This is why I carry on

February 17, 2013 at 6:48 am

Every once in a while I start feeling weary of this “work.” Lately I haven’t even been able to muster the energy to blog about anything specifically birthy.

A few years ago, I was feeling discouraged, wondering whether I was wasting my time making a big fuss about nothing with my blog and all the time and energy I put into birth advocacy. Did it really matter as much as I thought it did? Then I got an email from a friend-of-a-friend that rekindled my passion to carry on in my cause.

A few weeks prior, she had discovered that a certain medication she was taking would prevent her from having an epidural. So she had begun scrambling to prepare herself for an unexpected drug-free birth two weeks before her due date. A couple of our mutual friends had alerted me to her predicament, so I had whipped-up an email with attachments and links and tips. I didn’t hear any more about what happened until she sent me her email. Here’s what she said…

Give the Gift of Giving Life

November 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Give The Gift of Giving Life this holiday season! Get 33% off when you buy three or more copies of our book HERE using coupon code FSLUTHK9!

    • Get three books for only $40.17. It is pretty much buy 2 get 1 free!
    • Regular shipping is $4.77. If you want the books to be under the tree you should order by December 12th for regular shipping.
    • The Gift of Giving Life is also a perfect gift to have on hand for baby showers too, so stock up now! One woman bought 6 copies – 1 for each of her daughters and daughters-in-law. Another bought 10 copies to have on hand as baby shower gifts.
    • Offer ends December 20th.

I’m planning to purchase several (once I figure out what my mailing address is going to be next month). I hope you will too!

p.s. Just as a reminder… I’m not sharing this to put money in my pocket. I won’t see a penny from your purchases (and I don’t get any free books myself). We just want to spread the message of our book far and wide… that God will help us through all the challenges and triumphs of the process of giving life and that our Heavenly Parents care deeply about the life-giving process from start to finish.

Enjoy!

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.

Enduring a mile (or a centimeter)

March 26, 2012 at 6:00 am

My husband ran the Boston Marathon back in April of 2008, and I was so inspired by it that I (very briefly… ha!) decided I want to run it as well. So a week or two later, my husband and I decided to see how fast I could run a mile. We ran a warm-up mile at a medium-effort pace, and then I threw myself like crazy into the second mile. It was misery. It was horrid. It was an intense mental tug-of-war between “I can do this! Keep going!” and “What was I thinking?! I have to stop!” But somehow I kept going.

After finishing that run, I thought a lot about the experience. I speculated that it was probably like a mini-marathon—a condensed version of the marathon experience. And I also recognized that the same things that helped me to navigate the journey of childbirth also helped me to get through that mile (and would probably help me get through a marathon as well, if I ever actually get around to running one). Here’s a play-by-play:

Doula ripples

February 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm

“Continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labour and birth” -(Hodnett and colleagues 2011)

Jennifer just asked this question on my Birth Faith facebook page wall: “My friend’s OB told her that hiring a doula was ‘dangerous.’ What would you tell her?”

Good grief.

I’ve shared in a previous blogpost (Why hire a doula?) what a doula’s presence can do for a woman’s birth experience using my own experience and stats from scientific research. Let me reiterate that research quickly.

Gathering and analyzing the results of 15 studies, a team of researchers found that, compared to women laboring without a doula, women who labored with a doula were:

• 26% less likely to have a cesarean section
• 41% less likely to have a vacuum extractor or forceps delivery
• 28% less likely to use pain medication or epidurals
• 33% less likely to rate their birth experience negatively
(Hodnett E, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003. Issue 3. See DONA).

But did you know that the benefits of having a doula’s assistance don’t end at birth? There are significant ripples that can impact a woman, her baby, and her relationship with her baby’s father. 

A Moment

January 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Watching this beautiful HBAC birth video last night reminded me of some important things I learned at my neonatal resuscitation training back in December. I want to share them here, in part because my own experiences have been a reflection of them. Let me explain.

Many of you have probably seen the beautiful video Birth in the Squatting Position depicting women in Brazil giving birth. After those Brazilian women’s babies emerge from their bodies, there is always a moment (or two or three or four) where the babies are lying on the floor in front of their mothers. Those mothers do not instantly grasp their babies into their arms, enraptured. Those mothers (and most mothers who give birth normally) need a moment to breathe and allow themselves to process what has just happened to them. Likewise, their babies benefit from those few moments in a place below their mothers, allowing gravity to aid bringing all of their blood to them from the placenta (<–this wouldn’t be wise in water, however). Then, once these physiological and emotional processes have happened, once these mothers have come back into their bodies, then these mothers begin to gently touch their babies and finally claim them and bring them into their arms. It is beautiful to see these things happen without interference. No one hands the baby to her. She claims her baby herself when she is ready to do it.

God takes the pain away?

January 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm

My teenage brother is a free-spirited artist with a particular affinity for buddhist thought. He likes to create collages with magazine clippings, so I decided to give him a book full of empty cardstock pages to unleash his creativity upon. I gave the gift a personalized touch by decorating the front cover with a collage of my own. I love how it turned out!

While flipping through my old magazines looking for materials for my collage, I found a little snip-it of an article with this headline: “God takes the pain away.” It shared a bit of research (by Amy Wachholtz, PhD) about how spiritual meditation can impact our perception of pain. Study participants were instructed to either 1) Do relaxation exercises, 2) Mediate on phrases such as “I am happy,” or 3) Meditate on phrases such as “God is love” for several weeks. Afterward, participants’ abilities to withstand pain were tested. Those who had practiced spiritual meditation demonstrated the highest pain thresholds (Click here to learn more).

Amy Wachholtz has also studied how spiritual meditation can impact migraine sufferers. She found that “over the course of the intervention in comparison to the other three groups, those who practiced spiritual meditation had greater decreases in the frequency of migraine headaches, anxiety, and depression, as well as greater increases in pain tolerance, headache-related self-efficacy, daily spiritual experiences, and existential well being” (Source).

Cervical scar tissue and cesareans

September 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm

One of my most popular blog posts is one I wrote just over a year ago called “Cervical scar tissue.”  In that post, I shared important information about how scar tissue from various procedures (LEEP, D & C, etc.) can potentially impact future birth experiences, causing labor to stall for hours or days if the scar tissue isn’t massaged by a caregiver to help it release and allow the cervix to dilate completely.  I also said:

I have a hunch that cervical scar tissue is likely contributing greatly to the rising cesarean rate. . . . Unfortunately, doctors aren’t usually around while their patients labor, so massaging the scar tissue rarely happens. Instead those women far too often get stamped with “failure to progress” after a long, exhausting labor, and sent to the operating room.  Many spend the rest of their lives believing they’re incapable of giving birth vaginally. (Cervical scar tissue)

And now I’m even more convinced than ever that a large percentage of today’s cesareans and “failed” VBACs are happening as a result of cervical scar tissue. A comment from Lauren on my post has alerted me to something alarming:

Baby shower basket essentials

August 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

After ten years as a momma, I’ve learned a thing or two.  For instance, I’ve learned that a lot of the things on most soon-to-be parents’ baby registries (and in some of their carefully decorated baby nurseries) are non-essential.  There are really very few things most new parents/babies need, and some of the best essentials aren’t really available for baby shower presents (boobs, for instance).  It has been a while since I attended a baby shower for a first-time momma, but next time I’m invited, here’s what I wish I could afford to load into a pretty basket for her, though I’ll probably settle for just one or two items from the list…

1) Emergency Birth Kit

As I posted back in January, even in the absence of a large-scale disaster, on just an ordinary day-to-day basis, sometimes a birth happens too quickly to make it to the planned location or before a qualified birth attendant can be present.  You’d never be sorry that you had birth supplies on hand.  I know I was glad I had a kit for the car when I drove to my midwives’ office in labor last time! I’d also include a print-out of the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ Giving Birth “In Place”: A Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth.

Old school Birth Faith

August 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I was just scanning through some posts on my old blog, reliving blogging memories… sigh. Maybe you’re new here and didn’t know I used to post over in Blogger (2007-2010).  It’s sort of crazy to me that I’ve been blogging for longer than I spent in college.  And, honestly, I’ve learned and grown more since I started blogging than I think I learned and grew in all those years of higher education! Ha.  Starting my blog was, most definitely, one of the best things I ever did for myself, my family, and (I hope) for all you wonderful readers who think that reading what I have to say is worth your time.  I love you!

Here are thirteen of my favorite old Blogger posts (and excerpts to entice you), if you’ve got some time to kill and want a peek into my blogging past. Starting with the more recent and moving to the earliest…

1) Rejoicing with a friend

Never stop sharing, my friends!  Never give up.  We are making a difference.  Maybe only for one woman here and another woman there, but those women are worth it.  And so are their babies.  And there is nothing in the world like rejoicing with them as they bathe in the joy and empowerment they feel from their positive birth experiences.  Nothing in the world.

Reducing childbirth pain?

June 30, 2011 at 6:08 am

It has never been easier getting from 0 to 9 centimeters as it was for me during my fourth birth. I couldn’t believe how comfortable I was at 7, 8, 9 centimeters.  I’ve thought a lot about that fact over the past four months, wondering… what made the difference? I can really only speculate, but these changes might at least partially explain the reduction of labor pain I experienced:

1) Prenatal exercise

I was in much better shape starting out this pregnancy than I have ever been in my previous pregnancies.  I continued running approximately three mornings a week until about halfway through my pregnancy.  Then I walked and hiked to keep myself active, though not as regularly.  As I’ve shared before, prenatal exercise has so many benefits, including: reduced need for pain relief, decrease in maternal exhaustion, and shortened labor.  It may not be safe for all pregnant women, but I was grateful to be able to exercise through my pregnancies and grateful to have midwives who urged me to keep running and walking.

You are what you think

April 23, 2011 at 5:15 am

Another one from the archive, an August 2009 post:

I was sitting at the table eating dinner the other day, and my baby boy started acting like he was ready to nurse. I started thinking about taking him over to the couch to meet his request, and BOOM my milk let-down. I’d wager most nursing moms have experienced this chain of events hundreds of times.

That experience got me thinking. All I have to do is think about nursing my baby and my body responds within seconds. The salivation reflex is similar. You start thinking about something delicious and BAM… your mouth is ready for it with a gush of saliva.

And that got me thinking about how interconnected our thoughts and our biological processes are. Our thoughts can create almost instantaneous physical reactions! How amazing is that?! And how frightening too. It all depends on what you are thinking about.

Surrender, part 2

March 12, 2011 at 1:41 am

As I mentioned in part 1, much of the magic and spiritual richness of my daughter’s birth happened in the cushion of time surrounding the actual birth experience, particularly the weeks leading up to her birth.  While all my other children came 5 to 10 days early, this baby chose to make her appearance 5 days “late.”  As we waited, wondering when our baby would be born, we were once again called upon to “surrender.”  I took comfort in reading the words of a wise and wonderful nursing professor, Lynn Callister:

Waiting denotes an active process . . . requires continual self-examination, constantly trying to become more worthy, and ever-deepening and progressive discipleship of a broken heart, a contrite spirit, a yielded will and consecration of self. (“They That Wait Upon the Lord”)

And the words of my friend and book collaborator, Heather:

In Hebrew the word ‘wait’ is also the same word for ‘hope.’ . . . A woman waiting for a child . . . has a unique opportunity to put her faith and trust in the Lord and demonstrate her willingness to wait upon the Lord’s timing. When she learns to be patient and hopeful she opens herself up to receive miracles and great spiritual gifts.

I’m ready now

February 13, 2011 at 6:01 am

For weeks whenever anyone has asked me, “Are you so ready for this baby to come?”  my immediate response has been an adamant, “No! I wish I had two more months! I’m not ready!” I’ve been nesting for quite awhile and crossing things off my before-the-baby-comes to-do list every day (only to think of more things to add and then cross off), but, beyond the physical preparations for the birth and postpartum period, I haven’t felt an ounce of readiness. Each night as I have gone to bed, wondering whether a birth would be waking me soon, I have felt an overwhelming lack of surety… a feeling that not everything was in place… a yearning for something to bolster me and give me the foundation I need to give birth in peace in confidence. Today it came.

False alarm

February 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I had a few labor-like twinges (which feel completely and totally different from braxton-hicks contractions <— I have those all day every day) that got my attention while trying to fall asleep last night.  Boy did my heart start pounding.  And my legs started shaking.  And my head started going a million miles a minute: “Ah! No! Wait! I’m not ready yet! Ah!  Do I wake up Ax?  No… I’ll just see what happens… we had a false alarm “practice session” last time too, remember?… uh oh… Here comes another one… Ah!”

I’m relieved that the night was uneventful beyond that though. I’d really like at least a few more days to get myself psyched up for the big event!  We had taken this 38 week belly shot an hour or two beforehand, just in case it was our last opportunity…

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