by Robyn

Book Review: The Midwife: A Biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston

September 29, 2016 in Book, Book reviews, Church History, home birth, LDS History, Midwives, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

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The Midwife: A Biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston  By Victoria Burgess

Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books 2012

I don’t know if anyone else out there loves reading midwife memoirs but I do.  I noticed this biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston on kindle and decided to give it a try.  The book is broken up into six sections: the history of her family, her childhood within the Fundamentalist group, her marriage to the son of a prominent Fundamentalist leader, her philosophies of midwifery care, stories from her work as a midwife, and reflections on her life and what she is doing today.

I thought the book was going to be more about her work as a midwife but the majority of the book is about her time as a part of a Fundamentalist Mormon Co-op.  Even though that is not what I was expecting, it was still very interesting.  I have to admit to not having much of an idea of how daily life flows in tightly knit polygamist (more accurately defined as polygyny) groups. I have never bothered watching Big Love or any reality shows depicting the practice.  So for me it was educational and handled tastefully.  Polygyny is an undeniable part of our history and Laurine’s life gave me a peek inside to what it might have been like for early Mormons who practiced it. For Laurine, it allowed her to work more freely as a nurse and midwife.  Many of the midwives from LDS history were part of plural marriages.

Laurine is a fascinating woman, one who was steeped in her religion, but often functioning outside of it due to her work as a nurse and midwife.  The critique I would offer is that the book could have used a little more editing and revising.  There are errors common to writing and sometimes the flow is choppy or the style distracting. However, that did not stop me from reading the entire book before my Labor Day weekend was over.

by Robyn

Book Review: The Sacred Gift of Childbirth

May 11, 2016 in Book, Book reviews, Doulas, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Pregnancy, Preparation, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

The Gift of Giving Life has a friend!

The Sacred Gift of Childbirth

It can be lonely when you are the only LDS birth book on the block so it is nice when a new friend moves in right? We think so.  It is wonderful that more voices are testifying to the sacred nature of the childbearing process. So when Marie-Ange Bigelow asked us to review her book we jumped at the opportunity.

If you have read our book, you may be wondering how The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby is different or the same as The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth.

So first, what do we have in common?

Both books testify of the divinity of the childbearing process and desire to empower women and families with knowledge to make informed decisions regarding the birth of their children. Both utilize scriptures and quotes from apostles and prophets and current research. They each teach the importance of trusting God in the process and using personal study and revelation to guide decisions. And we both recognize what a “gift” childbirth is!

What is different about it?

Author

The Sacred Gift of Childbirth (SGCB) is authored by one person whereas The Gift of Giving Life (TGOGL) is authored by five mothers in addition to dozens of voices highlighted in different birth stories and essays.

Length

The Sacred Gift of Childbirth is shorter, 167 pages to TGOGL’s 544 pages.  This may be less intimidating to refer to someone than a book that is over 500 pages. (But the variety of stories and essays do make TGOGL very readable. 😉

Content

Charts & Worksheets

In The Sacred Gift of Childbirth, most of the chapters are followed by questions to ponder about the material presented. In addition, helpful charts are included to weigh the pros and cons and benefits and risks of common choices a couple may be faced with.  There is even a “Birth Preferences Quiz” included that can help a woman decide what kind of birth she desires.

Research & Statistics

Both books have up to date research and information regarding choices in childbirth.  The statistics included in SGCB are more recent and in more abundance than TGOGL.  TGOGL was not necessarily centered around providing recent research but around re-establishing the divine nature of pregnancy and birth.  For this reason TGOGL includes a larger variety of birth stories, quotes and scriptures.  The way I would describe SGCB is that it is more research centered than TGOGL is.  That makes it a nice companion to TGOGL.  It’s a little more of how to navigate the conflicting information a woman might hear about childbirth. It’s like having a quick reference guide packed with helpful research, charts, and worksheets but from an LDS perspective.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Couples simply cannot make wise birth choices without understanding the physical, physiological, and spiritual aspects of birth” (4).

“There is no other time than procreation when a couple can come so close to being Godlike.” (96)

“When we partner with our Heavenly Father and put our faith in Him, we don’t have to wonder if things could have gone differently” (101).

My favorite part of the book is the discussion of how marriage can be strengthened through the physiological process of birth put in place by God and manifested in the release of certain hormones throughout the process.  This not only takes place for the mother but for the father as well, “A father’s oxytocin levels will rise during the birth of his child, which will innately encourage him to bond with his child. Through bonding, a hormone called vasopressin will also be produced. Vasopressin helps a male feel dedicated to his spouse and child and brings out a man’s protective role. While the more well-known hormone of testosterone contributes to a male’s libido, vasopressin tempers a man’s sex drive and encourages monogamy” (111).

A few more thoughts:

This book does have a strong message about natural childbirth and its benefits.  This may not be the goal of every woman reading this book or possible for every woman but the author explains, “When we partner with our Heavenly Father and put our faith in Him, we don’t have to wonder if things could have gone differently. . . When you plan for a natural birth, do everything you can to accomplish that goal, and make your decisions with the Lord; you can be assured that you will always end up with the best-case scenario for your particular birth.  Most of the time, things will progress smoothly and go well. If they don’t, you will know that you did everything you could” (101).

The Sacred Gift of Childbirth will increase your faith in God’s love for us and His ability to magnify us through the process of establishing our families.  It will arm you with the spiritual and scientific power to make the right decisions for your family regarding childbirth.

So if you are wondering where you can buy this book, it can be found on Amazon.  The hardcopy retails for $12.99 while the kindle version is $5.99. Happy reading!

by Robyn

Midwives: What’s gender got to do with it?

February 1, 2016 in Book, Book reviews, Church History, home birth, LDS History, Midwives, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

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A friend of mine shared with me this incredible piece of history from a community not far from where I live.  She happened upon a mini medical museum at Caribou Memorial Hospital in Soda Springs, Idaho and told me about Mother George.  It happens to be black history month and so I thought it appropriate to share the story of Mother George, a black midwife who lived near Grays Lake, Idaho in the 1880s.

Grays Lake

 

From what I have read of this midwife’s history, I don’t think she was Mormon but she delivered babies of LDS families in the surrounding communities.  Ellen Carney, a local historian, shared that she delivered both white and black babies, owned a ranch and practiced frontier medicine during the gold rush era (source).

The controversy concerning Mother George comes after she dies when it is discovered, as the body is being prepared for burial, that she is actually a man.  Yes, a man.  Nobody knew otherwise. The discovery was shocking for the community even though it was noted that she had some masculine features. Lee Cantwell, an LDS retired dentist and author, recalled that his grandmother, Effie Allsop Greene, who was born June 14, 1889, said, “I was delivered by a Negro nanny on a cattle ranch in Grays Lake, Idaho. My mother told me that Mother George had the largest hands she had ever seen on a woman and that she wore men’s shoes” (source).  However, it should be noted that once the true gender of Mother George was revealed most families would not admit to having had her services.

This small piece of history begs so many questions:

Who really was Mother George?

How did he come upon midwifery, especially as a black man?

We may never know but if you feel like cuddling up for an interesting read, “Mother George, the Midwife Who Shocked Grays Lake” is available on kindle for only $2.99.  It is the imaginings of author, Lee Cantwell, of how Mother George may have come to be. If you would like to read the first chapter you can go to this link. I admit I quickly devoured the pages of this piece of historical fiction.

Mother George book

As a black man of that era, pretending to be a female midwife may well have been his only way to engage in a profession that he found fulfilling.  White men of that time would not blink an eye at having a black granny midwife care for their wife, but a black man?  And what opportunities were there for a black man to become a doctor? Today, it wouldn’t seem controversial to have a male caregiver such as an OBGYN or MD but what about a male midwife?  There are more and more female OBGYNs and MDs.  But it is rare to find a male midwife.

I’m guessing that Mother George was nothing like this:

male midwife

You  should know that this advertisement is a farce but I couldn’t help but share it.  Too funny!

Do you know any male midwives?

Do you think they are just as accepted as female midwives?

Does gender matter when it comes to maternity care?

I’m not trying to pass judgment here.  I have had positive and negative experiences with both genders as it pertains to childbirth.  I have had a female OBGYN but felt my male OBGYN was more understanding and supportive of my birth wishes.  I’m sure that my experience is not necessarily because of their gender.  I have only received care from female midwives and I have been very pleased.  I felt their care was very personalized in comparison to my experience with doctors.  But I know there are midwives on both ends of the spectrum.  I have to wonder if I would have been able to have the same kind of bond with a male midwife.

 

 

midhusbands

There was a time when men took over childbirth and vigorously defamed midwives.  I would hope that today we can blend the strengths of the masculine and feminine to provide optimal care for women and their babies.

Is it acceptable to be a male midwife or a contradiction?

by Lani

Towers of Strength: a Call for Stories

January 28, 2015 in Adversity, Atonement, Book, Book reviews, Depression, Divine nature, Fear, Grace, Grief, joy, Lani, Miracles, Pain, Postpartum Depression by Lani

Last weekend I attended Felice’s Therapeutic Imagery Facilitator Training. It was five billion times more awesome than I ever could have imagined it would be. I’ve been guiding my daughters on imagery journeys nearly every night since, and I can’t wait to share these new skills with everyone and anyone I can. So much healing happened in that sacred space last weekend. What an honor and privilege to have been a part of it. I love these women!

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After the workshop was over, I was talking with the lovely Anna Hargadon (one of the creators of the awesome film Women of Faith). She asked me, “So what’s your next project? Do you have anything you’re working on?” Maybe it was God’s way of nudging me to get moving. One of the first things that happened after I recovered my will to live last fall was that God gave me an assignment. It’s time to write another book, He said.

So this is me acting on that prompting. Last Sunday, as I drove home from church, the book’s title came to me. It was inspired by something I learned reading Heather’s new book, Walking with the Women of the New Testament. In my review of her book, I wrote:

Heather writes, “While we don’t know the details of Mary Magdalene’s infirmity, we might deduce based on what we know of the others whom Christ healed from evil spirits that she was tormented with some sort of mental infirmity. The fact that she had seven devils cast out of her suggests that her infirmity may have been severe” (p. 77).

Heather explains that Christ called Mary “Magdalene” (meaning “tower of strength”) probably in much the same way that he called Simon “Peter” (meaning “rock”). After her healing, Mary became a devoted follower of Christ and a likely “tower of strength” to those around her, including Christ Himself. Of all the people Christ could have appeared to immediately after His resurrection, He chose Mary Magdalene.

Being a woman who struggles with “mental infirmities,” I gather peace from Mary’s remarkable recovery. If Christ can turn an infirm and darkness-plagued Mary into a “tower of strength,” maybe then there is hope for me too?

The title God gave to me for this book is inspired by Mary Magdalene, the original “Tower of Strength” and one of my heroes.

Towers of Strength: Stories of Triumph over Darkness. What do you think? This probably isn’t what the book will look like, but I had fun making a pretend cover. A quick search on Deseret Book’s website only brought up a few titles discussing mental illness, and none of them (as far as I could tell) is written from the perspective of the “mentally ill.” Mental health practitioners and caregivers certainly have valuable insights and perspectives to share, but I just feel strongly that we need to give a voice to the ones living with the illnesses. I feel like there is a sort of assumption that the mentally ill aren’t capable of speaking for themselves, but I couldn’t disagree more. Our voices need to be heard. It’s time.

So far this is what I have in mind:

  • Spiritual thoughts and stories about mental illness from the perspective of Latter-day Saints, emphasis on stories of triumph.
  • Written by those who have lived with and/or overcome mental illness.
  • Stories of all types of triumph (through counseling, medication, meditation, energy healing, temple work, prayer, priesthood, etc.)
  • Similar to The Gift of Giving Life with stories from a wide variety of people with a wide variety of challenges.
  • Intended to bring hope to those who are still struggling in darkness and their loved ones and to help doctors, counselors, and caregivers to better understand the perspective of “patients.”

If you feel impressed that you have a story to share or know someone who might, please send me an email (askbusca at gmail dot com). And please spread the word on whatever groups, forums, and facebook pages you feel might generate interest. The deadline for story submissions is May 1st. And if you know of a publisher who might be interested, please pass the word along to them too! Thank you!

**Posted today, January 28, 2015, in memory of Ashton Mayberry who suffered from depression and anxiety and took his own life on January 28, 2014.**

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So Much More than Just Birth Stories

January 15, 2015 in Birth Stories, Book reviews by enjoybirth

We love our readers. We wrote this book for all of you!

We also love getting feedback from you about the book. It is so great to read reviews of our book on Amazon. To say thanks, we are going to highlight a review a week.

 I was hesitant to buy this because it just looked like birth stories (which it is), but its also so much more. In talking on a deeper level about the spiritual side of birth instead of the factual: this is my story’s facts. This book dove head first into the feelings and emotions that a birth created. Beautifully written and something I will definitely recommend to others.

To read The Gift of Giving Life, buy your copy at your local LDS bookstore, or on Amazon

Recommended for Anyone!

January 8, 2015 in Book reviews by enjoybirth

We love our readers. We wrote this book for all of you!

We also love getting feedback from you about the book. It is so great to read reviews of our book on Amazon. To say thanks, we are going to highlight a review a week.

This is such a thought-provoking, thoughtfully written book! I have never read a book that approaches pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in quite this way. It covers everything from infertility to adoption, C-section to natural home birth. There are sections about meditation, patience, fear, and many more. It is incredibly accessible to read, and each essay is accompanied by several positive stories written by real women about that topic. I highly recommend this one for anyone, whether pregnant, trying to conceive, a grandmother, father-to-be, whatever. Many of the topics covered, though applied specifically to pregnancy and childbirth, are written about and approached in such a way that they can easily be applied to many other areas of life.

 

To read The Gift of Giving Life, buy your copy at your local LDS bookstore, or on Amazon

Looking for more than the physical and mental sides of birth?

January 1, 2015 in Book reviews, Pregnancy by enjoybirth

We love our readers. We wrote this book for all of you!

We also love getting feedback from you about the book. It is so great to read reviews of our book on Amazon. To say thanks, we are going to highlight a review a week.

There are so many books out there about the physical preparations for birth and early motherhood. By extension, reading about those physical preparations can mentally prepare women for the changes they will experience. But the spiritual dimension isn’t usually treated. I wish I’d had a book like this before I had kids. There are so many questions it answers, questions I didn’t even know I should ask at the time. What roles to prayer and study have in the process of becoming a mother? What spiritual resources do I have when I have fears and doubts? How might I use those resources if things didn’t go as I envisioned? What role does the Savior’s atoning sacrifice play? These and other questions I never thought to ask are discussed with compassion and with solid resources, both secular and spiritual. The book also gives a good balance of birth stories straight from the mothers themselves, and more scholarly essays dealing with individual topics. I would recommend this book to prospective mothers looking for more than the physical and mental sides of birth.

 

To read The Gift of Giving Life, buy your copy at your local LDS bookstore, or on Amazon

by Lani

He Is a God of Miracles and Blessings

December 21, 2014 in Angels, Book, Book reviews, Conversion, Divine nature, Guest Post, Lani, Miracles, Power of Words, Prayer by Lani

This morning I was reading a Christmas newsletter from my friend Sarah Hinze. I so loved a story she shared that I asked her permission to post it here. I hope you love it too.

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He Is a God of Miracles and Blessings

By Sarah Hinze

Actress and director Angelina Jolie is not known as a praying woman. Recently, due to a severe storm she, as director, was in danger of failing to complete the final scene of the inspiring film, Unbroken. With no relief in sight, it is reported that Angelina suddenly dropped to her knees in front of the entire crew and prayed for God’s help. Within moments the rain ceased, the clouds parted and the sun shown through providing the needed light for the cameras. Her prayer brought a divine and miraculous result.

I share this story because I had a similar experience when filming a TV show about We Lived in Heaven a few years ago. A television producer from the show Angels and Miracles called and arranged to send a crew to interview me. The director hired a local camera crew and was scheduled to arrive at 10:00 am on a Sunday morning. I was up early, getting ready when I walked into the foyer by the front door. I stopped short. There was a baby dove on the entry table sitting calmly beneath a large painting of Christ. How?

I looked around. The front door was still locked tight from the night before. Morning doves, friendly, cooing little gray and white birds, are daily visitors to our front lawn, but how did this little creature get inside?

Carefully I picked up the tiny bird and stood quietly, completely bewildered. The bird was totally calm. Holding it seemed to bring peace to my anxious heart. It looked up at me with its tiny little eyes as if it were bringing me a message. Through this tiny creature, I felt the blessings of God would be with me as I worked on the day’s filming. Although I am always grateful to share my message, I typically have a bit of anxiety before filming.

I looked at the baby bird, this tiny creation of God, and allowed its calm energy to fill my heart. I finally walked out my front door and held the bird up to the branch of a tree. It hopped on and I whispered “Can you go find your mommy?” The little bird took off like a shot to the very top of a grandfather pine tree in our side yard.

At 10:00 am, the doorbell rang and I invited the director, the camera crew, and their miles and miles of electrical cords into my house. Everything that goes with sound, lighting and filming was promptly set up in my living room and I was invited to sit on a chair in front of the camera.

“Please introduce yourself. State your full name and then spell it,” the director requested.

I was familiar with this routine. “My name is Sarah Hinze.” Suddenly, POP, POP, POP! Every light in the room shut off.

“What’s going on?” the director asked.

“The sound is down, too,” the guy behind the camera said. “And my camera isn’t working.” They looked into the next room where the lights were still on.

This had happened to me before, so I was pretty sure I knew what was going on. I said, “I think I have an idea what has happened. There is energy with this work that sometimes affects electrical equipment.” I said no more, but could feel the force of spirit children present. They often show up when I speak on their behalf.

“This has never happened,” the director said. “What should we do?”

“I’ll pray. Will you join me?” I offered. When I didn’t hear any objections, I proceeded to ask God to help the equipment work and for all of those involved in any way to feel the love that was here with us as the angel children were present. I asked that the electricity be restored so we could conduct the interview.

Within a minute or so of praying, everything came back on. The crew was subdued and experienced greater feelings of reverence than normal. As they finished I thanked them and gave each one a copy of We Lived in Heaven.

A few weeks later one of the camera crew from that show called, “I am reading your book and I am so amazed at the message. Am I really a child of God?”

welivedinheavenThis simple message was a new idea to this man. I am always humbled when others learn this concept for the first time. We spoke for almost half an hour. I explained how there are spirits in heaven eager to come to earth, as was he before he was born. I reassured him, “Yes, you are absolutely a child of God, sent to this earth with a mission to love and serve your fellowman.”

He concluded, “The experience filming in your home, the prayer and reading your book has been life changing for me.”

****

Sarah’s book We Lived in Heaven has recently been republished. She is offering a special deal for the book now. Through the month of January, you can order this book directly from her at sarah@sarahhinze.com for $10 each or two copies for $18, including shipping to anywhere in the USA. If you would like it autographed, let her know. Send her an e-mail or visit her website at www.SarahHinze.com for ordering details. We Lived in Heaven is also available on Kindle at Amazon.com.

I Appreciate the evidence they provided articulating the sacredness of motherhood

December 18, 2014 in Book reviews, Pregnancy by enjoybirth

We love our readers. We wrote this book for all of you!

We also love getting feedback from you about the book. It is so great to read reviews of our book on Amazon. To say thanks, we are going to highlight a review a week.

 This book brought out a lot of new ideas and insights to me. I love the passion and dedication that these women have, you can tell they are truly sharing from their hearts. I think their efforts were a labor of love and I’m grateful they had the courage to share. I respect their approach and appreciate the evidence they provided articulating the sacredness of motherhood. I appreciated the obvious lengths the writers went to in addressing the various birthing styles. And while my convictions may not be as strong as the writers,this book did help to improve my reverence toward childbirth and motherhood.

 

To read The Gift of Giving Life, buy your copy at your local LDS bookstore, or on Amazon

Insights are Uplifting, Enlightening and Tender

December 4, 2014 in Book reviews, Motherhood, Pregnancy by enjoybirth

We love our readers. We wrote this book for all of you!

We also love getting feedback from you about the book. It is so great to read reviews of our book on Amazon. To say thanks, we are going to highlight a review a week.

 I found the insights to be uplifting, enlightening, and tender. These women have shared great pearls of knowledge. There is some of it I take with a grain of salt, but I really enjoyed studying this book. This would be a great new mother gift – whether it’s her first or fiftieth! Adoption or trying to get pregnant, all women should read this.

**I love that she pointed out some of it she takes with a grain of salt.  Take what resonates with you from the book!  Pray about it and you will know what to apply and use in your pregnancy and birth.  🙂

To read The Gift of Giving Life, buy your copy at your local LDS bookstore, or on Amazon.

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