Sunday, February 28, 2010

Midwifery as Calling - Guest Post by HeatherLady

One of my assignments for this book has been to research the birthing history of early LDS women. It has been an incredible experience and I’ve learned so much about birth and about midwifery. One of the things that I was most impressed to discover was that in the early days of the church, midwifery was a spiritual calling. A woman was called to be a midwife by priesthood authority, often after having been nominated by the Relief Society, and set apart by the laying on of hands. She was usually set apart by a General Authority of the church, if available, and the calling was for life, much like the calling of Patriarch.

The first woman we know of who was set apart as a midwife was Patty Bartlett Sessions, who is probably the most famous of the early church midwives and who personally delivered at least 4,000 babies during her life time. As a young girl, Patty received a strong spiritual confirmation about her calling as a midwife and had been working as a midwife for many years before she joined the church. When she arrived in Nauvoo she was set apart by Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball as a “Doctor of Women” and went on to deliver thousands of babies for the LDS community. (Sessions, 1997).

During the early days of the church, hundreds of women were set apart as midwives. Some had formal training before their calls but others didn’t. My favorite story is of Josephine Catherine Chatterly Wood, of the Escalante area. When she was twenty-nine years old and the mother of several children, her Bishop called her to be the midwife of the community. At first she refused, saying, “I am green as a cucumber and I don’t know how babies are born.”

The Bishop promised to give her a blessing, and in the blessing he told her that she would be guided by the Lord and that great wisdom would be hers. Still feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, Josephine read all the books she could find and prayed and studied tirelessly. Before her first call to a mother in labor she asked her husband to give her a blessing, then, Josephine she went to the Bishop’s house and made him come with her to the birth because she was so nervous. The birth went well. Yet for several years afterward, Josephine would occasionally call the Bishop to come help her with the delivery of a baby.

Caroline Redd, one of the women who was attended by Josephine for eight of her births, said this of her: “None served more or gave more than she, and none was loved more. She loved to do the thing she was called to do. She loved her husband and family. She never complained. God gave her wisdom and power because she could translate pain into joy.” (Noall, 1942)

In general though, most LDS midwives had some sort of formal training. Later-day Saints were very unique in this respect in19th America when few midwives had any sort of training. The reason LDS women were so highly skilled in midwifery was for several reasons. Some of the early women coverts to the church came to Salt Lake City from Europe and had studied midwifery at schools in Scotland and France. Also, Brigham Young felt deeply about properly caring for prospective mothers and was particularly impressed by the trails and tribulation that women suffered when they had to “go down to the Valley of death” to bring forth the new citizens of Zion.

Even though Brigham Young had a real mistrust of doctors, which was probably very valid considering most of them didn’t have any sort of training, he eventually changed his mind and in 1880’s he started sending women to medical school to learn obstetrics. It was around this time that germ theory was being adopted. Germ Theory had been discovered in the 1860's, and the medical profession was starting to become more research based and professionalized. Perhaps Brigham Young was inspired to hesitate about doctors until the saints could be assured that they were getting quality medical training and care.

Dr. Ellis Shipp was the first woman sent by Brigham Young to the Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia to study medicine and obstetrics. After she returned from studying medicine she traveled all over the Mormon territories training hundreds of women as midwives and in the basics of home nursing. In fact, during the 19th century Utah had one of the largest numbers of women doctors than almost anywhere else in the world. (Dorigatti, 2009)

The need for midwives in the newly established Zion was so great that in each Ward, the Relief Society would nominate two women to be trained and set apart as midwives for the women of the ward. These prospective midwives would usually travel to a place where Dr. Shipp, or another traveling doctor, was holding a temporary midwifery clinic. Since the time commitment was great--at least three months, and the cost very expensive (the cost the book was $20, which was a small fortune back then), the Relief Society of each ward would pay for their books and then feed and watch over their husbands and children while they were away.

One midwife who gained her training this way was Phebe Amelia Richards Peart, a midwife in Farmington. Her daughter said, “When she was on her first case, she decided that some day she would be a midwife…. Knowing how greatly midwives were needed, she looked forward to the day when she could study for this profession…. Some four years later, after she had become Mrs. Jacob Peart Jr., she laid her plans before her husband and also her mother, Mary Thompson Richards. She asked their permission and their help in taking a course of study under Dr. Shipp. It was, however, obvious, from the start that she could expect neither encouragement nor help from her family. Both her husband and her mother were bitterly opposed to the suggestion. They held to the then popular conviction that a woman’s place is in the home. To them it seemed unthinkable that Phebe should attempt such a career. The Relief Society was sympathetic to her desire and through it, even in the face of dire opposition at home, Phebe eventually complete her training and received from Dr. Shipp a certificate which made her eligible to practice nursing and obstetrics.” (Noall, 1942)

Several of the accounts I read also spoke of midwives as “presiding” at a birth. Typically when I think of “presiding,” I think of a priesthood holder presiding over a church meeting. The man presiding isn’t always the one who is in charge of conducting the meeting; commonly he doesn’t say anything, but he is there representing the priesthood authority of Heavenly Father. I like the image of a midwife not “delivering” or “catching a baby,” but “presiding over the birth.” Her job isn’t to do the work--that is in the hand of God, mother and baby--rather, she is there to oversee the process and to represent the power of the Heavenly Mother.

One midwife, Annie Bryceon Laker who served in Southern Idaho, once told her friend that, “… the strength that comes to us is from the Priesthood, and the power we receive through the Priesthood is from our Father in Heaven.” (Noall, 1942)

The experience of the early Later-day Saint women has taught me several important lessons. First, that God is very interested in the way in which His daughters birth and how His children come to this world. Second, that the Lord qualifies whom he calls. Though midwives may no longer be called and formally set apart, many of the midwives (and doulas and childbirth educators) I know, both in and outside of our faith, will tell you that they feel like God called them to do this work and that he inspires and guides them in their work.

We plan to include some of this information in the book, so I would love to hear comments or questions.


Noall, Claire. 1942. Mormon Midwives. Utah State Quarterly, Volume 10.

Sessions, Patty Bartlett. 1997 Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions. Donna Toland Smart (editor). Utah State Univeristy Press. Logan, Utah.

Dorigatti, Barbara T. Thompson. 2009. Pioneer Midwives. Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Lesson for September.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How to Sanctify Your C-Section

Sometimes, for whatever reason, despite all my preparation and planning and righteous desires of my heart, things don't go as I planned. But it is always (I later realize) for some reason. There was some complex lesson I needed to learn or some place I needed to be. Anyone had that happen?

This is the same with birth. Very few people get the exact birth they imagined (except maybe Rixa), and I truly believe it is because there is something that you or your baby needed to learn from that experience. It took me a long time to accept that despite my feelings about what happened at my birth, it was the exact right birth for us. (If you haven't read my birth story yet it is because up till now I haven't posted it. But I just posted a brief version of it back here.)

But the important thing to remember is that every birth is a miracle, and no one should feel like less of a woman because their baby needed to come in a certain way. One of the great things I heard at yoga teachers training was a story of a woman who, for whatever reason her no alternative but a c-section. She had wanted a natural, gentle birth, so this was not good news. Instead of being mad at God, she decided that she would sanctify her c-section and make it holy. She notified her doctor of her plans and he was supportive. To the hospital, she brought a CD of calming music that the baby was already familiar with from yoga class. She also brought wax electric candles (the hospital won't allow real ones), and she chanted a mantra during the operation and her husband held her hand and sang it with her. She told her doctor ahead of time that she wanted immediate skin on skin contact and wanted to breastfeed.

This is a much different picture than most of the c-section stories I have heard that were described as chaotic, traumatic, or "just surgery."

I would like to hear from the gallery about your experiences. First, what was something that happened that you didn't plan, but you later realized was for your good? Second, how did you sanctify your birth experiences, or what would you do in the future? I would love to hear your ideas.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Busca: She's Real

Busca and me (after a 6 hr drive)

I met Busca this weekend. It's so crazy and cool in this modern world that you can collaborate with 5 people on a book and never meet them. However, I'm still a little old fashioned and like the face to face time. So I drove 6 hours to AZ and Busca and I spread out all the stories we have recieved from readers far and wide and got to work editing and figuring out what goes where.

This is us pretending to work.

Busca y yo.

I was going to post here that we are still accepting stories but Busca beat me to it. So if you are wondering what we are still looking for, click this link: Spiritual Epidurals?.

My Birth Story

Some of you are probably wondering about me and my story, so here is the abridged version:

I found out I was pregnant a week before my 28th birthday. It was a planned pregnancy in as much as one can plan these things, but it was still a surprise. I honestly thought I wouldn’t ever get pregnant. I had pretty awful morning sickness, so I was just sort of struggling to survive and then my husband started acting weird and unstable. I won’t go into all the details but at 10 weeks pregnant, he filed for divorce.
He had mental health issues before, but his sudden need for attention was putting me through an emotional roller coaster. My hormones were going Kablowie, and my body was in mutiny. When it came to the morning sickness, I remember mostly feeling angry. I hadn’t done anything wrong. I hadn’t eaten anything bad, and yet, I was sick and there was nothing I could do about it. On top of that, my spouse’s behavior was all over the place. He filed for divorce one day, then wanted to stay together forever, then asked me if I was going to get an abortion.
He had some mental health issues in the past, but it seemed that the pregnancy turned him completely upside down. We went back and forth for a while trying to “work it out,” but when he finally moved his stuff out two weeks later, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace and calm wash over me and fill my whole house.
And that’s when I knew it was the right thing. Of course, it took another two months or so before I stopped hurting on some other emotional levels (like accepting the idea of being a single mother), but for the most part, I felt really good almost immediately—also my nausea went away at right about that same time too.
I still couldn’t use the word divorce or divorced for a really long time, because I didn’t like the stereotype I had of the bitter divorcee. I knew I didn’t want to be like that. I realized then that I had a choice, to become bitter or become better. This was such a huge revelation to me.
I realized that I had been living with an abuser, and that was a life full of fear. I decided that I wanted to conquer some of my fears. I had all of this sudden confidence. I started reading a book on public speaking and the next month I got up and spoke in testimony meeting (after 10 years of avoiding it).
People started to notice that I seemed happier and more confident. They did not know yet that I was pregnant or had been abandoned. That was sort of shock to them.
Once people found out my situation, I was surprised by the outpouring of love and support that came from all sides. I didn’t have that many close friends in my ward because I kept sort of aloof from many people. My husband always told me that people didn’t like me (I realize now that he made up these stories) and so I became withdrawn and pretty unapproachable. Once I came out of that withdrawn state, I realized that people actually loved me and gravitated toward me.
So, much of my early pregnancy was spent growing into the fact that I was lovely and loved. I also stared to fall in love with the person inside me. I knew she was a girl before I even conceived and I knew her name because she told it to me, years before, in the temple.
When a woman at church, D, that I had only recently met, found out I was pregnant and that things were rocky, she instantly took me into her confidence. She had had her second baby during the midst of some serious marital turmoil and kept telling me how satisfying it was to have a natural birth. To do something to powerful. A victory.
I still remember sitting across from her at a coffee shop and listening to her whole story and thinking, I don’t want to think about this. I had been too afraid to think about how I would birth. Honestly, I was thinking of getting an elective c-section. I didn’t really know much about my choices.
But D and I became close, and I started frequenting their house around dinner time, they'd feed me, then we'd chat for a few hours and I'd go home and take some sort of homeopathic sleep aid, or, I’ll admit it, Tylenol PM, and drug myself to sleep.
She raved about water birth and she also told me about doulas. I thought the idea sounded insane—till I met Khefri, and I instantly knew she had to be my doula. More on that in a minute.
I had been seeing the same OBGYN for years. Her office was lovely. It was in an old Victorian mansion by the ocean in Santa Monica. It had a bit of spa feeling—in fact the upstairs was a spa, and in the loft was a yoga space. Once I got pregnant, however, I wasn’t getting much time with the doctor and I had a lot of needs. I needed someone to talk to me about my fears, but she seemed uncomfortable talking on that level, and she just didn’t have the time.
I wished my mother were around (she died when I was 11). But after talking to my aunt and some other older motherly type women, I realized that they weren’t much help. They either didn’t remember giving birth, or didn’t have much information or advice on it.
I just felt unprepared and blind. I am a reader, so of course I bought books, but the 5+ I bought were not much help. Then, when I was 4 months pregnant, my doctor’s office called and said that they had a childbirth education class that would meet for one Wednesday night upstairs in their loft. Did I want to go? I said sure. So I got D and my 2 pillows and we went. I had no idea what to expect.
It turned out to be a an introductory childbirth education class that I can’t categorize under any one method—but the woman teaching it, Khefri, was a goddess. She looked a lot like my OB. She was tall, gorgeous, part African American, part Native American, part European. She was stunning. Her energy, however, was different from my OB. She had a spiritual beauty that radiated from within.
Khefri gave us a bit of a crash course. She told us all about what to expect in a hospital setting and which rules we didn’t actually have to follow. I loved that, because I am a bit of a rule questioner myself. She agreed to be my doula and I started attending her yoga class. I can’t tell you how transformative this yoga was for me. It was a lovely group of women in a beautiful, healing space. We began each class by introducing ourselves and telling a little about what was going on with us. One woman, who was nearing delivery when I first started coming, said that she was planning to birth at home. I was shocked. “What will you do if you have a problem?” I asked her.
“I’ll just transfer to the hospital,” she said.
I was sort of in awe of this. She came back to the class to visit after she had her baby and said it went well. I guess you could say, I pondered all of these things in my heart.
I kept going to yoga and for the first time in my life I learned to meditate in a way that was really effective for me and I began receiving lots of personal revelation. I also started to have a cool internal communication with my baby.
Eventually as my pregnancy progressed, I realized that my baby was telling me that she wanted to be born at home. I love the idea of water birth, so I thought, why not.
So at 32 weeks I told my doctor that I wanted a home water birth. I was surprised by her reaction. She threw a fit. She told me that I was compromising my baby and released me from her care immediately. I left her office crying. The midwife I had engaged was a wonderful, spiritual woman. She told me not to worry. She told me to meet her back up doctor so that I would know that not all doctors were that way.
Indeed, her back up was a nice doctor, and sort of cute. I could tell my baby had a crush on him, so I told her not to get any ideas.
He said, "I know that as a home birth patient, this meeting is really just a formality, just in case." He admitted that home births are safe and he had no stigma about it. I asked if he wanted a copy of my birth plan, just in case, and he said that I could give it to him, but that he already knew what I wanted--a natural vaginal birth, as gently as possible.
Through the whole pregnancy, I missed my mother intensely. I did find great peace in meditating on her and my other female ancestors, and often felt her presence. Then, out of the blue, several of the widows in the ward sent a friend of mine as their representative to let me know that they were aware of the fact that I didn’t have a mother and that they were all (seven of them) going to volunteer to be my daughter’s surrogate grandmas and my helpers. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude. Some of them ended up being very key in my transition to motherhood and my daughter still calls one of them Grandma today.
I should mention how big a part the Atonement played throughout my whole pregnancy.
I had used the Atonement before in my life for forgiveness, but I had never understood how to use it to take away my pain and sorrow. I learned how. It’s not something I can explain, but I did read every scripture about Jesus I could find and I meditated on him. I also read D&C 121:7 over and over. “Thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.”
Then, this is what happened: at first, getting a divorce after 4 years of marriage seemed horrible—how would I ever I ever be able to be normal after so much abuse? How would I ever even be able to talk about it? But the Atonement is miraculous. I can only describe it like this. I can remember things that happened in my marriage, but they pain me no more. It is truly amazing.
* * * *
As her birth neared, the situation with my ex became very difficult. As an attorney, he was trying to us the law to bully me. He tried to opposed the home birth. He also egged my car, had people crank call me, and he even tried to force me to allow him at the birth.
Some people weighed in and thought I really should let him be there. I think they thought it would make him snap out of whatever it was and get us back together, but they didn’t understand that this man had physically and emotionally abused me. (I was still too ashamed of staying with him for so long and still wasn’t public about that yet.) And if I had learned anything, it was that emotional stuff is what causes most of the complications in labor, so my attorney told him where he could go. Needless to say, things were tense.
I tried to stay calm and focused, though. I didn’t want anything to interfere with my peaceful birth.
On the day before her guess date, I went to the acupuncturist for my regular appointment (for the swelling in my legs) and tentatively asked if she would induce me. She did. She asked me if I knew what labor felt like. I said no. She said it feels like cramps at first. Then it just gets worse and worse till you can’t stand it. I didn’t listen. I was sure it wouldn’t hurt at all because of all the hypnosis I had practiced.
I left her office and went home. About an hour later I had the warm burning menstrual cramp feeling. I thought nothing of it. Then I realized that the tightening in my belly could possibly be surges. So I called D. She came over and we timed my surges. They were one minute long, 4 minutes apart for an hour. In the childbirth education classes I had taken, everyone always said that when that happened (4-1-1), it was time to go to the hospital. So we called my midwife and I called my friend Bethanie and told her to come, too. I was so sure I was going to have my baby in an hour with no pain at all. I called my doula, but she didn’t seem to be worried. She said, “Oh you’ve got hours. Check in with me in the morning.”
I put on some comfy lingerie thingy and was lying on the bed, watching the movie and chatting with D.
When Davi, my midwife, came at 11 p.m., she checked me and I wasn’t even effaced. She asked how I felt. I was using my Hypnobirthing relaxation techniques and the surges didn’t feel painful at all, so I said I was fine, but my back was a little achy. She said I should try to sleep through them and she would come back at 6 a.m.
D filled the birth tub. Bethanie got there soon after. By then, there was no sleeping through anything. The surges were coming strong and I was feeling them in my back—not where I planned to feel them. I tried to breath.
Beth put a hot wash cloth on my back and applied counter pressure. But the washcloth got cold so fast, I got annoyed and said I was getting in the shower to let the water run down my back. I got in the shower and leaned on the 5-gallon emergency water bottles I store in there (it’s a big shower). And let the water run down my back and tried to deeply relax through the surges. After what I thought was maybe 30 minutes in the shower (I was so lucky to have a never ending supply of hot water—miracle?) I decided I had to have made quite a lot of progress and told Beth I wanted to call Davi again.
“Well, she’ll be here in a just a little while,” she said. “It’s already 4:30.”
“What? You mean I have been in the shower for a couple of hours?”
She nodded.
I was amazed. I had heard that time warps in labor, but that was amazing.
When Davi came she checked me and said that I was fully effaced but not at all dilated.
I was annoyed. I had been working so hard, and not dilated? She said she’d be back in an hour or so with her assistant and that she wanted me to walk. So Bethanie took me outside and walked with me, arm in arm.
At 730 or 8 my old bishop came over to give me a blessing. I told Davi we were going to go in another room and she said, “Oh, good, Prayer is good.” She was very supportive of the whole thing. Davi is Sikh and very spiritual.
I don’t remember the blessing at all, but Beth told me later that he specifically blessed that the midwife would know what to do and that everything would go well. (He did not say according to my plan.)
I labored in the tub a bit, which felt nice on my back. I kept trying to visualize my vagina opening as wide as the Grand Canyon. I kept thinking, "She has to be here soon." I have been doing this forever.
I puked again and Davi told me to stop fighting the surges. She was right, when I fought them, I puked. So I just let go and tried to breath. Her assistant kept checking the heart tones--it seemed like 5 minutes, but I guess was every 30. She kept checking my blood pressure too. I guess they were worried about it. Which is weird because I have always had low blood pressure. I didn’t think much of it, but Davi would occasionally tell me to open up and she’d throw some homeopathic pellets in my mouth to keep my blood pressure down.
At 10 a.m. my friend Lisa showed up from the airport. She had been planning on coming and we didn’t know if I would have a baby yet, but she told me a few days before that she was praying that she could be there at the most useful time, whatever that was.
They put her to work right away on hydration. They were giving me Pedia-lite because of all the puking.
Khefri, my doula, finally showed up around 1:00 p.m. and they made me walk again. This time Davi and Khefri were both supporting me. I remember a neighbor walked by us with her dog and saw me and asked. “Do you need a ride to the hospital or something?” She said.
Davi just smiled and said in her cheerful way, “Oh, everything is fine. She’s just in labor.”
“Uh. Exactly,” said the woman.
We just kept walking. I couldn’t talk through the surges. My back was killing me. Finally, I whispered, sort of ashamed of myself even as I said it, “isn’t there anything you can give me for the pain in my back?”
“Well, there are the sterile water papules,” said Davi.
“Oh, yes! Women swear by them in London,” said Khefri.
“What are those?”
“It’s just sterile water injected into the muscles around your spine and it temporarily paralyzes the muscles so you don’t feel anything.”
“What? How come I never hear of them? Do doctors know about these? Why don’t they give these in hospitals?” I asked.
“Because they are free.”
Even in labor, I was so annoyed. That needs to change, I thought.
We went back to the house and Davi warned me that it would sting really bad for about 3 seconds and then be fine. I bit on a pillow and it did sting, but it was brief.
The injections did help with the back pain, but it didn’t go away completely. I kept saying, “Can you put one right here. It still hurts right here.”
“That’s your spine, sweety,” she said. “I can’t inject one there.”
I was sort of whiney and weepy, but for the most part just trying to breathe deeply. I sat on the birth ball and leaned over the bed and Khefri massaged my back. Different people were handling the camcorder and whoever it was did a pretty good job. I liked how they occasional swung over to the clock to show what time it was. That was about 1:30.
Then she said she wanted to break the water because I was pretty far along and it hadn’t broken yet and she didn’t want to worry about opening it if I delivered her in the sac. When she broke it she warned me that if there was more than 1+ meconeum we had to go to the hospital. It was trace. Whew.
However, later, when I stood up, we saw more meconieum on the chux pad and she said it was between trace and 1+ and we had to watch it very carefully because the baby was stressed.
She had me try pushing once, but I didn’t feel pushy. I didn’t know exactly what to do. She checked me and said that I had a little lip of cervix that hadn’t effaced and it was blocking the head from coming down. She tried to reduce it with some tool. That hurt. I screamed out in pain, but it seemed to reduce it. I tried pushing again in different positions, but my baby didn’t seem to like any of them. Her heart rate was down to 90 or something. I pushed a few more times and her heart rate recovered, but not quickly.
Finally, Davi said, Felice that is three strikes, the muconium, the cervical lip and her heart rate in distress. She said, "Your baby is not going to be born at home." It’s time to go to the hospital. This is not an emergency; we just need to go now.
I was disappointed but I was so deep in laborland that I just went with the flow. I trusted Davi, and I was just trying to breathe through the surges.
We all piled into several cars. I didn’t even bother with the seatbelt. I was wearing a robe, naked underneath except for a bra. Davi’s assistant was in the back seat with me taking the heartbeat every 2 seconds (it seemed). Her heart rate was fine.
Davi cut in front of a line of cars on La Cienega and rolled down her window to tell the guy next to her, can we go ahead, it’s an emergency. So much for “this is not an emergency.”
They kept telling me, “don’t push,” and I kept thinking, "What are you talking about? I’m not doing anything.”
“How do I not push?” I asked.
“Just blow.”
So I filled up my cheeks and blew. I guess I was pretty spaced out, looking out the window and not really responding to them. Davi snapped her fingers and said if I didn’t perk up they were going to try to give me a section. I instantly snapped out of it and acted very perky. “Hi, how are you? I’m good.” I said. They all laughed.
When we got there, we parked and took the secret back entrance I thought I might get a wheelchair or something, but she said, "We don’t have time for that. Run.” So they pulled me, half running behind them with my robe flying open. When we go to the floor, Davi asked the first person she saw where our room was. “I called ahead. Dr. C is meeting us here.”
“Oh,” said, one of the nurses, barely looking up. “It’s the failed home birth.”
Davi didn’t hear her. She saw the room number up on a board and just started pulling me in that direction.
I don’t even remember what the nurse looked like, but her words totally crushed me and did for a long time afterward. If I had been less vulnerable I might have been able to say, I am not a failure. I am here because my midwife brought me here and that is what a good homebirth midwife is supposed to know when to do.
Dr. C showed up and Davi explained what was going on and her reasons for transferring. I was on my back and Dr. Chin asked me if I wanted to try switching positions to all fours or something else. I thought this was very nice of him to ask that, but I couldn’t move. I was crying about feeling like a failure and once on my back, it felt very painful to move. So I didn’t. I pushed a few times, with people holding my legs back.
Pushing didn’t make sense to me. Maybe it would have if I had been in a different position, but even at home, I hadn’t really gotten it.
Looking back on it, I see how the mind-body connection was at work. Though I was anxious to meet my baby and get her out, I also didn’t want her out. I knew that once she was out in the world I could no longer protect her. I knew that once she was born, I would have to deal with my ex again, who had already started to use her as a pawn. So I wasn’t really giving pushing any real effort. I was whining, crying and sort of hoping someone else would make a decision for me. I gave a few okay pushes and then Dr. C told me that my baby was having more trouble recovering after each one and that he’d give me the chance to do it myself, but if I didn’t do it soon, he’d have to use the vacuum. I didn’t do it on my own, so he used the vacuum on the next push and she was out.
It was amazing. The only way I can describe the release of pressure on my belly is like a zit popping. I never really felt the ring of fire, or much physical pain at all during pushing. (I’m not sure if this was effective hypnosis or a miracle or endorphins or all three.)
They put my baby girl on my belly and I grabbed her arms and pulled her up to my chest. The connection was instant. This was what all this work was for. They took her a way for a few minutes to check her over, but all of my birth companions were watching them like mama hawks and making sure she was okay and talking to her. Then they brought her back and Bethanie and Davi helped me latch her on so she could nurse. She was a little tired, but she nursed right away.
Right after the birth I was giddy with endorphins. Dr. Chin took about an hour to sew me up, so I was just laying there with my baby and enjoying being with my birth companions.
I remember feeling like my teeth were gross and said I wished I could brush them. Bethanie whipped out my toothbrush from my emergency bag and brushed my teeth for me while I held my baby and then gave me a cup to spit and water to drink.
I have never had anyone brush my teeth—at least not that I remember—but I will always remember it as one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I couldn’t get up or do it myself and having clean teeth felt so nice. I still cry when I think about it. It was such a gesture of pure love.
My birth companions shielded me from a lot of the hospital nonsense that was going on around me. I didn’t find out till later that the nurse was having a hissy fit in the corner because I had refused the eye drops and the vitamin K shot.
We forgot to look at the clock for the exact time of her birth but it was about 3:19 p.m. (only about 30 minutes after we got there) on her guess date (June 16, 2006). Incidentally, I was also born on my guess date. I guess we are punctual people.
Dr. Chin told me I could go home 6 hours after I was admitted or 24 hours or 48 hours. By the time he told me this that would have meant we would leave in 3 hours. I didn’t think I would be ready to walk in 3 hours, so I opted to stay overnight.
Lisa, who had flown in from New York and was planning to stay at my house, stayed at the hospital with me. All the others went home after lots of pictures.
I got lucky and had some wonderful recovery nurses. Despite not being able to walk yet, I was full of giddy energy and talking about the birth with Lisa.
Finally, Lisa, who had also been up all night on a redeye from New York, said, “You should get some sleep while that baby is sleeping,” so I decided to settle in and try. A nurse came to check my vitals and I agreed to let her if she promised to tell the other nurses and the next shift not to bother me. I didn’t need my vitals checked every 4 hours. I was fine.
She said she’d take care of it.
I finally fell asleep and about an hour later another nurse--the next shift--came in to check my vitals. I told her that I was going to check her vitals if she didn’t get out of there.
She looked pretty shocked. I don’t think anyone had ever done that to her before. I felt bad, but not really. I was so tired after finally falling asleep and being woken up.
Phoebe slept the whole time. By 9 am I was ready to get the heck out of the hospital but they made us hang around a few more hours. I thought about just leaving, but they actually have an ankle bracelet they put on babies—so none get stolen—so if we tried to leave with her, we would have set off an alarm. Hmm. No worries about stolen babies at a homebirth.
When we left we took everything that wasn’t nailed down. I figured if I had to give birth in the hospital, I was going to get my money’s worth. Blankets, diapers, gloves, Advil, nail scrubber, underwear, pads, and pacifiers. I also asked them for my free gift, which I knew they usually gave out, but they did not offer me. Humph. It was a diaper bag filled with formula, which I threw out or gave away, but the bag came in handy.
Buckling her in to the car seat was not something I had wanted to do for 40 days, but we both survived it and we drove home.
The house was cleaned and everything was put away and laundry was done. The ladies had been busy.
I fell into my wonderful soft bed and just enjoyed being home. Davi came and checked on me and we talked. I told her about what the nurse had said and she said if she heard it she would have decked her. “You didn’t fail. You were a successful home birth transfer.
And you had a lovely birth. There was a lady down the hall who had an epidural; she was screaming her head off.” Davi told me that every one of the staff was in awe of me, and that I was very graceful.
I didn’t remember being graceful. I thought I had lost it. Later, when watching my birth video I realized that I was indeed graceful. (Another good reason to film your birth—you don’t remember it accurately).
I had also wondered, afterward, if we really needed to go to the hospital—If I could have done it at home, but in the birth video, I saw that when she came out, Dr. C unwound the cord from her neck, and she was a little blue when she first came out. So, while I could have done it at home, I know that my indecision about getting her out or keeping her in would have likely dragged things out and hurt her.
Looking back on the whole saga, I realize that what I was feeling must be how Heavenly Father feels. He knows we need a body, but once we come here, we are exposed to all the temptations and weaknesses of the flesh. He can’t protect us anymore--well, he can, but only as much as we let him.
Becoming a parent has brought me so much closer to understanding Heavenly Father and how much he loves us. I’m so grateful my little girl chose to come to me and I am so grateful that my body did everything it needed to do. It is truly divine. I am truly divine.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Additional Tools for Conscious Parenting - Rebecca Williams' Story

One of the reasons I am so passionate about conscious pregnancy and birth is because when a woman or a couple chooses to birth consciously they begin to live consciously, and that leads to conscious parenting. I think the best way to describe consciousness is to first describe what it is not. Unconsciousness is making choices without really making them--doing what your parents or friend or popular culture is doing without thought for whether it is right for you. The effects of living unconsciously may not seem to matter on a small scale, but on a large scale, it is what causes waste, pollution, unhealthy trends, war, atrocity.

I received this story from a sister named Rebecca Williams. I plan to include it in the book, but also wanted to post it here because it is an excellent illustration of how we as Latter-day Saints can also use the scriptures and personal revelation in conscious parening.

How the Scriptures Helped Me in Motherhood

by Rebecca Williams

When Caleb was eight months old, we moved to a new ward. A few weeks later, my husband and I were asked to speak in sacrament meeting on the topic "Biblical mothers." I loved preparing for this talk. There were obviously too many women in the Bible to be able to address all of them, but I highlighted four: Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. I referenced much of my talk from a book I had called Daughters of God by S. Michael Wilcox.

About two months before this, Caleb had started waking up 1-3 times during the night, after several months of sleeping 9-11 hours straight. I didn't know how to help him return to his good sleeping habits that he had originally acquired on his own, without any "sleep training." What was causing him to wake up all of the sudden? Was it teething? Was it hunger? (We had recently started solids, and he was slow to adjust to them.) Had he started waking due to a mild cold and then just continued waking out of habit? My pediatrician told me to let him "cry it out" and he would stop waking up so much. I didn't like the idea of letting my baby cry if he needed me for something, nor did I want him to feel like no one heard or cared when he cried. I consulted various books, each providing a different approach for good sleeping and eating habits, and each seemed to shout "This is the way to do it! If you don't follow this, your baby will never sleep well." Likewise, each friend and relative had a different method that they believed in.

Lost amid all these theories and philosophies, I began to feel much like Joseph Smith, when he was confused about so many religions and said, "In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be aright, which is it, and how shall I know it?" (Joseph Smith--History 1:10)

I felt so inadequate as a mother during this time, not only in regards to sleeping, but suddenly about feeding, napping, and parenting in general. I wanted us all to sleep better, but not at the expense of Caleb's well-being. Was he going to be psychologically damaged, or hungry, or in pain if I chose to let him cry? Was he ever going to sleep through the night again if I continued to respond to his wakings? Was this all going on because I didn't "put my baby on a schedule"? While each book had general theories and reasons for this behavior, none of them knew my baby and situation.

I was working on my talk and reading about Rebekah in the Old Testament, who was the mother to twins, Jacob and Esau. While she was pregnant with these two boys, she felt them quarreling within her. She may have been anxious about her children, as most mothers are. The scriptures tell us she inquired of the Lord about this and received an answer. "And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord" (Gen. 25: 22)

As I read this, I applied it to myself, and understood that each mother should inquire of the Lord about how to raise her children. Each child is unique and has different needs for love and discipline.

Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about this in the April 2008 General Conference talk “Daughters of God." He said: "There is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood....There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. "

After talking to my husband, I finally realized that discussing my concerns with the One Perfect Parent is the best way to address these issues. I began to believe that Heavenly Father gave me my baby because Caleb needed my mothering methods and not my friends’ or anyone else. If there is a parenting method that doesn’t seem right to me, then I don’t need to do it, even if a book (or doctor) tells me otherwise. I believe it is very important for mothers and fathers to counsel with the Lord as they raise their children and then trust in the answer they receive.

This experience and realization gave me so much more confidence as a new mother. I prayed about my concerns with more faith that I would really receive an answer. I brainstormed ideas that might work to improve our situation. I chose one idea that seemed like a good compromise; it was something I thought of, not one I read or heard about. After just a couple nights, Caleb's sleep habits began to improve. It took some time, but he eventually returned to sleeping through the night again.

I have come to believe, like Elder Ballard said, that there is no one perfect way to be a good mother. What works for one child in one family, may not work for another family (or even another child in the same family). It is, of course, important that we do our best to make sure our child is healthy and safe, loved and cared for, but how we do that is up to us with the guidance of Heavenly Father.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Teacher or Disciple?

One of the big pushes that got me to do the pregnancy yoga teacher's training was when I read something about Yogi Bhajan and how he was committed to training spiritual teachers, not just gathering disciples. It is similar to the "every member a missionary" concept. I think sometimes we forget how different we are in this regard from other faiths. At most churches there are special people in special clothes that lead the services in special words not understood by everyone. Many churches are defined by their leader. Our services and classes are taught by us, the congregation. We are all teachers. We are disciples of Christ, but to be a disciple of Christ is to share his spiritual teachings.

Another reason I knew I needed to do it was because I know the truth of this saying: "if you want to master something, teach it."

How many times have you heard people say from the pulpit, "I learned more in preparing for this talk...." Or how many times has your testimony been strengthened by speaking it out loud. In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey asks readers to read with the perspective of having to teach it to three people the next day. Reading in this way, helps retention and understanding.

So, I would invite anyone who wants to learn more about conscious birthing, or who has lots of wisdom already, but is keeping their mouth shut, to open it. Don't be afraid to share your positive birth stories or your belief in a divinely designed female body. I challenge everyone reading this blog (and soon, the book) to teach your friends and family members, neighbors, or co-workers something you have learned within 24 hours of having learned it.

If you have no one to tell but your children, that's perfect. They are next generation.

Post script about yoga:

I forgot to mention, If you are looking for a Khalsa Way pregnancy yoga teacher in your area, email me and I may have some contacts for you. The women who come to these teacher's trainings come from all over the world and then take the practice back to their home towns. There should be a website somewhere to help you find a teacher, but there isn't yet. So for now, let me know and I'll hook you up if I can.

And if you are interested in doing the training, I highly recommend it. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Pregnancy Yoga?

Whew. Last week I finished my Khalsa Way pregnancy yoga teacher's training with Gurmukh and I am ready to start teaching. I've done yoga since high school, and always liked it, but I can't say it was life changing until I became pregnant and took a Khalsa Way class. Khalsa Way is yoga for pregnancy that was inspired by Kundalini Yoga (as taught by Yogi Bhajan) and developed by Gurmukh, with his blessing.

What does that mean? Essentially, it means that it is a spiritual discipline as well as a mind-body approach. In our training we really focused on the inner knowing that a pregnant woman has, and how to use the yoga to increase her intuition and her confidence in her own body's abilities.

Classes also give mothers a chance to talk, share information and feelings, and rejoice. This 10-15 chat at the beginning of class creates community that is one of the reasons that women who have taken these classes become and stay friends for years afterward. (I met one of my good friends in Gurmukh's yoga class and our daughters--6 days apart--are best friends.)

In addition to strengthening exercises that prepare our bodies for birthing and breastfeeding and carrying our babies, we also dance. Dancing with my baby was always my favorite part. The babies dance in the womb with you. There is

Each Khalsa Way class also includes a meditation. Meditation is important because it helps women learn to conquer their minds (often the biggest obstacle in labor) and deepen their connection to their creator, their own creative wisdom, and their babies. This is what I so longed for when I was pregnant.

Our faith often talks about the importance of meditation, but since mediation is something that can't be taught, it's largely up to us to venture into that unknown and find out what works for us. And I must say, regularly practicing pregnancy yoga is when it finally clicked for me. My mind, which doesn't normally slow down, was able to "tune in" and I have received some of my clearest personal revelations while meditating in yoga class or in my at-home practice.

People of all faiths are welcome to Khalsa Way classes and every person is encouraged to apply the spiritual messages or mantras to their own beliefs. I have met all kinds of women at Khalsa Way classes, from orthodox Jewish women to agnostics to me. That's the beauty of it.

If anyone is in the Los Angeles area and wants to try my class, I will be teaching out of my house until I get a space or until some other opportunity comes up. I am also available to come to your house for group or private classes. I do a "by donation" payment system, because I think everyone should do prenatal yoga regularly, regardless of their ability to pay. So bring what you can. I'll even accept tomatoes from your garden (organic, of course). Contact me if you'd like my location info. Sat Nam.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rebecca Overson's Story

I have been waiting for the right time to share this story, and I think it is a great one to illustrate my most recent blog post about welcoming challenge. Rebecca de Azevedo Overson is a clarity coach and massage therapist in SLC that specializes in prenatal massage. She had two home births. I think that the first is a beautiful story (I especially love the mother daughter dialog) but it is very different from the second, where she welcomed challenge. I have edited somewhat for length and left out the part about her decision making process to have a home birth (maybe that will be for another day). I hope you enjoy her stories as much as I did.

Part One

Shawn was born after 15 hours of slow and intensely painful labor. That experience was both terrifying yet thrilling. At one point while I was nearing transition, I was crying and I looked up at my mother and said, “Mom, I can’t do this. I am going to die. I am going to die.” She looked right back at me and said, “You know what, Rebecca? You ARE going to die. The carefree maiden you have been all your life is dying. You are giving birth to yourself, as a mother. It is the hardest thing you have ever had to do. And you CAN do it, because look at you – you ARE doing it!”

My mother always viewed birth as a rite of passage, a spiritual transition, an initiation into a new realm. She firmly believed that a woman must put her blood, sweat, and tears on the line for the child she was birthing – that it was an opportunity to demonstrate that she had the strength to be a mother....

This was not a time to avoid pain, because motherhood is painful at times. This is not a time to seek comfort, because motherhood is not comfortable. This is not a time to shrink back, because motherhood requires that a woman reach deep inside her soul and show what she really stands for. It is in birth, my mother taught me, that a woman must stand up, show her trust in herself, and her trust in God, and be consciously involved in a deliberate act of creation by giving your heart, might, mind, and strength to what is before you.

Even though I felt the truth of my mother’s teachings, there came a point during labor that if I was offered drugs, I would have caved in and taken them. And then I would have been really disappointed in myself. DEEPLY disappointed. I am grateful that I was not in a hospital where that would have likely been offered to me. Gratefully I was surrounded by my mother, and two sisters, and a supportive husband, who saw me as doing a beautiful job and birthing perfectly, even in all my wailing….

In the midst of the effort, I heard a voice inside me say, “Rebecca, there is nothing you can do about this. It’s not going to hurt any less, it’s not going to go any faster. May as well go with it.” That voice was calling for surrender, and I did. In that moment I stopped fighting the pain and went through it. I focused. I worked really hard. I pushed for an hour and finally Shawn was born, 8.5 lbs and healthy and beautiful. I am so grateful I birthed him at home, and quickly realized that it was indeed the best choice for us, and thought it was painful, I would do it again.

Part Two

Lo and behold, I became pregnant with our second child at the same time of year I conceived our first, which meant my babies would be due the same time of year and exactly two years apart.

This second pregnancy found me in the midst of some pretty serious studies in spiritual psychology for my program at school. I was diligently doing a lot of “inner work” which included consciously cultivating a willingness to experience whatever was before me and truly live in the present moment. As such, while I was four months pregnant, I was at a retreat where I had the opportunity to write down and reflect on the things I feared in life – the terrible things I imagined could happen to me. Following the exercise’s instructions, I made a list, beginning with seemingly harmless to the downright daunting. For example, I captured thoughts such as “what if I get a really bad sunburn? What if I have to go to the bathroom and can’t find one?” all the way to “What if I get maimed? Raped? Lose someone I love? Lose the baby?” I completed my list of fears as best I could, and then I meditated on each of them by actually opening up to the idea that I would be willing to experience those things, if it did in fact become “my turn” to experience them. I began to see the reality that any of these things could happen to me; they happen all the time to all kinds of people. And even thought I don’t want them to happen to me, the simple risk of being alive is that these things could happen, even if I did everything I knew to do to prevent them. I began to accept the risks inherent in mortal life.

As I let that awareness set in, I went one step further and began to try on the idea that I could be willing to experience any of these things if they were actually happening to me. In other words, if I did have the misfortune of getting a really bad sunburn, could I be willing to have it? (as if I have any other choice at that point) Or would I sit and fight it and cause more suffering? Could I be willing to experience physical discomfort, or embarrassment, if that was what I was feeling? Or would I try to numb out and avoid it, downplay it, suppress it – and hope that it never impacted me? Realizing that resistance really is futile, my rational mind began to see times in my life where I had endured such things and I survived.

But getting to the harder things… “I’m willing to be raped? Lose the baby?” Hm. Sounds strange, but as I meditated on this, the wisdom that came to me showed me that yes, if it just so happened to be ‘my turn’ to experience loss or violence, if I just so happened to find myself in the wrong place at the wrong time, no fault of mine – could I simply remain sane and mentally intact in that moment, and fully accept what had happened to me? Or would I hate it and fight it and hopelessly try to change the past and compound my suffering?

The Buddists say that pain is inevitable – but suffering is a painful feeling about pain. Pain is simply a sensation, but suffering comes from thinking that what is, shouldn’t be. (As author Byron Katie says, “When I argue with reality, when I ague with what is, I lose, but only 100% of the time.) So which orientation – resistance to “what is” or willingness to receive “what is” – which of the two would leave me more peaceful? Which would leave me feeling fragmented and wounded? The answer became clear. I saw that no matter what happens to me in this life, I could trust that God has me in mind, and that life happens for me, not to me. It’s all for my good. Maybe.

The words that the Lord spoke to Joseph Smith popped into my mind… “If the very jaws of hell shall gape open after thee, it shall be for thy good and shall give thee experience.” Could the same be true for me? Could it be that I truly could trust in God, no matter what? Even if the very jaws of hell gaped open after ME in one way or another?

As I continued to reflect on the words “I am willing…. I am willing…” another passage of scripture came into my mind: “I am willing, send me. Here I am, send me.” The words of Jesus became my words. I envisioned myself looking at all the possibilities for my earth life, accepting all the risks, and saying, “I am willing, send me. I am willing to be the one who is betrayed. I am willing to be physically uncomfortable. I am willing to lose a child. I am willing to be raped, lost, confused, hurt, offended, upset, in pain, maimed. I am willing. I am willing. I am willing. Send me. I want to feel what it is to be alive, to love, to forgive. I am willing to face pain so that I might know true joy.” This took root in my heart so powerfully as truth reverberated through my body, and I felt a change of heart – a melting away of fear – an acceptance of the inherent risk that life is – a trusting that whatever happens to me TRULY happens FOR me and that I chose it this way! That IS our Heavenly Father’s plan – for us to learn and grow and expand to become like him. Living in fear is not part of the plan.

Then another scripture came to mind: “…being willing to submit to all things that the Father doth see fit to inflict upon you.”

ALL THINGS? Seriously? Yes, seriously. All things. I began to see that I do not know the mind of God. I do not know what He sees fit to inflict upon me, but I do know that His Son was willing to endure all kinds of discomfort in his lifetime. I do know that God loves me, and He knows more about what I need than I do. But do I really trust that? I began to feel that trust opening in me. I thought of all Christ suffered. When Christ went through his ordeal, he knew there was “no other way.” He trusted God and knew God’s plan must be fulfilled.

Tears streamed down my face as I realized I have lived my whole life in fear of so-called bad things happening to me, that could in fact, be the very things that I need to experience in this life to attain glory in the next. If that is the case, why would I shrink back from anything? In my attempt to avoid the fear and pain and discomfort that comes with mortality, I couldn’t help but see how I drew it nearer to me and caused more pain. In this new awareness I found myself saying, “Yes, I AM willing. I Am. So be it.” My heart burst wide open and all those fears just slipped away as I said YES to all of life.

So what does this have to do with childbirth?

It was in this state of mind- this intense willingness to feel what it feels like to be alive – to intently receive EVERYTHING that life has to offer me – that I gave birth to our second son. I was totally, completely willing to experience birth fully, unlike I had ever done before. I knew it was going to hurt, but I was willing to feel whatever it felt like. I knew I was going to reach that intense point during transition and have thoughts like “I can’t do this, I’m going to die” - and I welcomed those thoughts. I didn’t take them seriously. I knew they would come, and I welcomed them. I was totally open to the possibility that this could be another 15 hours of excruciating back labor.

So, here’s how the birth of my second child went: As the contractions began the morning of September 13, 2008, I did not really think I was in labor. I focused on being as relaxed as possible, allowing my body to do what it needed. These early contractions were welcomed, and they even felt invigorating like a good workout. Around 3 p.m. they jumped to 3 minutes apart, but still were not painful. How was that even possible? My midwife Chris arrived at 4:45 p.m. and shortly thereafter, hard labor kicked in. The contractions became much more intense and I could not talk through them, but again, they were not painful, just lots of pressure. I got in the birthing tub around 6 p.m. and continued to remain as relaxed as possible. My mind knew what to expect, and I opened to it. I even observed those thoughts of dread going through my head like “I can not do this. Do I really have to do this again? This is not happening already!” – but because of my mindfulness focus, I was able to simply notice the thoughts and I did not have to react to them. (By the way, every woman in labor says “I can’t do this” and usually does so right when birth is imminent!)

I surrendered to each contraction, much like one would surrender to contractions of the respiratory diaphragm when vomiting or sneezing. As I reclined against the wall of the birthing tub, I repeatedly whispered to myself “Just feel this. Just feel what this feels like.” I just observed my body in the process, doing what it knows instinctively to do. My body was shaking uncontrollably as the baby descended down the birth canal. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, and I warned my midwife. She said, “Honey, that’s the baby’s head.” I couldn’t believe it. I reached down and sure enough, there was his wrinkly little head beginning to crown. The contractions continued and it actually felt so good to feel him moving down the birth canal. (I would say I “pushed” but it actually felt effortless, like I was being pushed.) His head was fully born in about two contractions, but his shoulder became stuck. After about thirty seconds, my midwife said “stand up,” which I couldn’t, until she took both my hands, with my arms and back stiff as a board, and pulled me up like a lever so I could bend over the edge of the birthing tub. She came around to my backside, and with one final, intense push, he was born with the assistance of gravity.

I could not believe it when he was out. He was born at 6:32 p.m., less than two hours after hard labor began. He was 9 ½ pounds, and my body suffered zero damage or tearing during delivery. (I am only 5’3”). I sat back down in the birthing tub and clutched him to my chest. The experience was so ecstatic, so joyful, and so incredibly wonderful. The first thing I said was, “That was awesome.

While the physical sensations I experienced were very intense, it was not painful. It did not hurt! It was truly, transformative, and I attribute much of the wonder of the experience to my commitment to birthing mindfully and willingly, to fully experience whatever it is that is before me.

I felt like the queen of the world—a true Goddess in Embryo. I wish all women could feel what it is like to give birth without fear and to fully know what they are capable of.

Photos by Olya Nelson.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Challenge

I thought I would not be able to blog at all this week during teacher's training, but after the first day I had about a hundred things I wanted to blog about. But of course, I was exhausted. Today was day three and there is so much to share, but I will just share one thing before I crash.

There is a saying in Khalsa Way (which is the name of this method of prenatal yoga) that says "As a woman lives, so shall she birth."

Today we did a great exercise to illustrate this. And if you feel like mentally doing it now, feel free. First, we had to think of the most difficult thing we have gone through in our life, and then think of how we dealt with it. Then we had to pair off and share. We each talked for a couple of minutes. It was good. There were some tears. I'm amazed at what the woman across from me had been through. And i think we all realized that what we did then was similar to how we got through or will get through birth.

Then Davi asked about our trials and challenges: What made it harder?

People gave answers like: resistance, avoidance, fear, isolation, etc.

Then she asked: What made it easier? The answers included: letting go, surrender, support, faith, God, etc.

And when we all looked at our answers, those are the exact things that make birthing harder or easier.

So to answer to the question many people ask: Can I do this? The answer is: Yes, but do you want to?

That is one of the things we are learning to teach women in prenatal yoga is to welcome challenges. Sure, we all might prefer things to be easy, but if we resist challenges when the come, or try to avoid them, they are harder.

Food for thought.


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