I've been doing a lot of family research this month, in preparation for the next bucket-list trip with my husband. This trip will take us back in time, to the Outer Hebrides, to Stornoway, to the Isle of Berneray. It might take a year or more to even begin to understand this place where the Munros were "born", but we will get there.Read more
For me, the journey tells a story – as important as the destination. GPS is just about the destination – its clinical precision can be both boring and utterly wrong. When you can read a map well, you are able to tease out the stories in the landscape. You can see how the new road follows an old riverbed, skirts an iron-age fort, or marches ramrod straight along a Roman road. You can see how a town lies on a raised beach, even though it is now 10 miles inland.Read more
As a busy birth doula, I have to book our vacation time 9 months in advance. I can't fly to Hawaii on less than 24 hours notice like I did before I was a doula. Spontaneous trips were exciting, but there was a cost to that kind of spontaneity. We lost the depth of experience that research, reading and planning can bring. So, we think of the 9 months of waiting for our yearly summer European trip as a gestational period...allowing time for thoughtful planning, gradual learning, reflection on past experiences, and the building expectation.Read more
“I see someone has been food shopping!”
One little sentence spoken by one little boy,
In an epic pose,
Hand on hip,
Peering into my fridge.
We just looked at each other
And we laughed!
It was a simple statement.Read more
When I joined my husband's family, I found that I had to learn a new language...latin! All his sisters seemed to be avid gardeners and would chatter about moving the pieris japonica, or the joys of alchemilla mollis (I love showing children how the rain drops glisten on this plant, also known as Lady's Mantle). Three of us were pregnant at the same time, and we would dig and plant flowers and vegetables at the family cabin as our bellies grew, after our babies were born, and as our extended family expanded. Pregnancy strengthened our need to nurture the gardens.Read more
Oh, those urban doula myths...they just keep circulating...
I'm always fully booked.
The reality: It's never too late to call to see if I have an opening! Many clients call as soon as they're pregnant, but, it's never too early nor too late to call. Sometimes, clients birth early (or move away) making room for a last-minute client. So, please email, text or phone me and then you'll know for sure!
With maturity there comes
that there is darkness at birth
Walk with it. Respect it. Never forget it.
But do not make your choices
out of fear
of the darkness
Each year, we try to head to Europe for a month. Since I am on call 24/7 for the rest of the year, this is our only opportunity to turn off the iPhone and be fully present, and physically and emotionally recharge.
It's a pilgrimage of sorts. We seem to move from one Madonna and Child to another in France, Italy, or Spain. We climb hills to listen to chanting monks in empty chapels, and scramble down terraced vineyards towards sparkling seas.Read more
Your face is soft
Your shoulders are heavy
You are safe
Your baby is safe
This is your power
You are strong
Feel your cervix melt like butter
Your muscles open
Your baby tucks chin on chest
You are wide open
Your hands are soft
You are safe
You are with all the women in labour
The women are with you
You are doing this
Breathe in strength
Breathe out worry
Breathe in power
This is your power
These are my words
As you sleep, Finn, I stroke the world onto your forehead
Circling, drawing the lines of our planet with my fingers
Transferring the love of your great grandfather into your skin
Just as we did to your mother.
"Around the world
Down the Prime Meridian..."
You sleep, your eyes playing beneath their lids
Soaking in the words, the touch.
Are you dreaming of where you were three days ago?
You were hiding behind your brother Jack
Ready to make a surprise entry
like a parachuter.
I can't even remember what it felt like to believe
that your mother was having only one baby.
We waited that bright Saturday
waited for "the baby"
sitting outside in the sunshine
in the buffeting wind
at a cafe table
watching two men play UpWords
the same game your grandad and I played
when I was in labour.
Every movement on 4th was a sign
The woman pushing a bicycle
The pregnant women heading
yoga mats tucked under their arms
Heading to the noon class
where your mother was supposed to be...
...where you would have been
Listening to the music chosen by your mother.
But you weren't at that class
You were with your mum
in the tub
hidden behind Jack
waiting to be born
waiting to surprise everyone!
"Across the Equator
Tropic of Cancer
Tropic of Capricorn
You have always been with us
and we never knew it
You have always been part of our bodies
You have always been...
Tomorrow I will stroke
the cartography of love
into your brother's face...
(Finn, the hidden water fairy, was only discovered a few minutes after his older brother, Jack, was joyfully born into his mother and father's arms, at home, on a Saturday afternoon. Finn then declared his presence, kicking the midwife's hand... "Jack was not alone! I'm here!" Then, over an hour later, Finn, already master of the great entrance, responded to his mum's pushes and came, splash, feet first, before a large audience in the hospital...
Bright surprises can still happen in this world!)
as we open ourselves to birth
Close your eyes
and feel the whispers of women
(written in the Shrine of the Black Virgin, Rocamadour)
There's so much expectation surrounding the preparation for birth in our culture. Strangers will ask, "Have you signed up for your prenatal classes? Have you prepared your baby's room?" Friends and family can press all the wrong buttons, too. "You shouldn't even think of labouring without taking the Inner Barracuda Course"...or whatever the prenatal class of the day is called.Read more
I've been on a journey of slowness during the past few months. Reflection, recovery, rebirth. Every free moment has been filled with cycling, running, long walks. I needed to be incredibly fit to face the births this winter. I was fit and well, but I just couldn't write.
I needed to be totally private this winter, in order to grieve for my dad, help my mum, support my family, and have the strength to help other families walk through their searing life struggles or challenging pregnancies and labours.Read more
Six weeks in England, Scotland, and France...walking miles to ruined castles, riding bikes through Paris, climbing Munros, hiking through hidden valleys, reading good books, exploring pilgrim's paths and spiral staircases, swimming in the sparkling Mediterranean...then returning to our own cottage to create wonderful thoughtful meals (and eat those French pastries!)...now that was slow travel at its best!Read more
It's been a long time since I wrote a new post...but so much has happened. The greatest joys and the greatest sorrows.
I took this photo while sitting and crying in a bathroom stall at the hospital, while my dad was in Emergency with a subdural hematoma caused by Acute Myeloid Leukemia, just ten days before his death. So much to take in...so little time. The positive graffiti really helped me.Read more
Dr. Lauren A. Plante, a US obstetrician, has written a wonderful article (a MUST read!) in response to the increasing industrialization of childbirth (wasn't Canada's own Dr. Andrew Kotaska one of the first to argue against "industrial birth"?) Dr. Plante asserts that on-demand cesareans do not represent the height of women's autonomy, but are, in fact, the opposite. She calls for true autonomy for women - the right to choose from a spectrum of choices.Read more
I fulfilled a childhood dream yesterday. As a child, I always wanted to be one of those women who rides her bike to visit mums and babies.
I must have heard about it from my mum and her friends, talking about their pregnancies in the north of England in the 1950's and early 1960's. The image of the local village midwife, riding to visits on her bike, just stuck with me. It seemed slow, perfect, just the way someone should visit you when you have a new baby.Read more
I've noticed that I can manage most things as long as I move slowly through the day.
Within a few weeks, my children and parents will all be living within an easy bike ride.
I can walk or ride my bike to visit most of my clients. (Yes, you can expect helmet head when the weather is good!)
I can walk home from both BC Women's and St Paul's after births (there's nothing like breathing in the crisp early morning air as I walk over the Burrard Street bridge at 6am.)Read more
It's interesting what the body does to us in the last weeks of pregnancy. Even the most active woman feels the slow pull in her mind and body, urging her to wind things down. Slow Pregnancy has struck!
Sure, you still feel motivated to go for long walks (more slowly) and swim (more leisurely paced) or even join a group on a Thursday evening (and do yoga), but your mind and body are slowly, slowly pulling inward, demanding attention.Read more
One thing that I love about working in the 'birth business' is that I don't have a structured schedule. Mine is more like a feast or famine schedule - no babies for two weeks, then BAM! four babies in three days. It certainly makes for an entertaining life.
Babies come whenever they like, and they always seem to come in a clump. Yes, a clump. "Group" would be the wrong word. A group feels orderly, predictable. But a clump - well, that sounds like just the right word for how babies arrive in the world. They seem to get a signal that NOW! is the time, and they all come in a clump, all jumbled together, jostling for position.Read more