Though we have made every attempt to be consistent with the correct doctrine and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Gift of Giving Life and all related media are an expression of many of our own thoughts and reflections upon pondering the truths of the gospel that we treasure. Our book, website, and facebook page are not official declarations of doctrine in regards to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which we belong and cherish our membership. Please make sure to pray and ponder about everything you read.
How This Book Came to Be
by Felice Austin, C.Ht.
When I became pregnant, I was in great need of information and comfort, but every source that I turned to lacked what I craved. I couldn’t call my mother, who died when I was a girl. I wasn’t getting any comfort from my husband, who left the marriage soon after the pregnancy. My doctor had little time for me, and most of my friends had nothing good to say about birth, nor did they know much about the workings of their own bodies. At the book store I found hundreds of titles. I randomly chose five and read them, but none felt edifying.
Finally, I was guided to a pregnancy yoga class in a spiritual community. I realized that what was missing from all my books and discussions and preparation was the Spirit. Through my yoga and mediation practice, I began regular focus on the miracle of which I was a part. This regular communion with God began a spiritual journey that included a wonderful birth experience and has led to this book.
The inspiration for this book came to me near the end of my pregnancy. I already knew that there was nothing on the topic written for LDS women, so I mentally agreed to go to work on it. As I worked during my newborn’s naps, I had doubts about my qualifications. I was not a doctor or midwife or doula—nor did I desire to be any of those things. I was just a mom and a writer.
I continued working anyway, and spread the word that I’d like positive, spiritual birth stories from LDS women. They trickled in at first, until I started the blog—which was also inspired—and then they began to pour in.
Through the internet, I was able to connect with other LDS women who were passionate about birth. I realized I was not alone, and that some of them were more qualified than me. I cautiously asked one woman to collaborate with me and then was approached by another who said she wanted to help. Soon we were a group of six women in different states exchanging regular emails through a Google group. Several of them revealed that they also had received inspiration to write a similar book around the same time I had received mine—however, since none of them had written a book before, they each had taken different steps, such as birth blogging, or becoming certified as doula. I realized how destined it was that we all “meet,” and was so grateful for the internet for allowing the introductions.
Within two years of joining together, we sent more than 3000 email chains back and forth and received more than 150 stories and essays from women eager to share their spiritual experiences. The saying that “whom the Lord calls He qualifies” held true for me. I am now a pregnancy yoga instructor, hypnotherapist, and child birth educator. But qualification includes more than just letters after one’s name. Through reading the stories from women and following the inspiration we each received, we learned what God had in mind for the book. We have each been uniquely qualified, humbled, and blessed on this journey. We have also been tormented on occasion by Satan, who hates what we have done here.
However, despite occasional beatings to our confidence or our personal lives from Satan, I have to say that everything about this book has been easy. Whenever I thought or spoke out loud the desire for a story about a certain topic, one would end up in my email box. When someone had to drop from the group for a while to take care of her family, another woman would step forward with what we needed. When we had publishing questions, the right contacts appeared. When we began to be tired, God sent us new and fresh laborers to the vineyard. We have also been blessed with many more beautiful babies between us—six at my last count.
We have all donated countless hours to this book without any desire or thought for compensation. In fact, all proceeds from the book will be used to publicize and spread the word about the book and about the spirituality of birth. Though we have written the book unabashedly for an LDS audience, we hope that birthing women, birth attendants and birth advocates of all faiths will find it useful and informative. If you have any questions about any of the terms used in this book or about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we invite you to visit mormon.org or email any of the authors through The Giving of Giving Life website.
I give my personal testimony that a Father and Mother in Heaven care deeply about the means by which life is created—from conception, to gestation to birth. We have been commanded to “multiply and replenish the earth,” but with this commandment we were also given a reason: that we might have joy. We hope that this book brings peace, joy, and comfort to your families.