Category Archives: Crime and Punishment

In Conclusion

Today is my friend’s birthday. He is a single father  in the middle of a messy custody battle. DCFS is involved. I don’t claim to know anything about his baby mama’s case. But regardless, he felt the need to ask DCFS for permission to have me come over to his house. You know, because I’m a felon and all.

Just now he contacted me to let me know he is not allowed to associate with me. He got a “finger wagging” from the social worker.

Ironic that. Ironic all of it. I’m now too dangerous to associate with children, or even be present in their home. Hurry up and hide them! This midwife is dangerous.

It’s taken me a good couple weeks to write an update because the update I have is so heart-wrenching for me I couldn’t bring myself to write it.

A couple weeks ago on… oh, never mind, I’ve apparently blocked the date from my memory… I signed away my right to: 1. Have my midwifery license in the state of California and 2. Ever defend the Medical Board’s accusations if I attempt to ever obtain a medical license from the state of California for any reason ever again. Read: Never work in the state of CA again… not even if I went back to school and became an MD.

If California was like so many other states and recognized a woman’s right to birth WHERE and WITH WHOM she desired, I would be able to work outside of the megalomaniacal Medical Board.

In exchange, I get to relieve my pro bono attorney who has been tirelessly fighting on my behalf without a penny since the fall of 2010. I also get to know that I will have “surrendered” my license as opposed to having it “revoked”… semantics, really, but one that may make a difference in another state.

If I fought the Medical Board any further, I ran the risk of them back charging me tens of thousands of dollars. And, well, as a single mama with no ability to work in her profession, I really can’t afford that.

And, honestly, my supporters are tired. I watch the responses to my emails dwindle as time goes by. And my local birth community is too busy to care, most of them.

None of this changes even if my felony conviction is overturned after appeal.

The thing I find most ironic about this is that this state has many midwives who have been found guilty or plead guilty to crimes– most after the death of a baby– who are still working here, peaceful as peaches with their licenses intact. And further, let’s not get into the doctors who have continued to work.

So, I claw at the dry earth around me and hope to carve out some essentials as the kids and I attempt to make ends meet while I’m forced to remain in this county by the CA probation department. Without a job.

I clean houses, and babysit and teach classes here and there. I scrub toilets and paste canvasses and run errands for people. Whatever it takes. My friends at least trust me for these things.

And I see my children barely at all.

My daughter has taken on irrational fears ad nauseum and my son is incredibly angry. What do I do about it? Nothing. I don’t have time.

And I dream of the day when probation is done and I can leave this awful, ignorant, assaulting state. When I can burn the bridges I had with the Socialist Republic of California. And I look forward to another life in another state where midwifery laws aren’t so ridiculous.

But I’m ANGRY. I’m oh, so angry. My family’s blood is in this land. Our tears, our sweat. I’m FROM this place. My grandfather and grandmother served here as medical people. Gave their lives to the health and well-being of its citizens. We volunteered and voted and went to church.

And now the taxpayers of this state have seen fit to strip me of all of my life’s work, my family, my friends, my roots. They have seen fit to toss me out and give not a care to whether we live or die. Is a cage worse than being exiled?

Well, I guess I could stay… but then I would continue to work these 10-12 hour days and my children would be missing two parents instead of the one.

The words I want to write here are not suitable for children so I will leave this at that. Image


Phoenix Rising

Well, after all of that work, I dropped off of WordPress for over a month again. This time I just needed some time to sweat, garden, cry, dig, dance, and sweat some more. It’s been a grueling process. But just as I was about to dig myself into a little hole and never venture out with my outside of the box thinking again, I was given a bonfire of encouragement from Pete Eyre and his voluntaryist and libertarian friends.

I was so blown away to hear of all the stories they have to tell. My story is NOT unique. I just happen to have been involved with midwifery. So many other trades have been affected by the prosecution of victimless “criminals.”

Pete’s encouragement came right at a moment that I about cracked from the craziness of it all: the Medical Board of CA sent me a letter asking me to allow them to continue the hearing I must have before them (to decide if I will have my license revoked or be put on probation for eons). This was a request THEY made because they wanted to have the hearing next January 2013, not this June 2012 as scheduled. When my attorney agreed (hey… big deal… I can’t practice anyway, what does it matter to me?) they sent him the stipulation for me to sign.

In the stipulation, the wording said that I agreed that I had been found guilty of practicing negligently (something I was never even charged of!), that I agreed to have my license suspended (huh? Don’t I need a hearing before they decide that FOR me?) and that I promise not to be found in any place where “midwifery might be practiced” including employment, other than as a patient or the family member of a patient.

HUH??

So, I asked my attorney to politely decline their continuation request. I may be tarred and feathered, but I’ll be damned if I’ll help them do it.

Oh! And in case you, like me, are wondering why I can’t just send them their silly paper and quit even TRYING to practice in the People’s Republic of California, there’s this regulation that keeps things from being that simple.

So my hearing is in six weeks. I’ll keep y’all updated on what happens, but my hopes aren’t high. Nothing about anything related to this process has produced anything but disillusionment in me. Which is a LOT for an idealist at heart to take. Especially one who was also a statist. Heck. I was basically a socialist until this whole thing started. Now I truly fear for the future of our country. We continue to encourage our publicly funded civil servants to make more and more and more rules and laws and regulations.

Oh, and my book will be out soon. Please order a copy if you haven’t. It is the first and only place that I have told my story. You can pre-order it here. The forward was written by Dr. Stuart Fischbein and the Appendix of action items was compiled with an introduction by Pete Eyre; Like two solid bookends on a very messy, emotional female memoir.

My appeal is also still in process… it’s a bit like watching hair grow and hope it doesn’t become ingrown in the process. I am so grateful to my appeals attorney. She rocks.


It’s Been a While

Life goes on. I’ve moved after finding some work under a rock and pushing it around a bit to make it grow.

I miss midwifery.

I’m planting a real life garden to help me process my philosophical one. There are lots of rocks in it and the weeds are outrageous.

I plan to warm baby chicks and eat their eggs when they are bigger. Happy Spring!

And I’m writing. Writing, writing, writing.

This book is done. Please order it.

And I’m working on another.

I still have three days of CalTrans. Apparently I’m not ready to be done with it. I will get to it during spring break and my kids can be cared for.

In the mean time, I’m still trying to swallow the pill I’ve been dealt. It’s monstrous. But there will be glory when I’m all done. And God is here to guide me.


CalTrans Day 2: 24 Hours Remaining

I took the day off yesterday to visit with a fertility gynecologist. I have been struggling with premature ovarian failure since my arrest. I assumed it was just stress. I mean, being arrested is pretty stressful. Especially when you have NO CLUE they are coming for you.

The doc was very intelligent and mentioned, after unsympathetically mentioning that he sees no follicles anywhere, that only 1% of women with POF do not have premutated x chromosomes.

Say what???

He went on to explain that my daughter’s autism diagnosis is probably fragile x derived. For those, who, like me, are saying “fragile whaaa?”… It’s a chromosomal abnormality on the x chromosome. The good doctor also casually began to rattle off risk factors to me for having these premutated x chromosomes.

He concluded by saying he was 99% certain this was the case for me, but that I can have it confirmed with a blood test. Of course I ran over to my office to have someone draw the massive amount of blood this particular test requires.

Then I spun in circles about it and the fact that my daughter most likely has a 50/50 chance of birthing a child more severely effected than herself. Call me sentimental, but I was looking forward to grandbabies someday. The POF was hard enough to swallow… I mean, who wants to go through menopause and age like a 55 year old before you’re 40? It kinda sucks.

When I was a teenager, I used to say I wanted to be young and then old. I didn’t want to have those awful middle years of adulthood where you aren’t cool at all. Be careful what you ask for.

So, I normally don’t allow myself to wallow in self-pity. I find it to be a huge waste of time. But today I wallowed in self-pity on the side of the freeway.

For the record, CalTrans work ON the freeway is a WHOLE lot harder than CalTrans work off the freeway. I picked up trash. Big deal. But the repetitive motion of doing the same thing the entire day in the heat really messed with my neck, shoulders and right hand (those trash grabber things are tough to squeeze after the fourth hour of repeatedly squeezing it).

The entire of experience was a flashback to jail, only in the sunlight. Same etiquette and rules. Same mannerisms and speech.

Except the head boss guy was kinder to me than the others. He asked me what my crime was since I had not worked there before. I told him and his face softened.

“Midwifery is an honorable profession. I’m so sorry.”

He’s a black fellah in his mid 50s. His age puts him right at the time black babies were still being delivered into the hands of granny midwives. He went on to tell me that he was in the room with his wife when his son was born even though that wasn’t typical. “Jes me and my wife and the doctor. And he’s there tellin me everything he’s doin. I watched a miracle right there. Then two days later, my knees started knockin about how big a miracle that was.”

His words to me were kind after that.

The wind from the vehicles beside us blew clouds of dust into our faces. My eyes, ears, nostrils… black with dirt. My face was smeared with it and sweat from the heat of the sun. My lips were gritty. I don’t mind hard work. If I could have changed the motions of my body occasionally I woulda been alright. It was the repetition that killed me.

Here I am, going to die young of heart disease after aging prematurely and looking like a fat old lady when all my friends are young and fit. Or maybe I will survive the heart disease and live to be old enough to develop fragile x tremors and parkinson’s like symptoms from my mutated chromosomes. Why wouldn’t God have provided me with a partner if I was going to suffer so much? And who would want to marry this fat, saggy, infertile lady now? Why would my children have to go through so much stress now, only to prepare them to have to be left alone or have to take care of a mother who can no longer hold her hands still enough to paint and who yells expletives at them and forgets basic life skills?

As you can see, not a happy place to be there on the freeway. The freeway didn’t make it, my mind did. Sitting there in an emotional cage all my own.

In that moment, I noticed a little lizard in the dirt in front of me. Poor fellah was in shock. His entire home was being hoed and raked and dumped. All he was left with was dirt. He played dead, not knowing what else to do.

I picked him up in my dusty gloved hand. “Poor guy.” I said to him, feeling huge amounts of empathy for such a small little creature that nobody else noticed.

I placed him to the side of my by a tree for shelter.

And then it occurred to me. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” These words, attributed to Jesus of Nazareth in the account of Matthew, rang in my ears.

God has infinitely more compassion on me than I have on others. I can trust and believe that. But even as I did, my heart cried out, “I don’t see it at all right now, God!”

I remembered how, on New Year’s Day, a guest speaker at our church spoke about “the God who gives and takes away” and that it is ok to ask Him why He does. And, I did. Finally after this whole crazy journey, I asked Him on New Year’s Day 2012… Why, God?

And I think I am going to start getting answers. At least, I see now why I went through the pain of losing my third pregnancy. And if I think back, that was the moment that everything began for me. The loss of my third pregnancy was the beginning of a long, seven year path through pain.

As I returned to picking up trash, the next item I grabbed was a photograph of a woman. I looked at it in the trash bag for a moment and wondered who she was and then moved on to pick up more trash to toss in over her.

A strange question entered my mind as I did so. “Why did you have compassion on the lizard and not the woman?”

My response was “The woman was only an image. The lizard was alive.”

The point became clear. This body I’m living in is simply an image of me here on earth. The soul is what is alive. God cares far more about my character and soul development than He does about my temporary comfort in a body that will perish with the using.

It’s a hard lesson. Learned in a very hard place. Somehow it’s easy to think I will live forever, stay young forever, wake up tomorrow… but the reality is so very different.


CalTrans Day 1: 32 Hours Remaining

The paperwork I was given for my forty hours of CalTrans says “misdemeanor” on it. If only! But at least this time I am spared the “riding an animal” embarrassment.

I was able to begin this part of my sentence due to the graciousness of a neighbor of a friend of mine. Linda speaks very broken English. She is the mother of three small children and stays home with them while her husband works. When I met her I was enveloped in the joy and warmth and hospitality I remember so well from when I lived in Mexico City. Even though I had a hard time understanding her (my Spanish is as good as her English), her smile lit up the room. She told me that her entire household is crazy. The only sane ones are her dog, her bird and her guinea pig. I felt right at home.

When my friend told her my story she opened her arms and home and offered to care for my children free of charge while I finished my CalTrans work. As I thanked her, her children ran screaming between us with an automatic nerf gun and a nerf rocket launcher, chasing each other with fiery competition. Her dog growled (my friend told me the dog has an aversion to nerf guns). She laughed nervously. I told her there is a reason hispanics will always have their liberty in California.

I arrived late because the misdemeanor paper more than one error on it. It also said to arrive at seven am. When I showed up, proud that I was so early, the lot was vacant except for one lone worker who looked at me funny.

“I’m supposed to report here for court ordered CalTrans work…”

“Uhhh. They already left at six. Ju gunna need to talk to the boss. Maybe he’ll let you stay or something.”

The boss had pity on me. I thanked him and apologized for being an hour late.

“Well, according to your paper, you’re right on time… just make sure to arrive before six on your remaining days.”

I was shown to the employee facilities and offices across the street and the mops, brooms and cleaners. I’ve done this before. Only the floors and walls are a heck of a lot cleaner than Skid Row. Eric, the guy I first met, reminded me of the rules which included not having a cell phone on the premises.

“A while back one of the workers called someone in his gang and they had a shooting here.”

He didn’t need to explain further. We were in East L.A. after all.

“You might just work here in the facilities… they normally keep one female behind to clean. If there’s more than one female the rest of them gotta go pick trash, but it’s easy. You don’ gotta do nothing wichyor hands. They give you tools to pick stuff up. Is not hard. You’ll do these five days in jor sleep.”

And this was the part of the sentence the judge said would be really hard for me.

Cleaning the staff offices was easy, simple work.

The boss even came out and chatted with me for a bit about how life in the fifties was better than now. I agreed, even though I wasn’t alive in the fifties.

The men let me sign out first since I was a “female.” I was, actually, the only woman I saw all day. I wonder if a we women would treat a man with the same kind of preference if he ventured into a mostly female profession. Like, if an obstetrician worked with all midwives. Oh, wait a minute… question answered. I hung my head in shame for treating the obstetrician I worked with in a patronizing manner. Need to make amends there.


Day 35: 40 Hours Remaining

I walked the sidewalk in the predawn hours with a box filled high with gifts. I was a little nervous since I had just found out that felons can’t carry pepper spray so I had to leave the one I was given at home. Fortunately, most of the people I passed by now know me by name and also seem to know that if they mess with me, I know them by name too.

It was freezing cold and I don’t own a jacket.

Both of these reasons impelled me to walk faster.

It was going to be my last day doing community service work on Skid Row. Too bad I still don’t have a probation officer to impress with how quickly I did it. Only forty more hours and those are assigned with CalTrans.

I was able to donate a clock to replace the teenie one they have hung up in the bed area. If I had a dollar for every time a client stared it at, squinting, and asked, “Hey, Ms. Lady… what time is it?” I’d be a rich felon.

I was also able to donate a bag of black pens. I’m sure they’ll last a day or two. And a couple of big bottles of hand sanitizer which is always running low.

My children baked cookies for the staff the night before. They are really good at it. Who knew?

But my favorite thing to give away was all the little gifts I had collected over the past weeks for the individual staff members. I had been anxiously awaiting today, my last day, to spend the whole day just loving the people who give and give and give in a part of the city that nobody ever sees. I’ve been aching to give back to them, to let them know how amazing they truly are, even when they rarely hear it.

I gave Wendy a little necklace with a silver starfish and the story of the starfish. If you don’t know the story, it’s here.

I was super blessed to pass along someone’s study Bible for Jim so he can prepare for his sermon in April.

I brought Linda a book of encouragements to read in the morning before she greets the endless line of people bringing her bags to be checked in at the front counter.

Pilar got an angel pendant to remind her of the thankfulness I’ve had for her protection and kindness during the night shifts I did.

Everyone got a little something that I hope and pray will remind them, if only for a moment, of the difference they make in the world. I want them to know there is gratitude for what they do that is deep and abiding.

Most of all, I brought something inspiring for Eric. It really wasn’t much, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I gave him one of those window candles homes sometimes have back east or during Christmastime here. I was once told that the tradition began during the civil war when families would keep a candle lit at night if they had a son or father or husband away in battle. It represented the warmth of the home they were going to someday come home to, the hope of their return.

I thanked Eric for the light he holds in the darkness for soldiers who have lost their way. His outpost is far off in the trenches, alone in the dark. But the light of hope he holds is very real for those who are ready to end their travels.

The flowers I received from staff at the shelter... The most beautiful I have ever been given.

A few of the staff members pitched in together and bought me a dozen yellow roses which I promptly placed in the only vase we had… a water bottle with the top cut off. It brought me to tears and is the most beautiful bouquet I have ever received.

I stayed an extra half an hour until the shift’s quitting time. Jimmy, a staff member from the next shift gave Wendy and I a ride to our cars. As we drove, he pointed out a white hipster with a camera, taking video of the humanity occupying San Julian. He panned down the street, shooting the sidewalk tents and inhabitants.

“Why they gots ta do that?” Jimmy asked.

“Do what?”

“Why they gots to always come down here and take pitchers an go home an show their friends and laugh at us?”

Even though he is staff, this is Jimmy’s home. He can’t even begin to understand why people on the outside would be documenting Skid Row. There is so much work to be done here. Not to “clean up” Skid Row or its’ people. What needs to be done is to lift the sights of its’ residents. I will not believe progress has been made here until Jimmy is laughing at the guy with the camera and calling him a tourist.

When I gave my last hug and got to my car, I thought I knew a thing or two about Skid Row. But in one hour I was headed back to visit a different building, a block north of where I had done my community service. Some of the members of a church I’ve visited recently in Los Angeles were handing out new shoes, clothing, food and Thanksgiving groceries to families. I was about to find a drastically different dynamic only a stone’s throw away.


Day 34: 46 Hours Remaining

Mothering is the thread that is interwoven through the fabric of life.

This morning I was sweeping in the bed area when one of the women who had slept there during the night hurriedly packed up the last of her belongings. My presence was an indication that she was running late.

“How are you this mornin?” She asked me with a big smile.

“Good. Good. And you?”

“I’m doing great. Really blessed. I start class today. All I need to do is start classes and show that to my P.O. and then my next hearing I might get my kids back. I miss them so much.”

“Oh? How many you got? How old?” My sweeping naturally paused at this moment, as it would for any mother.

“Well, there’s Jimmy, he’s just started kindergarten. And Patrice is three and then little Johnny is almost one.” She beams with that motherly pride.

My heart breaks that they slept last night away from their mama.

“What’d they get taken for?” I have a feeling I’ve grown about as confrontational as everyone else here.

“Drug possession. I went to jail and they went to my mom’s.”

So many broken families. And the cycle reproduces itself quite sustainably. Once you lose that glimmer of hope– once you snuff out that candle of a belief that this is just temporary– you become a permanent fixture of this world. It’s a different city than the one you’re used to. Things are dimmer, grimier, more in the moment. There is still life where ever you have drawn your own cliff, no matter who you are.

All it requires is a belief that human beings can, indeed, walk on water.

Wendy tells me a little later about how her own mother and father died when she was young. “I was raised by my aunt. That was a blessin, that was.”

What I thought was a tragedy, was highlighted as a blessing by Wendy. If only I could bottle her positive attitude and take it with me everywhere!

I was rolling toilet paper when a very slight, white woman made her way into the bed area with her head down. A partial paralysis of the right side of her body could not mask the fact that she was emotionally distraught.

“Ms. Wendy… I… I need a phone…” and here she trailed off into tears. It was hard to make out what she was saying under her muffled sobs.

She took a breath and tried again. “Please, Ms. Wendy… I need a phone… I just found out my mother died.” She sobbed again.

“I just can not be out here right now. I need someone to come pick me up.”

Wendy dialed the number on her own cell phone and handed it to the woman who tried her hardest not cry as she left a voicemail for someone. My heart broke for her. She looked like she was in her thirties, about my age. I wondered if I could have been in her shoes if situations in my life had been different.

How many moments of homelessness were averted in my life by the care of others, the provision of family and friends or just being in the right place at the right time to land some work. How many moments of hopelessness have I sat in where I would’ve given in to self destructive behaviors had I been around the wrong people? How many health issues did I avoid by having health insurance, being partially raised by a surgeon and a nurse and being given the ability to become educated in medical care?

So many things we take for granted.

After lunch I walked back to the shelter and passed her sitting at the bus stop. No doubt on her way to say goodbye to her mother a day too late.