My Lobby Day Supporting Midwives

20 Mar

midwivesI was the only consumer advocate at the Lobby Day today hosted by the NC American College of Nurse Midwives (NCACNM) to support House Bill 204 to update and modernize the Midwifery Practice Act. This is just one of three midwifery bills in discussion in the legislature.

I tagged along with the nurse-midwives as a way to listen in and support them by sharing my personal experience of their quality of care. The first group I was with met with Representative William D. Brisson – a down home southern farmer that understood old school midwifery and was interested in hearing how it plays out in today’s world. He spoke a lot about his family, grandchild and his overall interest in supporting children.

According to the NCACNM, currently 31 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have no practicing OB/Gyn. Lack of access to qualified care has been cited as the main reason North Carolina is 44th in the nation in infant mortality and 37th in maternal mortality. Brisson represents areas in the rural coastal plain and he understood the lack of access to quality prenatal care in those areas. The second group I was with met with Senator Shirley B. Randleman, a senate sponsor of the companion senate bill who also represents rural folks. She was very supportive and knowledgeable, and keen on addressing the shortage of physicians.

I learned a lot about the midwive’s positive personal experiences with working in hospital settings, working at Camp Lejune (where nurse-midwives don’t need a physician’s signature because it’s not required federally), and from midwives-in-training that were hoping to serve their communities though are currently working as RNs as they await the removal of the barrier to practice.

In order to practice as a nurse-midwife in North Carolina, midwives need the signature of a supervising physician. This is additional physician oversight, as their certification already provides oversight from a joint committee of the Board of Nursing and the Board of Medicine. I learned about this barrier the hard way – just 8 weeks after Ten was born  and I was having trouble healing and with breastfeeding –  the supervising physician for my midwives dropped his backing, forcing the practice to close. I had to go to the birth center for additional care, which I am fortunate to have nearby. My heart went out to those that were pregnant at the time and were left without options that fit their hopes and needs.

According to the NCACNM, 44 states do not require physician supervision of nurse-midwives. House Bill 204 bill would replace this requirement with a mandate for collaboration and consultation with physicians as dictated by the needs of the patient.

Collaboration and consultation is nothing new – it’s what happened when my blood tests came back showing that my thyroid went nutso during early pregnancy, so I was referred right away to a specialist. They communicated and collaborated with my midwives so I was able to have a healthy pregnancy. I was also referred to a specialist after the birth when I had trouble healing.

I look forward to hearing the report back from NCACNM and hope to find and share ways in which consumer advocates can get involved.


Ten, you’ve come a long way

9 Jan

It’s been a year since I wrote here – a long and intense year. Though, I’m skipping that for now.

Things have really taken a turn for the better in the last month – coincidentally when I had some time off work –  so I really got to enjoy it.

Ten has been in a pretty enjoyable mood most days and has regularly napped for a couple of hours in the morning and some more in the afternoon, leaving me with a little space to get shit done.

She really enjoys being around other people, so it’s been great to have friends over, go on walks, and go to the museum that’s just down the street. She’s mastered the art of sitting up and I oftentimes find her like this after she’s woken from a nap. Sitting up makes it easier for her to entertain herself for longer and it’s made her less clingy, so I have time to make my food and deal with all my pumping gear (something I have to do 6x a day, geesh). It’s been a much more doable rhythm. I’m still always busy and not able to relax unless it’s with her, but it’s less intense which is very much appreciated.

It amazes me how the littlest things Ten does impresses me. How she is interested in the smallest things, loves to read books, or the way she gazes at trees. This last month she’s had a development explosion. She recognizes the sounds of birds outside and acknowledges them. She points, claps and plays peekaboo with intention. She turns the pages of the books when we read. And she’s now slithering to get things that are out of her reach. It seems this is all happening at once. Finally!

Ten was an adorable newborn when she was sleeping, but those were some very rough and trying times that seemed never-ending. Its good to be in a place of enjoyment and change! Happy boomerang birthday Ten.

The pregnancy thus far

8 Jan

Pregnancy has been very different from what little expectations that I had of it, like strange cravings and a healthy glow as if I should be on the cover of one of those magazines (I shoulda known better, right?). I’ve learned a lot and have had it pretty easy compared to many other people, though the hardest part has been the exhaustion that comes from my thyroid having taken a huge hit. When I had to continue my daily 2-hour naps after I was well into the second trimester, I figured that I’d just have to make the most out of it. The kitties have supported me and have kept me entertained through this process.

Marriage Ain’t Just About Love – Rise up!

22 Oct

Trace and I are finally starting a family! We’re having a baby in April and are so incredibly excited. More on this soon.

In planning for the arrival, Trace looked in to adding me and the little one to his insurance plan since I am currently on my own and have terrible coverage. Even though his company and Blue Cross Blue Shield honors partnerships, the group plan vendor does not. I cannot be added to his plan.

In 2007, Trace and I sealed our relationship with each other by celebrating with friends and family. However, we choose to forgo legal marriage in order to stand in solidarity with our queer friends and family that don’t yet have that privilege.

And it really is a privilege – a HUGE one.

To me, love is love and that should be enough to argue for marriage equality. But there is more.

The barrier to health insurance is just one piece. When Trace and I file our taxes, we have to file individually as single, so we miss out on a huge tax brake that our friends estimate to be around 1K a year. When Trace was sick and had to go to the hospital, we were worried that I would not be able to accompany him to his room. Fortunately, I was able to. And a few of our queer friends that I’ve talked with have also been allowed to accompany their partners. Though, the uncertainty is utterly nerve wracking.

In talking with a friend that shared a homestead and farm with her partner, she told me that when her partner passed she had to pay $7K in inheritance taxes for the land that they co-owned as a family. Since they had no legal option of marriage, they were not legally recognized as family and thus she had to incur a tax that blood relatives or married couples do not. I assume she’s also not able to benefit from any social security benefits like my mom does.

I was adopted, and I was very interested in going that option (and still am for the future), though, without being married only Trace or I am able to legally adopt a child. Could you imagine loving and caring for your kid and ending up not having any legal rights to share custody if the relationship falls apart?

And, if one of us were to go to prison, we would not have the same visitation rights as if we were recognized as a family.

I’m sure there are more things that I have not yet run across that make it clear that not allowing certain people to marry is unmistakably discriminatory.

These are reasons why ALL PEOPLE need to fight for marriage equality – and we need to fight hard. Not only should we vote down the proposed amendment here in NC, but we should work to make marriage legal on the state level while working on our communities, workplaces, and agencies to better support every family’s needs.

Things Fall Apart

9 Sep

Oftentimes my life feels like a Built to Spill album. Right now is one of those times.

“We’ve all seen enough now it’s time to decide
The meekness of love or the power of pride
It doesn’t matter if you’re good or smart
Goddamn it, things fall apart”

This year has been full of unexpected twists and turns. It seems like in April everything collided and demanded for me to make a change. Since then I’ve been swept up in the whirlwind of “what the fuck do you do when the last five years were just spent pouring energy into a dream turned nightmare?”

Trace and I left Circle Acres. Let’s just say things weren’t working out. There are multiple layers to this, many of which deal with lack of communication, mutually beneficial relationships and responsibility. These are often the tricky parts of a collective.

This year I will not be building our strawbale home, nor will I be homesteading on the same scale. I will not be living in a rural community that doesn’t care much about superficial things. I am, however, ready to work on the I will be’s.

It’s been an interesting experiment, though I wish I would have gone into it viewing it as an experiment. Instead I was totally dreamy about spending the rest of my life there with good friends and food. I’ve gone through a number of emotions about this, from total relief to deep sadness, but at least I feel like I’ve truly tried so I don’t have many regrets.

Trace has written two beautiful posts about this as well: About My Disappearance  and Outline.

We’re now in Durham in a cute neighborhood on half an acre, for 2 years or forever. Time will only tell. Silk Hope will always be in my heart. There are many homesteaders there that I admire and have learned from.

I look forward to closing the last chapter of my life and starting the new one, falling in love with new projects and continuing to work towards a deeper and more fulfilling life.

The Needle and the Record

21 Apr

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, living in a rural area has been quite a change. I love the sweet fresh air, growing food, and the autonomy that I experience, but the one major thing that I’ve missed are my late night bike rides. Fortunately, I was just with some friends that were up for an adventure.

Final Countdown

24 Mar

photo by Trace

The first day of Spring really snuck up on me. I had hoped to have the foundation and framing up by now, but I seriously underestimated the time it would take to demolish 1450 square feet of the old house and find an engineer that is down with the program (strawbale) and is willing to keep it real (natural).

Pushing my oversight on the scale of the demolition aside, we’ve really accomplished a lot in the past few months – shit, we’ve accomplished a lot just this month, as shown below. It’s also felt really good to have people pitch in from time to time. It makes everything feel like it moves 5 times faster, probably because it’s a lot more fun. Matthew, Ben and Kathleen came to help smash the roof, Julia threw caution to the wind to help us get the ceiling down in the second story; Nick did the same for the flooring. Matt and Kat lovingly mule-d rubble with us this past weekend, Adah smashed the piano. And the beautiful weather and increase in the sun keeps me going throughout the week. Not to mention Trace tearing ass every day after work. Somebody please call him and try to get him to take a break!

I think the next few weeks will bring clarity to what the hell the rest of this year is going to look like.

I’m trying so hard to grow my patience. This weather is doing a lot to help in that department. We took Sunday off last weekend and I spent the afternoon plastering with Danielle and Greg on Danielle’s home (which is gorgeous!). This weekend we’re going to spend a little less time cleaning up, and get back into the garden and hang out with the chickies.