June 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I was honored to be interviewed for today’s The Gift of Giving Life Virtual Book Tour stop by my dear friend, Christy, who blogs at Dizzlefig.  I loved what Christy had to say about birth and the book:

The fact remains that every one of us in this world is here because a woman gave birth. The beauty and magnitude of that fact are too often ignored. Birth is amazing, miraculous, and heroic, no matter how it happens. The process by which we become parents SHOULD be celebrated. The brave and talented women who collected these essays went to great measures to include ALL types of birth stories here: from unassisted home births to hospital cesareans to adoptions, and everything in between, including the pain and loss associated with infertility, miscarriage, traumatic birth experiences, and abuse. You will find yourself in these pages, and, if you are like me, you will also find your Heavenly Parents, and especially Heavenly Mother, who I believe has a special stewardship over earthly mothers.

Read the rest of her post HERE.

My friend, Robyn

May 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

This interview is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.

I’m happy to introduce you to my dear friend and collaborator, Robyn Allgood. Robyn is magnificent. Though we have now written a book together, I’ve never actually met her in person (Skype doesn’t count). Next month I’ll have the privilege of, finally, wrapping my arms around her and hugging her with all the love I have in my heart for her (when we meet at the LDS Holistic Living Conference). Having been influenced by Robyn’s beautiful soul has inspired me in so many ways.

The following is an interview that will, hopefully, give you a small taste of why I love Robyn Allgood so much.

Tell me about your background?

I am a mother to five children, a doula, childbirth educator, and ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) Chapter Leader. I am not a domestic goddess, but I can sew somewhat straight lines if called upon while not under duress. I consider myself a book nerd of sorts. I love natural living, but I have been known to make mac & cheese from the box for lunch and slap on a disposable diaper because I don’t feel like folding the cloth ones. I am married to a tall, dark version of McGyver. At least I call him McGyver because he can fix anything and I love him to pieces for it.

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.


May 3, 2012 at 12:01 am

I interrupt my regularly scheduled calling-for-help (ha!) to bring you this announcement…

After nearly three years of hard work, our book is finally in print!

Bearing Burdens

April 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I was in charge of The Gift of Giving Life blog this week. I had been pondering what I should write for my Friday post for a couple of weeks. I had one topic in mind, but as the time came closer for my blogging turn, it felt like there was something else I needed to write. Even as I sat down to write the post, what came out of me wasn’t what I was expecting. Here’s an excerpt…

When I start feeling sorry for myself or overwhelmed by all the day-to-day problems and concerns in my life as a wife and mother, it often helps me to think about my great-grandmother, Cassie.

Cassie was born in 1890 in a two-room log cabin in Mapleton, UT, “one mile west of one of the most beautiful mts. in the world,” as she described it. Cassie wrote, “Well you know that the years from 1907 to 1918 were the happiest and grandest years of this mortal life to me.” 1907 was the year she met and married her sweetheart, Edmund, and the autumn of 1918 was the start of several years I can’t even fathom enduring.

In October of 1918, Cassie was approximately eight months pregnant with my grandfather. At this time, her mother-in-law (Grandma Roundy) came by train to visit, but she was unknowingly exposed to influenza en route. Within three days, Cassie’s husband Edmund, their four children, Grandma Roundy, a sister-in-law and family, and Cassie’s sister Ella and her husband had all come down with influenza.

These are Cassie’s words about the days that followed:

Memory you can never forget the agonizing hours I spent in those days and the following weeks and months. We had 3 cows, 4 calves, 14 sheep, and 6 head of horses. They must be fed, watered, and the cows milked twice a day. How my back would ache when all was done for the night. It was almost beyond my strength to endure. Edmund raised up in bed and said the most beautiful prayer I ever heard for me. He asked the Lord to bless me and make my back able to bear the burdens that were placed upon me and many more beautiful things.

All of this while eight months pregnant.

Within three days, Cassie’s beloved Edmund passed away. Six weeks later, she gave birth to my grandfather, Edmund.  (Read the rest of Cassie’s inspiring story HERE.)

Red and Powerful

December 2, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I’m blogging over at The Gift of Giving Life this week. Here’s a teaser from today’s post…

My oldest daughter is eight years old. For the past several months, I’ve been thinking a lot about the rite of passage she will soon be passing through as she leaves her girlhood body behind and transforms into a woman.

For me, that transformation was frightening. The only place where anyone talked to me about puberty was at school. The only peer I knew of who had experienced “it” herself was an awkward girl people made fun of. I wasn’t eager to follow her footsteps.

When I started to bleed the summer before I turned thirteen, my whole heart and soul cried, “No!” I was horrified. I felt like my body was dragging me forward into a future I wasn’t ready to embrace. But there was no turning back. I was now one of them whether I wanted to be or not. And my attitude toward my monthly cycle for the next decade+ was a reflection of that shame.

I kept my new status a secret from everyone but my best friend for several days.  Finally, after much fearful stalling, I broke down in tears and told my stepmother I was bleeding. She held me while I cried and told me about when her period had started. She had been in the shower when blood started coming out of her. She screamed because she thought she was dying.

Horror. Shame. Crying. Screaming. “No!”

I refuse to let this menstrual legacy continue. I want my daughters’ experience of crossing that threshold from girl to woman to be everything it wasn’t for me but should have been. Triumphant. Celebratory. Joyful. Peaceful.

Blood is loaded with meaning in the scriptures. It is life. It is death. The middle of each cycle demonstrates the body’s deep investment in the continuation of life. Sometimes that investment continues for nine months. Sometimes that potential for life passes away, and the body cradles that fallen egg in a brief embrace before letting it go to make way for new life again…

Read the rest of the post HERE.

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

Excerpt from our book

October 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm

As we near the release of our book, The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth, we have been posting excerpts on our website. The most recent excerpt release was a piece written by yours truly: “Counsel with the Lord.” Here’s a teaser:

During my third pregnancy, after receiving a clear answer from the Lord of the unusual path we should take, I still found my faith wavering on occasion as I allowed my fears to cloud my faith. I struggled to do as Proverbs 3:5 urges us: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

In such moments, we may sympathize with the children of Israel as they prepared to cross the Red Sea. If they were to trust in logic or their “own understanding,” fear would most certainly have kept them rooted on the water’s edge, incapable of stepping forward into the parted sea. Elder Holland urges us:

After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel His love and hear the word of the Lord, go forward. Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine. . . . Nobody had ever crossed the Red Sea this way, but so what? There’s always a first time. With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet.[2]

Perhaps the Lord will instruct you to cross your own “Red Sea” as you navigate your pregnancy and birth journey. This could mean following a seemingly illogical prompting to seek emergency medical attention when your gut tells you something is wrong with your baby. This could mean choosing to give birth without pain medication when all of your friends and family say it’s impossible. Or your “Red Sea” could be a planned elective cesarean prompted by revelation. The right path isn’t always the logical path, or the easy path, or the path we had envisioned, but God’s guidance will always be in our best interest. I pray that we may all become wise women, building our houses upon the rock of the Lord’s perfect counsel.

Click here to read the complete essay. Enjoy!

The Gift of Giving Life

October 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm

For the past two years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a group of magnificent women on a book project.  Here’s a brief description of what we have created and compiled together:

The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth offers something that no other pregnancy book has before—a spiritual look at pregnancy and birth by and for Latter-day Saint [Mormon] women and other women of faith. With inspiring birth stories and essays from dozens of real LDS women, scriptures, words of the prophets and other spiritual texts related to pregnancy and birth, The Gift of Giving Life is the essential pregnancy companion for every LDS woman.

The Gift of Giving Life does not advocate for any one type of birth or approach to prenatal care, rather it intends to unify our families and communities in regard to the sacredness of birth. We also aim to provide you with resources, information, and inspiration that you may not have had access to all in one place before.

Though we have written the book unabashedly for an LDS audience, we hope that birthing women, birth attendants and birth advocates of all faiths will find it useful and informative.

It has been such an honor and blessing to be a part of this project. You can read more about each of the authors and some of the contributors here. Many of them are bloggers you might recognize… Rixa Freeze (Stand and Deliver), Sheridan Ripley (Enjoy Birth), Brittany Cromar (Birth Unplugged), Heather Farrell (Women in the Scriptures) and others.  I love this book.  And most especially I love the personal stories contributed by dozens of wonderful women… of trials and triumph and love and joy… all of them full of the fingerprints of God. I have spent considerable time immersed in those stories over the past year, and they never get old to me. Sigh.

Proactive support for new mothers

July 24, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I’ve been busy editing our book over the past several weeks, and in the process have been reading stories from dozens of women. Some of them endured intense physical and emotional trials in their journey to motherhood. Several suffered from (and overcame) postpartum depression. It has reminded me of my own difficulties in adjusting to motherhood with my first baby. At the time, I checked out a book from our local library called Mothering the New Mother. It brought me strength and hope when I felt overwhelmed. As a result, I declared it my new personal mission to ensure that all the new mothers around me knew they weren’t alone in their struggles. It has been almost eight years since then, and I have certainly not followed-through with those good intentions nearly as well as I should have. But today I am feeling a renewed drive to reach out to postpartum women and strengthen them. This post is partly for my own reference (to give me a kick in the pants to get moving), but I hope it inspires you as well.

When a child is born, so is a mother.  She will never be the same again. Conversations with new mothers can, at times, focus at length on how beautiful and precious her newborn is and not enough on the new mother’s needs.  Having a baby can be a very difficult transition, even for mothers of two or three or more. The physical, emotional, and spiritual burdens new mothers face can, at times, feel too overwhelming to bear. But friends and family can be proactive in lifting these burdens. Here are some ideas for those wanting to help:

The birth of a book

July 8, 2011 at 8:22 pm

As my fellow book-collaborator, Felice, often quotes, “Everything is gestation and then birthing” (Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet). Our book, The Gift of Giving Life, has been gestating for over two years. First, just the seeds of an idea were planted in many of our minds, then one took action, and the right people came together with the skills and passion to bring the project forward. I echo these words, posted by Felice:

The book has surpassed our greatest expectations. We are so grateful to all the women who sent us their stories and who have helped contribute to the book in many different ways. We are also grateful to all the men than have contributed and supported. This projects has been inspired and blessed at every turn and we look forward to getting into the hands of LDS women, birth attendants, care providers, and birth junkies of all faiths everywhere who are interested and invested in the sacred nature of birth.

The estimated due date for the birth of this beautiful book is November 1! We can’t wait to share it with all of you. Visit the book’s blog to find out how you can enter to win a free copy.

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