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:

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).

The birth that changed the world

December 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I love that one of the most celebrated events in earth’s history is a birth.

I’ve posted before (Away in a Manger) about what that miraculous event might have been like, based on Jewish laws and customs from Biblical times. Of course we don’t know exactly what happened when Mary gave mortal life to her Son. Sometimes laws and customs are laid aside when circumstances require. But how wonderful it would have been to witness that birth! I fantasize about it often.

I love the following new videos depicting the events surrounding Christ’s birth. One of my only laments is that we aren’t privileged to see Mary laboring or giving birth. Below you’ll find links to the videos and a few of the things I loved about them. Each one is only a few minutes long. If you like them, you can download them to share with your friends and family too. Enjoy!

Angel Foretells Christ’s Birth to Mary-  I love the casting of Mary. I love how she seems to live and move and breathe on a higher plane. I love her humility.

Jam to Lamb

November 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Two years ago tomorrow, I got a life-changing email from a lovely woman named Felice Austin. It started like this…

Dear Lani,

I got your name and email from Martha. She said that you are a fellow birth loving mamma. My name is Felice Austin and I am writing a spiritual birth book titled The Gift of Giving Life…

Needless to say, it only took a few nanoseconds for me to know I most definitely wanted to be a part of this project. And two years later I can say with every bit of my heart and soul that I know God brought Felice Austin and me (and all of my TGOGL sisters) together.

The day after I came into contact with Felice, she wrote a blogpost I will never forget. To this day it is still one of my all-time favorite blogposts. I hope you will enjoy this re-post from her archive as much as I did two years ago. -Lani

Defining female empowerment

October 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm

This blogpost was originally written August 15, 2009 (also re-posted March 6, 2010). I received excellent comments both times. Please do click over and check out those discussions. Hoping for some more today…

The whole battle between the two camps is due to the faiure [sic] of women in the country to fight for real empowerment. They take up an ‘easy’ cause, child birth and child raising, to fight for with the enemy that does not exist, other women. Rather than fight men for equal pay (the ERA is STILL not ratified in this country!), equal opportunity, fight sexism, fight discrimination, they pick easy ‘battles’ with no true winners. My partner calls the breast-home birth-epidural-vaccination battles ‘Hen Chatter’. No real substance or results. These arguments do nothing to better the lives and livelihoods of women or our daughters. Filled with hystrionics [sic] and personal anecdotes they are just busy work, like darning once was, for women. Keeps the little women busy and from tackling the real fights. Keep it up ladies and we will remain in the 1960’s for another half century. Empowering women is not about how you have a baby!

-Ali (excerpt from her comment in response to “Pushing Back: Has the natural childbirth movement gone too far?” by Lisa Selin Davis)

Expectations

August 24, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Sometimes things just don’t happen the way we expected. In fact, this is true so often for me that I wonder why I even bother predicting how things will go! For example…

Harder than I ever expected

  • Establishing breastfeeding.  Shouldn’t something so “natural” come naturally to us?  Holy cow. So hard the first time.  So many contraptions (nipple shield, syringe, pump, etc.) to get us going.  But it was so worth the agony of those first days/weeks and easy peasy with babies #2, #3, #4.

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 4

March 28, 2011 at 12:43 am

With my three previous births, the transition from 7 to 10 centimeters took me deeper and deeper into the inner recesses of my consciousness.  As I pulled further and further into myself, I would dig for any reserves of strength and endurance.  Simultaneously I would be taken up and outside of myself to distant spaces somewhere between earth and heaven, almost completely oblivious to my actual physical surroundings and anyone in them.  Between contractions, I was typically extremely relaxed and motionless with my eyes closed.  Basically, during transition, I’m usually simultaneously high and sedated from the influence of massive amounts of natural opiates (endorphins).

But there I was… nine centimeters with baby #4…  and my head was still firmly on this planet?  I’d never experienced anything like this before.

After checking my cervix, Mary suggested that I get up on my knees, leaning over my birth ball, to encourage the baby to descend, and do some nipple stimulation to get some good “mean” contractions coming.  In retrospect, I can tell you how wise and merciful it was for her to encourage those “mean” contractions.  Endorphins are an important part of the birth process, and they’re released in response to pain.  Minimal pain, in my case, translated to minimal endorphin release—not the ideal way to prepare for a mini-person to squeeze through my lady parts.  Pushing has always been the easiest part of childbirth for me because I’m usually swimming in natural opiates.  This time, Mary could tell (and I could tell) that I was most definitely not swimming in opiates.  So, nipple stim we did.  That’s when my doula arrived with her camera and started snapping pictures.

Knowing how soon the birth would be upon us, we also called for my five-year-old daughter to come upstairs.  Before I even became pregnant, she told me she wanted to be my doula the next time I had a baby.  She’s my little “birth junkie” and could watch birth YouTube videos with me all day long. 

Surrender, part 3

March 16, 2011 at 12:28 am

I needed to take my time writing this birth journey. In part, because it felt like writing it down was placing it squarely in the past, and I didn’t want it to be totally over.  But also because it has taken me all this time to process the experience, and yet I’m still processing it as we speak.   Birth is unpredictable, raw, and real.  Sometimes it can be just as traumatic as it is beautiful.  How do we convey all that complexity of experience with words?  How can we describe it?  These words in a blog comment from Kassandra were so spot-on:

There are so many layers to your birth story because there are so many different parts of yourself experiencing it.

It is such an incredibly rich spiritual experience, a full on physical sensation and accomplishment, and an emotional rollercoaster changing from moment to moment, with a different focus depending on what part of it you are trying to convey. Is it about the outcome? Is it about the moments? Is it about how you felt during, or afterwards? It’s everything… and it will change depending on who you are telling and why.

This birth was, at once, the absolute easiest and the absolute most difficult of my children’s births.  It was both gentle and jarring.  As I mentioned in part 1, I was initially disappointed.  There was no dreamy, on-another-planet, endorphin-filled build to a climax—something I’d become addicted to since my first birth.  It felt sort of like I got cheated out of one of the best parts of giving birth unmedicated.  Robert Louis Stevenson has said, “And the true realism, always and everywhere, is that of the poets, to find where the joy resides, and give it voice, far beyond singing.”  Coming to peace with this birth has been just such a poetic process… finding where the joy resides and figuring out how to give it voice and make it sing.

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.

Surrender, part 1

March 7, 2011 at 4:55 am

Trying to get words on paper to describe my fourth baby’s birth has been a challenge.  I’ve told the bare bones condensed version more times than I can remember now, but to find the words to infuse the story with all of its detail and intensity and emotion… every time I thought about making an attempt, I found myself paralyzed.  My feelings about the experience seem to change daily as well.  As I’ve relived it and processed it in my head over and over, the words and feelings associated with the experience have ranged across a broad spectrum—sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes neutral.  Fortunately, as the event recedes further into memory, my feelings about it grow more and more positive and peaceful.

Initially, in the first few days after giving birth this time, I felt a lot of nostalgic longing for my first home birth experience. It had been so magical and spiritual (especially in retrospect, I’m sure), and the weeks after that birth had been even more wonderful.  This birth, however, was so utterly different than I ever expected or visualized.  Before I even had a chance to wrap my mind around the fact that it was happening, it was already over!  And, I must admit, those brief moments of “happening” were intense enough that I felt, for the first time after a birth, a bit traumatized. There also wasn’t time for so many of the things I had hoped to do during this birth experience—lots of private time with my husband, time in the shower, time visualizing and meditating on my baby, etc.  I only got to wear my birthing necklace for what seemed like a few minutes, and I had envisioned spending hours with it draped on my neck as a reminder of the love and strength being lent to me.  So this birth was initially a bit disappointing to me despite the fact that it all went “perfectly” in terms of health and clinical details.  I feel so ungrateful now as I type those words, but I’m just keeping it real.

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Pinterest