Thursday, June 28, 2007

Request for UK readers

I am trying to get a copy of Grazia that published reader's responses to the article about my UC. If anyone has a copy and would be willing to mail it to me (and I'll happily reimburse you), please contact me at stand.deliver at I'd like to have a copy for sentimental value, I guess. (I already have a copy of the original issue).
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Saturday, June 23, 2007

I see London!

Zari will be your tour guide of London today. Note the handy Second Womb sling.

Parliament buildings and Big Ben

Globe Theatre

Westminster Abbey (your tour guide got tired and decided to take a nap)

Tower Bridge

St Paul's (okay, technically it's the rose gardens in front of the cathedral).
Nap time yet again. Being a tour guide is a lot of work.
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

I see France!

We just did another 7 hour drive today, from Hyeres to Bordeaux. Whew! We took a long break in Carcassonne, which is best known for its medieval double-walled fortress (the castle in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and just about every other movie that shows a walled fortress). Eric lived there for several months, and we've visited it several times as a couple. The first time we stayed in Carcassonne was the summer that we hitchhiked all over France, with our backpacks and musical instruments. We spent a wonderful 8 days in Carcassonne in a nearby campground. Every day we swam in the pool (yes, most campgrounds in France have pools, and often restaurants), watched the Euro Cup games, walked around the medieval city, and played our instruments. Ahhhh, what great memories.

Pictures are from a swimming pool in Allevard-les-Bains (foothills of the French Alps), along the Mediterranean coast near Hyeres (the Presqu'ile and the fortified island of Port Cros to be exact), and two of Carcassonne.

Allevard. You might be wondering why Eric is wearing a speedo. They are required in all French swimming pools. They believe it's more hygenic. Don't ask me why.
Picking flowers in downtown Hyeres during the Fete de la Musique.
The next three pictures are from the Presqu'ile of Giens near Hyeres.
The island of Port Cros, which is now a national park.
There are 3 forts that you can hike to.
It also has some of the best snorkeling in all of Europe.
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Monday, June 18, 2007


After a hair-raising drive to the Marseilles airport--we got there with about 2 minutes to spare--we arrived in London this morning. We must have walked about 10 miles today, with Zari in the sling. Life is easy when you 1) have a sling 2) breastfeed and 3) have a Baby Bjorn Little Potty in your backpack: no need to pack food, haul around a stroller, or worry about running out of diapers.

We're taping the show tomorrow morning, and it will air on Wednesday. All 3 of us will be on the show (unless Zari is fussy). I think you can watch the program at GMTV's website.

I bought a copy of Grazia magazine at the airport, and I was quite pleased with the article, although a few of the changes I suggested didn't make it in the final copy. There are some great photos of me and Zari. I don't know if this is a praise or insult, but the end of the article is next to a photo of Paris Hilton (ugh, please, can't we read about someone else??). I'm going to contact Grazia about putting a copy up on this blog, since my North American readers can't buy the magazine.
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Friday, June 15, 2007


After a 7 hour car ride to the airport, an 8 hour flight (which of course was delayed), and a 7 hour drive from Paris to Grenoble, I am tired of traveling. Zari has done quite well considering. We're visiting some friends for a day or two, then heading to the south of France for a week of relaxation in Hyeres: snorkeling, swimming, and walking around the beautiful medieval city.

Then work starts: we run a study abroad program for high school students on the Atlantic coast. The students stay with host families, take 3 hours of French every day, and participate in several workshops (cooking, sailing, painting, etc) during the afternoons. We organize optional excursions and activities every day and several evenings a week, on top of what the students already have scheduled. July will be insanely busy, especially for Eric, as I will be less able to help out chaperoning during afternoons and evenings.

Grazia magazine in the UK just published an article featuring my unassisted birth story. I haven't seen it yet, but I am excited to read it. It's in first person, but I actually didn't author the article, just gave it my final thumbs-up. I talked to the writer for several hours, and she also read through my blog and corresponded via email. From all of this, she put together a narrative for the magazine.

Most exciting of all--we are going to London next week to appear on GMTV and talk about my birth! More details later, but I am quite looking forward to it. Plus I've never been to London before.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cabin fun

We've been enjoying hot, sunny weather at my family's cabin in northern Wisconsin. My whole family is here, including 3 of Zari's cousins.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Where did FPMama go?

I just noticed that the FPMama blog is gone, and now there's some inane post about Angelina Jolie instead. What happened? I am quite sad--she had some great stories and fantastic insights.
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Dispense with Disposables

This blog post, "Dispense with Disposables," has some great ideas on how to replace disposable products with reusable ones. I already have implemented some of her suggestions--cloth diapering being the most predominant one for me--but I could easily do several others without too much hassle. I really should sew myself a few canvas grocery bags. I hate coming home with piles of plastic bags.
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My last day of internet access for a little while...So here is all the latest news:
  • Zari just got her first tooth yesterday!
  • I think I have mastitis, but it's getting better. The fever/chills are pretty much gone now.
  • We found a dog sitter last minute. Whew!
I'll be without internet for a week, then once we arrive in France I'll have occasional access. So this blog will be a bit quiet over the summer.

I am hoping to bring back lots of beautiful sling fabrics from France. I'll post them to my Second Womb site when I return in August.

I'll leave you with this quote from Gloria Lemay, a midwife in British Columbia:
Attending births is like growing roses. You have to marvel at the ones that just open up and bloom at the first kiss of the sun but you wouldn't dream of pulling open the petals of the tightly closed buds and forcing them to blossom to your time line.
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Monday, June 04, 2007

Last minute stress

We were all set to leave on Wednesday to go to a family reunion up north, then to France for the summer. I called Air France this morning to confirm a few details, such as seating arrangements and bringing our dog, which we have done for the past 2 years. Good things I called--it turns out they've raised their prices for bringing large dogs to $1,000!!! And they didn't tell me that when I called a month ago to ask about prices.

So now we are stressed: what are we going to do with our dog over the summer? Can we find a good dog & house sitter with only one day's notice? Ack!!!
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6 months

A bit late, since Zari is already 7 months old:

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Request from Laura Shanley for photos/footage

"I am in the process of creating a DVD that will contain photos and footage of unassisted births set to music. The DVD will be sold on my site. I will also be sending it to television production companies, news programs, and magazine and newspaper reporters who express an interest in writing a story or airing a program about UC. The couples who contribute to the DVD will retain their rights to the footage. They will also receive a percentage of the profits. To contribute please contact me at laurashanley @"
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Friday, June 01, 2007

Pregnant women are second class citizens

A fundamental right of all adult Americans is that of physical self-determination and informed consent to medical procedures. During a 1914 court case (Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hospital), Justice Cardozo articulated a patient’s right to self-determination:
Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and the surgeon who performs an operation without his patient's consent commits an assault for which he is liable for damages. This is true except in cases of emergency, where the patient is unconscious and where it is necessary to operate before consent can be obtained.
Our current understanding of informed consent is based largely on that 1914 decision. Today, before any medical procedure can occur, a patient must be fully informed about the procedure, including potential risks and benefits as well as reasonable alternatives. The person obtaining consent must be sure the patient has understood what was explained, and the patient has to document in writing that she understands the risks and agrees to the procedure.
Except pregnant women, that is.
There are several examples of court-ordered obstetrical interventions—usually cesarean sections—where a woman’s fundamental right to determine what happens to her own body is blatantly disregarded. Even more disturbing, a large percentage of physicians and lawyers support forcing procedures on pregnant women despite their expressed refusal. A 1987 study in the New England Journal of Medicine surveyed heads of maternal-fetal medicine department. 46% of the respondents supported court-ordered obstetrical interventions. A 2007 study of attendees at the annual meetings of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Health Lawyers Association found that “51% described themselves as highly likely to support a court order.”
The following story from Dr. Marsden Wagner’s new book, Born in the USA, illustrates the degree to which fundamental human rights are now at stake in the realm of maternity care. (Dr. Wagner was contacted by the family and their lawyers, reviewed the case, and followed the progress of the litigation to its end.)
A woman in northern Florida we will call Ms. P had a normal vaginal birth with her first pregnancy. Her second birth, however, ended with a C-section that she believed was unnecessary, so when she got pregnant a third time, she sought a local midwife and signed on for a planned home birth.
Ms. P had a normal pregnancy, and when she went into labor, her mid­wife came to her home to attend the birth. The labor progressed nicely, but after some hours Ms. P was having a hard time keeping fluids down. Since the local hospital was only a couple of blocks away, her midwife suggested that they go over to the emergency room for a short time to get an intra­venous drip (IV) to hydrate her, and then return home.
In the ER, Ms. P told the staff that she was giving birth at home and would like an IV for a short time. She was put in a room and told to wait for a doctor. When the doctor arrived, he asked if she had had a previous C-section, and when she replied yes, the doctor said that he wanted to admit her for an immediate C-section. Ms. P said, "No thank you, I just want the IV, and then I'm going home." The doctor became adamant, telling her that she "must" have a C-section, and said that he would con­sent to give her the IV only if she consented to the C-section. When she refused his attempt to coerce her, the doctor said that if she did not con­sent to the C-section, the hospital would get a court order to do the C-section. The doctor then asked her to wait, and left the room.
As is typical in any hospital, word of what was going on in the ER spread among the staff. After a few minutes, a nurse ducked into the room where Ms. P was waiting and whispered, "If you don't want to have a cesarean sec­tion by force, you better get out of here quick. There is a back entrance to the ER if you go out and turn right."
Ms. P escaped by the back entrance and went home, where she contin­ued her labor without the benefit of an IV. (Note that the hospital never offered Ms. P the option of having a vaginal birth in the hospital with a staff doctor handy.)
Meanwhile, the chief of obstetrics called an emergency meeting with the hospital administrator and told him that the woman's baby was in grave danger of dying due to a ruptured uterus if an emergency C-section was not done quickly. What he said is not true. Studies have shown that Ms. P's C-section meant that she had a slightly higher chance of uterine rupture than a woman who had never had a cesarean, but the risk was still small—espe­cially since labor was not being induced with drugs—and the chance that the baby would die was even smaller. The hospital administrator, however, was not an obstetrician and had no idea whether or not the information was accurate. He called a local judge and told him to rush over, as it was a life-and-death situation. The judge came to the hospital and was told the same story by the obstetrician. He signed a court order for an immediate C-section—by force, if necessary.
Ms. P was continuing her labor at home when there was a knock on the door. She opened the door to the local sheriff, who was a friend of hers and a member of her church. The sheriff said, "I'm really terribly sorry, Ms. P, but I have here a warrant for your arrest." Shocked, Ms. P said, "What on earth for?" The sheriff answered, "I'm terribly sorry. I don't know what the hell is going on. My orders are to take you to the hospital, in handcuffs if necessary."
Against her wishes and the repeated objections of her husband, Ms. P was taken to the hospital, taken to the surgery ward, tied down on an operating table, and given a forced C-section. The story doesn't end here. Ms. P and her husband sued the doctors and the hospital. However, in Florida a judge must decide if a case deserves to go to trial, and another local judge decided that Ms. P's case was not worthy of proceeding, so her case never went to trial—a shocking miscarriage of justice, given the serious violation of Ms. P's basic rights. Since then, Ms. P has had another baby, born vaginally at home with no problems. Needless to say, there was no visit to the hospital during the labor.
It is important that women in this country become aware of the danger to birthing women and join the movement to protect them. Ms. P's fam­ily's wishes were not honored, and her body was invaded against her will. Her human rights were violated.... Treating pregnant women in this manner goes against the Nuremberg Code and the Helsinki Accord, which explicitly state an individual has absolute rights over her or his own body and no medical treat­ment can ever be forced. Cases like this indicate a dangerous trend in U.S. maternity care toward totalitarian control of a woman's reproductive life by doctors.

Samuels TA, Minkoff H, Feldman J, Awonuga A, Wilson TE. “Obstetricians, health attorneys, and court-ordered cesarean sections.” Womens Health Issues. 2007 Mar-Apr;17(2): 107-14.

Veronika E.B. Kolder, Janet Gallagher, and Michael T. Parsons. “Court-Ordered Obstetrical Interventions.” NEJM 316.19 (May 7, 1987): 1192-1196.

Patient’s Rights: issues in Risk Management

Marsden Wagner. Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First (University of California Press: 2006).

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