Category Archives: Farm and Garden

20 Years Later, Diaries, Letters, Homesteading

We bought this house 20 years ago. When we moved in I stuffed a box of things from my old life in the attic and just pulled it down today. This box has stuff in it from 34 years ago.  So much fun!!! Diaries from when I lived on a farm and collected eggs from the chickens, milked the cow, played music, and wrote letters.  This particular segment of time is from when our family left the 11 sided log cabin we had built in Low Gap, Newton County and moved to a more developed farm with pastures and fences, old barns, a well, fruit trees, and a creek nearby.  I loved the place, and it wasn’t until 30 years later that I made the realization that it was a shack.  It didn’t feel like that to me.  My dad used to joke that I could freeze a pan of water in my room over night.  That may have been true, but it was my room, and my canopy bed from when my dad had a computer job and my mom made a point of buying me a completely new set of bedroom furniture.  I loved it.

January 1, 1982
Dear Diary,
My bird died last night.

January 5, 1982
Dear Diary,
Today we went to Harrison for the first time in 3 months. We had a bundle of fun.
Bye

This may seem insignificant to random people reading it. But when I say we went to Harrison for the first time in 3 months that means it was a big deal. We lived in the woods and rarely got out. Harrison was the closest town where we could get supplies. We didn’t really see a ton of people out there.

January 12, 1982
It was the first snow of the winter today.

January 19, 1982
We moved in today

January 25, 1982
We went to Jasper, Harrison, and Alpena. I got some new shoes. Jumped 2 1/2 sizes.

January 28, 1982
I ran 3 fingers through the ringer. Dad and Ned put up a fence.

The ringer is an outdoor washing machine with a “ringer” to ring out the clothes.  It was my job to wash clothes with this machine.  The hazards of this machine were that if you weren’t careful putting clothes through the ringer you could mash the ever loving bejeezus out of your hands.  Another hazard of this machine was that there must have been some electrical wire exposed or something because I distinctively remember getting shocked with the damn thing. 

Sometimes I took the laundry in a wheelbarrow down to the creek and washed it.  I remember losing a pillow case that way.

January 29, 1982
It has been a month since mom stopped smoking.

January 30, 1982
It snowed about 6 or 7 inches. Soon I shall get enough cash to buy a bird. It will survive.

January 31, 1982 (Sunday)
There’s not much to say. Bye.

February 1, 1982
I’m building igloo. Mom’s in a bad mood.

February 4, 1982
We ate at Pamela’s and Ned’s.  Made paper dolls with Meg.

Ned and Pamela Whitlock sold us our farm.  They had apple orchards up on the mountain from us.  I remember talk about his dad getting wealthy from oil.  I hear that Ned is in Hawaii now, still farming.

February 5, 1982
We got a cow.

February 6, 1982
I’m almost done with my rug. I started it again today.

I learned how to crochet about this time.  This particular rug referenced here was a very colorful single crochet stitch.

February 7, 1982
Saw a Bald Eagle.  Cardinals come to the bird feeder now.  Got a pulley with a well.  Bye

My main job was to haul water from the well.  The pulley helped lower the bucket down.  Pretty nifty.  We didn’t have running water at the time.

February 13, 1982
Mom went visiting with Pam.  Hard day for me.  She doesn’t realize that I had to wear shorts today.

Not sure what that is about.

February 14, 1982
Made a cake.  Spring!!

February 18, 1982
Miserable.  Tooth pulled.

February 20,
Went to Low Gap.  Saw Phillips, Ray Rylee, Mariere,  Ruth.  Jack spent the night.  Saw Superman and Airplane.

February 21, 1982
Carrolle and Barb came and got Jackie.

February 22, 1982
Got our dog Sally today.

February 24, 1982
Pam and Shelly came today.  Rob chopped his thumb.

Rob’s (my brother’s) main chore was chopping wood.  He used to love seeing how close he could come to his thumb on the top of the log he was chopping.  I distinctively remember him doing this.  Goob.

There was a lot going on around this move to Possum Trot, Osage in Carroll County.  We were getting settled in there.  So glad to reconnect with this.  Can’t wait to see what else is in this box.

 

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Father’s Day Foot Massages

It’s that time of year again.  Time to honor our father’s for their contributions to our lives.  Whether it’s with time fishing or a hiking date, time in the spa for a foot massage date with your dad, I hope you are able to connect with your dad this Father’s Day, the 21st of June (which also happens to be the Summer Solstice).

My dad has passed, but he was a troubador, traveling all over the states, playing music, sleeping at friends houses and in a camper on his truck on the way.  I wouldn’t hear from him for months sometimes and then one of my friends would have what we called an “Ed sighting.”  Somebody had seen him at a festival or some town along the way, Luckenbach, Kerrville, Mexico, Cody, or somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona and they always went out of their way to tell us about it.  It was a pretty good system.

I was at the bank last week and ran into an old friend, Josh, who has a deep appreciation for my dad.  I hadn’t seen Josh in a few years.  We hugged and he started to tell me a story about coming home one day to a hand written card attached to a CD of my dad’s music.  The card said, “a wind blew through while you were gone.”  It was a reference to a song that my dad had gotten some recognition for called, “A Wind Blows Through West Texas.”  It was the first “Ed Sighting” we have had for a while.  My dad was a character.  A charismatic performer and story teller.  I’m so glad when people remember him to me.

Do you have a good memory of your dad to share?

Call to make a foot massage appointment with the Dad in your life: 479-251-7422

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

 

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Black Raspberries from a Good Friend

Where are the Berries?

Gina's Raw Food Birthday Cake!
Gina’s Raw Food Birthday Cake!

A friend of mine called me up and asked me to come help her make a raw food cake for her birthday.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a friend’s birthday than to do it playing in the kitchen together.  And besides, it’s a berry time of year.  Strawberries, blueberries, black raspberries.  Berries.

We used a recipe from “Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Essentials.”  But we had to modify it to make it work for us.  Here is the original recipe:

  • 3 cups walnuts
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp agave

All this is processed one ingredient at a time in the food processor.  We discovered that walnuts are very oily and needed to counteract that so we added enough almond flour to dry it up and give it a better texture.  For the filling we used Ani’s original recipe:

  • 2 cups fruit (Gina chose lemons)
  • 1/2 cup agave

Whizzed up in the blender.  Once again our sauce was too liquid, not like a cake filling at all.  So we added psyllium till the texture was more like a pudding.  One of the cool things about psyllium is that it is great for the digestive tract and is used in the medical industry as fiber for the GI tract.  We added whole raspberries to the sauce and sprinkled the top with shredded coconut.  Super Yum for my beautiful friend on her birthday!

 

Where do you get berries in Northwest Arkansas?

Strawberry cake for another day
Strawberry cake for another day

As an add on to this tribute to berries, a friend of our family’s whom we have known for years came by the other day and brought us Black Raspberries (yes, that’s a thing).  She said the birds planted them in her yard.  How cool is that?

Black Raspberries from a Good Friend
Black Raspberries from a Good Friend

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

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Mother’s Day Local Shopping Guide!

Mother’s Day is coming this Sunday!  And you already know that the best thing you can get the moms in your life is a Gift Certificate and a Gift Basket from I.M. Spa.  I can’t tell you how many women come in to the spa and say, “I keep telling them to get me a massage, but they never remember.”

But you may not know about some other awesome local businesses in the area that would be perfect for your mom’s day presents.  For instance, there is a Mother’s Day tradition here in Northwest Arkansas at Chotkowski Gardens where you can walk through the peony gardens from 1 to 4p.m.  Every year I see the invitations for this event and never seem to be able to make it out, but this year I’m taking my whole family and as many friends as I can wrangle.  I love peonies

I wish there was a smell feature on the computer, because peonies smell divine!

Other places you will want to shop for Mother’s Day are:

Click here to buy a Gift Certificate for a massage, acupuncture treatment, or facial online! Or call us at I.M. Spa and we can make it beautiful for you: 479-251-7422

Read here if you want a little giggle about why you should honor your mother.

Me and My Mom
Me and My Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

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Massage Therapy for Mental Health

I just finished up a clinical rotation in Mental Health this semester.  It’s enough to make you suffer from depression!  Or at the very least need a massage for your Mental Health.

Our instructors and books say repeatedly that our jail systems are the biggest warehouse for the mentally ill.  There may not be any inpatient beds for somebody suffering with psychosis, but somehow they fit right into our jails.  Our mentally ill are being incarcerated for behaviors that are a result of mental illness, schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s, or addiction.  Many of them are homeless.  They need treatment, medications, and support.

And probably the most depressing part of Mental Health Clinicals is the adolescent unit.  These kids have endured trauma and abuse beyond what I can fathom, and when they leave the treatment facility will return to the people and situations that caused their pain to begin with.  It’s downright depressing.

Massage Therapy for Mental Health
My mental health textbook references massage therapy 4 times. I’m so impressed with how far we have come.

And it’s not just that there is a little bit of mental illness.  Mental health is similar to physical health.  Sometimes you get sick.  Most of the time you’re pretty healthy.  And sometimes you have a lifelong illness (physical or mental) that needs lifelong treatment.  Most people can identify times in their lives when they were out of balance, overly anxious, stressed, depressed, or just not functioning as well mentally as they know they are capable.  And all of us know people in our family, friends, or community who are suffering with more extreme forms of those imbalances.  Mental illness touches us all.

I’m grateful for the dedicated Mental Health care professionals that I have met this semester.  God Bless Them!  We need them so badly.  We need funding and policy changes to allow mental health the same importance and voice that physical problems like cancer get.  We need more health care providers to get excited about helping people with mental health problems, to serve health care in that capacity.

I actually feel guilty because I prefer to work with people with their guts falling out than with mental health problems, because at least if your guts are falling out I can stuff ’em back inside and slap a bandage on it.  In mental health, the guts are falling out, and people are bleeding out, but you can’t stuff it back in.  You can’t see it.  It’s not so easy.  I guess I feel disempowered by mental illness.  There is no immediate fix, no bandage, just a winding road of possibilities and not enough resources for long term support.

But at the same time, I deal with mental illness/health all the time in a positive way, on the massage table.  And it has been a very empowering relationship.  People come to us in pain, grieving loss, with anxiety and depression, and needing help with dealing with the stress of everyday life on the planet. We are honored every day that our community chooses to come to us for stress relief.

According to University of Maryland, massage makes us feel better by the “release of endorphins (natural painkillers and mood elevators),” and reducing the levels of stress hormones (cortisol).  Endorphins are one of the main neurotransmitters involved in depression and bipolar.

Foot Massage is AMAZING!
Massage Therapy for Mental Health

So, looking at the mental health problems our country is faced with right now may be devastatingly depressing, but thank goodness there is massage therapy for those times when we are in pain, grieving loss, having anxiety and depression, and needing help with dealing with the stress of everyday life on the planet.  I guess massage is the bandage that I feel empowered by when dealing with the guts of every day mental health/illness.  I’m grateful to have it in my life.

If this post was so stressful that you now need a massage, call 479-251-7422 to schedule an appointment.  Or you could just come get a massage because you know you need it.  Or because we haven’t seen you in forever.  Please pop in to I.M. Spa to see us when you are downtown for the Farmer’s Market!  If for no other reason than that it is good for OUR mental health to see you!

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

 

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Life Alive Warm Bowl

The Most Important Decision You Make Every Day

The most important decision that you make every day is what you decide to put in your body.

Your food has the power to transform your physiology, your health, your local economy, our medical institutions, and our environment.

What you choose to put in your body determines your energy level, your ability to do the things you want to do, and the length and quality of your life here on the planet.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

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Nursing School Finals

My butt is numb. My low back hurts. I have been sitting in front of the computer nonstop for days and days and days studying for nursing school finals.  Tomorrow is my last one.

By the time I get done with this degree program I will have zero muscle mass because all I do is sit in my room and study.

Yes, I run to class and to work but that is it.  No other movement.  But after tomorrow I will have three weeks to move about freely!

So far I have an “A” in Clinicals, Older Adult, Foundations, and Pharmacology.  Last test is in Health Assessment.  Sure hope I can pull off another “A.”

In between studying for hours, I take breaks to look at my next projects.  I’m all fired up about writing a couple of books, touring the world’s best institutional food places and figuring out how to do good food institutionally here in Arkansas.  I don’t think that is a nursing job, but hey you never know.  It’s possible that somebody could hire me to be a diplomat and negotiate better food systems that represent health in health care settings.  A girl can dream, right?

The first place I’m going after this exam tomorrow is the chiropractor.  I’m a mess.

Then I’m going to do some Christmas shopping (yes, I know it’s crazy to do Christmas shopping the week before Christmas, but I’ve been a little busy).  Then I’m going to do a massage for a client.  And then I’m going to sit down and prioritize my next three weeks so I can get as much as I can done on my ‘to do’ list.

I’m taking my neice Bella to the Nutcracker Ballet on Sunday, and then my 9 year old son Ben is ‘Joseph’ in our church Christmas Pageant this year.  I love to hear my boys sing.  It’s the best.

Today my back aches, my butt is numb, I’m exhausted, frustrated, and down right ‘tarred.’  A little chiropractic, a few yoga sessions, some fun with my beautiful family, and hopefully I’ll be raring and ready to go for the next semester.

Right now I’m going to bed.  Wish me luck on my test tomorrow.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

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Eat Your Colors

Lower Cholesterol with Raw Vegan Food

my bag of goodies
Bag of Veggies from Farmer’s Market

I always knew from other people’s stories, as well as from my textbooks on pathophysiology, that raw and vegan food could lower your cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease.  This summer Craig, my husband, was donating plasma when his blood clogged up the machine with lipids (fats).  Too many of them.  So he went to the VA hospital and asked them to analyze his blood.  This is what they found:

Before Raw Food

Initial Results

Normal Range

Total Cholesterol

243

118-200

Triglycerides

118

<=200

HDL Cholesterol

71

>=40

LDL Cholesterol
148
<100

The reason I put the LDL Cholesterol in red is because it’s the “bad cholesterol” that is supposed to be less than 100.  It’s bad because it can clog arteries and, according to the Mayo Clinic, “dramatically increases your chance of developing heart disease and having a heart attack.”  They say it is also the “main way you can lower your risk of heart disease.”  Craig’s LDLs were high at 148.

Red Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers

I’ve been eating mostly raw vegan food for over 3 years now, and what propelled me there was my own deadly food allergies.  My family eats mostly  raw vegan too.  They have to.  There is nothing else in the house.  What Craig was eating when he was home was clean burning fuel, but what he was eating when he was out and about was undermining what he was eating at home.

He decided to get serious about what he was putting in his body.  Brutal honesty.  No more pizza on the fly, muffins on campus, creamy coffee,  Thai food sauces with coconut milk, or fast food breakfast sandwiches.  He started packing Green Smoothies, raw cashew dip with veggies, and fruits for lunches and snacks.  He refused to eat anything with meat, cheese, eggs, or oils it in.  We do still cook rice and vegetables, or baked squash, and other vegan dishes at home.  And we haven’t had bread in the house since I went raw three years ago, so it just wasn’t an option.

4 months later this is the result:

Craig’s Transition to Raw Vegan Food

Initial Results

Normal Range

4 Months Later on Raw and Vegan Food

Total Cholesterol

243

118-200

196

Triglycerides

118

<=200

89

HDL Cholesterol

71

>=40

61

LDL Cholesterol
148
<100
117

Take a minute to really look at that graph because it is a really big deal.  His LDLs dropped 31 points in 4 months time.  With raw vegan food.  Nothing more, nothing less.

When the nurse at the VA looked at his numbers she said, “Did the doctor put you on a statin?”

A ‘statin’ medication is a drug that inhibits the production of cholesterol (fats/lipids) in the liver.  They are very effective at getting your lipid levels down if you have high lipid levels like Craig did.  The doctor did not put Craig on a statin.  Craig put himself on a vegan diet.  He got brutally honest about what he was eating and changed it. That’s impressive.

Those numbers are impressive.

Beautiful Kale
Beautiful Kale

He rides his bike several times a week, and rides it up to Bentonville and back at least once a week (60 miles round trip) whether it’s 15 degrees out or 60.  His blood pressure is still high at 130-140/70, so we’re planning on getting a meditation routine going together, and looking at other strategies as well.  We’ll let you know how it goes.

Craig is still trying to change his food ratio even more.  He wants to get those LDLs down under 100.

One of the things I tell people when they are trying to transition to raw or vegan food and away from bread, meat, and cheese, is to allow yourself to eat lots of nuts, seeds, and avocados to get that full feeling that you are used to.  Once your body adjusts to clean burning fuel you can think about changing your ratios to more veggies and less nuts.  That’s where he is now.

It’s so much fun watching him go through this transition.  Now he says things that I’ve been saying for a while that you can’t relate to unless you have done it.  Things like, “that cooked oil smells gross,” and “I feel so light now when I’m riding/running.  Before I transitioned I felt so heavy.  It’s like I was fighting my body to get it to move.  Now when I exercise I feel like I could fly.”

Garlic

About a week after Craig found out how great his lipid levels are now he got a phone call from a friend in the hospital who had just suffered a heart attack.  He was 48 years old.  We’re 44.  Our own mortality is staring us in the face.

I have high hopes for Craig’s health.  He’s doing an amazing job at making this change, and I hope that we will continue to see his lipid numbers, and his blood pressure numbers improve.  We’re only a few months into this particular science experiment, but the prognosis is good.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment 479-251-7422

 

 

 

 

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Healing Community

When I was a kid we moved around a ton.  Texas, the Bahamas, San Diego, New Hampshire, Possum Trot, Low Gap, Monterey.  My parents were musicians and the community we had was the community of artists and musicians.  It’s a beautiful thing because there is a whole culture of people who speak the same language, hold the same values, and they dedicate their lives to their art.

It’s been amazing watching my kids grow up in the same house for the past 18 years.  It’s a whole other level of community that I’ve come to know, and man is it beautiful.  We have a supportive spiritual community in our church, a very active and supportive local business community, a musical community, an educational community at the university as well as at the public schools,  a farm community that is feeding us well, and a downtown local community of folks who, you might not know them all one on one, but there are faces that are just part of the fabric that makes this town so beautiful.  I’m sure I’m leaving out a bazillion folks but you get the idea.

We also have a healing community here in Fayetteville that is a remarkable resource.  We have great chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, physical therapists, vibration therapists, acoustic therapists, art therapists, nurses, doctors, psychologists, hypnotherapists, yoga instructors, physical trainers, midwives, doulas, herbalists, nutritionists (or rather ‘foodies’), and many other specialties.  Hah!  I almost left out one of my favorites, massage therapists.

I’m on a mission to interview as many talented, smart, innovative, out of the box thinking, health practitioners who are amazing at their job as I can.  (Which isn’t very many right now since I’m in nursing school full time).  I love to find out how people got interested in their work, what they love about it, how it changes lives, and how it contributes to our  healing community.

I have quite a list of people I want to talk to, but I’m interested in you.  Who do you love?  Who has helped you with your health?  Who has made you feel better?  Who are you grateful for, and can we talk to them so that we can tell others how awesome they are?

Leave a comment below with the website and contact information of the healing community people you love, so that we can share the love.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Learn more about I.M. Spa or book a massage, facial, or acupuncture appointment 479-251-7422.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

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Early C Section in Arkansas

What’s a Doula? You have Options.

When it came to birthing babies, I knew I didn’t want to do it in the hospital.  I had all 4 of my sons at home with my dear midwife who is still one of my best friends almost 20 years after the birth of my first son.

Pregnant with Ben 2005
Pregnant with Ben 2005

Now I can’t remember how I knew that I could have a midwife assisted birth.  It seems to have been something I knew about all my life.  I realize that many people don’t even realize that birth doesn’t have to be done in a hospital setting, and probably even less realize that you can hire a Doula to help you with your birth whether you choose a hospital or a home birth.  I didn’t know what a doula was until I was in my late 20s, early 30s.

Before we go any further I want to say that I am grateful that we have hospitals in the event of complications in the birth process.  It is tremendous to know that if something goes wrong there is a place where people are trained to handle those emergencies.

The midwife assisted c-section rate in Arkansas is 3%.  Nationwide the midwife assisted c-section rate is between 3 to 4.4%.

That means 4 women out of 100 have major cesarean section surgery with a midwife.  Nationwide.  Pretty good odds.

Here in Arkansas in hospitals, the rate of c-sections (in 2012) was 35.7%.  That’s 11,486 general anesthesia, cesarean sections in one state in one year.

That means 36 women out of 100 (or more than 1 in 3) have major cesarean section surgery if they give birth in a hospital.  Wow. 

Zach holding Baby Ben just before he was born.
Zach holding Baby Ben just before he was born.

There are lots of reasons for that that I won’t go into right now.  Suffice it to say that just with those numbers if you are in your child bearing years, you might want to weigh your options.  Or maybe you didn’t know you had options.

In Europe, midwives attend over 70% of births.  In the U.S. 7.9% of births are attended by midwives.

The United States is 36th in the world for infant mortality rate among developed countries.

What are we doing wrong?

Well, it’s complicated.  I won’t go into depth about the complexities right now, but I will say that our babies are coming too early.  Whether it is a planned cesarean, or a poverty stricken mother unable to carry her baby to term.  We need to care for our mothers better and stop treating birth like an emergency (unless it is one), and more like a process.

Newborn Ben, born at home
Newborn Ben, born at home

I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax in the cold white, cement block walls of an institution with people I didn’t know running in and out of my birth room on their own agenda, peeking up under my carriage and feeling around whether I was ready or not, telling me I had to lay down so they could monitor my progress from the nurses station.  Giving birth was the most primal thing I have ever done in my life.  I wanted to do it at home, moving around at will, standing, squatting, pacing, surrounded by people I love (my mom, husband, kids, friends, midwife), while my mom baked cinnamon rolls.

That’s how we do birth at the Finn house.

And I’m loud when that baby is coming out.  There is a sound that comes out of a woman when she is giving birth that is like the portal between two worlds.  If I hear that sound now it makes me cry.  I’ve heard a similar sound in the wailing after the passing of loved ones.  It’s uncanny, and I could never imitate or recreate that sound again.  It’s like something opens up inside of you that is not of this world.

I can’t imagine doing that in a hospital.

I can imagine that if I were in a setting where I didn’t feel free to open up my body and turn completely inward, supported by the people I love, that I would be more susceptible to needing a c-section.  If I couldn’t move about the way my body wanted me to, if I had to submit to timed cervical examinations, if I were self conscious about what was happening, I know I would have been more susceptible to having a c-section.

Some people just feel more comfortable with the idea of giving birth in a hospital where all the emergency equipment is (midwives also carry emergency equipment, but not for major surgery).  And we’re lucky now to have more options with the Birth Center that just opened up in Northwest Arkansas.  That way you get the best of both worlds, a medical facility with mama and baby centered care in a comfortable setting.

Early C Section in Arkansas
Early C Section in Arkansas

On April 28, 2014, Arkansas Medicaid Director William Golden said “nearly half of the babies born in the hospital statewide in 2009 were born prior to 39 weeks because of elective delivery. Frankly, the data was pretty bad,” Golden said.

All of these things just to say that you have options.  Just because the majority of births happen in the hospital in the United States doesn’t mean that it’s been good for our mortality rates.  More information is better.  And we are fortunate to live in an area with a thriving community of midwives, doulas, and educators about birth.  (But we also live in an area where the medical school UAMS has a 39% c-section rate, and one of the main birthing hospitals has a 35% c-section rate).

Which brings me back to what I really wanted to talk to you about in the first place.  I love Jessica Crass.  She has worked with us at I.M. Spa for 3 and a half years and we are so lucky to have her.  She is a talented massage therapist, ex-social worker, traveler, and farmer.  Last year after helping a good friend through her birth process, the attending midwife, Jennifer Creel (from Terra Tots) mentioned that Jessica should consider training as a Doula.

Jessica is a member of DONA International and Northwest Arkansas Doula Connection.  She has one more birth to attend to be a certified Doula, trained to offer physical, educational, and emotional support during the months leading up to birth, as well as during the birth process.

If I were ever going to have a hospital birth I would definitely want a Doula, somebody who knows my birth plan, who knows what I want and don’t want, somebody whose sole job is to help me make it through the marathon that is birth.  I would want somebody who knew the ropes sticking up for me when I’m not in the best position to stick up for myself.

And if I were to have another home birth(which ain’t ever gonna happen again praise the lord.  I love the birth process, but enough is enough), having a Doula would be icing on the cake in the supportive atmosphere of my home.

If you are examining your birthing options, don’t rule out a midwife assisted birth, because it is by the numbers the most reliable, best track record kind of birth you can have.  But also, consider hiring a Doula.  There is so much to learn about birth, and there are so many decisions to make.

Giving birth is like running a marathon.  You need a support crew on the way.  You can do it!  Go team!  Go team go!

Our whole family after the birth at home
Our whole family after the birth at home

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

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