Posted on

The Red Tent

novel cover

Poster

The Red Tent of My Heart

(May Contain Spoilers)

I read the Red Tent, by Anita Diamant, when I was in nurse midwifery school.  It was was an assigned book for the last class I took before I switched programs.  I went tent camping with my husband and three children and threw it in my bag so I could keep up in class.  Once I started reading it I could not stop.  I was swept up into Dinah’s life.  Sitting in woods, by a fire I read about the lives of women.  I recognized the women from long ago in myself, my sisters, mother, daughter and friends.  It may have been the romanticism of reading the story while living in a tent, but I fell  madly in love with it.  I was already infatuated with midwifery and birth.  The way that Diamant described the interactions between women, birth and death struck me to the core.  Although I did not pursue the midwifery path, I still feel the burn of the call.  I get a glimpse of it from time to time in the hospital.  Women supporting each other in the most intimate way while walking the line between death and birth.  Although birth has become safer in many ways, birth attendants still feel and fear death lurking in the corners of every delivery room.  I believe that is why a lot of well meaning over medicalization has occurred.  Not all of it, but a lot.  The novel did a wonderful job capturing the beauty and struggle of a guiding women through childbirth.

I was giddy when I fount that the novel was being made into a mini series.  Lifetime did a decent job telling the plot of Dinah’s life.  They were’t able to capture the beauty of birth and midwifery as well as the novel.  The relationships between the women were recognized fully in the last few minutes, but were not given as much development as in the book.

I have recommended this book, over the years, to everyone that has the look of wonder in their eyes.  I recognize the look right away.  It is a look that belongs to a person that is in complete awe of birth and the power of women.  I am not the only woman that loves this story.  Red Tent communities have popped up all over social media and in real life.  Women crave the type of connections found in the red tent.  Many of us have few, if any, sisters, move far from our mothers, do not get along with our mother-in-laws and do not make time for our girlfriends.  Twenty-first century life can feel so isolating.  Births continue to bind us together.  I step into a stranger’s room and become a friend/sister/mother within moments.

The bond of women during the sacredness of birth is strong.  The trust they give me is an honor.  Like Dinah, I will carry all the special women from my life with me.  There is not a red tent for us to take refuge.  I will carry my red tent in my heart.  With it I will create the safe and beautiful places for my sisters to bring their babies into the world.

Generations of women learning, laughing and sharing together.
Generations of women learning, laughing and sharing together.

If you enjoyed the miniseries, read the novel.  You will laugh and cry and love all the things Dinah loves.

Follow Carrie on Facebook

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Carrie Halsey

Posted on

Why the Golden Rule Doesn’t Apply in Healthcare

The Golden Rule has been preached to those in healthcare for decades.  As nurses we were taught that we should treat our patients as if they were our mother or grandfather.  I have heard doctors concluding consults with, “if it were my sister I would tell her to do X procedure.”  I know well meaning nurses whom call all their patients sweetie, because that is how they address family and they want to treat their patients like family. Empathy for our patients, care, and recommendations based on how we would like to be treated seems to be the ethical and correct behavior.  It is not the right thing to do.  To assume that we know what a person should choose or how they would like to be addressed is presumptuous at best and patriarchal at worst.

We should leave the Golden Rule concept in the past.

The Golden Rule, although a benevolent seeming concept, is fundamentally flawed.  Not everyone wants to be treated the way that someone else thinks is right.  This is concept is clearly evident in labor and delivery.  Women that choose to pursue normal means of birth, such as waiting for spontaneous rupture of membranes, are commonly labeled as difficult.  Women that decline an epidural or pain medications are often met with impatience and pressure to not suffer through the pain.  Mothers that wish to give birth vaginally, after one cesarean birth, are discouraged, badgered and bullied into submitting to a repeat surgery.  All this is done by health care providers that believe that they are treating the patient according to the Golden Rule.  Pain is bad, so healthcare providers want to take pain away from mothers.  Vaginal birth after cesarean comes with risks and they would not choose to try it.  By attempting to apply the Golden Rule in these ways, we are actually doing more harm.

We need to think about the Golden Rule in a new way.  It does not mean that we do for our patients what we would like done for ourselves or our loved ones.  We do not decide for a woman, what she should choose to do, based on what we would want our sister to choose.  A truer interpretation of the Golden Rule is respect for our patient’s wishes, requests and declinations.  Ultimately I would want my healthcare providers to respect how I want to be treated.  That is how I take care of my patients.  If they don’t want to know the details of every intervention, then I won’t tell them.  I know that education is important, but some patients do not want to hear how a urinary catheter works.  Many patients want to know every detail, and I accommodate their requests.  Personally, I prefer unmedicated labor and feel that moms miss out on something amazing when they get an epidural.  I do not treat my patients how I like to give birth.  I support them with what they prefer, whether it is an epidural, unmediated birth or somewhere in between.

I feel comfortable sharing my opinions when asked.  I give advice, but I never assume that I know what is the golden answer for each woman.

The old Golden Rule does not apply in health care.  Patient autonomy, as a priority in our nursing care, should become the new Golden Rule.  MC900439242

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Carrie on Facebook

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Carrie Halsey
Posted on

Barefoot and NOT Pregnant

file0002032880342


THE BUS!!!  I jumped up and ran outside to the bus stop when I realized I was late to pick up my boys. It was a nice day and I was picturing them alone waiting for me. In my rush I didn’t slip on my shoes. I slowed down when I saw that the bus hadn’t arrived. Then something unexpected happened.  I became aware how wonderful my bare feet felt treading along the side-walk. I could feel ever pit mark and seam in the concrete. I felt the difference in temperature when I crossed from sun to shade. I arrived at the corner and let my toes wander into the grass. What ecstasy! I walked around relishing every texture. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been outside barefoot.  I felt like I had as a child.

Being a birth nerd, I quickly realized my barefoot walk was similar to my unmedicated birth experience. My journey was comfortable and enjoyable. I felt the roughness of the cement, but it added to my experience. I noticed more about that walk  than any previous ones.  If I had worn shoes, I would have missed out on connecting with my environment.  Wearing shoes simply does not feel the same as being barefoot.  I feel the same about natural childbirth. Bringing a baby into this world is a miracle under any circumstances.  Natural childbirth is the barefoot version of birthing.  There is an added dimension that going natural brings to the experience.  The difference between my medicated and natural births were marked and undeniable.  I was more in tune with my body. I was at peace during the storm of contractions.  I felt euphoric and energized after my 3 natural deliveries, which was a surprise after my first two medicated births.

The conditions were perfect for my barefoot adventure. If the temperature had been different, or if there had been broken class on the sidewalk, shoes would have been necessary.  Similarly, it is not safe or prudent for every labor to be unmedicated.  When the conditions are right we have a choice.  Our society has become accustomed to a medicalized model of birth, just as we have become accustomed to wearing shoes.  We forget that there are other choices.  We absentmindedly slip on heels or tie on a pair of sneakers.  In the majority of our healthcare experiences we trust in the safety and necessity of our medical ‘shoes’.  Birth is not inherently medical in nature.  We have been conditioned to believe that the monitors, drugs and interventions are just part of giving birth.  Medical intervention is a luxury and a safety net for a natural process.  If a mother chooses to have an epidural for comfort, great!  If a mother needs to be induced due to a medical issue, we are grateful for the medical technology.  Just as I chose to walk barefoot, natural birth is a choice.  It doesn’t mean I think my birth is better than yours.  It especially does not say anything about any one else’s choices.  It doesn’t mean that I would want to have a surgery without medication, or try to heal my hypothyroid with herbs.  Sometimes its just nice to experience life in a basic way.  I experienced birth with all my senses and I loved it.

 

 

Posted on

Why I love Hypnobabies

During my fifth pregnancy I used the Hypnobabies self study course. I had two deliveries with epidurals and two unmedicated births  I knew I could deliver without pain medication again.  I also knew that birth hurts! I was a skeptic, but after seeing several comfortable births due to the Hypnobabies program I decided to give it a try.  It became a common occurrence for a fist time mother to show up in labor and delivery to check to see if she was in labor, and be dilated to 7 or 8 centimeters.  That really sealed the deal for me!  If a first time mom could be so comfortable I knew it could work for me.  My birth was beautiful and comfortable. I had to be induced and was worried the selfhypnosis would be more difficult to attain, but I was comfortable, laughing and happy throughout the labor process.  I recommend the program to my sisters and friends and they loved it too.  I will use it again if baby number six comes along.

My Beautiful  Hypnobaby click pic for more info
My Beautiful Hypnobaby
click pic for more info
Posted on

What Happened When I breastfed at a Texas High School Football Game…

ref

I have breastfed almost everywhere, doing almost everything. All together I have breastfed 65 months of my life. That is a lot of opportunity for nursing in public.
As a young mother, nursing my first baby, I was embarrassed and fumbling under large blankets most of the time. It was summer and my poor baby would be drenched with sweat under the modesty shield. My mother breastfed and was supportive, but beyond that I endured all the typical stares, questions and comments that breastfeeding mothers receive. I remember a shopping trip taking longer than I expected. I had to sit in an oven of a car, trying to latch my screaming, hot infant. I should have been sitting in the comfortably cool mall food court.

Something happened that changed how I breastfed my babies. I had more of them. When baby girl arrived, just after baby boy turned one, I had an epiphany about breastfeeding. I HAD to be more flexible! It was mandatory and everyone else would have to live with it. I would breastfeed when and where my baby was hungry, while keeping up with an active toddler.

This strategy worked well for me and in I fit right in with crunchy Oregon mamas. Then I moved to Texas. Women warned me that it is different in Texas, it’s an old boy system, no one breastfeeds there, and I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed in public. I avoided going out for as long as possible.   I am a band mom and I couldn’t miss my oldest son march with the band.   I steeled myself for the first high school football game. I sat in the bleachers, looking at the people around me.  I knew my baby was getting hungrier. I watched buxom blondes and brunettes walk by. Their breasts were barely contained in their school spirit tanks. I had a comeback all ready to go, for when the security guard came to tell me to leave. My comeback speech would be epic and would involve the aforementioned tank tops. Finally I gritted my teeth and slipped my little girl under my band mom T-shirt and she had her dinner.

That’s when it happened……absolutely nothing. Not one person commented or even managed a sideways glance. I was not able to spout off my clever retort.  I wasn’t made a fearless champion for breastfeeding, singled out for ridicule or praise.  I was just a mom watching my kid march with the band while feeding my hungry baby.

I have since breastfed everywhere in Texas, museums, parks, NASA, the DMV line, restaurants, hospitals, schools, and churches. I breastfed for the last time in our town’s Christmas Parade, sitting on a float in the freezing cold.

I didn’t know it would be the last time or my last baby. That’s just how it happened. It happened in Texas.

My advice to all you new and experienced mamas: Feed your babies where and when they are hungry! I wish I had been more comfortable the first go round. I wish I had not tortured myself and my baby because of society’s ideas about public breastfeeding. We have all heard the stories of boobie backlash. I challenge you to go ahead and brave it. You might get some negative comments, but in most states you have the legal right to breastfeed in public. Maybe someone will be watching you, a future mom or dad. Seeing you confidently breastfeed could make their choice to breastfeed easier.

You will be surprised that, in most cases, no one will give you a second glance.