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I'm a Proud Mama!

Most kids go through parts of their lives, usually the teen years, where they struggle to find who they are and what their ultimate paths will be. My son Tristan had a particularly difficult time, the details of which don't really matter, but know that it did take him about a decade to get his footing again. But, when he did, he's since soared!

Tristan was long-time friends with a very talented rodeo cowboy-singer named Ryan Bingham, who, at the time, was barely invited to play at honky-tonk dives. As their popularity grew, the band (Dead Horses) knew they needed to go on the road and make a name for themselves. Tristan drove a beat-up station wagon and then a van, all the guys crammed inside, going from town to town, asking to sing in the local clubs. It didn't take long before they were on David Letterman and Jay Leno and Ryan eventually signed a contract in Hollywood. Tristan stood by the side of the road and waved bye-bye to Ryan and the band as they made names for themselves. Last year, Ryan won an Academy Award for co-writing and singing "The Weary Kind" for the movie Crazy Heart (with Jeff Bridges).

Now in Nashville, Tristan found himself assisting Shana Feste, the writer-director of a movie that just came out Friday, Country Strong, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw. He worked his ass off on that movie! But, between you and I, it was delicious hearing the behind-the-scenes of working with Ms. Paltrow (as Tristan called her) and even spending an evening at "Tim and Faith's" ginormous spread outside of Nashville. I wouldn't betray his confidences, but know that Ms. Paltrow is one of the sweetest and kindest women one could ever want to know... and the McGraw-Hills are wonderful and generous with their gifts. One thing about Ms. Paltrow I can share is, apparently, her skin (at 38 years old) is porcelain-white and newborn bottom soft. Tris said she's never gone out in the sun -and her skin, wrinkle-less, demonstrates that fact.

After his work on Country Strong, Tristan hooked up with the new country band Stealing Angels and is their manager as they've been touring this last year. Stealing Angels consists of Caroline Cutbirth, Jennifer Wayne and Tayla Lynn... each of whom comes from legendary royalty. Jennifer is John Wayne's granddaughter; Tayla's grandmother is Loretta Lynn and Caroline hails from the Daniel Boone line. The girls are on break at the moment; they finished the music video for their next single and are readying themselves to go back on the road in a couple of months. Tristan will, once again, have a schedule with a hundred things to do each day. For now, he's working on different projects in Nashville. We got to see Stealing Angels perform a couple of months ago for the first time. They were great!!  

  Jennifer Wayne, Tayla Lynn, me, my baby Tristan and Caroline Cutbirth at the October 2010 concert at Viejas (in San Diego).

Looking this over, it sounds like a name-dropping piece, that Tristan has "made it" because he rubs up against big names in Hollywood and Nashville, but that isn't the purpose of this post at all. My pride wells up inside and spills over simply because my boy made it out of those dark days... alive and much, much more than well. He isn't rich. He isn't on the front of the tabloids. He still washes his own clothes. He answers his own calls. He tells his mama he loves her every single day.

I was telling someone about Tristan this weekend, saying how I wished I could tell all moms who're struggling with their sons that it will be okay. Of course, it isn't always okay, but most of the time, our sons do find their ways to adulthood. Mine, with the grace of God/dess, did.

So, imagine my immense pride as I walked into the theater on Friday morning, 10:30am... the first showing in San Diego of Country Strong, knowing my son had a hand in making that movie possible. The movie was unbelievably good. I really hope Ms. Paltrow gets herself some awards for the amazing work she did in her role. Her singing was great, but her character was heart-wrenching.

Tristan'd told me he was in the credits as assistant to the director, but I hadn't seen a picture of it yet. I was giddy excited looking forward to seeing my son's name on the "big screen." Sarah and her sister were getting popcorn and soda, so I went in to get us seats. Interestingly, the theater was already pretty full. We're early arrivers always, so I was surprised to see how many people were there.

As I walked in, I stood in the walkway part in the front of the banks of seats and (very) loudly said:

"I know this won't mean anything to you all, but my son worked on this movie and his name is in the credits at the end. He's never been in the credits before, so I'm really excited to see it. And, in case you couldn't tell, I'm very, very proud and just had to tell you that."

Someone yelled out, "What did he do?" and I told them... then, "What's his name?" and I nearly hollered, "Tristan Lora!" Hilariously, the crowd applauded.

So, we watch the movie, I loved it... and even while wiping tears from my eyes, I bored holes into the screen watching for Tristan's name in the credits. When it came up... I snapped a picture (blurry as it is) and then squealed with delight!

There... there... there on the screen, a huge movie screen, was the visual acknowledgement of my precious baby's long road to happiness. Success is ancillary; happiness is paramount.

I am so very proud of you son. I love you so very much tonight.

My baby boy and his proud mama.


Ryan Bingham - Tonight Show Video

I finally found the Tonight Show video on-line!

My hospital-born baby Tristan is the Road Manager for Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses. They were on Jay Leno April 11.

See their performance here!

They were on Conan last night and as soon as I can find the video, I will share it here. They were wonderful and Conan loved them!

(I know it seems like I am just hawking the band and my son, but seriously, they are seriously great and I hope you will take a gander - and buy the album. If you enjoy country/country-rock/classical guitars/good music... you will love them, too!)


Random Stuff

1. My Tristan's band (he's the road manager), Ryan Bingham (and the Dead Horses), is on Late Night with Conan TONIGHT (scroll down to Friday's schedule to see Ryan's mention!). Please DVR it! Bands are usually on at the very, very end, so make sure your DVR is set for over the actual end time.

Ryan's band was also mentioned here when Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal attended a cocktail party for the band! How cool is that? They are touring at the moment, so I don't yet know if Tris was there.

2. Student Midwife - UK is gone. Her teachers found her blog and she was very scared about what she was going to do. Even though many of us encouraged her to keep writing, she is gone. I hope she comes back - even if totally privately - so we can continue reading her thoughts and experiences. Sad. Very, very sad.

It's really so hard, this blog stuff. At least for anyone that has a thought that might not be in the mainstream. So many of us birth bloggers turn our heads sideways to look at things through many different angles, exposing our considerations and concerns... and observations... and if someone isn't fond of what we say or if they feel they know better, they can skewer us. It isn't fun sometimes, but for most of us, writing is as vital as breathing and we take the smacks and slaps as a matter of course... yet we stand tall and firm. It's really sad when one of our own succumbs to the challenges... the pain. I do understand, but wish it wasn't so hard for everyone.

3. Kneelingwoman wrote one of the most amazing pieces I have ever read in a blog. Now that she has left midwifery behind, she is free to avoid much of what I mention above. There has to be something said for a lack of censorship. I look forward to that day.

In the Beginning, There Was Woman - Affirmation for My Sisters says so many important things, I beg of you to read the entire piece.

In part, she says:

- "Prior to the 1950's, it was highly unusual for mothers to spend the kind of time and attention now lavished on children and yet, for all the 'attachment parenting' going on in the last 20 years; the level of behavioral, emotional and social dysfunction in children has skyrocketed and more young women and mothers are on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications than at any time in the last two generations! The last time an entire demographic of mothers were, in large numbers, being prescribed psychiatric medications was back in the late 50's and 60's -- remember 'Mother's Little Helper?'

The idea that 'bonding' and 'attachment' are delicate, sensitive arrangements that happen only in ideal circumstances, or only with great difficulty if anything imposes on those precious, irreplaceable few hours after birth is nonsense."

- "Over the last 20 years, the 'natural parenting' movement that grew out of Midwifery has had the bewildering side effect of polarizing women against women and mothers against mothers. There is a definite generational divide, in my readership, between women older than 45 who may have opted for 'midwifery' attended birth in home or hospital/birth center, and who happily breastfed but who, for the most part, worked outside the home in some capacity, possibly homeschooled but in a very open, communitarian way; helping their children establish learning and social experiences across a broad spectrum of neighborhood and society. They maintained very active and diverse contacts within their respective communities and families.

The women who are 35 and under who are making the same basic parenting choices but seem, in large numbers, to have embraced a kind of moral and emotional zealotry that is essentially fundamentalist! There is a strict code for 'good mothering' that holds that homebirth, attended or unattended with the 'supermother' edge given to those who birth unassisted, extended breastfeeding, co sleeping, no separation of mother and baby for any reason at any time well into toddlerhood, and homeschooling that is far more isolationist, in terms of the broader culture, than what we embraced back in the late 80's and early 90's. The kids seem to spend most days alone, at home, with mom and the social contacts are limited largely to planned activities with other homeschooling families. There seem to be more issues with extended family over these choices and I think it may be because of what looks like a kind of 'separatist' nature to the lifestyle choices, as opposed to the more 'community' oriented goals of the earlier decades."

- "What I am finding increasingly disturbing is the viciousness of the attacks! The name calling! I honestly thought that once people were past, say, High School, the labeling and negating of someone by verbally assaulting them or questioning everything from their character to their sanity, just kind of went by the wayside but, on many of the blogs and forums; there is a veritable tsunami of ugly and cruel taunting, slurs and character assassination."

- "Robotically conforming to a predigested, limited palette of parenting choices out of fear of rejection by the same, computer-generated non-relationships permeating the ether is a form of self-neglecting and self-hate that no mother should model for her children; even if they are sitting on her lap breastfeeding while she does it!"

I have written before about the polarization in midwifery, how there isn't room to be realistic and hopeful at the same time... how you are either a gung-ho every-woman-can-birth-naturally proponent or you are (or I am!) a med-wife who sees trouble at every turn. I am baffled by the myopic views of many of my peers and it really doesn't help any of our clients to ignore the realm of possibilities, expected and unexpected, in birth. But, there is a midwife for everyone, even the most idealistic of us.

It's refreshing to hear another midwife speak of the curious behavior of women who profess to want their children to grow up utilizing the wide range of choices in the world, but only expect the "right" choices out of their friends and families. And surely, their children, too. I admit I am of the ilk that squirms and feels anxious thinking my own children might circumcise their sons, who might only nurse for a few months or who might put their babies in a crib in another room, but I have to trust that they will do what is right for their families - and know that I have instilled in them the importance of a baby's feelings and needs in infancy. I have to trust that I gave them everything I could (information, encouragement, knowledge, belief, etc.) while they grew up and now, releasing them, they will translate my "words" into their lives.

Why is it so hard to do that with those around us?

I used to be such a hard-ass about breastfeeding. Thinking I was sooooo progressive and understanding, when I was a La Leche League leader, I really was quite judgemental and, probably, not the kindest counselor a woman would come to. Back then, I really believed every woman could nurse - if she just tried hard enough. Women who couldn't weren't as committed as others (me!). Never mind the systemic yeast (that we didn't really know about back then), PCOS (which we didn't know about back then), thyroid issues (that none of us ever seemed to know about or remember), the bleeding and cracked nipples, the incorrect sucks, the influence of family and friends or inner issues that might seriously affect the nursing relationship; every woman could nurse.

In time, I worked with different cultures, mainly migrant Hispanics, and learned that it was a mark of affluence to bottlefeed - trying to get them to nurse was distasteful at best. They wanted to be Americans - and bottlefeeding came with that distinction.

The Mexican migrant women (and many other Hispanic cultures) who breastfeed also used bottles from day one, usually with te de manzanilla (chamomile tea) to help keep colic at bay. I remember trying, in vain, to get them to quit the tea, but pretty quickly realized my ethnocentric manipulations and shut up about it.

But what about nipple confusion? Weren't they going to cause nipple confusion by nursing and using bottles? Especially introducing bottles so darned early? Well, apparently, Hispanic babies don't get nipple confusion. That seems to be an Anglo problem. Why would that be? Expectations is my belief. If there isn't such a thing as nipple confusion, it doesn't happen. If we fret over the baby's sucking changing with the introduction of an artificial nipple, then maybe that is why they get wiggy about it.

I also began seeing women who'd been sexually abused who couldn't/wouldn't nurse - it was horrid to them. How could I begin to argue with that? I suppose I could have haughtily suggested they get mental health help, but most of them already had. I realized that, sometimes, the most empowering thing some women can do is to schedule a cesarean or bottlefeed their babies. Humbling for me, to say the least.

I've softened over the years. If women choose to have a Gestational Diabetes Screen, I help her do it in a comfortable way. If she chooses to have three sonos in her pregnancy, it's her thing. If she wants a 4-D, so what? If a woman considers an amniocentesis, my counseling style is much more relaxed than it used to be. If it makes her feel safer in her pregnancy, why not? If a woman chooses to have an epidural in the middle of her labor (and I can't think of a single case of that happening [yet] with me), so what? Why would I consider making her feel guilty about it. I'm not in her body! I'm glad to be a sounding board to disappointment afterwards, but would also really encourage acceptance of what was and an understanding of body dynamics (the baby included) and situational experiences. There is nothing gained in a woman feeling guilty/bad/sad about choices made with intelligence and feeling at anytime during pregnancy, birth or postpartum.

When it comes to health issues, that's a different story. I am particular in not taking women who smoke, who eat like crap and won't change or who participate in behaviors that can hurt her heart, body or mind without a plan to eliminate them. While it might seem like judgement calls, I am being hired to oversee the health, safety and life of two human beings and I can only do that with full participation, spiritually and physically, from the client who hires me.

Not nursing can have an affect on the child; I had one myself. But, with the many artificial milk alternatives available today - and the (expensive) alternative of obtaining breastmilk - I am not nearly as vociferous as I once was about women who choose not to nurse. I haven't had a midwifery client yet who didn't want to nurse - and would certainly explain the safety factors of nursing for the mom (often overlooked in the breastfeeding discussions) - but if she really didn't want to nurse, I'd be okay with that.

For me, the softening has come with maturity and time. I admire midwives who go with the flow (and there are plenty of them!). Some, however, are so tight in their dogma (including issues like physical autonomy, prenatal and postpartum tests, "normal" behaviors, etc.) they find delight in bashing women who have other ideas of what might work for them. It's so much sweeter to see midwives embrace the whole woman and her family instead of picking her apart, piece by piece.

See how many thoughts Kneelingwoman brings forth? Read her piece and then formulate your own thoughts about what she has to say.

4. On the heels of accepting women for where they are, comes an exhibit I would love to see come to America. The Exhibit on Multicultural Childbirth Rituals sounds absolutely fascinating! I know that, for me, the more I learn, the more I see I don't know. About loads of topics, including birth in different cultures.

5. ACNM is releasing the newest version of Life-Saving Skills Manual for Midwives in the fall. The manual is geared towards midwives in areas where supplies are extremely limited and, as a pocket-sized book, will be a great addition to any midwife's birth bag.

6. Possible Biological Explanation for C-Section-linked Allergies and Asthma Found - Yet another reason to shy away from unnecessary cesareans.

7. A 12 Pound Vaginal Birth! - Yeah, some shoulder issues, too. The midwife must have had her eyes bugging out as that baby was born.

That's it for the news of the moment.

Head off and read!

And don't forget to DVR or watch Conan tonight!