THE COMPLEAT MOTHER NEWSLETTER
– JUNE 2003
THE PERSISTENCE OF FATHERS
//-- Greg’s Notes --//
//-- Breastfeeding Woes and Triumphs --//
//-- Why traditional midwifery is important to me... --//
//-- The Persistence of Fathers --//
//-- Greg’s Notes --//
I almost forgot that Father’s Day is nearly upon us. Found this nice story
by Charley Kempthorne who sent it to me a while back. I think you will
Everywhere I look across the USA midwives are being criminally prosecuted
now. South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa come to mind in the
Midwest alone. What the prosecutors always do is to try the case in the
newspapers before the real trial begins. Standard operating procedure.
That plus the fact that most of the citizens have a mindset favorable to
science and hospitals, well, how can we possibly win? Having said that, I
think we can eventually win. But we need a great big groundswell of
dissatisfied parents from everywhere in the country before any substantial
change will be seen, in my humble opinion.
And Gloria LeMay is still fighting her brave battle in Canada.
My wife, Yvonne Cryns, submitted her civil case to the U.S. Supreme Court
recently which may or may not be accepted. Very few cases out of the total
submitted to the high court are actually ruled upon. You might think that
MANA would call me or Yvonne to find out about this unusual happening, but
now word from them or anyone else (officially) for that matter. We have
information to share which might be helpful to everyone.
So please read Why traditional midwifery is important to me....... written
by Chantel L. Bacon, an independent midwife, for clues about why we need
to save this profession.
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//-- Breastfeeding Woes and Triumphs --//
Breastfeeding Woes and Triumphs
Who "Grew" A Soul......
I have a friend, who for reasons much too complicated for this article,was
not able to produce milk so that she could breastfeed her child. It is a
rare occurrence, but nonetheless, a very painful one if you are the woman
who is devastated by this reality of breastfeeding. When all you have ever
known is the fantasy of crisp white nightgowns, antique rocking chairs and
breast milk that flows abundantly, a glitch in the system is enough to
rock your world. In your mothering daydreams, you are a blissful new Mama
filled with the serenity and joy that is one of the many beautiful side
effects of giving sustenance to your newborn through the womanly art of
breastfeeding. The oxytocin hormone flows and you are utterly and
completely at peace knowing that you are the source of all of your babe's
nutritional and emotional needs. What could be more perfect than that?
Unfortunately, perfection isn't always what you get when you aspire to be
the sole source of nutrition for your babe. For many women,
breastfeeding is as easy as breathing. For others there are many little
bumps in the road. Hence, the rise in Lactation Consultants in most
areas. In days of old, there were wet nurses to help when supply was an
issue or if Mom was not available. Having absolutely no breast milk after
birthing a new babe is an extremely rare occurrence. However, this is not
much consolation to the devastated and sorrow filled Mom who had always
planned to feed her baby's body, heart and soul through breastfeeding.
When Andy, my very 1st angel was born, he was deemed as having
breathing problems and was rushed into the pediatric intensive care unit.
He was given a bottle of sugar water immediately despite my specific birth
plan, which stated explicitly that he would be breastfed and no bottles
were to be given. We continually struggled with an array of latch and
supply issues. We enlisted the help of a certified lactation consultant
but were never able to get past our bad start at nursing. I was crushed
the first time we gave him a bottle of formula. I felt like a complete
failure. My own baby did not even want my breast. How much more rejected
can you get? Needless to say , I had an agenda for babies #2 and #3 when
it came to breastfeeding.
With Bailey's birth came another assortment of breastfeeding type issues.
This time, I made sure that I had a doula at my birth to advocate for me.
In addition to my specific birth plan, my doula would remind the nurses
and docs that I wanted to have my baby nurse as soon as he had left my
womb and crawled upwards toward my breasts . He latched on like a champ
minutes after emerging from my body onto this earth and stayed at the
breast for hours. In my eyes, he seemed like a very content sleepy baby.
Before too long he was a very content sleepy baby that was a lovely shade
of pumpkin and was quickly rushed to our doc who confirmed that his
jaundice levels were over the top. Apparently he was sleeping way more
than he was eating and my milk supply had diminished dramatically. He was
deemed an inefficient sucker. While he was at the breast quite a lot, he
never seemed to really get the job done. I was obsessive about
maintaining my breastfeeding relationship with my son and was already
starting to feel the beginnings of the depression that would start to
pervade our lives. I followed a strict regimen of pumping my breast milk
around the clock in an effort to maintain a supply of milk that could
sustain my babe while also feeding him Mama's pumped milk with a very tiny
syringe and tube system. This method was recommended by the lactation
consultant so as not to cause nipple confusion. It was a very taxing
procedure and added monumentally to my sleep deprivation but I had to try
everything possible to maintain that breastfeeding relationship. While B
slept and slept and I pumped and pumped my milk grew less and less
bountiful. As my milk supply diminished, the Postpartum Depression that
would change our lives moved into our home and stayed.
My OB prescribed anti depressants and my heart sank. At the time of
Bailey's birth I was very uninformed about drugs and breast milk. I tend
to avoid drugs by nature but have succumbed to them when necessary.
However, I was struggling with a decision that was based on healthy
concern for what was going into my baby's body and a pervasive need to put
some balance into my life which at that moment in time was starting to
feel like a rollercoaster running off the track. I was torn to say the
least. However, since B was at this point taking a bottle more than my
breast, it was a somewhat easier decision to wean him since he had, for
the most part, weaned himself. This did not however soothe my aching need
for my fantasy baby that was sustained by mother's milk. It did, however,
add to the mother guilt pile. Surely, not being able to feed your own
baby with breast milk must be pretty high on the failure chart.
Angel baby Molly came into our world with HER own agenda. To
nurse and nurse and nurse until SHE created a milk supply that could
sustain her. All of my supply issues were eradicated by my non stop nurser.
We so called slept in the rocker which was more conducive to an all night
latch. If she was not actually nursing, she was always latched and ready,
lest she get the urge to elicit the 15th let down between 10pm and 8am.
She was relentless in her goals..... even more determined to get her milk
than her mother was to supply it to her. She created a milk supply by her
shear determination that was enough to sustain a continually balanced
weight gain. She refused any and all types of artificial nipples, so that
when I was feeling uncertain about my milk supply and my ability to meet
her needs, formula was not an option. She hated it and made that
perfectly clear. Needless to say, we are still nursing as she has passed
her 2nd birthday and I have no immediate plans to wean.
I have been through it all, it seems, with my breastfeeding experiences
and yet...... I have not. I listened to my friend's story of the reasons
why her body simply could not produce breast milk and my heart sank when
she calmly- with a great sense of loss, told me that she could never have
another child. I thought for a moment that she meant that she would not
be able to conceive another baby. After a moment, she clarified that she
could not birth a child she could not feed. In my heart, I understood her
pain - her deep, aching sense of loss in not being able to provide for her
babe that which she had always known she would- in her dream. But,
parenting does not always work out to be what we had dreamed or expected
or aspired to.
In fact, this wonderful Mama had fed her baby angel more than some mamas
who have produced breast milk for months or even years. She had nurtured
that babe with her breast. She had continued to nurse her baby over the
years. She had grown a soul with the intimate contact of skin to skin,
heart to heart, mother to child. This mama had sometimes dealt with all
of the negative aspects of breastfeeding without seeming to get any of
the positive physical bonuses of breast milk. The stares of the not so
educated, modern day breastfeeding bigots while she nursed her babe in
public. The toddler defiance that can surround any aspect of life but that
which makes setting boundaries around nursing almost impossible. Andyet,
without the prize of the nutritional value of breastmilk, without the
immunities that breastmilk can provide, she still plugged on with nursing
day in and day out. That is the real reason we Mamas breastfeed for an
Yes, breast milk is THE most nutritious and balanced food there is. Yes,
even as a toddler and a 3 and 4 year old child, there are so many
immunities and benefits to be had in a physical sense. But, more than
that, we nurse for an extended time to create a bond......to grow a soul,
skin to skin, heart to heart, mother to child.
Yes, my friend, you should birth another child if you can.
Because you will feed that child in so many ways . Ways that some of us
will never know .....but long to aspire to. That, my dear friend, is the
true Triumph of Nursing.
Kim Lewis Mason
Email –[email protected]
Kim Lewis Mason lives in Olympia, WA with her 3 children – Andy, Bailey
and Molly. She survived postpartum depression with all 3 of her births but
was affected by a severe case of PPD following the birth of her youngest
child. Her doula during the crisis was Christine Cearnal who is now the
President of the Mary Sheridan Foundation. A non profit organization
committed to the health and well being of infants and mothers. Kim
operates her own postpartum doula service called MamaCare and considers it
her mission in life to support women as they transition into new mothers.
For more information on Mama Care, you can reach Kim at 360-753-5111 or
email her at [email protected].
For more info on the Mary Sheridan Foundation, please call
1-800-516-6404. Please send your tax deductible donation to The Mary
Sheridan Foundation at 2714 SE 22nd Ave. Portland, OR 97202.
//-- Why traditional midwifery is important to me... --//
By Chantel L. Bacon
Birth is life’s most simple , yet most complicated process. Although
“life” and “birth” have been around since the very beginning . It was one
of the first blessings God gave to Adam and Eve. Their union started our
whole process of child bearing. Couples~man and woman, woman and man, the
most basic combination to bring forth life.
There are many documented midwives in our history. There are also many
stories that go along with their lives. The wonderful thing about
midwifery is ~ we don’t all have to believe in the same procedure, but we
all can agree the results are the same ~ birth, and new life.
As a pregnant woman, I chose many things to sacrifice my own wants and
desires for the safety and well being of my unborn child. I think every
mother has this instinct, but some need encouragement to tap into those
resources. Building a relationship, and listening to the mom, helps a
midwife understand her perspective.
As a laboring mother, your body is not your own. Your muscles, your
mind, and your energy all belong to the life within . To focus on how we
can change or alter this process to help the mother is not acceptable.
The mother is a star shining brightly. Her beams of light are going
places and we need to see where they go to appreciate her efforts of inner
peace and strength. Some moms draw in to themselves, while others rely on
their surrounding support. But regardless of her focus, we need to respect
her needs and only step in where we are needed. In
order to fill a need, there has to be one. Listening carefully to be in
tune with the laboring process is what birth is about. We need to keep the
mom focused on her mission.~ bringing forth life. Her needs and desires
should supercede any and all others. She not only is the star of the show,
the director, and the choir, but the editor as well. We are just the stage
hands helping where needed.
Birthing has not changed since the beginning. Babies still have to
come out. Natural childbirth is a mind set. First, one needs to realize
they do have the power to flow with the events. They need to understand
and be informed of all their options and choices. Our goal should be to
not let them feel cheated. For birth, there are so many options, so many
ways to think about life beginning. Yet, ultimately the outcome is the
same.....Life, a new baby ! :)
In this day and age of medical technology in place, pregnancy and birth
are regarded as a disease . There always seems to be ”one more
possibility” of something being wrong.
Way back when, when life was simple, birth was too. To keep the
traditions alive, we must practice them. For those of us who have ventured
down this road, we understand this process. Our children were born with
peace that we chose to offer them. For those who have not yet traveled the
path of home birth, or natural childbirth, we are here to offer choices to
them as well. We are here to share a part of life that is the same today
as it was from the very first birth. Teaching and equipping parents to
view birth as a natural process and showing them the benefits of informed
choices is as basic as it gets. The desires have to come from their heart
first. We can encourage and support those desires, and make them a
As a midwife we not only made sacrifices in our own births to achieve
our personal goals, but we sacrifice at other’s births as well to help
them achieve their personal goals. Our family has to support us
completely, and be understanding of others needs.
Our family views pregnancy and childbirth as a ministry. We not only
help the mother, but we meet the fathers needs as well. He is a very
important part of life’s process. Reaching out to the children, and
establishing a relationship builds trust. This helps when they are present
at the birth. Some times things happen that they do not understand, or are
afraid of. Having a relationship with them helps comfort them. A new baby
is a family affair and everyone should be treated with the utmost respect.
Traveling this path isn’t always easy. A lot of times there is
conflict. Not every one will agree with the parent’s choices. We also have
to be there for them to offer support. They are making choices they feel
led to follow. Sacrifices that one day their children will respect and
We have to show our children where they came from so they will know
where they are going. In today’s society it is easy to get caught in the
medical system. Children need to be taught that nature knows best. I think
we all have that knowledge in us, but most choose to not follow or use it.
Traditional midwifery is not just catching babies. It is an ongoing
study of all that nature has to offer. But sometimes the best knowledge
comes from just sitting in the stillness, and watching it happen.
A mother’s body still knows what it is suppose to do. Keeping a
tradition alive and working does not always mean we have to do something,
it just means we should make every effort to help women achieve something
that their body naturally does anyway. I would love to see every baby be
born at home or at least naturally. The thought of the power a mother
would obtain mentally, physically , and spiritually is intense. The
realization of conquering “self” limits promotes a person’s attitude on
how they view life.
What a wonderful thing to see a husband and wife be equipped to birth
their own babies at home, in a peaceful place. The medical world has its
place, but when it comes to natural processes, it knows very little about
When I think of pregnancy and new life, I think of a cozy quiet room
with candles and small faces staring at a mom and dad’s bonding
workmanship. I think of the peacefulness, and the wonders yet to come. I
think of the herbal bath smells as they seep on the stove. I think of the
calmness, and the gentle family spirit that rests so easy with the natural
way of waiting.
The anticipation of moments yet to come. It reminds me of christmas
morning. There is the peacefulness of when everyone is sleeping, and then
when every one wakes up...... it is a big celebration! Life is a gift, and
we should treat it with the respect it deserves.
independent homebirth midwife, Doula, and EMT-B
wife to David, mother to Jessica,Kailei, Marissa,Candyce,Noah,Ezekiel
//-- The Persistence of Fathers --//
The Persistence of Fathers
by Charley Kempthorne
In 1951 there were heavy rains and devastating floods in the Mid-west. My
hometown of Manhattan, Kansas was among those hardest hit. Manhattan sits
at the confluence of the
Kansas (also called the Kaw) River and the Big Blue River. That year the
rivers left their banks and turned half the town including all of the
downtown business district into a pond.
My dad, a doctor, had his office on the second floor above a bank building
downtown. The water didn't get quite that high, but it was deep enough
that on his last day of holding office hours he was able to swim down the
last half dozen steps of the stairway to his small suite of rooms above
The water in the street was about four feet deep. Now back then Dad was a
robust, healthy middle aged man in excellent physical condition.
Twenty-five years before in college he had lettered in every sport. Always
something of a daredevil, he thought the proper response to danger was to
laugh and be glad for the bracing effect of a challenge. So though I
wasn't with him that afternoon as the muddy brown water swirled around him
I'm sure he must have laughed, exhilarated, just as he must have been
standing on the track field about to pole vault high into the air--and
then he swam home.
Well--he didn't swim all the way home. He swam to the bridge on the
downtown side of the Kaw where there was a steel stairway for pedestrians
up onto the bridge itself. That was about four blocks from his office. Not
many people were left in the downtown area. Perhaps only the birds perched
on the flooded buildings could see a man in a gray pin-striped suit
swimming down Third Street.
And so it was that my dad, the greatest dad in the world, swam to the
bridge, chuckled as he walked along the bridge to where he'd parked his
car that morning, got in and drove home to his family. He didn't stop
practicing medicine but was busier than ever. He was the only doctor on
that side of the river where there were hundreds of people living. He even
delivered a baby or two--he, an ophthalmologist-- in the days following
before the water went down enough for normal life to return.
End of story?
No. Stories like that never end. Fast forward now to 1996.
The big event in Manhattan this year isn't a flood but a new bridge across
the Kaw. All of us who live on this side of the Kaw and cross the river
daily or once or twice a week have learned a lot about bridge-bui1ding.
The new bridge is finally open and the other day as I drove across it I
observed that they were dismantling the old bridge. The huge steel
stairway that Dad had climbed 45 years ago had been dropped to the ground
by acetylene cutting torches and lay waiting for the salvage truck.
And then something very odd happened inside my head.
Winding my way down the long curve at the end of the new bridge in heavy
traffic, I had this thought: I'll have to tell Dad about that. Then I
caught my breath, stunned by what had popped into my mind. Dad died
thirteen years ago. How could I tell Dad about that? Write a letter? How
would I address it? Who would deliver it? Most of all, why did I think
that crazy, impossible thought?
Dad persists. He persists in my own aging brain. He' s up there swimming
right now, laughing at danger, swimming a left onto Pierre Street and
perhaps shaking himself dry like a dog as he clambers up the steel stairs.
So, I guess, is the persistence of memory that melts and misshapes the
clock we only think we live by.
So does life go and on and on. ###
Comment? Question? Critique? email Charley at
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