Labor Repose

Labor Repose
LaborPayne during her 6th homebirth (9th baby) at age 44

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Ranch

These are a few images from the lovely Rancho Los Palmas where I would like to stay when I return next January. It is a breathtaking place with horses, and other farm animals and an organic vegetable garden, hiking and riding trails and a swimming pool fed by underground hot springs. The staff includes a cook to prepare the meals. The ranch sleeps about 15. I'm hoping to recruit 10-15 folks to go with me. Any takers?


These grainy photos are of the start of the walk. The Pilgrams parade out of town with Native Indian dancers leading the way. The Pilgrams march by village, each led by banner bearers and singers. The marchers number into the thousands.

Hospital Maternidad

These are two photos I took of the maternity hospital where I did my service project. You are looking over the second floor railing down into the little courtyard where laboring mothers can sit and walk, and the second photo is the rooftop where gatherings and meetings are held.

Guest Home

Finally got some photos back! These are two photos of the lovely home of my gracious hostess, Michele. It was ranch/villa about 15 minutes outside the town of San Miguel. It was so beautiful and peaceful and surrounded by mountains on all sides with horse pastures surrounding the house (my hostess is a competitive rider). I loved my time of silence and solitude in such beautiful surroundings.

Friday, January 30, 2009

First Step Towards the Pulitzer Prize

Hey Readers,

Check this out. I got this email, just before leaving for Mexico and didn't have time to digest it. Now that I've had time to really look at it, it's quite a compliment. This is really cool and I wanted to share it with you. Many thanks to Kelly Sonora and all you devoted Dear Readers who support the LaborPayne Epistles. I love writing this blog!


We just posted an article, "Top 100 Blogs for Expecting Mothers" ( I thought I'd bring it to your attention in case you think your readers would find it interesting.

I am happy to let you know that your site has been included in this list.

Either way, thanks for your time!

Kelly Sonora

Final Day

Today is the final day of class for my current crop of students. (Our program is condensed, so students do 1 class per month- all day, everyday. Now you know why its so hard to write during a teaching month.) As this fresh group of students move on to their next course, I have the same anxieties. Did I focus on the most important maternal-infant health issues? Did I say enough about the importance of breastfeeding? Did I stimulate new ways of thinking about maternal healthcare? Did I cause alarm about cesarean rates and the inherent risk it causes? Did I plant the seeds of love in someone's heart for this area of nursing? Was I kind and gentle in my approach? Was I creative enough, tough enough, lenient enough? This teaching thing is such a dance of opposites. I'm so proud of my students, but more importantly, I want them to be proud of themselves for what they have accomplished this month. Today, after the final exam, we will have lunch together, catered by my mother, the 'evangelist', followed by her doing a 'blessing of hands'. She brings her blessed oil, and if they wish (totally voluntary) she will pray over them and annoint their hands. This is a small ritual I offer my students that they seem to enjoy. It means a lot to my mother to come do it. My peers and I are serious about sending good nurses out into the community, and I want them to have a sense that they are on a 'holy mission'. I want to send them out (or onto the next course) with prayers and blessings and a sense that they are a part of something larger than themselves. You could say, helping them find their mission, is my mission...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

San Miguel Walk

I did it, I did it! Sure I finished the walk... but I'm talking about trying huitlacoche! After I read Jill's comment on yesterday's post, I spotted this item on a menu when I went to my favorite restaurant for dinner. It was served as an appetizer, three quesadillas, one with mushrooms, one with cheese, and one with huitlacoche. It looked liked a slimy black fungus nestled in with cheese inside a corn tortilla. It tasted mushroomy only more 'earthy'. It actually didn't taste too bad (if I didn't look at it) and I ate the whole thing! Thanks Reader Jill for opening my mind and palate to new gustatory experiences!
Now back to the walk. Previously it was three days and I trained for it as if I were training for the Olympics. A couple of years ago it was shortened to half a day to get more people (and more donations). It's not nearly as big a production, and the walk was still challenging for me. The walk itself is more than 100 years old. The Mexicans walk over a nine day period from San Miguel de Allende, Guanujuato to San Juan de los Lagos in the neighboring state of Jalisco. It is a spiritual pilgrimage from one holy shrine to another. The part of the walk that I participate in, the 3 day or 1 day version is a bunch a gringos who get in at the end of the line and walk for a much shorter period of time to raise money for the organization, CASA. So the walk is actually 8-10,000 Mexican Pilgrims, and then about 50 gringos walking as a fund raiser.
This morning at 6:30 am we gathered at the Parrochia (cathedral) in the town square. There is a special Mass to bless the Pilgrims. It is very festive as the townspeople gather to see the Pilgrims off on their journey as they parade out of town. There are native Indian dancers in colorful full costume including head dresses, who lead the parade, then a municipal brass band, and then the Pilgrims. They march by village, each carrying their town banner and hoisting on shoulders, their own statues of La Virgin (you know, Mary), and giant crucifixes of Jesus. The villagers sing as they march, and one group after another heads through the town streets with well-wishers looking on. Since we are guests to the march, we gringos go last, just ahead of the 'medicos' the ambulance corp. The crowds press food into our hands (its considered a blessing to give something to the Pilgrims as they pass through) such as oranges (great for low blood sugar during a long walk), and atole, my much beloved corn-based beverage that reminds one of hot chocolate, bottled water, and small loaves of bread. I say muchos gracious even if I don't accept their offerings to show that I recognize their hospitality and generosity. We walked through the town and into the country-side and into the next small village, just a few kilometers, before we were bused backed to CASA for a tour and lunch. A group of six of us including two midwives who live here part-time from Massachusetts, are offered a ride from a Mexican in a pickup while we wait for our van. We cheerfully accept and pile into the back of his pickup (don't tell my kids!) So there we are 6 or 7 old gringos merrily riding in the back of a pickup. He drops us at the edge of town and we tip him a few pesos. He tells us its the most money he's had all week. We soon hitch another ride to CASA from a professional driver who hands us all his business card as we exit his shiny spacious red sport utility vehicle. The gringos I walk with have made their home in San Miguel, mostly retired expatriates and come from all over the globe, US, Canada, and various places in Europe. They are a delight to get to know and make the walk most pleasant. I'm a mild star, since I have traveled the furthest to participate. The view in the countryside is spectacular as the arid mountain pastureland stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions.
I can't wait to return next January with family and friends. Hopefully we will repeat my agenda of a time of shopping, a time of service, a time of rest and reflection, and of course a time walking. Pictures to post when I return!

Friday, January 23, 2009

San Miguel De Allende

Greetings from Leonora (my Mexican name)
I'm here in San Miguel for the annual walk which raises money for domestic violence prevention. I spent my first day shopping (for souvenirs and serapes) and my second day in contemplative silence and reflection. Today is a day of service, tomorrow the walk and on Sunday I return home. I'll spend today at the local maternity hospital helping plan an outreach campaign or setting up a blog or some such thing. I have the privilege of staying with a friend's villa outside of town in the countryside. It is beautiful here in the mountains. Everything is arid and dry and mostly cactus grows out of the ground- not much grass but the vistas are breathtaking. I climbed to a small summit this morning to get a better view. Fields, mountains, and stately haciendas in every direction. My friend's villa is lovely. She lives alone in a spacious 4 bedroom house- I have an entire wing to myself. She is an artist and has a loft studio where she paints. She's doing a series of Jesus(es) painted in whimsical fashion. I fell in love with a Oaxacan style Jesus and am taking him home with me. He is pictured on her website under the 'serial catholic' series. This place invites calm, and quiet reflection- just what I came to find. I'm already planning my next retreat for silence and solitude. Another San Miguel friend has moved to a monastery in Colorado and has invited me to come. After seeing the website I'm already anticipating a visit there. After reading Kathleen Norris' "The Cloister Walk" about 10 years ago, I've become fascinated with monastery life and hope to visit many in my lifetime. After reading "Eat, love pray" I also want to visit an ashram. I'm already looking forward to returning to San Miguel next January, but this time not alone, but with family and friends who want to join me in the walk. I have already booked a ranch to hold us all. I'm telling everyone its first come first serve. I'm hoping to have 10-15 people accompany me back here. We will do the walk, retire at the ranch, and do a service project for the organization that hosts the walk. I so look forward to sharing San Miguel with others. During my quiet time I've done writing on my two books and sat in meditative silence. Just so I don't sound too spiritual I've also searched the web on anything about the inauguration. I wasn't able to sit still and watch everything from start to finish because I was teaching that day. During my prayer time- I remember him and his family. Birth and breastfeeding are never far from my thoughts and I look forward to my time of service at the 'hospital maternidad' today.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Maternity Care: Community Meeting in the Heartland

Following is the report that was generated from the meeting I attended that is mentioned in the previous post. This was a well attended meeting with excellent representation from the advocates throughout the state of Missouri, including a state representative that declined to be named. Please read and add your feedback. Big thanks to Stephanie Hedenkamp for hosting the event in her lovely home.