The Other Side of the Glass

Part One was officially released June 2013 in digital distribution format. To purchase to to If you were a donor and want to download your copy send an email to

The trailer

Friday, April 27, 2007

Healing Baby's PICU Experience

By Julie Carlton

After Mika’s birth we knew we wanted to make some changes if we were blessed with another child. The biggest change we made when preparing for Elijah’s birth was that we chose to give birth at home with a Certified Nurse Midwife. We had taken Bradley childbirth classes before Mika’s and found them immensely helpful but I needed more help with relaxation so we chose to take HypnoBirthing classes. I had also become a doula and childbirth educator after Mika’s birth. I went into my second birth much more educated about birthing choices, how the body functions during birth, relaxation techniques and helping provide an atmosphere in which I could labor and birth my baby that was best for our baby, myself and our family. For us this was at home and our homebirth enabled us to give birth to Elijah in the gentlest way we possibly could - surrounded by the love of family and friends.

Elijah’s birth was awesome! His issue wasn’t birth trauma. His trauma came later. My eighteen-hour labor that progressed so gently that if I hadn't known better (from my first birth and from being a doula and childbirth educator), I would have seriously doubted that I was really in labor until I was nearly complete! Adam and I took two naps together!!! Yes! Naps during labor... and I am not talking early labor. I was at 6 cm before the first nap and eight cm before the second one. I had heard of women being able to do that, but I never thought I would be one of them! I dozed soundly and surges just kept going.

I entered a birthing pool for the last three hours and Adam got in with me. The surges intensified (uncomfortable but not painful) until he was born. It just took more effort to remain focused and relaxed, so I listened to my relaxation tapes and rocked in the soothing water with Adam. I found as soon as I started to tense up an area, pain would sneak in and as soon as I relaxed again the pain would vanish. I felt my baby move down the birth path. I felt my water break about forty-five minutes before he was born. I was aware of my baby's every move and feel I was able to connect with him on a very deep level even before he was born. I did not push but relaxed and breathed through the surges and let my body move my baby down. I pushed the last few contractions as his head was born and then realized he was stuck because he had shoulder dystocia. It was a scary few minutes at the end but our midwife knew exactly what to do. I feel I was able to stay calm and focused on what she told me to do in order to get him out because I was already so relaxed and calm. After he arrived, we were amazed at how big he was! 11 pounds 2 oz & 23 inches long and I had no tearing!

It was an absolutely amazing experience. It enabled Adam and me to work as partners in birthing our baby. I felt like I was really able to connect with my baby on a much deeper level and was much more conscious of him and his descent into the world than I was during my daughter's birth. I am just sad I didn't know how to give my daughter the beautiful birth her brother had.

Elijah's Diagnosis, Surgeries, and PICU Experience

We spent the next two days in such joyful bonding with our new baby. On day three of life during a routine newborn exam with our pediatrician, Elijah’s gums were noticed to be a bit dusky. His doctor thought maybe his PDA (the heart valve that is open during pregnancy but closes soon after birth) hadn’t quite closed yet which wasn’t a big deal at his age. Elijah had no other signs of a heart defect but our Dr. recommended we have a pediatric cardiology consult just to cover our bases. By divine intervention we were able to get an appointment that day. To make a long story short, Elijah ended up being diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects and would certainly die without surgery to correct them. Talk about having your world turned upside down!

Although he was doing amazingly well when the diagnosis was made, the cardiologist admitted him to the ICU in order to monitor his status until the corrective surgery could be made. Unfortunately as the staff worked to provide intervention, he became stressed and began to fail. It became a vicious circle … the more they tried to stabilize him, the more stressed he became and the more he slid downhill. Before the night was over our baby would be in emergency surgery fighting what seemed to be a losing battle for his life. The rug had completely been pulled out from under us.

Elijah beat the odds and survived the night and began to stabilize. He underwent two open- heart surgeries and multiple other procedures. We were initially told to expect a stay of four to 6 weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit based on his condition that first night. But, Elijah exceeded expectations at every turn and he went home in a little over two weeks from that first day! The deciding factor in sending Elijah home was when his surgeon noticed that his vital signs were consistently more stable when he was being held skin to skin with his mommy! Elijah's greatest risk factor was infection and the care team felt his risk was much lower at home. It was truly a miracle. We were told this daily by the staff. We were also surprised to hear several staff members credit Elijah's gentle birth to helping him recover so quickly. Elijah didn’t need to recover from his birth so he could put his energy into healing instead. A great example of how a baby is born DOES make a difference!!!

We brought home a fragile hurting baby who was wary of being hurt and we were nervous wrecks! Because Elijah was still very fragile and had to be monitored constantly, he had also become very defensive. Diaper changes were horrible! As soon as he realized we were going to change him Elijah cried and we cried! He had developed a severe yeast infection in the folds of his neck and in his groin area due to all the antibiotics and diuretics he was on. The skin on his groin area was literally sloughing off and had to be so painful! It was horrible!

As a mother it was heartbreaking to want to help and comfort your baby and to be rejected because he was afraid of being hurt! I have never felt so helpless! I felt like that ICU stay had saved his life but had driven a wedge in our bonding experience. We did all we could to help overcome that break. We co-slept with him, carried him skin to skin around with us and when he was healed enough to tolerate the sling, we took turns wearing him all day. Thank goodness he was able to maintain breastfeeding! That was our one way to connect and that I could provide comfort to him. Slowly we made progress but I knew more could be done. I knew Janel could help us make the extra progress that was needed to fully process what had happened and to help us reconnect. I talked to Adam about working with her and he was fully supportive. I contacted her when Elijah was about 8 weeks old. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Our Experience of CranioSacral Focused Prenatal and Birth Therapy

Trying to explain to someone about what Janel does exactly and how her work is done is very difficult. There just aren’t words enough to explain what goes on in a session, but I’ll try. The first time we met we went over in detail what had happened to Elijah from the beautiful birth, the PICU experience and all that had happened since. She had absolute respect for Elijah and talked to him. She asked him if she could hold him and told him exactly what she was doing as she did craniosacral work with him. She followed his movements and let him move as he wanted to. She in no way made him move, she simply supported him as he turned or moved a body part or pulled a foot or hand back, etc. as he “told his story” and she helped us process it as our feelings and memories came up. Many people believe that tiny babies can not communicate. I beg to differ! Elijah made it perfectly clear what he was saying through his body language!

Each session she did this and each session we learned something new that helped us help Elijah and helped us process the trauma with him. She was able to help us look at things through Elijah’s eyes which was priceless! For example, one session as they worked together Janel sensed that something about his feet was concerning him. In pursuing further we remembered that he had been pricked numerous times a day on his feet in order to get blood glucose readings to check his blood sugar! No wonder when anyone came up to him and tried to touch his little feet (as even strangers often will do to make contact with babies!) he got upset and quickly pulled his feet back. He was afraid of being hurt! We realized we had to not only be more aware of this and how it affected him but also do a better job of advocating for him. When people reached for his feet we were able to gently move him out of the way or just plain explain to them that he’d had his feet hurt in the ICU and didn’t like them touched. People were very understanding and quickly Elijah over came his aversion to having his feet touched!

Another example was when we discovered why diaper changes continued to be so difficult even after the yeast infection in his groin area had cleared up. Janel helped us remember that every time he’d had a diaper change, the nurses had also checked IV’s and arterial lines in his groin & chest area, had checked chest tubes, changed surgical tape holding tubes, adhesive heart electrodes, urethral catheters, given medications, etc., and it had been painful to him! (I say we remembered because it was about us having a safe, calm environment in which to tell the story and re-connect with Elijah. As he cried and moved and I settled myself as Janel taught me, I would remember what was going. As soon as named it, Elijah would stop crying and look at us. Who would image an infant so young could communicate so clearly?) Think how painful it can be to have a band aid removed & he’d experienced tape change multiple times a day. No wonder he still hated diaper changes! We just did it to him and he expected pain! We were able to recognize this and make sure that when we changed his diapers we told him what we were going to do and we made it the most positive experience we could for him! Within a week Elijah stopped screaming and within a couple of weeks he actually started enjoying our diaper changing times!

A third example was the day he cried. Now you may think this odd but other than diaper changes (when he all out screamed!) Elijah didn’t cry. He fussed and squirmed but never really cried! We found that very disconcerting. Babies cry. It’s how they communicate. But when Elijah started to cry, he quickly stopped or just fussed so that we knew he needed something but he never all out cried like a typical baby. Something about it just didn’t feel right. That day Janel held him and was doing craniosacral with him. As she did this, we talked about how he’d been on the ventilator and Adam and I could tell Elijah was crying, but he couldn’t make any sound. Every time he started to cry they’d sedate him to keep his heart rate from rising too much. It was such a difficult moment for us … watching Elijah helplessly lay there trying to communicate his needs & feelings to us but being unable to do so. I shared how frustrated I’d been not even being able to pick him up and to comfort him. Earlier, I told her how I knew that ventilator was keeping him alive but how I’d cried myself and wanted to rip it out of his mouth!

Janel helped me tell Elijah that it was ok to cry now. That his heart was strong now and he could cry and that we could hear him and would meet his needs. We apologized to him for his crying being silenced in the PICU. Suddenly he began to cry! You can call it coincidence if you like, but he cried. And cried and cried! I’ve never heard a tiny baby cry like that before! It was a long soulful cry and had such grief to it. It sounded like a much older person crying! It sounded like a much older person crying! It was the first time he’d shed tears too. As difficult as it was for me to let Elijah cry, I also realized that he needed this opportunity to fully express himself and be allowed to cry. Janel supported me too and led me in what to say to him since I was crying too! We acknowledged his pain, his loss, his grief and encouraged him to cry if he wanted to. We told him it was ok. He was safe now and very loved. It was such a profound moment of connection! He cried and then fell asleep in Janel's arms, and he had such a peaceful look on his face"

I could go on and on giving examples! I’ll leave you with one more. One session she was working with Elijah and we were talking about his surgeries. He became upset and as much as a three-month old can he began frantically reaching for her finger. Once he grasped it, he settled down. When she disconnected him and we continued to talk he did it again. He’d done this before but it wasn’t until then that we made the connection. When he was in the ICU after his surgeries I wasn’t allowed to hold him. With all the lines, ventilators etc connected to him he was almost completely covered! The only way Adam and I could connect & soothe him until we could hold him again was to hold his tiny hand with our fingers. We did that for hours at a time, standing by his bed! With Janel that day we realized just how important that connection and contact was for him; and, to this day, when he’s upset we let Elijah grasp our finger and it helps soothe him! It was such a great thing to be able to make that realization and to find a tool and resource that we could use to help our son when he is in an emotional crisis and needs support!

Each session with Janel helped Adam and me feel more connected to our son and I know Elijah felt more connected to us too. We quickly over came our bonding issues and now you would never know there had ever been a concern. Elijah is now the happiest, sweetest child. He wakes up with a smile on his face each morning ready for what the day may bring. I truly believe he was able to overcome his difficult start with Janel’s help. She not only helped us look at Elijah’s behavior through his eyes but helped us learn to problem solve in order to figure out what may be behind his behavior. The greatest gift she helped us give Elijah (and our other two children also!) is to be strong advocates for him! When he can’t speak his needs or isn’t sure what they are, we now have the skills to know when to step in and advocate for him, to better protect him and make sure others respect his needs and individuality and now we aren’t afraid to do so either!

Janel, we thank you and Elijah thanks you too!

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"Soft is the heart of a child. Do not harden it."

A public awareness reminder that things that happen behind the scenes, out of our sight, aren't always as rosy as we might think them to be. Perhaps its a restaurant cook who accidentally drops your burger on the floor before placing it on the bun and serving it to you. Here it's an overworked apathetic (pathetic) nurse giving my newborn daughter her first bath. Please comment and rate this video, so as to insure that it is viewed as widely as possible, perhaps to prevent other such abuse. -- The mother who posted this YouTube. How NOT to wash a baby on YouTube Are you going to try to tell me that "babies don't remember?" There is no difference to this baby's experience and the imprinting of her nervous system/brain and one that is held and cleaned by the mother or father either at the hospital or at home? By the way, this is probably NOT the baby's first bath. The nurse is ungloved. Medical staff protocol is that they can't handle a baby ungloved until is has been bathed (scrubbed if you've seen it) because the baby is a BIO-HAZARD -- for them. Never mind that the bio-hazard IS the baby's first line of defense against hospital germs.

Missouri Senator Louden Speaks

Finally, A Birth Film for Fathers

Part One of the "The Other Side of the Glass: Finally, A Birth Film for and about Men" was released June, 2013.

Through presentation of the current research and stories of fathers, the routine use of interventions are questioned. How we protect and support the physiological need of the human newborn attachment sequence is the foundation for creating safe birth wherever birth happens.

Based on knowing that babies are sentient beings and the experience of birth is remembered in the body, mind, and soul, fathers are asked to research for themselves what is best for their partner and baby and to prepare to protect their baby.

The film is designed for midwives, doulas, and couples, particularly fathers to work with their caregivers. Doctors and nurses in the medical environment are asked to "be kind" to the laboring, birthing baby, and newborn. They are called to be accountable for doing what science has been so clear about for decades. The mother-baby relationship is core for life. Doctors and nurses and hospital caregivers and administrators are asked to create protocols that protect the mother-baby relationship.

Men are asked to join together to address the vagaries of the medical system that harm their partner, baby and self in the process of the most defining moments of their lives. Men are asked to begin to challenge the system BEFORE they even conceive babies as there is no way to be assured of being able to protect his loved ones once they are in the medical machine, the war zone, on the conveyor belt -- some of the ways that men describe their journey into fatherhood in the medicine culture.

Donors can email to get a digital copy.
Buy the film at

The film focuses on the male baby, his journey from the womb to the world and reveals healing and integrating the mother, father, and baby's wounded birth experience. The film is about the restoring of our families, society, and world through birthing loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Finally, a birth film for fathers.

What People Are Saying About the FIlm

Well, I finally had a chance to check out the trailer and .. wow! It's nice that they're acknowledging the father has more than just cursory rights (of course mom's rights are rarely acknowledged either) and it's great that they're bringing out the impact of the experience on the newborn, but I'm really impressed that they're not shying away from the political side.

They are rightly calling what happens in every American maternity unit, every day, by its rightful name - abuse. Abuse of the newborn, abuse of the parents and their rights, abuse of the supposedly sacrosanct ethical principal of patient autonomy and the medico-legal doctrine of informed consent, which has been long ago discarded in all but name. I love it!

In the immortal words of the "shrub", "bring it on!" This film needs to be shown and if I can help facilitate or promote it, let me know.

Father in Asheville, NC

OMG'ess, I just saw the trailer and am in tears. This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospitals birth practice. I need a tool like this to help fathers see how very vital it is for them to protect their partner and baby. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckle while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming.
Please send me more info!!!!
Carrie Hankins
CD(DONA), CCCE, Aspiring Midwife

Thanks for sharing this. It was very touching to me. I thought of my brother-in-law standing on the other side of the glass when my sister had to have a C-section with her first child because the doctor was missing his golf date. I'll never forget his pacing back and forth and my realizing that he was already a father, even though he hadn't been allowed to be with his son yet.

Margaret, Columbia, MO

In case you don't find me here

Soon, I'll be back to heavy-duty editing and it will be quiet here again. I keep thinking this blog is winding down, and then it revives. It is so important to me.

I wish I'd kept a blog of my journey with this film this past 10 months. It's been amazing.

I have a new blog address for the film, and will keep a journal of simple reporting of the journey for the rest of the film.

I'll be heading east this week to meet with a group of men. I plan to post pictures and clips on the film blog.

I'll keep up here when I can -- when I learn something juicy, outrageous, or inspiring related to making birth safer for the birthing baby.

Review of the film

Most of us were born surrounded by people who had no clue about how aware and feeling we were. This trailer triggers a lot of emotions for people if they have not considered the baby's needs and were not considered as a baby. Most of us born in the US were not. The final film will include detailed and profound information about the science-based, cutting-edge therapies for healing birth trauma.

The full film will have the interviews of a wider spectrum of professionals and fathers, and will include a third birth, at home, where the caregivers do a necessary intervention, suctioning, while being conscious of the baby.

The final version will feature OBs, RNs, CNMs, LM, CPM, Doulas, childbirth educators, pre and perinatal psychologists and trauma healing therapists, physiologists, neurologists, speech therapists and lots and lots of fathers -- will hopefully be done in early 2009.

The final version will include the science needed to advocated for delayed cord clamping, and the science that shows when a baby needs to be suctioned and addresses other interventions. Experts in conscious parenting will teach how to be present with a sentient newborn in a conscious, gentle way -- especially when administering life-saving techniques.

The goal is to keep the baby in the mother's arms so that the baby gets all of his or her placental blood and to avoid unnecessary, violating, and abusive touch and interactions. When we do that, whether at home or hospital, with doctor or midwife, the birth is safe for the father. The "trick" for birthing men and women is how to make it happen in the hospital.

Birth Trauma Healing

Ani DeFranco Speaks About Her Homebirth

"Self-Evident" by Ani DeFranco

Patrick Houser at

Colin speaks out about interventions at birth