Birthing without an Agenda

November 5, 2017 at 12:04 am

Who is to say that this moment is not a part of creation?
Or this one?
Or the one about to arrive, across the vast distance of time?

-David LaMotte

When I was pregnant for the first time, my primary goal with my birth was to get through labor without an epidural. Thanks to my husband’s support and an angelic doula-like nurse, I succeeded.

With my second, I wanted to have a midwife, and I wanted to have an easier recovery (no stitches). With my certified nurse midwife’s help, I was able to give birth unmedicated to a posterior baby with just a “skid mark” and some minor stitches.

For my third birth, I was desperate to give birth with an fully intact perineum. It was a magical home birth experience, and I didn’t tear at all!

After delivering my previous three babies on my bottom, I really hoped with my fourth baby to give birth in some other position. Following a near-painless labor, I delivered my fourth baby on my hands and knees.

My primary goal with my fifth baby was to give birth upright. After an emotional, but exceptionally supported labor, I delivered with my upper body cradled in a birth sling, standing with bent knees.

Will My Baby Have Down Syndrome?

October 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

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I was lying in bed one morning with my eyes closed. It was a couple of months ago, but I can’t remember if I knew I was pregnant yet. Somewhere in that place between sleep and waking, I saw the face of a child with Down syndrome. When I fully awoke a few moments later, I felt a torrent of thoughts and questions about that image enter my mind. Was it a spiritual message? Would I be giving birth to a child with Down syndrome? Or was it just a random flash of a meaningless dream?

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.

Thoughts on Unschooling

September 3, 2017 at 9:09 pm

I spent several days this weekend listening to speakers and chatting with other moms at the Free to Be Unschooling Conference here in Phoenix at a really beautiful hotel.

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I attended the conference because I got a discounted rate through being part of the Arizona Homeschool Theater Group and because I’ve been interested in learning more about unschooling ever since I started homeschooling a few years ago. My objective was to try to figure out if unschooling was something that would be a good fit for our family. I have loved reading a lot of John Holt’s writings, and he is the one who sort of started the unschooling movement. I attended with a friend and her sister, so we spent a lot of time talking and processing everything throughout the conference. Below you’ll find some of my thoughts about the conference and the things I learned about unschooling.

Never Settle

August 18, 2017 at 11:06 pm

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A few months ago, we made an offer on a house we really liked in a neighborhood we really liked. It was right around the corner from some of our friends, and it had a swimming pool and a swing set and beautiful saltillo tile in the kitchen, dining room, and hallways. However, after the home inspection, we decided to pull out of the deal. There were just too many expensive repairs that would be needed, and the sellers weren’t willing to help with any of them. Part of me was relieved, but another part of me was devastated. For the following month, I continued looking for a home, but everywhere there only seemed to be dead ends and homes that just didn’t have the things I really wanted.

Three Years Since the Breakdown

July 27, 2017 at 9:01 am

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On July 31, 2014, I wrote these words:

Since coming home, I have felt considerably worse. . . . I’ve really regressed. The anxiety is worse, the depression is deep. I really don’t know how much more I can take. I feel like I’ve gone so far backward. Everyone keeps telling me I will get through this, that things will get better, and they seem so confident about it. But I feel so done. I feel so exhausted. I feel like it will never end.

Splitting the Sky

June 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

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Two summers ago, my wonderful friend Amber asked if she could interview me for a project she was working on. At the time I was on vacation, visiting my family for the summer, and I was newly pregnant with my 5th baby. Amber and Camlyn came to my dad’s house and set up their cameras and sound equipment. They asked me excellent questions, and I did a lot of crying in front of the camera. Ha.

For the Days You Want to Quit

April 6, 2017 at 1:14 am

My third child and only son celebrated his 8th birthday this past weekend. I will never forget the first hours of his life. He was born late in the evening, so it was “bedtime,” but I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was stare at him, absolutely, totally, and madly in love. I was on that birth high for nearly a year, totally smitten by this baby boy I called Mister Bubbagoo.

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That chubby face still makes my heart melt.

Book Review: The Serotonin Power Diet

March 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Last week I was doing some reading about weight loss while breastfeeding. There is a common misconception that breastfeeding promotes weight loss. It turns out this isn’t the case, at least for many women. Prolactin, one of the primary breastfeeding hormones, actually slows the metabolism of fat (Source). I’ve gained weight myself since giving birth nearly 15 months ago. My particular weight gain situation is compounded by a medication as well. The SSRI I take for my anxiety and depression has a side-effect of weight gain for many people. All of my family members have gained weight from taking anti-depressants, so it isn’t a surprise that I would as well.

When I attempted to wean off my medication three years ago, I dropped the weight quickly, but I also descended into a dark, suicidal hell. Those who love me agree that my will to live is much more important than being thin. Initially my medication-induced weight gain translated to being approximately 20-30 lbs heavier than I was pre-SSRI. With my added weight gain from pregnancy and breastfeeding, I am now approximately 60 lbs heavier than I was for most of my life.

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With my 2nd baby in 2007 and then 2016

4 Questions to Ask about Our Children’s Futures

February 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm

A friend of mine has been dealing with some intense challenges with her son’s school. Her sweet but very active 5-year-old son has been suspended three times in the past three weeks. I’m tempted to say he was suspended for rule infractions that could fit under the umbrella of “being a 5-year-old.” Most American kindergarteners are expected to sit still, stand still, be quiet, stay in line, and generally avoid typical 5-year-old behavior at all times. So sad.

While American kindergarteners are denied their one short recess for small infractions, kindergarteners in Finland are given as many as four free-play breaks between classes because “educators and parents here believe that these breaks are a powerful engine of learning that improves . . . executive function, concentration and cognitive focus, behavior, well-being, attendance, physical health, and yes, test scores, too” (Source). Professor Howard Gardner, from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, gave this advice for improving American schools: “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States” (Source).

All of this has me thinking a lot about what really matters and what will really prepare my children for the actual future they will be living in. My research and my gut agree that what is being taught in most American schools is insufficient for and even opposed to what our children will actually need in the future. For what it’s worth, here are some questions I feel we should be thinking about.

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4 Tips for Improving Life on an SSRI

January 25, 2017 at 3:48 am

Taking an SSRI for depression and anxiety can be life-saving, but anti-depressants aren’t always as helpful as we would hope. Some people don’t find any relief at all, or try multiple types of drugs before finding one that works for them. Science Daily recently reported:

More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects (Source).

I first began taking the anti-depressant Sertraline (Zoloft) in August of 2012. My journey managing life with this drug over the past few years has taught me a thing or two. One of my favorite things to do is to write about and share the things I learn. My hope is always that reading one of my posts will change someone’s life for the better. Here are four tips for improving life on an SSRI.

**As always, none of this should be considered medical advice. These are things that have helped me, but none of them should replace the advice or care of a qualified mental health professional.**

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5 Ways You’re Not Failing as a Mom

December 3, 2016 at 8:47 am

Back in October, I celebrated my 36th birthday. Celebrated actually isn’t the best word. It was kind of an awful day ’cause I was in a horrible mood. As I got thinking about why I was so frustrated, I did a lot of pondering about failure. I feel like I’m failing at a lot of things lately. My husband and sister tell me I’m “not failing” in an effort to make me feel better, but the truth is that I am. We are all failing at something. Some of us are failing at multiple things. Some of us are failing at many things. Every single day of our lives we will fail at something. The question isn’t whether we will fail. Because we will. In ways both small and great we will fail. We simply cannot do it all AND do it all well.

What makes us feel miserable and frustrated isn’t the failures themselves, per se, but what we do with them. Do we retreat into shame and feel incapacitated? That’s pretty much what happened to me on my birthday. And I know it’s totally counter-productive and lame, but sometimes we even fail at failure. Ha! But a voice keeps tugging at the corners of my mind. It says, “Failure isn’t bad. Failure is a gift. Failure is feedback. Love your failures.” I’m intrigued. And I’m wondering what that would look like and what that would feel like. I’m still pondering that.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to offer you (and myself) 5 ways you are NOT failing as a mom. Even though failing is something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about, it’s still nice to remind ourselves sometimes that we’re doing better than we think we are.

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When Your Baby is Sick

September 10, 2016 at 7:22 am

Two days ago, I found myself searching the Internet for something to lift me up. I had spent several days and nights consoling my very sad, very sick baby, and the stress had taken its toll. I needed some validation, encouragement, understanding. But all I could find were articles and memes and blogposts that weren’t quite what I was looking for. Even 5th-time moms get discouraged when their kids are sick. Now that my baby is feeling more like herself, and now that I finally have a few moments to myself, I’d like to write the post I wish I had found when I was searching. I’ll address it to you, the weary mother who hasn’t been able to put the baby down in ages.

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The Mother-Baby Dyad: Sacred Synergy

July 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm

A few days ago I gathered with some lovely women for a Gift of Giving Life party. While there I shared with them some of the fascinating and beautiful insights I have been learning about the sacred interchange within the mother-baby dyad. The “thesis” of my message was this: mothers and babies are the key to creating a peaceful world. Without nurturing mothers and peace-filled babies, we will never see humanity overcome the evils that tear us apart. The love of a mother is so crucial, so irreplaceable, so powerful. Below I will share some of the slides from my presentation.

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What I Learned from Our First Year of Homeschool

May 28, 2016 at 2:35 am

Last night I was reading John Holt’s Teach Your Own before bed, wishing it wasn’t a library book so I could highlight my favorite passages. Instead I kept ripping up a piece of paper to mark the parts I loved. It seemed there was something on every page. This might be a book I need to own. I’ll share some John Holt quotes in this post, in part because I want to have them written down somewhere to refer back to.

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This blogpost has been writing itself in my head for several weeks now. But it never felt like the school year was complete for the same reason that it never feels like the school day is complete. Homeschooling never ends because children are always learning. We have “school” plans that extend throughout the summer. It seems sort of strange to even define grade levels now. I can see how they will all bleed together as we simply incorporate “school” into our lives year-round. But since the traditional school year has ended for the local kids, I suppose I can write this blogpost now.

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