Traffick and Light

November 22, 2013 at 12:22 am

Sometimes the weight of the world crushes me. Yesterday was one of those days. After my husband got home from work, I sobbed in his arms and dumped my anguish into his ears for at least an hour. Among the things tormenting my mind was

child sex trafficking.

I don’t have the time or energy to write a lengthy post about this issue, but the following trailer for the documentary “Sex + Money” gives a good overview…

The Many Faces of Travail

October 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I’ve asked myself more than once over the years: “Why do I get to have it so easy?” I’ve never had to “try” for long to become pregnant. I’ve never experienced more than mild morning sickness, never “prayed to the porcelain gods.”  I’ve had four uncomplicated, fairly easy pregnancies. I’ve given birth vaginally four times after three smooth, uncomplicated labors, never pushing for more than 25 minutes (and that was with one posterior baby). I’ve never had a truly colicky infant. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Especially when I think of my sister-in-law who waited desperately for four-and-a-half years of infertility before finally adopting her son. Especially when I think of another friend who waited even longer and now waits yet again to adopt a second child. Especially when I think of a friend who has experienced debilitating morning sickness through six pregnancies. And when I think of my cousin who gave birth after pushing a posterior baby for five hours (he finally turned and was born quickly afterward). And especially when I think of a friend who gave birth a few years ago… desperately wanting a VBAC after three prior cesareans (and one prior VBAC attempt), finally with a wonderful midwife who supported her wishes and believed in her, only to get to nine centimeters and discover that she really did need a fourth cesarean after all.

How can it possibly be fair that I get to have it so easy?  That question has been rolling around in my head eliciting a variety of answers. And the only one that gives me peace is this: Every mother must experience travail to bring forth her children, but that travail is experienced in a variety of ways. 

Coming Full Circle

October 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11

For months, I cried myself to sleep: “I want my mommy… I want my mommy… I want my mommy…” My little toddler heart was broken. And at first I didn’t want to have anything to do with the strange new woman called Grandma. Thirty years later, it’s hard to believe that Grandma’s house was ever uncomfortable for me.

One of my earliest memories is of a stormy night after my parents’ divorce.  I can remember lying in a crib next to my sister’s bed.  The rain was pouring down, whipping against the house and windows.  The wind was howling like ghosts.  There was lightning and thunder.  I cried as loudly and franticly as I could because I honestly and completely believed that the house was going to be shred to pieces and we were all going to die.

Then my grandmother came to my crib-side. 

IMG_6956_2I can’t remember what happened next, but the memory ends with me waking up calmly in the morning in my grandmother’s bed.  She saved me. And her unfailing love gave me the foundation upon which I built the rest of my life.

When Grandma’s friends came to visit, she would introduce me to them: “This is my baby.” Over and over and over she said those words: “My baby.” Even as an older child and a teenager, I was always introduced to her friends as “My baby.”

Grandma’s house was my refuge. Her love was healing balm for my broken heart. Those words, “My Baby” reaffirmed over and over and over again that I was loved and wanted and claimed… I was hers.

When God Winks at You

June 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading a little book called When God Winks at You. It’s the kind of book you can pick up and read in bits here and there. Every time I open it, I’m always glad I did.

From the book’s description: “As you read . . . , you will begin to recognize the godwinks in your own life, both past and present. Through these tangible signposts from God, we receive personalized messages that reassure us, stop us from worrying, chart our path.” So I’ve been thinking about some of the godwinks I’ve experienced over the years. I’d like to share one of them.

I want to preface this by saying that I realize I’ve been writing a lot about my grandma this year, a lot about grief. Sometimes I feel bad about that. This is birth blog, after all, not a death blog. Most of my readers are too young to have lost their parents to death (though I personally know some of you have known that grief). Losing my grandmother was, in a very real sense, like losing a parent (for me). And losing our parents is no small thing, especially when it happens while we’re still “young” ourselves. I hope you’ll forgive me for occasionally straying from my blog’s intended subject matter as I process this loss.

Now on to the godwink story…

For My Sisters

June 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Mother, give me the sun.
-Henrik Ibsen

This poem began writing itself in my head around 3:00 this morning. I tried in vain to go back to sleep. Finally, I got up and put pencil to paper. Here’s what came out.

This poem is dedicated to my sisters, whose stories fill my heart with ache, and whom I pray for today.

3:00 a.m.
By Lani Axman

When I hear
A baby cry,
Her voice
Her song
An invisible vibration of longing
Penetrates my mortal shell,
Gliding through flesh and bone
Like a delicate silver thread.
It throbs with urgency
As it wraps around
And around
And around
My heart,
Bleeding ache.
And now
A hundred
A million
A hundred million
Tiny threads,
Bursting with a deafening silence,
Pull me from my sleep
Like newborns in the night,
“Wake up,”
Their silent voices throb,
“Cry for us,
Scream for us,
Mother.”

Our Sister’s Keepers

May 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

“That one-third of the world’s women are deprived of their right to bear girls is the biggest women’s rights abuse on earth. This is the true War on Women, and it deserves a passionate response.”

-Reggie Littlejohn

The three deadliest words in the world: “It’s a girl.” 100 million babies have been aborted, killed, or abandoned simply because they were girls. In China, India, and other regions, women are pressured and even forced to undergo gender-based abortions because of cultural, economic, and/or political reasons. Some women also suffer forced sterilizations in these regions. The boy-girl ratios in these countries are extremely unbalanced after decades of boy-preference. And those girls who are left are at extreme risk of abduction, abuse, sexual assault/exploitation, and other horrors.

“We can tip the bowls of Heaven. When interceding tears meet with God’s, they have the power to alter society and generations to come, to change governments and deliver people and nations caught in unbelievable situations. This is justice and this is how women fight!”

                                                                             -Evangeline Johnson

Brought Back to Life

May 16, 2013 at 10:59 pm

An online friend of mine is working on a book about suicide. Last month she asked me if I would write something for their book. I told her I’d be honored. Most of you have probably already read/heard versions of this story, but I thought I’d share a modified version of my essay here anyway. Perhaps one of you needs a glimmer of hope. I hope my story can be a light in someone else’s darkness.

After my parents’ divorce when I was a toddler, my grandmother had raised me, called me her “baby,” saved my life. As a young woman I often said, “When Grandma dies, I’m going to fall apart.” I was mostly joking. I had no idea just how prophetic those words would prove to be, and living that reality was no joke.

The first panic attack hit me a month before she died. I had never experienced anything like it before. For a week, I was in an agonizing anxiety, my heart racing, my mind a whirl of fears, my body throbbing in “fight or flight” mode. Strange as it sounds, I think some part of my soul could feel that Grandma would soon be dying, and so I started “dying” inside myself.

I had a brief respite from the agony. I thought it was over. I thought it was a weird fluke. When I spoke to Grandma on the phone for the last time before her death, I was at peace as I told her, “It’s OK, Grandma. You can go.” And for the month afterward, I am certain I was being held up by angels. But then, when we returned home a few weeks after the funeral, I started to crack, and the panic came back with a vengeance.

Raising Wailing Women

May 14, 2013 at 5:15 am

“Your pain holds the key to your purpose.” -Reggie Littlejohn

Image: Luc De Leeuw 2009

A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of reading a horrifying news article right before going to bed. In it I learned of hoards of women undergoing forced sterilizations and abortions in China and other parts of Asia. I saw a photo of some of these women lying in a row on the ground following their surgeries. As I lay in bed afterward, I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was weep.

After my father began his training as a mental health counselor, his parenting style began to shift. He began to say things like, “It’s OK to cry,” when I felt sad as a small child. Those words were new to me, but I remember what a relief it was to hear them.

I want my own children to know that I will always be there to listen when they are hurting inside. In her book, The Courage to Grieve, Judy Tatelbaum says, “Tolerating another’s tears is a very meaningful gift.” This is a gift I want to offer, especially to my children. I want them to know that it’s OK to cry, especially for someone else.

After all, God has commanded it. Much of parenting feels like fumbling in the dark, but there are some things about which God has given us specific instructions. “Teach your daughters wailing,” God has said (Jeremiah 9:20).

Morgan’s Miscarriage

May 6, 2013 at 4:46 am

I was talking with my friend, Morgan, at the park this past week. We got on the subject of miscarriage, and she told me about her miscarriage experience. Then I asked her if she’d be willing to share it here. I learned some things from her story. Maybe you will too.

Morgan has “five wonderful, crazy, adorable children and a perfect match of a husband.” She dabbles in a little bit of everything, and she spent a little bit of time as a midwifery apprentice until she moved away from her mentor. Morgan loves to sew baby stuff like baby carriers and cloth diapers. Her main pursuits lately are mothering her brood, building her business, and learning energy healing.

Plus, I’d love to add, she is one of the most genuine, kind, radiant people I know. Love her.

Here’s her story…

Healing Traumatized Genes

May 2, 2013 at 5:04 am

So I’ve been kind of obsessed with near-death experience accounts lately. My Grandma (a.k.a. primary-caregiver for most of my childhood) passed away last year. Her loss was pretty earth-shattering to my soul, and part of me was absolutely terrified: “What if everything I’ve ever believed all of my life is false? What if she ceased to exist? What if I never see her again?” So grief books and near-death accounts (among other things) have been instrumental in helping me to hold onto hope and faith that she most definitely does still exist, and I most definitely will see her again.

Yesterday I finished reading the bestseller Embraced By the Light by Betty J. Eadie. I found it for 99 cents at Goodwill last month and threw it in my cart. I’m pretty sure I read it back in the 90’s when she originally published it, but it was a whole lot more impactful now. I really loved her near-death story for so many reasons. Here are some of my not-really-death-related favorite quotes:

  • “I came to know that each of my children was on earth for their own experiences, that although I had thought of them as ‘mine,’ I had been mistaken. They were individual spirits, like myself, with an intelligence that was developed before their lives on earth. . . . They had only been placed in my care” (p. 35).
  • “I heard a soft, pleasant sound . . . . It was a tone similar to a note of music, but was universal and seemed to fill all the space around me. . . . The tones produced soft vibrations, and as they touched me I knew that they possessed the power to heal. . . . They were like spiritual salve, expressions of love that mended broken spirits” (p. 87).
  • “I learned that spirits can choose to enter their mother’s body at any stage of her pregnancy” (p. 95).

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:

Known and Loved

April 9, 2013 at 5:53 am

My father has been a mental health professional for the vast majority of my life. For a considerable amount of time, he worked as a counselor to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Many of my immediate family members are, in fact, survivors. During my growing years, my dad spoke often of the great spiritual gifts and experiences of his clients. I have come to believe that survivors of sexual abuse are among the most noble spirits on this earth.

My dad once told me of a client who had several guardian angels who came to her often during the years she was sexually abused. On several occasions, while she was being assaulted, her guardian angels had to be restrained from intervening. One, in particular, wept in agony as he tried to break free from his angel companions to stop the abuse.

Almost a year ago, I was reminded of this story during a spiritual morning jog. I had been feeling myself slip into depression and despair for awhile and feeling sorry for myself. I wrote a bit about this experience here. After the memory of my dad’s story had been brought to my remembrance, my mind was flooded with flashes of images, realizations, and epiphanies. On April 19, 2012, I wrote about some impressions and revelations I received during that powerful morning alone-time:

I Knew Her

March 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

After my grandma’s funeral, each of her great-grandchildren took a flower from the arrangement on her casket. My children took their time selecting just the right one. And then my oldest daughter did something that touched my heart so deeply. She took a flower and laid it gently on my aunt Paula Kay’s gravestone.

My oldest daughter’s middle name is also Kay.

Paula died in a tragic accident just a few days before her second birthday. My father was a two-month-old infant at the time. I wouldn’t be born for another thirty-five years, but for as long as I can remember I have loved Paula Kay.

Visitation

March 15, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Late last night I felt my grandma arrive quite suddenly in my bedroom in a moment of need.

I hadn’t asked for her. I didn’t know I needed her. But suddenly I felt her familiar warm and wonderful energy surround me. It surprised me and sent tears down my cheeks.

And then I wanted her physical presence, her warm body, her peaceful home, her hands and arms… so desperately. I spent the next while a mess of tears. I lay with my head on my husband’s lap, sobbing, while he stroked my hair. It brings these words from The Courage to Grieve  to mind: “Tolerating another’s tears is a very meaningful gift.”

I think Grandma lingered until she felt I was at peace again. Friends have told me that sometimes the grief will hit you suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere. I get it.

It’s not that I wish she wasn’t dead. I’m glad she’s no longer in pain. I’m glad she’s with her parents, her brothers, her daughter, her friends, my brother. I’m glad she’s able to “be” with me anytime now. I suppose my grief is more a longing for the peace of the past… for the comforts of those years I spent in her care when the fears and worries in my heart didn’t feel so big. And I wish we could talk. I wish I could literally hear her.

But I’m so grateful she came. I didn’t even know I needed her last night, but she knew and she came.

I love you, Grandma.

Constant

March 9, 2013 at 5:16 am

I wrote this poem for my husband for Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry… nothing sugary or uncomfortable. I wanted to do something special for him for staying steady by my side all through this pass year of upheaval and darkness. It is largely because of him that I’m still here. He was my doula through the darkness. And a pretty good-looking one at that. :-)

P.S. He really does have a bizarre dent in the back of his head. That will make more sense after you read the poem. :-)

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