Hope’s Birth: The Right Words

January 12, 2016 at 8:39 am

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[Part one of Hope’s birth is HERE, part two is HERE, and part three is HERE.]

That’s when I dropped my pants.

Funny how few circumstances there are when going bottom-less in front of other human beings is totally appropriate, but childbirth is one of them. I was ready to get in the tub. So I settled into the warm water, my husband held my hand, and Cherise knelt beside us and started pouring water over my belly. A few moments later, Mary came and stood at the foot of the tub. She must have known somehow that I was still feeling guilty about giving birth on Christmas, and she knew I needed a way to let that guilt go. The words she said to me… oh those words… those beautiful, beautiful words. Perhaps I’m not quoting her exactly right, but she looked straight into my eyes and said words very similar to this:

There is no greater gift to God’s service than what we’re doing right here right now.

As soon as her message penetrated my heart, it was as though the guilt instantly released its grip on me, and I began to cry. It was a massive, monumental, beautiful release. I sobbed, “Thank you…” and Mary didn’t skip a beat before responding, “Thank YOU.” Cherise and Mary both encouraged me to cry and let it out. This was the first time I had ever cried in labor, and it felt good. Releasing those trapped negative emotions allowed my body to move forward, and the contractions became even stronger.

Hope’s Birth: The Right People

January 9, 2016 at 8:15 am

[Part one of Hope’s birth is HERE, and part two is HERE.]

My midwife partners and I at the The Farm learned by observation and experience that the presence of even one person who is not exquisitely attuned to the mother’s feelings can stop some women’s labors. All women are sensitive. Some women are extraordinarily so. -Ina May Gaskin

Apparently, reading Ina May Gaskin is a great way to boost oxytocin levels. My contractions had fizzled out when I curled up in bed to read, but within twenty minutes or so they were back. I kept reading for a while, but eventually I turned off my lamp and slept through the waves. As I slept, I noticed the contractions, but they were never strong enough to wake me completely.

Sometime around 4:00 a.m. my husband got up with an earache. I decided to get up too and start timing my contractions again. It was not the ideal time for him to be sick (ha, is it ever?), but I did my best to make him more comfortable with all the various natural remedies up my sleeve. It was looking highly likely that we would be having a Christmas baby, so he promised he would focus on supporting me despite his aching ear.

I really didn’t want to call my midwives. It was Christmas morning! And I especially didn’t want to bother them if it was just a false alarm. I waited until contractions were coming between 5 and 10 minutes apart and lasting a minute. And finally I bit the bullet and paged them. Amy was the one who called back (she was on-call until 7:00 a.m.). I told her I felt like maybe I was holding my labor back because I wasn’t yet at my birth location, so I felt like I should probably come in. She said that was fine and that she would meet us at the birth center.

Our Christmas Hope

December 27, 2015 at 9:43 am

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.

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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.

School Battles: Kids’ Feelings Matter

September 15, 2015 at 8:44 pm

My 6-year-old gave me a heart attack this morning. I went into his room, as usual, to wake him up for school, but he was gone. At first I thought, “Cool, he’s already up! I don’t have to drag him out of bed.” But when I couldn’t find him anywhere in the house, I had a mild freak out. Logically, I should have known he was somewhere in the house. All the doors were locked. But I still went into a panic, frantically calling his name as I searched, convinced someone had somehow entered our home and stolen our son. I enlisted the help of my older daughters and dialed my husband’s cell number. But my 9-year-old knew just where to look.

Under the bed. There he was. Hiding. The first words out of his mouth:

“I don’t want to go!”

Even as he dressed himself and finally came out for breakfast, he repeated, “I don’t like school!” His sister promptly told him, “No one likes school!” As we sat in traffic, driving to the dreaded locale (since we missed the bus… again), he said, “Mom, I feel sick.” I knew he wasn’t physically ill. I dropped him off, and all the way home I started composing this blogpost in my head.

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Assessing My Fears

July 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Today I am sixteen weeks pregnant with my fifth baby.
Just a few more weeks before I reach my 120th day of pregnancy.

“On the 120th day, we give our women a blessing and tell them to meditate more, and look toward God, so that they may have very calm, quiet, intelligent, self-creative children.” -Yogi Bhajan

16 weeksEach pregnancy has come with its unique set of concerns. During my first, I was focused on the upcoming birth and how I would manage the pain. The second pregnancy brought concerns about having a precipitous labor since my first had been less than six hours from start to finish. During my third pregnancy, I had fears about my baby dying in the birth process (it was our first home birth). As I prepared for my fourth birth, my primary fear was that I would need a cesarean, that I had somehow used up my “smooth birth” allotment and was due for a complicated delivery.

In the end, none of my fears panned out. Giving birth to my first baby was smooth and “easier” than I had feared it would be. My second baby came after a long, drawn-out on-again-off-again 24+ hours of (posterior presentation) labor, not the 3-hour birth I had feared. Our third baby arrived alive and kicking (or rather, peeing and pooping on me right away). My fourth birth experience was nearly-painless, and I pushed her out in less than five minutes despite the nuchal hand up over the top of her head. My fears, while very much real, all proved to be unwarranted.

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 5th Edition

April 15, 2015 at 6:04 am

I’ve now completed five full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training, my full 40-day sadhana, three of my early-morning group sadhanas (I need two more, but 3:30 is so early), eight of my twenty yoga classes, and four of my take-home exam essay questions. Our certification packages are due May 24, and we’re scheduled to graduate on June 7.

The highlight of last weekend for me was practicing teaching each other. We divided into three groups of five and took turns teaching various breathing exercises, mudras, and postures. I’ll admit I was really drowsy and preoccupied in class most of Saturday and Sunday morning, but I was alert and having a blast on Sunday afternoon when we began teaching each other.

I loved seeing my classmates shine in their own unique ways as teachers, and I loved having the opportunity to work on my own skills and learn how to better ground and center myself in preparation for teaching. I am on this journey with some really wonderful human beings and feel honored to know them. Here is everyone relaxing during a guided meditation:

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4 Great Reasons to Hire a Doula

January 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I wish every laboring woman could have a doula’s support.  Here are four great reasons why…

1) Doulas are nothing new.

A lot of people, when they first hear about doulas, think… oh, that’s new. But it’s not at all. For thousands and thousands of years women have been supported by other women during childbirth. We watched an awesome film at our doula training called “The Timeless Way” which showed the history of childbirth starting with ancient artifacts and moving to more modern depictions. I was struck how the very same image was represented through sculpture, wall carvings, pottery, and art over and over and over again. It is the “classic birth triad”—an upright laboring woman supported from behind by another woman, with a midwife in front ready to catch the baby. It has only been in the last century that this “classic birth triad” has all but disappeared. Doulas are not new. Modern obstetric practice is what has strayed (very far, I might add) from the time-tested norm.

Not Done

September 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

My friend, Katie, wrote a post for our book blog on Monday called “Your family is complete.” In it she shares how she came to know on a deep and spiritual level that her family was complete after the birth of her sixth child. Discussions on our book’s fb page and my Birth Faith facebook page have had me pondering the subject quite a lot.

Personally, I’ve gone back and forth on this subject numerous times. I even included ya’ll in many of those ponderings…

  • “Though I would certainly not refuse any child that came to me, I feel as though it would be a supreme act of selfishness (and craziness) for me to willfully invite any more children into my home.”  (Done?)
  • “As I’ve pondered it, I’ve come to peace with either path.  I feel OK with being done.  And I feel OK with not being done.” (Done? Revisited)
  • “Yes, there is another child who loves me deeply and intensely, waiting… and hoping that I will have the courage to surrender again.” (Surrender, part 5)
  • “For someone who has spent the last decade of my life passionate about birth and motherhood and babies, it seems so strange that… at present… I have to confess…  Seeing pregnant women makes me feel anxious, seeing babies makes me feel anxious, thinking about ever being pregnant again or having another baby makes me feel horrified.” (Fiery Furnace)
  • “After a while she told me she wanted to introduce me to someone. Another spirit appeared. This spirit is someone I’ve often believed to exist, but I have never known for certain. It was my unborn son. I have come to know him much better over the course of the past month, to understand more about who he is and why he will be a blessing to my family (and the world).” (Retreat)

What a ride! And the ride’s not over yet! Regardless of what goes on inside of me as I ponder this question, I still have a husband with his own strong opinions on the subject. And I’m not about to coerce him into anything. But I can say for myself that I feel confident that my family is not “complete” yet.

Constant

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. :-)

Mate selection

September 22, 2011 at 6:51 pm

“As we act out the complex rituals of courtship, many of them inscribed deep in our brain, scent-based cues help us zero in on optimal partners—the ones most likely to stay faithful to us and to create healthy children with us.” (“Scents and Sensibility,” Psychology Today)

You already know that I love new baby smells and believe that our sense of smell plays an important role in the bonding process.  Since making this discovery a couple of years ago, I have thought off and on about the subject as news stories or ideas have come up on my radar.  Then, a couple of days ago, I had an experience that brought smell and bonding onto my radar again.

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As my husband was saying good-bye to all of us to leave for work, he came over to hug and kiss me like he always does.  It was an ordinary hug, no different from every other hug on every other morning.  But this time I noticed something I had never paid attention to before. When we hugged each other, both of us, simultaneously (instinctively?), drew in a long breath through our noses, smelling each other deeply. As I watched this exchange, almost as an outside observer, I was absolutely fascinated.  When he came home from work, later in the day, it happened again… hug… deep breath in through our noses.  Maybe we’re not so different from our dog-friends after all? I’m becoming more convinced than ever that our sense of smell plays a far more important role in our relationships than we realize.

I was telling my husband about this observation last night.  He had never noticed our smell-hugs before either.  And then I was telling him about the blogpost I was planning to write.  During our conversation, I told him, “I used to think that the most important factors in choosing a mate were spiritual and emotional, but I don’t anymore.”  Yes, they are important, but I would now say that physical chemistry comes first, at least if you’re planning on reproducing (and giving those children stronger/healthier immune systems) and remaining faithful to each other forever.  Here’s why…

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