Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Will you be my advocate?

I often get asked this at consults.

It's tough because I know there's this movement happening that is telling people that is what a doula does.  I know that in a way we are advocates, but the way this happens is different depending on who you talk to.  Doulas included seem to not be in agreement.

The more I do this work, the more I see what a tight rope walk it is.  On one hand, we are there to inform families about what is happening to them.  On the other hand, we are not care providers.  Our role starts to go into grey areas when we begin to speak about what actions should be considered or taken.

I'm not saying it's wrong or shouldn't be done, but it's the grey area that keeps bringing me back to the word advocacy.  I've been thinking long and hard about where I fall on the spectrum.  I'm flexible in ways, but I have come to see that I have formed some beliefs on the issue that might help those seeking out my service make a better decision.  

Given how this has put my mind in circles, I figure it's worth sharing here.  I may have missed some items, but these are the main themes that keep coming to my mind as I continue my work as a birth doula.         

I believe that...
  • The care provider/patient relationship is a personal one.  We all have our reasons for why we choose who we do.  
  • It is not my place to change the way a provider cares for their patients.  They have their own experiences and comfort level with birth given how they have seen it unfold.
  • The environment we choose is also a personal one.  Maybe we want easier access to the epidural in the event we want one.  Maybe it's the NICU team that puts us a ease.  We all have different values and priorities when it comes to these things, and it is not my place to change or judge what a person chooses. 
When it comes to advocacy I believe... 
  • It starts while pregnant.  It is through the choices we make, from the team we choose to what items we choose to communicate about.  It's about following our instincts when we sense our team is not going to support us in the ways we need.
  • Birth plans are a nice start, but they do not replace the communication that needs to happen in order to ensure that support will be given. 
  • Birth is not the time to be fighting for what we want.
  • As a support person, I'm there to help families understand their options.
  • I'm there to remind families about their right to informed consent or refusal.
When it comes to doula support I believe...
  • I am an expert in comfort measures for pregnancy and birth.  
  • I have knowledge and personal experience with the variations of normal and complications, but my role is one of encouragement and support no matter what happens.  
  • My support is unconditional and comes from a non-judgemental place.  Even with the most thought out plans, sometimes people change their mind.  Only the person(s) experiencing it knows what they truly need in that moment.
  • It's not my birth, baby, or life!  We are all different and have our own comfort level with medical care once things start deviating from what we were expecting.    

All that said, these are my own personal feelings and beliefs.  I respect those who choose to doula on the other parts of the spectrum.  We all make choices based on our own personal walk in life.  Just as care providers do with choosing a style of care on the active versus expectant care spectrum.   

Hopefully this helps to shine some light on the differences that exist within this role that is growing in popularity. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

8 Creative Uses For Flour Sack Towels

What are flour sack towels you ask?  Well, they are large thin towels that are sold in the kitchen section of stores like Walmart.  They also can be found on Amazon.  They make great dye blanks so dye junkies like me love them.  The great part is they can be used for so many purposes! 

Except that most people who see my listings have no clue what for.   So I decided to make a list of all the ways I've thought up so far.  Here goes!

1. Use them in the kitchen!  Covering foods such as ferments, rising dough, or anything you want to keep bugs out of.  The towels are large enough to fit over a large bowl or container making them perfect for this use.

2.  Use to protect and prevent a mess.  For example, I use one to cover my dining room chair that the toddler booster is on.  The chair I've reupholstered 3 times!  That's right...took me a few times to learn.  They make clean up easy and my dyed ones are much nicer to look at than dingy old towel I first started using. 

3.  They can be used for spills or clean up.  They work great for both countertops and the floor.  I feel like I go through so many of them between 3 kids and a dog.  Especially considering my toddler who likes to dump water on the floor for fun.  Maybe she'll love science when she's older. 

4.  Flour sack towels can be used for cloth diapering.  They either can be folded up and used for additional absorbancy, or they can be folded up and put on as the actual diaper with the help of a snappi or similar.  A cover would be needed for the latter though.

5.  They make lovely wall hangings.  The mandala and lotus designs I have been making demand to be gazed at.  As a doula, my first thought is how useful they would be as a focal point during births for women who seek external distractions.  A custom one could even be dyed for those who have a special color associated with programs like Hypnobirthing.  That said, I'm sure they would be interesting to look at no matter the occasion.

6.  They are perfect for creative play.  One can easily be tied on as a cape for the budding superhero.  One could be worn as a chef hat and another as an apron if pretending to cook.  The possibilities are endless, really.  Just give some to your child(dren) and sit back and watch the magic unfold!

7.  Make sack towel curtains out of them.  I got the idea for this while at an acupuncture session last night.  The midwife/practitioner who picked three of my recent pieces said she was going to do this.  Since the edges are finished, they would simply need to be sewn together and a pocket hem created for a rod/poll to be threaded through.  Oh so lovely!

8.  Make a pillow out of a pair of them.  This would require basic sewing skills, but the outcome would be oh so amazing.  If made out of my
dyed ones, the pillow would be one of a kind!

Flour sack towels really are so versatile, and the list is not limited to the above.  If you have a different purpose you use them for, please share in the comments!!

Speedy Home Birth

This was the second time I was invited to this family's birth space.  The first was a planned birth center birth that resulted in a transfer due to high blood pressure.  When she got pregnant with baby #2 she knew she wanted a home birth, but she would never have guessed the journey that was in store.  Here's her story...

My Birth Story: Hank Warner Chesal 12-15-14

This was going to be my second natural childbirth and first homebirth - I was very excited.  With my first child, June, I went into labor the day after my EDD so I didn't expect my second child to be very far past my EDD, although I wasn't admitting to that.  I told everyone that it could still be a few more weeks, but internally I never expected that to be true.  

My EDD came and went.  I was fine with that.  I knew I had to go into labor before 42 weeks or else I wouldn't be having a homebirth, but at this point I wasn't worried yet.  Then 41 weeks came and went.  At my 41 weeks checkup my midwife checked me and I was 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced.  A few more days passed and nothing happened so at 41 weeks and 4 days I had to go to the hospital for a non stress test.  All of the tests came back good (baby and fluid levels were looking good).  

However I did have one high blood pressure reading of 140/85 (I had pre-eclampsia with June so I had been nervous about high BP throughout this entire pregnancy.  Luckily my BP was good throughout.)  I was notified that the doctor would not be releasing me from the hospital due to the single BP reading.  I was devastated thinking I was going to miss out on my homebirth.  I called my midwife and she told me that she believed the only reason I had a high BP reading was because I was under stress (where I didn't want to be, in a hospital and alone because they wouldn't allow my fiance or daughter to come in my room).  She said she was comfortable with me checking myself out against medical advice to go home and monitor my BP from the comfort of my own home.  

Once I got home and relaxed it was of course lower.  The next day was Sunday, 41 weeks and 5 days.  I was desperate for labor to begin.  I was taking and inserting evening primrose oil, drinking black and blue cohosh tea, listening to the Baby Come Out Hypnobabies track, bouncing on my birthing ball, doing the Miles Circuit and still seeing no really strong or consistent contractions.  So Sean, June and I decided we were going to walk all around the neighborhood.  I would have random, mild contractions but nothing notable.  That night I lost my appetite which I found odd and thought it was a clue of things to come but at this point I was done getting my hopes up.  I was trying to stay positive for a homebirth while at the same time come to terms with a hospital birth - if that was going to be my reality, I wanted to make peace with it.  

That night we went to a Christmas Boat Parade party.  Sean had not been drinking any alcohol in case I went into labor.  That night I told him he should just go ahead and have a drink because maybe Murphys Law would come into play and I would go into labor,  So he did.  Anyway, we came out and I folded some laundry and then had two grilled cheeses when I regained my appetite,  Went to bed at 3am and about 5 minutes after getting in bed I felt a strong and somewhat painful 'POP'.  I ignored it, probably because I wanted to sleep.  About 5 minutes after that I had a very intense contraction.  The kind I experienced towards the end of my labor with June.  It caused me to get out of bed at which point my water spilled on the floor (which was the popping sensation I felt).  

I told Sean my water broke (he just finished taking his contacts out, lol) and he came and helped me into the shower to rinse off.  The next few hours were a whirlwind.  I called my mom to come over and help in case June woke up.  Then I called Lorel, my doula, and Mary, my midwife.  At this point I was shivering.  I felt very confused about how intense things were coming on.  I was afraid to ask them to come because I couldn't believe things were happening so quickly but at the same time I became unable to talk on the phone in just a matter of minutes and soon after I started making the famous birth noises - the long, low moans.  As I was making the sounds I was thinking am I somehow much wimpier than I was during my first birth.  I wasn't making those sounds until the last few hours of June's birth.  This time the moans started less than an hour after labor began.  

Lorel & Mary followed their instincts and both came over.  By the time Mary arrived I was 8 cm.  I laid on the couch riding the labor waves that were coming so quickly I had no time to recuperate between them.  With June's birth I could NOT sit or lay down - it was like torture, I had to be on my feet.  With this birth I could not get on my feet I had to be laying down and would have preferred standing on my head if I could have.  The pressure of this baby without my water being intact was beyond belief.  

At this point my eyes had been closed for a while - I find I cannot open my eyes when in labor.  So I'm not sure of all that was going on around me.  I was completely internal and just getting through it.  I was surrendered to the feeling and just focusing on affirmations.  Reminding myself that everything I was feeling was normal and that I would get through it and it wouldn't last forever.  A few times I started to doubt my ability to get through it (and in hindsight I find this part comedic) but I had to literally shake my head no to shake the negative thoughts out of my head.  Self doubt was very scary to me.  I had an overwhelming feeling that if I gave in to that doubt that it would be a devastating spiral downward into a pit of despair.  The only thing getting me through it was staying positive and believing in my ability to give birth.  I had to remember to focus on the moan coming out of my mouth.  I put all of my attention and consciousness to the noise coming from my mouth so that I would not dwell on the sensations I was experiencing because they were very overwhelming to me.  

Before I knew it the birthing pool was blown up and filled with deliciously warm water and I was 10 cm (3 hours after my water broke and just 1 and a half hours after my midwife and doula arrived).  I was told to get into the pool but there never seemed like a good time to get up and get in - and Lorel told me that there would never be a good time, I just had to get up and do it.  So I did.  I find that when in very active labor I am VERY open to suggestion.  I follow orders almost without hesitation.  Which is why it means so much to have a birth team that you trust wholeheartedly.  

The pool felt amazing and all the sudden my eyes were open and I was smiling.  I was on cloud nine.  I couldn't believe how peaceful and calm the room felt.  I started talking about how happy I was to be home and my mom even mentioned how happy I looked.  So I started pushing.  I was having trouble figuring out how to do it.  Some moms mention how much they love the pushing phase but I am not one of those moms.  I just wasn't feeling it instinctively.  And after a short while it was clear that Hank was not happy with the position I was in - his heart kept having decelerations.  We tried a standing position.  I was hanging all of my body weight on Sean - poor guy - while I pushed.  But Hank's heart kept having deceleration.  


We then tried laying on my back on the couch.  He seemed to prefer this position.  I kept pushing for what seemed like forever but actually it was an hour.  I felt defeated, beaten down and like I didn't know how to give birth.  This was the second time this had happen to me - I struggled to push June out the same way.  However when Hank came out we saw that he was wearing the umbilical cord like a boa and it was keeping him from descending the birth canal.  Almost the same exact thing that happened with June.  So I know now that it wasn't a reflection of my birthing ability but the circumstances.  

Hank came out and was laid upon my chest.  He took a few seconds to start breathing but just when he took his first breath he opened his eyes big and looked right at me.  It was surreal.  At this point the entire family was there - his daddy, big sister, all four grandparents and one of his aunts.  They all congratulated June on becoming a big sister and they all just stood around adoring him.  Shortly after I delivered the placenta and Mary checked to see if I needed stitches.  Amazingly I had no tearing. 

It was even more amazing once they weighed him to find out he was 9 pounds 7 ounces!!!  And the rest is history.  I am still in shock and so proud of my birth story,  I did it!!  Again!!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Giveaway Time!

Nurturing Notion's Facebook page has now reached 500 likes!

As promised, I'm hosting a giveaway.  Win one of these lovely galaxy dyed linen doll ring slings with hand painted stars.  Your choice of red or blue rings.

To enter to win, check out the nifty Rafflecopter widget below which will start accepting entries after midnight tonight.

You must visit my Facebook page to enter the contest.  All the other options you choose to partake in will increase your odds of winning. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How I Dyed my Sunrise Inspired Walters Wrap

I caught the dye bug a while back and have been dabbling with different effects ever since.  I am now getting to a place where I can explain how I come up with this stuff.  Good thing, because a few people have asked about this one.

My latest dye creation was inspired by this picture.

A sunrise, I think?  Well I just happened to have the right colors for it.  So here goes my best attempt to re-cap how I went about creating my sunrise inspired dye job on my Walters Organic Mini Square Weave Wrap.  I'd like to ask in advance that you please excuse my crappy cell phone pictures! 

First, I dyed the whole thing bright yellow in my washing machine using Dharma's tub dyeing instructions this past Labor Day. 

Then from there I went right into grad dyeing it azure blue.  After I rinsed until the water ran clear, I washed the wrap in hot water and let it spin dry so that the fabric was still damp.    

I winged it with my system since I didn't want to spend a ton of money on it.  Maybe one day I will, but I need to make sure I'm good at it first.  :-)  I ended up deciding to use my dining room chairs, my daughter's shoes, and shower rod to hold the wrap up.  

I cleaned out our 13 gallon garbage container really good (read disinfect) and used that since I wanted the blue to come up most the wrap.  I used hangers and strong clothes pins to hang the wrap on.  I had a pan handy for when the dyeing was done.  

Now to the dyeing part.  I have done this before, so I drew from past mistakes which you will unfortunately most likely have to make too.  I knew that it would be a good idea to do a test run without water so that I could eyeball where I wanted the water to start and end.  Also so I could estimate how much solution I'd need to prepare so that I had enough supplies. 

I also refreshed my memory as far as measurements for creating my salt/dye mixture & filling solution.  There's a great Dyed Baby Carriers group on Facebook as well as a few blogs out there who have documented their dye experience.  Dharma Trading is also a great resource.  What it boils down to is there are many ways to do this.  You just have to figure out which method jives with the way you want it to turn out.  I chose to do a continuous flow so that minimal lines are formed.

I started with the salt water at the bottom of the container; 3 cups of salt (some blogs call for 4 but I went with what I had on hand) mixed well in 2 gallons of warm water.  For this grad it took 2 gallons of solution to fill to the point where I wanted the water to start; about an inch of the wraps bottom.  

For the filling solution, I used 3 cups of salt and 2/3 cups of soda ash mixed well in 2 gallons of hot water.  Soda ash is the magic that bonds the dye to the wrap if your dye doesn't already contain it, so don't skimp on this.  

After I had my water mixed in the container and had a pot of filling solution ready, I mixed my dye.  I used a bit of urea & a little bit of hot water to paste of the dye.  I added more water and stirred until smooth before adding to the bath.  I mixed it real good and then wiped the sides of the container to reduce the risk of my wrap picking up random markings.  

I used my son's asthma tubing for this one, but had a short hose on the way.  See how impatient I am? 

I taped it to the side of the container with duct tape. <--- winging it. 

I used more duct tape to attach a funnel to said tubing then added my wrap to the bath.  <--- winging it again.

From here I added the wrap and let it sit for a few minutes so it could soak up the dye.  I then started adding the solution with my trusty Flanigan's cup.  This was working great until my contraption developed a leak.  Nothing a wash cloth and some pressure couldn't fix.  Fun times!  Really though, this was a lot less work than my last grad which didn't even come as high as this one.  Lesson learned!  

After about an hour of mixing and adding (3) pots of the 2 gallon filling solution the job was done.  I only stopped in short spurts to prepare and make my solution when it was running low. I tried to break up the prep work so that not too much time passed in between fills.  I didn't want lines!

I let it sit for about 10 minutes before going to the next step.  This is where it got scary.  When I went to take the wrap out, one of my daughter's shoes fell in splashing the top yellow portion.  I freaked for a second, then put the pan under the dripping wrap and ran to the bathroom.  The splashes washed out, but I was left without my shower rod.  

My lovely husband brought it to me after he heard me pleading loudly over the running water.  Truth is I had been calling him for some time.  I put the wrap up in the shower and down it went getting blue dye on the yellow parts once again.  Even my husband, who had been complaining about my hobby earlier, sympathized with me.  He hoped that all my hard work had not gone to waste in that moment.

The wrap was too heavy for the rod since it had absorbed so much water.  My guess is because Walter is such a cushy wrap.  I'm sure linen or a blend would not retain nearly as much.  From here I simply stripped down and took a cold shower with the wrap until the water ran clear.  Visualize that one.  I was a hot (or cold wet) mess...haha! 

Fortunately this move paid off and all my hard work was not wasted.  I also think that leaving the wrap to sit at the end helped since the reaction between the soda ash, salt, and dye had happened already.  So when the top parts got splashed, the chemical reaction wasn't there to help it stick.  Thank goodness!  

From here, I washed in hot water with Dharmas Textile Detergent, dried on low, and admired my work.  Oooh look...there's my foot.  ;-)

Fast forward one week later and I was ready to do the deep orange section.  I needed that amount of time for my ego & muscles to recover from holding up a sopping wet wrap...in the shower...all by myself.  *cue the world's tiniest violin*   

Plus my hose had been delivered so I was ready to try it out.  I set up my station once again, only this time I used the larger tub since I wouldn't be raising the water level as high.  I mixed both my solutions the same way, only I filled this tub with 4 gallons of salt water mixture since it was bigger (not sure about the size otherwise I'd share).

I dipped my wrap to get it wet, then I proceeded to mix the deep orange dye the same way as the prior time, wiping the sides off before putting the wrap in the dye bath.  

For this one I filled it slowly (2.5) times with the salt & soda ash mixture via the short hose, funnel, and Flanigan's cup.  Took me about 40 minutes to fill with no leaking this time...YAY!

Near the end, I used a measuring cup to carefully pour clear water down the lower part of the wrap.  I was trying to encourage the orange to creep up like sun rays.

I pulled it out when done and let it sit for a bit before rinsing until clear, washing on hot with textile detergent, and drying on low.  

As you can see, the orange didn't do what I wanted, but the end result is beautiful nonetheless. 

 Any questions?