Six Months Later

Long, long ago, Amy promised for me that I would post a follow up to her post about the fire that took my family’s home. Today is the six month anniversary of that fire and it’s high time I followed through on the promise. So here we go.

Just now, six months later, we finally had the house demolished. It happened last week. It went down in a day. It felt good to be done with it.

Just now, six months later, I finally got to order my midwifery textbook replacements. I plan to spend the summer studying these books for my autumn CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) exam.

Just now, six months later, we are working through some of the PTSD that still lingers for some members of the family.

Just now, six months later, we are beginning to feel ready for another kitty to join our family.

Just now, six months later, I look back and am grateful for our lives and for the love and support we received from the childbirth and parenting community.

Just now, six months later, I look back and I laugh as I remember how, on the day of the fire , as I sat in the car, a block down the street with two pets and five girls in their pajamas, I pulled out my doula bag and found food, clothing, clogs, toiletries, emergency cash, rescue remedy and lavender – in short, plenty to cover immediate needs and calm us down. To a doula, its nothing – just regular birth bag ingredients, but to a doula whose house was burning down it was desperately needed, not only for the items but for the bit of humor it injected into the situation. As one of my daughters said, “only mom would have stuff like this in her car.” Given that their usual complaint is how I’m weird and not like other mothers, this was a compliment.

Just now, six months months later, my doula bag is packed and ready for the next birth or for any crisis that may come.

Just now six months later, we are still working through a few things, but basically we are doing just fine.

Thanks for reading

Safe Transports Save Lives

With the defeat (46-71) of the Home Birth Safety Act at the very end of the last legislative session, the Illinois legislature decided that Certified Professional Midwives in Illinois shall remain unlicensed. The Coalition for Illinois Midwifery (CFIM) is re-introducing the bill in the new session and it has a new number, HB2940. In the meantime, however, Illinois home birth families have again been left without legal, licensed providers throughout most of the state.

To help alleviate the danger in which this places home birth mothers and newborns in need of emergency transports, together with this bill, the CFIM is also introducing the Home Birth Integration Act, HB1665. This is a new approach designed to save lives in the event of a hospital transport. This bill would help eliminate the fear of repercussions for transporting to the hospital from a planned home birth with an unlicensed midwife. It is already being compared to infant Safe Haven laws which allow parents in crisis to anonymously bring newborn infants to hospitals, police or fire stations and be shielded from any subsequent arrest or prosecution. The bill has been assigned to a committee and needs to pass through this step before it can be voted on by the full House of Representatives.

Please call or email your reps to voice your support and ask them to sponsor HB1665. Roxann MtJoy at Change.org wrote this article about the bill and the site has also begun a petition you can sign today to ask your Illinois state representative for support.

Call for Birth Stories from LGBTQ parents

Ever look for a collection of LGBTQ-centered birth stories? Then you may have noticed how hard it is to find one! If you’d like to help remedy this situation:

Fabulous Chicago doula, Kristen Ethier, is collecting birth stories from lesbian/queer/gender non-conforming/FTM transgender parents. Send her your stories or re-post this if you know someone who would!

Extremely Grateful

This is Amy, writing on Rachel’s behalf. This morning, after I returned from a long birth, she and I had our first chance to speak in person since a fire destroyed her family’s home and killed a family cat. Her family and other pets escaped safely. She has begun plucking small salvageable items from the ruins and slowly working on the enormous task of putting things back together again. Helping her through all of this has been a community of amazing folks in Chicago and far beyond – both online and in person.

Rachel wants everyone to know how extremely grateful she is for the outpouring of support she and her family have received from loved ones and strangers alike. She said:

“Please just let everyone know I am just so grateful, so overwhelmed by all of the love and support we’ve received. My family and I feel like, for people who have had their house burn down, we are some of the luckiest people ever.”

She says she is still in survival mode, but already realizing how thinking like a doula and midwife student helped get her through. And when she is able, she knows she will have some stories to tell! In the meantime, she appreciates you holding her and her family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Importing Midwives and Exporting Babies: Illinois’ Little Secret Gets National Attention

Illinois midwifery and home birth have gotten a lot of national attention lately. In late August, there was a Time Magazine article on the controversies surrounding home birth in the U.S.A. In the opening paragraph, there was a description of an Illinois home birth mama who eventually jumped the border to have her baby in Missouri because the home birth situation in Illinois was so full of angst.

Late last week, the New York Times published an entire article about Illinois home birth. The title was (to us activists) exciting and provocative – “Use of Midwives Rises, Challenging the State to Respond”. This article features an Illinois student midwife who crossed the border, moving to Wisconsin to complete her education and work legally. Also in the same article, is an Illinois mama who moved to Wisconsin to follow her midwife.

Is there a pattern here??  Yes – moms and midwives crossing the border into friendlier states. It’s as if there are signs at the border pointing AWAY from our state   →  This Way To A Better Birth.

This is only half the story, however. The Coalition for Illinois Midwifery is also aware of women bringing midwives IN to Illinois. Although not clearly stated in the NYT article, some of the mamas interviewed actually imported their home birth midwives from other states. And they’re not the only ones. Over the past several years Illinois home birth mothers have brought midwives in from Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Oregon, Montana, California, and probably quite a few more.

Bringing a midwife in or taking a jaunt across the border are both viable options for women, but are they really the best options?

Comfort is an issue. Anyone who remembers the last few weeks of their pregnancy knows the last thing they want to do is take a long drive anywhere, much less in labor.

Safety is an issue. Should a woman need a higher level of care, her imported midwife is unlikely to be familiar with the local options. And for mamas who have traveled, ending up in a strange hospital, miles from their supportive network of friends and family, can negatively impact their well-being.

Pride is an issue. Can we not serve our own?

With national attention finally on the subject, we can hope that our state legislature will find it in their hearts to make sure that women who choose home birth in Illinois, have enough providers willing to serve them. Given that we have at least 30 years of evidence that nurse-midwives and physicians cannot and will not meet that demand, it is time to recognize those who will and assure that they have met national certification standards. Licensure of certified professional midwives (CPMs) is the only way.

Otherwise we’d better start building those border signs.