by Lani

Conceiving Courage

March 29, 2016 in Adversity, Book, Conception, Depression, Events, Faith, Family size, Fear, joy, Lani, Motherhood, Personal Revelation, Pregnancy by Lani

 

Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. -Joshua 1:9

Almost three years ago, Robyn and I hosted a Gift of Giving Life party at my parents’ home in Utah County. It was very well attended, and I was privileged to meet many beautiful women who have since become my friends in addition to reconnecting with other women who were already dear to me.

Robyn, Lani, and Robyn's sister

Robyn, Lani, and Robyn’s sister

At the time I was busy mothering my four children, my youngest being just over 2 and my oldest 9 years old. The previous summer and fall (2012) had been harrowing for me as I battled for my life with severe anxiety and depression. Finally having regained joy and peace and a solid foundation, naturally I was not inclined to do anything to jeopardize the calm I had so painfully won. And yet… deep down inside my heart I felt that there was at least one child who was still hoping to join my family. Meanwhile, my husband had very strong feelings against having any more children. And most of the time I was inclined to think he was right. I didn’t think I could do it.

As part of the event, we broke into two groups to discuss and share spiritual experiences related to pregnancy, birth, and mothering. Among the women in the group I joined were several seasoned mothers of very large families. I couldn’t believe my ears when they talked about how much “easier” it got as their families grew (in years and number). “The older kids are so helpful!” they shared.

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A friend of mine (who also had four young children at the time) and I were aghast as we shared our fears that we couldn’t possibly handle any more children, despite feeling that our families weren’t complete. These mothers assuaged our concerns, saying, “Right now you are in the hardest part! With lots of little kids and none old enough to help out. It gets easier!” Even so, my friend and I were still hesitant.

My hesitation eventually gave way to courage, however, and over the course of the following year I attempted weaning off my anti-depressant in order to prepare my body for another pregnancy. When my weaning attempt turned into an even more severe and prolonged battle with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts (summer and fall of 2014), my intention of bearing any more children seemed impossible to retain. My husband and I just didn’t think my mind/body/spirit could handle it. So we did what we could to prevent pregnancy. In our then-thirteen years of marriage we had never had an unplanned pregnancy. And our prevention methods continued to work well for us… for most of a year.

Then, in May of 2015, I stared down at a positive pregnancy test after my morning meditation. Immediately I was overcome by so many emotions. I did not see that coming. It was not planned or expected or convenient. But nevertheless it was happening. Friends and family were also surprised but full of support and faith. Many separately shared their strong feelings that all would be well and that this baby would be a beautiful healing blessing to me and my family. I hoped they were right and courageously moved toward my baby’s birth.

It has now been almost a year since I stared at that surprisingly positive pregnancy test. My oldest daughter is nearly a teenager now. The other kids are 10, 7, and 5. And our sweet Baby Hope is 3 months old. Out of the most difficult and darkest years of my life emerged the brightest and most beautiful.

When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliv’rance is nigh.

(Hymn #19)

Hope smiling brightly

I have been wanting to shout to the world, “They were right! They were all so right!” The seasoned mothers-of-many at the Gift of Giving Life party I hosted three years ago were right! Having a baby when you have several older kids to help is amazing. It is so much easier. And my friends and family who encouraged me throughout my pregnancy were right. This baby has been one of the greatest healing gifts of my life.

I am so happy. Life is so good.

good courage

If you are interested in hosting a Gift of Giving Life party, you can apply to be a hostess. A GOGL party is a gathering designed to get women (and men when appropriate) together in person to share how God’s hand has worked in their lives (in the area of giving life). It is an opportunity for people who wouldn’t normally to hear spiritual birth-related stories. It is also a great way to spread the word about our book.

We offer hostesses books at wholesale. You can pass on the savings or use profit to cover party costs. We have held many of these gatherings in different states with amazing results (friendships, fun, spiritual growth).

If you would like to apply to be a hostess please email us at thegiftofgivinglife@gmail.com for more information.

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Miracle Birth Story of Melchizedek

February 28, 2014 in Angels, Conception, Death, Felice, Fertility, Priesthood by Progressive Prophetess

I have been thinking a lot lately about miracle births. Jesus Christ’s conception and birth are of course, the most famous and miraculous, but there are a whole lot of other miracle conceptions and births in the scriptures, and in every day lives. For example, a friend of mine has shared that her parents have no idea how she was conceived. The parents of Melchizedek evidently felt the same way, for similar reasons, however, my friend’s mother survived the ordeal.

The following story is from the second book of Enoch, which is not included in the traditional Christian canon, but is one of the few apocryphal books mentioned throughout the cannon. We could discuss why it was excluded by that early century committee at length (some LDS scholars believe it was put down because it had too much evidence of God having a physical body, which went against teachings of the time.) but we won’t do that now. Let’s just jump into the good stuff–the jaw dropping, miraculous and strange birth story of Melchizedek.  If you are familiar with bible stories, it is no more strange than many of them, but it is apocryphal, so read it with discernment. I’m not saying it is 100% factually true, but it gives one much to ponder.

 

meeting of abe and melchizedek

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Behold, the wife of Nir, whose name was Sopanim, being sterile and never having at any time given birth to a child by Nir –

Sopanim was in the time of her old age and in the day of her death. She conceived in her womb, but Nir the priest had not slept with her. From the day that that The Lord had appointed him to conduct the liturgy in front of the face of the people.

When Sopanim saw her pregnancy, she was ashamed and embarrassed, and she hid herself during all the days until she gave birth. Not one of the people knew about it. When 282 days had been completed, and the day of birth had begun to approach, Nir remembered his wife, he called her to himself in his house, so that he might converse with her.

Sopanim came to Nir, her husband; and, behold, she was pregnant, and the day appointed for giving birth was drawing near. Nir saw her and became very ashamed. He said to her, “What is this that you have done, O wife? Why have you disgraced me in front of the face of these people? Now, depart from me and go where you began the disgrace of your womb, so that I might not defile my hand on account of you, and sin in front of The Face of The Lord.”

Sopanim spoke to her husband, Nir, saying, “O my lord! Behold, it is the time of my old age, the day of my death has arrived. I do not understand how my menopause and the barrenness of my womb have been reversed.” . Nir did not believe his wife, and for the second time he said to her, “Depart from me, or else I might assault you, and commit a sin in front of the face of The Lord.”

And it came to pass, when Nir had spoken to his wife, Sopanim, that Sopanim fell down at Nir’s feet and died. Nir was extremely distressed and said in his heart, “Could this have happened because of my word? And now, merciful is The Eternal Lord, because my hand was not upon her.”

The archangel Gabriel appeared to Nir, and said to him, “Do not think that your wife Sopanim has died because of your error, but this child, which is to be born of her is a righteous fruit, and one whom I shall receive into paradise, so that you will not be the father of a gift of God.”

Nir hurried and shut the door of his house. He went to Noah, his brother, and he reported to him everything that had happened in connection with his wife. Noah hurried to the room of his brother. The appearance of his brother’s wife was in death and her womb was at the time of giving birth.

Noah said to Nir, “Don’t let yourself be sorrowful, Nir, my brother! For The Lord today has covered up our scandal, in that nobody from the people knows this. Now let us go quickly and bury her, and The Lord will cover up the scandal of our shame.” They placed Sopanim on the bed, wrapped her around with black garments, and shut the door. They dug a grave in secret.

When they had gone out toward the grave, a child came out from the dead Sopanim and sat on the bed at her side. Noah and Nir came in to bury Sopanim and they saw the child sitting beside the dead Sopanim, wiping his clothing. Noah and Nir were very terrified with a great fear, because the child was fully developed physically, he spoke with his lips and blessed The Lord.

Noah and Nir looked at him closely, saying, “This is from The Lord, my brother.” And behold the badge of priesthood was on his chest, and it was glorious in appearance. Noah said to Nir, “Behold, God is renewing the priesthood from blood related to us, just as He pleases..”

Noah and Nir hurried and washed the child, they dressed him in the garments of the priesthood, and they gave him bread to eat and he ate it. And they called him Melchizedek .

Noah and Nir lifted up the body of Sopanim, divested her of the black garments, and washed her. They clothed her in exceptionally bright garments and built a grave for her. Noah, Nir, and Melchizedek came and they buried her publicly. Noah said to his brother Nir, “Look after this child in secret until the time, because people will become treacherous in all the earth, they will begin to turn away from God, and having become totally ignorant, and in some way when they see him, they will put him to death.”

Then Noah went away to his own place, and behold, great lawlessness began to become abundant over all the earth in the days of Nir. And Nir began to worry excessively about the child saying, “What will I do with him?” And stretching out his hands toward heaven, Nir called out to The Lord, saying, “How miserable it is for me, Eternal Lord, that all lawlessness has begun to become abundant over all the earth in my days! And I realize how much nearer our end is, on account of the lawlessness of the people. And now, Lord, what is the vision about this child, and what is his destiny, or what will I do for him, so that he too will not be joined with us in this destruction?”

The Lord heeded Nir and appeared to him in a night vision. And He said to him, “Behold already, Nir, the great lawlessness which has come about on the earth, which I shall not tolerate anymore. Behold, I plan not to send down a great destruction onto the earth. But, concerning the child, do not worry, Nir; because I, in a short while, will send My archangel Gabriel. And he will take the child and put him in the paradise of Edem.

He will not perish along with those who must perish. As I have revealed it, Melchizedek will be My priest to all holy priests, I will sanctify him and I will establish him so that he will be the head of the priests of the future.”

Nir arose from his sleep and blessed The Lord, Who had appeared to him saying:

	Blessed be The Lord, The God of my fathers,
	Who has not condemned my priesthood 
	and the priesthood of my fathers,
	because by His Word, He has created a great priest
	in the womb of Sopanim, my wife.
	For I have no descendants.
	So let this child take the place of my descendants and become as my
	own son, and You will count him in the number of your servants."

“Therefore honor him together with your servants and great priests and me your servant, Nir. And behold, Melchizedek will be the head of priests in another generation. I know that great confusion has come and in confusion this generation will come to an end, and everyone will perish, except that Noah, my brother, will be preserved for procreation. From his tribe, there will arise numerous people, and Melchizedek will become the head of priests reigning over a royal people who serve You, O Lord.”

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It happened when the child had completed 40 days in Nir’s tent, The Lord said to the archangel Gabriel, “Go down onto the earth to Nir the priest, and take the child Melchizedek, who is with him. Place him in the paradise of Edem for preservation. For the time is already approaching, and I will pour out all the water onto the earth, and everything that is on the earth will perish. And I will raise it up again, and Melchizedek will be the head of the priests in that generation.” And Gabriel hurried, and came flying down when it was night, and Nir was sleeping on his bed that night. Gabriel appeared to him and said to him, “Thus says The Lord: ‘Nir! Restore the child to me whom I entrusted to you.’ ”

Nir did not realize who was speaking to him and his heart was confused. And he said, “When the people find out about the child, then they will seize him and kill him, because the heart of these people are deceitful in front of The Face of The Lord.” And he answered Gabriel and said, “The child is not with me, and I don’t know who is speaking to me.”

Gabriel answered him, “Do not be frightened, Nir! I am the archangel Gabriel. The Lord sent me and behold, I shall take your child today. I will go with him and I will place him in the paradise of Edem.”

Nir remembered the first dream and believed it. He answered Gabriel, “Blessed be The Lord, who has sent you to me today! Now bless your servant Nir! Take the child and do to him all that has been said to you.” And Gabriel took the child, Melchizedek on the same nught on his wings, and he placed him in the paradise of Edem. Nir got up in the morning, and he went into his tent and did not find the child. There was great joy and grief for Nir because had the child in place of a son.

73

The Lord said to Noah, “Make an ark with 300 cubits in length, in width 50 cubits and in height 30 cubits. Put the entrance to the ark in its side; and make it with two stories in the middle” The Lord God opened the doors of heaven. Rain came onto the earth and all flesh died.

Noah fathered 3 sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. He went into the ark in his six hundredth year. After the flood, he lived 350 years. He lived in all 950 years, according to The Lord our God.

To our God be Glory always, now and in the ages of the ages. AMEN.

Crazy interesting huh? Not much is said about Melchizedek in our scriptures, but for some reason he was important enough that the highest priesthood–the “Priesthood after the order of the Son of God” was re-named after him. Some people believe that he was Jesus Chris, visiting the earth before his coming in another form. I am not certain but I believe that if he was a man, he was awesome, and had elevated himself to be very much like Christ, and was a type of the Christ to come.

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)

melchizedek

I pray that we can all think about and learn more about Melchizedek, the prince of peace, as we study the scriptures and receive inspiration. Feel free to share any insights you have.

Through the grace of God,

Felice

 

 

by Robyn

A Twin Birth: Peace That Passeth All Understanding

December 30, 2013 in Adversity, Birth Stories, Conception, Faith, Fertility, Gratitude, home birth, hospital birth, Loss, miscarriage, Prayer, Pregnancy, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

I am so glad that we had a request for a twin birth story from one of our blog readers and that my friend, Heidi, was willing to share her experience.  Shortly after she moved to our ward we discovered that we both loved childbirth.  I consider it a privilege that I was allowed to be a part of Liam’s and Landon’s births.  I had so much fun reading back the story again.  I hope you enjoy their faith-filled journey.  –Robyn

A Twin Birth: Peace that Passeth All Understanding 

by Heidi Hellstrom

I don’t normally share my birthing stories by writing them down for people (besides myself), but I’ve had a few people asking me about it lately and I’ve been thinking a lot about it, so I feel it is the right time. It is my prayer that this story will help someone.

I lost my first baby. Then I had my son, followed by two more miscarriages. A nurse practitioner told me that it might be difficult to have any more children. Then I conceived my daughter. (Her story is a complete miracle, and I’ll share that some other time.) It was while I was pregnant with my daughter that we found out at my 20th week ultrasound, that I have a “heart-shaped” uterus. (I’m not sure what the medical term for it is.) It basically means that I will have a really hard time carrying a baby to full term, without losing it.  After my 2nd child was born, my doctor told me that “there is really no point in ‘preventing conception’ because you will likely never conceive again”.  I was very saddened by this news, but followed his advice, hoping that someday another miracle would occur. Fast forward 9 months. I was at my doctor’s office getting some tests done, when we found out that only one of my ovaries works, and only some of the time. Great! Now it’s going to be even harder to have another baby. But I wasn’t too fazed by this news. I knew that if it was meant to be, it would be. (We moved to another state shortly before my 2nd child was born.)

Several weeks later I was at my old doctor’s office (in another state) getting some more tests done, including an ultrasound. I was NOT there for a pregnancy test. He comes into the room and jokingly says “Well, let’s just make sure you don’t have any twins or anything in there!” and proceeds to start the ultrasound. While we were still laughing about it, a few seconds later his face gets really serious and he says, “Oh! You are going to have twins!” What?!?? We were both shocked. Later that day I was on the phone with my husband, trying to convince him that we were in fact going to have twins. He didn’t believe me. It actually took him a few days before he realized I was serious! Then all the fun began…

I had always wanted to have a home birth, with a midwife.  But in the state where we live, by the current law, midwives are not allowed to attend a birth of multiple babies, and especially where it isn’t in a setting like a hospital. So I had two options: 1) Try finding a doctor who would allow me to birth them vaginally and drug-free, or 2) Deliver them in the next State over, where I could use a midwife, and it would be in at a birthing center (free of the hospital chaos). However, option #2 would be a 2 ½ hour drive, while in labor. After a few months of praying about it, and many interviews with potential doctors, we decided that staying here would be the best option, for us.

I started taking the Bradley Method classes from one of my neighbours, who is a birth educator. In there I learn about the importance of eating right while pregnant and the great importance of eating LOTS of protein. My husband was SO great about making sure I got plenty of protein each day- which is especially important when carrying multiple babies. I also was blessed to have a neighbor who had had twins herself nearly 20 years ago. Throughout my pregnancy she would constantly bring me foods & drinks that were chalked full of protein. I’m so thankful for her! Another thing that helped me stay pregnant was taking fish oil capsules, twice daily. A midwife told me about them, and how she told her patients that it would help them carry the babies to full-term. I took two daily because I was carrying two babies.

I started bleeding somewhere between 11 – 15 weeks, and was put on bed rest for nearly two months. I was also put on bed rest several more times throughout my pregnancy. With two little kids at home, this was not easy. I was told that I better avoid stairs at all cost, if I wanted to stay pregnant. (I would have mild contractions every time I used the stairs. One time I even blacked out and fainted- that was in my first trimester.) It was difficult because in my home, all the bedrooms are upstairs and the kitchen is on the main level. My sweet husband would make some snacks and an easy lunch the night before, and in the mornings before he left for work, he would bring them upstairs so that I could feed my two older children during the day without having to go up/down stairs. Towards the end, I could NOT sit for longer than a few minutes without being in a lot of pain, because of the weight of the babies. I tried just going to Sacrament and then coming home after. But it got to the point where I had to stay home from church (for 4-5 weeks, or so). Everything hurt. I was completely exhausted, all of the time. I was blessed to meet a lady who had twin two year old girls. She warned me that I’d get to a point where I just wanted to be done, no matter what. She said she felt that way when she started having a few contractions, and didn’t stop them. She told me she regretted that because she believed her daughters were born “too early”, and she advised me against that. “Try to not go into labor,” she said. “The longer they are in there, the better.” I really wanted to “be done” but I remembered her words, and just tried to survive one day at a time.

Then came my 36 week check-up. (By this point, I was having weekly appointments.) Twin A and twin B had stayed pretty close together in the same size and weight throughout the pregnancy. But after reviewing this week’s ultrasound results, Dr. Cox was very concerned. Baby B (we chose to not find out their genders until they were born) had stopped- or greatly slowed down- in growing, and there was now over a pound difference between Baby A and Baby B. He said that we needed to schedule an induction, and the sooner the better. Up until this point, my husband was rarely able to come to my appointments, but this time he was there, and I was SO glad, as we had a very serious decision to make. That was on a Monday. Dr. Cox left the room for a little while so we could discuss it. I said a silent prayer. I usually don’t believe that most things the doctors/nurses tell you are necessary, but after praying I really felt that this was true, and serious. We scheduled the induction for Friday: I wanted to give my babies as much time in there as possible, and that was the longest Dr. Cox would let us go. Like I said, it was on a Monday that we got the news that we’d be having our babies sooner than expected. All Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I cried and stressed about it, and prayed. Then Thursday morning peace came. A peace that passeth all understanding. Peace that only my Father in Heaven can give. I knew that we were making the right choice for our babies. We still had family and friends that thought we were just “giving in” or making the wrong decision or that we should just plan a C-section, but that didn’t matter to me, because I knew from my Heavenly Father that I was doing what was best. Yes, I would have liked to deliver in another 2-3 weeks, but the time was now. I felt that if we didn’t get Baby B out soon, we would lose him.

That same week, I had an appointment Thursday. It was the first time I let the doctor do a vaginal exam, and I was between 3-4cm dilated. Since I was being induced the next morning, I wanted to try to get things going on my own, if possible. So they put in one of those balloon things… that was around 5pm. I sent my kids to a neighbours house, which was planning on keeping them all night and the next day. (So helpful!) My husband and I went out to eat. (A tradition when I’m in labor, haha.) The waitress kept giving me worried looks, and finally came over to ask Scott if everything was ok. I just tried to smile and said that I was in labor. Hahaha she didn’t know how to respond to that, so she said, “Oh ok! Well let me know if you need anything” and walked off. A couple hours later, it came out, along with my mucous plug, around 8pm. Dr. Cox said it would come out when I was dilated to a 5. Labor quickly slowed down after that.

Friday morning we went to the hospital for our 4:00am induction. We learned later that it is normally standard procedure to deliver twins in the O.R. “just in case” surgery is needed, but Dr. Cox had previously arranged for me to be in an actual delivery room (which was very sweet of him). Later he told me that he had faith in me that I “could do it”. J So when we arrived at the hospital and were checked into our room, we were waiting while a nurse finished bringing in a second warming bed and all the other stuff needed. They got me all hooked up and started the Pitocin around 6:30am. I was dilated to 4.5cm. I was soon turned all the way up to the highest amount, and they said that I was contracting a lot and regularly, but I didn’t feel much and they were all pretty tolerable. Scott and I played games, walked in the hall, got in the birthing tub (which was heavenly), tried different positions to keep things going, etc. That lasted all day.

Heidi H 1

Baby A was fairly easy to keep on the monitor, Baby B was very difficult to find, almost the whole time. I had to hold the monitor just right, all day, or we lose the heart rate again. At some point during the day, when things were still pretty easy, the anesthesiologist came into our room, introduced himself, and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I told him “Stay out”. I didn’t want the temptation of an epidural, especially when I knew from experience that I’d be asking for it later!

That evening Dr. Cox came in to check on my progress. I was at 5 cm. I cried, a lot. I was so frustrated that this was taking ALL day and I had only progressed a half centimeter. He suggested that he break my water to see if that would help kick things in gear. He would let us talk about it, and he’d come back in one hour. Originally on my birth plan I did NOT want my water broken, because I knew that I would feel EVERYTHING. Since I was having regular hard contractions, I knew this time would be no different, though I didn’t feel very many of them up until this point. I just felt crampy, like before a period. Scott and I talked about it, and I just wanted to get this over with so I could hold my babies. So when the doctor came back, I told him it was ok to go ahead and break my water so we could get things going. That happened at 7pm.

Almost as soon as my water broke, I started into full-swing labor. It was like someone had flipped on a light switch! They came fast and hard and right on top of the last one. Right before they broke my water, I called my doula and she came up to the hospital. I had never used a doula before, and I was very glad to have another woman there, who knew what it felt like and all the emotions that come with natural childbirth. She was very helpful in reminding me to not hold my breath, but to breathe, and when the time came, to breathe the baby down; keeping my voice low-pitched was actually very helpful (haha I was surprised how that worked). Shortly after my water broke, my sister arrived. She stayed up by my head the whole time, rubbing my forehead with a cold wash cloth. It was helpful to have that distraction, when I needed it. As I was nearing the transition stage, the anesthesiologist literally poked his head around the curtain and said, “Hi! I just wanted to see if you needed…” But before he could finish, I yelled “Get out!!” hahaha Later it made us all laugh, but at the time I was really annoyed that he waited until he knew I was in full-swing labor before coming in to ask if I wanted an epidural. Later I felt bad for yelling at him, and I told him I was sorry and hoped he had no hard feelings… but I did warn him.

This birth was SO different than my first two. Not just because I was carrying twins, but also I had invited people there to witness it, and I’d never done that before. In fact, one of the student nurses even requested to stay and watch after her shift ended. The doctor told her that something very rare was going to happen and she better stay to watch; rare being- a woman having a vaginal birth to twins drug-free. I didn’t mind. In looking back, I did have quite the audience haha! I would never have done that with my first two. Also, I literally felt prayers that day/night. It is almost unexplainable and indescribable, but I literally felt like there were angels arms wrapped around me. Like I wasn’t alone. Of course I know that I literally wasn’t alone, because of the other people in the room. It just felt like my heart was full. Full of my Saviour’s love for me and my babies, and all the people of the world. I’ll never forget how completely blessed and at peace I felt that night!

So right before they broke my water (at 7pm) there was a shift change, and I got a new nurse named Kathleen. She was an angel! The BEST nurse I have ever had. (We found out later that Dr. Cox had requested her a week before to attend me, if she happened to be on shift when I came in. That was cool that he did that.) So after I started feeling the contractions, Kathleen told us that the hospital just got these new birthing chairs and that no one had even used them yet. She asked if I’d like to try one out, and I said yes. It was like sitting on the toilet with a tall back to it that was slightly reclined, but not too much. The center and front of the seat were missing. It was perfect to allow for gravity to help Baby A come down. Since I was only at a 5 when they broke my water, the doctor and most nurses left, thinking it would take a while.  I only remember Kathleen being there with me, trying to make sure both babies were being monitored. Then all of a sudden I felt the urge to push and push now! I pushed once with the next contraction, but tried to do it inconspicuously so that the nurse wouldn’t freak out. She looked up at me and quickly asked if I needed to push. I lied and said no. Haha Sorry! I really am not sure why I did that! But there was no time to think because a half second later the next contraction was there and I REALLY needed to push! So I did. The nurse started yelling for someone to get Dr. Cox in here NOW. He came running in and was frantically trying to find gloves and a gown, but saw there was no time. He leaned over the bed (my chair was next to the bed, and I had my feet up on the side of the bed) and helped Kathleen catch Baby A as he came into this world. The doctor lifted him up to my chest and my husband announced that he was a boy. I’ll never forget it! We just did it! My first un-medicated, successful birth. Liam was born at 8:14pm, weighing 6lbs, 6oz. (So yes, I went from a 5 to a 10 in one hour!)

Right after handing Liam to me, the doctor was about to clamp the cord. I noticed and said “Don’t clamp it. Don’t clamp it.” He thanked me for reminding him and stopped. He had forgotten that was on my birth plan, that I wanted to wait until the cord had stopped pulsating before clamping it. Later my doula told me she was shocked that I had the presence of mind to notice/remember that. Looking back, I was shocked too!

After a couple minutes, the nurse wanted to take Liam over to the warmer, so I kissed him and let him go. THAT was one of the HARDEST things I’ve done. To leave my brand new, beautiful baby in the care of strangers, on the other side of the room, while I still had to deliver a second baby. I felt so bad for Liam. My sister must have noticed how I was feeling, and she left my side to go stand by my son until I could hold him again. That act of kindness meant a lot to me.

Within minutes of delivering Liam, I started contracting again. I was still fully dilated, and it didn’t take long for full-swing labor to pick back up again. Both twins each had their own sack, or bag of water. So Baby B (remember we still had not found out the gender) was happily floating around in there way up high, and frustrating all the nurses because the baby would not hold still long enough to get a good monitor on the heartbeat. Scott told me later that actually the baby’s heart rate had dropped way low while I was still sitting on the birthing chair (to 70; Normal is 120-150). Scott, Dr. Cox, and the nurses were all very worried but somehow managed to not let me know. Dr. Cox had me move to the bed (not very easy, mind you) to get an ultrasound of how Baby B was positioned; the baby was breach. Once I was in the bed, the heart rate went back into the normal range. They got my permission to do IFM because the baby would not hold still for the heart monitors on my stomach. Then, I wanted Dr. Cox to try turning the baby from the outside. I laid back (while contracting- not comfortable) and had to hold still and try to be very relaxed so that my abdominal muscles would be loose enough. Dr. Cox pushed and pulled and the baby rotated. It did not hurt. He did another ultrasound to make sure. I sat back up in bed. Then we just had to wait. The baby was still pretty high up. I was completely exhausted. I desperately tried pushing a few times (even though I knew it wasn’t time) just to try and speed things along. It didn’t work; it probably just made me even more tired! I asked the doctor to break Baby B’s water, and he did. (Looking back, I’m not sure if this happened before or after rotating the baby.) Then, as tired as I was, it was like another switch was flipped, and I knew that it was time to push. My doula filmed the second birth, and after watching this part, all I did was quietly say “ok”. Then it looked like my husband, who was standing next to the bed, snapped to attention and notified everyone that I was ready to push. (It’s funny to watch. I highly recommend filming the birth of your children!) After one, maybe two, pushes, the head was out. I had beforehand told Dr. Cox that I wanted to deliver the second baby. He reminded me of this but I felt so dead that all I could do was barely lift my arms. I reached down, pulled out my baby with one more push, and brought Baby B up to my chest. I literally was SO tired that I could not even lift my head or barely open my eyes, so I forgot to look to see what the gender was. My husband announced it was another boy! We were all surprised! The doctor himself didn’t even know the gender and we all thought it would be a boy and a girl. Landon was born at 9:31pm and weighed 5lb, 11oz. This time, the doctor remembered to wait until the cord stopped pulsating before clamping it. He handed the scissors to Scott to cut the cord, but at the last second, I decided that I wanted to. So I cut the cord that had held us together for approximately 36 weeks, 4 days. After 2 ½ hours of labor, I was now a mother of twins. I was so completely happy and dead tired at the same time.

Heidi H 2

They had to take away Landon pretty quick to assess his vitals and such. Both babies were unable to breastfeed, or even eat at first, and had to be monitored in the NICU (but were never admitted). Their breathing was very fast (100+ per minute instead of 60 as usual). They were getting enough air; they just had to work harder for it. After I was all cleaned up and had a little more energy, Scott and I were asked if we wanted to go to our recovery room, but I said I’d rather go see my babies first, in the NICU. Scott and I each held one baby skin-to-skin on our chests. I couldn’t believe how Landon just fit right inside Scott’s shirt, like a glove!

 Heidi H 3

When we finally were able to go to sleep that night, it was close to 1:00am. I’d been awake for 22 hours. A short time later, they brought me my babies and said their breathing had slowed down enough for them to try nursing. I believe that had they been sedated by an epidural or Nubian, that they would have been unable to work as hard as they needed for air and would have needed oxygen or a respirator in the NICU. They were both able to come home with us when we left the hospital.

I just felt so blessed by this whole birthing experience. I know that everyone there in that delivery room was meant to be there, and I also know that there were angels in attendance that day, helping me and others to know what to do. I’m grateful for the power of prayer and the gift of faith. I know that every story is different, but for me, I know that I did what was best for my babies. They are now 9 months old, and healthy. I have a good life!

Age and Fertility Statistics- Have We Been Sold a Pack of Lies?

October 11, 2013 in Conception, Felice, Fertility by Progressive Prophetess

A few months ago I was at an unlikely place where I picked up a copy of The Atlantic and read an article called “How Long Can You Wait To Have a Baby?” The author was feeling deep anxiety about the ability to have children later I life. And who doesn’t with all the dismal statistics out there. However, as a researcher, she knew that scientific findings often differ from what the public hears about them. So she started digging.

Here is the Cliff Notes about what she discovered.

“The widely sited statistic that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying, for instance, is based on article published in 2004 in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely mentioned is the source of the date: French birth records from 1670-1830. The chance of remaining childless—30 precent—was also caluculated based on historical populations.”

So basically millions of women are told that they can’t be pregnant after a certain age based on a study that was done before electricity and in a place where bathing is still upopular.

She found surprisingly few well designed studies of female age and natural fertility that were done in the 20th century. But the few she found showed that the difference in fertility between the age groups was pretty small.

  • women 27-34 having sex at least twice/week –  84% chance of pregnancy within a year
  • women 35-40 having sex at least twice/week – 72% chance of pregnancy within a year

In another study of women age 38 and 39, 80% of white women of normal weight got pregnant naturally within 6 months.  

She gives many more examples of how statistics have been skewed or other factors that may have influenced the studies, such as war, length of marriage, culture, poverty, etc.

The point of her article was to encourage women not to buy into the baby panic. She is now the mother of two children born after age 35.

I don’t know why I am sharing this today. Maybe it is because I have a birthday in a few days. This article came in its time as an answer to an unsaid prayer or question. I was just facing my second divorce (husband sadly lost his mental health after just 3 months of marriage and ran away) at age 35. I haven’t felt baby hungry for a  few years, but I do know there I have another one waiting, and I was beginning to wonder if baby #2 will ever make it to my family.  Finding this article was God’s way of confirming to me that all will be well and I should just keep trusting.

I also share this because I am a lover of truth and I think that it is easy to be swayed by “scientific studies.” The real truth is that if a baby needs to come, it will come. If a woman is struggling with infertility, she should keep searching and trying to understand how the Lord will provide that child to their family. But the truth of it is, your age may have nothing to do with it.

It may be that even in ancient days, women were told they couldn’t conceive in old age. In fact, Sarah laughed when an angel told her she would conceive. But she did. So did Elizabeth, mother of John, the Baptist. My grandmother had babies into her 40s.

So don’t put off having a baby if you feel like it’s time, and don’t have one just because you are scared that you won’t be able to later. This is another reminder to me that personal revelation trumps all worldly knowledge, statistics, advances. Trust it. Follow Him.

What have been your experiences with age and fertility? What is the oldest mother you know?

 

by Lani

Sacred Paths, Sacred Fruit

July 5, 2013 in Book, Conception, Dads, Eve, Lani, Missions, Motherhood, Pregnancy, Preparation, Rites of passage, Sexual intimacy, Symbolism by Lani

By Lani Axman

Recently, I started reading Windows to the Womb by David Chamberlain. As I read his beautiful description of the conception process, I couldn’t help but recognize some familiar archetypes and symbols within it. I found it so beautiful that, once again, the words of the family proclamation rang true: “We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed.” The journey that brings the seed of a man and the seed of a woman together as one flesh is sacred and symbolic of the divine missions of men and women on this earth.

As Heather has so beautifully outlined in her “Two Veils” essay in our book (along with other LDS writers), the primary mission of women is to bring premortal spirits through the first veil (by partaking of the first tree), opening the pathway into the progression provided by mortal life and separation from God. Likewise, the primary mission of men here in mortality is to guide us to partake of the second tree (the tree of life) and to pass through the second veil which brings us to eternal life and reunion with God.

Lehi described the mission of fathers and the journey to the tree of life this way:

And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies. And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy. And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit. (1 Nephi 8:8-12)

He also described the other souls journeying toward the tree of life:

And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world. And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood. And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree. And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost. (vs. 20-23)

The path Lehi (and others) walked to fulfill his divine mission sounds very much like the path taken by the millions of sperm entering a woman’s body in their effort to fulfill the measure of their creation.

David Chamberlain describes their difficult journey this way:

The epochal journey of sperm, once launched, stretches . . . from vagina to uterus to fallopian tubes. . . . Along that pathway sperm will face both barriers and blessings. . . . Only strong sperm can negotiate these narrow straits. Beyond the cervix, the uterus contains endless folds and recesses in which a sperm can become hopelessly lost. Weak or imperfect sperm tire and drop from the race. . . . Along this rigorous course in foreign territory, sperm are expected, perfected, and screened! The trip may take hours or days and require as many as twenty thousand tail strokes. (p. 18-19)

ovum640

Just as Lehi took a dark and difficult journey along a strait and narrow course with mists of darkness and many dangers threatening to tempt him off the path, the sperm entering a woman’s body must also traverse a narrow course through inhospitable terrain. These numberless concourses can also become lost in strange roads as they seek the “most desirable fruit” of the ripe ovum waiting for them at the end of their journey. Though the analogy is not perfect, I found the similarities beautiful and meaningful.

The ovum’s journey to that point is also beautifully symbolic. I particularly love this part: “Within the ovaries, a group of nurse cells surrounds female germ cells. Collectively they form a follicle that embraces a developing egg cell . . . and turns it into a nearly ripe ovum” (Chamberlain, Windows to the Womb, p. 20).

primary_follicle

What a beautiful object lesson. Just as the ovum is embraced, prepared, and ripened by a group of tender caregiving cells, ideally a young girl is embraced by a group of loving women who tenderly prepare her and assist her as she matures toward the threshold of motherhood. I rejoice when I see a new mother receiving this kind of sisterhood preparing her to partake of the first tree–as did Eve–and fulfill her mission to bring children through her body (the first veil) from premortal to mortal life.

If you view the conception process through the lens of the two trees and the two veils, the ovum within a woman’s body can be recognized as symbolic of both of the trees. The ovum is the fruit of the tree of life for the sperm seeking that most desirable above all other fruits. And the ovum is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil for the daughters of Eve who beckon for the sons of Adam to partake and thereby become one with them.

David Chamberlain writes: “Generation after human generation, we have been participating in this passionate reproductive drama . . . based on largely invisible and unexplainable physical processes–and with scarcely a conscious thought of what it might have been like for us to enter, dwell, and exit that incomparable inner sanctum” (p. 2). In our modern world, we have the rare opportunity to see photographs and ultrasounds of the procreative process. We know more about how life is formed than any generation before us. And the more I study and ponder that procreative process, the more awe and reverence I feel for it, all the way from preconception to postpartum. The entire process is sacred, symbolic, and stunningly beautiful in every detail. What an honor to be among those given the gift of housing within my body that “incomparable inner sanctum” where the entire creation of human souls occurs. What a gift.

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