Robyn by Robyn

The Path of a Modern Mormon Midwife

June 16, 2015 in Angels, Book, Education, Faith, Fear, home birth, hospital birth, Jesus Christ, joy, Midwives, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

An Interview With Valerie Hall, LM, CPM

So what is it like to be a midwife? Valerie Hall LM, CPM, graciously agreed amidst her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me about her work as a midwife.  I have known Valerie since she began her journey by becoming a childbirth educator.  She was also present at the birth of my sixth child.  I also loved taking part in the Midwife Assistant classes she offered.   My favorite part of the class was the beginning when she would ask the “hard questions,” meaning, the thought-provoking ones that cause you to search your soul a little bit. While I am not ready to begin as a student midwife yet I value the training and experiences I had in her class.  It allowed me to peek into the world of a midwife and evaluate the blessings and sacrifices associated with it.  I hope that other such classes will be offered for other women trying to decide upon the path of midwifery. Valerie has a website for her practice, Generations Homebirth, and she also has a facebook page.   –Robyn

RobynBirth-372

photo by Cali Stoddard

Tell us a little about how you were guided to become a midwife.

I believe my first step toward midwifery was the firm conviction I had even before I was married that it was essential for me to give birth without medications. I’m not sure why that was planted in my heart, but it was very clear. Our first baby was born in a California hospital without medications but certainly not without unwelcome interference. It was a long time before I processed the pain of that experience, but it made an activist out of me. “Activist” is the word my Dad used to describe me because it was nicer than “fanatic”.

Five more babies came along, all born in hospitals and all without medications. My activism went dormant when it became clear that most people just didn’t want to hear about it. When our 4th child and 1st daughter was expecting her first baby, she called to say that she wanted a natural birth and asked about what classes were available. From there it was a slippery slope for my husband Steve and me. We became Bradley Method teachers, then I started attending births as doula and took the DONA training.

My very first job turned out to be a precipitate birth where I beat the paramedics by about 7 minutes and the baby did not breathe for what seemed like forever. This was definitely beyond my training level! All turned out well. In the first year of doula work I caught the baby 3 times and I promise it was never my fault. At that point Steve started urging me to look into Midwifery school.

I started looking but quickly realized that at 51 years old I was way too old to start this career. But Heavenly Father would not take NO for an answer and I felt actually shoved into midwifery. Doors opened. Money appeared (usually at the last moment). Previously planned doors closed. Things fell into place. I kicked and cried and fretted and worried but always sought the next little patch of light which never failed to appear just as I was about to give up.

 

What is a typical day or week for you as a midwife?

I do all my care in my clients’ homes except for a few who come from a distance and choose to meet me at my house. So a typical week looks like this:

Monday: Office work. This never, ever ends. It’s like dishes or laundry. You can’t catch up. I’m not good at sitting in front of a desk for hours on end so I’ve learned strategies for survival, like taking a break and doing crazy dances with my grandchildren who live with me.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Usually at least 2 of these days are spent traveling to clients’ homes. My assistant Angela Geurts does all my scheduling for me, bless her. So on one day I go north to the Rexburg area and on one day I go south as far as Blackfoot or Pocatello. If I can’t get all the visits in, then I do a 3rd day. I also serve on the Board of Directors for Midwives College of Utah and of the Idaho Midwifery Council (I’m giving that up soon) and on the Idaho Board of Midwifery. So there are often online or phone meetings for those organizations and also projects that I have to do for them. I try to fit those in on the days when I don’t have too many visits. Sometimes I’m gone from 8 am to 6 or 7 pm, although that usually doesn’t happen more than once per week. I schedule a full hour for each visit plus driving time. Sometimes a student travels with me.

Fridays: In the morning one of my students comes for a few hours to help with things like organizing the office (a spare bedroom in our home), making up birth kits, scanning and entering documents, sterilizing instruments, restocking my bags, etc. Sometimes I can do home chores while they’re doing this but I usually need to be close at hand to answer questions.

Of course, if someone has a baby we have to revise the schedule unless the whole thing takes place at night. Angela has a big job!

 

What led you to begin offering assistant midwife classes?

I had been thinking of offering Midwife Assistant classes for a long time. When I first went out into solo practice I didn’t think I was likely to get students who wanted to get their clinical credits with me because I don’t do a high volume of births (about 25-30 per year) so it would be quite slow. I needed trained assistants. I realized that there are many women who are not ready to jump into midwifery but who would like a gentle introduction. Also, there’s a great need to educate women so there will be someone to help at births in case of emergency. That’s something I feel very strongly about. Birth knowledge is not something that should be kept as a professional secret available only to the few. It belongs to all women. Every ward should have someone who is at least somewhat prepared to help in cases where professional help is not available. Of all the emergency scenarios people talk about, emergency childbirth is the one you’re most likely to encounter in your life. It happens every day.

As it turned out, I do have students so my need for assistants is much less than I had expected. But I’m going to keep offering the classes as long as there’s any interest because it’s a good introduction to midwifery. There are now three licensed midwives in my area and I think there might be demand for good trained assistants.

 

What advice would you give someone who is considering whether or not to begin training to be a midwife?

I don’t have a lot of advice for people considering midwifery training. Just like any other major life decision, it needs to be searched out diligently and then prayed about. I do believe that it will soon become important to attend an accredited school. There is no royal road or shortcut to competence in midwifery. It’s a very responsible job and can be hard on a family if not approached with care. It’s worth taking your time and really investigating before jumping in. The rewards are great but so are the sacrifices. It’s worth investing in a quality education. “Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every byway, till you find your dream”. If it’s the path for you, you will come to know that.

 

What is one of the funniest experiences you have had as a midwife?

There are so many good stories! This is why midwives write books. I will too someday. Stories are mostly funny after the fact, and I’m the victim in most of them. Once I was attending a mother for her 3rd baby, and I’d been present as a student for the first two so I knew that this mom always worked hard to get her babies out. This time she was birthing on her bed in a suspended squat, supported from behind by her husband. Baby was finally almost crowning after a real effort at pushing. In the intensity of the moment I forgot the fact that her water hadn’t broken yet. I was practically lying across the bed with my hands outstretched and my face right in the path. Sure enough, the water broke and caught me full in the face, completely drenching my hair. But Baby was right behind it and I barely had time to run my arm across my face to clear my eyes before I had to catch. Baby needed a bit of stimulation to get started, so there wasn’t time to do anything about cleaning up for quite a while. When I finally had a chance to go into the bathroom and wash, I looked like a creature from the Black Lagoon. Naturally, this was a birth that took place fairly far away from my home and the mom had Rh negative blood type, so I had to take blood samples into the lab before I could go home and shower. I can only hope the lab people were pretty bleary-eyed at 4 am and didn’t think strange things. Angela was my assistant and she’s still laughing about that.

 

What is one of the most spiritual experiences you have had as midwife?

To be a midwife is to be a watcher at the gates of life. Every birth is a spiritual experience. Sometimes I’m very aware of the watchers from the other side of the veil. One of the richest experiences was the birth of one of my grandsons. My daughter-in-law was laboring well and there was deep peace in the room. As the birth drew near I became aware that the room was full of women. I couldn’t quite see them but I knew who some of them were. My Great-Aunt Dade who delivered many babies as a rural nurse, my Great-great-great grandmother Morilla Spink Bates who was a pioneer midwife, my own grandmothers, and other ancestors. I also recognized the presence of many whose names I did not know; they were ancestors of my daughter-in-law. I did not say anything but knew those women were there to lend support and to usher my grandson into his mortal experience.

 

Tell us more about the projects you are working on.

I’m currently working on several projects for the MCU board and the Board of Midwifery. At the same time I’m working on a book on Emergency Childbirth. It’s meant to be an updated manual like the old classic by Dr. Gregory White. But I’m also considering including it as a chapter in a longer work on preparedness for women and babies. I really need an illustrator! I’m also considering how I can complete my Bachelors degree in midwifery (I graduated with an AS from MCU). And of course I want to update my files so that all my notes are in electronic form and well-indexed so that I can find what I need easily.

Has working in midwifery affected your testimony?  How does your work as a midwife combine with your testimony?

 

My testimony of the Gospel and of my Savior’s grace has been greatly strengthened by my practice of midwifery. I know for certain that my strength is weakness and all power comes from Him. His plan is perfect, though we are not. I can testify that He lives, that He leads us along and knows of our needs and answers our prayers.

One of the great problems for midwives is fear. I think every midwifery student encounters this. There are so many things to be afraid of, but fear and faith cannot exist in the same person at the same time. Therefore faith must prevail. That which you feed is that which grows. I have learned to feed my faith, not my fears, and I have learned to rely on the strength of the Lord instead of my own. I must not carry fear or resentment or pride into the room where a birth is occurring. Since I never know the day nor the hour when I will be attending a birth, I must keep my repentance current.

I was given a powerful gift 38 years ago on the day I received my endowment for the first time. I believe that it was in some way tied to my mission among women. For some reason, the Lord saw fit to roll back the veil and let me truly understand the relationship of men and women on this earth and in the eternities. In one instant I saw the glory and nobility and unity of the sexes. Then it closed down and I could never explain it in words to myself or anyone else. But I had seen and understood for that one second, and in all the years since I have never had any troubles or doubts about the place of women in the Lord’s plan. It is glorious. In the World we have tribulation and uncertainty and sometimes anger or resentment about these things. But in the Lord we have peace everlasting. It is my testimony that we can choose where we will live, in Babylon or in Zion. We can choose whom we accept as authorities, the philosophies of men or the messengers from our Heavenly parents. You may have different questions or struggles than mine, but the source of light is the same for all of us. Let there be Light in your life.

 

Robyn by Robyn

Back to the Basics: Why You Should Read to Your Kids

June 10, 2015 in Education, Guest Post, Parenting, Power of Words, Relief Society, Uncategorized by Robyn

I was excited to get this blog post in our inbox about the importance of reading to our children.  I will never forget the first Relief Society Enrichment meeting that I attended after my first baby was born.  It was a presentation on reading to your children.  My baby was only about a month old but I immediately started reading to her from that day on.  I am forever grateful that another woman shared with me her passion for reading to her children.  My family is forever changed by it.  I know it prepared my children for school but more importantly it strengthened my relationship with them.  I have never regretted the time I spend cuddled with my children reading.  I especially love finding my children reading to each other.  And as I read with my children I also remember my mother’s voice reading to me before bed.  It was a treasured time.   I knew I mattered and I enjoyed the adventure and warmth of listening by her side.  I hope this post ignites in you a passion for reading with your children.  –Robyn

 

(Image credit: jbird via Flickr Creative Commons)

(Image credit: jbird via Flickr Creative Commons)

Many of us have fond memories of our parents cuddling with us in bed, a book propped up on their laps and our little fingers eagerly reaching over to help flip to the next page. Those nights spent reading books with our parents will always be treasured, and it’s unfortunate that not many children are able to experience that nowadays. In a world where time is moving faster than ever and parents hardly feel like they have time for all their responsibilities, they often dismiss reading as an unnecessary activity, unaware of all the benefits they could be missing out on. If you haven’t read to your children in a while, here are some reasons why you need to reconsider:

1. Reading Helps Build Language Skills Reading aloud with a child doesn’t just help them become more familiar with sounds and the words of your language, the healthy exchange of ideas is also essential in helping them construct their own sentences. There have been studies that showed that children who are read to do better in school, and this can be attributed to how a child’s vocabulary expands as parents read to him. With a better grasp of the language and the ability to communicate, they’re able to perform better in school.

2. Reading Makes Them Better People The imagined worlds of books help thrust kids into situations they otherwise wouldn’t experience in the real world. As a blog post on Tootsa MacGinty explains, the regular reading of books can help “create empathy toward other people, because literature values humanity and celebrates human spirit and potential, offering insight into different lifestyles while recognising universality” – a good excuse to pick up a book if ever you needed one!” By reading to them, we help our kids identify with the different characters in books, and appreciate their situations and learn how to react to them.

3. Reading Together Strengthens Bonds When your kids reach a certain age, you’ll find that they’ll be spending less and less time with you, and the cuddle time you used to enjoy when they were younger will be few and far between. Reading together helps recreate this cuddle time and strengthen your relationship. As you go through a book, make sure you ask your child about their opinions on the story and the characters, as this will give you the chance to get to know more about your child, and his or her interests.

Do you still read to your children? What do you think is the biggest benefit you can get from reading to your kids?

Author Bio: SleepyMum Ram J is an advocate of childhood literacy, and she has dedicated much of her life to helping parents rediscover the joys of reading to their kids. When not spreading the word of childhood literacy, she sometimes volunteers at local daycares.

The Gift of Giving Life – Ebook!

May 14, 2015 in Book by enjoybirth

It has been a long time coming.  But thanks to Felice and her hard work, we finally have The Gift of Giving Life available via Kindle.  We hope to have the other e-book versions available soon as well.

This will help our readers who are in other countries, as well as readers who prefer e-books.  I will say that while Felice did a great job, the hard copy book is more beautiful.  But both have the same wonderful essays and birth stories and so are equally inspiring.

Eternal Warriors – Helps you Make the Changes You Really Want!

April 23, 2015 in Author, Motherhood, Sheridan by enjoybirth

I love teaching Eternal Warriors and have had my students tell me the amazing changes it has made in their lives.  The only challenge is it is so hard to explain what the class is about and what it does!!

  • It is about self mastery.
  • Using the Gospel and tools (prayer, scriptures, journaling) to strengthen your armor.
  • Actually finding the inner strength to become the person you want to be!

I struggled so much as a young mom and know if I had this class and tools I could have been much happier in my journey.  However it is invaluable as a Mom as teenagers so I am grateful I have it now.  :)

How can I actually DO what I truly Want to Do?

We all face different battles in our life.  From

  • Facebook addictions
  • Pornography Temptation
  • Struggling to do the “Sunday School” answers, like read the scriptures and pray every day.  We know we should do, on a daily basis, but we often don’t.
  • Losing our temper with our kids
  • Fill in the Blank ____________________

 To win against these battles what do we need?

Eternal Warrior classes teach us exactly how to adapt to satan’s new tactics.

  • Increased Spiritual/Biochemical/Emotional Discernment
  • Endurance to make sure our Heart/Mind/Spirits are strong enough to withstand temptation.
  • Skills to be prepared to respond quickly and powerfully.

Eternal Warrior Classes can Help YOU!

You can learn more about what to expect in class by watching this Enlistment Video

 Register for Class

Online Classes – Youth and Adults – Starting May 15th

  • Weekly video classes (similar to video above) and weekly check in/questions/sharing.
  • Weekly Phone Calls (recorded to listen to later in case you miss)
  • Watch and check in any time of the day.
  • An Eternal Warrior Journal will be mailed to you from me.  (specify boy or girl journal)
  • Unlimited E-mail support, Facebook Page for group interaction.
  • 3 months of access to complete the 8 week course, allowing flexibility for unforeseen circumstances.
  • The next session starts May 15th.  You must register by May 10th.

Visit my site to register!

Lani by Lani

Ritual Rebirth in Ancient and Modern Practice

April 8, 2015 in Atonement, Baptism, Heavenly Mother, Jesus Christ, Lani, Old Testament Women, Priesthood, Rebirth, Rites of passage, Savior, Symbolism, Temple by Lani

I enjoyed so many beautiful moments in conference last weekend. Part of me wanted to write about Linda K. Burton’s beautiful talk. While listening to her words, my cheeks ran with tears as I was completely overcome by an overwhelming gratitude for the man who has stood by my side and held me up through so much pain and darkness. I also wanted to write about saints and sinners, enduring to the end, and Mother Teresa’s intense battle with darkness.

But this morning I felt impressed to write about something I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, and I’m not really sure why it has taken me so long to get around to it. What I want to talk about touches on some statements made by a couple of speakers last weekend:

Nothing relative to our time on earth can be more important than physical birth and spiritual rebirth, the two prerequisites of eternal life. –D. Todd Christofferson

To inherit this glory, we need more than an unlocked gate; we must enter through this gate with a heart’s desire to be changed—a change so dramatic that the scriptures describe it as being “born again; yea, born of God.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf

During my senior year at BYU (2002, holy cow that was thirteen years ago), I completed an internship as a managing editor for an on-campus student journal Studia Antiqua. The journal was the brain-child of Matthew Grey, who was a student and editor-in-chief, and was supervised by S. Kent Brown, director of Ancient Studies at BYU. As part of my “training,” Matt gave me copies of the journal’s first issue, published before I joined the team. I still have my copy of that issue and treasure it. Truthfully, I only really treasure the last article in the issue, containing information I wished I had known before I attended the Provo temple to receive my endowment the previous year. The article I’m referring to is called “Becoming as a Little Child: Elements of Ritual Rebirth in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity,” by our editor-in-chief, Matthew Grey, now known as Dr. Grey, assistant professor of ancient scripture at BYU.

IMG_20150408_144955

As D. Todd Christofferson reiterated in conference, God has commanded us to teach our children what it means to be reborn and all of the symbolism involved in it. Until I became acquainted with Matthew Grey’s Studia Antiqua article about ritual rebirth, I didn’t realize that baptism wasn’t the only rebirth ritual we participate in as members of the Church. In ancient Israel there were specific acts performed each time a child was born. Matthew Grey outlined these in his research. These include: 1) a washing with water, 2) an anointing with oil, 3) clothing in a garment, and 4) receiving a name.

Matthew Grey shared excerpts from Ezekiel 16, where the Lord spoke to the people of their original “birth” and the elements that were missing: “And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all” (vs. 4). Then the Lord described how they had been “birthed” of Him through their covenants with Him and how He had provided the important birth rituals they originally lacked: “Then washed I thee with water; yea I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work” (vs. 8-10).

The scriptures outline a similar ritual rebirth process for High Priests before entering the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement each year. At the door of the temple, a priest would be washed with water, anointed with oil, and clothed with sacred attire. This sacred attire included a cap/mitre, also translatable as “turban” (Mitsnepheth in the Hebrew) or “crown” as described by Myers in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (see footnote 35 in Matthew Grey’s article). Following the washing, anointing, crowning and clothing, the priest was consecrated to the service of God with the the Divine Name inscribed on a plate of gold fitted on his head: “Holiness to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36-38).

Referring specifically to the anointing aspect of these rituals, Matthew Grey explains: “In most cases, the act of ritual anointing serves to empower or enable the person to do what he was made worthy to do through the washing. In its most common application, anointing with oil was used in the coronation of a king or in the consecration of a priest” (p. 68).

These words from an Ensign article (published two months before I was born) seem particularly pertinent: “In the temple men are prepared for their roles as kings and priests, and women are prepared to become queens and priestesses” (Carolyn J. Rasmus, “Mormon Women: A Convert’s Perspective“). President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “It is within the privilege of the sisters of this Church to receive . . . authority and power as queens and priestesses” (Daughters in my Kingdom).

Nothing is more important than physical birth and spiritual rebirth Elder Christofferson told us. Our mothers have given us the gift of birth and our first naming. Christ gave us the gift of rebirth through baptism and offered us His name. We may experience other rebirths in our journey upward, but none is more sacred than the rebirth our Heavenly Parents offer to us: a rebirth as kings and queens, priests and priestesses, and the sacred naming given only to those who have overcome the world:

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written , which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it (Revelation 2:17).

Robyn by Robyn

The Sacrament and the First Trimester

April 1, 2015 in Uncategorized by Robyn

bread-and-water-351508-gallery*I wrote this more than a few years ago and forgot about it until now.  It seemed appropriate to share it for Easter.

 

The morning had been hurried as I struggled to get four children ready for 9:00 am church. My husband was at an early priesthood meeting.  I had been hit with a wave of fatigue that begged my body to take to the couch and sleep instead of coming to Sacrament meeting.  I sat on the bench in our chapel fighting the tiredness of my bones as another wave of nausea swept my body, “Oh Father, I am here.  Help me manage my weak stomach.  I want to be more than here physically.  I want to be present spiritually.”  I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, familiar with these sensations but wrapped up in the physical challenges that pregnancy can bring.

My mind turned to the Savior.  He was tired – heavy the scriptures say.  Was he overcome with nausea as his body lurched forward taking upon Him the sins of all mankind?  I’m sure his bones ached with tiredness.  I sat humbled knowing that the cup that He begged taken away was not removed but filled to the brim and consumed willingly.  What He suffered for me was much more than I can comprehend, so much more than what I felt or would ever feel.  My heart turned to Him and I was grateful for the blessing to give life in similitude of the Savior who gave life to all mankind through the power of the Atonement.

I was filled with gratitude as the young men in their white shirts and ties were passed the sacred emblems of the Sacrament, offering me something I could not give myself.  I thought of the life within me that needed me to offer it something it could not give itself. Giving life does not come without its challenges.  It certainly was not easy for the Savior. My mind turned to Moses 6:69,

“and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.”

This life within me would come into the world by “water, and blood, and the spirit” and would again be asked to come unto the Savior by water, blood and the spirit through baptism, receiving and exercising the gift of Holy Ghost, partaking of the Sacrament, and applying the Atonement.  What a gift it is to partake of the Sacrament.  What a gift it is to give life.  What a gift it is to know the Savior.

 

Why Being a Mom is Just as Cool as Being Harry Potter

March 26, 2015 in Heather, Motherhood by Heatherlady

lily potter
For the last six months my husband and I have been reading the Harry Potter books to our kids before bedtime. Last night we finished the seventh book, and like I always do when good stories come to an end, I felt a bit sad. Ever since I was a child I have always struggled against the longing to be a character in a book. I have spent weeks of my life yearning that I could be Anne, from Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia, and countless other heroines. I don’t think I have outgrown this longing, because the same thing happened to me again with Harry Potter. For the last few days I have been feeling sad that my life is not as exciting, glamorous, or important as the characters in Harry Potter. My life of changing diapers, cooking meals, and washing dishes has seemed stifling and exceptionally boring the last few weeks. I have found myself longing for magical power, a quest, a mentor, and something important to do that would change the world in a big way.

In fact, this morning as I was setting out the cereal bowls and pouring milk, I was brooding over how un-Harry Potter-ish my life is and wishing that I could magically transform myself into something exciting. “No one ever writes a book with a Mom as the heroine,” I thought to myself, “Moms never do anything important in books.” But then I had to stop right there, because I realized that mothers play a big part in Harry Potter.

I remembered that one of the main themes that runs throughout the Harry Potter books is the power love, and it’s ability to conquer evil. In fact, when Voldemort tries to kill Harry as a baby it is his mother, Lily, who stands up to him and sacrifices her life for her son. Her sacrifice is a powerful type of love that leaves a protection on Harry that makes him virtually untouchable by the evil forces that try to take him down. Her love is the most powerful magic in the whole book. In the end it is her love, which Voldemort unknowingly takes into himself when he takes Harry’s blood, that allows Harry to overcome death and come back to defeat Voldemort once and for all.

As I ate my cereal this morning and I pondered about that idea; that the one who ultimately finishes off Voldemort, the greatest evil the magical world had ever known, was Lily Potter. It was a mother’s love that enabled her son with the power and protection to destroy evil and save the world. As that powerful thought settled in my mind I wondered if I had that type of love. As I watched my four little blonde heads argue and tease each other across their breakfast bowls I wondered if I would die for them. I knew that I loved them, but sometimes I feel really selfish. Being a mother is hard for me and there are days when I fantasize about how nice it would be to be unencumbered by them. So a part of me honestly wondered, “Would I die for them? Did I have that type of love?”

I thought about that as I was cleaning up spilled milk and putting cereal bowls in the sink, and then it hit me. I did love them like that, because I had already shown I was willing to sacrifice my life for them. I thought back to the nights and days when I had given birth to each of them and how, even though I was never in any real danger of dying, I had walked to the edge of death and back for each of them. I had willingly undergone intense pain and anguish for them, and I knew that if it had come down to it I would have given my life to have let them live. As I washed dishes the power of that knowledge settled in my heart and I realized that I did have that type of love, the type of love that protects and empowers; the type of love that destroys and overcomes evil.

Then I thought of the scene we had read last night, where in the final moments of the battle at Hogwarts Molly Weasley, the epitome of the frumpy housewife, takes on Bellatrix Lestrange, a powerful dark witch who can duel three grown wizards at a time. When Bellatrix tries to kill her daughter, Molly rises up, a fierce lioness, and takes her on– single handedly. Bellatrix is surprised when a small, frumpy mother’s skill and power out matches her own and she is overcome. Mrs. Weasley defeat of Bellatrix might just be my new favorite part of the book, because it reminded me that you can never underestimate a mother.

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. Pictured- Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley)

I think that sometimes I feel so unimportant in the whole big drama of the world, and I feel helpless and powerless to make a lasting change for good. There are times that my mothering and my efforts to love and nurture others seems like a royal waste of time and talent. Yet then I think back to Lily Potter and Molly Weasley and see how, between the two of them, they took down the two most evil forces of their time. Their story reminds me that even though I might not look like anything special, in my heart there is real power. I have shown my willingness to die for others, and that is a power that protects and enables. I have the power of a mother’s love, which might just be the most powerful type of magic there is.

So watch out.

Harry Potter Mom

 

Lani by Lani

The Yoga of Motherhood

March 19, 2015 in Divine nature, Intuition, joy, Lani, Marriage, meditation, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Rebirth, Rites of passage, Yoga by Lani

 

Perhaps the essential purpose of all relationships is to create the laboratory in which we uncover our own divine nature and encourage theirs. -M. Catherine Thomas

In perusing the journal I wrote during my first pregnancy, I chuckled to myself when I stumbled upon these words (written September 10, 2003, just a couple of weeks before I gave birth):

Sometimes I almost wish for a trial or challenge to come so that I can be refined by its fire. . . . I almost hope that motherhood will be a challengeWell, I know that it will be a great challenge. But I hope I will look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow every day. Because I do want so much to develop and become a better, more loving and more Christ-like person.

The very next entry wasn’t until two months later, November 21. I wrote this:

I said last time I wrote that I sort of wished for a trial to come. Well, it certainly came. The first few days and weeks after my baby was born were some of the most difficult of my life. I didn’t get any real sleep until after we came home from the hospitalwhich was two days after her birth. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the new role of mother. I was having difficulty breastfeedingwhich made everything more difficult. . . . Plus I was trying to recover from childbirth (which left me with multiple tears and lots of pain). It was hard for me to do virtually anything because it hurt to move.

292750_10150389550991900_1798837661_n

The remaining pages of that journal include a lot of venting about the challenges of caring for a very high-needs baby (who turned into a wonderful young lady, by the way). She didn’t sleep well, she didn’t eat well, she wanted to be held constantly, etc. etc. In June of 2004, I wrote down a passage from a book that helped me put things into perspective: “One of the greatest surprises, and greatest joys, comes as you realize that those have-to’s in your life actually got you where you wanted to be all along” (Emily Watts, Being the Mom). Indeed they have. My four children, and all the have-to’s that come with them, have done exactly what I hoped for as a soon-to-be mother: they have made me into a “better, more loving and more Christ-like person.”

Loveliest of the arts

Back in February I started Kundalini Yoga teacher training, so naturally I’ve got yoga on the brain. What is yoga? Here’s how Yogi Bhajan describes it:

Yoga is essentially a relationship. Consider the origin of the word “yoga.” Yoga, as we in the West understand it, has come from the biblical word, yoke. This originated from the root word in Sanskrit: jugit. They both mean “to join together,” or “to unite.” Yoga is the union of the individual’s unit consciousness with the Infinite Consciousness. The definition of a yogi is a person who has totally leaned on the Supreme Consciousness, which is God, until he or she has merged the unit self with the Infinite Self. That is all it means (The Aquarian Teacher, p. 14).

So the ultimate goal of yoga is union with God. How do we unite with God?

Last weekend in teacher training, our instructor said: “Confront your ego/shadow self until you get to I am, I Am.” After saying this, she shared a story about her early years as a yogi in Brooklyn, NY, living in the ashram. Every morning before sunrise, she went to group sadhana [daily yoga/meditation practice]. She had grown up as an only child, so it was quite an experience being with all of those people. She said that life in the ashram was: constantly having people pushing your buttons, triggering your stuff. As she said those words, I thought: sounds like a family. Isn’t that why God gave us families? To help us confront our egos, our shadow selves, until we get to I Am?

Byron Katie has said:

The people we most need are the people we’re living with now. Again and again, they will show us the truth we don’t want to see, until we see it. Our parents, our children, our spouses and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves yet (qtd. in M. Catherine Thomas, Light in the Wilderness, p. 165).

And Richard Rohr has said:

So we absolutely need conflicts, relationship difficulties, moral failures, defeats to our grandiosity, even seeming enemies, or we will have no way to ever spot or track our shadow self. They [others] are our necessary mirrors (qtd. in M. Catherine Thomas, The Godseed, p. 168).

Yogi Bhajan called marriage between a man and woman the highest yoga: “Male and female make a union and this complete union is the greatest yoga” (The Master’s Touch, p. 138). Indeed, marriage provides ample opportunities for confronting our shadow selves, refining our behavior, and drawing closer to God. Perhaps it’s because I married a very kind, easy-to-live-with guy, but marriage hasn’t been my highest yoga. For me, it has been the yoga of motherhood that has tested and refined me most of all.

Yogi Bhajan taught that it was the job of a yoga teacher to “poke, provoke, confront, and elevate.” If that is the case, no one has been a greater teacher to me than my children. No spiritual practice has done more to purify my soul than motherhood. Yogi Bhajan said: “The ocean is a very calm thing, but when the winds are heavy and high, then it’s very choppy. The wind represents your egothe higher the ego, the choppier is a person’s life.” Clearly I came to this world with a whole lot of ego to process through. My teachers have had quite a job to do, and they have done it very well.

22762_332958991899_2956548_n 25614_422847301899_5317799_n 1915863_426480311899_3092008_n 192633_10150165477411900_7997827_o 192866_10150337666231900_5711211_o 10003612_10152244753121900_1254963119_o 703729_10151393958536900_1578226980_o 1916589_224252061899_4184907_n 14431_209916016899_7849807_n

Being a mother has required more discipline, patience, endurance, sacrifice, strength, selflessness, service, intuition, love, and reliance upon God than anything I have ever done. Mothers partner with God in a way that no one else can. I put this slideshow together as a tribute to the divine yoga of motherhood.

I remember when Dallin H. Oaks shared this story in conference:

One of our family members recently overheard a young couple on an airline flight explaining that they chose to have a dog instead of children. “Dogs are less trouble,” they declared. “Dogs don’t talk back, and we never have to ground them.”

True. Dogs are lovely companions. But we’re in this life to be refined into godliness. Yoga is the “sacred science of god-realization.” I thank heaven for my four excellent yoga teachers who “poke, provoke, confront, and elevate” me daily.

10993521_10153032522456900_4784908435553160281_o

Robyn by Robyn

Women in History Month: Mary Ann Hamblin

March 18, 2015 in Church History, LDS History, Midwives, Relief Society, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

March is Women in History month so as I ran across this little tidbit I wanted to share. It is about Mary Ann Hamblin who was Julie B. Beck’s great-great grandmother and a midwife.  In case you didn’t know we counseled with Sister Beck as we worked on this book.  Her thoughts were invaluable.  (You can read more about Heather’s visit with her here.) Sister Beck shares about Mary Ann as she explained three paintings that hung in her office while she served as the General Relief Society President,

08288_all_001_05-Midwife

Midwife: Thy Path Her Chosen Way, by Crystal Haueter, courtesy Church History Museum

“This third painting that hangs in my office depicts a pioneer midwife. It reminds me that one sister, with one skill, can be a blessing to many. An example of this is my great-great-grandmother Mary Ann Hamblin, who was a midwife. She helped bring over 2,000 babies into this world. She made a valuable contribution to the Lord’s storehouse of time and talents.” (Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance, 2009, 4-6).

The manual that this excerpt is from is a training manual for Relief Society Presidents.  The word “midwife” literally means “with woman.” I couldn’t help but read this section and think of the many Relief Society Presidents on different levels who have been “with woman” just as a midwife is.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear someone who has served as both a midwife and RS President liken the two callings.  It is a privilege to be with women not ahead or behind but beside them, serving next to them with compassion.

A RS President is often called upon to assess the needs of a family, particularly the mother.  A midwife also does this.  In fact the midwifery model of care insists the midwife monitor the mother’s physical, psychological and social well-being while providing her with individualized education, counseling and hands on assistance.  A RS President does much the same while adding to that list a woman’s spiritual well-being.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that many midwives also take into consideration a mother’s spiritual well-being.  I know my midwife did with me.  We spoke of spiritual matters often.  I often felt like I had just had a visiting teacher in my home only she was taking prenatal assessments as we chatted.

The Relief Society motto is “Charity Never Faileth.”  The midwives model of care has not named charity by word but midwifery care would have little to offer without it.  I have been honored to witness the charity of many different midwives as they watched over, counseled, listened, served and loved the families they come in contact with.  It is a midwife’s responsibility to love her work and the people she serves. It has been my observation that anytime charity leaves their work, the work seems to leave them.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Sister Beck is who she is because midwifery as a way to care for others was passed on to her.  I know that I am who I am because of the women who came before me and that is why I love honoring women in our history.  Their stories really do teach me that Charity Never Faileth.

 

Lani by Lani

Channing’s Milk-Sharing Story

February 25, 2015 in Adversity, Breastfeeding, Gratitude, joy, Loss, Love, Motherhood by Lani

By Channing Parker

Before the birth of my daughter, my pregnancy daydreams focused heavily on nursing my new baby while she slept in my arms. With each feeding, she would snuggle in close to me and drink until she was satisfied. I would pull her close, take in her sweet baby goodness, and drift off in blissful mommy vibes. When the time came for her to be welcomed to this side of heaven, I just knew that everything was going to go perfectly according to my plans. She settled in for her first feed, she latched beautifully, ate, and snuggled into her first newborn sleep.

savannah baby

Does it sound like a dream? I think those were my post-delivery hormones talking. The harsh reality outside of the delivery room was that my daughter had a very difficult time nursing. My dreams of peaceful rocking chair feedings came crashing down when we got home. Each time I nursed my toes curled as I offered my raw, cracked skin over and over again trying to help my daughter successfully latch. Every feed ended with both of us soaked in tears and milk. I was so frustrated! I had milk to give and a hungry baby to eat it, but something went wrong between point A and B and we failed to fill her tummy. We were just one week in and I was ready to give up until I stumbled upon a solution that was perfect for us – bottle-nursing. Bottle nursing consists of pumping breast milk and feeding it to baby via a bottle. My first pumping session produced more milk than could be eaten in one feeding, and for the first time since my daughter was born, I felt a sense of relief.

I hoarded any extra milk I had in the freezer. Within a month, my little freezer was bursting with frozen breast milk. It was at this point that I realized my body produced abnormally large amounts of milk – enough to fill about three babies per feeding. I went back and forth considering dumping all the extra down the drain when I was inspired to look into informal milk donation. I prayed and poured my heart over my decision to donate my milk to a mother who adopted her baby, born just a few weeks after my daughter. I moved forward and met this mom and her baby.

We talked for a while and got to know each other and cooed over our babies. I joyfully packed every bag of milk I had into her cooler. She gave me a hug walked away with a huge smile. At that moment, I realized she was carrying away 120 ounces of me. My tears. My milk. My heart. I felt lighter. Over the next ten months, God lead three other women just like her to my tiny freezer. Each time they came, they chipped away at the raw pain inside me and took those pieces away in bags of breast milk. Those parts of me that ached to be acknowledged and loved were wrapped in hugs and grateful smiles from fellow mothers. Eventually, the place in my soul that once housed a gnawing emptiness began to be filled with hope, love, and friendship.

God turned my dream of feeding one baby into something even more beautiful and fulfilling. He took my fiery determination to breastfeed and passion for my child and softened it into a passionate compassion for His children. The Lord knew that the joy of feeding just one baby was not enough for me, so he allowed me to feed four more. I look back on my experience as a milk donor and joyfully praise Him. How great His wisdom and His love!

My experience with milk donation is that an ounce given is received back one hundred times over in the the joy of selfless service. For both donor and recipient, an exchange of freely given breast milk is about so much more than filling bellies. It is about finding healing and bringing peace to the hearts that long for love, and that is a treasure that cannot be measured in ounces.

DSC_0114Channing Parker is an LDS wife and mother who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a passionate student and teacher of yoga and loves to share her love of life and learning with others. Find her at The Little Blog Of Awesome and let some of her radiance and joy rub off on you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...