Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Magical Birth Story for Our Second Daughter

I bet you thought I wasn't coming back, huh? This blog hasn't really had a place in my life the past several months, but I reserve the right to post when I want to :)

We celebrated our third baby's first birthday over the weekend, and since I wrote a short, positively-focused birth story as a letter to each of my other kids on birthdays in the past, I wanted to do the same thing.

Little Sister's Magical Birth Story

It was early on a chilly December morning and the whole house was asleep. You were safe and warm in the dark womb where you had been living and growing for thirty-nine weeks. Heavenly Father made a hole in the water bag that surrounded you and we knew you would be born soon. You were not ready to come out just yet. You must have been hugging your Great Aunt Anne, who we knew was leaving her earthly home soon but had not moved in just yet. We were all looking forward to meeting you and finding out if you were a boy or a girl. The midwife came to check on us. We prepared the house for your arrival, our first birth at home. We waited. Night came and we rested. Finally, the next afternoon, December 8, 2011, it was time for you to come. I welcomed the squeezing sensations that meant you were on your way. Our doula Kim came to help, and later Nan arrived and watched your older brother and sister in the next room. Darkness fell and I focused more as the birthing process gained momentum. Daddy and Kim got the tub of water ready. Our midwives came and they made sure all was well in a way that didn't get in the way. You soon began moving from the womb into the birth canal and I got in the water. I needed your Dad to help me stay relaxed and focused now, and he did wonderfully. I realized we would meet you soon, and I was so excited! My body knew just what to do to push you out, and it happened automatically. You were born underwater into your father's hands at 8:39 pm. We lifted you up and your dad said, "It's...a girl!" We were so happy to have another daughter! Nan brought your sister and brother into the room and they just loved you right away. We are so happy to have you in our family, and we love you very much.

Happy First Birthday to our sweet Little Sister!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More Holiness Give me: My 40 Day Meditation Journey

I think it was the third time I read the challenge from Felice to try meditating for 40 consecutive days before I actually did it.  Felice made some great videos demonstrating how to tune in, tune out, and various Kundalini meditations for specific changes you want in your life.  I chose to do the Meditation for a Calm Heart shown here:

Around the same time I started the challenge, I was called to be the Relief Society chorister in my ward.  Basically, this means I conduct the music in our women's class during the third hour of church services.  I also got to make the schedule for the hymns for the rest of the year, choosing ones that correspond with the subject matter of the lessons we will be studying.  So, I was really immersed in our wonderful Hymn book at the time.  If you are familiar with my story about making the Hypnobabies cue word "Peace" spiritually significant with hymns, I'm sure you would see how very "me" it is that I chose to add singing hymns to my meditation practice.  I initially replaced the tune in manta with the hymn "More Holiness Give Me."  Later after watching this explanation of mantras, I decided to add "Ong Na Mo Guru Dev Na Mo" back in after the hymn.  "More Holiness Give Me is a perfect song for meditation, with it's chant-like melody and message of supplication and intention.  I replaced the song in this tune out video with an LDS hymn with a similar message, "Lead Kindly Light."

Meditation is supposed to create lasting change.  Lasting change doesn't happen overnight.  You have to do meditation for a while to see benefits.  Here are some of the things that changed over the course of the first 40 days I did this mediation:

  • Though I'm still not perfect, I have become better at not responding with anger when my children do something that upsets me
  • I put into action weekly at-home date nights, something I probably knew I should have been doing for a while, but never did before, which allows me to connect deeply with my husband
  • I became more aware of the importance being an example plays in parenting
  • I began committing to other positive habits, such as personal prayer and scripture study (which I usually do before or after meditating), weekly family home evening and (short) daily family devotionals and prayer
  • I have explored and am working towards slowly implementing exercise, more consistent cleaning routines, and small changes towards a healthier diet.  I am also earnestly studying Gentle Discipline (I will probably write more about that in a future post)
I have an over-all sense of my life being on an upward trajectory.  I haven't really felt that way in a while.  I think I just have been neglecting spirituality.  I probably could have gotten on this path by working on my relationship with God without the Kundalini techniques, but for me, I think the fact that it was something different made it just interesting enough to motivate me to do it.  I also had a lot of challenges (a sinus infection for the whole family in the middle of travelling for my brother's wedding, followed by heavy menstrual bleeding that left me anemic) come into my life towards the middle-to-end of the 40 days and I think that was me being tested.  I am really glad I accomplished the 40 day challenge, and I am still meditating (still doing the Calm Heart, and now adding a Meditation for Healing Addictions--hoping it will help me not feel compelled to check Facebook so often).  I hope to see more blessings in my life from it.  I am also inspired to try other small changes by committing to do them for 40 days, so that they become permanent, and eventually all the small changes will add up to big change.

Sat Nam, and God Be With You Till We Meet Again :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Longer Just About Me

Last week, I saw the cutest thing in my backyard.  My 2 year-old son was pushing a toy shopping cart across the backyard, and every now and then, he would stop, and pretend to pull a string out of it.

I took a picture, but he was a little far away.
You see, now that we have moved to a new state and become homeowners, my husband now has the responsibility of mowing the lawn.  For some reason, children are fascinated by lawnmowers and love to watch.  As I saw my son with the shopping cart, I realized he was pretending to mow the lawn, just like his daddy.

He fell asleep pretending to play video games like Daddy :)
I have been doing some things to really work on improving myself.  A lot of work on finding more peace and strength within myself, while drawing closer to God and trying to become more like Him.  I will share more details about the specifics of that in another post.  But suffice it to say, becoming a better person has been a major focus on my mind the last 2-3 weeks.

A few days ago, I was vacuuming my living room and slipped into that place of deep thought, where some profound ideas came together for me.  When I was single, the focus of my life was on myself.  Improving my life used to be about me, because I wanted to be better, for myself.  Of course, I still do.  But becoming better has a new, higher, more selfless purpose now.  When I became a parent, the focus of my life shifted to my kids.  That day, the breath and depth of that shift sank in with the words...

Not even improving myself is just about me anymore.

Our children want to be like us.  That is why my son enjoys pretending to mow the lawn--because he wants to do what Daddy does.  Really, a huge part of parenting is being a good example, because what they see me do speaks so much louder than anything I could ever say to them.  And so, anything I do to become better will give them a better example to emulate.  Even becoming a better person is not just about me now.  The better example I can be, the better foundation they will have to jump from as adults in improving themselves, and the lives they touch.  My life is no longer just about me.  It is so much bigger than me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: The Gift of Giving Life

This book review is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life

Two weeks ago, I received a package I have been anticipating for over two years, ever since Sheridan told me about Felice's blog and the book project they were working on.  I had been blessed to have an opportunity to contribute an essay and a birth story to the book, The Gift of Giving Life, and I was excited to see how the whole thing came together and what I would learn from reading the final product.  I was not disappointed.  In fact, I think the book exceeded my expectations.

The Gift of Giving Life is like the Latter-day Saint version of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, with essays on important topics about pregnancy, birth and spirituality, interspersed with stories that illustrate the points of the essays, in LDS women's own voices.  Chapters include Our Legacy, The Importance of Giving Life, Personal Revelation, Preparation, The Spirit-Mind-Body Connection, and Unity.

The stories contained in the book span a myriad of experiences.  No matter what situation a woman may find herself in, there is something in the book for her.  It becomes clear in reading that there is no one correct path for all women, and the Lord can guide us each on our individual journey.  There are stories of infertility, pregnancy loss, adoption, cesareans, epidural births, unmedicated hospital births, and homebirths, as well as some postpartum stories.  There are even stories on birthing as a sexual abuse survivor and one on healing spiritually after an abortion.

As I was reading, I tried to imagine how I would feel reading this book in my first pregnancy.  I do think it would have changed the way I approached my first birth.  However, as I read on, I found myself healed by the recognition that the Lord gives us our experiences because they are what we need to grow and become more like Him.  Really grasping that my experiences in childbearing have been exactly what I needed for my spiritual development gave me so much peace and helped let go of some disappointment I have held on to from my first two births.

This book is not just for pregnant women or women who have recently given birth.  It is a book about the divine nature of women.  It is for anyone who wants to better understand the power women have as givers of life.  We are not just givers of life through gestating and birthing children, but also through all types of physical and spiritual nurturing and sacrifice for others.  There is much we can learn about divinity and the purposes of life from reflecting on our powerfully significant experiences in being "co-creators with God" and bringing a child from one world to the next, and from darkness into light.  The Gift of Giving Life beautifully enumerates many of those insights.  In addition to learning some wonderful things I want to keep in mind if/when we have another baby, I also learned much that will help me fulfill other parts of my divine mission as a woman, give me greater peace and joy in mothering, and nurture all those around me.

For Latter-day Saint Women currently pregnant or planning a pregnancy, The Gift of Giving Life is a must-read, but I would recommend it for any one who will ever has been or ever will be pregnant, or who loves some one who will, and who better wants to understand the experience in the context of LDS faith and doctrine.  I would also recommend it for birth workers who want to learn how they can support LDS families in their sacred birth journeys.

Visit The Gift of Giving Life website to sign up for their newsletter and to receive a free Meditation MP3 as well as tips to help increase spirituality in your pregnancy and birth.

For my readers I have a coupon code for 10% off a copy of The Gift of Giving Life. Click here and after you add the book to your cart, use this coupon code: GWFWXR3F.  This code is good until Father’s Day 2012.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Broken Water/Broken Body Myth: How My Third Birth Was Different from My First

In both my first birth and my third, I experienced PROM, premature rupture of membranes.  Premature because it was before active birthing started, not that the babies were early--that would have been PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes).  Confusing terminology, I know.

My first birth was a planned hospital birth with CNMs. I noticed a leaking sensation on Thursday morning, but was not diagnosed with ruptured membranse until Saturday morning.  There are two tests that check for the presence of amniotic fluid, nitrazine paper and a ferning test.  Nitrazine paper is used to check the pH of the fluid to find out if it is amniotic fluid, since amniotic fluid is much more basic than the more acidic normal vaginal secretions.  The paper turns blue if amniotic fluid is present.  The ferning test is done but taking a swab behind the cervix  and putting it on a microscope slide.  Amniotic fluid forms "ferns" on the slide.  Other vaginal secretions do not (except for the fertile cervical fluid a woman produces during ovulation, which will not be present during pregnancy).  I had both the nitrazine test and ferning test on Thursday at my midwife appointment.  Both were negative, but I believe the fluid was leaking so slowly that the tests missed it.  I also had a nitrazine test at the hospital on Friday at 2:00 am, after waking to a leaking sensation and some pressure waves, and it also was negative.  I went back to the hospital on Saturday after those pressure waves kept me up all night (I was making some progress, but very slowly at this point), and the leak was discovered.  I was given 6 hours from the discovery of the leaking to show significant progress.  After a lot of walking the halls, nothing happened.  My water got broken completely and I was put on pitocin, and my baby was born 9 hours later, after an epidural 3 hours in.

After something happens to one, one often goes on to learn a lot about it.  It is obvious that infection is more likely without the the protective barrier of the amniotic sac.  However, there is some evidence that expectant management without vaginal exams does not result in poorer outcomes than the standard route of induction (which usually includes quite a few vaginal exams). 

Fast forward to four years later: same woman, different baby, planned homebirth with a Washington State Licensed midwife team.  My waters broke with small gushes all day on a Wednesday morning.  I had pressure waves off an on for 34 hours, but was able to sleep some during the night thanks to Hypnobabies.  Instead of constantly checking my cervix for progress, the midwife had me rinse with hibiclens after every bathroom trip to reduce the risk of infection, had me watching my temp and the baby's heartrate, and waited.  Movements I did that (I believe) helped to position my baby better in my pelvis triggered spontaneous active birthing, and I had a completely drug-free waterbirth at home 5 hours later on Thursday night.  I had not one single vaginal exam the whole time.

I find it interesting to compare my two stories because the circumstances were so similar, but the course of the births was so different with different care providers and a different place of birth.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Five Things I Want my Daughters to Know Before They Grow Up

 Before my daughters start puberty, I want to have taught them an understanding of these five truths.

1. Your Body is Awesome, and Will Change In Ways That Give it Power to Do Even More Awesome Things
I loved this post Lani wrote for The Gift of Giving Life Blog on menstruation, Red and Powerful. I had mixed emotions about starting my period when I was 12. I understood that it meant I was growing up and looked to it with a kind of curious anticipation. But I was also influenced by some negative cultural perceptions that said it was a burden. I was embarrassed to tell my mom, though I don't know exactly why, and when I told her and she told me that was wonderful, I didn't really understand what was "wonderful" about it. I want menarche to be celebrated for my girls, maybe not with a party, but a special mom and daughter day out or something. I want them to understand that (and how) menstruation means fertility, and fertility is so powerful.

2. Sex is Sacred, So We Don't Talk About it With Everyone, but Your Parents are People You Can Always ask Questions about Sex
wishing on a dandelion with my older daughter
This post from the marital intimacy blog, Be One, Miss Rain's Moment of Truth tells the story of a mother who felt inspired to talk to her 7 year old daughter about how babies are made one night, and the beautiful conversation that followed. It turns out a friend had said something to her about it ar school a few days before. I hope to be able to talk to my daughters with the same sensitive honesty that this mother showed. All the things discussed here are just exactly as I would want my girls to understand them at about that age.

3. Sex is Extremely Powerful, a Power That Can Be Used For Amazing Good or Terrible Destruction
I don't remember my parents talking to me much directly about sex.  I think they did teach me, but not always in ways I remember concretely.  I remember "the talk" being kind of awkward, though I think they timed it right because I really had no idea about the mechanical details when they told me. But between their teaching and young women and EFY lessons, I must have picked up the most important parts, because around the time I graduated from high school, I wrote this beautiful poem about what what I wanted the day of my wedding to be like. I wrote a lot of (mostly bad) poetry in my teen years, but I think this may be one of the best...

Love and passion flowing free--
Silent tongues sing in ecstasy.
Hands clasp on to what they've found.
Hearts live for another's sound.

Young eyes sparkle, old one's cry.
Loving parents say goodbye.
As both the product and the source
Of Love follows similar course.

More than objects of desire
Consumed by wild passion's fire
Entering the Holy Gate--
Blessed is the choice to wait.

Today is giv'n the guarded gift.
To new heights a Love will lift.
As the flesh is intertwined,
Two souls are forever joined.

I think some of this I figured out for myself. About five months before I wrote this, I had my first kiss. (I suppose some would cosider 17 old for a first kiss and some young...). About a month after it, that relationship ended, his decision, not mine. As you can imagine, it was a painful break up for me (there was an abundance of bad poetry written about it). I realized that if it was that painful to have given a few kisses to a guy and then have it be over, how much more painful would it be to give someone your whole body in an act of love that I believe is meant to bind people together forever and then have them leave you? It just seemed like it would be incredibly painful to me.

I don't want my girls to feel that sex is "bad," but to understand it is a sacred power that is really, really good when used the right way, but harmful when misused.

4. Dressing Modestly is About YOU, Not about Keeping Other People's Thought's Clean
My Beautiful Girls
I want my girls to understand that the cleanliness of other people's thoughts is not their responsibility.  The choice for a woman to dress modestly is a choice to show respect for her body and its power.  She keep its divine power concealed, except for under the right circumstances.  Heather's post Getting Adam to Partake shares the beautiful insights she learned about modesty from her Muslim friends.

5. "You Are Capable of So Much More Than Being Looked At"
This is one of the messages from Beauty Redefined's billboard campaign.  I want my girls to understand all the things Lindsay and Lexie talk about on their blog.  I want them to recognize and reject all the harmful messages about women in the media and to see "beauty" as so much more than just "sex appeal."  I want them to know that beauty includes who they are and all the wonderful things they can do!

* dandelion photo by  J.C. Photography Utah

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Trap of Idealizing the Quiet Birther (Part 3)

Last April, I wrote a short Birth Idealization Traps series.  I would actually like to continue that series now, with  some new perspective on The Trap of Idealizing the Quiet Birther (Click to read Part 1 and Part 2) that I gained from my third birth.

In my third birth, my midwives acted as lifeguards, watching carefully (using some technology as tools to assist in watching) to make sure nothing pathological was happening, and encouraging me to do some preventative measures due to the risk factor of pre-labor rupture of membranes.  Because of PROM, risk of infection was a good reason to limit/avoid cervical checks, and it turns out that there wasn't any reason to do them. 

My midwives saw no need to check to "make sure I was complete" before pushing.  They encouraged me to follow my instincts and push only when I had no other choice but to push.  I instinctively bore down at the peaks of the pressure waves for a while, until I felt an unmistakable urge to push.  "Urge" isn't even the right word.  "Takeover" describes it better.  I couldn't do anything but push.

Like I suspected when I wrote my other two posts, during my third birth, I was, in fact, a very vocal pusher.  Unlike in my second birth, I was not told to hold my breath and put my chin to my chest to push.  In following my instincts, I did not hold my breath or curl my head forward.  I opened my mouth and let sound escape my body, and boy, did it!  Watching the video now, I am even a little surprised with how loud I was.  I have some technical difficulties with my digital camcorder (I think I need software to load the video, but I must have lost the CD), so I don't have the video to share, but believe me when I say I was LOUD. And no, I was not screaming in pain.  Hypnobabies was absolutely working for me.  There may have been some pain when I lost my rhythm in reaction to changes in how things felt as my body first began pushing, but I experienced the sensations of my baby emerging as mostly stretching and fullness, and  I did not experience burning or a "ring of fire" sensation at crowning.  It was really like I couldn't help making noise.  It was what came naturally to me, and I wouldn't change a thing about it.