Carla Hartley, a hero in the birth community

Just got back from the Trust Birth Conference in Redondo Beach, CA late last night and this is all fresh on my mind.  As a practicing midwife in an illegal state and serving a portion of the state where there are no other practicing midwives, it can get a little lonely.  Sometimes you feel there are more holes in the dike that you have fingers to plug up and opportunities for fellowship with others who truly understand are limited.  Educational opportunities for those who don’t live near an on-site school are limited also.  I’ve had to pay for and travel to places far and wide to learn new skills for the lack of an experience preceptor.

But over 25 years ago, a woman obviously called by God for such a purpose, set out to simply provide for the education of her own apprentices, but ended up founding a distance learning program that has the reputation of being one of the toughest, yet best in the nation.  She did so to her own detriment, often forfeiting her own financial well-being, sleep and reputation, just because she believed so strongly in the purpose of promoting more midwives who believed in birth and trusted it.  Not that we were to approach it with ignorance, but with knowledge and confidence.  Without her, I would not have been able to afford a quality midwifery education.  It wouldn’t have even been an option with my location.

Carla has again provided me with an opportunity to mingle with some of the biggest and brightest stars in the birthing community.  I’m so full right now, it’s hard to articulate.  I met, ate, shook hands, hugged, conversed, shared, listened to, took pics with, rode in vehicles with….names that only formerly resided on the covers and pages of books, magazine articles and research studies.  Now they are faces I know.  I also met fellow AAMI students and relished in getting the know the personalities and faces behind the names I only previously knew from online study groups.  Thank you, Carla, for the opportunity of a lifetime.  Thank you for caring enough about your passion to put yourself out there for either praise or criticism once again for not only MY benefit, but the benefit of a cause bigger than both of us, and more important to humanity than ever before.  Time will hopefully prove that you are truly a hero for our times.

Heather, we must have been in some of the same workshops but I didn’t get to meet you in person.  I wanted to feature your lovely drawing from Dr. Michel Odent’s workshop on whether our culture can survive the current cesarean epidemic.  He warned us that we need to learn to ask the right questions.  Because medicalized and medicated births, along with our current cesarean rate completely obliterates the beautiful hormone release that was meant for the bonding of mother and child, we need to be asking ourselves what the effect of several generations of birth without the influence of love hormones may be doing to our culture.  Here is Heather’s current drawing and a link to her blog.

Loved what Karen Strange had to say during the neonatal resuscitation course:  “Birth was meant to work as if no one else was there.”  YES!

Enjoy the panel on shoulder dystocia and the acronym, BREATH:  Breathe…panic is your worst enemy.  Calm yourself down and think.  Reassure the mother and those present (including baby), Exam, for position.  Assess, to see if there is something obvious that is holding baby up, like arms pulled toward baby’s back.  Turn, depending on your assessment of situation, move mother, then move baby if unsuccessful.  Help, the baby out.

Dr. John Stevenson:  met this precious physician from Australia who was “deregistered” from his livelihood as a doctor for practicing homebirths and continued to attend them for years to come because he saw something in these births he had never really noticed or seen too much in the hospital births previously…the lovely scene of bonding that we who catch babies get to experience again and again.   A mother and baby awashed with hormones meant to bond them for life.  Once you see it, you know…

Dr. Sarah Buckley:  her article on Ecstatic Birth and chapter 13 from her book, “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” are the basis for an entire session in my childbirth classes.  It was wonderful to meet her in person, hear her lovely accent and learn even more from her workshops on the hormones of birth and prenatal testing/ultrasound.  Yeah?

Sheila Stubbs:  I didn’t get to attend Sheila’s workshop (thanks to Carla who provided so MANY terrific choices), but we rode to and from the airport together as we arrived and departed.  Sheila’s book, “Birthing the Easy Way” is one I highly recommend to clients who are sitting on the fence about homebirth.  Her wonderful sense of humor, practical analogies, personal stories and included facts and studies are a perfect combination to read.  She doesn’t understand the impact her book has made on so many lives, just seeing herself as a simple stay-at-home mother of many, but I hope after this conference she will know.  I SO enjoyed meeting you, Sheila.

Shonda Parker:  I didn’t get to attend her workshop either, as I had so many choices and since I am going to get to hear her in late April at the CMI conference, I just bought several of her books, including her newly updated “Naturally Healthy Pregnancy” and spent some time talking to her in the exhibit hall about the phase of our lives with learning to release our children into adulthood and how much we miss them when they leave.  You have a lovely presence, Shonda and I can’t wait to get to learn more from your books and workshops in April.

Rixa Freeze:  I love what you had to say about trusting intuition and the many examples of times when it proved to be the truth.  We need to learn how to separate our fears from real authoritative intuitive knowledge.  Thank you for being there and your work on these and similar topics for your degree.  And the Caramelized Pear and Toasted Pecan sounds yummy.

And for Carla:  The chance to finally meet you in person after only getting to know you through email and the phone was unforgettable.  I will never be able to thank you enough for the sacrifices you and your family have made.  History will prove you are truly a woman for our time.