Poems for the Empty Womb in my Future

January 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Tomorrow I will be 26 weeks, right on the cusp of the third trimester. Yesterday I realized that, if this baby comes at 38 weeks like my last one, I only have twelve weeks left to prepare. I also realized that those fleeting weeks are all the time I have left to cradle this baby within my body, to fulfill all of my child’s needs effortlessly, to feel his tiny body slide and turn and nudge, to have a oneness with another soul unlike anything else on earth. This could very well be the last time. The thought fills me with both a sense of closure and gratitude as well as a crushing, devastating grief.

Six years ago, we published The Gift of Giving Life. One of the stories we included was from a woman born in the mid-fifties, during the nightmarish “twilight sleep” era. She watched birth transform over the decades. Her mother was a nurse, and she became a nurse herself, spending years attending women in childbirth as well as birthing her own babies. I’ve always loved this passage from her story:

I had the privilege of bearing nine children, which to many seems like a lot. But to me that is only a few precious times to experience such a glorious thing as birth. If a person likes to ski, it would not seem excessive to ski a dozen or more times in their life. Most women are able to experience birth just a very few times; all the more reason to be careful about creating the best birth possible (Velinda Mitchell, p. 46).

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.


That chubby face still makes my heart melt.

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 4th Edition

April 1, 2015 at 4:32 am

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.


I’ve now completed four full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and all forty days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. Yippee!  Last weekend for yoga teacher training we had an “Ashram-style” retreat in the mountains two hours northeast of Phoenix. It was such a beautiful place to be.


Modeling Empathy

March 10, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Back in 2010, a study of nearly 14,000 American college students indicated that “college students today are 40 percent less empathetic than those of 30 years ago, with the numbers plunging primarily after 2000” (Source). I started college in 1999, so this downward trend began in my generation. What can we expect to be the consequences of this lack of empathy? “Low empathy is associated with criminal behavior, violence, sexual offenses, aggression when drunk and other antisocial behaviors” (Source). Not a pretty sight. This probably helps explain why I rarely watch/read the news anymore. So can we halt this trend toward empathy-lack?

As a first-time mom, a friend of mine invited me to attend an event for moms and kids. I don’t remember much about it. I think we rotated through different rooms with a variety of crafts and games and activities. The one thing that has stuck with me (after ten years) was a presentation about the importance of empathy. The woman encouraged us to respond to our children’s distress or tantrums first with empathy. She explained that we all have an innate need to feel understood, including and especially children. She encouraged us, when our children would cry about something upsetting to them, to acknowledging their big feelings, speak aloud our understanding of why they would be upset, match their tone of voice and facial expression and then gradually bring it down to a calmer one. For whatever reason, this advice about empathy felt profound and life-changing, and it sunk deep into my heart and mind.

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,


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. :-)

The Wait for Mourning

May 28, 2012 at 6:26 am

My grandmother, the woman I cherish more than any other, the one who took my wounded toddler heart and gave it a reason to keep beating… she’s slipping away from this world.

I’ve been dreading this all of my life… the day that Grandma leaves us. I remember having a nightmare when I was in kindergarten. I had dreamed that Grandma had died, and my dad couldn’t console my weeping. I felt utterly horrified. How could I live without her?

But now, miraculously, rather than despair, I am full of peace.  I told her on the phone a few days ago, “It’s OK. You can go.” And I felt her saying good-bye as she told me over and over, “I love you. I love you.”

I wish I could be there with her now as she lingers before exiting, in that sacred place between life and death, surrounded by those who so deeply adore her.

I went searching tonight for a poem about birth and death, something that might capture what I’m feeling. But I didn’t find anything. So I decided to write my own.

The Wait for Mourning

She has pulled inside,
And they wait,
And watch,
And whisper,
Offer their hands in love,
Offer their love in words,
Guardians of her space.
Oh how I long to be there
With her,
With them,
Doulas to the dying.


November 6, 2011 at 5:03 am

I take my time at the grocery store tonight,
Thoughts trickle through my brain,
A stream of discouragement,
Bubbling over the rocky terrain in my skull.
I linger in aisle after aisle,
Contemplating items I usually ignore.
A bag of Doritos is soon nestled with the organic eggs and plain yogurt.
I guess sometimes you just need to do something
Out of character,
To shake yourself back.

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