Saturday, April 20, 2024

Prague & lube connoisseurs

Kristine and I arrived in Prague! We left our apartment in Budapest at 6:30 am and I finally got settled into my apartment here by around 4:30 pm. So a long travel day even though the actual flight time wasn't that far.

Kristine is in the Old Town and I'm not too far away in the New Town. I have a great setup here with double desks and 3 large monitors.

I can feel the streetcars rumbling past; it's a subtle, low vibration.

It's very cold here, colder than winters in Nice ever get. Brrrr! The workshop organizer lent me a warmer jacket. That should allow me to have a good wander all over town tomorrow...because both Kristine and I have the day off! Woohoo!

I think you will appreciate this hilarious messenger thread between me, Kristine, and David. Finding good lube is super important because the birth simulators don't work well with certain brands. Back in the US, we only buy one brand (Surgilube) after much trial and error. However, that doesn't exist in the EU. We're now connoisseurs and lube snobs 🙂

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Friday, April 19, 2024

Birthday in Budapest

I had the day free today--and I needed it!

Yesterday was an intense teaching day that started at 3 am (not on purpose!!) and ended close to 10 pm. I was exhuasted and in pain and so happy to get back home.

But I love teaching, too. I just wish it weren't so taxing.

We had another fantastic group and I was super excited that Agnes Gereb attended yesterday's training. And the night before yesterday, I got a message from Betty-Anne Daviss, saying, "Hey, I happen to be in Budapest. Could I come to your training?" I said, "yes, please!" So she and Dr. Bisits helped participate and gave short impromptu lectures when we broke into small groups.

We had people from Hungary, Italy, and the USA yesterday, plus of course Canada and Australia!

A group of us went out to dinner, including most of the instructors and organizers. I had a traditional beef stew and dumplings with sheep cheese. Yum.

I finally had a good night's sleep after 4 nights in a row of very bad sleep. I still woke up at 3:30 am but at least got back to sleep this time.

And...since today is my was an extra special day! I visited the synagogue across the street and then had some meetings. 

After lunch, I walked all around the other side of Budapest (the Buda side). I crossed the Liberty Bridge (Szabadság hĂ­d) and walked up to the Citadella. The very top is closed for renovations but there still some other spots with a lovely view of the city and the Danube river. 

I kept walking down and then up again to the huge Buda Castle complex. Inside are multiple palaces, museums, churches, stables, much that I probably only saw a tiny fraction! I wasn't too keen on walking inside museums so I just enjoyed seeing the outside of most of the things.

A visit to Budapest wouldn't be complete without visiting the Semmelweis museum (of which there are more than one!). This one had a little bit about Semmelweis but it was mostly a museum of medical instruments. I took lots of pictures of obstetrial forceps and gory stuff for the kids to see and go "ewwww!"

I crossed back to the Pest side on the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, then walked along the river until I got closer to the apartment.

I passed so many museums today! Maybe I will go inside another day.

The rest of the day was a bit less interesting--catching up on a mass of breech-related tasks.

I was able to talk with Eric and then again with most of the kids later in the day.

We have an early flight tomorrow to Prague.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Budapest training, day 1

Day 1 of 3 is done! Kristine flew in late last night from doing a full day of training in Vienna, then was up about 6 hours later to teach all day today with me & Dr. Bisits.

Today's participants were from Hungary, Italy, and Georgia (the country, not the state!). I'm continually impressed by how well-prepared and engaged our European students are. Unlike our US, NZ, and Australia trainings, which are majority midwives and minority physicians, it's the other way around here. It leads to a different set of questions and perspectives, which is always very interesting.

I'm completely exhuasted and my shoulder hurts...I'm trying to be really gentle and using the other wise, but it still strains the hurt side. I will definitely be visiting a kiné (physical therapist) when I get home.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

ECVs and Breech Whisperers

I woke up early (not on purpose! what is going on?!). I was dreaming about my alarm not going off on time and I dreamed I woke up and checked the time and I was suuuuper late...and then I woke up from that dream to check what time it was. Only 5 am!

My day started early with a ride from a lovely, enthusiastic OB who was the first to bring upright breech to Hungary several years ago. He attends vaginal breech births, water births, etc. Our next stop was to pick up Andrew Bisits, aka the "Breech Whisperer," who is visiting all the way from Australia and who will be co-teaching with us.

We drove out to an old Cold War era hospital outside Budapest, built in the 1960s during the worry that the Cold War would become hot and that Budapest would be attacked. This hospital was strategically placed far from the city center (aka, a bit in the middle of nowhere!). There was definitely nothing very warm about this cold war hospital in the main areas.

But the obstetrics department is doing some amazing work, despite the challenges of being a public hospital that is underfunded and understaffed. This is the only hospital in Hungary to openly offer and support vaginal breech birth. They had a team of 7 or 8 OBs come to Wroclaw last year for training. Now they support primip or multip frank breeches and really want to also support complete/incomplete...they're working on their colleague's fears because breech itself is already so radical!

Andrew was invited to teach the staff and some visiting physicians from the Semmelweis clinic how to do ECV. He has a unique one-handed technique and they were keen to learn. They had two ECVs, one a primip and one a G3, both frank breech. He did the first one and talked one of the visiting doctors through the second one, both successful and quite quick.

We then got a tour of the maternity department. It has 4 birth rooms, each with a big tub and lovely artwork and birth affirmations. They say things like "My body is opening like a flower" or "When I think I cannot do it anymore, it means I am very close to meeting my baby" or "I can do this." One of the doctors told me that this artwork is very radical in Hungary.

One of the rooms had a huge birth swing contraption, which apparently has only been used once because the mothers find it both unstable and uncomfortable. Apparently the fathers use it a lot, though!

I enjoyed having some time in the car with Andrew--I was able to ask him about what's going on in Australia and ideas for revising his BABE course. He thinks the future of vaginal breech birth in Australia should be midwife-led. The OBs just don't want to learn it or do it, while midwives are generally very keen and very enthusiastic. He thinks midwives should lead breech services and have the OBs as backup for in-labor C-sections. (My paraphrase, but I think I have the gist of it!)

I came home, cooked myself lunch, and worked on video editing. And then I crashed for a bit when I took a break to read. I got through just a few pages and then zzzzz...

After an early dinner, also at home, I decided I had to get outside even though I didn't really feel like it. It was cold today, 7 C, which is about as cold as Nice ever gets. I put on all of the layers I had and wished I also had gloves!

I walked to the St. Stephen's Basilica and then to the Parliament building, coming home along the Danube until the walking path ended. Then back to the Basilica and home.

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Monday, April 15, 2024

Airport catch-up

I'm in the airport awaiting my flights to Warsaw and then Budapest! So here's some catching up.

Yesterday was an "off" day while Kristine was teaching her Breech & Twins Master Class. I slept in until almost 8 am, which felt amazing. On teaching days we have to be up early, plus I generally wake up even earlier without wanting to.

I went for a nice run along the river, circling around the old town.

I worked on the book until lunchtime, when I went down to eat with the group. I decided to bring my computer with me for the afternoon and listen in on the last part of the Master Class as well as do more video editing.

When the class was done, I walked to a nearby grocery store and bought a salad and beets, then went for nice walk through the old town and to the river. I sat on a bench and ate dinner and read a book. Very nice way to end the day!

ps, don't laugh at me, my running pace is not that fast! But at least I'm running.

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Saturday, April 13, 2024


We arrived yesterday afternoon in Wroclaw, Poland. By time we unpacked, checked out the conference rooms, got ready for teaching, ate dinner, etc, I didn't have much time for anything else! I also got my US taxes sent off, which was no small feat.

However, I did prioritize some time yesterday to take a nice 5 km walk around the Old Town.

Yesterday's dinner was mushroom pierogi and then a cutlet of pork with potato dumplings, beets, and creamy pickles. Yum!!

Today's dinner was a salad and beets from a local grocery store. I was too exhausted to want to go to a restaurant. I took the food back to the hotel garden and enjoyed my meal outdoors.

We had a full day of teaching a sold-out group, mostly OBs and a few midwives and midwifery students. They were an amazing group, like those in Berlin. They were so well-prepared and had great questions. I found myself saying, "That's a very good question! I will need to look that up or think about it more because I've never seen an answer in the literature."

I asked the morning group of attendees to help "push" the baby under my direction. It was very helpful to give my shoulder a break. I did a bit more of the pushing in the afternoon, but carefully.

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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Too much pushing!

I injured my shoulder yesterday while pushing out a baby 1 million times (it felt like that, at least!). I can move it a bit today but it's very painful and is making weird noises.

While Kristine was teaching her Master Class, I took a trip on foot to a local home improvement store, Bauhaus. I needed to buy her a replacement ratchet & strap. I got all prepared to explain what I needeed in German, and also to explain that I didn't speak German because I was American and living in France. I even practiced a bit on the way there!

I found the store, found the ratchet, went to the checkout, and only needed to say "Hello" and "thank you" and "goodbye." So much for all of my preparations!

I spent the rest of the day sitting on the sofa...doing taxes! Yes, I am in Berlin and and didn't see anything of Berlin except the hospital and the home improvement store. That is my life.
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Tuesday, April 09, 2024


It's been just a teeny, tiny bit busy with my life and now I'm in Berlin and did I mention I just finished a full day of teaching?

Kristine and I taught at a gorgeous old hospital complex. I walked inside and my jaw dropped. This is the first hospital I've ever been to where it truly felt like a healing space as soon as I entered. The entire center of the complex is a huge park/garden, surrounded by ivy-covered brick buildings.

We had an easy day with a small group and two instructors. Tomorrow is the opposite with a sold-out crowd. Then Kristine teaches her Master Class on the following day.
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Saturday, April 06, 2024

Eric was gone all day at 2 different soccer events: Inga's all-day tournament and in the middle of the day, Ivy's game. Zari also had a game that they won 10-1 or 10-0 before the other team forfeited in the 2nd half due to someone getting badly injured. Zari scored a goal! Inga scored 2 goals today (out of 5 total) and I can't remember about Ivy's without asking Eric.

Anyway it was just me and Dio for a while at home. He went downstairs to the barber and got a much-needed haircut. I worked on the book and, besides editing many chapters, managed to design the dust jacket from start to finish.

We're looking forward to a low-key day tomorrow. We'll proably go to the chateau park in the afternoon but nothing is scheduled.

Zari is working on a spoof ad for her English class. This is one tiny little excerpt from a much longer, super hilarious ad for a company that makes genetically modified babies.

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Friday, April 05, 2024

I have a headache nearing migraine levels behind my right eye...ugh...

I went running, then ran errands, worked on the book a whole bunch, put up the old iron hinges and the door knocker, worked on the book some more, made dinner, worked on the book some more.

The outside of the door has the lion's head door knocker. The inside has these huge, heavy old hinges that we repurposed. It's the best we could do to make the door look like it dates from 500-600+ years ago...without actually going full-on historic reproduction. We just don't have the tools, time, or materials to hand-hew planks from old-growth timber. Yeah. So this is our compromise. Not bad for a repurposed hardwood countertop!

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