After much thought and consideration, we (me and the medical professional previously willing to look further into the date) decided that tackling the recent Gates Media article was something bigger than a trite blog analysis could offer.
This doesn't mean that Welcome Mama refuses to support families who experience loss, even if/when it involves the midwifery model of care.
This doesn't mean that resources for bereavement families aren't included on the site. (They have been since it's inception in May of 2017, compiled by a local doula who shared them with me, in hopes of making the information easily accessible to local families). This doesn't mean that I don't support bereavement doulas. (There's an update coming with a list of those doulas).
This just means that I'm no longer helping the conversation by being part of it. And I have been part of it for going on 2 years.
I appreciate your encouragement and support in how this was handled last week. I also appreciate the dissent, allowing me to evaluate my own actions. At the end of the day, I can tell you that I did the best I could. This wasn't good enough for everyone and I'm okay with that.
I still welcome any woman who experienced loss to share their story here, as I always have. That will not change. But I cannot participate in anything that would make me liable. Remember, this is a free site, one I currently do because I want to.
I encourage anyone who would like to continue the conversation locally to head over to out ImprovingBirth.org - Buffalo, NY page, where we have 4 different women, from different backgrounds and perspectives administrating the page.
Our family continues to pray for our local families, hoping that they may find peace some day.
Our conversation from last week should have included this NY Times article. Like I said to a friend this weekend, our national or local conversation on this topic has many moving parts. But the one that matters most to me personally is supporting informed choice.
(P.S. We have a local medical and birth professional looking at the article that caused a stir last week. I'm hoping that she will be able to analyze the data and bring us a more objective look at the safety of out of hospital birth)
Please just remember that this site and page are for entertainment purposes. I'm not a doctor, midwife, or even a birth professional. I'm just a mom running a free website for families who want and need holistic information that is otherwise difficult to find.
You should always make informed medical decisions with your doctor or midwife. And if you don't like their opinions, feel the drive and urgency to find another provider. Please.
On 4 hours sleep, after screaming at my husband and being irritated with my four-year-old for not putting on his boots, I pulled into the driveway of my doctor's office building for my annual pap smear that hadn't happened in 3 years.
I drove past bundled up protesters with giant pictures of fetuses, shouting about abortion. My doctor is one of the only providers in WNY who still makes an abortion accessible to women. You don’t have to like that fact, but I do. Her building, in addition to housing abortion services, also serves as Buffalo’s only freestanding birth center.
This place, this brick building, where I helped stage our second annual Improving Birth rally on a moments notice with another mom was also where my son was born 4 years ago at 42 weeks and 5 days. In this building, after I unceremoniously fired my home birth midwife at 41 weeks (for reasons that you don’t need or want to know about), I shared a week of waiting, consultation, labor, and birth with my husband and Katherine Morrison. My doula and friend was by my side, as was a photographer and my midwife assistant, all of which conducted themselves with professionalism and empathy.
Through our time together, Katherine discussed risks on a daily basis. I understood the risks involved in having my son’s birth after 42 weeks. Unlike my first child, my second pregnancy was fully informed and I owned every choice. I made strategic, educated decisions that included avoiding certain things that some women choose to partake in when they reach the frustrating point of 42 weeks. I avoided any kind of intervention, other than walking, swimming, and going about my regular routine. I agreed to daily NST’s and BPP’s, keeping us updated daily on our son’s overall health. While in the hospital during those repeated NST’s, I was amazed by the number of veteran nurses who commented on my overall health and expressed sadness that more women weren’t encouraged to wait, instead of inducing.
My previous birth was a hospital induction that we agreed to after a resident told us that we’d have a stillborn baby if we wanted any longer. My daughter was born at 42+1 in the hospital. It wasn’t a textbook traumatic birth, but as a longtime survivor of a pre-existing brain disorder, I left feeling violated, unheard, and confused. That experience led me down a completely different path that influenced my decisions for my next birth. No midwife, no birthing center doctor coerced me to seek out an unmedicated birth out of hospital birth: I did.
I tell you all of this, not to discredit any other woman’s story.
I tell you this to help you understand why I can’t write an objective piece on the current topic.
Before 10 AM yesterday I had nothing about the now viral expose, Failure to Deliver.
I’m reluctantly sharing the link here so that you may formulate your own opinions on the topic. Please also look at this link regarding the investigation. I think part of responsible journalism is being objective. I’m not sure if that was achieved with this article, but it’s a starting point for dialogue that we’ve failed to have as a community. And for that I’m uncomfortable, but gracious for the opportunity.
I welcome dialogue and other women’s stories. I will share them, if they want me to. I will continue to make resources and information available. Yesterday I just needed some time to think about my own feelings, obligations, and duties. Some of those duties belong to caring for my own heart and health. I’m sorry if anything I said yesterday was seen as callous or insensitive.
If anyone out there would like to share their thoughts, pleace feel free to contact me anytime.
Thanks for the vibes and prayers. This past Saturday was a sad/happy day. Our kids were AWESOME and were able to participate in their own ways.
Our world will never be the same.
Grace was a very special woman who clearly touched many people.
We're all better for having known her.
My husband wrote one of her eulogies. I couldn't stop smiling when he read it to me after writing it.
The Secret to Life – As per Grace Huenniger
by Chris Binder
The secret of life is Kuchen. And pastries. And Donuts and coffee.
It’s also having 8 Great grandkids that make you smile.
It’s 4 grandkids that mean the world to you, and watching them grow. And being a huge part of their lives. Take them to Gold Circle and Hills and let them pick out any toys they want.
Sell your Mickey and Minnie dolls that you made from scratch so they could have life changing experiences.
Have 2 wonderful incredible children that you’re proud of. That you raised to be extraordinary people that would do anything for anyone, just as you would.
Welcome people into your family. That way you find a fantastic Son in law and Daughter in law that are more like your own children, and love you just as much.
Find a loving partner that loves you as much as you love them, and stand by them through the good times and the bad. Love that person for over 50 years. Travel. Face seemingly insurmountable odds and build a legacy together.
Deal with the bad times with strength and fortitude. Don’t give up.
Accept what has been given to you and come out on the other side even better than when you started.
You also need to take time for yourself, as well. Self care is important. You need to take those 12 hour trips to the Bon Ton, and all day trips to the casino in Salamanca on a bus that leaves at 5 AM and doesn’t come back until midnight.
Go to the dollar store and buy toys for your great grandkids.
You need to wear your heart on your sleeve. If someone is annoying you, you need to tell them. If you love them, you need to tell them that, too.
Tell people that you’re proud of them. Encourage them. Tell them that they’re the best parents in the world. Tell them that you’re proud of the career that they have. Tell them how happy you are that they turned out the way they did.
Watch TV. The good stuff, like the Kardashians and Dr. Phil, and Lawrence Welk.
Play the Organ. Sing songs. Find places to go and sing. Find joy.
Find friends. Amazing friends. People that would do anything for you. Do anything for them. Be there. Be present. Share in their lives. Be a rock, but let them be a rock for you, too.
Be such an amazing person that your legacy carries on for generations, not only with your family, but with the friends that you have made. Be such an inspiration that you will never be forgotten.
Yes, it seems like a lot to remember. It seems difficult – next to impossible, even.
But Grace Huenniger did it every day. She lived it. She was an amazing person that changed everybody’s lives forever, and will never be forgotten. She helped mold everyone in this room and her spirit will live on through each and every one of us.
As summer fades and the leaves change pigment, transitioning us to a different time of the year I'm often struck by the symbolic imagery laid out before us:
Some leaves drop with the first cool afternoon.
Some hang on until an artic gust takes hold.
Some drop effortlessly, surrendering to the new stage that nature has designed as part of its journey.
Some people rage during times of change.
Some people whimper.
Some treat these times of natural revolution with wonder and attention.
Birth...and death are no different.
We've had a rough couple of years as a family.
Losing both my maternal aunt and uncle in the span of a few months, and dealing with our own day-to-day struggles as a little family with not a ton of support outside of our network of generous friends.
Our current journey is cutting a hole in our safety net of recovery: my husband's grandma, Grace was recently placed in a nursing home. She's 94 and up until recently enjoyed trips to BonTon, music at a jamming senior center, driving to get her own groceries, and watching the Kardashians from the comfort of her own lovely home.
She's not happy with this new transition. I try to see her daily, not out of obligation, but out of reciprocation. She's a special person, one who has been 110% supportive of me and the way we've chosen to raise our kids, even if she may talk about me behind my back (ha!).
Having her in my life has been a comfort that I tried not to take for granted. Every Sunday we would block off our day and spend hours at her home, dishing about the latest gossip, her friends, and what she did all week. She'd drive to the the dollar general weekly and purchase a grotesque amount of plastic toys for our kids. She'd ply us with gum drops and always has a supply of chocolate and Vernor's ginger ale.
Right now all she'd like to do is go home. I can't do that for her, but I can give her my time during this new phase in her life.
Please forgive if Welcome Mama isn't expanding like I had promised.
But it will happen when the time is right.
Until then, keep bugging me if I forget to list you, keep pestering me about the podcast and any events that you want to see come to Buffalo. I appreciate your patience and support.
A few weeks ago we had the honor of having Tess Butera photography join us at our weekly drum circle at Hamburg Beach. Tess is not only a birthing center mom, but also a certified postpartum doula with the Buffalo Doula Collective and talented photographer.
We were so excited when she asked to join us, but a little worried about how our kids would react. They HATE getting their pictures taken. For such wild and wacky kids they can be shy around new people, bordering on rude. We figured the drum circle would be comfortable enough and something special that we wanted to document. It's become such a big part of our summers.
Thanks to weather and hand, foot and mouth disease (gross) it took us 6 weeks to organize this photo shoot. The day we pulled it off the wind was blowing the sand, causing our circle of drummers to retreat off of the beach, defeating the point of a drum circle beach photo session.
Tess and her vivacious personality didn’t give us a second to feel bummed. Her laugh is infectious and our kids warmed up to her immediately. Tess sat down, got comfortable and started taking some basic pictures of my kids. These first pics are ones that I will cherish forever. With her lens she was able to capture the true essence of each of them.
I love when photographers have that ability and not everyon has it.
After a little drum circle time we headed down to Longboards for some ice cream. We were hoping to grab dinner but they closed up shop early... so we had ice cream for dinner to our kids delight.
Here are some of our pics:
I few weeks ago we had the opportunity to try out a family friendly farm to table Salad Super event at Farm in Peace in Collins, NY.
I don’t know how to write this post and give justice to all that Chris and Paula Jeaniton are doing. They’re two wildly intelligent and harding working parents who have serious sights on the future. That future includes WNY agriculture and world domination among other things. Well, not really. More like equitable domination?
Anyway, cliff notes version of their lives (read their full story here on their facebook): they met in college, finished degrees, landed big time jobs, moved a bunch, created businesses making seed bombs and kitchy journals, quit a job and oh yeah, bought a farm.. That’s right. Just 3 short years ago Chris and Paula Jeanniton relocated to Paula’s hometown of Collins, NY to start what is now known as Farm in Peace. Paula is a native of Western York and her husband Chris is a transplant from New Jersey. They both have some interesting and inventive ideas and creative practices in farming and can't wait to explore their opportunities here in Western New York.
Our experience on the farm was something pretty special. As we pulled into Chris and Paula’s driveway my 4 year old son yelled that they had a dirt pile with trucks!!!! Before I turned off the engine, my kid were getting out of their carseats and ready to roll. My son immediately ran to the dirt pile that had a gazillion bulldozers and construction toys scattered around it. My daughter started insisting that we find the animals. NOW! She was instantly intrigued by the fact that they had goats and chickens and that we will be able to pick our own salad ingredients for the dinner.
First thing we did was start walking up the hill into the farm with CJ who told us all about their different farming practices. They’re basically farming organically without the certification. They use Diametress Earth and all kinds of inventive ways to maintain a more equitable and ethical Farm.
Not long after our hike up the hill we were led into the crops and given the chance to pick some peas, carrots, beets, cucumbers, kale, and lettuce. My 6 year old was stoked. She’s normalluy more reserved, bordering on shy. But nothing was going to stop her from getting in there and helping pick our dinner. Paula was so inclusive with the kids. Everyone who wanted a chance to pick something did.
After we picked our ingredients we headed to the outdoor kitchen to clean all the produce. Everyone on the tour was able to participate in preparing the meal. I sat back and watched as my 6 year old interacted with Paula and farm helpers washing the carrots and chopping up the cucumbers all the while my son had been enjoying himself playing in the dirt pile with other kids.
We finished preparing the food and all sat down to picnic tables decorated with perennial flowers from the families pollinating Garden. They served lemonade and basil water for drinks. The price was incredible, just $7 for adults $2.50 for kids.
The girl-child and I finished off our dinner and decided to check out the farmstand. Meanwhile my son still sat in the dirt pile playing with other kids. And I mean sat. Covered. In. Dirt. I don't think he's ever looked happier. (Sadly, Dear Readers, I didn't get a pic of this dirt-filled scene.)
Once you walk into the Farm in Peace farmstand you realize how incredibly special this couple is: they have a donation based system where people are asked give what they can and take what they need.
My daughter loved this idea. She was really excited to put her money into the donation slot and even more stoked to choose the produce we would bring home.
At this point we were all exhausted and ready to head home. We climbed into our car and drove off. My youngest sniffed, "What's that smellllll???" We all collectively took a whiff and I noted that we smelled like Fredonia State in the 90's. Hemp!
See, in addition to a farmstand, a CSA, and Paula's etsy shops, they also farm industrial hemp!
Want to check out their farm?
Industrial Hemp Educational Farm Tour
August 11, 12, 18, 19. 10am and 2pm start times.
A Salad Supper, just like the one we enjoyed:
An affordable evening- $7 per adult and $2.50 per child
I'm so excited to share with you our family’s experience with Sarah Sorci, owner of Sweet Flag Herbs. She’s this awesome local community herbalist extraordinaire who offers a variety of services, including backyard consultations. She will literally join you in your backyard and assist you in selecting beautiful and useful garden plants that are beneficial to the local ecosystem annnd edible.
I fell upon Sarah a while back. I think we emailed a few times at one point, when I was in search of herbal remedies to help our son sleep. However, thanks to my legit brain fog from sleep deprivation I somehow forgot to follow up.
We finally met in person at Suncliff's open house where Sarah, along with other artisans were sharing information on their up and coming retreats and workshops. In addition to the workshops that she offers at a variety of locations all over WNY, She's also offering a Taste, Touch, and Smell workshop in October at Suncliff. She offers classes and garden walks all over WNY.
Earlier this summer she came over to our 1930's cottage in Derby, NY to help us do a few things as per her super informative website:
-Identify the edible and medicinal plants.
-Discuss new plants to add to the property.
-Offer recipes and suggestions for utilizing the plants on your property
We roamed around our backyard, while Sarah used the precision of a weathered scientist to scope out simple weeds like plantains. With each herb, flower or wild plant she offered us a variety of medicinal uses, along with a plethora of cool ways to incorporate the plants into our meal plan.
She helped us figure out how to expand our little butterfly garden, making our backyard, that borders on our neighbors’ wooded property, into a haven for MORE bees, hummingbirds, and all kinds of happy, earthy, eco friendly helpers.
When I first moved out here I had lived in the city of Buffalo for 10 years. I grew up in a smaller city setting, but didn’t have access to the kinds of natural wonders that my kids now have right in there own backyard. I had a basic understanding of plants, but not the deep love that I see in our daughter’s eyes when she picks a daisy or snags a piece of chives to eat right out of the herb garden. This kid will literally stare for an half hour at the bees visiting our milkweed. So how could we not spend a few bucks to have Sarah out to educate us?!
On our walk through our yard we were offered so many ideas and options. Sarah followed up with informative emails including recipes and details on the perennials she recommended and even where to find the best perennial selection in WNY. (pssst: She loves Lockwood’s in Hamburg)
My favorite information included details about our backyard “weeds”, written by Sarah:
1.) Solomon's Seal- Early spring are as tasty as asparagus. Root can also be eaten, though more commonly tinctured for joint and connective tissue healing/lubrication. According to my clinical director, any cultivar can be used.
2.) Horsetail: lovely tasting tea for mineral content; popular tea for connective tissue, nails, hair. Best used earlier in the season.
3.) Barberry: Invasive whose root is used like goldenseal.
4.) I made a note about lady's mantle, but don't remember if that was something you already had, or a new plant I was suggesting. Likes some shade (great for the back area). Unique shape of leaves and cute green flowers. Since it's such a classic women's herb, I thought I would share it with you, Lindsay.
5.) Coltsfoot: Under your steps. Nice short-term cough and respiratory supporter when there is congestion. Tea only. I'd skip giving it to kids or pregnant/breastfeeding moms.
And dude, you can eat my Daylilies, Wood Sorrel, Creeping Charlie (the effer), and the obvious local favorite: dandelions....you can even harvest your own Rose Hips.
There was so much more. She left us with a massive list of perennials that would look awesome and fair well in our backyard: goldenseal, Blue Verbena, Sweet Flag, shrubs like elderberry, passion flower vine, spicebush berries.
I seriously loved this girl and her brain. We talked her ear off for what felt like half the day. I can’t wait to invite her back next season. Please don’t hesitate to call her for your own backyard consultation.
I’m looking to attend her next class:
Making Herbal Tinctures class
In this workshop, Community Herbalist, Sarah, will share standard rules for tincture making, as well as suggested variations for different herbs. Participants will see a demonstration and sample several tinctures. Sarah will discuss the properties and safe uses of several herbs in depth; these will be offered to take home.
*Lab fee will cover the costs of samples, handouts and each participant will select a 2 oz. bag of dried herbs to craft their own tincture at home.
Date: 8/7, Frontier Middle school, room 131
Fee: $18. Non-residents: $22. Lab Fee: $6*
Please go check out her website, class offerings, and catalog of handcrafted products.
Hi. I'm Lindsay. Daughter, sister, wife, mother and collector of useless (and useful) information.