My Navelgazing Midwife Goodbye

Weaning is complete.

I began my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page (NgM FB Page) in 2009 and will be closing the door on it Monday, March 13, 2017.

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I took this photo and used it for 10 years on my business card and in correspondence. One of my favorite clients, Silvia Frank, was killed by her husband after she left him for Domestic Violence. Her 5 daughters are amazing.

I became the Navelgazing Midwife (NgM) right around 2003 or so. The first blog I had was on Blogger, but when they snatched pages from it and censored me because I had nude women (birthing and breastfeeding!), I moved to Squarespace after making sure they would not be censoring.

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One of the favorite photographs I’ve ever taken. Jenna was nearing the end of her labor and we watched, mesmerized, as her uterus crested outside the water during contractions, then her belly sinking completely under the water after the wave. This picture was the header for my Navelgazing Midwife Blog for several years.

My first post on the Navelgazing Midwife Blog was July 3, 2004 and the last post I put there was July 31, 2016, directing folks to my new blog, the Navelgazing Writer (NgW). I’ve debated closing the NgM blog, but know there are still wondrous birth stories there and some midwifery history we would be good to remember as time passes.

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Katie birthing Uma while her mother supports and loves her. Katie’s mom has passed; looking at this, my heart soars. I took this photo.

My NgM FB Page holds much history as well, including the moment-by-moment births of my grandbabies Gabriella and Preston… and included the postpartum hemorrhage that nearly killed Meghann 36 hours after Preston’s birth. The news of my angel grandbaby Eliott is also enclosed within these pages. My newest granddaughter Alexandra’s early cesarean birth was announced there a mere 3 months ago.

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Gabriella, 5 – Preston, 2.5 – Alexandra, 1 month (my grandbabies!)

If you’re reading this on the NgM FB Page, you already know I have been weaning for a while. I left birth completely 2.5 years ago (except for my grandbabies), having left midwifery 5 years before that. News has gradually lessened; my commentary barely audible anymore.

I’ve turned to chronicling my life for my kids and their kids, sharing my knowledge of and inclusion in the early LGBT communities in Orlando, Florida, Frankfurt, Germany & San Diego, California. I have barely begun to share the story of my 2+ decade-long relationship with Zack (previously known as Sarah) and the impact of his transitioning on our lives.

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Zack (before his transition) nursing his son and my daughter Aimee. We co-nursed for 2.5 years, often saying all families should have 4 lactating breasts in the home. I took this picture, circa 1986.

Interspersed will have to be birthy stories… I just wrote 2 about the immigrant populations I worked with in San Diego and El Paso, Texas. Birth has been an integral part of my life since January 1983… I could not write my autobiography without including it. I just have a different viewpoint now that I am above and far away from the stories that once affected every aspect of my spirit, emotions, relationships and friendships.

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Shayla and her then-husband. Shayla had one of the most horrific hospital births I attended in 32 years. Exhibit A demonstrating blatant racism in maternity care.

I’ve had a sort of hidden life for a long time… one of intense sexuality and BDSM. I was a lifestyle submissive with my former partner Zack and am writing about these things as well.

My life since puberty has been colored with mental illness. Bipolar Disorder and Depression and are well-represented in the NgW blog. Much more to come as the blog is still fairly new.

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I was addicted to opiates for 8 years, it sliding through my sister’s dying of an accidental overdose on opiates, Fentanyl being the actual cause of her death. I am now 2.5 years clean and share that story in my new blog as well.

My body, at almost 56-years old, is tired, disabled and in a lot of pain; Mindfulness Meditation and 800 mg. ibuprofen are my pain relief. I struggle with a plethora of issues, most fat-related. It is crucial for me to write about my life as a fat woman, someone who’s tried a hundred times to not be fat anymore, but still fat after trying it all. My feet have arthritis and keep breaking just from walking. I have osteoporosis (from the gastric bypass). My diabetes, while okay at the moment with a HgbA1c of 5.9, that is with 2 insulins on board.

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Since leaving birth, I’ve become a sex worker. I’m not writing a lot about it at the moment, but it colors my life tremendously. Amazingly, all the years of birth work and therapy have armed me adequately for caring for the men, women and transfolks I work with every single day. There is not one day when my birth experiences do not figure prominently in the interactions with others.

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Because of the state of the United States right now, I explored different topics about which to write, but quickly saw that, not only did some topics affect my mental state, but a zillion different ones joined the list every day. I needed to focus my attention and have chosen Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press as my main demonstration issues against 45.

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Illustrator, Eric Drooker

It’s been an interesting shift in my thought process, from birth to politics. I’m observing my Self intently, monitoring my emotions, mental state, my body’s physical responses and lastly, what those around me have to say about what I’ve written. The NgW Blog is still really small, very few readers with each post, but it took about 2 years for the NgM Blog to pick up steam, so I’m not sweating it. Also, I really am writing for myself, giving flight to my thoughts and experiences, and if others find what I write helpful or creates a visceral response, all the better.

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There were only a couple of posts in the NgM Blog that were written with the reader in mind and whenever I did that, I regretted it. Of all the posts, only one was removed and edited because of the backlash I got from my licensing organization. (I cannot tell you how freeing it is to be completely unrestrained now, writing writing writing without someone threatening my livelihood. There really are nasty, ugly parts to midwifery politics in the US.)

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I know many of you reading have followed me for a long time. I cannot thank you enough for considering my views and listening to my thoughts, even when you disagreed with me. Thank you for challenging me, making me think… allowing me to shift and change and grow. I am not the same woman who created the nom de plume “Navelgazing Midwife,” but you are not the same either. Isn’t it amazing to witness our own growth and transformations?

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Endless gratitude to all of you and may your lives and the lives of those around you be filled with boundless love and light. You will never be forgotten.

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16 thoughts on “My Navelgazing Midwife Goodbye

  1. It’s always a pleasure to read author, well written prose like yours. I have only a marginal interest in your non birth related writing themes but may follow as you are such a pleasure to read. Kelly V, CNM

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    1. I know, I am really weird and pretty scattered as a non-birthy person! Thank you for the very kind words and am so glad you enjoy my writing. It will be interesting to see what actually becomes of the NgW blog, to see if it finds more focus over time. Still such a nice thing to say about my writing, especially birth writing.

      And you KNOW how much I love my CNM-friends! Thank you for being there for our clients. You’re awesome.

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    1. Rachel, thank you so very much! I did seem to fall into a hole writing for awhile, that’s for sure. I’ve learned that when my mental illness is in the forefront, it is quite the challenge to write. I’m determined to write through the pain now. Glad to see you!

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    1. My wonderful JillFriend… I love calling YOU friend as well! It’s special for sure when I *really* know you in real life. I can feel your hugs… and love that! Thank you for following me all over the Internet. Tenacity!

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  2. I just signed up for your blog! Don’t want to lose contact with you, Barb. We share some wonderful memories….and painful ones, too. I share your antipathy for 45!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, 45 in common? I am rather stunned! Thrilled, but stunned, my midwest friend. I don’t want to lose contact with you either, my beloved JudyFriend. We *are* interwoven. I remember. I will always remember.

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  3. Your words and stories kept me from going off the doula deep end, so to speak, and contributed to me being the well rounded, non judgemental doula I am today. I found your blog not long after you started, and it kept me sane, being a doula who chose a very different route from most. I’m quite excited to read your new blog. From the bottom of my heart-thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Sarah!!! Wow. My heart expanded like the Grinch’s, feeling your kindness and belief in me. I am so glad I was able to stand with you as you changed your route, not having/allowing folks to taunt you, make fun of you or nudge you out of doula work. You are correct! There IS a place for all of us here. I’m happy to drag you along with the others as I find my niche in the non-birth world. *nervously reaching out a hand* Stay with me?

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  4. Congratulations on turning a symbolic page on this chapter of your life. I’ve enjoyed your writing for many years. Your words ushered me through the pregnancy and birth of my daughter. And your clear-headed, insightful disagreements with the more zealous adherents to the natural birth community were invaluable in sparking me to look deeper and make smart choices for mine and my (future) children’s health. You’re also really damned funny. Can’t wait to see where the future takes you!

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    1. Linette! Wow! Thank you so much for coming along for this new, bumpy, ride! You made me laugh about the funny stuff. I think I am FAR more hilarious now. Birth tends to be a tad serious, necessarily so. I am so glad I was able to walk with you as you found your path to mindful parenting… choices… argh! So freakin’ many! But I am sure you are doing a fantastic job at it. I look forward to getting to know you better. *gentle hugs*

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  5. I’ve been following you for more than a decade now. While I’m sad to see NgM go, I have HUGE respect for your recognition of your need to move on to these newer chapters in your life. I’ll follow you as long as you write, because I love your writing, I love the things you write about, and, most of all, I love you. ❤

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  6. You have an URGE to write and do well at whatever the topic. Ha ha, I remember your writing at Disney…or should I say.. “I say it to myself” was your writings. Keep it up. Love you for a long long time.

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  7. I think of you every year on my son’s birthday and how present you were for his birth, especially when I tried to check out. I love you so much for that, and carry you in my mother-heart and know that I always will. Your writing is amazing; I hope you will continue to contribute to our collective souls.

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    1. Oh my, Chris!!! What a delightful surprise to see you here!!! *squealing with delight!* I can remember your birth as if it was yesterday. I am thrilled to see you. Thank you for your loving, wonderful words. Thank you. I love you, too!

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