Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Trust Birth Conference Aftermath

I am still soaking in everything from the Trust Birth Conference in Redondo Beach, CA. Wow. Here is my experience at this incredible gathering.

I flew into LAX with my oldest daughter, Wenna (16) and my youngest daughter, Midori (1). Wenna came with me to watch Midori while I was attending sessions. Midori came with me because she still nurses quite a lot. We flew in on a small plane... it was crowded, noisy, and our view was obstructed by the undercarriage of the wing that held the propeller and the landing gear. We did see some incredible snow fields as we crossed the Cascade mountains heading for our first stop in Redmond. After a brief stop, we headed to LAX.

I hadn't flown in over 20 years, and the take offs and landings were something else. After we landed, I was totally lost at the airport, and had to ask for directions so I could meet Lennon, who was picking us up.

Lennon is great... we had a great visit during the drive to the hotel. She delivered us to the lobby and we checked in and found our way to our room.

Waiting inside was my dear friend Lori of over ten years online... we had never met in person until this moment. She is warm and wonderful, if a little stressed as she was trying to finish up printing jobs and battling jetlag. With her were Janelle and Kathy... it was nice to see faces to go along with the emails I had seen for so long.

I took the girls to dinner... we were starving. Redondo Beach is a wonderful town. Even late at night it was safe for us to be walking the streets in search of the restaurant. The food was terrific, and the evening air was wonderful. We were admiring the ficus trees and jade trees in people's yards on the way. Those plants are houseplants where I live. I met Carla at one point in the lobby. We got to bed late.

I got up and registered in the morning and met Kristi Zittle, who was handling the registrations. We had worked together on conference stuff for the past few months. She is so sweet and always smiling. I ran into Carla again, and met her husband, Ray. To my detriment, I skipped the opening session so the girls and I could hit the grocery store for provisions for the room. I had already gotten blisters from walking... I hadn't worn nylons for years, and that was all I had brought. I had to buy a pair of socks for cushioning. We bought dinner supplies for the girls... my youngest would never have sat through the conference dinner, and I really wanted to hear the speakers.

My first session was with Sheri Menelli of She had some great ideas for building a birth-related business. She is such an enthusiastic speaker, it was hard not to get swept away with her suggestions. I will be going over my notes and applying some of them.

I was monitoring the next session, which was Pre & Postpartum Fitness with Carla's daughter, Heather Brock. After eight children, I figured a few hints on the best way to tighten my abdominal muscles was not amiss. She was a dynamic speaker, and inspired all of us in the session with her flexibility and flat stomach. I'm already trying some of her suggested exercises.

I ran upstairs after the session to see what needed to be done before the dinner. I took the girls out for a brief walk about to get them out of the room for awhile, and nursed Midori. When we got back we helped with last minute printing jobs before the dinner. We were finally able to get dressed and get to the banquet room. I found my table, and was delighted to see that I was seated at the same table with several AAMI students, Henci Goer, and Heather Cushman-Dowdee of Hathor the Cow Goddess fame. We had a lovely chat before the dinner started.

Ricki Lake was there to get an award for Courage in Media for producing "The Business of Being Born." She accepted graciously, and had to run to another engagement. Then we got to eat a lovely meal.

After the meal, Carla did some awards. Debby Sapp was handed her diploma for graduating with honors from Ancient Art Midwifery Institute. What an accomplishment! This course is very difficult, and to complete it at all is an amazing achievement. Then Carla presented some awards. I'm sorry I don't remember them all... I was nervous about the one I was presenting in front of 170 people, many of whom I revered. Suddenly it was time for me to step up and read my speech honoring Vi Sadhana, a traditional midwife from my city. She was not able to attend, but after an emotion-filled reading on my part, I took her certificate and plaque back to the table with me, to deliver to her when I got home. Pamela Hines-Powell was honored next, and she opened up the perfect opportunity for her apprentice, Lennon to begin our presentation to Carla. Students had donated funds to get her a bed and breakfast weekend to help her recover after the conference, and I had made a drawing of her grandmother, who was a midwife. We presented these items to her and gave her hugs.

After the awards, it was time for our keynote speaker, Dr. Michel Odent, to talk to us about how to Dispel the Disempowering Birth Vocabulary. Though his accent was thick and a bit challenging to understand, his speech was eloquent, and it wasn't difficult to follow his talk. Everyone leaned forward, trying to catch every word. So many words associated with female genitalia and with birth are associated with shame and negative connotations. This happens in languages around the world.While this wasn't news to me, it was wonderful to hear his take on the entire matter and what he suggested. While I didn't get to meet him personally, it was a great treat to hear him speak, and to see Dr. John Stevenson, who was at a nearby table, as well as so many of the other well-known birth advocates all in the same room.

This is long enough... more later on Saturday and our trip home.


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