beyond!

I’m super excited to be returning to the Birth and Beyond Conference this year. It was a lot of fun the first two years and I’m sure 2016 is going to be the best! Lots of interesting speakers lined up, and I hope I can catch a couple of them in between presenting my own.

I’ll be speaking about my work with refugees, which has been an ongoing learning process for me for the past 12 years. I will be letting people know about the joys, challenges, practicalities of creating and maintaining a volunteer doula project.

I will also be speaking about a topic that is a little difficult to talk about, but something that people are thinking about and trying to articulate and theorize about: how and why we break each others hearts in the birthing community, and in the bigger picture caring community. I hope we can shed some light on this topic and create some ways to move forward with love, tolerance and honesty.

And, very close to my heart this summer as I am completely immersed in nature, is the topic of medicinal herbs. I will be presenting ten of my favourite herbs for use during the childbearing year. I’ve been collecting some of them during my walks through the trails and pathways close to my mountain home, and I will be bringing them back to provide to my clients and customers at the cafe.

I’m not going to introduce them here, but I want to give you a preview of the amazing herbs I’ve been accompanied by this summer. I have noticed that wild plants follow a pattern of color that is complex and speaks to the heart. Throughout the flowering season, there seems to be a color that blooms for a few days, then that color fades and another color takes its place, and so on through the season or the year. I happened to take a walk the other day and I was so happy to see that purple was the color of the day! It was just after the half moon, in the sign of Leo, but I don’t know why these colors change … I think Steiner and the Theosophists have tried to understand the color cycles.

Here are the purple/mauve flowers I met the other day. I am describing their medicinal properties, some of which have been studied scientifically and some have folk reputations. Please: never suggest a medicinal herb to someone else without knowing the plant, and the person, very well. Experiment on yourself first, but always be absolutely sure you have identified the plant correctly. Mistakes can literally be fatal.

Prunella vulgaris is known as Self-Heal. The leaves are cooling and diuretic. It is a small, unassuming plant that you can find in lawns and meadows everywhere. The purple flowers attract bees. 

Purple Loosestrife is a plant that is known for being an invasive species in swamps and fields everywhere in North American and Europe. It turns the landscape purple in some areas, and the plant itself is not very attractive. But its flowers are rich purple, and although I always knew it as a colourful invader, I didn’t know that it has astringent properties. The whole plant can be used for internal or external bleeding.

Hemp Agrimony is a lovely plant that grows tall and attracts bees and butterflies by the hundreds. I always described it as a plant with no medicinal qualities but then I learned that it is part of the Eupatorium family. These plants are known for their affinity to the kidneys and bladder, and can dissolve kidney stones and treat infections.

Arctium lappa is well known to most herbalists as burdock. This is a very powerful medicinal herb that can be used for several ailments, inside the body and externally. Each part of the plant is used, from the root to the flowering tops.

This lovely flower is from a blackberry bush:

 The root and leaf of these plants (the Rubus family) can be used as astringents to cure diarrhea or excessive menstrual bleeding. The fruit is a sweet, soothing cure for sadness, vitamin C deficiency or sore throat.

I often go for long walks or runs and although most plants in my neighbourhood are good friends, this little purple flower was unknown to me until I think I identified it the other day as Wild Bergamot or Purple Bee Balm. The leaves of this plant (if identified correctly!) can be used as a remedy for worms.

Ah, lavender! Lavandula comes in several sizes, colors and temperament. Mine is a mountain lavender that lasts forever and smells divine. The dried plants keep their scent for years, literally, and soothe headaches, keep away bad dreams, provide scent for clothing and linen, can be used to fill rice socks, and can be used in food and teas.

Finally, these hollyhocks were given to me by my aunt in 1991 when I visited her heavily pregnant with my 4thson. I planted them on my farm and now I have them growing in my mountain hideaway. They seed themselves and cross-pollinate amongst each other to produce different colors each year. Alcea rosea roots and leaves can be used as other mallows, as a demulcent and a soothing herb for the digestion and the skin.

Purple was the color of the day on July 26, 2016. I am going for a run up on my trails today. I’ll let you know what colors are out there! Looking forward to sharing more herb talk with you in October!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

T is for Tea, and so grateful for a cuppa tea.

T is for Tea, of course. And just as a conversation meanders around a pot of tea shared among friends, so this conversation slowly and circuitously will get to the points.

My mother worked teaching mathematics and then she went to art school, but I always remember her being around in the evenings, ironing, listening to the radio, and whenever I got home in whatever state I was in, she would offer me a nice cup of tea. That meant strong, very strong, hot, with milk and usually sugar. Maybe a piece of dark chocolate along with it that you could dunk. 

Anything could be solved with a cup of tea! Or at least, you would feel better if you drank a cup of tea while dealing with your stuff.

I never realized until she died that it was really and truly possible to love someone and pretty much hate them at the same time. Or, that love didn’t necessarily cure all the awful effects of betrayal and those kinds of things that can inhabit a marriage.

I learned from her that life is a long process of learning how to inhabit contradictions.

Back when I was a hipster, before hipsterdom had come into being, I had two outfits: a pair of army pants and a turquoise and black striped cotton skirt. I wore them with a green boy scouts shirt or a neon pink lycra polo. I had a good luck bird tattooed on my chest. I never gave anyone the time of day. I must have been a pain to get along with. I was tough. I tried everything but got stuck to nothing. I was barred from the Alcatraz for throwing a table. I hit an Egyptian man in the chest with a rock when he whispered fucking to me on the street in Cairo.

I inhabited a world where poetry reigned supreme, and justice was always possible, with enough struggle.

I traveled through Africa alone because that’s where I was born.

I got a degree in ten years, because there was always more interesting stuff to do.

I had babies, lived on a self-sufficient organic farm, learned to be a midwife, joined and left a religious cult, kept a marriage going, started running, cooked food for myself and others, left continents and returned, learned and forgot languages, and through it all I have never inhabited the high ground to your low ground. And I refuse to inhabit the low ground to your highs.

There is no high ground. When you imagine that the ground you inhabit is higher than others, you start to sink and that sinkhole, although attractive, is ultimately another illusion. One time we were sitting having tea on our farm, amongst the mess and chaos of small children and a subsistence farm ... and my mother's cup lost it! The cup of tea just dropped in to her lap and she was left holding only the handle. Wipe up, crack up, use the handle-less cup for a paintbrush holder, and get on with it, in true Cockney fashion.

So here’s a cup of tea to you, and here’s to having a cup of tea with each other, and here’s to all the things that may or may not begin with the letter “t”, and here’s to living deeply: deeply within and surrounded by contradiction and paradox. Here’s to continuing to have friendships and relationships with people who don’t necessarily see eye to eye with me, who don’t agree with me, who don’t understand where I am coming from. Here’s to long nights of discussion and here’s to building a strong house of thought using the bricks and mortar of our own imaginations. Here’s to open hearts and open minds, to loving and hating, to sadness and intense joy, to night and to day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

So Grateful for St John's Wort!

It seems like a few centuries ago, when I was walking up a hill with David my (then) youngest, and Angelina, and of course Gandalf (canine version).

Angelina was the old woman from up the road who took me under her wing and taught me how to care for chickens, kill chickens, stuff a mattress with sheep wool, how to tease and clean the wool, how to do a painless injection, how to live the country life.

David was complaining in the way that small children do, and she stuck her hand into the abundance of wild flowers growing next to the road and pulled out a yellow flower. She told David that this was a magical flower, that turns red in oil. He calmed and picked more.

I already knew that, though, because the place we lived when I was pregnant with him was in a tower in the middle of a medieval village, and I was surrounded by peasant women who wanted to teach me things. I knew that this plant was powerful. We moved to the farm in March and by June 24 the hills were alive with yellow flowers. I picked huge bunches and hung them up to dry in our kitchen, made oil, and even made a little tincture.

The name is St John's Wort, because it blooms on June 24, and that is the saint day for St John.

Another Italian name for it is "Cacciadiavoli", which is nice because it means "hunt the devils". Or you can just call it hypericum, after its latin name "Hypericum perforatum".

What does this powerful plant do?

Under strict supervision, the leaves and flowering tops can be used to treat depression. It is very important to note that this is a powerful medicinal plant and can have serious side effects and interactions with other drugs if taken daily to treat psychological symptoms.

The oil can be used during childbirth to ease labor pains, for muscle or skeletal aches and pains (always used externally and never on broken skin or mucus membranes), for sunburn or other slight boo-boos.

The tincture can be used to treat acute conditions, 15 drops under the tongue for headaches, sciatica or other severe pains but never more than two or three times over a few days.

It can cause photosensitivity and does react with some pharmaceuticals if taken to alleviate chronic conditions.

Here is a video that will teach you how to prepare an oil with this lovely, powerful and magical plant!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Guess why I am grateful for "R"?

I just love running. I LOVE running. I am so grateful that my body lets me do this amazing activity.

Why do I run? My childhood was active, I guess. No organized sports but lots of hiking, skiing and cycling. Then in my thirties I built stone houses, ran a market garden, carried children around, in short I was pumped, more or less. I could rip open a fifty k bag of cement and throw it in the cement mixer, then haul bucket after bucket up to my partner on the roof. I could kill ten chickens with a single swipe of my cleaver. Kidding.

I love getting up in the morning and knowing that I am going for a run today. I love getting my gear ready, my shoes, my special clothes, my handkerchief, iphone, all good. I love getting out the door. And then I am free! My heart beats, my breath comes slow and natural, my legs move back and forth, my brain quiets.

Then I hit my two k slump, but it doesn't last long ... back in the saddle, the weather is good, and its always good when I'm running, possibly cold or hot but I feel good! Then I hit my 6 k slump ... a little tougher ...
We did it!!!

However long I run for, I am always happy I've gone. My face starts smiling when I see the world going by. My thoughts calm themselves. My worries and doubts, my monsters, my evil eyes, they all pass by and I keep on running, breathing, running, breathing.

There's a thing called the PR in running. It's a wonderful concept: PR stands for Personal Record, which is what you are running for (or against). You aren't running against other people's best times, just your own. There's only you and your achievements when you are running, at least thats the way I feel. Even when I ran my first half, I still was absolutely thrilled that I made it in the time I did (2 hours 37min), because for me it was an achievement ... for myself.

So, if you see me out there running one day, know that the main emotion I am feeling is one of gratitude. Thank you, body, for keeping me on the track!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Being Black, Being White

L'expérience de grossesse et d'accouchement des femmes noires, qu'en est-il au Québec?

We had a typical Quebec moment when the organizer of this important forum invited me to speak, as a white doula who has had many years of experience serving black families, and I had to decline because of my own religious practice. I really love this aspect of living here, in Montreal, in Quebec, in Canada, where cultures, religions and heritages slip and slide together, usually quite happily.

Instead, I compromised by offering to write a small piece about my experience as a white doula and midwife here, and the advice I would give others when working in the black community.

First of all, let's get something really crystal clear here. Yes, there are different variegated levels of privilege. But if you are white, you pretty much have to accept that come what may, you are more privileged overall than any person of color. I will never, ever understand the nature of the every day racism that my friend Elizabeth experiences. Yes, she has a great life, yes she owns a beautiful apartment and makes good money and yadda yadda. But people look at her and think something that has to do with the fact that she is black (beautiful mama, african lady, exotic queen, and so on),  and they don't do that with me, or at least if they do decide to put me in a box, its not based on the color of my skin.

So, now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about how our experiences as white people affect the ways that we work with or for the black families we may serve.

We can fall in to one of several potholes on the road to true justice and tolerance:

1. Overcompensation. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that you need to somehow "fit in" to your clients' cultural or religious activities, beliefs or customs. It's just dumb. You are YOU. Be gracious, be humble, be authentic. Don't wear particular clothes, talk in a certain way or act differently just because you are working with people who are not like you. You will never know what its like to live their experience, so just plan on being respectful and courteous, and try not to pry.

2. Cultural Voyeurism. It's true, some African or Caribbean cultures seem so cool and attractive to those of us who grew up in, Calgary, for example. However, it is not your place, as a guest in someone's home, and particularly as a guest in someone's life, and at a very intimate and powerful moment of that life, to explore your fantasies about what their cultural heritage might be. You are not in their lives to learn about their culture. You are particularly and specifically there to accompany that family on the path to parenthood. The tasks that involves are pretty much the same across the board. Provide prenatal education; facilitate informed choice; translate and interpret medicalese when necessary; assist the parent(s) to figure out what they want for their birth experience and how they plan to reach their goals. Love the new family. Create kind and lasting relationships within the maternity care team. You're not there to find out what its like to be from Congo, or from Switzerland.

3. Random Assumptions. These are the beasties that really get to me. Just keep your assumptions to yourself and everyone will be better off. Remember, something you may characterize as a harmless opinion could be a hurtful assumption.

4. Trauma Rating. Please don't go in to a relationship where you (white person) are providing care for a (black) person, where you have any intention of "turning the racism tables". It doesn't work that way. Historically, men have oppressed women and white people have colonized colored people. It's history. Let's try to avoid playing a game of who has the worst history. That never ends well. As a white person who has been involved in non-profit work for many years, often providing pro bono services for black and other colored people, I see clearly the pitfalls of the Great White Hope and I see how tempting it might be to share my awful traumas ("just like yours, see?") with others. But its a mistaken path. Your pain as a nation or as a people is different from mine. All I can do is respect, love and do my job.

Finally, because this forum is about the black person's experience in maternity care in Quebec, how do these points above affect the doula, midwife and birthing person? Institutionalized racism is a reality in our hospitals today. ("Mexicans bleed, West Africans scream, East Asians' babies don't descend, North Africans come to Canada to cheat the health care system" etc etc etc). As a black person receiving service from the maternity care team, it is so important that you have a birth companion with you who can accompany you through a hospital stay that may be less than pleasant. As a white doula or midwife, watch your words, be doubly careful of acting out your own prejudices and generalizations. Watch your tongue! Open your heart! Stay human!

So Grateful for "Q for Quando"

Gotta love that Italian pop music!!! Grateful for all the days we sped along the Autostrada or some rocky road in our beat up old van, tape player blasting, full of love...

Pino Daniele

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Postpartum Intensive November, 2016

We are offering a postpartum doula training for people who want to work outside the box. This course will give the student an in-depth understanding of the period from birth to eight weeks postpartum. The physical, emotional and psychological experience of the postpartum period will be discussed and challenges during this time will be examined. Alternative methods of maintaining postpartum health will be explored.
The course runs from November 18, 19, 20, 2016 and the cost will be $350; $300 earlybird special (register before September 18, 2016).

What will be covered? Day One: The normal mother baby after birth from birth to eight weeks postpartum: mother care, baby care, feeding, emotional health, family, and more. Day Two: Challenges during the postpartum period: what to do? When to refer? Day Three: Role play, discussions and case studies. The workshop lasts three days and will continue with mentorship and support afterwards.
Meet our teacher:, Erin Ryan CPM
"I began working professionally as a midwife in 2000, In that time I have attended over 900 births, working throughout the US as well as rural clinics in Bali.  In my 2 years in Bali I worked in a clinic as well as doing home births and I served women from over 15 countries.  I’ve seen babies born in many different environments, and I have worked with women and families from many different cultures from all corners of the globe.  In all circumstances, the constant has been loving care and respect for the mothers I work with.
My fascination with birth started at a young age.  A Laura Wilder fan, I was curious about how pioneer women delivered their babies on the frontier.  Life led me from Little House on the Prairie to the University of California at Berkeley.  After graduating, I immediately began pursuing midwifery, working as a volunteer doula at the county hospital, and later attending and graduating from the National Midwifery Institute.   While gaining a strong academic foundation, I trained as all good midwives traditionally have, through apprenticeship with some of the best.  My education did not end there; I continue to learn through research, consulting with midwives and other medical professionals and most importantly from the wisdom of mothers.  I pass this knowledge along to my colleagues and clients to continue improving birth experiences for women everywhere."

Interested? email us at mbcdoulaschool@gmail(dot)com

Monday, May 2, 2016

P is for Popcorn

A Short Homage to Popcorn

I love the taste of it. I love how peculiar it is: did people back centuries ago discover its properties by mistake? I love its many coats and dressings. I am grateful for popcorn, and its fun factor. It contains all sorts of good things for your body: protein, minerals, vitamins, and fats.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Oh, Oh, Older

I dropped the gratefulness ball. I'm back with Oxytocin but I couldn't write intelligently about it at all. Neither Oceans, which I love. Nor obstetricians, whom I also love and respect. Thank God for obstetricians, who save mothers' and babies' lives every single day!

But, today I am grateful for getting Older.

Babyhood was probably a hoot. I was born in Uganda and spent much of my babyhood on someone's back, and the rest of the time naked learning how to dance or playing in the sand. But I remember nothing before I was three.

Then young childhood was spent trying to avoid having to speak to anyone, and learning the joys of reading and using my imagination.

And being a kid was pretty ok I guess, I was taken for fun hikes in the Rockies and we went to England for a year. I learned to play the piano and the clarinet. I loved doing homework. Still terribly tormented by shyness, and self-conscious about my crooked teeth, frizzy hair, and knowledge of words with more than two syllables.

Adolescence? Terrifying, creepy, and awful, mostly. I was the weird kid in school, never had a date. But I still loved reading, which kind of saved my life, except when I got a little Older I started traveling and spent hours in the Rockies on my own.

So, being a young adult is kind of weird in this society, at least it was in the seventies because we didn't know what we were supposed to do. Anyway, I did it and emerged with a baby in the eighties, and then life was just a whirlwind, magnificent, crazy, uplifting, we had a farm and lots of babies....

Babies grow older. They get bigger and then they also turn into adults, usually. Mine did anyway, except the last one who is still an adolescent. It's a fun trip, having kids. I wasn't a career woman. I raised children, had a farm, created two non-profits, stay married for a really long time.

Middle age was fucking awful. I spent about ten years thinking I could please all the people, all the time. I twisted myself into a pretzel, to no avail. I trained to be a midwife, but a wee bit too late so now I can only work illegally. I'm some kind of a legend in the birth world here, which is bullshit because I know very little really.

Now I am getting Older. Turning sixty this year, I hope. No more pretzel. I am starting to say no, and it's a little freaky. Some people don't like it.

So, I am mostly very grateful for the chance to be old, I'm not there yet but I am getting a glimmer of what it might be like. Of course the body changes in weird ways, kind of like adolescence. But you get to be yourself because what the fuck, you might as well, right? You might as well say what you want to say. Of course I always like to try to not hurt people, but I am learning that its not always possible.

So here's a big L'Chaim to getting OLD!