– JUNE 2003


//-- 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 enjoy it.

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
For Rhonda
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 extended time.

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 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 reality.

     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 understand.

    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 not hindering.

      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 bank.

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 [email protected]

Charley’s Website:


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