Tag Archives: mothering

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


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.


Day 35 cont. The Part a Court Had Nothing To Do With

I was up at five am. At the shelter by six. Done with community service at two in the afternoon. At my car by a little before three.

By three thirty I was walking 6th street, which is like the street I did my community service work on if it had a housing problem. Which it already has, of course. I get far less stares and strange greetings now… it’s as if Skid Row has rubbed off on me.

As I neared San Pedro, I noticed a line of mothers and small children so long I couldn’t see the end of it. The church had said they were expecting close to twelve hundred. They weren’t exaggerating.

A pleasant man with a name tag showed me where to go. The church I was volunteering with was doing kitchen duty. I found some familiar faces and set to work preparing some food. I was impressed to see this church had an excess of volunteers. A couple people didn’t know where to help out so they began mingling with the families and chit chatting. I was happy to discover that the families had already been given tickets ahead of time for entrance, which reduced the likelihood of addicts coming and taking donations to sell.

I spent the next six hours dishing out chilli on hotdogs, sprinkling cheese and giving fruit away.

Almost every family was latino. We served over a thousand people and I only saw about twenty black families. This struck me as unusual since almost everyone outside on the streets was black and most of the people I served at the drop in center were also black. I asked a few questions and quickly found out that most of the families had taken buses in from east Los Angeles or Pico-Union.

They were large families who receive assistance because their incomes are low and they are at risk for homelessness.

My children went to school with these children when we lived in south Echo Park. 98% of them live below the poverty line, most with grandparents, aunts and uncles under the same roof.

Let me just state for the record that I LOVE these latino children. They are sweet spirited, shy and love to show off when you get them going. Some of the church members had done some face painting and they would point to their batman, spiderman or butterfly on their cheek for us to admire while we dished out their food. Some of them would proudly point to their new shoes and do that little bounce children do in new duds. It’s amazing how far a smile will go with a small child. I began to play a game as I scooped food, seeing how many smiles I could get. Some kids were harder to crack open than others.

Some pulled themselves up on their tip-toes to see the food, their eyes wide with hunger. Others were very opinionated about what goes on a hot dog… a few to the point of obvious disgust at anything but ketchup.

One group of three brothers all told us they wanted chilli on their hotdogs. We began the process of preparing their food when their mother stopped us and told us, no. They would have theirs plain with no chilli. It was then that I had flashbacks of the sharing a room with my children after they had chilli. I laughed to myself as the women around me looked confused.

Most of the children came with mothers… three or four or five children to every woman. Some had fathers with them as well. All of them looked tired, no doubt from waiting in line for so long. My heart melted for the babies who were tied on their mother’s back with a sheet. Who needs an Ergo.

When the last hot dog was given away and every family left with warm bellies and warm hearts, we began the clean up and tear down. I was incredibly impressed with the thoroughness of the job done by the volunteers. Unlike the less than desirable cleaning job the volunteers at the shelter I’d done my community service work at would do, the place we left was spotless.

Skid Row may be the end of the line for some people, but after tonight I’m starting to see that it is also the heart of the city from which so much love occurs. And like any heart, the one that belongs to this city has symptoms of its’ illness and health. We need to quit doing crack. We need to quit hiding the things that we’re ashamed of. We need to talk about our issues more. We need to embrace the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow in our land. And we need a LOT of compassionate encouragement instead of cold judgement.

A little understanding goes a long way. On Skid Row like everywhere else.

I feel honored to have spent time here and really put my finger on the pulse of our city. Don’t worry, I didn’t count the beats.


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.

 


A Moment of Silence

There is so much grief I’ve carried this last year. All within my heart are pockets stuffed with tears. If you saw the Nessie short at the beginning of Captain America, that’s me.

But when I look back through the last few years for a reason for all of this, I can only see a long trail of sacrifices I made for mothers and babies. When I examine the root for why I went into midwifery to begin with, I only find the love I felt when my first baby was placed in my arms for the first time. That mother love was so profound it spilled out into everything I touched from that moment on. It rang out and splashed out on everyone I met. The passion to share that joy was engulfing and consuming. I find no other motive.

I’m sad the judge said I could not have done what I did for altruistic reasons. I’m sad for him that he doesn’t know women like the ones I’ve been honored to work beside. Fellow birth servants who are bing lit by the same fire to serve families until we breathe our last breath.

Our hearts sound like this song. We dance to the beat of a different drum than the one most of society hears. Our rhythm is a  timeless feminine song that is the love of mothering as old as women. It is a song that has been missing in our country and is desperately needed RIGHT NOW.

————————————-

The song, linked above, is called Suo Gan and is a Welsh lullabye from mother to child. The lyrics, translated, are:

Sleep my baby, at my breast,
’Tis a mother’s arms round you.
Make yourself a snug, warm nest.
Feel my love forever new.
Harm will not meet you in sleep,
Hurt will always pass you by.
Child beloved, always you’ll keep,
In sleep gentle, mother’s breast nigh.
Sleep in peace tonight, sleep,
O sleep gently, what a sight.
A smile I see in slumber deep,
What visions make your face bright?
Are the angels above smiling,
At you in your peaceful rest?
Are you beaming back while in
Peaceful slumber on mother’s breast?
Do not fear the sound, it’s a breeze
Brushing leaves against the door.
Do not dread the murmuring seas,
Lonely waves washing the shore.
Sleep child mine, there’s nothing here,
While in slumber at my breast,
Angels smiling, have no fear,
Holy angels guard your rest.