Short and Long Term Goals


Guess what?  I finished nursing school, passed my boards, and got a job!  Yes I did!

Last week I began orientation for the new job and I still can’t stop looking at that badge with those letters: R. N.  Throughout the week, HR people kept asking me “are you here for the nursing such and such?” or “are you a nurse?” and I”m still skipping a beat before remembering/acknowledging, “….. … ….YES! I am!”

I’m lucky for many reasons — that I even got a job in this market — but also because the hospital I’m working for seems to be good to the nurses and to actually care about professional development.  I felt so beat down and jaded by the end of nursing school, but learning about all the opportunities and professional support my hospital offers, I’m beginning to get excited again about my nursing career.  Some things I’m interested in pursuing in the short term are the clinical ladder, using my educational benefit for conferences, and finding ways to mentor new nurses once I get on my feet (I’m already mentoring nursing students!).  I also want to get in the nook and crannies of the administration (committees? finding HR allies?) and introduce LGBTQ competency – it was the one area that was really lacking throughout our training and in their policies.  But, of course, I primarily want to be patient with myself in the next six months as I transition into being a real nurse and learning real nursing – which I understand will not be easy!  I’m scared, but I’m ready for the challenge.

In the longer term?  I’m starting to let myself think about becoming a nurse practitioner again.  I really feel that getting the midwifery training and type of job I would like is very unlikely in the region where I currently live.  I know one young midwife that had to drive three hours to her clinical site and I’ve been told many times that if you want a job in midwifery, you have to move.  If I do go back to school within the next few years, I’ll likely pursue the Family Nurse Practitioner and Midwife titles.  Ultimately, I do want to be a midwife – I’m just not sure how/when/where!

In the mean time I have *so* much to learn and am happy to be on the journey there!


How Do You Know?

Hello out there!  I can almost hear the echos (hello… hello…hello)!

But I am still here! And guess what?  I’m half way through nursing school!  A round of champagne for all!  Trust me, we deserve it.

For now, I am slogging through nursing research, mental health nursing, and a NCLEX review course.  I’m super excited for the Fall — I will finally get to do my Labor and Delivery rotation!

But lately I’ve been a different sort of birthing crazed.

Coincidentally, today is M and my fourth anniversary (cue the tooting horns and confetti!).  And the question on our minds these days is: when do you know it’s time.  You know.  Baby Time.  Queer parents, you know how much of an uphill battle it is: securing the baby juice, saving up your queer dollars for all the expenses, finding competent health providers, prepping your friends and family, wondering what you need a lawyer to do to make sure your family is safe from outrageous instances of homophobia.  And, yeah, making a living being.  So it’s a big decision.

Or is it?  Some people act like you just know sometimes.  That’s where I am a little.  I mean, the clock is ticking in these quarters.  Really loud.  My logic is: life is good right now and we are going to have an awesome babe and be the best parents ever (duh) so let’s order some ovulation kits and start researching baby shower invites.  But M needs to know how we will know we know for sure.  How will we KNOW.

Queer mamas, how did you know?  Did you make a list of pro’s and con’s?  Did you have reliable baby making friends you asked?  Did you post a general plea for advice on your blog?

Cultural Competency: LGBTQ

via the National LGBT Cancer Network


You Better Werque!

first class of nurses at my university

They say if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere.  Well.  I’m here to tell you: if you can survive accelerated nursing school, you can do anything.  Only 12 months to go until I sit for the licensing exams.  For now I”m taking coursework and will begin clinicals in March.

It seems like many of the student midwife and midwifery blogs online are from midwives who were already nurses prior to their career, or who went into the dual-entry programs that bundle the second degree nursing and midwifery in the same training (or, of course, are Professional Midwives not associated with nursing programs at all!).  For many circumstantial reasons, I’m attending an accelerated nursing program now, will become an RN, and then will go back to become a Nurse Midwife later.

At first I viewed the requirement to go through nursing school as a major drag; a means to an end.  I want to be a midwife, not a nurse, and I dreaded this year.  Even though I always knew how important nurses are in general, I realize now that nursing is such a strong foundation for midwifery care.  Nurses are trained to care for the whole patient, not simply the disease.  We’re learning about how to communicate, assess, interpret, comfort, advocate, and keep clients well across all stages of development in addition to studying disease processes and emergency procedures.  It feels like a sixth sense I’m developing; I’m starting to look at people and see things about them that tell me about their overall wellness.  AMAZING!  A month into the program, and I’m so excited about cultivating my clinical skills right here, right now.

And I’m exhausted.  I wake up, I drink coffee, I go to class or study, I go to bed.  My whole entire life, every second of it, it drenched in becoming a nurse.  It’s tough not having time for much else.  Sometimes it feels like an enormous sacrifice of my family time, friend time, personal time, sleep, emotional and physical wellness.  The expectations of our program sometimes border on absurdity.  You want us to do WHAT by next week?

It’s really intense.  I totally love it.  Working this hard, this fast, with this much sleep deprivation and this much joy has given me even more confidence that I can take the challenges of becoming and being a midwife.


Our Families Are Here: We’re Queer, Get Used to It.

The North Carolina Supreme Court voided a same-sex second parent adoption on Monday, which will effectively dismantle existing and future adoptions of the same sort in my fair state.  This is a major blow to queer families in North Carolina, and will require legislative action to overturn.  Lest we forget that North Carolina is below the Mason-Dixon line, square in the bible belt, let me remind you that Republicans took control of both chambers of the General Assembly in the November elections.  Pretty bleak chances at a recovery for our families, who, without legal recognition, stand to lose social security benefits, access to healthcare, inheritance, and decision-making power on everything from school field trips to medical care.  And without a legal relationship in place for a non-biological parent, a child of a same-sex couple could end up in foster care if the biological parent becomes unable to care for it.

Fundamentally, this case was about whether same-sex parents should be able to use the same mechanism to adopt a non-biological child that heterosexual step-parents are granted once they are married.  Boseman v. Jarrell rules that since the biological parent did not give up her rights to the child as would happen in other types of adoption (but not required for married step-parents), that an adoption by the child’s non-biological parent is not legal.  In other words, since queer couples do not have access to marriage, one parent has to abdicate her rights to the child before another parent can secure them.  What infuriates me about this case is that courts already make rulings day in and day out that enable biological and non-biological co-parenting, but refuse the notion that same-sex parenting could necessitate similar legal status. We cannot get married, therefore our families don’t exist?

Predictably, Christian right groups filed briefs that supported the overturn and rallied their base on the issue.  I can get over the fact that some people are going to be homophobic no matter what.  Good for them.  But our families are not theoretical and do not deserve to be casualties of a culture war.

The sadness of the ruling was magnified, for me, by utterly typical picture it paints of the couple’s original intentions while building their family.  It affirms that both parents were good and fit, that both parents were equally dedicated to their creation, and that both parents intended to be lifelong co-parents upon the birth of their child.

But that’s not good enough.  We have to be married, I guess.  Oh wait, we can’t (and frankly, don’t want to be).

From the ruling:

In May of 2000 the parties initiated the process of having a child.  They decided that defendant would actually bear the child, but both parties would otherwise jointly participate in the conception process.  The parties agreed to choose an anonymous sperm donor and researched and discussed the available options.  They also attended the medical appointments necessary both to impregnate defendant and to address her prenatal care.

Plaintiff read to the minor child “in the womb and played music for him.” Plaintiff also cared for defendant during the pregnancy and was present for the delivery.  Defendant eventually gave birth to the minor child in October of 2002, and the parties jointly selected his first name.  Following the child’s birth, the parties held themselves out as the parents of the minor child.  They gave the minor child a hyphenated last name composed of both their last names.  They also “had a baptismal ceremony for the child at the plaintiff’s church during which they publicly presented themselves to family and friends as parents of the child.”  Further, each of the parties integrated the minor child into their respective families and each family accepted the minor child.

Within the home, the parties shared “an equal role” in parenting.  Plaintiff’s parenting skills were found to be “very attentive, very loving, hands on and fun.”  Defendant was found to be “very hands-on and patient in parenting” and to “reprimand[] [the minor child] by talking to him in a nice way.” As a result of occupational responsibilities, each party was occasionally required to be temporarily away from their home. During such an absence, the party at home would care for the child.  Moreover, the minor child treated each of the parties as a parent.  The child refers to plaintiff as “Mom” and to defendant as “Mommy.”  As the trial court stated, the minor child “shows lots of love and respect for both parties.”  “Each party agrees that the other is and has been a good parent,” and defendant even “testified that she thinks it is important for the plaintiff to be in” the minor child’s life.

As a young queer with a ticking biological clock and a hopeful non-biological co-parent to be (not to mention an adoring mother-in-law!!), this hits close to the bone.  Between this and the absolutely vile death of the Dream Act, my righteous indignation is boiling over.  I’m so disappointed; we can be so much better than this.

More about second parent adoption from the National Center for Lesbian Rights here.

National Midwifery Week

Happy National Midwifery Week!  What better opportunity to highlight some of the exciting things that are going on in the field?

ACNM and ACOG Call For Papers:  Collaborative Practices Involving Obstetrician-Gynecologists and Nurse Midwives

This is tremendously important for so many reasons.  Families deserve real collaboration and continuity of care among both low-risk and high-risk pregnancy providers.  And both midwives and doctors deserve mutual respect in their shared field.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse-Midwives are calling for papers describing successful and sustainable models of collaborative practice involving obstetrician-gynecologists and certified nurse-midwives/certified midwives.  The impending maternity care workforce crisis necessitates focusing on best practices across the US; therefore, preference will be given to papers about successful collaborative practice and outcomes.  Discussions of how physician and midwife collaborative practice models have affected maternity and women’s health care in both community and academic settings are being sought.

The authors of each paper must include both a doctor and a midwife, and they will be asked to speak at both ACOG and ACNM conferences about their findings.  The selected papers will be featured in an upcoming issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

For the full CFP, head over to ACNM’s website here or click here.

Midwives and Healthcare Reform

Check out this great post from RH Reality Check about how midwives will benefit from healthcare reform.  The piece is the first in a series of posts to highlight National Midwivery Week.

This video, from about a year ago, provides some first-person insight from consumers about why healthcare reform for maternity care is important.

National Midwifery Week  Roundup

ACNM has put together a great package of resources for National Midwifery Week.  The Midwife Connection blog will have a series of guest posts, get active with  20 Things You Can Do to Celebrate National Midwifery Week, and learn more about midwifery here.

Etsy Madness!!

Allow me to wax philosophical about Etsy, because I have been all.about.Etsy lately. I have been spending a lot of time over there since I started a baby boutique called Birth and Bloom (shocking, I know) with vintage and upcycled baby items. I’m also contributing to the Spectrum Doula Collective Etsy shop, where the proceeds will help to provide doula access to families across the spectrum of pregnancy.

Here are some of the reasons I love Etsy as a buyer and seller. I love buying things from and supporting actual people, not just weird corporate stores managed by company headquarters. I love the affordability of Etsy. I love that you can buy and wear items that are unique, handmade, personalized and interrupt the homogeny of mainstream consumer trends. I love that if you’re buying from Etsy, you’re most likely avoiding the unconscious support of child labor, slave labor, or sweatshop labor. I love the community and spirit of Etsy, and the one-to-one relationship you have with sellers. This makes phrases like “customer service” seem dumb and irrelevant – you got an issue? Just send the seller a convo and it’ll get resolved. I love that you can do all of this from the comfort of your own home!!

As a seller, I’m honored to provide garments that are cherished enough to be purchased with hard-earned dollars and given a new home. I’m excited that I get to send a perfect stranger treats in a beautiful parcel packaged with handmade materials. I love the idea of little babes tumbling around in funky vintage – parents wear it, why shouldn’t their kids? I love giving new life to thrifted garments that obviously weren’t loved enough if I can find them without any visible wear.

And the Spectrum Doula Etsy Shop is a double thrill – you get a gift for yourself or a friend AND you give a gift to another family by supporting accessible doulas.

For all these reasons, I”ll be doing much of my holiday shopping at Etsy and I hope you will, too!

If you’d like a good place to get started for baby and maternity items, check out my favorites at my Bun in the Oven Treasury, here.

Behold, Mila’s Daydreams

More precious photos at

Also, from the FAQ of this blog, did you know that new mothers in Finland get a “Maternity Package” with everything one needs for a newborn – including some rather stylish new baby clothes? Amazing.

Heading South

Big news. Miss BirthandBloom is moving to North Carolina!

It’s a long way from Brooklyn, but I’m ready. More often than not, I find myself thinking, “… I’m so not going to miss this.” No, I”m not going to miss hauling my groceries home by foot or waiting in massive, cranky lines everywhere or dealing with stinky people on the sweltering Summer subways or auctioning off my organs to pay my rent each month.

You know what I’m really going to miss about living in NYC?

You. The birth community and culture of this city: the mamas, midwives, activists, midwives-to-be, bloggers, and doulas who are so damn committed to making birth better for New York families. I’ve learned that this is a powerful community that reaches a lot of folks and across a lot of differences.

This community has moved me; I know so much more from being a part of it. In just the past year, I’ve attended 16 normal births, taken pre-requisite courses and exams necessary to enter nursing school, began writing for this blog and twitter, read books upon books about midwifery, applied to said nursing schools, taken action for the Midwifery Modernization Act, become certified in CPR and Neonatal Resuscitation…did I mention that I also have a job and a personal life, and finished up a Masters degree this year?

I’m closer than ever to becoming the midwife I’ve considered becoming for a long time. Because of this community, I have a foundation of experience supporting normal birth and know more about what being a midwife requires (experience that is harder to find than you think!), and have learned about how I can continue to deepen my work. I am grateful for that.

And a little sad. Yesterday was my last day on call, and I don’t know how soon I’ll get to attend births again. The NYC experience I most regret leaving behind is my gig at our local Birth Center assisting the midwives there. Seasoned midwives, Brooklyn families of all sorts, badass birth assistant colleagues, and little babes at all hours of night and day? It’s bliss. I worked hard there and discovered that, even though I still have a lot to learn, I do have the grit to do this work. I’m grateful for that, too.

I believe that there are many, many births in my future. I know that there are so many others out there working to empower families and normal birth, and am hopeful that at least some of them I meet in my new home share my values for reproductive and social justice.

Birth workers in North Carolina, I can’t wait to meet you!

Baby Born on Subway Platform

Y’know, I’ve seen many very ripe mamas lumbering around in the NYC heat, and I wondered when this was going to happen!

I love how the NY Post clip captures that precious, critical moment when baby enters the world.

The woman was already headed to a Queens hospital because she was in labor — but the baby wouldn’t wait.

“I told the woman she needed to breathe,” Sykes said.

The woman responded, “we’re past that, the baby’s coming, the baby’s coming!”

By the time the 29-year-old woman’s fiancee helped remove her pants and shoes, Sykes had on a pair of rubber gloves and was ready to catch the newborn.

“I was just concentrating and thinking ‘don’t drop this baby,'” she said.

There were a few moments of suspense when it took the baby about a minute to start crying.

“But once she did, everyone started clapping,” Sykes said.

Sykes placed the baby in her coat and then switched the infant into the fiancée’s jacket.

via NY Post