Little Miss Hope has been the fussiest of my newborns, or “fuzzy” as my 5-year-old says. While I wouldn’t call it full-fledged colic, it has been pretty stressful for us. For the first month+ of her life, she was often unhappy. During those fussy periods, she would usually protest if I tried to nurse her. She wouldn’t take a pacifier. Being in someone’s arms wasn’t usually enough to soothe her, and neither was rocking. When all else failed, bouncing on our birth ball would at least soothe her to some extent.
Science has suggested that it is the fetus itself who signals the start of labor. This is related to certain proteins in the baby’s lungs, but proteins aside, it does seem fitting for a baby called Hope to choose Christmas morning for her birthday.
I really didn’t want to give birth on Christmas, but give birth I did anyway. :-) The experience was so many unexpected things, just as this pregnancy and all of the past year has been. I have never been so emotional during a birth, never before cried, never before vomited, and never felt so supported. I have never been filled with so much gratitude even amid the hardest pains. Most of my tears were just that… thankfulness… to my birthing team, to my baby, and to the Divine forces at work. I will post the full birth story later. Still processing.
Back in 2010 I wrote a post with some of my hopes for the upcoming birth of my 4th baby. It turned out that many of the things I wanted to experience with her birth didn’t work out. I did get to experience a near-painless birth, but it wasn’t anything like what I had envisioned. So here’s what I’m hoping for with birth #5…
1) Mother Blessing Celebration
With my last births, my co-authors gave me a “virtual mother blessing” and sent me a bonsai tree and beads for a birthing necklace along with lovely messages and prayers for me. It was wonderful. But this time I want a real-life mother blessing celebration with all my hippy/birthy friends (who can make it) physically present. I want henna on my belly, and flowers in my hair, and candles and the whole nine yards. Getting this child here has been a long and agonizing process, and I know I will need a lot of love and support to complete this journey and bring this child earth-side.
About six months ago I wrote a post called “Becoming Whole Again” where I gave an update about my recovery from anxiety and depression. Yesterday I received a comment from Nicole on that post:
I am really interested in the new “prescription” to replace the drugs. What are the variety of spiritual and physical things you were encouraged to make habits in order to protect yourself from darkness and fear?
I’ve been thinking about sharing that prescription for awhile. So Nicole’s comment was the nudge I needed. I wrote this list in my journal on March 16, 2013. I feel it was a joint-effort between God and me, that we made the list together. At the time I wasn’t doing any of the things consistently and some not at all.
1) Go to bed by 10:00 p.m. and wake up early.
3) Read my scriptures.
5) Sing and play the piano.
6) Hold each child in my arms.
7) Have sex at least once a week.
Back in July I started meditating (kundalini yoga meditation) and singing every day. I haven’t missed a day since. I’m approaching 80 days. After I started this daily meditation practice, I felt so amazing that I cut my medication dose in half again. So now I’m down to 1/4 of my prescribed dose every other day. There were a few discouraging days while my body adjusted, but now that I’ve stabilized, the bad days are few and far between.
Before my most recent birth, I made a list of “Hopes for next time.” I outlined the ways I hoped to make my fourth birth even better than the previous three. (Most of the items on my list didn’t happen. Oh well.) My first pregnancy was the beginning of my childbirth obsession, but I had no idea back then just how deep the things-to-learn-about-birthing “rabbit hole” was going to go. Now ten years down the road, it goes deeper still.
If I were to write another “Hopes for next time” post, I have another item I’d now be putting at the top of my list: singing.
Mother, give me the sun.
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.
By Lani Axman
When I hear
A baby cry,
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
A hundred million
Bursting with a deafening silence,
Pull me from my sleep
Like newborns in the night,
Their silent voices throb,
“Cry for us,
Scream for us,
“Some of the best birth footage out there–a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in the subject.” -Ceridwen Morris, CCE, childbirth educator, and co-author of From The Hips
When I received an email last week asking if I’d be interested in reviewing the film Birth Story on my blog, I immediately responded, “Yes!” I received my copy of the film over the weekend. My husband watched some of it with me, in between doing the dishes. I was impressed at how much it didn’t seem to freak him out. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s been married to me for almost twelve years, after all.
I’ve been fluctuating between severely-sleep-deprived and mildly-sleep-deprived for most of my life. Before having children, I had my own night-owl tendencies to blame. After having children, I wished I could go back in time and yell at my former self, “Sleep while you can!!!!!” I was utterly unprepared for the whiplash of new-parent sleep-loss. Honestly, I think last year’s craziness was partially just nine years of chronic sleep-deprivation pushing me to my breaking point. Sleep is so important, but its usually in short supply when you’re a mom, especially if you’ve chosen “night-time parenting” as your side-job.
I want you to get more sleep. I want your babies (small and large) to get more sleep. Here are some things you might want to try, if that’s what you want as well.
I’ve been really interested in sound lately. I’m reading a book called Healing at the Speed of Sound: How What We Hear Transforms Our Brains and Lives. I love these words from the preface, “When we speak of being of ‘sound mind and body,’ we seldom realize that sound itself is the root of being. That sound itself is the route to acquire those things we want so much, a sound mind and body.” And these words from the introduction, “We may choose organic good at the supermarket and avoid inhaling others’ cigarette smoke, yet we rarely pay attention to the equally positive or negative health impacts of sound, the other thing we put in our bodies.” I am loving thinking about the concept of “sound nutrition.” Great stuff.
I mentioned on my facebook page that I recently turned our bedroom into a sort-of tribute to bellies, babies, birth, and life-giving. And people wanted pics!
I’ve been taking what we already had (with the addition of a few cheap Goodwill frames) to decorate with. So that means we finally hung up lots of things I’ve been planning to hang up for ages, including many of our birth and pregnancy photos (most of them taken by my talented doula friend, Cassie). And lots of trees, green things, life, love, and growth.
I think this is the first time we’ve ever really had stuff hanging in our bedroom. I really like how everything looks!
Now for the pics…
There I stood… Reid to my left—mysterious, humble, thoughtful, older man with a stunning smile. Isaac in front of me—silly, loud, hilarious, younger man who was much less threatening to my carefully-laid plans for my future. Should I accept Isaac’s invitation for a drive and enjoy an evening of laughter and silliness? Or should I decline the invitation and continue my conversation with Reid?
The truth is, it wasn’t really a tough choice at all. I knew the instant that the words came out of Isaac’s mouth that I was going to disappoint him. Remember, I was high on those giddy twitterpation hormones, and I was dead set on getting into Reid’s head, so it only took me a moment’s thought before I looked at Reid and then looked at Isaac and said, “Umm, I think I’m actually going to stick around here.”
I’ll never forget the look on Isaac’s face. He was clearly shocked. He had been given no warning that anything inside my head had changed. I am sure he had expected me to smile and cheerfully accept his invitation. He was stunned into silence for a minute. Then he looked at Reid and back at me, and I watched it dawn on his face that he understood what must be happening. He said something like, “Oh, okay,” and slowly turned and walked away. I felt a little bit bad, but mostly I was relieved to have Reid to myself again.
Reid smiled back, and then he said something that stopped me in my tracks. He said…
And, for a moment, the world stopped spinning. Really! Or maybe not, but that’s kind of how it felt in that instant. From Reid’s end of things, he’d say that there wasn’t anything particularly significant about his remembering my name. He just used to be really good about remembering people’s names. But I tell him that he’s lucky he did, ‘cause, the truth is, I don’t know if we’d have ended up getting hitched if it hadn’t been for his excellent name-recall. For me, it was that very moment, hearing those beautiful words—“Hello, Lani”—that really catapulted Reid onto my radar screen.
I’m not really sure why those two little words had such a profound impact on me, but they really really did. It wasn’t just that he remembered my name. I think it was the fact that I didn’t expect him to remember my name. I was really taken by surprise that someone who had barely made a blip on my radar screen was greeting me personally. It shocked and enthralled me. All of a sudden, the cogs and wheels in my head started spinning and speculating and reading into things. All of a sudden, I was determined to get inside of this Reid character’s head. Unlike Isaac, he was a quiet, mysterious, keep-to-himself sort of guy, so there was so much I suddenly wanted to know about him. I don’t think I thought of anything else for the next few hours.
Never ones to pass up an opportunity to converse with new friends, we decided to chat with his roommates (whom we had never met) instead. At first it was just one or two of them, and then a third showed up… some kid who liked to run. I think his name was Reid or something…
He was a scrawny one. Looked like a high school kid rather than a college student. He was nice, but I think I forgot his name two seconds after he told us what it was. I have a way of doing that with names.
And I continued to hang out with Isaac off and on. When I was with Isaac, I don’t think I ever stopped smiling (or laughing). But after several weeks of silliness, it was starting to wear me out a bit. I often thought to myself… umm… Okay, Isaac, enough fun and games. Let’s be real for a change. I don’t think I ever did feel like we had a real conversation.
My cousin Chris once bet me that I would be married by the end of my freshman year at college. That may seem outrageous to some of you, but it’s actually quite common for Mormon women to marry “young.” Even so, I knew Chris was going to lose. I made one thing very clear to all the males I encountered that year: I am going on a mission. And I was going to study abroad and surely graduate before I got married. After all, I had been indoctrinated by my PhD stepmother all of my life that those were the things I ought to do. And I was determined to take that path.
I managed to avoid all but one eager 24-year-old in my first semester. Despite his efforts to convince me I was ready to get married, I knew I wasn’t. And, even if I was, I knew it wouldn’t be to him. He was a great guy and actually pretty handsome, but there was absolutely no chemistry (at least from my perspective). We went on only one or two dates, and from there on out it was just friendship, though I must admit I was flattered by his admiration.
Eventually, I found myself spending all my free time with a 19-year-old young man. I have so many happy memories that include him. He was a wonderful (best) friend and very safe since he was definitely not getting married yet. Hence, Chris lost the bet. I left campus in April… free and clear and single. Of course!
When I grow up, I want to be like my baby. Here’s why…
1) She wakes up smiling from ear to ear every day, full of enthusiasm for life and eager to get started. I don’t think this has ever been true of her not-a-morning-person momma. But I wish it were.
2) She lives the old “early to bed, early to rise” adage. This is probably largely responsible for #1. I think we’d all be much happier, healthier people if we did the same. I know I would.