Breathe, Pant, Blow

The Lamaze method of birth has been known for breathing patterns that help a woman to relax and keep pace with labor contractions. I taught breathing patterns to my students. Some women reported that they used the technique during labor. Others said the hospital procedures interfered with their ability to maintain paced breathing.

When I made the transition from hospital to home birth I learned about the value of a calm supportive environment. The menu on my website has pages under the category of Healthy Birth Practices. On one page I wrote about the benefit of a calm, encouraging environment during labor. 

After thirteen years as a labor/delivery nurse, three cesarean sections and 17 years of teaching Lamaze, I saw birth from a new and holistic perspective when I attended home births. 

While present with women from early labor through birth I was able to observe the natural positions women assumed to assist the progress of labor. My knowledge of comfort measures increased, and I realized the value of adequate nourishment. I also became aware of the spiritual nature of labor and birth.

Sometimes the laboring woman’s husband prayed for her during labor. Sometimes I was asked to pray. It was a blessing to feel free to pray and ask for God’s help.

When I returned to the hospital setting, I found myself between two philosophies of birth. Women in labor need to be nourished and well hydrated. Recently a young woman came to the hospital with a birth plan. We provided the environment for her to walk and change position, as she desired. I monitored the baby intermittently. 

To read more click here. 

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday community is: PACE

Extending Hospitality at Home and With the Church

During WWII children were being evacuated from France and Paris. I just finished reading Until We Find Home, a historical novel by Cathy Gohlke. It is a story of unexpected hospitality.

When Claire arrives at her aunt’s home in Windemere England with five French Jewish children she completely surprises her aunt who has become somewhat of a recluse.

Everyone is challenged in making this household work. England is rationing food and petrol. Three more children, this time from Germany, arrive. The household has cultural differences that all must learn to accept.

It is good to look back at difficult times in history and learn from them. The book has lots of meaning for my daughter (she recommended it to me). She and her husband are involved in foster care. They have adopted children from foster care.

Our situation is different from WWII. But we have needs for hospitality and self sacrifice. The church has a great opportunity to grow in hospitality by participating in or supporting foster care. There is a great need for foster care families in the United States.

Today the Five Minute Friday community is writing about: HOSPITALITY

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Rhythm of Life

The mint in my backyard has flowered; tiny white flowers make a wreath around the stem. I pause to wonder at the delicate loveliness.

The phlox are a bright spot of color. I can see them from my kitchen window.

The elderberries are getting ripe. I will make elderberry juice/syrup from them. 

The flowers are blooming. The vegetables and fruit are ripening. It is the bounty of summer. And then autumn will come. Again.

The rhythm of the seasons provides order to our lives and points to God’s faithfulness. After the great flood God made a promise to Noah.

While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

God is sovereign over the earth and we can trust his promise.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: AGAIN

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Children Are A Gift from God

Kate’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is: FIVE. Once inspired, we write for five minutes (more or less). 

At first I considered writing about my five favorite herbs, or maybe five summer recipes. And then I made another connection. I have three grandchildren that are five years old. Children are a blessing.

Being a mom is the best thing I have done. There have been moments of wonder. There have been hard times. Sometimes I have stumbled. I have learned my need for God’s help and have been blessed by His presence. My adult children are a source of joy and blessing. And now there are grandchildren.

Children are a gift from God. Here are five Bible verses that instruct us. 

 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

Jesus said, “Truly I say unto you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart . . . Make them known to your children and your children’s children. Deuteronomy 4:9

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged. Proverbs 17:6a

Happy Birthday

The Colors of Calendula

Calendula is a bright sunny flower and a herb. It has been called poor man’s saffron. The petals of the flower can be added to rice. The flowers can be dried for tea. I have enjoyed seeing the range of colors of that the flower displays from bright orange to yellow to mixed colors. Just a few of the many varieties are: Pacific Beauty, Pink Sunrise, Lemon Cream

Calendula
Lemon Yellow Calendula
Calendula

You can read more about growing and using calendula flowers in another post that I wrote. Click here.

The photo of the orange calendula was taken by my son a couple years ago. The other flowers are in bloom now.

Sharing this post with Sue’s photo link-up.

An Honest Prayer

They arrive in the middle of the summer . . .

For the past several years the leaves on my cherry tree and raspberry bushes have been devoured by beetles. Only the veins of the leaf remain after Japanese beetles have had their feast.

So I have been devising strategies to rid my yard of these pests. I tried the pheromone traps that brought more beetles to my yard. Then I did walking tours to tip them off the leaves into a bowl of soapy water. I have shaken branches and jumped when one of the beetles fell down my shirt.

This year I sprayed my tree with neem oil and continued the walking tours with my bowl of soapy water. It is working.

In the midst of my annoyance I have to admit that I have a bit of wonder over the Japanese beetle. They have a metallic green/brown color that catches the light.

Japanese Beetle

Sometime they fall in my bowl of water when I tip a leaf—other times they get their wings out in an instant and fly off. The female beetles emit a pheromone that attracts the male beetles. So a few females on the leaves of a plant soon becomes a party.

The beetles have wiry legs (I have felt them on my hand). The female beetle is able to dig down into the earth to deposit her eggs and then climb out. Over a summer she may deposit as many as 60 eggs. The eggs develop into grubs and in one year—sometimes two—they will be an adult beetle. They are unique insects.

Yesterday, while I was with the grandchildren I showed them how to tip the beetles off a raspberry bush into soapy water. The boys were fascinated, the girls said that beetles were gross. We captured 20 beetles.

A little while later I was sitting with the children while they had bedtime snacks. The two year old pointed to the top of my head. I was in the middle of a sentence when my granddaughter said, “Grandma there is a beetle in your hair.” She giggled when I picked it out of my hair and put it into our bowl of soapy water.

Later that I night I was praying with my grandson. I thanked God for the blessings of the day and the interesting beetles. And then these words slipped out of my mouth, “but God I don’t know why you made them.”

After praying we talked a little more about the beetles. Some things in our world are puzzling. The beetles do so much damage to plants. My grandson said, “Maybe they do something good that we don’t know about.” 

Kate’s prompt for the Five Minute Friday community of writers is: MIDDLE

The Midwife Who Traveled to Distant Villages in France

My husband and I spent a week in Upper Michigan, off the grid. During the day I worked on projects around the old farmhouse. In the evenings we shared dinner with my sisters. After dinner I read books. I was shifting between two books. Do you do that? have two or three books going at the same time?

One of the books was about a midwife who was commissioned by the king of France to teach midwifery skills throughout the country. The mortality rate of mothers and infants was high and King Louis XV was concerned about the prospect of a diminishing population.

Nina Gelbart wrote the book, The King’s Midwife: A History and Mystery of Madame du Coudray. The book has a picture of “the machine” Madame du Coudray used to demonstrate the skillful assistance of birth. Madame du Coudray devised a model of a female pelvis from cloth and wicker, along with a model of a baby. She also wrote a book of instructions that was published.

The midwife was commissioned to travel to distant villages with her assistants. She spent weeks at a time holding classes, demonstrating the movements of birth, watching the students work with her “machine”. 

The common problems of human nature peeps out throughout the pages. Madame du Coudray taught surgeons and doctors—but some felt it was beneath them to learn from a midwife. Matrons that had been the village midwife for years felt they needed no further help. Catholic priests felt that any young woman who was not a member of the Catholic church should not be certified as a midwife—she wouldn’t be able to baptize the infant if its life was in danger.

Madame du Coudray was skillful in relating to women and men. She was able to hold doctors and surgeons in respect, while teaching midwifery skills. She kept her focus on saving the lives of women and children. It is a testament to her abilities that she held classes all across France for more than thirty years (1751 -1783)

The writing prompt for today’s Five Minute Friday is: DISTANT

What Can We Learn from the Tragic Story of Dr. Semmelweis?

Numerous parents have reported that a child of theirs experienced digestive disturbance and a regression in behavior following the MMR vaccine. This observation made by parents has been discarded because “correlation is not causation”. Yet consistent observations of loving parents should give the medical field pause and a reason to do deeper study.

In 1846 Ignaz Semmelweis was an intern at Vienna General Hospital. He noticed that the death rate of women from childbirth fever was 10 times greater if they were under the care of a doctor, instead of a midwife. The doctors had a 15% mortality rate compared to the midwives’ 1.5% mortality rate. [DeLee p. 382] The death from childbirth fever seemed to correlate with the type of practitioner.

Dr. Semmelweis eventually became the obstetrician in charge of all the autopsies done on women who has succumbed to childbirth fever at Vienna General Hospital. He saw a connection between doctors performing autopsies in the morning and then managing the care of women in labor. The doctors and medical students performed internal exams on laboring women with the same hands that had dissected a body for an autopsy.

Dr. Semmelweis wrote letters and gave lectures on the importance of hand washing. This was taking place before bacteria were discovered, before germ theory was understood. He knew there was a connection between hands that had touched dead bodies and the development of childbirth fever (also known as puerperal fever). But few believed him. In fact he was ridiculed and scorned by many in the medical profession. Women continued to die.

According to an account in Sherwin Nuland’s book, The Doctor’s Plague, young women coming to Vienna General Hospital were aware of the mortality of women in labor whose care was directed by doctors. They begged to have midwife care. They saw a correlation. They knew they had a better chance for surviving childbirth with the midwives.

In the book, Genius Belabored: Childbirth Fever and the Tragic Life of Ignaz Semmelweis, Theodore Obenchain writes: It seems incredible that so many seemingly intelligent people of medicine could have been so grievously wrong for so many decades.

Ever since the MMR vaccine became part of the immunization schedule in 1979, parents have observed the side effects of the MMR vaccine. Not every child, but enough children to raise a red flag. (see my story)  

The observations by the parents are not off the wall. In fact the studies done on 834 children leading up to the licensing of the MMR vaccine showed gastrointestinal symptoms in a significant percentage of the children. But these symptoms were only followed for 42 days, despite some children continuing to have symptoms.

When parents brought their observations to Dr. Andrew Wakefield, he felt that further study was  needed. See the video of Dr. Wakefield (and the argument against him) that took place on Australian 60 Minutes. Click here.

The CDC did do a study with the purpose of proving that there was no link between the MMR and autism. Whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson, who participated in the study states that pertinent data was destroyed.

In the past five years research on the microbiome has led to discovery of a connection between the gut and the immune system. What impact does the MMR have on the gut (gastro-intestines)? Is there a connection to the regressive behavior that some children experience?

It scares me when I consider the number of children that have chronic illnesses, the number of children on the autism spectrum. Parents will continue to pursue answers. The government and the medical field must look deeper at the concerns parents are raising.

DeLee, Joseph B. M.D., Obstetrics for Nurses, Philadelphia; W.B. Saunders Co. 1927

Nuland, Sherwin B. M.D., The Doctor’s Plague: Germs, Childbirth Fever and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis

Obenchain, Theodore M.D., Genius Belabored: Childbirth Fever and the Tragic Life of Ignaz Semmelweis, Tuscaloosa; The University of Alabama Press, 2016

Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration. Reference Nos 76-316, 77-303, 77-304

The Best Blueberry Pie

Blueberries are appearing in the grocery store. They are from the southern states–it will still be a while before the Michigan berries are ripe. Even though they are not from Michigan the blueberries are lovely, and so I made a family favorite pie.

Pastry:

1 cup flour

1/8 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter (5 +1/3 Tblsp.)

1 Tblsp. + 1 tsp. vinegar

Cold water

Mix flour and salt. (I sometimes will use 1/4 cup rice flour and 3/4 cup unbleached white flour to reduce the amount of gluten.) Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Mix vinegar in 1/2 cup of cold water. Add water with vinegar a tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork. You want the dough to just hold together. Roll out and line a 9″pie dish. Preheat oven to 375°.

Filling

4 + 1/2 cups blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon minute tapioca

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup honey

Mix the blueberries, sugar, tapioca and lemon juice. Pour into pastry lined pie dish. Drizzle the honey over the berries. Then prepare topping.

Topping:

¾ cup flour

1/8 tsp. salt

¼ cup brown sugar

5 + 1/2 Tablespoons butter

Mix flour, salt and brown sugar. (Rice flour works well in this topping.) Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle this over the pie. Bake at 375° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned and berries are beginning to bubble.

Blueberry Pie

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Mulling Over a Verse from Proverbs on the 4th of July

The Scripture of the Day (from I-Bible) is: Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

I mulled over this verse as I spent time in the garden, thinking about the 4th of July. A history book mentioned that one of the founding fathers of our country, Patrick Henry, had made reference to this verse. 

Patrick Henry is known for his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. He also wrote the following message:

“Whether this [the American Revolution] will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise they will be great and happy. If they are of contrary character, they will be miserable.

Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation (Proverbs 14:34].

Reader!—whoever thou art, remember this!—and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others. P.Henry.”*

Lately much attention has been given to the sins of our nation. It is part of our history. I have thought about the history recorded in the Bible. The sins of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Jacob, King David are all recorded. 

The Bible doesn’t erase the bad stuff. We live in a broken world and we all sin. But the Bible doesn’t stop there—doesn’t stay mired in the sins. Instead we are directed to confess sin, repent and then go forward with forgiveness.

Jesus came to be a sacrifice for our sins so that we could pursue righteousness. As we reflect on the birth of our nation, we can each give thanks for our blessings, acknowledge our sins, repent and pursue righteousness . Patrick Henry had wise words for us.

May you have joy and peace this holiday weekend! 

* Patrick Henry, Patrick Henry life, Correspondence and Speeches, ed. William Wirt Henry (New York: Charles  Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. I. pp. 81-82.

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