Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Its not about a healthy baby...

During my first pregnancy I believed nothing could go wrong, I would have the perfect pregnancy and birth and parenting experience.
During my second pregnancy I was scared and uncertain and still determined to have the perfect pregnancy birth and parenting experience.
Walking to the NICU this morning,  holding the result of my third pregnancy, third attempt at the perfect experience, I finally realized that I've been experiencing perfection all along.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coming Out

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I am going to briefly explain why this day has meaning to me.

After trying to conceive for about four months, my husband and I became pregnant in December of 2008. We were thrilled and immediately began making plans for our baby to arrive in September 2009, even giving a "womb name," Fievel, so that our little progeny could have an identity beyond "the baby". Then on February 18, 2009 I began to miscarry. Chris and I were devastated at the loss of our first pregnancy. Although we were only 9 weeks along, the loss of this pregnancy was also the loss of our dreams for this child, the loss of a chance to expand our family this year and the loss of our innocence-I now know in a profound way that yes, these things can and will happen to us.

I titled this post "Coming Out" because this has been my secret for the last 8 months. Not that I have tried to hide it, but there simply is not much of a safe space to talk about pregnancy loss in the public sphere. How do we bring this sort of thing up? When I see an old friend, how do I say "oh, and we lost our first pregnancy" as we are giving our life updates? In our language, there is not a term for a woman who has lost a child or pregnancy, there are no words for this creature I lost other than baby(which feels presumptuous, especially in conversation with those who have lost infants) or embryo(which I cannot bear to use). The Japanese have a word, Mizuko, which refers to the unborn who have died and translates to "water baby." So now I have Mizuko Fievel, who lived in me for less than 2 months, the focus of a myriad of dreams and hopes. The reason for my recent depression and withdrawal from the world. The namesake of the puppy my husband gave me for our anniversary.

I hope that with my public display of grief, the people in my life will become more aware of how common pregnancy loss really is. I hope that people will be more comfortable talking about it, and most importantly, have someone to talk to if they experience this sort of tragedy. Only after I miscarried did I hear about the miscarriages, still births and fertility struggles of the women in my life. These are not dirty little secrets and should not be treated as such.

So yes, please ask me questions. I would love a chance to talk about my pregnancy, my loss, and as always, my opinions.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Say no to phonebooks!

This is really cool! Ever get frustrated by all the phone books piling up at your home? Visit and they will remove your name from the telephone company's mailing lists. You can always call to order a new phone book if you need one, or just use websites like

Over 500 million of these directories are printed every year, according to Yellow Pages Goes Green and few of them are recycled. Of course, the US telephone directory industry is worth $13.58 Billion dollars, which is why we all continue to receive so many obsolete items on our door step each year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Make-up is killing our daughters.


OK that was melodramatic. but this is simply horrifying. The Environmental Working Group released a study stating that teens use an average of 5 more cosmetics daily than adult women. The study found 16 chemicals, from 4 families, in the bodies of 20 young women, including parabens, which were found in every girl. These chemicals are all hormone disruptors that have been linked to reducing fertility levels, breast cancer and obesity. This study only surveyed 20 teens and is obviously not a piece of massive scientific literature, but this does not change the fact that Federal health statutes do not require companies to test products or ingredients for safety before they are sold. This is not acceptable. We know that the chemicals in these products can enter our bodies, why are they not being regulated??? The media is damaging our girls' psyches by hyper-sexualizing them and then the cosmetic industry is not only profiting from it, but damaging their bodies as well.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Radish and out-of-hospital birth

On Tuesday, I received an email from an editor of Radish Magazine. I am an avid reader of Radish, monthly healthy-living publication that focuses on eastern Iowa and western Illinois. The editor had been forwarded an email about a Friends of Iowa Midwives event that I am co-organizing this weekend. She is interested in our group and invited me to send her press releases about future events!

What is Friends of Iowa Midwives, you ask? In a nutshell, its a grassroots organization trying to promote women's rights to birth options. Now you might say "Wendy, what are you talking about? Women have lots of options in birth! Besides, why do you care, you've never given birth!"

Well, you would be right and you would be wrong. So here is a story.

Over the last two years I have learned a lot about pregnancy and birth. Within months of beginning my job, I noticed a disturbing trend. The young women I worked with would make a birth plan with me, but when we talk a week after the baby's birth, nothing went the way they wanted. I can understand that this happens occasionally, but every single client had something go wrong during birth that resulted in induction, c-section, epidural or some other unwanted intervention. Very few continued breastfeeding past one week. I happened to get a newsletter from a baby magazine featuring an article by Henci Goer. She mentioned a few books and movies addressing the problems in our maternity care system, including The Business of Being Born, which was being screened just a few weeks later. I went to the screening, and suddenly I was reading piles of books. I learned that 1/3 of all American births happen by cesarean section, even though the WHO recommends that the rate remain no higher than 15% of all births. Artificial induction of labor can lead to increased epidural use and c-sections. Epidurals, despite increasing the risk of c-section(and a variety of other problems) are used in over 60% of US births. There seems to be a domino effect, women get one intervention and the rest follow. The thing that I was most alarmed to learn is that we have the highest infant mortality rate among industrialized nations.

I began to realize how political this issue is. There is a movement that objects to the way that hospitals treat birthing women as though they are destined to need intense medical assistance, that they are incapable of having a successful birth without the assistance of obstetricians. In half of US states, it is illegal for Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) to attend births. Since most doctors and Nurse-Midwives chose not to attend out-of-hospita births, this leaves women without safe alternatives to hospital birhts.

I joined the email list for Friends of Iowa Midwives and when I heard that someone was starting a Quad Cities chapter, I volunteered to help out. Rebecca and I held our first event on Friday, a Red Envelope party, to send letters asking Iowa legislators to support out of hospital births, since there will be a bill this session to legalize and regulate CPMs.

I am really exited about this issue and may be writing about it again. I am particularly excited that we had a good turn out for our first(and thus, poorly publicized!) event, and that The Radish is interested!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Last month, I gave a presentation about Sexual Harassment to a local junior high school with a co-worker. We were able to see every student, by presenting to groups of 50 each of the 8 class periods. The focus of the presentation is to help kids understand that all those things their peers do are not just messing around, but genuine harassment.

Its a fun presentation but one where we never know if we made an impact. But today, my boss received a call from the dean of students at the junior high school. She called to discuss another program, but mentioned that Quincy & I did a great job with the sexual harassment presentation. In fact, several kids have stepped forward since then to report problems happening in gym class, which she implied they might not have done prior to our presentation. We may have made a difference!!!