Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 Myths about Doulas

I came across this great article on doulas: Why hire a doula- 5 myths debunked.
Full of great information about what a doula does and does not do. For example, a doula does not interfere with the bond between you and your partner. She does facilitate his involvement. A doula can not "save" you from a high-intervention doctor or hospital. She can encourage you to advocate for yourself and to have important conversations with your care-provider before you are in labor. I recommend you read the whole article. And then hire me of course :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Y

Today is Y's 5th birthday! It's pretty crazy that I have a five year old. Makes me feel old or at least like a grown-up :)
He had a birthday party at school two weeks ago and we got him a guitar for his birthday, which he loves.
My children's birthdays are always reflective days for me, especially Y who was born with an extra chromosome and whose day of birth was quite emotional for both my husband and me.
But I won't dwell on that now. Instead I'll leave you with some pictures of my birthday boy! I know I'm biased, but isn't he the cutest thing?

Birthday party at school

Enjoying his new guitar

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Support the Midwifery Modernization Act

I haven't really blogged about this but there has been a lot going on in NYC in the midwifery field. The closing of St Vincent's Hospital a few months ago was a big blow to the natural childbirth community as it was the hospital most supportive of intervention-free birth. Additionally, it was the back up hospital for the NYC homebirth midwives. Any women who had to be transferred were usually sent to St Vincent's because the staff had a good relationship with the homebirth midwives.
In New York State, midwives are not allowed to practice without a WPA- written practice agreement that is signed by an Obstetrician. This is a document stating that the midwife has a relationship with this specific doctor, and that the doctor takes responsibility for the midwife's patients if complications arise. The midwives who attend homebirths had WPAs with the doctors at St Vincents. When the hospital closed, the homebirth midwives lost their WPAs. No other doctors in other hospitals were willing to sign a WPA for them, so for the past few months the midwives have essentially being practicing illegally. Nothing has changed about these midwives' skills in delivering babies, they are just missing a form.
Over the past few months, doulas, birth advocates and midwives have been lobbying hard for the Midwifery Modernization Act (MMA) which would give certified midwives the ability to practice without a WPA. It has gone through several rounds and revisions and will hopefully be brought to a vote on Monday in the New York State Assembly.
This is exciting news. While home birth is definitely not for everyone, it should be a legal option for the women who want it. Even for midwives practicing in hospitals, this act would give them more independece and legitimacy as valued providers of care for women.
I am curious to see what will happen on Monday- for more information and to find out how you can support the bill, check out Free Our Midwives.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crazy story

Last night, I had to go to a wedding in Jersey. We do not own a car so I was reserved a zipcar like I usually do. Two weeks ago a distant relative of the bride called and asked if he and his wife could have a ride. I said yes, even though I was kind of hesitant. I am very OCD about time and don't like to wait for other people. I was also kind of looking forward to having quiet time in the car on the way rather than making conversation with people I don't know. But they needed a ride and I had space, so I said yes.
As we were leaving the parking garage, the woman I was driving mentioned that she was a special education teacher and the kids in her class had graduated today. I always perk up when someone mentions special education or special needs so I asked her where she teaches. She said "PS 199"- the school Y is going to next year. I could not believe it. I told her that my son is going there next year and asked if she knew who the kindergarten teacher is going to be. She said that she most probably will be.
I was totally floored. I mean really, what are the chances of that happening? She seems really nice and it would be wonderful for him to have an observant Jewish teacher who know all about kosher and other issues.
I was so glad that I decided to do the "right" thing and give this couple a ride. I guess no good deed goes unrewarded. It turns out, she may not be teaching the class because the school is trying to force her into early retirement. Either way, it was just a little reminder that G'd is watching out for us, which is always nice.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Once a VBAC, always a VBAC?

Recently, I finally had my long overdue annual exam at my Ob-gyn. Always a "fun" experience as I am sure many will agree.
I took this opportunity to ask my doctor if I am still considered a VBAC and therefor more high-risk, even after already having 2 successful VBACs. I find it frustrating to be limited in my choices. For example, most Birthing Centers will not accept VBACs. Some doctors (not mine, thank goodness, although one of his partners does) insist on continuous monitoring for VBACs. This even though the evidence shows that there is no difference in outcomes between intermittent and continuous monitoring.
In case you are wondering, I am not pregnant, but as a doula, I can't help thinking about these things a lot, especially because I discuss them frequently with my clients.
My doctor's answer was pretty much "yes and no." On the one hand, my two successful VBACS clearly prove that I can give birth vaginally and that I should have no problem doing so in the future. On the other hand, a uterine scar is still a uterine scar and is something that needs to be taken into account. That may mean no birth center birth but that does not mean that I cannot have a low intervention, normal childbirth experience elsewhere. I just need to advocate for myself, choose the right care provider and make it happen.
I was thinking that very few people have a picture perfect pregnancy. Someone may have high blood pressure, gestational diabetes or some other minor kink. Even if they do not, something may come up unexpectedly in labor. Like my previous cesarean, these issues should obviously be taken into account but they do not need to totally dictate a woman's experience. Basically, you make the accomodations you need to make, and you move on. Changing one thing does not mean having to change everything.
It was an interesting thought. Don't think about the things you can not have, rather work with what you do have. And that is usually plenty.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Girl's Morning Out

This morning A. was supposed to meet a friend in the park. Unfortunately there was some miscommunication with her friend's babysitter and they were not there. So we decided to make a morning out of it and spend some time together. We went for an early lunch and then for manicures! I am the first to say that little girls should not have their nails painted, they have the rest of their life for that. But I thought it would be a special treat for her. We chose a very mellow pink and she loved the whole experience. She was proudly showing everyone her nails for the rest of the day. I made sure to emphasize that this was a one time thing and not a regular occurence.
Our last stop was Payless, where A helped me pick a new bag, since the strap on my old one had broken. In the store she decided that she absolutely HAD to have a pair of fipflops. I was highly skeptical, but she insisted so we settled on a pair of 8 dollar Dora flip flops. When we went to run another errand later in the afternoon it was clear that she cannot walk in these shoes AT ALL. Oh well. Maybe they can be her playshoes for the house.
It was nice spending time one-on-one with A. My husband and I are always reflecting on how BIG these kids are getting. They have personalities, likes and dislikes and they will tell it to you straight. But just when you think they are all grown up, they will go ahead and have a tantrum with the requisite kicking and screaming. That's when you remember that she is not even 4 yet and that my parenting job is far from over :)
Have a wonderful shabbos

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Look

Blogger has some new backgrounds- what do you think? I think it's happy and makes me think of sun and summer. I'm going to try it for a bit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Throwing Issue

Just five minutes ago, the doorbell rang and there stood the porter of our building bearing gifts: a frisbee, a fork, two pacifiers and a kippah. In case you are wondering why I am accepting weird presents from other men, these are actually items that belong to us. They are also all items that have been thrown out of the window these past few days by one of our children.
I am not quite sure when it happened but we are having some serious throwing issues in our home. Now that the weather is warmer, the windows are open and my children see this as the perfect opportunity to see what happens when you drop something out the window. Thankfully, most of our windows face the yard of our building so I don't need to worry about hitting anyone in the head. But I do need to worry about things disappearing and breaking.
A few weeks ago on shabbos, Y threw some kippot and a brand new shoe of mine out the window. By the time I asked the doorman about it two days later, he told me that they had found the stuff, assumed it was trash and thrown it out! There went a perfectly good pair of shoes and three kippot valued at about 10 dollars each. From then on, we established with the workers in our building that if they find something in the yard and it does not look like trash, it is probably ours. In this manner we have gotten sweaters back, more kippot and some miscellaneous toys.
The bigger issue is really that one day they may throw something valuable- like a phone, keys, wallet out the window. Or they may actually injure someone. Clearly this is not a good game and we are working on it. We are thinking of installing screens. That takes care of the problem, but I worry that it does not really teach my children anything. There are so many things in this apartment that are locked up or out of reach so as not to tempt the children. While I do think it is necessary for safety reasons, I also think it does not really teach them any self-control or boundaries.
So for now we will work on getting some screens and until they come, we will keep a watchful eye out for those little hands reaching out windows. And hoping that the message of "We don't throw. It is not safe" and some consequences will finally penetrate.
Any advice? What would you do?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

End of school year

Slowly, slowly summer is approaching. Actually time has been going by really fast and here were are, down to the last two days of school. Tomorrow we are celebrating Y's birthday at school even though it is two weeks from now. Then Tuesday the kids are having their class goodbye parties and that will be it for a while.
I am looking forward to the summer because we will be going to Israel in a few weeks but am also a bit wary, because it means it is time for "Camp Mom". The kids will be going to camp in Israel which means we have five weeks of unstructured time to fill until we get there. Lots of hours will be logged at various city playgrounds, the library, children's museum, etcetera.
It is also sad for me because it means my children will be leaving the preschool they have been attending for the past two/three years. Y will be in public school next year and we are moving A to a different school for logistical and social reasons.
The Chabad Early Learning Center here on the West Side has been so welcoming to us as a family, and specifically to Y these past few years. They were the only pre-school who were willing to try mainstreaming him and were always on top of thing- giving feedback, having meetings, tweaking things as necessary. They truly cared about him and continue to do so. Y will hopefully go there 2-3 afternoons a week next year to continue his Jewish education. The director has reassured me over and over, that Y is "their" child and they are committed to giving him whatever he needs. This support has meant so much to me personally and our whole family. It is always bittersweet to move on and transition but specifically because I know that this love and individual care is not something we will get in his future schools.
Chabad is having its Annual Dinner tomorrow night and we will be going, to show our appreciation and respect for this wonderful institution. Check them out at http://www.chabadwestside.org/

Friday, June 11, 2010

To plan or not to plan

Often when talking with potential clients, the topic of a Birth Plan come up. Many expectant mothers are hesitant to write out a plan because they have heard that doctors don't like them and they are worried that they will be disappointed if things do not go the way they had envisioned.
While that may or may not be true, I usually will encourage my clients to write something out for themselves. It is correct that no doctor or nurse wants to read an elaborate two-page plan, but she may want to have something to share with her partner and doula. Additionally, just the process of thinking about the different options is very valuable to the woman. She can think about and discuss how she feels about staying active in labor, specific interventions or even at what point she would like to go to the hospital/birthing center.
It is true that things do not ever really go according to "plan" in labor and a woman should definitely keep this in mind when thinking about her birth preferences and be flexible. But the attitude of "I do not want to think about it because what if things happen differently" is a bit misguided. If you do not know how you would like your childbirth to be, how can you prepare yourself to ensure that these things actually happen? If you want a low intervention birth, what are you doing to make this a reality? Have you discussed your wishes with your care provider Have you thought about alternative comfort measures? These are all questions that can be addressed by making a plan.
Additionally, I will often recommend that my clients make a list of their top 3-5 priorities and that they discuss these specific things with their care provider. Like this, their list is not overwhelming but it still covers the most important things. A short list like that is also something you can bring to the hospital and a nurse will be able to read it quickly and work with you.
In short: It is good to have a plan and be thought out. You do not have to write it all down but you should definitely take the time to think about your wishes. Share your top 3-5 concerns with your care provider and most importantly, be flexible and open to the journey that lies ahead!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I have been working on printing new business cards and larger postcards that I can distribute in my neighborhoods and others as well. I figure it may get my name out more and hopefully generate more business. The cards finally arrived today and they look great.
Unfortunately blogger is not letting me upload the pdf image so I can't show you!! I will keep working on it though. In the meantime, feel free to refer friends or anyone else you know who needs a doula!

Edited to add- Since I cant seem to post the file, I am posting a picture of the postcard. They look better IRL but just to get a sense

The back of the card has my bio:
Ruchi (Rachel) Cohen is a mother of three who has had an avid interest in
the wonder of childbirth since the birth of her oldest in 2005. The
subsequent VBAC of her daughter in 2006 inspired her to help other
women with their birthing experiences. Ruchi received her doula
certification through DONA International in June 2009. Having spent
significant time in both Austria and Israel, she is fluent in English, German
and Hebrew.
Ruchi believes that women should feel secure, comfortable and in control
throughout the birth process. There are many components to a woman's
birthing experience, whether it's physical, emotional or spiritual, and
Ruchi works with the laboring woman and her partner to address them all.
She strives to create a nurturing environment through her warmth,
personal touch and calming presence.
In 2010, Ruchi added childbirth education to the range of services she
provides, to better help women prepare for the wondrous moment of
meeting their babies for the first time. Ruchi lives in Manhattan with her
husband and three children and blogs about life as a mom and doula at

What do you think?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Still processing

We came home late this afternoon after a very long car ride due to construction, getting lost and crazy rain. I am glad to be back in our own space and the kids are too. We had a wonderful weekend at the Hudson Valley Resort with Yachad- the National Jewish Council on Disabilities. We met many wonderful families and professionals. The kids had a blast in daycamp while my husband and I attended many (too many? It did get a bit intense) great sessions. Some were more informational, others more personal where we had a chance to express our feelings and challenges.
In one of the sessions I had a chance to share something I had been struggling with for a while now and it was incredibly validating to have others understand that challenge and speak of their own similar experiences. There weren't necessarily any solutions, but some food for thought.
I met some wonderful young adults with Down Syndrome and it was encouraging to see how well they are doing and how accomplished they are.
I was hoping my daughter A. would meet some other siblings of children with special needs and notice the diversity of disabilities but the beauty of kids is that they often do not see differences. What she saw was lots of children with their families, spending shabbos together.
All in all, there were a lot of different experiences involved, and like the title of my blog says, I am still trying to process it all, to summarize the things I have learned, thoughts I had and emotions I felt. I can definitely say, though, that these experiences will stay with with me for a long time.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Off for the weekend

I am very excited because we are going away for the weekend. Being that my husband is a congregational Rabbi this doesn't usually happen. Most weeks we are working on Shabbos, him giving sermons and speeches, me hosting guests. This week we go to the Yachad Family Shabbaton- a weekend for Jewish families of kids with special needs. Lots of workshops, networking opportunities, and best of all- I don't need to cook or clean up!! All I have to do now is get away from the computer and start packing...packing for 5 people for one weekend should not be so difficult but there are always the last minute things we need.
Have a great shabbos!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Unexpected Feedback

Today while I was walking in the neighborhood with the kids I ran into a former client and her baby who is already five months old. Time flies. We didn't really have time to chat for so long but I introduced her to my kids and she told them, "Your mom is awesome. She helped me a lot."
It was really nice to get some positive feedback. This woman had a really great birth and I was glad that I had been a part of it, and even happier that she felt the same way. A little bit of positive reinforcement is always nice.
The kids don't really know what I do as a doula. They know I disappear every now and then but that's about it. Recently I have been telling A that I am going to help somebody have their baby and she keeps asking how I helped them, what exactly I did. I could see the wheels in her head turning, trying to figure out how I was connected to this woman and her baby. I think I will wait till she is a bit older to fully explain the logistics.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

PS 199

PS 199- that is where Y will most probably be going to kindergarten next year. After 10 months of researching and visiting many many schools, this is the placement the Board of Ed has assigned us. It is a school with a great reputation. We were impressed with the class we saw on our visit today, but then the teacher told us she may not be teaching this class next year!
There is a different school right up the block from us that we really wanted Y to attend but I don't think we will push for it because this seems good.
Still this will take some getting used to. As an Orthodox Jew who has gone to Jewish dayschools/yeshivas her whole life, I never thought I would step foot into a Public School. This is not an elitist thing, just a comfort level of my child being immersed in a school that teaches the culture and values of Judaism: the Hebrew alphabet, the Jewish holidays, just the way of being. It is about being immersed in a Jewish environment.
But yet again, the reality of special needs will dictate where Y goes to school and I, I will just need to adjust my expectations and attitude. Let go the dream of my child being included in a yeshiva and work with what I have.