As a baby gift for our friend's new little girl, I took some photos today. (Jane and the little girl are both Birth Center water babies.) The kids were very cute to photograph.

I love the big brother hand and head in the photo on the left.

What a beautiful mother and child! Thanks Leah!

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We made it to the Health Department meeting pertaining to several issues involving the birth center, as did many other supporters. The issues are a little too complicated for me to explain late at night right now, but here is a link to an article about the issue (although the article interpreted the issue slightly different that we understood it). The Birth and Family Place is not in danger of closing, but the ruling is making it harder for more centers to open, leaving less options for women. It is a little frustrating to see some people's lack of understanding about normal childbirth. Anyway. . . hope the publicity shows some women they have more choices in childbirth than a hospital.

Birth Centers in Utah are under attack
(see . No matter how a woman chooses to bring a child into the world, I feel that the preservation of choice is a very important issue. In short, when old birth center regulations were recently brought up for review (in hopes that obsolete and ineffective 20 year old rules might be updated), the Utah Hospital Association and other opponents of natural out-of-hospital birth jumped on the opportunity to submit their own proposal which would in effect shut down the 2 licensed birth centers in Utah within a year. These opponents have relied on groundless claims and scare tactics to influence a public largely uneducated about the realities of out-of-hospital birth. Our baby daughter was delivered at Birth and Family Place in Salt Lake last June, and the difference between her birth and my son’s hospital birth is indescribable. The Utah Hospital Association and other ‘health’ committees would like to take away choices in birth by exploiting our culture’s unhealthy fear of birth. It is tragic that we are taught by our culture to fear birth and to mistrust our bodies when the vast majority of births could be conducted without medical intervention. Yes, birth is unpredictable and at times warrants intervention to save lives. But studies have demonstrated time and time again that with common sense precautions, outcome statistics at Birth centers regularly exceed those of hospitals. As outlined in the link, there is an meeting there is a meeting at the Health Department (Cannon Building, 288 N. 1460 W, SLC ) at 9am on March 25th . The most critical thing needed is NUMBERS. The governing bodies need to see that there is a large population in support of choices in childbirth. Become a freind of the SLC Birth Center on Facebook. Look for Friends of SLC's Birth and Family Place.

(I posted a lot of this a while back but here it is again).
I have some strong opinions about childbirth since it is a field I have been active in, even years before my own child bearing. I trained as a labor and postpartum doula six years before I had my first baby. During graduate school I presented a paper at a Medical Anthropology conference in London about teen mother's mental health as it relates to their childbirth experiences. I have always been amazed with birth. I feel it is a miraculous and spiritual process where the power of God moves through a woman’s body to bring new life. In America there is a current crisis in maternity care as discussed in the film “The Business of Being Born”. Suffice it to say that Cuba and Poland have better infant mortality rates than the USA . The film obviously has a very pro natural birth stance and explains some of the choices and options available. I read another article recently that stated “the maternal death rate in the USA is four times higher than it should be and why is no one talking about this?”* . There are many very alarming trends that hurt women and children, many of which come from cultural/medical perceptions which treat birth as a pathology and not a normal, healthy process. I am very grateful for the medical advances that are available and that save women and children everyday. However, for the majority of women, birth is a normal process and more problems can arise when medical interventions are introduced. I am not judging people who choose a medical birth, but I believe that with proper preparation, a belief in the birth process, and confronting the fear of childbirth instead of giving into it, women could have more options in the process of birth. If women really looked at some of the trends in maternal/child health and knew what questions to ask then some different choices may be made. Here is a local example from Utah . Utah has around an 80% induction rate, which directly corresponds to a nearly 40% cesarean rate (at some hospitals) as induction greatly increases the probability of a surgical outcome. In normal circumstances, about 15% of pregnancies will have a medical reason to end in a cesarean, which again, is wonderful and saves lives (Only 3% of the births at our birth center transfer and result in C section). But C- sections are major surgery and carry all the attending risks of major surgery. When they are happening almost 3 times more often than necessary, it is time to ask some questions. As a doula, I was taught that when considering medical procedures we should consider the risks, benefits, and alternatives available. Women are typically not taught to think like this about childbirth and the medical establishment is certainly not forthcoming with any options other then those which fit their model. Many first time moms I have spoken to did not even know they had other options in childbirth outside of the typical interventions. And even if a woman is aware of other options, the power disparity that typically exists between a laboring woman and her OB/GYN makes choice illusory.

* from “Masking Maternal Mortality” by Ina May Gaskin in the March/April 2008 issue of the magazine “Mothering”.More interesting reading about the cultural fear of birth: Davis-Floyd is a Cultural Anthropologist and has many interesting articles about childbirth here:

Feel free to stop reading here, or earlier if you please. Maybe I even emailed this to you?
On a personal note:
Before I was trained as a doula and assisted other women through childbirth, I assumed I would deliver my future children the way most American women do: in a hospital, with an OB and medical interventions. Instead I have taken another route. My first son was born in a hospital, and the birth itself was a wonderful and empowering experience. I had my husband laboring with me and could not have done it without him. He has become a great advocate for natural childbirth as he is among a minority of people who have witnessed how labor can proceed naturally (only about 14% of American women give birth naturally). We also had a great nurse, midwife, and two very supportive friends who came to welcome our son into the world. The hospital never pressured me to receive pain medication or unnecessary interventions, and I was very, very happy to not have an IV, continuous fetal monitoring (Doppler yes but I was not strapped to the bed). However, I had a very quick labor (8 hours total, about 5 hours in the hospital) and things may have been different if I had been hanging out there for 24+ hours. I trusted my body. I trusted the birth process, and visualized every contraction bringing me closer to holding my baby. I was able to totally relax, not fight against the process but completely give into it. The only time I felt uncomfortable in the whole process was when the nurse made me stay still or in a position I did not want to be in to take my blood pressure. I was free to move around and naturally and innately found ways to be comfortable. We had a situation with our son after he was born where we felt that hospital policy took precedence over what would have been best for our situation, and this is why we chose to give birth in a birth center instead of a hospital with our second child. The birth center is amazingly peaceful and lovely, and has a 3% cesarean rate (which is partially due to the fact that higher risk pregnancies are referred out to OBs and hospitals, as they should be.) All other outcome statistics are also better than average at the birth center. I do understand that if there is anything had threatened my life or the life of my baby, we would have gone to a hospital, and I completely trusted my midwife to make that judgment call. We enjoyed a very peaceful, but intense water birth to welcome our new daughter into the world and I am so grateful that I had this choice in childbirth. Please help support birth centers and support choices in childbirth!

The Bad: Brian was gone for 6 days last week and the kids were acting sick. I took them to the doctor more concerned about Colin but the doctor said Jane most likely had RSV. She has been fine since she is older and so big and generally healthy to begin with, but still not what a parent wants to hear. Colin got worse and we were back to the doctor two days later with him quite ill (also probably RSV but not as bad as Jane). So when I had hoped to make the time without Brian go quickly by leaving the house, we were very house-bound. To make things even worse, I threw my back out on Sunday making it very painful for me to even pick Jane up. This has only happened 3 times in my adult life but I am ready for it to never happen again.

The Good: I am so grateful all these bad things happened while we were at home so we had our own pediatrician a 5 minute drive away and my chiropractor who helped me when I hurt my back in 2007. I got into see the chiropractor on Monday morning and the pain mostly resolved very quickly. And with my mom here, she gave me a few breaks where I would do exciting things like take a shower alone or run to the Dollar Store (discount shopping relaxes me). I would have totally lost it without my mom. Also, with our family of illness, Brian never got sick and was able to perform without incident. AND he was supposed to leave again for another engagement on the 18th but ended up not having to leave until the 19th (very good).

The Ugly: to add insult to injury, I even got a cold sore. The stress of the week showed up on my lower lip. Thanks little friend virus!

Now Brian is gone again but only until Sunday and then we have a long, long time before we are apart again. Here are some photos from today for Brian to look at from Louisiana.

Jane in all her baby cuteness. It has been lovely weather so we spent most of the afternoon outside. We are supposed to get more snow by Monday so we will take the nice weather while we have it.

Colin in all his little boy goodness. I should have washed his dirty, booger/band-aid face before photos but did not. He got a good scrub down before bed. As part of the good, he has mostly been going pee pee on the potty for a couple of weeks. He tells us his poopy is not ready and yesterday was explaining it to me this way, "I am just a pee pee man, not a poopy man." (Everything is "man" right now, worker man, sweeping man, racer man, pee pee man, etc)

Since I was curious, here's Colin and Jane at almost exactly the same age doing pretty much the same thing (eating leaves). Jane is a lot bigger than Colin was since he was long but about 70% for weight and she is nearly off the charts for height and weight. (Currently 30 inches and 23 pounds.)

When asked to sit by his sister for a photo, he has to "go crazy". Jane loves it. They are sweet kids who make me tired but are more than worth it. I was thinking about my educational background and the work that I could be doing now instead of being with my kids. I am quite sure there will still be social problems for me to work with in a few years but my little kids are a once in a lifetime experience. I am grateful I am able to be with them and grateful to Brian that he is able to make our living by singing.
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I think I forgot to post these photos of Brian from the opera in North Carolina. As shown in the photos, he was fully clothed this time. Since I have done this recently, here is a little review: Cenerentola – OPERA COMPANY OF NORTH CAROLINA “Tenor Brian Stucki takes on Ramiro's nearly impossible lines with relish, popping out high notes and roulades effortlessly.” Raleigh News Observer

We are missing Brian since he is in Milwaukee for some concerts this weekend. And the kids and I are all sick, so fun!

Brian felt a little like Ronald McDonald.

Colin playing at Monkey Joes in NC. He looks like a baby here to me, baby face.

Since Colin is now old enough to play with the trains and not destroy them, Jane comes over and destroys.
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I have not downloaded from our little camera in more than a month. The above photo was when Colin's birthday Lightning McQueen attached to his head. It's a remote control so the wheels move if it is on. I heard Colin fussing and went in to find this. Being a bad mom, I grabbed the little camera, which made Colin try to re-attach it when we had rescued his head.

A very blurry photo (Colin had gotten the camera and changed some settings and this was so cute I did not have time to adjust things). Colin was giving Jane some love.

For one of DanaLee's birthday dinners we took the kids to Red Robin. Red Robin himself (in the form of a man in costume) was visiting that night. We told Colin that he is friends with Mickey Mouse and lives at Disneyland.

When we came home, Colin's Nana got him this great trampoline for his birthday. Both he and Jane love it, although in the photo Colin was complaining that the camera was burning his eyes. It has been a big relief to finally be home after so long away. We arrived home about 1:30 in the morning over a week ago. Colin was so happy to see all of his toys that he was tyring to remember where every toy had come from. Very cute.
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Last weekend, our dear friends Mitch and Tiffany invited us to join them for a little getaway with another great couple, Leah and Partha and all our kids (6 total). So off we went to Deer Valley to a beautiful cabin with the view above off the back porch. It was really fun and extremely novel to put all the kids to bed and stay up late having really invigorating conversations with adult people. Yay!
We also had fun eating. Tiffany brought some yummy corn salsa and other goodies. We made pork tenderloin with sesame orange sauce and stir fried veggies for dinner. Leah offered brownies and coffee cake and we woke up in the morning to sourdough waffles with buttermilk caramel syrup. Yay!

This monster icicle (ice column) was hanging off a corner of the cabin. Yay!

Sorry no photos with people. Too many kids to chase. I just snapped these before we left.
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I turned an entire 34 years this week. One of the most exciting birthday surprises was an edible bouquet from DanaLee. It was lovely and delicious. Colin could not keep his hands off it.

Flowers from Brian

The edible bouquet had some tasty chocolate covered strawberries, here seen on Colin's face.

Jane came in to wake me up from my birthday nap. I've been a little sick and need more naps. Still a lovely birthday.
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While in North Carolina, we got to photograph two of Brian's cast members. Above is the lovely Stefano de Peppo. We met Stefano in Tel Aviv when he and Brian were in Cosi fan tutte. He was very fun to photograph.

We also took photos of the talented Andy Garland, who was also fun to photograph. Andy got me thinking about all the red heads I have photographed. I have even more from my pre-digital days and even feel like I am missing some now. (It's kind of early and I've had a cold so I may not have all my capacities). Next month we will be photographing a Hardy wedding with lots of red hair. We are so excited for the wedding of Sushi Party, Megan Hardy!

On closing night, Brian and I taught a few of the singers how to breathe fire. Here is Brian and Julia on a double fireball. I am still not totally behind the double fireballs as in a double I feel there may be some actual danger. Brian started a Facebook group called Operatic Firebreathers-and those who love them. Feel free to join.

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