Placenta Bowl, a family tradition

Lightened photo shows detail on the underside of the bowl.

Lightened photo shows detail on the underside of the bowl.

Copyright Gloria Lemay 2014

The birth of a baby is a time to really consider what family traditions should be kept and what family traditions should be discarded. It can be a time to get creative and design rituals that truly nourish the heart. This wooden placenta bowl was commissioned by a family and carved by a B.C. artist. It is now being used at the second generation of homeborn babies in the family and will be passed on for years to come.

Shared with the kind permission of the family.

Behold the Lilies of the Field

This is something that I posted to Facebook for a 9 day period while I enjoyed this bouquet and thought about how birthing women bloom when the time is right. I promised a long time ago to make the photos into a blog post, so here it is. Gloria

A bouquet of tightly closed lilies was purchased in the morning. The birth attendant left them alone for the day. No checks, no blood pressures, no heart tones were taken. One over-achiever dilated to fully with no coaching or support. A few of the others are dilated a fingertip (failure to progress after 12 hours), some are “unfavorable” and may never dilate. They certainly aren’t following the normal curve. We’ll wring our hands and wait to see how things look in the morning. 🙂

First day, one fully dilated

First day, one fully dilated

DAY 2 Two more have gone into the blooming process and have now dilated to 5 cms. Some signs of early ripening and an improved Bishop’s score for some of the others.

Day 2, slight progress

Day 2, slight progress

DAY 3 Stragglers and over achievers, all hanging out together.

Each in her own time

Each in her own time

DAY 4 I noticed on this day that the water level in the vase had gone down. . these flowers know how to self-hydrate

Day 4 of the blooming process

Day 4 of the blooming process

DAY 5 There are 5 closed buds amongst all the exuberant fully opened flowers. They stand straight and unconcerned, knowing the Universe will open them when the time is right.

There are 5 closed buds

There are 5 closed buds

Only two remain undilated. The other ones that were closed yesterday are 5 cms, 3 cms, and fully dilated.

 Only two remain undilated.

Only two remain undilated.

DAY 7 Another one opened overnight, only one left to dilate. The very first one that opened immediately on Day 1 is at the bottom of the bouquet and she’s looking a bit depressed now.
It was all I could do to hold myself back from interfering. . . I wanted to trim the stems, add clear cold water, fluff them up, trim off the stamens. Every time I went to do it, I could hear the women on Facebook, who were following the daily progress reports, shouting “Hands off!”

DAY 8 One lily remains closed but there is an almost imperceptible change going on if you compare to yesterday’s photo.

One lily remains closed

One lily remains closed

DAY 9 WooHoooo! The very last one is dilated to 7 cms! Can you see the last one at the very top of the bouquet?

They've all dilated!

They’ve all dilated!

She’s opening up in her own way and her own time. Every one of them knew when, how and with whom to do it.
Yes, they had an unassisted birth . . .even though they were cut off from their roots and photographed with a flash camera every day. . . . despite that, they dilated without fuss, muss or shenanigans.


1984: Midwifery in Vancouver BC

Midwife Gail circa 1984

Midwife Gail circa 1984

I saw this photo on Flickr by photographer, Mark Laforet. His description is:

“This is part of a series I took of Midwife Gail in her home office published in a book called: “Midwifery is Catching”.”

I wanted to preserve it on my blog because it reminds me of those years when we were young and the work of midwifery was just emerging. Gloria


Dark spot below the finger is the baby's wet hair

Baby's dark, wet hair is visible as the uterus has been opened

A cesarean is major abdominal surgery. One obstetrician made the following observation about the risk: of this operation:

“’If one went to the extreme of giving the patient the full details of mortality and morbidity related to cesarean section, most of them would get
up and go out and have their baby under a tree,’ [Dr. McDonald] said.”
[Neel J. Medicolegal pressure, MDs’ lack of patience cited in cesarean
‘epidemic.’ Ob.Gyn. News Vol 22 No 10]

Note From Gloria: Sept 2012, I had to change the photo on this post because the original photo was removed from Flickr. Many of the comments are about the original photo so this may not jive with the above photo. Sorry for the confusion.

Poetic words of courage

Some people have a gift for putting words together in amazing ways–they are called Poets, of course.  I’m going to see the new film about South Africa and was curious to find the title poem for the film.  Upon reading it, I was thinking about all the courageous birthing women I have known and all the midwives who persist against all odds to make things better for families.


Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

By William Ernest Henley

I think that what William Ernest Henley says so well is that being a self made (wo)man is a matter of declaration and grace.  No matter what happens, we can rise to meet the challenge and get to the other side.  I am the mistress of my fate:  the champion of my soul.