Relax. You’re Doing Great.

September 23, 2015 at 7:33 am

Last Sunday I was talking with a new friend who had her first baby just seven weeks ago. As my kids gathered around, we admired the sweet bundle asleep on her chest. Addressing my oldest daughter, I pouted and said, “I remember when you were that tiny! And I was like I don’t know what I’m doing!” Turning to my new friend, I added, pointing to my oldest daughter, “And look! They still turn out OK!” Seeing my friend starting her path as a mother brought back so many memories. One day you’re just a girl with a belly full of baby, and then BAM… a brand new person is in your arms, and you begin a crash course in motherhood. Tomorrow will mark the twelfth anniversary of my initiation into Mom-life. My first baby is turning twelve. Wha..?!

Here are some pics from my daughter’s first year (from the fat and elaborate scrapbook I somehow had time to make for her but not for any of my other kids… you know, back when people were still scrapbooking with actual printed photos and actual paper… and the photos were taken without a digital camera, and half the roll of film was always out of focus or just bad shots…ha).

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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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Snarky School Spiel

September 10, 2015 at 1:25 am

Kids are at school 7 or 8 hours a day. That’s a full working day, and why should they have to take work home? -Etta Kralovec, an associate professor of teacher education at the University of Arizona South

So we moved over the summer. Not because we wanted to, but circumstances required it. Despite our sadness at leaving a house and neighborhood we loved, we do really like our new living situation. Here’s the view from our kitchen table…

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Unfortunately, we don’t really like our new schooling situation. We were really pleased with our former school. The kids were doing really well, their teachers were great, the principal was great, they had plenty of time after school to relax and play and do chores. Now they are attending a new school, and it has become a significant source of stress in my life. <—That’s a diplomatic way of saying they are seriously pissing me off.

The Power of a Mother’s Shield

September 7, 2015 at 1:12 am

The purest thing in the world is the heart of the mother. . . . It can move God. It can move the Universe. It can cause an effect beyond limitation. The heart of the mother is the greatest power of Infinity ever given to any finite being. -Yogi Bhajan, Women’s Camp 1977

Imagine you have an invisible shield surrounding your body, protecting you. And imagine that your newborn baby doesn’t have a shield of her own. Your shield is, in fact, your baby’s shield. Imagine that being within your “bubble of peace” can regulate your baby’s heart rate, temperature, breathing, and keep her immune system functioning optimally. Imagine that you have that kind of power… because you do.

Last March I shared something “new” I learned at my first yoga teacher training class. I put new in quotation marks because the truth is that I already knew it on some level. I felt compelled to keep my babies very close to me for the first years of their lives, and now I’m more grateful than ever that I did. Here’s the “news” I’m referring to:

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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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I Don’t Like to Share My Babies

July 13, 2015 at 3:59 am

As she looked upon Joey it was as if time would slow down just for the two of them— and now for me as well. His gaze with his mother never broke. It was as if he knew the power of his soulful eyes. He knew one look would melt the heart and remind the spirit of that sacred thread of unity and love. -Buffy Owens, “Not One, Not Two: The Mother-Infant Dyad

Grandmothers will probably hate me for this one. Sigh. Grandmothers are awesome. I love grandmothers. My apologies for what I’m about to say.

I was attending a mixed-age women’s meeting today, and one of the attendees had brought her newborn infant. Upon request, she stood and showed the roomful of women her new baby. Oooohing and ahhhhing commenced. Then this new mom declared her baby’s name, followed by, “And I love to share if anyone wants to hold him,” to the delight of many eager empty-nester arms in the room. Their eagerness was no surprise. It’s a rare woman who can resist a newborn baby. Apparently that newborn smell lights up the same reward centers of women’s brains as chocolate would (see here). I’ll admit… I even really wanted to hold him, and I’ve never met the mother in my life. But I leaned to my stepmom and whispered, “I don’t like to share.” She smiled and said, “I know.”

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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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Mattress Wrapping and SIDS

March 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Almost four years ago, I wrote a post called Healing Your Home in which I shared my passion for air-purifying house plants. I also shared info about how poor air quality during the prenatal and neonatal period has been linked to preterm birth, reduced fetal growth, preeclampsia, respiratory problems in infants, reduced intelligence, mood and behavior problems, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). House plants can do a great job of removing toxins from the air. I have plants in almost every room of my house partially for this reason.

Book Cover (16)One source of toxins in indoor air is often overlooked: mattresses. I know I never considered the possibility that our mattresses could be harming us until I learned some valuable information about SIDS. I shared this in my house plant post:

Their research demonstrates that SIDS is the result of accidental poisoning due to toxic gases released from baby mattresses. These gases are produced by the interaction of common household fungi with phosphorus, arsenic and antimony, chemicals which are either present naturally in the mattresses or which have been added as flame retardant chemicals (Source).

Since then I have learned more about the toxic gas theory. Here’s an explanation from Prevent SIDS, quoting Lendon H. Smith, MD:

Before World War II, unexplained infant deaths were unusual. But after 1950, the governments of nearly all the rich industrialized countries required treatment of baby and child mattresses with flame retardant chemicals. Phosphorus and antimony were most commonly used; arsenic was sometimes added later as a preservative.

On Drinking Tiger Vomit

February 2, 2015 at 4:04 am

“It’s OK, Mommy.  You’ll grow another one.” -My second daughter (after I pushed out my fourth baby’s placenta)

A little over a week ago, I attended a three-day therapeutic guided imagery training workshop. It was one of those life-changing experiences… where you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be, learning exactly what you are supposed to be learning. Before I tell you about some of my imagery experiences, let me answer a question that may be on some of your minds: what is guided imagery?

In brief, as a therapeutic guided imagery facilitator, I can help another person come into a relaxed and altered state where we can use the mind/imagination to visualize or imagine a limitless variety of experiences and possibilities and find comfort and healing. Guided imagery isn’t just a sort of woo-woo feel-good hippy trip. It is shown through scientific research to be beneficial in a wide variety of circumstances for a wide variety of physical and emotional difficulties. The Journal of Instructional Psychology explains:

Guided imagery is a flexible intervention whose efficacy has been indicated through a large body of research over many decades in counseling and allied fields. It has earned the right to be considered a research-based approach to helping. (Guided Imagery as an Effective Therapeutic Technique: A Brief Review of Its History and Efficacy Research)

For instance, in a recent pilot study published in Holistic Nursing Practice looking at the effect of guided imagery on stress levels of hospitalized pregnant women, the results were promising:

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.

Now what?

November 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I’ve been pregnant or nursing and caring for my children full-time for more than a decade. I’ve been blogging about pregnancy, birth, and mothering for over seven of those years. As a new mom, I had been neglecting to meet my own needs for intellectual growth and fulfillment, but my blog gave me that outlet. From 2009 until 2011 I wrote a book with four co-authors about spirituality and birth. Birth has been my passion (obsession?) for most of my adult life thus far.

But I don’t expect I will ever give birth or breastfeed again (so many mixed feelings about that one). My “baby” is nearly four years old. And I can feel my brain pulling away from birth. I still yearn for all women to have empowering and beautiful birth experiences, but my mind no longer buzzes with birthy topics and blogpost ideas.

Now what?

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One Foot in Front of the Other

July 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm

This morning we got up extra early. I hadn’t slept well, and I didn’t really want to get up, but I did.

Every year for several years my husband and occasionally myself and other family members have run a race called the Freedom Run for the 4th of July. This was the first year that my oldest daughter had signed up for the 5k with her dad. My second-oldest daughter wanted to do the one-mile, so (several months ago) I agreed to do it with her.

But last night I was dreading it. Sleep is precious to me these days, and I wasn’t sure if I even had the strength to go that one mile. But I knew how excited my daughter was. And I knew I couldn’t let her down.

So I got up. And we got ready. And we went to the race.

We arrived just as the one-mile race was beginning, so we rushed to the start. And for a mile, I ran (very slowly) with my daughter out ahead of me, saying, “Come on, Mom. You can do it!” Over and over.

I couldn’t help thinking how fitting it was. It was hard, and I didn’t really want to do it, but it was the light and strength of my daughter that kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

Waiting for Light

July 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I’m not sure where to begin.

Two years ago (2012), around this time of year, I first became acquainted with anxiety and depression like nothing I had ever experienced before. After a few months of enduring and trying a variety of natural remedies, I turned to medication. It was a couple of months of crawling through hell while I waited for the medication to help. But eventually it did. And I felt like myself again.

We thought the medication would only be a temporary thing. I slowly (slowly) weaned down over the course of last year. I took my last dose at the beginning of March of this year (2014). March I felt fine. I thought, “That was easy.” April I started slipping. May I plunged back into that dark and anxious hell I never wanted to crawl through ever again.

We made an emergency trip to my dad and stepmom’s house at the end of May so I could have extra support while I tried to get well again. All of May and for two weeks of June I tried more natural remedies (they could fill a whole other blogpost and probably will someday). I really wanted to believe I could get better without meds. When I started getting suicidal, we knew it was time. Miraculously, I was able to get an appointment with a well-respected psychiatrist on June 13. I started back on my meds the next day.

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.

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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.

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