Let’s Get Together

At this time, as we all shift to being at home, I am putting together ways we can connect on line.  I have three ways I am doing this: Telehealth, Bowspring classes, Group Offerings.

Telehealth:

I am finding creative ways to continue providing care while minimizing exposure risk.

  • At this point, all insurance plans I have checked with are waiving extra fees for Telehealth visits and reimbursing as though they are office visits.   Email or call if you would like to make an appointment.
  • I continue to provide prenatal care and am doing this in a mixed format with part of the visit via video and then a brief in person check in on mama and baby.
  • I am percolating ideas around putting together a mobile unit so I can provide home visits for the first month after birth without the family needing to leave their home/yard and without me needing to go in their home.  Anyone have a spare RV or van conversion?

Bowspring:

I will be offering Bowspring classes starting next week.  You can read more about Bowspring and the class descriptions here.  What I can say in brief is that Bowspring is an approach to movement that encourages us to open and strengthen.  Just what we need right now.  The intro classes are appropriate for anyone at any level of fitness.

Here is what I will be offering starting next week 3/23/2020:

Introduction to the Bowspring: Mondays from 7:30am-8:30am (any can attend)

Level 1 Bowspring: Tuesdays from 7:30am-8:30am (must have completed the “10 Key Areas” through the Intro to Bowspring classes)

Prenatal Bowspring:  Day and Time to be determine, email if interested.

Parent Chat: Wednesdays 10:00am-11:00am (FREE and more details below)

Postpartum Bowspring: Wednesdays 11:00am-noon

Introduction to Bowspring: Thursdays from 7:30am-8:30am

Level 1 Bowspring: Fridays from 7:30am-8:30am (must have completed the “10 Key Areas” through Intro to Bowspring classes)

All classes will be live and via Zoom.

Pricing:

$8 for drop in

$30 for 30 days of access to Prenatal Bowspring

$30 for 30 days of access to Postpartum Bowspring

$40 for 30 days of unlimited access to Introduction to Bowspring classes

$60 for 30 days of unlimited access to all Bowspring classes except prenatal and postpartum

Email me with questions.  You can sign up by making payment via PayPal to awallace@littletreemidwife.com.  Once I receive payment, I will send Zoom link.

Group Offerings

I am going to trial a couple things here.  At this time, these will all be free offerings.

Parent Chat: Wednesdays 10-11am.  This is an opportunity for pregnant people and parents to connect.  I will facilitate the conversation, but mostly it is an opportunity to connect with others.  We can talk about how Corona Virus is impacting your pregnancy and/or parenting, but we can also take a break from Corona Virus and talk about other topics related to pregnancy and/or parenting.  You can find the Zoom link here.

Mindfulness Meditation: Thursdays from 2-3pm.  For me a steady mindfulness practice is key to maintain calm in the midst of a storm.  I will provide basic instruction in mindfulness practices, we will “sit” together for 20 minutes and then have time for discussion and questions.  All are welcome and you can leave after the meditation if you need to get back to other things. You can find the Zoom link here.

 

Calm in the Storm

As we seek to find our bearings in this intense time, I am drawn to check in on how people are doing and open the conversation around how we best support each other and ourselves during these times.

As is true in all aspects of life, each of us will react and respond in different ways.  I know for me, the more mindful I can be, the better I can respond, and thus avoid reacting from a place of fear.  With that as foundation, I spent the weekend fully immersed in the information coming out about Covid 19 and worked to integrate that knowledge into making mindful decisions for myself and my family.   Since some of that impacts my Little Tree practice and because some of you have reached out seeking guidance, I thought I would share what I am doing in response to the our current situation.  In a separate post, I will talk about online offerings that I will be starting soon.

For my family, we are taking seriously the public health concerns about rapid spread and the impact that could have on our health care system and the most vulnerable.  This means that we are home.  Both of my children’s classes have moved online and my husband’s work as an IT consultant can easily be done from home. I have scaled back much of my in person work at Little Tree, so I am mostly home as well.

Here are some things I am doing to maintain my wellness – not just physically, but in mind and heart as well.  There is a lot here.  I have been learning about and incorporating these things into my life over the past 5-10 years, so go easy on yourselves as you look to what you might add that would be supportive.

Maintain a rhythm.  This I learned well, over the many years of homeschooling my children.   For me, the important place markers for the day are my morning routine, meal times, family time and rest.  Within those markers, different activities like work, study, projects, and movement, take place.  Each day I write up a “flow” for our days and I share with the family in the morning.  If I were home with small children, I wouldn’t share it with the children, but rather have it as a guide for our day.

As some of you know, March is when I usually lead and undertake an Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse.  My plan had been to start on Monday.  However, with a goal of strengthening my immune system, I decided that cleansing right now would take away from that process.  That said, much of the cleansing principles are very supportive to our immune health, so I am going to continue with some of those.

My morning routine is the most extensive, and for me, it is the most important part of my self care:

  • Oil pulling, tongue scraping
  • Neti Pot – there are mixed feelings on doing the neti pot at this time, some are choosing to just clean the part of the nostril you can reach with you fingers.
  • Nasya – oil in the nostrils
  • Read something inspiring, this is what I am reading right now.
  • Meditation – I have a guided one here.
  • Bowspring – you can read more about this here.
  • I have also added in this lovely online movement offering.  It has been fun, and we all need some of that right now.
  • Abhyanga self massage with antiviral essential oils,

I get up early, like 5am early, when the house is quiet, to get through these essentials for my wellbeing.  I DO NOT look at media until I have gone through this routine.

For meal times, I am focusing on healthy foods that support the immune system.  Lots of whole foods, warming spices, and minimizing processed and high sugar foods.  Part of my cleanse is to cut out all sugar, this I will continue for now.  From an Ayurvedic outlook, in the Spring it is supportive to limit mucous producing foods like dairy and gluten while increasing bitter foods like the dandelion greens I am seeing in the yard as well as arugula and other greens.  Bitter roots like dandelion and burdock root are good as well – those I am getting in tea form.

My family and I are also prioritizing getting out of the house and into nature every day.  Be it a neighborhood walk, a hike or some gardening.  Cool weather seeds for lettuce, greens, beets, radish and snap peas will go in the earth this week.

I am one of those blessed individuals who can easily get adequate sleep.  But pay attention to that.  Most of us are best served with 7-8 hours per night.  It is also supportive to have a daily bowel movement – that is part of my morning routine.

Maintain connection.  This is particularly difficult as we practice social distancing.  I saw a patient earlier this week and it felt so awkward to not share a handshake or hug. I am paying attention (and using a timer every 50 minutes) to step away from my computer and connect with my children and husband.  I am calling elder friends and family who are isolated at home to offer support and connection.  And I am thinking about how to maintain and create connection with my clients.  Those who know me, know that I am energized when teaching and facilitating groups.  I will find ways to continue that work online and am planning Bowspring classes, Parent Chat and Telehealth visits within the week.  Stay tuned for details in a coming post.

Finally, and this is specific to the Covid 19, when I go to Little Tree to see my pregnant clients, I am doing many things differently.  First, I mentioned the abhyanga oil in the am.  I have also mixed up some coconut oil with antiviral essential oils that I rub into my nostrils when I leave the house and at least 3 times per day.  I have a roller with the same oils that I apply to my neck whenever I think of it.  I am gargling with warm salt water 3 times per day.  I am drinking my “Spring Tonic” tea.  It has Tulsi in it as well as the bitter roots I mention above.  I am also taking some immune enhancing and respiratory supporting herbs.

When I am at Little Tree, I have increased my cleaning and disinfecting.  Sadly I am not sharing tea or much face to face time with clients.  I am shifting the bulk of the care I provide to Telehealth with the exception of brief office visits to check on pregnant people and their babies.  I have am screening all clients prior to in person appointments and I am not seeing clients at Little Tree who have symptoms of Covid 19.  If you have symptoms, please reach out via phone and we can come up with a plan based on current public health recommendations for testing, treatment and where that care can take place.  When I get home, I gargle and wash my face and nose and reapply the coconut oil with essential oils to my nose.  I repeat this before bed.

As most of you know, I strive to make recommendations and incorporate into my care approaches that are safe and evidence based.  Some of what I am doing is not evidence based, but rather based on traditional knowledge or theoretic rational.  None of it carries risk of negative side effects and all of it feels good.

In closing, this is an intense time that stirs anxiety and fear.  So many are being impacted in many ways.  My deepest aspiration is to be of help to those in need.  Finding ways to contribute to the greater good for our communities and world is front and center for me.  I have lived the truth that starting with my wellness, making sure that my foundation is solid, means I can be responsive and act from a place of wisdom and compassion.  Wishing each of you some calm in the midst of this storm so we can each respond in a way that supports our communities and world.

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Empowered, Spiritual Labor and Birth

I had the deep honor to provide prenatal care and labor support/doula services to this family.  It was a special journey to support this family as they worked through the ways the care and options they received in their first pregnancy were unsatisfactory and this time created an experience that was empowered, connected and honored their values and beliefs.  So beautiful.  I have the aspiration that all families can be supported in this way.

At about 5am on Jan 17 2020 I woke up to cramping pains that were uncomfortable but not enough so to concern me and I went back to sleep. At 7 am the pain became more regular and my husband and I started to think I might be having real contractions. I was really hungry and ate a large meal, it was like my body knew I needed food! He took our daughter to school and let her know we may be coming back to pick her up and that I may be in labor. I actually had a midwife appointment that day at 11am so we decided to wait until my appointment to see if they thought I was in labor. At 11am my contractions were 5 minutes apart but the pain was manageable. The midwife at my birth center checked me and found I was 3cm dialated and 80% effaced. At this point they sent me home telling to me call back in 2 hours, to check my progress, expecting to see me return later that evening. We went home to get our things ready and pick up our 10yr old daughter. I then informed our doula of my progress .

At home I layed in bed laboring and sleeping between contractions. I was keeping track on my phone and was able to get sleep in 5 min intervals. I couldn’t fight the sleep if I tried. At this point my husband took off to go get my daughter and some food for the birth center. When he left I ate again and was very hungry! At about 230pm we called the birth center and told them of the progress and they gave us the option to labor more at home if we were comfortable to do so or come in if we were ready. I called my doula( who is also a CNM) and told her how I was feeling. Since the contractions were manageable and I was ok between contractions,I wasn’t in a rush or even fully convinced baby was coming ! I think I’d read too many stories on this sub about false labor/ laboring for a long time, as well as having a longer labor with my first. But my doula encouraged me to head to the birth center, partly because of my birth intentions (aka birth plan), traffic, and that I could actually be fine in-between contractions up until giving birth. Her urging was enough to get me into the car and head to the birth center. In retrospect, I am so thankful for her knowledge.

At the birth center my doula was already waiting for us. We are Native American ( I am Navajo, he is Apache/Crow ) so we had certain cultural wants during the birth. In my birth intentions I wanted my husband to energetically clear the room, pray, drum, and set up my altar before I entered the room. I labored with my doula in the hallway while my husband did the spiritual work to set up the room.

When I entered I saw my altar with my animal spirits , stones, herbs, weavings, sweat lodge ashes, and our cradleboard that my husband made by hand ( you can see pictures if you click on my profile and look at my most recent post). I cried upon seeing it and was so proud of my husband for doing this for us. My doula, husband, and daughter then began to rearrange the room for me and finished setting up everything. I had my blankets/mats on the floor to labor there if i wanted to. After it was all set up I began to labor on the floor with the help of my doula. I asked my husband to drum for me while I labored. I had my doula rub oil mixed with the sweat lodge ashes all over my belly and she took that mixture and put it on my husband and daughter . This was important to me because the sweatlodge ashes were filled with so many prayers and energy from so many others. After a bit of time I wanted to get into the water, which had already been ran for me .

I cannot express the greatness that is laboring/birthing in water. As I entered I took time to pray , bless the water, and express my gratitude for the help it was giving me. The pain was so much less in the the tub and it really made it manageable. I was unable to get into the water with my first birth and I wanted so badly to heal that experience. I called my daughter to the tub and explained to her that I wanted to be in the water with her during her birth but they wouldn’t let me. so I held her hand, had her feel the water, and poured it over her hands . I felt like we were able to share that moment together with the water that we missed ten years ago .

My doula , husband , and daughter were all around the tub helping in many ways, from coaching me to giving their love, my daughter rubbing my stomach, and everyone taking turns spraying water on my back. Having the water pour on my back during contractions helped with having something else to focus on and was pain relieving . They periodically checked baby’s heartbeat and my blood pressure . It was not invasive though and I was so thankful because it was the complete opposite experience then my first birth.

As time went by the contractions kept getting closer together, with mini contractions in between . It became harder to relax because of this. As I went deeper into labor I felt as if I went to a different space which opened my being to spiritual experiences. I felt my grandmother’s presence and protection come forward and lead me further into my birth experience .I saw the spirits around my doula, the ones protecting and guiding her during her work. I felt Mother Earth like she was breathing life into my chest during one hard contraction. At one moment of pain I saw myself and my spirit as more than my body and as I drew a breath I felt the pain release beyond my physical being. I dipped my body and head into the water following it like a wave, connecting and immersing myself in it’s power. I called my husband to my side and expressed my deep love and gratitude for our family and for him, as we had our heads pressed together. We held each other’s hands so tightly as I sent him all the love I had to give in the moment.

I came to points where I faced my deepest fears and had to push through them during my contractions. With my first birth I had an epidural and never experienced pushing without medication . One of my biggest fears was the pain and if I could do it. When it became time to start pushing my fears came to the surface. It made me scared to push and a couple of times I closed my legs in an attempt to get him to go back in. But as soon as I tried I knew I couldn’t . It crossed my mind in painful moments of why people get epidurals and why was I choosing to do this naturally ? I asked those around me why does it hurt so much ? I even felt a fleeting thought of, what if I went to the hospital now, but I knew there was no way I was going to get out of that tub and go to the hospital across the street. I could feel baby’s head deep in my pelvis. As I pushed the contractions turned me almost animalistic, with me grunting deeply and pushing, biting at a towel in front of me and even screaming . My doula was such an amazing help at this moment . She coached me with the sounds I needed to make, which changed the effectiveness of my pushing. Her energy of support kept up with the intensity of the moment.

It wasn’t until I put my hand down there and felt my baby’s head that I found complete strength and lost the fear. This baby was almost out of me and I knew I just had to work a bit more and he would be out. I felt the “ring of fire” and pushed like never before and felt his head come out. The relief was so immense ! They said I still had to get his shoulders out with the next contraction. I felt very confident and unafraid as the relief from getting his head out was amazing. So one last push and my husband caught him in the water and brought him to my chest. The worst of the pain was replaced with amazement that my son was born . We had waited to see what the baby was until this moment! After he came out my husband sang a prayer song in Navajo and Apache to welcome him into the world, and so some of his first words he heard were of his native languages.

I had no tearing and was able to go home within 4 hours. I felt so much better than after my epidural hospital birth ! I would 100% do it over again and recommend water birth and a good doula to anyone considering natural childbirth . The support I received at the birth center was perfect . They respected my wishes, my culture, and allowed us to have the experience we wanted. It was so beautiful that everyone cried in many moments and even the midwives thanked me and said they had never been to a birth like ours. I pray that others searching for a natural childbirth experience receive as beautiful of experience as we did ! Baby was 20 inches long, 7lb 14 ounces and was born at 7:56pm. His original due date was 1/22 . We were at the birth center for about 4 hours before he was born and was able to be home by midnight !

Our Birthright

In the past few weeks, I have had the privilege to provide labor support to two families who have participated in the Little Tree pregnancy program. Being with these families in the birth space reinforced for me that the model of care I am providing supports growth and connection.   This model holds the view that at our core, each of us holds wisdom and vitality.  My journey to this view and how it effects my work is deeply influenced by an educational approach: Enki Education. Below is an excerpt from an article the founder, Beth Sutton, has written about how this view impacts educating children. I drop us in the article where Sutton is describing the experience of when we connect to our inherent vitality. You can read the complete article here.

In all of these, the chatter inside fades back and the colors and smells and textures come forward; I feel connected to the world around, and the underlying pulse is a sense of wonder. And this is true even when the connection happens in moments of great effort or deep sorrow. In all, it is the body sensations that signal that “all is right with the world.”

Maybe this sense of “connected wonder” happens for you when you hear a line of a poem or a piece of music. Or maybe it rises when sitting Shiva with a dear friend who has lost her love – just simply sitting with her. Maybe it happens when the water is running over the dishes you are washing, and you notice its clear flow. Or when the falling snow catches the light. It need not be ascending Everest; the possibilities are endless and rise up moment to moment. And when we are able to let these moments touch us, there is fullness without measure, a sense of being vitally alive – whether these are noisy, fireworks moments, moments of deep silence, or even moments of frustration, anger, or sorrow.

In those moments, we are fully present. I think it is what William Blake meant when he spoke of seeing the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wildflower. It does not matter how smart or clever or insightful we are; it does not matter if we are artistic or athletic; it does not matter if we have physical handicaps, or sensory or emotional ones. It does not matter how talented or pretty we are. It does not matter how badly we have been wounded. This is an experience of inherent-vitality and it happens on another plane, one where nothing affects the blueness of blue or the smell of the newly tilled spring earth. In that moment, we are connected to ourselves and to the world around, and that vital life-force pulses freely through us.

This feeling of vital aliveness is not earned, it cannot be earned; it just is. It is inborn; it is the nature of being human and it is unconditional. As a result, this vital aliveness is the source, the only source, of unconditional confidence. In my life and in my work, Enki Education, underneath all else, the focus is on this; it is the fulcrum around which all else turns – this approach to life, this worldview, and this approach to raising and educating our children. It all boils down to this: we all have an inherent-vitality, a life force that, when accessed, naturally sparks a sense of wonder and connection to all. It is this vitality that births the experience of unconditional confidence, and it is from this that both compassion and wisdom flow naturally. It is our birthright. Period.

We cannot create or earn this inherent vitality any more than we “create” or earn the sun. Nor can it, by the same token, be destroyed. Still, it can be obscured, much as the sun can be blocked by cloud cover, pollution, volcanic debris, or even nuclear winter. But, none of those things alters the sun. Same here: our inherent-vitality, our inner sun, just is. Yes, it is often obscured by the difficulties of navigating the nitty gritty of human life, and still, our inherent-vitality is no more changed by this struggle than the sun is changed by clouds of any sort.

This inherent-vitality is our birthright, so by definition, this applies to everyone – ev-er-y-one! No matter our gender or race or religion or time in history, no matter our intelligence or skill or talent or even our level of compassion and generosity – or lack thereof – underneath all else, lies our inherent- vitality.

You can read the full article and the specific connections to educating children here. As it relates to my work at Little Tree, the Enki Education model and the view that we all have at our core, inherent vitality, deeply influences all I do in my midwifery care and the teaching I provide. I studied directly with Beth Sutton, the founder of Enki Education during the 15 years I homeschooled my children. And, I continue to learn from her in my role as Associate Program Director at Enki Eduction. That learning strongly influences the work I do at Little Tree as I strive to connect with my inherent vitality and to support the people I work with to have experiences of connecting with theirs – especially in the birth space.  

Save the Dates

As we begin 2020, I want to share information about some of the upcoming offerings at Little Tree. My goal is to provide opportunities to improve wellness, support growth and facilitate connection. Here is a peak at what is coming with dates and times below:

  • Bowspring classes that improve your functional movement and mind/body connection. I offer Bowspring classes during pregnancy and postpartum as well as classes for my nonpregnant clients.
  • Ayurvedic spring cleanse in March that will take your exploration of food and wellness to a new level.
  • For birth workers, I will offer my advanced training course, Core Connection, in February.
  • And Parent Chat will be staring in February as well.
  • Contact me with questions.
  • Current Bowspring class schedule is here.

Spring Cleanse – March 15, 22 and 29 4-6pm

Core Connection – advanced training for Doulas, RNs or midwives. February 15th 9:30-4:30pm

Prenatal Bowspring – series of 8 classes.

  • Saturdays 8-9am. January 25- March 14
  • Wednesdays 8:30-9:30am February 26- April 15

Postpartum Bowspring – series of 6 classes (to start after 4 weeks postpartum). Consider adding 2 private Bowspring sessions in your home at 2 and 3 weeks after birth.

  • Wednesdays 10:30-11:30am February 26-April 1

Parent Chat – An opportunity to connect with other pregnant and new parents. Topics rotate based on needs of group. Guest speakers from time to time.

  • Wednesdays starting February 26th from 9:30-10:30

General Bowspring Classes – series of 10 classes.

  • Intro to Bowspring – Fridays from 9am-10am. February 28- May 1
  • Intro to Bowspring – Tuesdays from 6pm-7pm March 10-May 12
  • Level 1 Bowspring – next in series after Intro Class.
    • Fridays from 10:15-11:15am February 28-May 1
    • Tuesdays from 7:15pm-8:15pm March 10-May12

For all Bowspring classes you will need to purchase a series of classes. Once you have done that, you can attend classes at different days and times up to the total number of classes in the series and series time frame. This way, if you miss a class, you can make it up on another day. Once people register and the schedule is set, I will post a calendar view with all dates/times.

**Precertification prices: the series of classes is based on the Amy’s Pre-certification rate of $10 per class. So a 10 week series is $100, 6 week series is $60…. and so on. Contact me to discuss cost of private and in home classes.