Splitting the Sky

June 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

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Two summers ago, my wonderful friend Amber asked if she could interview me for a project she was working on. At the time I was on vacation, visiting my family for the summer, and I was newly pregnant with my 5th baby. Amber and Camlyn came to my dad’s house and set up their cameras and sound equipment. They asked me excellent questions, and I did a lot of crying in front of the camera. Ha.

Hope’s Birth: Sadness and Surrender

January 6, 2016 at 12:32 am

[The first part of Hope’s birth story is HERE.]

As I wrote in the first installment of this story, giving birth is such a multi-layered experience. And what a woman is feeling has such a deep impact on how the birth unfolds. With that in mind, I can’t really give the full scope of what I went through with Hope’s birth without sharing some deep emotional upheaval I experienced a week before. In my last post I shared one layer of my pre-birth emotional state: fear about letting my baby come out. Today I’ll make Brené Brown proud with some hard-core vulnerability and share another layer.

owningourstory

Grieving Her Lost Twin

November 2, 2015 at 3:00 am

Only you know the truth about your own history, because it is kept within the cellular memory in your body. -Peter Bourquin

February will mark five years since my youngest daughter’s birth. It will also mark five years since I learned that my daughter was very likely sharing my womb with a twin for a brief time. We don’t hear much about the vanishing twin phenomenon, but it’s actually fairly common. It is likely that one out of every ten people is actually a womb twin survivor. And 21-30% of pregnancies that begin with multiple fetuses result in a vanished twin. I didn’t know about my daughter’s twin until a few days after her birth, and until a few days ago my daughter was not consciously aware of him.

It started with a homeschool discussion about how babies are born. We watched some cool YouTube computer animation videos of the conception, pregnancy, and birth process. We looked at some books. I answered the many questions my kids had. One of the diagrams we looked at showed a picture of a placenta. My son wanted to know more about it. This led to pulling out pictures I had taken of his and his younger sister’s placentas. And then pulling the frozen placentas out of the freezer (where they still await a meaningful commemorative tree-planting or something). Then things got a little intense.

What Hope Really Is

August 23, 2015 at 12:35 am

Hope is a talent like any other. -Storm Jameson

Ever since I learned my baby’s name, I have been slightly obsessed with all things hope-related. Songs about hope, poems about hope, hope art, hope jewelry, hope scriptures, quotes, and t-shirts. I haven’t actually bought anything except a few songs from iTunes, but I have plans to make some art to hang over the co-sleeper we’re planning to make.

How adorable is this (from Etsy)

How adorable is this (from Etsy)

Speaking of baby Hope, after a few days of mourning Elijah, I found myself at peace and growing more and more excited to meet this little girl. I think I know who she is and why she is coming to me. Long story. Maybe I will tell it to you some day. What matters now is that she is coming, and she is very grateful, and I am looking forward to meeting her.

Making Him Real, Letting Him Go

August 14, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Two nights ago I plunged into a place I haven’t been for a long time. It was bitter and angry and full of doubt. It was a place I didn’t want to be, but there I was. As I climbed into bed, over-tired and overwhelmed, the flood of tears returned, drenching my neck and the hair around my ears.

I wasn’t crying because I was having a girl. The real source of my pain was much deeper. Over the past day I had been told story after story after story from friends and family. The evidence mounted quickly that it is quite common for women to have repeated spiritual experiences relating to a specific child only to wait years, often bearing multiple children of the opposite gender (one had fourteen kids by the end!), to finally bear the promised child, or… for some… to heart-breakingly never have the promised baby.

spiritbaby

Painting by: Victoria Dizon

Surrender, part 7

August 13, 2015 at 1:59 am

Yesterday I reached 19 weeks. Yesterday was also my 120th day (approximately) since conception, the day the soul becomes fully “connected” to the fetal body in the womb and the woman carrying the child becomes fully the mother of that child, according to Kundalini Yoga tradition. Yesterday was also the day of my ultrasound. It was an intense day.IMG_2931

I told a friend, “I think the ultrasound technician is trying to kill me,” when he was running more than an hour late. I think he was trying to kill a lot of people, actually… my friends and family were dying with the suspense of it all.

I had been anticipating my ultrasound with a potent mix of trepidation, excitement, and dread. People kept saying, “You already know,” or “It’s him.” My kids were already calling the baby Elijah. But I didn’t know. I hoped it was him, but I didn’t know it was him. I had heard more than enough I-thought-I-was-having-a… stories to teach me not to make any assumptions. My 9-year-old daughter said, “God wouldn’t do that to you. It has to be him.” I laughed. I’ve gotten used to blessings disguised as cruel heavenly jokes over the years.

My Grandmother’s Womb Trauma

July 31, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Last January, while I was attending my therapeutic imagery facilitator training, my mother was babysitting my kids. On the second evening, we had a powerful conversation after I practiced the Special Place journey with her. Something about the journey allowed her to open up emotionally in a way she usually doesn’t. At that time she shared a revelation about her mother, a missing piece, that made so many other things make sense. A part of me was hesitant to share this post, wondering if the information was better kept private. But then I thought of Brené Brown’s words about shame:

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The Witch in My Family Tree

June 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. -James 1:27

When I was about ten years old, my stepmom, eager to share her love of literature, gave me a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1959 Newbery Medal winner). It has remained one of my favorite books ever since. Something about the story and its characters has always called to me on a deep level.

witchofblackbirdpondHannah Tupper, one of the book’s main characters, is an elderly Quaker widow who has been ostracized and rumored to be a witch by the Puritan community she lives among. Toward the end of the book, the townspeople, looking for someone to blame for a fever outbreak, come after Hannah, intent on harm. I won’t spoil any more details, but it’s a beautiful book that I highly recommend.

Around the same time I received the book, we went with my stepmom and dad to visit the Salem Witch Museum. I remember standing in a dark room with period-costumed mannequins where a loud speaker told the stories of some of the women and girls who had been killed for supposed witchcraft. All of this talk about “real” witches was new to me.

Several weeks ago I learned something about my family history that helped me understand perhaps why The Witch of Blackbird Pond had struck a chord in my soul. I am a direct descendant of Margaret Stephenson Scott, hanged as a witch in the Salem Witch Trials on September 22, 1692. Margaret Scott was my 9th great-grandmother on my mother’s side.

Vaccines and Vulnerability

January 14, 2015 at 7:52 pm

A few years ago I wrote a blogpost in which I looked at the home birth vs. hospital birth debate through the lens of my brothers’ boating accident. It was my final word on the matter. Today I’d like to do the same with the vaccine debate. ‘Cause let’s be honest… it is getting really (really, really, really) old. Right? People on both sides tell tragedy stories and hurl horribly mean words at each other. I won’t give those hurtful words any weight by listing any of them here. Regardless of your personal views about vaccines, I think we can all agree that resorting to name-calling and meanness is… just not cool.

Here’s the thing about stories… we can never know the full story. Nothing will teach you to doubt the details in any news story better than being the family in those news stories. As my brothers’ boating accident made headlines, I cringed over and over at the mistakes and misrepresentations in both print and television outlets. When it comes to “news,” doubt the details. Always doubt the details.

Buried Treasure

October 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I wanted to be healed. I wanted to be calm and happy without medication. I wanted to meet the baby who had been visiting me in dreams and visions. I was on a trajectory of hope, aiming for a future I believed was right for me. When it all came crashing down, there was no sense in reaching for that hoped-for life any longer. All I could reach for was getting through another day, and another, and another.

Fortunately, I’m no longer in survival mode. I’m not fighting tooth and nail to get through the day. When I do still have anxiety, it is mild and manageable. I am finally beyond the insomnia that plagued me for months. I’m sleeping without sleep-aids! Most of the time I can genuinely smile. I can take care of my family. I’ve regained my appetite. All of these things are huge victories.

But now that I have the energy to do more than just survive, I also have the energy to look to the future. Assuming that my medication continues to work for me, I will continue to take it… probably forever. I come from a family riddled with mental illness. Most of the members of my immediate family are taking (and always will be taking) meds for those illnesses. I am certainly in good company. But I wish it weren’t so. I wanted a future without medication, and it’s been painful to accept the future I’m looking at instead.

Choosing Happiness

August 31, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Wednesday night I took a walk by myself. Surviving that day had taken everything I had. I hadn’t slept the night before. I was exhausted in every possible way. As I made my way back home, I started to cry. The words from a song were playing over and over in my head: “How many times can I break till I shatter?” It felt like I had reached my absolute limit. After walking in the door, my quiet tears turned into soul-wracking sobs that didn’t die down for at least an hour.

I don’t know how or why, but that night was a turning point. Whether something shifted inside of me or something shifted somewhere else I don’t know, but something shifted. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were mostly good. I’m having some mild benzo withdrawal symptoms this afternoon, but nothing I can’t handle. Who knows what the coming week+ will bring, but I’m grateful to be spending more time staring at my husband because I’m noticing how very handsome he is rather than staring at him because I’m pleading with my eyes for him to tell me I’m going to be OK.

People often say, “Happiness is a choice.” A part of me wants to instantly reject that notion. If it was really that simple, I wouldn’t be popping an anti-depressant pill every morning and the term “mental illness” wouldn’t exist. But at the same time, a part of me recognizes that it’s true.  Happiness is a result of choices we make.

Weep

July 16, 2014 at 6:49 pm

IMG_1222Nearly every day for the past few weeks I have had a meltdown. This is when I weep, usually to a supportive family member, for an hour (or two or three). This morning was a doozy. It almost sounded like I was in labor. My husband was my doula. For I don’t know how long, I sat on my parents’ bed (my husband stood in front of me), and I rested my head on his stomach, letting myself sob and sniffle and make sounds, so many tears gushing from my eyes.

But I’ve started noticing something about these meltdowns: I usually feel better afterward. This shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose. I learned at some point in the past few years that tears really can actually create a measurable shift in a person’s mood and physiology.

In a Psychology Today article, Judith Orloff, MD explains:

After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed [stress] hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones” (Source).

It is healthy to cry. Crying is good for us.

Liberate the Captives

March 25, 2014 at 6:55 pm

As I was meditating this morning, my mind was turned to the captives, most especially the girls. It is estimated that at least 20 million people are currently in bondage worldwide, many of them in sexual slavery. I’ve written about sex trafficking before. Human trafficking is now the fastest growing organized crime. It crushes me to think about the millions of children being sexually exploited around the world.

Image Source

Image Source

Growing up, I never imagined I’d have to worry about my daughters being forced into slavery. I really don’t want to teach my daughters that the world is a dangerous place. I want them to feel safe and confident. But I also know too much about sex trafficking to delude myself into thinking my daughters couldn’t become victims in the blink of an eye. I just can’t stomach the thought of what could happen to them.

My oldest daughter is approaching the most vulnerable time frame for child sex trafficking… 11, 12, 13. We’ve received notices more than once about sex offenders living in our neighborhood and attempted child abductions not too far away. I probably err on the side of over-protective when it comes to (not) letting my kids walk places without an adult. I only let them walk home from school because I can see the school from my house.

Light in the Mourning

February 18, 2014 at 5:48 pm

1687_10152707819600564_468996024_nThe following is a guest post from my friend Brittney. I met Brittney at my DONA doula training back in 2009. She and I will be collaborating on a new book project—Light in the Mourning—a book for mothers grieving pregnancy losses. I was inspired to create this book last year, but the pieces weren’t falling into place until Brittney offered to help. I’m so grateful she did. I look forward to working with Brittney and reading your stories. 

  Light in the Mourning
By Brittney Walker

I’m sad to say we are latecomers to the Noelle Pikus-Pace fan club. It’s nothing personal. Before the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics I couldn’t have named a single athlete that competed there. Since the Olympics traditionally air during school hours, the boys and I have always missed out. So this, our first year homeschooling, I printed an awesome educational packet I found online and we’ve homeschooled the heck out of the winter Olympics. That means all of us, watching almost every night from 7 to 10:30 pm.

My boys invested like I’d never imagined. They’ve learned all they can about Sochi, the sports, the athletes and the countries they represent. Their excitement is contagious and I quickly joined them in Olympic fandom.

One of those first nights we saw that AT&T commercial where Noelle Pikus-Pace wakes up before her family to work out. Then she feeds the kids breakfast, takes them to school and plays soccer mom until her husband picks up the kids so she can go train late into the night. There were tears in my eyes by the end of the commercial. So I looked her up.

I never considered that some of these athletes were juggling parenthood with Olympic training. This still blows my mind. I can’t fathom the kind of commitment and sacrifice it would take to be Mom and manage to keep up with (and even crush) the competition, many of whom have nothing to worry about but themselves.

Traffick and Light

November 22, 2013 at 12:22 am

Sometimes the weight of the world crushes me. Yesterday was one of those days. After my husband got home from work, I sobbed in his arms and dumped my anguish into his ears for at least an hour. Among the things tormenting my mind was

child sex trafficking.

I don’t have the time or energy to write a lengthy post about this issue, but the following trailer for the documentary “Sex + Money” gives a good overview…

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