by Lani

Intuitive Dreams

December 30, 2011 in Dreams, Lani, Motherhood by Lani

During my most recent pregnancy, I read Annie Murphy Paul’s Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives. She shared a small study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University which found that “women who rely on dreams and emotions to guess their babies’ sex have a surprisingly good chance of being correct.”  Within their study group (45 well-educated pregnant women) were seventeen who had a “feeling” about the sex of their baby.  Only four of those women were wrong.  And, of the eight women who had dreamed about their baby’s gender, “every single one of them was on the money.”  These findings were “contrary to expectations,” and the researchers acknowledged, “It is always possible that this was a spurious finding.  It is equally likely that there is simply much about the maternal-fetal connection that we do not know” (p. 126).  I’d wager it’s probably the latter.

I do pay attention to my dreams (and the dreams of others).  Perhaps this is because dreams have been key bits of communication and insight over and over throughout my life.  I have a vivid dream partially to thank for prompting me to pursue the reserved, unaggressive young man who became my husband over 10 years ago. Before that dream, I hadn’t really paid much attention to him, but how grateful I am that I got a nocturnal nudge in the right direction.  Some frightening dreams have alerted me to intense emotions lingering under the surface of my consciousness, enabling me to work through them and move on. I have seen my deceased brother and his wife many times in dreams, and those have brought me joy and comfort. And there have been many dreams of my children before they were born.

I’m thinking about one of those dreams today. Before I became pregnant with my fourth baby, I had several dreams about a daughter who would be joining us in the future. In several of those dreams she was a newborn, but in one of those dreams she was a feisty older toddler, probably three-years-old. I’m thinking about that dream today because my baby girl has been ill for several days.

We spent several hours in the E.R. last night and left without any clear explanation for her situation. There is almost nothing that fills my heart with fear and stress more than having a sick child. The Lord has assured us that my baby girl will be healed, but I still find my faith wavering and fears filling my heart. So, it was with a glimmer of hope that I recalled my dream from a couple of years ago. I have seen her as a thriving three-year-old child in my dreams. God has promised me she will get better. I just need to trust Him.

I have also been reminded of Barbara Bishop’s piece, “Dreams as Gifts of the Spirit,” published in Segullah in summer of 2009. She says, “In contrast with other versions of modern Christianity, Mormonism has an established and ongoing tradition that encourages individuals to seek personal revelation. The idea that dreams offer valuable information has been reiterated by many Church leaders throughout our history.” I loved Barbara’s piece and nodded my head in agreement all the way through it. I suspect that some individuals are more likely to receive revelation through dreams while others will hear God’s voice better through other means. For me, there is no doubt that dreams can be powerful messages from the Divine. I especially love Barbara’s closing words: “Like other forms of revelation, we have to ask and then wait for understanding. If we trust that God’s love manifests itself in dream narratives, spending time with them will yield the equivalent of a banquet table, overflowing with spiritual food that we can partake of regularly.”

I have seen God’s hand and felt His love through my dreams, especially in my role as a mother. Have you?

by Lani

The Destiny of Your Child

December 28, 2011 in Archive, Felice, Lani, Prenatal influences, Thoughts by Lani

This is another post by Felice from the archives, originally written in October of 2009. I love the message of this post, though it also makes me wonder what damage was done during my last pregnancy (in which I endured several months of antepartum depression). Even so, Felice gives us a wonderful reminder that our thoughts and feelings have an impact on the children within our wombs.

I learned a lot about this at my neonatal resuscitation training workshop earlier this month where Karen Strange recommended several books, including Babies Remember Birth (David Chamberlain), Parenting Begins before Conception: A Guide-For You and Your Future Child (Carista-Rosen Luminare), The Secret Life of the Unborn Child (Thomas Verney), and several books by Peter Nathanielsz,  MD, PhD, such as The Prenatal Prescription, which explains that “maternal stress during pregnancy has a profound effect on how well or how poorly a child functions psychologically throughout life.”

When a mother’s body is bathed in stress hormones, so is her baby’s body. On the other hand, when her body is bathed in oxytocin and other feel-good hormones, so is her baby’s body. Keep reading to hear more about how important this is and how to bathe yourself and your baby in life and love. -Lani

The Destiny of Your Child

By Felice Austin

There is an old tale from India about a queen who became pregnant. In their tradition they believe the soul enters the womb on the 120th day of pregnancy. On the one hundred and twenty fifth day of her pregnancy she became suddenly and violently ill. She was told by an oracle that she had attracted the soul of a demon who would wreak havoc on the kingdom and her life. Distraught, the queen went to her spiritual guide and asked if there was anything she could do or if she was doomed by karma.

Her teacher told her: “All is not lost. From this day forward, meditate on the name of god, and go out among your people and serve them selflessly, and practice the teachings of the ancient ways.”

So the queen went into the streets where she cooked and cleaned and fed and served the poor. According to legend, when her baby finally came, he came out peacefully smiling. The baby grew up to be not a demon but a saint.

It is possible for women to change or uplift the destiny of their child. And the womb is the place where this happens. I knew this on an intuitive level when I was pregnant, and was not surprised to find a scientific explanation several years later. In Louann Brizendine, M.D.’s book The Female Brain, she explains that the “nervous system environment” that a child (especially a girl) absorbs during pregnancy and her first two years becomes a view of reality that will affect her for the rest of her life. The scientific term for this is epigenetic imprinting. If a mother is highly stressed, or conversely, totally calm, her baby girl incorporates this into her nervous system. “This isn’t about what’s learned cognitively—it’s about what is absorbed by the cellular microcircuitry at the neurological level,” says Brizendine. (p. 20)

Studies in mammals show that this early stressed vs. calm imprinting can be passed down for generations. This may explain why some children born in times of stress have dramatically different outlooks than their siblings.

Therefore, the message is this: Take a deep breath. All that matters is right here, right now.

As you go plan your pregnancy journey, your birth, and the events that you can control in the first years of your child’s life, it is important to minimize stress, and provide a calm, supportive environment. To do this, you do not need money or luxury, merely consciousness. I have interviewed mothers whose situation could not have been worse during their pregnancy (war, extreme poverty, etc.) but they chose to be calm. Being calm is difficult, daily work. Some days you may fail—but only some. This is life.

You already know many ways to reduce stress: meditation, prayer, priesthood blessings, studying the scriptures and other uplifting books, attending the temple, calming herbal remedies, a soothing bath with candles, yoga, a massage, singing, dancing, long walks, and loosing yourself in the service of others. Since none of these are contraindicated, I recommend doing as many as you feel good doing. Take it easy.

by Robyn

Reflecting Upon the Nativity

December 23, 2011 in Uncategorized by Robyn

Lani’s post, “Away in a Manger” got me thinking.  I love these questions and well researched thoughts.  Like Lani, I can see myself blurting out a comment about Mary being on her back.  I just would not be able to help myself.  Hebrew women commonly gave birth upright using bricks or stones as a birthing stool that would leave an opening for the baby come (see Exodus 1:16).

I am also curious about who was with her.  The scriptures just don’t go into that kind of detail.  It is likely that a midwife or other female family members were there.  But then I asked myself, would a midwife have been available with all of those people in Bethlehem?  It seems that with all of the extra people in the city there would likely have been great need for the services of the local midwives.  Would Mary have been a priority especially given the circumstances of her pregnancy?  Would Joseph’s family have welcomed them into their home or would they have turned them away knowing that the timing of their engagement, pregnancy, and marriage did not add up? They may have either thought this couple had either broken the law of chastity or that Joseph was a fool for taking a wife who was not virtuous. Or is it that Joseph’s family knew she would need privacy to give birth and the best place for that would be the first floor where the animals were housed at night?  All we are told is that “there was no room for them in the inn[s]” (Luke 2:7, see footnotes). Did they attempt to find other housing and were continually turned away after his family turned them away?

Had Mary and Joseph come to the realization that they truly were on their own with only God to help them?  I don’t know but I find great comfort and power in these words, “and she brought forth her firstborn son” (Luke 2:7).  She did it.  Mary’s body gave Him mortal life. She gave birth to Him. Was her birth unassisted? I don’t know but there is no doubt she would have received Divine Assistance.  I think that Heavenly Father and Mother would be the perfect “midwives.” I would not be surprised if Mary was left to herself for at least part of her birthing time.  Regardless, I like how Luke has given words to recognize what Mary had accomplished. She did not shrink from her calling.  She embraced it.

At the same time, I imagine that Joseph did observe the yoledet and yet could not leave her.  I think he was her guardian angel.  Allowing her space for privacy, protection, and safety.  Was she to be alone just as her Son would someday be alone in the Garden of Gethsemane with only an angel to witness the event?  How sacred that moment must have been.  I can see her cradling His warm, slippery body against her skin in complete awe of what she was witness to.  After pondering the miraculous nature of His birth I am comforted knowing it did not take place in a noisy crowded inn, surrounded by people who may not have understood the sacredness of that moment.

I don’t know the answers.   But these are thoughts that have come to my mind as I have pondered my own Christmas miracle birth. Throughout my pregnancy I battled my own fears about birth after my first baby was born by cesarean.  I was pregnant with my second child when five days before Christmas I found myself alone waiting for my husband to come home while my body began contracting with intensity.  I went upstairs to pack my hospital bag and take a shower.  I was filled with relief as my husband arrived home but it also became apparent that this baby was not going to wait for the hospital.  In the midst of hurrying to call family, a neighbor, and 911, my son’s body pushed its way out.  I may not have been surrounded by domesticated animals but I did feel very primal and divine at the same time.  I felt a direct connection to heaven and an immediate kinship with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.  What a gift I had been given.  This birth taught me so many lessons.

I enjoyed reading this poem written to Mary (thank you Laura for sharing it).  Whether alone or surrounded by women I see Mary as humble and so very powerful at the same time.  How grateful I am to her for submitting herself to God so willingly. I look forward to sitting at her feet to hear the story of Christ’s birth in her words.

Do you have any thoughts of Christ’s birth you would like to share?  Have you had a birth near Christmas?  How did that birth change or enhance the way you have thought of the Nativity or the Savior?

by Robyn

Away in a Manger

December 21, 2011 in Uncategorized by Robyn

This post is not from the TGOGL archives but it is from Lani’s Birth Faith blog archives.  The articles she links to are fantastic sources of information.  I enjoyed pondering the events of the Savior’s birth as I read her thoughts and hope you will enjoy it too.  -Robyn

 

We had a fun little family night last December. We sang some Christmas songs around the piano, made a Christmas ornament, and then watched The Nativity–a short depiction of the birth of Jesus. Here’s a YouTube version (this one has been put to music, but the original actually has the actor’s voices and animal sound effects).
Read the rest of this entry →

by Robyn

Joy Cometh in the Morning: A VBA2C Birth Story

December 19, 2011 in Prayer, Savior, Uncategorized, VBAC by Robyn

 This birth story is from Mandy and not only is it a VBAC after two cesareans but she also had a inverted T incision.  I came to know her through ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network).  Mandy is just one of those people that is easy to like. This birth story may be long but it is worth the read.  Her journey is filled with faith. Enjoy! -Robyn

 

          Sorrow endureth for a night; but joy cometh in the morning. -Psalms 30:5

            My life as a mother began on February 16, 2007, with the birth of my sweet Kate. I was induced with pre-eclampsia two days before my due date. Long story short, I ended up being completely dilated and after pushing, she never descended. The c-section was difficult and they struggled to get her head out. We ended up with an “inverted t-incision” and I was told the next day I would never be able to have a vaginal birth. I was also told that my baby never would have fit. She was 9lbs, 8 oz.

Along with the joy I felt as a new Mom with a beautiful baby, I also struggled with sadness at the thought of always having c-sections. I worried about future pregnancies and the size of my family being limited.

Shortly after Kate was born, we both knew that Heavenly Father had another little baby to send to us soon. I was told by the doctor to wait at least a year, but we felt so strongly not to wait. So, when Kate was 6 months old, we discovered we were expecting baby #2. We lived in another town and I started going to an OB practice. My doctor wasn’t willing to do a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) because of my incision type. I reluctantly took his word for it and we planned a repeat c-section. I never had the swelling or high blood pressure I had with my first pregnancy but at 37 weeks I showed proteins in my urine. After a 24-hour urine test, my doctor called to say we would need to do the c-section the next day, April 15, 2008.

We were excited to have our baby and this time I thought I knew what to expect with the birth. I was wrong. My spinal never worked after three tries. After I cried and hugged and kissed my husband, they put me under. He wasn’t even able to be there. We both missed our sons birth. I woke up two hours later and was groggy and in a lot of pain. I vaguely remember seeing my baby for the first time, and I don’t remember very much the first 12 hours or so.

Finally, late into the night, I was able to have my moment of joy with my baby and nurse him and cry at his sweet little face. This time I wasn’t only disappointed, but I was devastated at my birth experience. It shouldn’t have to be this way. The thought of my baby being born alone without his family there and being separated from us broke my heart. The recovery was harder this time, especially emotionally. I was grateful he was healthy and I was overjoyed with my baby Case, but it was difficult. I knew we needed to have more kids, but really struggled with the experiences I had had. Something didn’t feel right about it to me. I felt selfish for crying about it, but I did cry. A lot.

I remember one day, (I can’t tell you exactly when) but it was one of those rare moments when I was praying and really just pouring out my heart. I was kneeling next to my bed, just sobbing. I remember softly asking my Father in Heaven that maybe one day, if it was His will, that I could have a natural birth. It was a quiet hope that I had. I knew it was against everything anyone said, but I wanted it so bad. I desperately wanted to feel and experience what it was like to give birth. It was hard to explain to anyone else but I desired it. I kept that little wish in the back of my mind.

I didn’t know it yet, but my prayers were slowly being answered. Over the next couple of years, I seemed to “run into” people that would contribute to my journey. My husband switched jobs and we moved into a temporary house in a different town while we looked for a more permanent place to live. I went to a relief society activity one night and somehow got on the subject of birth with another Mom named Laura. She had just had a homebirth VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans). I was excited for her but told her what my doctor had said and that my baby wouldn’t fit and about my special scar. She challenged everything I said and cited some of her reasons and research. I have to admit that at the time, I was a little annoyed. I wasn’t used to someone challenging the things my doctors said that I believed to be true. But I was a little curious so when she invited me to come to an ICAN meeting, I agreed to go. I learned some interesting things there and liked hearing the leader Robyn talk about her own VBAC.

We found a place to move to, but I still talked to Laura and borrowed her movie, “The Business of Being Born.” I seriously had it for like two months and couldn’t make myself watch it. When I did, watching the natural birth scenes made me cry like a baby. Well the whole movie did actually. It helped open my heart to more possibilities. I then borrowed the book “Silent Knife” (which I LOVED) and started to fill my head with statistics and studies and research.

In February of 2011, we discovered we were expecting baby #3. I became very involved on facebook with “Special Scars, Special Women,” a place for support for any woman with unusual internal cesarean scars. It helped to hear the stories of the other amazing moms who had had successful VBACs. These women eased my fears and I felt like if they could do it, maybe I could. I learned that the biggest challenge for women with “special scars” is finding providers willing to support them. I knew this would be my challenge as well.

I started calling around. I found out that I couldn’t deliver with a midwife in Idaho or Wyoming because recent laws prevented me as I had had two c-sections. I also met with a great nurse midwife at the hospital close to me who was okay with the two c-sections but I knew the Doctor over her would be worried about my scar. There were so many hospital policies I was uncomfortable with, especially the two-hour pushing limit. My husband was great when I talked to him about it and he noticed I was a little discouraged and suggested we try somewhere else. We knew that my best chance at VBAC would be somewhere where I had freedom of movement and full support in natural birth.

I was on a little bit of an emotional roller coaster with finding someone who would take me. I talked to a few midwives close to the Utah border but they were a little hesitant about my scar and my history. I kept looking and found a midwife’s number online. She had a birth center in Utah and I decided to give her a call. When I mentioned my scar, she wasn’t even concerned. She was so confident in my body’s ability to heal. We made an appointment. I was about 19 weeks along. We had a lot of time to chat with her and felt so good about her. Not only was she confident in me and my body, she was so experienced. When we left, I asked my husband how he felt about her. He said that he was so comfortable at the birth center that he almost walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. The drive was over 3 hours, but we started making our trips to appointments.

The next few months were a time of working through fears for me. It’s amazing how going through pregnancy resurfaces all of the feelings from your previous births. I would take each fear of something going wrong, research it until I felt better about it and relax. Then a new fear would come up and I would repeat the process again. My husband and I signed up for a Bradley® Class and it was very beneficial for us. The teachers were very knowledgeable and it was nice to have another resource for moral support. I definitely was a needy pregnant lady and wanted constant reassurance. I was so proud of my husband for being willing to do all of this for me.

One night I had mentioned something about some things I was afraid of and our Bradley teacher mentioned that it was better to deal with those things BEFORE I was in labor. My second birth had been so emotionally difficult for me. So one night, I told my husband that I just had to get it out and try to let it go. So as we lay next to each other in our bed and I talked to him about the experience. I went through the details and the pain of essentially “missing” my son coming into the world. I relived the happy and sad moments of my births that night with my husband and I am so grateful for his patience as I cried and let go.

About a month before the baby came, I started to feel doubt again. I was worried my baby wouldn’t fit. I was having a hard time visualizing a baby actually coming out. I wondered if I was making the right choice. I thought about it and realized that I had done my research, I had educated myself, I had prayed about what to do, and worked to come to my own conclusions. I realized that all of the statistics and knowledge I gained were helpful but couldn’t predict or control my personal birth. I had to humble myself once again. So I prayed to my Heavenly Father and told Him what was on my mind. I had tried to prepare as best I could and tried to follow the inspiration I felt, but in the end, it was up to Him. I realized that the outcome of my birth and this child was really in His hands. Once I acknowledged that, I felt peace and not fear. He knew me, and knew what I needed and knew what this baby needed. Around this time I also had my husband give me a wonderful blessing that gave me reassurance that everything would be okay.

Sunday, October 23rd. 38 weeks. We went to church. Then we came home and took a Sunday nap. I called my midwife to tell her that I thought my mucous plug just came out. She wasn’t too worried. We took a family walk down the greenbelt. A lady from our town walked past and said, “Keep walking! It’ll put you in labor! Worked every time for me!” We laughed. Then I went visiting teaching and chatted for a while. I got home around 9. Bryan had both of our kids asleep. I took a nice warm bath and then a hot shower. While I was in the shower I felt a little different. Like a good different. Then I got out and had a really nice night cuddled up with my husband. We feel asleep around 1am.

My husband left for work the next morning around 7:30. Around 8 my daughter came in asking me to get her breakfast NOW! I told her to wait a minute as I was feeling a cramp. Then it went away. I thought, hmmm…..I wonder if that will come back. Sure enough, 7 minutes later I had it again. Then I jumped up and started wandering around, trying to throw some things together just in case. Today was October 24th.  What? Early? After all, I had two c-sections and I thought my body would take a while figuring out what it needed to do. I had already imagined myself trying to explain to my family and friends why I was still pregnant at Thanksgiving Dinner when my due date was November 6th.

My contractions kept coming, even while I was running around. I was getting excited. My house was still messy, but I let it go. A few days ago I had scrubbed the toilets really well, set up the crib and washed the baby clothes, and the night before I had shaved my legs. I had joked that if I finished those things, we could have our baby, haha.

I called the chiropractor and asked if they could fit me in. When I said I might be in labor, they said to come anytime. I got dressed and finished packing up the car. I called my husband at work and told him I was getting some squeezes. I called my midwife too and told her that we weren’t sure but they were 7 minutes apart and I was heading to the chiropractor whom was closer that direction and would keep her posted. Right as I was getting ready to head out the door, I was hoping that I had everything and wondering if this was the real deal. Then, a picture fell off of our TV armoire and down fell my birth papers I was supposed to bring with me. Right in front of me! I thought, hmmm, maybe that’s a sign. I totally would have forgotten them.

I called my Mom. She would pick up the kids in Blackfoot. So we were on the road. It was a nice drive. I kept timing and the contractions stayed really consistent. I practiced breathing through them even though they weren’t that intense. I was really chatty on the way and it was nice to hold my husband’s hand and chill out a little. We stopped at the Utah border to get a picture. When I walked around, they got closer together but spaced back out in the car.

When we got into town, we headed to get some food and snacks and some clothes for Bryan, which we forgot to pack. Then we went to lunch because I was SO hungry. We bought a car seat at Target and then we cleaned the car and came into the birth center around 5. They were close to four minutes apart. I continued to progress after a hot bath.

My husband was my rock and I really needed him. I had him give me a blessing. I remember that he blessed my body to do amazing things in the next few hours to deliver this baby.

I was past 6 cm and I was starting to get uncomfortable with contractions.  My husband has a gift of being calm and we both knew that that’s what I would need in labor. He would just quietly encourage me and tell me I could do it. He was exactly what I needed. He rubbed my back and held my hand or did whatever I needed him to do.

I really liked leaning over the ball. My favorite relaxation was to go through the colors of the rainbow through my contractions. I would think, Red, breathe in, breathe out. Then orange, yellow…and by green I would have to vocalize a little and breathe out a low “Ohhhhh…..” and by purple they would be just backing off. The low noises really helped me to cope. I laughed in between one of the contractions, as I told my husband that now I didn’t just look like a beached whale, but I sounded like one too.

Relaxing doesn’t come easy to me so it was so helpful that the environment was so calm and that everyone was so encouraging. The lights were low and soft music was playing. My midwife and her assistant quietly chatted on the other side of the room. They were there when I needed them but respectful of our privacy. It was exactly what I had wanted. It was perfect.

I had a few scriptures that kept popping into my head while I was in labor. One was Alma 26:12 “For in His strength I can do all things.” The other one, which I didn’t even know where it was in the scriptures, was just the phrase, “Joy cometh in the morning.” I thought that several times, joy cometh in the morning, joy cometh in the morning…..

At one point in the pool, when things were getting pretty intense, I was feeling overwhelmed and wondering how I could really do this. I leaned on my husband and looked around. I could the see the silhouette of my midwife and her assistant putting sheets on the bed. The only light on in the room was right behind them, and in that moment, I just had the strongest impression that it would be okay because I had angels here to assist me.

I had them check me around 11 and I was fully dilated. I decided that now was the time the baby should move down and come out. Well it didn’t happen like that. I really never felt much of an urge to push. My body was trying to do it but every time I could feel the contractions move down and push right against my tailbone and it felt almost like they got stuck. No one was telling me what to do or when to push. Just to do what felt best. The thought of pushing with them seemed unbearable. I let my body do its own thing for a while but started to really get exhausted.  I tried pushing against them, but when they peaked it was SO intense I couldn’t make myself do it. We tried just about every position we could. I was on my knees in the pool, sitting, hands and knees, standing with my husband pushing my hips together, standing and swaying, and some squatting.

The baby wasn’t descending. I could feel where she was, but the water was bulging in front and her head was still a high station. Finally after a few hours in the pool, my midwife wanted us to try getting out to see what was happening. I told my husband I wanted him to give me another blessing. I was starting to get a little afraid. He put his hands on my head and while I don’t remember everything he said, I do remember him saying that I would be blessed with power from Heavenly Father. My memory is a little foggy but then we got out of the pool and onto the bed. My midwife wanted to feel the pushing to see if it made progress. That was not fun. She suggested we go back to the bathroom to get the baby down. The contractions were really wearing on me. I remember thinking that I didn’t like anyone who had ever told me that pushing was the easy part.

I didn’t know what to do differently at this point. The baby was still high, and it was getting unbearable for me. I had been fully dilated for at least 3 hours with little progress. Thankfully, her heart rate was great. My midwife quietly told me, “Honey, if this baby doesn’t come out, it’s not your fault. You have really have done everything you could.”  She said we would wait it out and maybe try breaking my water if I wanted. Her saying that really made me work harder. I knew that I either had to push this baby out now or possibly have to go through the agony of dealing with the contractions on the way to a c-section. I really wished I could just turn them off for a few minutes.

I was standing as the next contraction started. So facing the toilet, I grasped the sides of it. Right at the peak I squatted as hard I physically could. My water sac broke and splashed on the floor. I had another rush right with it and worried that my baby wouldn’t come out if I backed off, so I pushed into it. I used every ounce of strength and energy I had. It hurt like no pain I have ever felt and I yelled very loudly as I nearly pulled the toilet off of its bolts. I could feel my baby’s head moving down into the birth canal and definitely felt the “ring of fire” as she descended all the way down. It was so intense that I couldn’t vocalize to anyone what I felt. All of my attention was on that single push. I felt my baby come down and emerge before I could even comprehend what was happening and I looked down to see her whole body slide out. It was that fast. And there she was, pink and crying and beautiful.

I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to do. I felt frozen in place. They tried to hand her to me but I was shaky. They sat me down. I was dazed. I remember my husband looking happily into my eyes crying tears of joy and telling me that I did it and that he was proud of me and loved me. I’m so glad I didn’t miss that moment. My midwife said I needed to lay down and they helped me onto the floor. I couldn’t raise my head but they set my baby next to me and she was able to nurse. A little pressure and my placenta was out.

I was really feeling woozy. I was looking up and they were telling me, “Stay with us, stay with us.” It was hard to keep my eyes open. I heard my midwife tell her assistant that she might need to call in to transport me. I pleaded inside to be alright and come out of this. We were blessed with more miracles and shortly I was able to pink up and feel better. Later they told me that my placenta had probably partially detached, and that’s why I had so much bleeding. They helped me into the bed.

I called my Mom and Dad and for the first time was able to announce the news myself. That was special for me. She was born at 3:31 am and was 8 lbs, 14oz, and 21 inches long.

My midwife told me later that babies just don’t come out that fast when they are at that high of a station. I asked her how often she has seen that. She said, “Never. NEVER.” And she’s done it for over 30 years. They jokingly called her the “cannonball baby.” Our baby had a pressure bruise on her forehead and swollen eyes where she was hitting the end of my back. I think she was a little caught up and once we got past that, it was quick. My husband said that he was completely shocked. He didn’t even see her crown, he just saw a whole baby at once.

My husband slept with the baby on his chest while they finished stitching and cleaning up. Then I slept from about 6 to 7:30 am.

When I woke up, the light was coming into the room and I could finally lift my head up. I had them bring me baby and I sat up and held her to my chest. I cried happy tears over my sweet baby. She was so beautiful. I was still so exhausted from all of the hard work and all I could think about was my Savior Jesus Christ. For the first time in my life, I really felt was it was like to be pushed to my complete physical and emotional limit. The only thing I could compare it to was Christ’s offering for me. I felt so humbled to have served as His daughter in bringing this beautiful new life into the world. I felt such a closeness to Him as I could only begin to imagine what he had to endure to bring me everlasting life. As much as I had wished the moment of pain and agony away, I had realized that for once, only I could do this. No one could have done it for me. I needed to go through this to feel the ultimate joy that accompanies the sacrifice. I shed tears over the thought of this.

Many people wonder why I chose to go the route I did with my birth. There was a lot of differences with this birth. One thing my husband said was that this time he didn’t feel fear. We were able to let our daughter come on her own time in her own special way. We felt guided and inspired the whole pregnancy and knew that this was exactly the experience that my husband and I, and my little one needed. I now look upon my baby girl and feel so much gratitude for such a wonderful gift.

Heavenly Father knew I needed this baby. Something that really stands out to me is that in my other births before I felt powerless, but now I feel so empowered. As each day passes, I am more excited as I recount all of the precious details in my mind. I feel that I have been a part of something amazing. I almost feel like a new person, almost like a new light has been breathed into me.

We named our baby Holland Hope. Holland, for my Dutch ancestors, and Hope for fulfilling my own hope of one day having a natural birth. I would like to thank my best friend and husband Bryan, for loving me and believing in me, my beautiful children, Kate and Case, my sweet new baby Holland, for my mother for her sacrifice in giving birth to me , our parents and families, my amazing midwife for her confidence and faith in me, her awesome assistant who helped with the birth, the other wonderful women at the birth center, my Bradley teachers, Idaho ICAN, Special Scars- Special Women, my friends, and most of all, a very loving and merciful Father in Heaven, who, even with my weaknesses, has loved me enough to give me the desire of my heart. Thank you.

Repost – The Opposite of Anxiety

December 16, 2011 in Felice by enjoybirth

This is from The Gift of Giving Life archives originally posted in September 2010.

I once heard a hypnotherapy teacher say that the opposite of anxiety was options. It made sense at first–options are always good. It’s very empowering to know and understand your options, especially as you go into your pregnancy and birth journey. However, recently I have been thinking a lot about this, and I think it is important to differentiate between having options, and keeping your options open. It is my belief, the once you’ve considered your options and made a choice, the opposite of anxiety is actually commitment. And it is commitment that allows us even more choices.

Here are some examples that may better illustrate my point:

  • Keeping your options open when it comes to romantic relationships prevents you from forming deep attachment, trust, and love. From a stable committed marriage you have the ability to grow and develop. In fact, digging deeper in the same spot is how we reach the rich, fertile soil of a relationship. When one tries to to dig in several places at the same time because they don’t want to chose the wrong spot–this is more likely to create anxiety. In addition, when you are in a committed relationship you have the option of a regular ride to the airport and hospital–and a few other nice perks you can think of yourself.
  • When you commit to one faith and set of values that don’t change, you have the option of peace and of expansion. Metaphorically, the deeper you dig with your faith, the more the hole can be filled with treasure–or “hidden treasures of knowledge,” as they are sometimes called. (I might say more about this in a later blog post.)
  • When you commit to a career, you can advance in it to the highest level and skill. Whereas, if you are always changing directions, it is difficult to become the best at any one thing.
  • When you commit to bring your child into the world in a gentle, spiritual, dignified manner, then you have the option of being open to spiritual guidance. You also have the simplicity of having a measuring stick for all related choices. Questions such as, “Is it peaceful? Is it gentle? Is it necessary? Will it allow me to feel the connection to the divine? If not, what else might need to happen first, so that it can?”

I have been trying to find a way to articulate how commitment also produces miracles and divine assistance, but two days ago I found these perfect words from Goethe:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

This reminds me of Lani’s birth story. When Lani felt inspired to have a home birth, she had some inner struggle at first about making a decision that was not popular. They also weren’t sure how they were going to pay for it. However, when she and her husband made the decision and committed to it, the heavens opened up. Here are her words:

“I still struggled, at times, to remember the assurance that we had chosen the correct path. “Are we sure we’re doing the right thing?” I frequently asked Reid at bedtime. While the idea of home birth had been frightening to him in the past, he was now blessed to become my rock of strength—never doubting for a moment. He reassured me time and again when my faith wavered or when I expressed my real concerns that I wouldn’t know how to love our boy baby. In another priesthood blessing I had sought for reassurance, the Lord promised us that He would watch over all of us to ensure that we would be “well and safe” as I gave birth. And the Lord, my God, “did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith,” just as He had told me He would, through the scriptures, at the beginning of my pregnancy.

The blessings and miracles continued to pour down upon us. In February, I attended a doula training workshop (offered for free as a gift to the community by the doula trainer) where I met many women who would become my friends. One of them, Cassie, offered to be my doula and take photographs of my birth (again, for free). She came over several times before the birth to meet Reid and my girls and to take maternity photos for us. Unexpected additional income came to us, with the probability of further additional income opportunities in the future. Just as the Lord had promised, we found ourselves with enough and to spare financially, and our baby’s birth was completely paid-for by my 36th week of pregnancy.”

Lani’s story is also a great example of how a loving committed partner can give us added strength and courage to keep digging.

Devon’s Birth – Traumatic and Miraculous

December 14, 2011 in Birth Stories, Sheridan by enjoybirth

Bedrest for a Reason

 

I was so excited to be pregnant with our first baby.  I had always wanted to be a Mom and I loved being pregnant and seeing my belly grow, feeling the baby move and just the whole thing.  I was taking Bradley Classes and preparing for natural childbirth.  I was planning on switching to a midwife after the New Year when our insurance changed.

 

Then I was put on bedrest for preterm labor when I was 25 weeks pregnant.  I was in and out of the hospital over 6 times and got to the point where I just wanted to make it to 34 weeks.  That was “safe” for a preemie and it just resonated with me.

 

I also distinctly remembering an impression I had on a drive home from one of my hospital visits.  That I was on bedrest for an important reason, a life or death type of reason.  I told Rob that maybe it was that I would have died in a car crash on the way to work, or something like that, but it was big and maybe bigger than just keeping the baby in.

 

Blessing Reassures Me

 

I woke up on the 2nd of January and went downstairs, ate a breakfast burrito, drank some juice and was watching the Newlywed Show (you can tell how bored I was after 9 weeks of bedrest!)

 

Suddenly I realized I hadn’t felt “Hootie” move that morning. Because I was on bedrest I was very familiar with his movement. I called the Dr, they said drink more juice and call back in an hour if he hasn’t moved. I already knew something was wrong. I still wish I had told the Doctor I wouldn’t wait another hour, because I just KNEW.  But I obediently waited the hour, crying for most of it. I really thought we had already lost the baby.

 

I woke Rob up (he was taking the morning off). I told him to get up, because we were going to the hospital again. I called the Dr. back and they set up an apt. at the outpatient center for 1:30. Rob gave me a blessing before we left. He blessed that “Hootie” would be ok and he would come when he was ready. As soon as he said he would be ok, I felt a large weight come off of my shoulders, I KNEW that the baby was going to be ok.

 

We got to the outpatient center early, but they were still at lunch. When they finally got back from lunch, they hooked us up on the monitor. When we saw his heartbeat, we figured, everything was ok. They used a little noisy vibrator on my belly to try and wake him up. Hootie kept on sleeping, but it made me have contractions. After 3 tries, this mean nurse came in and said, “It looks like you are going to have your baby today.” and then she tried to wake him up with the noise maker again. Rob and I were wondering who this strange nurse was and we didn’t believe her at all. I thought she was in the wrong room or something.

 

Then the nice nurse came in and explained much more nicely. The baby was under stress and we needed to go straight to Labor and Delivery, they would probably perform a c-section. The baby’s heart rate was not changing, except it did drop during contractions. They would be better able to help the baby outside of me than if he stayed inside. Rob and I were shocked. But we dutifully headed over to Labor and Delivery. Rob asked if I wanted another blessing.  I said no. I felt really calm. I knew that the baby would be ok.

 

Surprise Cesarean

 

We got to Labor and Delivery and there was a room full of doctors and nurses waiting for us. I still didn’t believe it was real, until when I got undressed and on the bed, the nurse started shaving me. I got an IV in my right arm, but it didn’t go in right and got all swollen, so they switched arms. I got a fast ultrasound. Rob watched, but I was busy listening to the Anesthesiologist explain about the spinal. He asked if I had any allergies.  I replied, “Just to cats.” 🙂

 

I think we got to L&D at 2:30 and into surgery around 2:40 or 2:45. I remember being pretty out of it. Rob came in and was holding my hand during the c-section. Everything seemed so surreal. My nurse was really nice. She asked if we knew what we were having. I said a boy. She asked if we had a name. I said not yet, but we called him Hootie in utero. At 3:05 he was born, I felt them pulling and then the nurse asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?” “It’s a boy” She said, “Hi Hootie”

 

I didn’t hear him cry at first. But then I heard a mewing sound and that was the baby crying. He weighed 4lbs 3 oz and was 18 inches long. They let me hold him, but it was hard while I was lying down and then the nurse came over and said, “He is still pink” that freaked me out, so I told Rob I was tired and I didn’t want to hold him anymore. So Rob and the Neonatologist went to the NICU with the baby.

After the Birth (aka pain killer days)

I couldn’t believe I had the baby already. I was feeling a lot of pain and I didn’t really care about the baby at that point. It just was so unbelievable that we had him already. The nurse told me when I got up to the maternity floor they would give me a morphine pump. I was just focusing on surviving until I could get those drugs.

 

It was funny, they finally brought me up to my room and I called my mom to tell her what happened. I told her we had the baby and he weighs…. and then the nurse came. I thought she was bringing my drugs, so I told my mom, “I have to go, they are bringing me my drugs.” and I hung up the phone. Boy was I disappointed when the nurse didn’t have my drugs.

 

To be honest the next few days are quite blurry. I was in a LOT of pain. I was taking some good drugs to help with the pain. This caused me to be living in a cloud for a week or so. We finally picked a name for Hootie three days after he was born. We chose Devon Scott R. It seemed to fit him and it was nice to see them cross off Baby Boy R and put Devon Scott R. It seemed more official.

 

I don’t think I realized the seriousness of what had happened until a Dr. who was checking me asked how he was doing. I said pretty good but he was going to have to stay in the NICU for awhile. She said we were lucky he was here at all.   That it was good that I noticed that he wasn’t moving and called.

 

I know now that is why I was on bedrest. I have had so many people say they wouldn’t have noticed their baby wasn’t moving. We are all told to do kick counts, but most people think they don’t have time. The best advice I got was to pay attention after you eat, make sure you feel the baby move 3 times within 30 minutes after you eat, if you don’t then lie down and count. Being aware of his movements saved his life!!!

 

My mom came out to help us right away, which was so wonderful. She drove me to the hospital once or twice a day to visit with Devon. She cooked for us and cleaned like I’ve never seen her clean before. We would be exhausted by the end of the day. I was still recovering from surgery and walking through the hospital and being up and about so much just wore me out.

 

I longed for Devon to come home. . When I would visit him in the NICU, it was like visiting A baby, not MY baby. I was pumping every 3 or 4 hours and bringing in my Breastmilk for Devon to drink. He was having trouble eating and digesting his food, so that is what kept him from coming home. His lungs were great, I kept thanking my Dr. for giving me the steroids.

 

Then on the 14th of January the nurse surprised us by saying he was going to go home that day. I was thrilled, he would be home just in time for his Daddy’s birthday. My mom was really nervous because he was still so little. He weighed 4lbs 5 oz when we brought him home. I didn’t care how big he was, I was just so excited because he was finally MINE.

 

More Miracles

 

I was nervous about breastfeeding, that it would be hard for him to adjust to the breast. I had only breastfed him 2 or 3 times before he came home.  But Rob had given him a blessing in the NICU  “That he will be able to learn to eat well – breastfeeding will go well too.”

We were so blessed because he adjusted just fine. I supplemented with Expressed Breast Milk for a day or so, then my Pediatrician told me to try a week with out supplemental bottles. He did great and when we weighed him a week later he had gained a pound.

Devon is almost 14 years old now.  He is a great kid, so smart and curious about the world.  He did have some developmental delays, but he is doing great now!  He is very active in scouting and hopes to earn his Eagle Scout in the next few months (he already did his project.)   He is quite a miracle.

Though his birth was traumatic for me AND him, we are healing.  I thought when he turned 10 that I had gotten over it, but with therapy I realized I still had things to move past.  I will be blogging about that on my Enjoy Birth blog in January of next year.

I am Happy Meditation for the Whole Family

December 9, 2011 in Felice, meditation by Progressive Prophetess

Phoebe and I just started a 40 day meditation.  I picked this meditation because it is light and sweet and great for kids and grown-ups too.  I explain it in the video, but in case you’d like to know the spelling of the mantra, here it is:

I am happy. I am good.

I am happy. I am good.

Sat-a nam, Sat-a nam,  Sat-a nam, Ji!

Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Ji!

 You don’t need music, but if you like the song that is playing in the background, it is by Snatam Kaur and it’s called “I am Happy.” You can buy it on Amazon or I-tunes for 99 cents.

Even though Mateo didn’t sit still very long for this video, the mantra did it’s work. A few minutes later, we heard him singing it over and over in the bathroom. I also like to do it while walking.

This meditation is a great self-esteem builder for kids and can give them a lot of comfort and protection if there is fighting or negative energy around them. They can go into a private place and do this meditation. It’s just as powerful for adults, and an easy landing into mantra meditation. I’d love to challenge everyone to do this with your families for 40 days in a row. See what happens.  Do it with your kids, their friends, your friends. If you want, make a video of yourself or your kdis doing it and post it on youtube or Facebook. Make sure to tag The Gift of Giving Life.

I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

Lessons From the Bonsai – Finally

December 7, 2011 in Archive, Felice by Progressive Prophetess

I chose this post from the archives today because believe it or not, it is the second most viewed post from our archives.

Lessons From the Bonsai – Finally

Japanese Elm bonsai tree.

In February there were 3 babies due in our little collaborator group–so we did a virtual mother shower/ blessingway for each of them and sent our love and wishes for their birth along with some beads and a little bonsai tree suited to their climate. Above is a picture of Busca’s tree.

In doing the research for the trees I became obsessed with bonsais, so I had to get one for myself, too. Mine is the same as the one above, a Japanese Elm.

As soon as I unpacked it and started to care for it and nurture it, I wondered what the lesson was. I knew there was something this tree was going to teach me that I would one day write about. But everything about bonsai trees seemed to be backward. Rather than letting it grow big, I was keeping it small–which is the opposite of what we should do with our children and not really possible with them anyway. Other metaphors fell just as awkwardly.

So I gave up on finding meaning and just found joy in the little tree and learned a little about pruning from my friend’s husband who I learned is a closeted bonsai master. Pruning is tricky. It’s all about trying to mimic nature–but perfection in nature. Fat trunks are desirable, and little cloud-like tufts of leaves with a tapering toward the top are also desirable. Shaping bonsais takes years and years of practice and patience. Whenever I prune my bonsai, I go into trance because it is totally meditative–you have to have a vision.

You can keep your bonsai under a foot tall forever, or you can let them grow larger but still keep their miniature look. If you want them to grow, you have to re-pot them every few years in a larger pot, let them grow wild for a bit, then prune the heck out of them. You do this over and over till you get the shape you want. Some people wire or tie branches to achieve a certain shape or windswept look. Here are some pictures and examples:

This is a Ficus Retusa after a hard prune.

 

This is a mature ficus retusa–probably at least 25 years old. Although I’m betting this one is closer to 100–probably owned by some Japanese bonsai master who has spent his whole life shaping it.

 

 

Here is a picture of some wiring on a Azalia bonsai that is just beginning to bloom.

 Here’s a smallish azalea bonsai in bloom.

 

Here’s a large azalea bonsai. If you look closely you can see the wires on this one.

 

I’m not sure what this one is, but it is gorgeous. It might be another elm with fall colors.

 

This tree is about 25 years old. Mature trees like these can sell for thousands of dollars. Some as much as $25,000.

 

This is an award winning 75-year old Bonsai (Gmelina histrix).

It was a long time in coming, but I think I finally got my inspiration from the bonsai tree. The other morning I was lying in bed and some words came into my mind so powerfully that I knew I needed to write them down. They were: restriction is training. I had no idea what that meant, but as I lay there in that early morning hypnotic state where connections and free association happen easily, thoughts of my bonsai tree came to me. Restrictions placed on a bonsai train it to grow in a certain direction. A bonsai master places restrictions on the bonsai in order to shape it into an amazing thing of beauty. It takes patience and practice, and sometimes after a hard prune doesn’t look like much, but it is well worth it in the end.

The metaphor seems so obvious to me now, but it was a huge epiphany in the moment, when I was feeling annoyed about some restrictions in my life. It is clever how God saved this teaching moment for me when I needed it most. And of course, I see can’t help but see now how this metaphor as  applicable to parenting.

It is our job to train up these little prophets and prophetesses, (with God’s help), and sometimes we need to restrict and train them–while at the same time, God is training us. I hope that my little tree, which gives me so much joy, will always remind me of this. And one day, when I die at a ripe old age I hope one of my posterity will take over the care of my bonsai(s)–because by then I will surely have a dozen or more.

What have you learned from gardening or other growing things?

Link

Birth Story – The Missing Piece

December 5, 2011 in Birth Stories, hospital birth, Motherhood by Progressive Prophetess

Today’s birth story comes all the way from Spain. Diana emailed me a few months ago and here is her story. I haven’t changed anything except to add paragraphs. (By the way if anyone out there wants to translate this book into Spanish, let us know. It will make Diana very happy.)

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle – Diana’s Birth Story

I have to admit, I’m so thankful for this book that I’m going to tell some of my friends there in the States to find it for me and send it to Spain. It is sad that we are not going to be able to have it translated to Spanish, but I just don’t care, I want it now!

There are a few days that I’ve been reading the blog and the site on Facebook, always when my little girl was sleeping and I could do other things. And I saw you’re looking for birth stories. Well, if you let me I would like to share mine with you. It is not how amazing is having a kid, but it is how the Plan of Salvation made sense for a whole day and I could fit it like a piece of the puzzle to my understanding of the Gospel.

I didn’t know before that woman could be so strong, so perfect, so necessary to the plan. We always learn that in the church, but living it in you flesh is something that you can’t say all the time. I always defended the role of a mother, that is different than the role of a father,  I always defended that the church is not anti feminist but I did not know it.
I was for two weeks at the hospital, in a shared room, 8 months pregnant, diagnosed for pre-eclampsia and I was told to stay in calm but the doctors also told me that I may die during the birth, also my little girl. I prayed the Lord to give me the calm that I needed so everything could go as He wanted to. I didn’t know if I was going to die, or Ximena (that’s the name if my girl), or probably both of us but I was so confident that everything was going to be the way the Lord wanted that I stayed calm until the end.

I thought that I was going to have a natural birth, no epidural, no oxitocin, nothing but my husband, the Lord and me. But that had to be done for the good. I remember that morning, a man guide me to the birth room and my husband came with me. We both were there, the matron came and told me all the process that we would take to provoke me the contractions. I don’t remember a lot, I only know two hours later I was dying in pain so I asked for my epidural. I did not wanted it what I was weak and I asked for it. I prayed in the way to the anestesist so he could have the pulse to put the epidural good and not damaging my spine.

It went ok and then when the liquid run through my veins I wanted to die, the pressure went down and I fainted three times in a row, I slept for five hours and my husband gave me a blessing. I realized at that moment that I was giving life to a daughter of God, that I had to make it.

I realized that I was the woman prepared for that, that I was going to be the eternal mother and I had to fight. I realized my divinity part as a woman, the strength I had, my calling to be a mother.

I had to push, my husband was helping me, was telling me how good I was going. I had to touch my girl, I put my hand down there and I touched her head prepared to come to the world. Three pushes more and she was here. I felt the pain finally, the epidural didn’t worked out, I felt how a life was coming out from me, I saw her, I saw her hands, her ears, eyes, nose, mouth, I counted all the fingers… there was me, and she… we were both, united and separated, two different person watching one another.

She came to me to be teached in the  Lord’s ways, I was taught at that moment that everything had a sense, that I was a mother meant to be. Like I sad before, everything fit like a puzzle and I saw the hand of Jesus Christ in all the process.
I have so strong testimony of the maternity, it is essential for the Lord’s plan, we are essential. And I’m so thankful for this gift, I’m also thankful for He putting me in the way the chance to be a mother cause I never wanted and even when I was pregnant.

I’m so thankful for Him letting me prove myself that I have what it takes to give light, to understand that part as an essential part of the plan, of his great work. I testify that this only can come from God, something so perfect, so divine, so spiritual. You can only go back to Jesus Christ and testify again that He is our Savior and he came to save us. It can’t be denied. And I say this in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.