The Empty Swing

September 8, 2017 at 10:34 am

Sometimes you just need another witness. Another voice saying, “Yes, this is true. You’re not crazy.”

Today I’m deeply grateful to my friend Amber for giving me another witness.

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For six years I have known about a little boy who has communicated in a multitude of ways that he is a part of our family, though not yet in the flesh. Just to give you a little more background, let me share a few of the experiences I have had with him.

When Someone is Missing

August 25, 2017 at 11:08 pm

My husband really dislikes the dreaded words that I sometimes say:

“I keep looking around for the other kid.”

He usually promptly responds with something like, “They’re all here.”

Sometimes it feels like there really is an invisible child among us, but when I turn to include the other kid in my head count, no one is there… at least no one I can see with my physical eyes. Occasionally, I even get a bit panicked in that split second between looking for the missing kid and realizing… no, I really only have five. After I gave birth to my 5th baby, the feeling mostly went away. The “invisible other kid” wasn’t around so much. But for the past couple of weeks, the feeling has been almost constant. It’s actually becoming kind of oppressive.

Invisible child

I want to be a yoga teacher when I grow up.

February 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm

When we fold our hands in prayer,
God opens His arms and gives us a hug.
Life is fulfilled with this union.
That is yoga.
-Yogi Bhajan

About three months ago I wrote a post I titled “Now what?” In it I expressed confusion about where my life was heading:

It won’t be long until all my children will be in school. I feel like I’m soon to be laid-off from my day job. What am I supposed to do now? Write more books? Get a job? Put my doula training to work? Volunteer in the community? Train in midwifery? Become a foster parent? Fight against modern day slavery/trafficking? I have no idea.

IMG_0946My friend, Felice, introduced me to Kundalini Yoga and Meditation several years ago. She attended yoga teacher training while we were writing our book, The Gift of Giving Life (in which she wrote a whole chapter about meditation). Since then she has written more books about Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, and she has taught thousands of students around the country and world, including me. But I was resistant. Boy was I resistant. And never in the years she urged me to keep up my yoga and meditation practice did I ever have a desire to attend a yoga teacher training myself.

Now what?

November 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I’ve been pregnant or nursing and caring for my children full-time for more than a decade. I’ve been blogging about pregnancy, birth, and mothering for over seven of those years. As a new mom, I had been neglecting to meet my own needs for intellectual growth and fulfillment, but my blog gave me that outlet. From 2009 until 2011 I wrote a book with four co-authors about spirituality and birth. Birth has been my passion (obsession?) for most of my adult life thus far.

But I don’t expect I will ever give birth or breastfeed again (so many mixed feelings about that one). My “baby” is nearly four years old. And I can feel my brain pulling away from birth. I still yearn for all women to have empowering and beautiful birth experiences, but my mind no longer buzzes with birthy topics and blogpost ideas.

Now what?

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Light in the Mourning

February 18, 2014 at 5:48 pm

1687_10152707819600564_468996024_nThe following is a guest post from my friend Brittney. I met Brittney at my DONA doula training back in 2009. She and I will be collaborating on a new book project—Light in the Mourning—a book for mothers grieving pregnancy losses. I was inspired to create this book last year, but the pieces weren’t falling into place until Brittney offered to help. I’m so grateful she did. I look forward to working with Brittney and reading your stories. 

  Light in the Mourning
By Brittney Walker

I’m sad to say we are latecomers to the Noelle Pikus-Pace fan club. It’s nothing personal. Before the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics I couldn’t have named a single athlete that competed there. Since the Olympics traditionally air during school hours, the boys and I have always missed out. So this, our first year homeschooling, I printed an awesome educational packet I found online and we’ve homeschooled the heck out of the winter Olympics. That means all of us, watching almost every night from 7 to 10:30 pm.

My boys invested like I’d never imagined. They’ve learned all they can about Sochi, the sports, the athletes and the countries they represent. Their excitement is contagious and I quickly joined them in Olympic fandom.

One of those first nights we saw that AT&T commercial where Noelle Pikus-Pace wakes up before her family to work out. Then she feeds the kids breakfast, takes them to school and plays soccer mom until her husband picks up the kids so she can go train late into the night. There were tears in my eyes by the end of the commercial. So I looked her up.

I never considered that some of these athletes were juggling parenthood with Olympic training. This still blows my mind. I can’t fathom the kind of commitment and sacrifice it would take to be Mom and manage to keep up with (and even crush) the competition, many of whom have nothing to worry about but themselves.

Book Giveaway: The Memory Catcher

April 9, 2013 at 8:47 pm

This giveaway is now closed. Stay tuned!

I just finished reading Sarah Hinze’s remarkable memoir The Memory Catcher. I want to give copies of this book to everyone I know. Seriously. Not only has Sarah’s life story been full of miracles and powerful events, but her message and mission are near and dear to my heart, as many of you already know.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer researcher in dear-death studies, hospice care, and the grief and dying process and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Sarah became friends with Elizabeth toward the end of Elizabeth’s beautiful life. Of Sarah’s work, Elizabeth said:

For years I have taught that we come from the same Source at birth and we return to the Source at death. The Source is God, who has many names. Earth experience is for our growth and spiritual development. When we have learned and taught what we came to earth for, we graduate–death is graduation.

We have learned much about life after death. Sarah Hinze leads us into the next great area of research–the study of where we come from.

I have three extra copies of The Memory Catcher here in my home, and I have a feeling they’re meant to go to some of you. If you’d like a copy, please enter this giveaway in one or more of the following ways:

Rescue Mission

March 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Last week I wrote:

I have gone back and forth in my head about whether to share that dream publicly. I’m still not certain. But I think I was given that dream because it contains a message not just for me but for all women. And I feel it is my responsibility to share that message. Reading Sarah Hinze’s book today, I felt over and over… it’s time to tell the world what you saw. Hopefully I’ll muster the courage soon.

So I got a big kick in the pants today. Get over to your computer and write about your dream. I haven’t felt ready yet, and I’m still nervous about it. I’m nervous, in part, because I suspect that what I’m about to share will not rest well with some people. I suppose I’m willing to accept that risk.

In January of 2012, I had a dream. Occasionally God speaks to me in dreams. I feel that this was one of those divine messages. Here’s what I saw…

I was walking with someone. I don’t know who it was. The road we were walking down looked like a ghost town. Dark, abandoned buildings. Dirty. Trash everywhere. But we were the only people walking down a deserted road. Eventually, we went over to the gutter on the side of the road, and I picked something up. At first I thought it was just a piece of garbage. But then, as I looked closer, it seemed to transform in my hand. It was a baby!  A tiny baby… only an inch or two or three. It fit in the palm of my hand, and it was alive.

Coming From the Light

March 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm

“Your babies do not want another mother.” -from a 5-year-old’s near-death experience

Over the past couple of days I’ve been reading a book by AZ author, Sarah Hinze. She has many books, but this is the only one I was able to get from the library. It’s called Coming From the Light: Spiritual Accounts of Life Before Life

I became aware of Sarah several years ago (while we were in the process of writing our book) when I stumbled upon her website. We were hoping to include more about pre-birth encounters in our book, but we were lucky to include just a few stories. I am hopeful that I will have the privilege of meeting Sarah sometime soon. (She will be speaking at the AZ Holistic Living Conference this month.)

As I have been reading her book, I have been flooded with so much warmth and light. The stories of not-yet-born children making appearances in visions and dreams have so touched my heart. As you may know, I have experienced several of these pre-birth encounters with my own children. The most profound of those experiences were with my fourth child. I recounted them in my birth account two years ago. I’ll share an excerpt here:

Gestating in grief

January 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm

“In encountering death, you are now at the very centre of human experience. You are in the presence of the sacred. Do not let anyone minimize its importance or make you feel that grieving is anything other than an absorbing, life-changing experience.” -Jerusha Hull McCormack

So I’ve been wanting to give you all something more informative and less me-centered for a while now. I have a few different posts I’ve been doing research for. But my mind and spirit are absorbed with other things, so I just haven’t had the time or energy to tackle those “real” blogposts I’ve been wanting to give you.

The stuff I’ve been writing about doesn’t technically have a whole lot to do with birth, per se, so I worry that you’re all tiring of reading about it. I feel bad… like I should apologize for writing so much about myself and what’s been going on with me, but then I step back and realize… this is where I am. Maybe I’ll lose some readers, but maybe there are others out there who need to hear what’s in my heart. And then I step back again and see that what I’m experiencing has everything to do with gestation and birthing.

So, rather than giving you something informative and science-based (those posts will come), today I’m giving you something from my heart and soul. And right now my heart and soul are waist-deep in grief, trying to get the courage to allow myself to become totally submerged.

His 6th “birth” day

November 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm

You’ve seen me blog about my brother, Steven, before…

  • Just keep swimming (the story of how Steven and his wife died)
  • Songs for my birth (many of the songs I chose for my third birthing playlist reminded me of Steven)
  • Four centimeters (how Steven appeared in a recent dream and served as a metaphorical “midwife” for me)

Well, today is the sixth anniversary of Steven’s “birth” into the next life. In his honor, I wanted to share these thoughts…

 

I had a dream five years ago. I dreamed that Steven and Catheryn came back to life. Like they had just had a really (really) long near-death experience. You know how logic kind of flies out the window when you’re dreaming? Well, as crazy as it sounded, I had little difficulty accepting it. I was just so utterly excited and happy to see them that the logic didn’t matter. I don’t remember much from the dream, but I will never forget running at Steven, throwing my arms around him, hugging him tighter than I’ve ever hugged him in my life, and breaking (loudly) down in tears. It was so wonderful to see him.

Precious gift

June 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Ever since Grandma’s health took a bad turn, I have wondered… will I feel her presence after she dies? My brother-in-law once said he already knew his grandma had died before his mom called to tell him because she had “been with him.” I wondered if I would have a similar feeling. After she died, I waited, hoping for some indication that she was with me, but I never felt anything. Then I started worrying that she wasn’t coming to see me because she was mad at me for not rushing to see her when I heard she was dying. My husband tried to assure me that she wasn’t angry.

A few days later, I was thinking about her, writing in my journal, and I remembered the blessing my husband had given to me during my most recent birth. He had told me, “God wants you to know that you are surrounded by angels.” It was a wonderful blessing and a very comforting thought. But it came as a surprise. I didn’t “feel” any angels around me. When I remembered that, it gave me hope that Grandma had been with me whether I felt her or not.

I also kept hoping that she would come to me in my dreams, as my deceased brother, Steven, has on several occasions. I remember the first time I saw him (and his wife) in a dream, I gasped, wrapped my arms around him (and then her), and wept openly. It was so good to see them and hear their voices. So I have hoped, over the past couple of weeks, that I would be given a chance to see Grandma in my dreams also, especially since I didn’t get a chance to embrace her in person and say good-bye.

Four centimeters

May 15, 2012 at 12:25 am

For months I had been writing things like this in my journal…

“Right now I just feel so drained. I feel like I give and give and give until there’s nothing left.”

“I am exhausted. I want to sleep for two weeks. I so need a break.”

“I am so run down, so overwhelmed, so out of reserves. But what can I do except just keep swimming?”

“I need a break. Big time. So much.”

Little red flags were waving in front of my face for quite some time. And then Mama Birth posted this:

I think that selflessness and sacrifice are beautiful things- and I think they can purify us and teach us. But I also know now that a woman needs balance. . . . Babies need a mother who takes care of herself and the other people she loves and who herself is nurtured in her relationships.

And it was another little red flag, another messenger saying, “Girl, you need help. You need a break. If you don’t take care of you, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.” (Thank you, Sarah). But, unfortunately, those little red flags just kept on waving, and I just kept on running myself into the ground. I could feel myself sliding into depression, and it scared me. I have been in that dark place before, and I did not want to visit it again. Looking back, I can say that the damage was already done. A body chronically depleted of sleep and sapped of vital nutrients through chronic stress is going to have a very difficult time functioning, let alone functioning cheerfully.

Confounded

January 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Last weekend, my six-year-old daughter said something surprising.

But first I have to give the background story. We recently had a discussion with my two oldest daughters about how babies are created. They already knew a lot of the details from many previous smaller conversations, each one building a bit on the other, but this particular discussion was an answer to the question, “Mom, how do the sperm get inside of the mommy so they can get to the egg?”

So the other day my six-year-old was lying with her ear where my womb is, just relaxing. Then out of nowhere she said, “Mom, I think I know what’s happening right now.” And I said, “What’s that?” And she said, “I think the sperm are swimming to the egg inside of you.”

… Blink. Blink. Stare at my husband with raised eyebrows and wide eyes.

Just keep swimming

September 8, 2011 at 4:54 am

[Trigger warning: This post contains loss.]

Almost five years ago, four friends went fishing in a small motorboat on a cool November morning.  Kimball and Steven were brothers. Steven brought his wife, Catheryn. The other was a friend. At first, the lake water was like a sheet of glass, calm and serene.  After a few hours, however, the wind picked up and so did the waves.  The fish started biting like crazy.  One after another, they brought fish in, not realizing that the waves were slowly filling the boat.  Suddenly, just as they noticed the too-deep pool of frigid water in the bottom of the boat, it sunk out from under them.

Based on the low temperature of the water and the distance to the lake shore, none of them should have survived.  All of them were praying their hearts out.  First they swam together toward the marina, crying out for help as loudly as they could.  Then Kimball realized that they were swimming against the current and needed to turn around and swim the other way.  He swam ahead to tell Steven, who said, “You think?”  Steven swam ahead to where Catheryn was.

Kimball thought that he was telling her the change of plans and that they would quickly follow.  He turned in the direction of the current with his friend, looking back repeatedly as the current carried him further and further from where his brother had been, unable to see them any longer, wondering whether they might have chosen to keep heading toward the marina to look for help in that direction.  As he swam, he heard these words over and over in his head: “Just keep swimming… just keep swimming… just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”

Half of them made it miraculously to shore and survived, half of them moved on to the world of spirits.

Surrender, part 5

May 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I’ve debated off and on whether to post about this. I guess you can tell which of my inner-dialogue teams won.

My birth story didn’t end with my daughter’s birth. Some things happened afterward that I would say were an extension of that birth. They’ve been sitting on the back burner in my mind, waiting. I suppose I’ve been holding them back because I just wasn’t quite ready to process them yet. Pondering and writing this post was an intense journey of realization and discovery and spiritual revelation. I don’t know exactly why I feel like I need to share it, but I do. What follows is a little graphic and a lot personal. If you choose to comment, please be respectful. Here goes…

My uncle somehow always seems to know when I’m pregnant before I make it public knowledge. This last time, after we shared the news, he said, “I think you’re having twins.” We laughed.

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