Category Archives: Community

Attend #3 Births: Baby Theo

I attended my first birth for doula certification last week! It was an amazing experience. I wrote a birth essay to encapsulate the experience. Here is my essay for certification, with names removed.

Birth Essay – Baby Levi

Mama called at 10:30am. She was admitted to the hospital after a scheduled visit that morning showed a low fetal heart rate. The physician warned mama of the possibility of a cesarean section – but wanted to monitor and see if this could be avoided. We spoke again at 12:00pm and she happily told me the baby’s heart rate had stabilized and they were planning an amniotomy at 1:30pm. She said she would call me when labor began, and at 4:00pm I was invited to join them. I arrived by 4:45pm and assisted with her ever-intensifying contractions. We tried a variety of position changes and coping techniques during this time. Mama’s birth plan included her openness to an epidural, and at around 7:00pm she asked for one. She was tired and wasn’t keeping fluids down so they introduced IV fluids. Afterward she did not feel her contractions at all, but her nausea continued. She expressed tremendous gratitude for my aromatherapy techniques. At 10:20pm her cervix was checked and she was told to push, although she wasn’t feeling the urge. Beginning at 10:42pm she pushed for 2 hours (the nurse timing her contractions) before deciding to labor down while the epidural wore off. By 1:15am the urge to push was strong, and she began pushing again. After 30 minutes of pushing, her baby was born at 1:42am. Mama and baby experienced skin-to-skin contact immediately and were nursing within 45 minutes.

My role at this birth was to provide a calm, collected presence and offer suggestions for the father. Early in labor they had some questions and appreciated having me present for distracting conversation. When Mama experienced nausea and vomiting, dad and I took turns swapping and cleaning out vomit trays for her. I suggested essential oils on a damp washcloth and showed dad to hold it near her face during bouts of nausea, which really helped. I also suggested a variety of position changes; those she found most helpful were the birth ball, swaying, sitting, and semi-prone. Mama was not set on avoiding pain medications, and my role was to provide information and nonjudgmental support for her decisions. When she asked for an epidural I encouraged her to take some time to think about it and make sure it was her decision. I reminded her of other coping strategies we could try, and when she wasn’t interested I reminded her that she had the right to make this decision for her birth.

When Mama was admitted earlier that day she was nervous for the baby’s health and a c-section. We spoke briefly about this over the phone and she said that she accepted if this needed to happen, but she hoped it could be avoided. She was extremely grateful to hear that she could proceed with a vaginal birth and seemed to take this as a good sign. When I arrived she was talkative and chatty between contractions, but liked to go inward during contractions.  She seemed to be coping well for a few hours, then as her contractions intensified she asked, “is this contraction going to end?” and I reminded her to focus on her breathing. Breathing and counting really worked for her as a ritual, but in-between contractions she had difficulty relaxing. Dad and I took turns massaging her shoulders and helping her release the tension. Once she got the epidural she was surprised by how good she felt. She said repeatedly how glad she was for the opportunity to rest and seemed satisfied with her decision. She was pleased that she “only needed the epidural and nothing else”. During pushing she said, “I thought this was going to be the easy part!” but she pushed like a champ anyway and kept her spirits up for many hours until she had her beautiful baby. Immediately after the birth she experienced shaking and chills for an hour. She said, “thought it would be over once he was out” and that she felt guilty that she wasn’t “enjoying him yet”. I reassured her that this was normal, that she didn’t need to feel guilty, and talking about it seemed to help. Within an hour she was visibly happy and enjoying her nursing baby. Afterwards Mama said she was especially grateful that I was there to help her relax and focus on her baby during this time immediately post-birth. Overall she seems tremendously proud and satisfied with her experience.

The main thing I learned during this birth was the power of flexibility to enhance the birth experience. Mama went into her birth well-educated, with a vague outline of what she wanted, and a lot of flexibility and openness to the experience. Her openness to pain medication and interventions helped her feel successful and powerful in her decisions regarding her birth. She didn’t view it as a failure when she ultimately felt she needed an epidural. I learned that being an effective doula isn’t about avoiding medications and interventions, but providing nonjudgmental support for someone to experience a great birth the way they define it.

Find #9 people or things that inspire you… or maybe 16!

~ Day 6 ~
~ Friday, December 19th, 2014 ~
Find Your Inspiration
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
– Jack London

Today’s action:
Get motivated! Do whatever it takes. Then let your mind wander into the territory of what you might do to address some of the challenges you identified yesterday. Soon, we’ll make it official, so be ready!
– Matt Frazier

Completed my anchor habit for 10 minutes. Did back bending poses from Om Yoga. Pigeon pose with bent leg is getting easier. Holding half-wheel with one leg up was harder than I expected, and so was two legs up, laying on back!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f8f/62905883/files/2015/01/img_0650.jpg – half wheel with one leg up

What inspires me?
These people are sources of inspiration for me. Who’s your inspiration? Comment below.
1. Buddha
2. Thich Nhat Hanh – Buddhist poet
3. Elise Radtke-Rosen – Jivamuktiyoga instructor
4. Seane Corn – yoga instructor
5. Ash Beckham: Coming Out of Your Closet – TedEx Talk
– This person may not be Buddhist but they’re definitely in touch with the universal nature of suffering. 🙂
6. Audre Lorde – writer
7. Barbara Kingsolver – author Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
8. Nicole Wilder – friend
9. Sylvia Rivera – activist
10. Anne Phibbs Ph.D. – mentor
11. Sharon Gannon & David Life: Founders of Jivamukti Yoga
12. Om Movement Studio: Portland Oregon
– Self-ideas for the space: Yoga. Meditation. Art Studio. Doula office. Cooking Classes. Craft Bazaars.
– Their space: Bellydance. Tango. Capoeira. Yoga. Ecstatic Dance. Meditation. Dance and theater rehearsals. Men’s and Women’s Groups. Networking Meetings. Benefits. Fundraisers. Local artist holiday markets.
13. Remy
14. Mark – Founer Common Ground Meditation Center
15. Kristin Kali – MAIA Midwifery, Los Angeles
16. Briohny Smyth – Daily Burn Yoga Instructor

#12 Two times two – Make 12 new friends!

#12 Two Times Two: 2 Weekends, 2 Friends a-piece!

So far March has been my month of pursuing friendships. After creating my OkC profile and messaging with a few people a bit to get to know each other, I arranged to meet those I connected with most.

The Chicago Handmade Market


Saturday is one of the only days of the week I have mostly available. I only work until two in the afternoon, so I arranged to meet my new OkC friend – Kiersten – that afternoon. Lucky for us the Chicago Handmade Market, a once a month handmade craft fair at a rotating location in Chicago, was happening that day.

Turns out a friend that Remy recently met through work was visiting Chicago for the weekend, and her and Remy had been hanging out this morning. I invited her to tag along with us and thus initiated what has turned out to be a great friendship.

Her name was Betsey, and she’s a rad activist from Iowa city. I met her only 20 minutes before I met Kiersten, but we were already friends by then. Betsey is such an easy-going, interesting, cool person we felt like we knew each other right away!

We all met at the market, which was Awesome! This month it was at a bar called the Empty Bottle. There were lots of jewelry-makers, as well as sellers of knitted and crocheted works, soaps, needlepoint, body products, ties and bow ties, prints, paintings, and more. One of the sellers was giving away a free bow tie for liking them on Facebook and we all entered.


We all hit it off great! I bought a Leo charm pendant and two wire wrapped rings. I will definitely check it out again!


After the Market we all went to Handlebar. They had amazing deep fried pickles and a great tofu sandwich. We also tried their samosas – a traditional Indian potato and pea pocket – but we didn’t care for it.


We all had great conversation, and we ended up going back to our apartment for drinks after dinner. We hung out all night, and had a wonderful time! I feel like I made two great new friends that weekend!

Another Weekend of Plenty

The week following our weekend friendship adventures, Remy had to go out of town for a week for work. Remy travels often for work – sometimes once a month, sometimes more than that. He loves traveling to different co-ops and giving trainings or attending meetings, and I support him wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, before I quit my teaching job and started making friends in Chicago I was very lonely when Remy went out of town. It’s hard to be alone in big city with no one to hang out with.

So I set out to spend time with our new friends, and make some more new friends on my own while Remy was gone. I knew Remy would be happy for me, and happy to meet any of the people I befriended while he was away!

After she returned to Iowa, Betsey has kept in touch with me via texting and social media, and I’m really enjoying continuing to get to know such a rad activist and thinker! She invited us to come visit, so Remy and I are planning a trip out to Iowa City in the next month or so. But I still need friends near me, and Kiersten is rather busy, so my plan was to keep looking for someone I could spend time with.

I also went out a few times with a great girl named Alex. She and I cooked portobello burgers for lunch, and went to the Chicago Cultural Museum together. The museum is run by the Chicago Board of Tourism and is completely free to anyone all the time! They have a bunch of rotating visual art and photography exhibits that are open to the public. And the building in which the Cultural Museum is located is like art itself; it’s in the old Public library building before it expanded into the famous Harold Washington Library down the street.

There are beautifully tiled walls throughout the entryway, and a thirty foot Tiffany stained-glass dome window in the ceiling of the main gallery room! It’s the biggest Tiffany stained glass dome in the world.


Alex and I had fun together, but I found the conversation slightly forced and awkward at times, so I see this friendship as a long, slow build. We’re not going to become best friends over night, but we like doing things together so it’s a start!

Then there was Brittnee

You’ll hear more about Brittnee soon, because she is amazing and I already have so many stories to tell about her! But we almost didn’t meet. :O

Here’s the beginning:
Those who know me know about my history of tumultuous relationships with Taurus signs. On three separate occasions I met guys that I did not get along with – we really butt heads, we didn’t get each other’s sense of humor, and I just plain thought they were rude. After forming my opinion of them I learned one by one that they were all Tauruses! So when I saw on Brittnee’s profile that she was a Taurus, I almost let my bias stop me from messaging her! I’m so glad I put my ridiculous prejudice aside and messaged her, because we clicked the second we met!

Brittnee and I hung out – cooking, drinking, listening to music, and talking – way longer than we intended. We talked about many things – and discovered that we not only looked alike, but we shared a tremendous amount of interests and opinions. We’re twins! Back at her place, her roommate Eric came home and I met him too. By the time I left Britt and I were both remarking at the amazing connection we’d made.

… We hung out the next two days in a row. >.<

The next day her and Eric came over, and I got to know Eric some more. I can’t wait to meet Brittnee’s boyfriend John, who lives with them too, but he’s been busy with work. We plan to go out on a double date for sushi on Sunday!

Britt and I made peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies together…


We both love Broad City, Key and Peele, the same music, the same types of people, hanging out together, and thrifting. She’s quickly becoming one of my best friends! I’m so lucky and grateful to have met her!

I’m counting Eric as a friend because, although he’s also a Taurus, we’ve also been getting along great, and I suspect we’ll be hanging out more in the future! Look at me, growing up, befriending perhaps unexpected personalities, and settling into Chicago. Wish me luck!

#11 Visit 11 museums / #21 Try 21 new restaurants

~~~~~ 1/11 ~~~~~
~~~~~ 1/21 ~~~~~

My mom and grandma came to visit for a couple days, and I knocked two goals off my list!

First we visited a new restaurant called Green Zebra. Not this green zebra!
This Green Zebra!
Named after the heirloom tomato, Green Zebra was named the number 7 all-vegetarian restaurant in the US last year. They serve modern Italian food on small plates, which does a wonderful job of promoting conversation.
My mom and grandma – both excellent cooks – we’re delighted by the complexity of flavors and creative presentations. The only thing my grandma didn’t like was the curry; it was much too spicy for a second generation Norwegian. I on the other hand thought the curry was the best dish of the night! Spicy but not overpowering, with a richness you wouldn’t expect from a vegan curry.
Plate after plate was piled upon our table, until we were all bursting! We tried almost everything and there were many standouts: dreamy acorn squash dumplings with soy caramel, carrot sesame purée, and watermelon radish; heirloom beet salad with chestnut espuma, frisée and sherry vinaigrette; pearled barley “risotto” with winter pistou, broccoli, capers and molasses; and white chocolate cranberry mousse. Since I work here, the chef sent out an extra dish (on the house!) almost every course. The head chef is not only talented, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve met. Needless to say we were stuffed to bursting by the end. Anyone who doesn’t think they can get full on vegetarian food should bring that challenge to Green Zebra.

Price is $$


Next we spent a wonderful afternoon at the Field Museum!
I have been to the Field Museum on one other occasion and both times I left feeling there was so more the explore! You could spend a year getting lost in there.
We loved every exhibit we got the chance to see. The Evolving Planet…
The Ancient Americas…
The Hall of Gems…
The Hall of Jade…

#12 Make 12 new friends: Elizabeth

~~~~~ 3/12 ~~~~~

Cuban Miss Elle

Cuban Miss Elle might just be my newest friend! Elizabeth by day, she is a hard-core derbyist by night.

Miss Elle and I tried out side-by side for roller derby last weekend, and together we both made the cut! Now we’re already pretty overwhelmed by the commitment, and we’ve been relying on each other to figure everything out. We’re really just thrown into it all and expected to jump in right away,

She’s already friends with a few derbyists, so it’s great I found someone as nice and helpful as her to help me learn the ropes. We plan to practice together, and I asked her to tea next week! I hope this develops into something more!

#12 Make 12 new friends

~~~~~ 2/12 ~~~~~

On Tuesday night I asked a recent friend I had made online if they’d like to get together. She’ll be the first friend I’ve made outside of Teach For America since I moved here. And since TFA kept us working 70 hours a week in super stressful environments, I was hardly ever able to get together with the friends I did make. So now I have both the time and the desire to make friends that I can spend time with – and this was our first in-person date.

I met Kennedy at a restaurant I’ve been meaning to go to for a while: Mana Food Bar.



It’s all vegetarian and they have lots of fancy drinks. I ordered an apple cider nigori and she had a pomegranate mint cocktail. They were both wonderful!


As an appetizer I was easily convinced to order a vegetable pickle that had kimchi in it, and I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it!


She also got a wonderful arugula salad with spicy chile dressing that I tried and found delicious.


We had a great time! We have a lot in common – including we both have partners of 5 years and we all enjoy sci-fi nerdery! We got to know each other for a few hours, and it was going so well we called our boys and had them meet us as a nearby Arcade Bar for drinks and old-school arcade games.


Remy and I stayed out much later than usual, and he really enjoyed Kennedy and Andy’s company too! We definitely plan to hang out again soon, and I can see this developing into something great, so I’m checking 2 new friends off the list!