2013 Rallies to Improve Birth

A series of rallies are taking place across the Commonwealth today as part of an international movement to improve the childbirth process for women and children. The 2013 Rally to Improve Birth will take place at10 a.m. local time in Lexington, Louisville, Pikeville and Bowling Green.  The rallies' purpose is to call for safer, evidence-based birth practices. 

The average American birth is billed at $30,000 (that's roughly twice the cost of birth in the hospital where Duchess Catherine delivered Prince George...) and the average Caesarean delivery is billed at $50,000. Says Dawn Thompson, president of ImprovingBirth.org, the mothers’ advocacy group organizing the rallies, “We’re in a true crisis, with the highest costs in the world and some of the worst health outcomes related to childbirth. “Nine out of 10 American women receive care that increases the risks of harm to them and their babies. We must do better.” (Kentucky’s C-section rate of 35.4% ranks it seventh highest in the nation for Cesarean rates,and more than double the 15% suggested by the World Health Organization as a highest recommended rate.) 

Ms. Thompson notes that: "This movement isn't about natural birth vs. medicated birth. It's not about hospital birth vs. home birth or birth center birth. It's about women being capable of making safer, more informed decisions about their care and that of babies when they are given full and accurate information about their care options, including the potential harms, benefits, and alternatives." 

To learn more about the Rallies to Improve Birth, check out the Improving Birth Facebook page

To read about HerKentucky writer Sarah Stewart Holland's experiences with home birth, please visit her blog, bluegrass redhead.

Happy {Mother's} Day from HerKentucky

I don't usually give Mother's Day too much thought. We get a little gift for my mom, and one for my granny. There's a special meal or two. Usually a trip to the Red Lobster. And, usually, one of those church services where they hand out gifts to the oldest, youngest, and most prolific mamas. And that's that. By Sunday night, the whole exercise is over for another year.

This year, I've thought a lot about Mother's Day. Maybe it's more than my own WASPy approach to the holiday, which generally entails finishing up family obligations as quickly as possible so I can get home to a glass of wine and an episode of Mad Men. Like virtually every other American woman who has Internet access, I recently ran across this article about the emotional impact of Mother's Day on non-moms. Normally, I'd nod my head and go on. But, for the first time, I really thought about those women who'd love to be celebrating on Mother's Day, but aren't.

Recently, one of the dearest people in my life suffered pregnancy loss. It seems like so many friends and acquaintances have experienced similar heartbreaks lately. I know that so many of them would love to wear the $5 Wal-Mart orchid corsages that proudly proclaim "I'm a Mama on my way to church on the Second Sunday in May!" Something so simple and tacky is, for many, the symbol of a dream come true.

Sometimes, Mother's Day is a celebration. It's the weekend that all the kids come home to visit and bring sweet, if impractical, presents. But, for so many others, Mother's Day carries a profound sadness. There are the women who want desperately to become mothers and those who've lost children. There are women who've had to say goodbye to their own mothers, those who serve as tireless caregivers for sick or aging mothers, and those who don't have a relationship with their mothers. There are so many women out there who are carrying around burdens we can't see. I wish that HerKentucky had the budget to send a dozen roses and an hour-long massage to them all. Instead, we're extending well wishes to y'all in a way that takes some of the hard-and-fast tradition out of the holiday. We wish a Happy {Mother's} Day to you all. It's a little softer, a little less technical, and a little more inclusive. 
Whether the holiday brings sorrow or joy, we want to hear how you're doing. You deserve the spotlight for a few minutes. All of you. Those of you who are moms, who dream of becoming moms, or who've decided motherhood isn't for them. Those of you who'll be celebrating your moms and those who are missing your moms.  While we can't send you all a present, we'd love to hear your {Mother's} Day story, be it happy, bittersweet, or just plain stressful. If you have a blog, please feel free to post there and add a link to the linkup gadget below. Or, you can share what you like in the comments section below.

Most of all, know that the HerKentucky team wishes you all a Happy Day!

A Kentucky Mother's Journey: Favorite Photos and Quotes

Motherhood is by far the greatest gift I've ever received. As expected, becoming a first-time "mama" 23 months ago changed everything, but all for the better.  I have discovered that there is indeed something better than being a Kentucky girl, raising a Kentucky girl.

What I least expected about motherhood is how much my daughter would teach me. I am reminded that it is the little things that matter the most to a child, like needing a hug when she gets a boo-boo or the instinctive desire to dance when she hears music.  There are so many little things that enrich our lives that often get overlooked when we get older and get busier. And, I cannot think of a more beautiful place to discover (or rediscover, as in my case) the simple joys of life than against the backdrop of our beautiful state and rich traditions.

To illustrate my own personal journey into motherhood with my daughter, Katherine, here are some of my favorite photos and quotes:

"When you're pregnant, you can think of nothing but having your own body to yourself again, yet after having given birth you realize that the biggest part of you is now somehow external, subject to all sorts of dangers and disappearance, so you spend the rest of your life trying to figure out how to keep it close enough for comfort. That's the strange thing about being a mother: until you have a baby, you don't even realize how much you were missing one." 
–  Jodi Picoult, Vanishing Act

"No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside."
 – Unknown

"Once your baby arrives, the world is no more the same than you are. Because from our very bodies we add to the collective human destiny. Our deepest urge is always toward life, to wholeness and well being."– Claire Fontaine 

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child."
– Sophia Loren

 "Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right thing is...and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong."
– Donna BallAt Home on Ladybug Farm Farm

"I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it."  
 – Rose Kennedy

"The phrase 'working mother' is redundant." 
 Jane Sellman

"Though motherhood is the most important of all the professions -- requiring more knowledge than any other department in human affairs -- there was no attention given to preparation for this office." 
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

"I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway...let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves." 

 C. JoyBell C.

 “Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.” – Charlotte Gray

 “The great motherhood friendships are the ones in which two women can admit [how difficult mothering is] quietly to each other, over cups of tea at a table sticky with spilled apple juice and littered with markers without tops.” – Anna Quindlen

"Some of your best moments as a mother will happen around the toilet at six a.m. while you're holding a pile of fingernail clippings like a Santeria princess." – Tina Fey, Bossypants

Happy Mother's Day, y'all!  What are your plans for Sunday?

My Mom's Best Lesson

Mothering is one of those things I never know if I'm doing right. I often find myself saying, "I'll do it better next time." 

Next year, I'll send out the birthday invitations earlier. 

Next month, I will make amazing colorful, healthy lunches for Lauren every day. 

Next week, I'll make a homemade dinner every night. 

Tomorrow, I won't lose my patience with Ella over something silly.

I find myself worrying about the most random little details. I want my girls to have this beautiful childhood filled with incredible memories, and I put a silly amount of pressure on myself to be some kind of Nick at Nite mom.

The reality is, I get so caught up in planning the decor and cake and presents for birthdays that I often forget to send out invitations at all. I have yet to make a single school lunch for Lauren. (My husband does it. Actually my goal should be to be a better mother than my husband is.) We're lucky if we have 2-3 homemade dinners a week. As for losing my patience, well, Ella's three years old. 

My mom will sometimes talk about the regrets she has about things she did when my brother and I were younger. She can name all kinds of things that she wishes she could undo or do over, and she'll describe them in great detail. 

And you know what? I don't remember a single one of them.

My mom is an amazing mother. She's fiercely protective of her children, but she lets us fight our own battles. She challenges me to do my best, but never cripples me with her high expectations. She calls me out when I'm being a jerk, but she's always my number one fan. She knows when I need her to hold me and when I need her to let me go.

Most of all, she lets me be who I am, even when I know it isn't always easy. I've never felt like I had to do any certain thing to make my mother proud of me. She's simply thrilled that I wake up and breathe every day. That means more to me than anything--to know that no matter what anyone else may think of me, my mom thinks I'm basically the best thing ever. It sounds silly, especially because I am well aware of my flaws, but knowing I've always got her in my corner is one of my greatest comforts.

Maybe that's what I should strive for with Lauren and Ella. Instead of worrying so much about these picture-perfect details of a storybook childhood, my energy is better spent on making sure they're becoming the people they're supposed to be. I have no idea what they'll become--right now Lauren wants to be a rock star and Ella wants to drive an ice cream truck--but I can help lay the groundwork to help them get there.  

I have two very funny, smart, strong-willed girls. As long as I teach them to be confident, to appreciate what they have, to constantly look for things to be happy about, and to, quite simply, love others...what else matters? They're not going to remember all these dumb things I consider failures, but they'll remember how absolutely crazy I am about them. They'll know I've got their backs no matter what, and that the sound of their voices is all I need to be happy.

My mom taught me that, but she'd never take credit for it.