Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hooray for Homebirth!

This boy has a lot to cheer about! He was born at home, in the water, into the loving arms of his mama and papa, Kristen and Kevin. A speedy labor left us dazed, amazed, and full of gratitude. Welcome Dylan Patrick, born on August 18, 2008. Congratulations to all!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Out of the Office

Can't blog today, have to watch the debates.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Do you see strength from this picture? I do. And that is exactly what we saw when Alli gave birth to her beautiful son, Manuel, on September, 2, 2008 after 66 hours of labor. Physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual strength. I bow to Alli and all birthing women. You are inspiration incarnate. Welcome, Manuel, dragoncito, and congratulations to Alli and Eric.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Francesca arrives!

Francesca Eleanor was welcomed into a warm tub of water and her mother's arms on July 15, 2008. She joins big brother, Deaclan, and proud papa, John. Congratulations Jen, for a speedy and smooth delivery!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Go to their new blog, PUSH MANA 2008 for more info!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Asher Wolfson Arrives

A day early. Not a day too soon.

By Mikaela

My due date was September 2nd. Due dates, as I understand it now, are somewhat educated guesses, based on potentially inconsistent cycles, that may lead us to know the approximately four week window in which the baby is likely to join the world. Yes, not exactly a precise measurement. Babies choose to be born when they need to be, when it is their time. As pregnant Mama, I never held onto the due date as anything more than a pretty good estimate. I just wanted our baby to know s/he was welcome here.

In the end, now our most profound new beginning, all of these potentially faulty, pseudo-scientific, fully leading indicators would prove to be mostly right. I was “early” – by one day.

Our beautiful 7 pound 13 ounce baby boy screamed his way into the world on Labor Day, September 1st at 4:38 pm.

So, why all the focus on the day anyway, when this story is about my birth and our baby boy? Well, I didn’t start labor on Labor Day. I started on Saturday night, around 11:30 pm. After some 44 hours in labor our son chose Labor Day, just as Ben and I chose one another three years before when we met at a dinner party that very evening. Of course, we believe this to be an early sign of his genius. This belief binds us to a chain, back through the generations, of parents sure that their child is the most brilliant, exceptional and thoughtful child ever born. Seeing fit to have me in labor for 44 hours and to wrap it all up on Labor Day, a holiday, also demonstrates a promising sense of humor.

My birth experience doesn’t live, though, in any of the dates or details or post-birth interpretations. It lingers the hazier spaces between words where I could unleash a deep growl and find a quiet I had never experienced. The two days of labor was the space granted for the two of us to invite the baby to arrive and with that, to move from pregnant to parent, from couple to family. By choosing to labor and birth at home, no one outside of us would name the stage of labor or urge an intervention to move it along when I despaired that surges would never cease. And, I did despair. And, Ben found the words and the connection to bring me back to present, to nothing wrong, to everything on course.

We were nimble, with few, but powerful tools - each other; a big full tub in the center of the baby’s room; our presence and all the inner work we had done to get to this day; phone consultations and then the presence of our gifted midwife Maria Iorillo; my Mother’s supportive mien; and a whole lot of time. We used every one. We found a slow groove doing what Ben dubbed the middle school dance, swaying slowly together through the minute-long contractions that would come quick, then slow, then quick again. When my hope turned to deep doubt, I asked again and again when Maria (our midwife) would come, bringing with her the light at the end of this long tunnel. I was still looking for some outside indicator that birth was happening. And then I wasn’t, realizing that naming doesn’t always help, that saying I moved from this phase to that, knowing how open my cervix was, or even counting contractions, are at best reflections of the thing that is birth, not the birth itself. The exquisite pain and power of birth created more than the space for him to arrive. It created the space for us to arrive.

And, now, six days later, I sit on the very day bed turned sofa where our baby was born, as he and Ben sleep peacefully in the next room. I finished nursing only a few minutes ago and felt him drape his limp arms over my shoulder as I burped him and carried him back to bed. I watched his flickering eyes close and saw his face still. My heart melts once more.

New Show, Old School

U.S. Maternity Care: Don't get me mad! Because I have a whole posse of women behind me who are happily nursing and caring for their babies and don't want to get mad either.
This week, a new television show premiered, called The Doctors. Here's what I have to say:

San Francisco—It is too bad that the producers of a new television show called The Doctors, which premiered this week across the country, aren’t paying attention to all this vetting that is going on in the news lately. Seems that they missed a few fact checks in their preparation for their show on home birth as well. For example, they start off the show with Dr. Andrew Ordon (don’t mind him, he’s a plastic surgeon— of course he isn’t up to speed on childbirth) saying, “Without a question, the safer place for mother and baby is in the hospital.” Hmmm, fact checker please. Where is the evidence to that claim? Is it in the 30% C-section rate, our abysmal U.S. infant mortality rate or the maternal mortality rate that is on the rise for the first time in 30 years? Those are hospital births we are talking about. As a matter of very known fact, most births in the U.S. happen in the hospital, given that less than 1% are planned home births. So, is the hospital really safer? What are they so afraid of?
Or did they forget to vet the statistics on home birth all together? You would think so, since the show was so slanted to the anti-home birth camp. Did the family that had a home birth even get to speak? Funny how Dr. Lisa Masterson interrupted their talk and subsequently never asked any follow-up questions. Where was the discussion or dialog? They didn’t even have an expert on home birth on the show to answer questions or refute what the doctor had to say. Midwives, of course, are the experts in home birth. Sounds like good ol’ boy politics to me—not what the show purported to be—fair and balanced. I should know because I spoke with the producer more than once. She claimed it would be a dialog about home birth and not a hit and run. Guess she didn’t know about the way doctors operate because I’m sure she wouldn’t lie to me. To the show’s credit, Dr. Sears had a few things to say: 4 of his siblings were born at home. But they silenced him too by saying those babies were just lucky. Yes, indeed, lucky to have been born into the loving hands of a compassionate family that chose the best for their baby. Not “lucky”, as Dr. Masterson implies, to have escaped certain death and irreparable damage from a home birth. Does Dr. Masterson know anything about homebirth in this country? Fact checker, please.
Midwifery is not based on luck. Midwifery is a time-tested profession that holds at its pinnacle a dedication to the safety of mothers and babies in childbirth. Ample evidence exists today to prove that US doctors, most notably the trade union ACOG, is behind the times. They cling to backward notions that the hospital is the safest place to have a baby while the C-Section rate climbs far above the 10-15% that the World Health Organization and the Healthy People 2000 Consortium deemed appropriate for our country. The induction rate is also escalating as pitocin is used with aplomb, as if two things were true: 1) that women can’t give birth without artificial stimulation, and 2) that its use has no health consequences. Dr. Masterson would like the world to believe that OBs would NEVER do anything for their convenience. Did she read the Listening to Mothers survey? Maybe she’s never done anything like that, but for sure her ACOG colleagues are. The Listening to Mothers Survey states, “Almost half of all mothers reported that their caregiver tried to induce labor, most commonly through the use of artificial oxytocin. More than one-third of those mothers cited a non-medical factor as at least partially the reason for the attempted induction.”
In the meantime, certified professional midwives attending planned home births have a 3.7% C section rate and much lower intervention rates than their planned hospital birth counterparts. All the while having a similar infant mortality rate as a comparable, low-risk group having their babies in the hospital. This data shows that by having your baby at home, you have no greater risk of your baby dying than by having it in the hospital. Too bad they didn’t have a certified professional midwife on the show to follow up on the inaccuracies presented. I guess Kathy Gulinello, producer of this segment of The Doctors, didn’t see it as a necessary voice. Dr. Sears spoke only once for 30 seconds and that was deemed enough to be the balance in their version of fair and balanced.
Too bad they are so old school. They are up-to-date on things like “informed choice” and the fact that having your baby at home or in the hospital can be “one of the most important choices” you will make. But Dr. Masterson misses the most salient aspects of maternity reform when she says, “You don’t want to take on the responsibility for your child, you absolutely do not.” Maternity reform is on its way, with women being more informed than ever, standing up for their birthing rights, and yes, indeed, fully taking responsibility for their bodies, their babies and their births. As maternity care evolves, more women will be empowered by their birth experiences. Midwifery care and home birth will continue to make in-roads as a solution to some of our most pressing maternity care disparities. In the meantime, hospitals will need to take a hard look at their sky-rocketing C-section rates, infant mortality and maternal experiences that beg the question: Are we really doing the best that we can for mothers and babies? More vetting and less kvetching will show that homebirth is not the problem. As the rest of the world moves forward, this new show will be left in the dust.

P.S. Have Dr. Masterson call me. I'll tell her how to avoid a 10-15% shoulder dystocia rate.

Please log on to their website and visit the forums and give them hell for trying to mess with us. Here is the address: The Doctors

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fruits of a Labor Day

Dearest friends and family---

We are overjoyed to announce the arrival of our son, born at 4:38 pm on Labor Day, September 1, 2008. His name will be announced later this week at his Bris. Ben caught him and laid him on Mikaela’s chest and our boy announced himself with a scream the precise pitch and volume of a jet engine.

We are convinced he chose Labor Day to honor us, his parents, since it was Labor Day three years ago that we first met. Clearly he is a genius. This belief binds us to a chain, back through the generations, of parents sure that their child is the most brilliant, exceptional and thoughtful child ever born. Seeing fit to have Mikaela in labor for 44 hours and wrapping it all up on Labor Day, a holiday, also demonstrates a promising sense of humor.

We will be forever grateful to have brought him into the world at home, surrounded by all of the gifts and memories of friends and family. We are profoundly indebted to our gifted midwife Maria Iorillo who gave us complete confidence not just in her, but in our ability to do this.

In the blur of days since, we have been completely and endlessly fascinated by his every squeak and twitch and we are delighting in the perpetual twilight of early parenting, when night is day and day is night and the only a measure of time is how long he sleeps and when he needs to eat. The golden moments have been filled with the smiles of his grandparents, the generosity of family and community, and a whole lot of diaper-changing.
We have created a blog and have posted a bunch of photos of his early days. We will continue to post pictures and write some updates - as often as nursing, burping, diapering and jiggling allow- for those of you interested in coming along with us for the adventure.

The address is

Much love to you all,

Ben, Mikaela and the little one