Remembering Doris Haire and Sandy Jamrog

Remembering Doris Haire and Sandy Jamrog

The CEA/MNY birth community lost two of its most passionate and innovative leaders this year: Doris Haire and Sandra Jamrog. These women, both founding members of CEA/MNY (Doris Haire founded CEA/MNY with Dorothea Lange, pictured below) made a tremendous impact the way we think about birth and childbirth education–their warmth, wisdom and tenacity will be deeply missed. We honor them now with a few memories from members who knew them well. If you’ve never heard of these women, please read about them and learn what they did. It is vital that we carry on their legacy in our own work as advocates and educators. – Ceridwen Morris

Sandy’s Impact
By Ellen Chuse, CCCE, Former Board President

Sandy Jamrog, CCCEI met Sandy Jamrog in 1974 at the Gardens Nursery School where her son Joshie was in the 2’s.  One of his teachers was Gara LaMarche, the man I would later marry. I was a teacher in the 3’s and long before we were thinking about having a family Gara and I became friends with Sandy and Joe.  In those days Sandy was a dancer. I was a sculptor. I built an abstract pelvis for a performance she gave while pregnant with her third child, her daughter Jenny. Those are my earliest memories of Sandy. I remember Joe’s story about Jenny’s birth – desperately trying to get their next door neighbor Carmen to come over to help since the baby was threatening to arrive before the midwife. I have memories of Sandy pregnant with her fourth child Jonathan. I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t know Sandy.

When I became pregnant for the first time in 1979 and eventually decided to have a home birth, Sandy was instrumental in helping me find a midwife – no small challenge in those days in NYC.  Gara and I took a relaxation and massage class series with Sandy and Susan Beach as part of our childbirth preparation and the rest is history.  I had a baby and fell in love with birth.

Sandy pulled me into CEA in 1982, served as my mentor and pushed me into teaching before I thought I was ready.  Sandy was president of CEA for so many years. I remember countless workshops and board meetings in her wonderful, sprawling apartment on the Upper West Side where the family and their sweet dog lived amid futons and pillows and a seeming level of chaos I couldn’t fathom.  There was always a sense of welcome, Sandy’s beaming face and her generosity in sharing her knowledge and support.  Over the years I saw Sandy less often as we were further apart geographically.  After a long hiatus we reconnected at Joan King’s memorial service a few years ago and I visited her soon after. We picked up where we left off as though we had never been apart.  Even at her most fragile Sandy radiated a glow of deep beauty.  Having Sandy join us at our 2013 Teacher and Trainee Tea was such a special moment. Sandy was the living history of CEA and I am so glad that many of our newer members were able to meet her at least once.  During my last conversation with Sandy she seemed upbeat and feeling well enough to begin teaching again.  I know she missed her students desperately.  How wonderful that she was able to feel so much better for a while before her disease took her life.  Sandy was a founding mother of CEA and the very heart of the organization for many years. She will be deeply missed.

Remembering Sandy Jamrog and Doris Haire
By Judith Halek, Birth Balance

When people die, their bodies may be taken from us, yet the memories live on forever.  A little piece of each person lives in us, through the imprint of the effect they had on us. Two icons in the birth community have recently passed:  Sandy Jamrog, 77 years and Doris Haire, 88 years, both vital influences in my 26 years involvement with birth.

Sandy Jamrog’s interests and studies were varied.  She was one of the co-founders of Childbirth Education Association of New York and President for 15 years, wife to Joe, mother of 4 beautiful children: Josh, Jonathan, Jenny, Jeff,  an expert equestrian and ‘horse whisperer.’  Sandy was my friend, childbirth mentor, surrogate mother,  faculty member of the School for Body-Mind Centering since its inception, worked with parenting, pregnancy and infants since 1975.  She co-created the infant Developmental Movement Education (IDME) program with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. Sandy studied the body and it’s functions as if she was in medical school.  Her love for childbirth modalities:  lactation, childbirth, nutrition, studies of the body extended over four decades.

The final moments of her life were spent in NY Presbyterian Hospital surrounded by family and friends.  Sandy lived and died on her terms, up to her final breath.  At the memorial in her home, the people’s testimonials reflected Sandy’s love for life, big heart and sense of humor.  When one remembers Sandy, we do so with a smile on our face and love in our hearts.

Some beautiful pages to preview about Sandy Jamrog and her work: Infant Developmental Movement: rolling and baby contact and Ms. Sandra Jamrog.


Memories of Sandy
By Kate Sharp, IBCLC

I first met Sandy when my daughter was a toddler.  She hosted a Fertility Awareness workshop; we observed our cervical mucus, I discovered my daughter’s nursing affected every nuance of my fertility (not facts readily available, then, except from one’s own body).

And that was Sandy’s world, the world of learning from your body, forming groups to share the learning, tapping the source of female knowledge, and power.

When I was pregnant with my son I took childbirth class from Sandy (she did classes for my homebirth midwife, Sandy Fields).  A refresher; but unforgettable for me as Sandy’s deep body knowledge communicated directly with my body and the message was, my pelvis would open.  Twenty four years later I still feel that moment.

That was the power of her teaching.

Some years after that childbirth class I was working through problems of baby’s movements to the breast, the heart of my breastfeeding work.  A conversation began with Sandy and I entered the astounding world of Body Mind Centering.

I’m not a bodyworker, a dancer, an artist: these, and others, were my companions in class.  I was the only childbirth person, aside from Sandy, most of the time.  The BMC work changed my life and my work, and forms very precious memories, rooted deeply in my body.

What a blessing.

Sandy’s role in Body Mind Centering was so precious.  Hers was the first in all of the certifications that people took.  Grounded in birth and developmental movement she helped people work through the roots of movement.

When I decided to add childbirth education to my breastfeeding work I was so lucky to co teach two sets of birth classes with Sandy.  She had a generous spirit, encouraging me to teach parts of classes, open with me about my many flaws, uncompromising but so willing to collaborate. And how do we let go of the outcomes, when the odds are stacked against normal birth?  Isn’t this our central question?  We have so many obstacles  as childbirth educators.

Sandy taught me with her body and soul that: every baby IS  a new beginning, every mother DESERVES the tools for a normal birth…and we CAN continue teaching, when, it seems, no one can use what we have to teach.

So many gifts to me from Sandy, personal and in work, one of my mothers, but close enough I sometimes felt like a peer, sisters in the work.

Sandy’s Legacy
By Tamara Wrenn, CCCE, Board President

Sandy was a founding member of CEA/MNY and spent years as an instructor in the program teaching Body Dynamics of Pregnancy, Labor, and Birth. Most recently Sandy attended the 2013 CEA Annual Tea, where she shared stories about birth, and the vision and work of CEA. When I think about Sandy I picture her gorgeous smile, brilliant and lively eyes, and the excitement that she showed for life.  For those of us who had the pleasure of learning under Sandy, the stories abound about how she used movement in her class in a way that no one else could. It definitely made you step out of your comfort zone.

With Sandy’s transitioning I can’t help but think how sad that we’ve lost another elder, another wise woman. Yet, even as she faced the end of this life she did it with grace and dignity. We can only hope to be so courageous, whatever difficulties we face each day.

As we mourn her passing, let us remember to celebrate her legacy. Sandy touched many lives in the birth and parenting community, and I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Please feel free to share your memories about Sandy with the group, including images. You may share them in the comments or on our Facebook Page.

Remembering Doris Haire
By Judith Halek 

UnknownDoris Haire was an accomplished, innovative, ahead of her time, birth mover and shaker.  I remember filming Doris standing behind outdoor podiums in New York City rallys, engaging and firing up the audience through her fervor, passion, research, wisdom and strength regarding the latest studies on maternal and infant outcomes regarding interventions used in United States hospital environments. Doris was the President of the American Foundation for Maternal and Child Health and world renowned authority on maternity care and its effects on infant outcome.  Her groundbreaking work in 1972, “The Cultural Warping of Childbirth,” was extremely influential in developing patient-friendly maternity care in the Untied States.  Doris Haire was an advocate of research on the effects of obstetrical drugs and procedures on maternal and infant outcome.  She spoke world wide at conferences, Congressional hearings and brought about the first General Accounting Office investigation into the FDA’s drug regulating practice.  To learn more about her work, go to her website:   the Alliance for Improvement of Maternity Services.

To read more information about her in this obituary and here’s the The Cultural Warping of Childbirth, Revisited.