Here's to another unsung hero of the coronavirus pandemic—the midwife
Photo by Alex Hockett on Unsplash

Imagine being pregnant in the middle of a pandemic, when a hospital full of potentially contagious patients is the last place you want to set foot. Where and how are you going to bring your baby into the world?

Thousands of parents-to-be facing this question have scrambled to make a plan that keep them and their baby safe during the coronavirus outbreak. And many have turned to the experts in safe birthing in non-hospital settings—midwives.

Depending on where you live, midwife-assisted birth in a non-hospital setting may be seen as totally normal, or it may be viewed with suspicions about safety. In the U.S., midwife-attended births had seen an uptick even before the pandemic, but the vast majority of births still take place in hospitals. In other countries, home births attended by midwives is the norm for low-risk births.


With the new coronavirus likely not leaving anytime soon, folks in the U.S. might want to hop on the "this is normal" train. With restrictions on visitors and birth support people, as well as the risk of infection, more and more parents are opting for an out-of-hospital birth experience.

Despite being the first state hit hard by the virus, Washington state has had a "tremendous leg up" on this front, says Jen Segadelli, Co-President of the Midwives' Association of Washington State and Clinical Education Supervisor of the Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University. Decades of relationship-building between the midwives and OBs in Washington has created a strong culture of collaboration, she says, making childbirth care in a pandemic far easier than in states where midwives and OBs operate mostly in separate spheres.

However, even in a state where doctors and midwives work well together, the unique circumstances of a pandemic create an entirely new set of challenges and considerations. Coincidentally—and thankfully—a playbook for handling childbirth during a pandemic had already been partially written in Washington before the virus even hit.

Seattle-area midwife Tara Lawal, who runs Rainier Valley Community Clinic, had written her Masters thesis on developing a midwife-led community-based model of care, which includes midwife-physician collaboration—a vital piece of the pandemic birth equation. And Emily Jones, a current Bastyr University midwifery student, is nearly finished writing her Masters thesis on the role of midwives in disaster preparedness. The central question of her paper: "What happens when hospitals run out of beds?" Talk about good timing.

Segadelli, Lawal, Jones, and other community birth providers in Washington have created a COVID-19 Response Coalition to address the needs of birthing families during the pandemic using the knowledge laid out in those midwives' research. "The goal is to not get ourselves to a place where we are suddenly New York and like 'Aw crap. We might have to divert two thousand births out of the hospital in two weeks, and where are we going to put them?'" says Segadelli.

For midwives, the specifics of "where" aren't as important as simply having a plan. "We can catch a baby anywhere," says Segadelli. "We would just prefer that there be four walls and running water and heat."

Washington has dozens of licensed freestanding birth centers, which offers a degree of out-of-hospital infrastructure in addition to home birth options. But not all states have those facilities. New York, for example, has just two freestanding birth centers, both in Brooklyn. So creative solutions have to be found when hospitals get overrun and birth centers aren't available.

Segadelli says one option is setting up ad-hoc birth centers in hotels or Airbnbs in addition to home births. However, varying state laws and regulations make those options trickier in some states than others. For example, some states don't allow midwives to carry certain life-saving medications, and some don't even allow midwives to legally practice at all.

Segadelli says differing state laws means a hyperlocal approach must be taken:

"This is the downside to the federalist legal system, right? We essentially have 50 different legal systems in this country. Our legality of practices are different state by state, and our scope of practice is different state by state. There are some states where you can't carry anti-hemorrhagic medication. You can't carry Pitocin to stop a postpartum hemorrhage. So the way that those midwives might be forced to manage this is going to look different than it's going to look like for midwives in Washington, who enjoy a pretty liberal scope of practice and a pretty extensive drug legend for emergency management."


Segadellisays midwives has seen a 25% to 100% increase in demand across the state since the pandemic began. Some requests are from patients who are near their due date, which poses an extra challenge for midwives who are used to working closely with patients throughout their pregnancy. Late-term transfers don't allow much time for relationship-building, and patients may not be prepared for the reality of an out-of-hospital birth without the option of an epidural. But in a crisis, people do what they have to do.

And problem-solving in real time is exactly what midwives do. "I think that's what midwives do well," says Segadelli. "We innovate. We problem-solve. We always have." Midwives also have valuable birth care expertise that traditional OBs don't. Doctors have begun approaching midwives in Washington asking how to get patients out of the hospital after birth quickly, which is standard practice for most midwives. Segadelli says that kind of knowledge sharing will serve birthing patients well, not only during this pandemic, but in any potential disaster situation.

"We are hopeful that we have somewhat managed to avert crisis in this state with early action with social distancing and preventative measures," says Segadelli. "But we are also hopeful that this has started a bigger conversation about when this happens again—I won't even say 'if,' we're way too connected as a global society for it not to happen again—or an earthquake or some other kind of crisis or disaster—when we're faced with it, that we've started to lay some groundwork here with our colleagues and as a healthcare system that recognizes we're going to have to have a plan. Because if we don't have a plan, the people who fall through the cracks are the birthing people and the babies."

While OBs are experts in surgical birth and high-risk birth situations, midwives are the experts in normal, low-risk birth. Both kinds of expertise are needed in a crisis, so the more birth care providers work in conjunction with one another, the better the outcome for all birthing families.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

When Donato Di Camillo was a kid, his family couldn't afford film for their Polaroid camera.

So instead, he ran around the house with a film-less camera pretending to be a hotshot photographer on an African safari, mimicking the heroes behind iconic photos he saw in the discarded National Geographic magazines his dad grabbed for him out of the garbage.

Years later, when Di Camillo found himself in prison after collecting a lengthy rap sheet of thefts, he discovered a library full of those same magazines.

While other inmates were working out or getting into trouble, he pored over old issues of National Geographic, Life, and Time.

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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