by Lani

Watch with Me

July 13, 2015 in Adversity, Atonement, Breastfeeding, Dads, Doulas, Jesus Christ, Lani, Pain, Sacrament, Symbolism by Lani

Yesterday Kevin Barney posted “A Feminine Insight to Gethsemane” on By Common Consent. He explained that, as a man, it had never occurred to him to relate Christ’s longing to “let this cup pass” to a woman’s yearning to avoid the pain of childbirth. His post and the comments are worth checking out, especially the ones plugging The Gift of Giving Life. 😉

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Our wonderful Robyn Allgood is the author of a beautiful essay, “Birth in Remembrance of Him,” examining the connections between Christ’s Atonement and childbirth in The Gift of Giving Life. Here’s an excerpt:

The blood that was squeezed from Christ for us has the power to give us eternal life, while the blood that a woman sheds for her baby gives physical life. The work of labor often causes a woman to sweat as she exerts pressure to push her baby out. As the baby moves through the birth canal, mucous and other fluids are squeezed from the baby’s nose, throat, and other orifices. This squeezing or massaging of the baby prepares the baby to live outside of the womb. In this way, the labor that a woman experiences is benefiting her baby, just as the labor the Savior endured for each one of us is for our benefit.

Just last Sunday we attended Gospel Doctrine in my parents’ ward and discussed Christ’s experience in Gethsemane. As we discussed the Apostles’ difficulty staying awake to “watch with Christ,” our instructor suggested that Christ’s agony and the heaviness He felt were likely so intense and overwhelming that His apostles may have, on some small scale, felt it in the energy pervading the area. Because of their deep love and connection with Christ, they may have been experiencing some sort of “sympathy pains.”

asleep-in-the-gardenThe scriptures say that “when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow” (Luke 22:45). Our instructor suggested that it may have been that they were not necessarily “asleep,” but rather literally unconscious from the depth and intensity of the agonizing atmospheric pain they, as mortals, were incapable of withstanding. Personally, I have on a few occasions felt a pain so intense that I have fainted from it. I think our instructor was definitely onto something, and I think hers is the best explanation I have ever heard for the apostles seemingly “slacking on the job.”

When Christ asked them to “watch with Him,” I think He was, essentially, asking them to “hold space” for Him. I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of holding space lately. Holding space for someone enduring a difficult experience is both an honor and a challenge. Our Gospel Doctrine instructor last Sunday explained that when Christ said, “pray that ye enter not into temptation,” scholars suggest that it meant something more like “pray that ye will not break under the weight of this hard trial.” It seems that Gethsemane was not just a difficult test for Christ but also for His Apostles.

posteriorAs she shared these insights, I also found myself thinking about childbirth. My second baby was posterior, facing my front, or “sunnyside up,” which is not ideal for the journey through the pelvis and birth canal. It wasn’t easy pushing her out, and I was making a lot of noise.

As I worked to push her out, my stepmother was on my left and my husband was on my right. At one point I looked at my stepmom, and I could see that she was crying. When I asked her about it later, I learned that they weren’t tears of joy as I had originally suspected. She was crying because it was so hard for her to see me in that kind of pain. Almost simultaneously, to my right, my husband was bent over, and at first I thought he was vomiting. In fact, he was having a hard time staying conscious and was on the verge of fainting. Though they were not enduring the pain themselves, they were having very real and visceral reactions to it.

After the hard work was over

After the hard work was over

I don’t know if Christ’s apostles could see Him as He prayed. The scriptures aren’t entirely clear. Perhaps they could see Him or yearned to help Him. Or perhaps they could simply feel a small portion of the heaviness and pain projecting from Him as He accomplished the Atonement. They offered “sacred support” in much the way fathers and doulas support their wives and clients through childbirth (see “A Father’s Sacred Support” in The Gift of Giving Life). They could not remove His burden, but I suspect they were able to feel some of the weight of it as they struggled to remain conscious.

It is not easy to hold space for someone in pain, and the Apostles were holding space for the most intense experience of pain that has ever occurred. This perspective has given me a deeper appreciation and respect for the disciples Christ chose to “watch with Him” as well as a heightened sense of gratitude to all those who have “watched with me” in childbirth and other intensely challenging or painful experiences. Their service was a beautiful gift to me.

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by Robyn

What is it like to be born?

December 16, 2014 in Baptism, Birth Stories, Birthday, Dads, Doulas, home birth, hospital birth, Love, Pain, Robyn, Traditions, Uncategorized by Robyn

 

 

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photo courtesy of Cali Stoddard Photography

The instructor of my midwife assistant course started off one of our classes with this question, “What is it like to be born?” We discussed the different possibilities:  it could be stressful, scary and even painful, right?  Knowing that the baby can feel our emotion via hormonal responses it makes sense that they might interpret the experience that way.

"You sisters . . . belong to the great sorority of saviorhood . . . You are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls." Matthew Cowley thegiftofgivinglife.com

photo courtesy of Cali Stoddard photography

 

One of the other students suggested that without a frame of reference of pain maybe they just experience birth as sensations, in all its fullness without judging the experience as good, bad, or painful.  Maybe before they came to earth they were taught that the experience is a special event and that the mechanics and sensations they would feel are normal?Just as every birth is different and unique, I’m sure there isn’t just one way that it is experienced. (What Babies Want is a documentary that raises questions about what gestation, labor, birth and postpartum period are like for baby.)

 

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photo courtesy of Cali Stoddard photography

 

We don’t really know all the answers.   However, after we had discussed how traumatic it might be for a baby I felt compelled to share what I experienced when I supported my sister at her first birth. After arriving at the hospital with her and her husband we settled into a room and her water broke shortly after.  We knew the baby would be there soon.  The word I would use to describe what was felt was love.  The room was just enveloped in love.  I stood next to her face while her husband stood next to the midwife ready to catch.  She later told me that as she rocked back and forth she repeated to herself the mantra, “this is love ” (often love can be painful) and tried to frame the contractions as “hugs”.  I remember her stopping to tell her husband she loved him as she was washed over with intense birthing waves.  My cheek was next to her cheek as she told me she loved me too.  And then her son came. Daddy’s hands caught him with confidence.  And then he quickly passed their son to her. I still cry when I think about it. I have always had a special bond with my sister but this moment intensified it.  Pure love.  I think her little newborn felt it too. (You can read Eli’s entire birth story in our book, “Catching My Son” by John Ellis.)

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The scriptures compare baptism to birth.  As I think back on my baptism day I remember love too. And even though I know that giving birth to me was an intense experience, my mother describes my birth-day with love too.  And because of the season I have cause to wonder what the baby Jesus felt on his birth-day.  It is likely he felt a variety of things, one of which had to be love.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16 

 

 

by Lani

A Father’s Sacred Support

May 6, 2014 in Book reviews, Dads, Doulas, Giveaways, Lani, Marriage, Midwives, Virtual Book Tour by Lani

Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Brooke at Brooke Roundy Photography. Here’s an excerpt:

Personally, my husband WAS my absolute greatest support for both of my births. He was not only emotional support for me, but he massaged my back, provided counter-pressure, was my calming influence (even though he’d tell you that at times he was scared out of his mind ;)), he quite literally held me up when I couldn’t hold myself up. He. Was. Amazing. I did have 3 midwives at my first birth, along with my mom and sister, and then 2 midwives and 2 doulas and my mom and sister at my second birth. But he was my main source of strength and faith.

Here he is with our sweet daughter at 10 days old:

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That guy is actually my big brother. 🙂 Considering how much joy he took in teasing and pestering me growing up, it’s hard to imagine him as a patient, kind, comforting labor support dude, but what do you know, he was! Makes my birth-loving heart proud when I see fathers step up and provide sacred support to the women they love as they work to bring God’s spirit children here.

You can read the rest of Brooke’s post HERE.

Brooke has generously donated a maternity portrait session as a giveaway for our Virtual Book Tour. If you live in UT or know a pregnant lady who does, head over to our Virtual Book Tour page and enter to win!
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by Lani

Our Deliverance

April 1, 2014 in Birth Stories, Dads, Family size, Fear, home birth, Lani, Midwives, Miracles, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Priesthood blessings by Lani

When my second child was two-and-a-half, we starting thinking about conceiving a third baby, a thought that both excited and terrified us simultaneously.  Could we really afford another child?  How would we pay for the birth, being without maternity insurance?  Could I really handle mothering three children? Gently, the Lord communicated to us that we would be blessed if we chose to invite another child into our home and that He would ensure that we had the means to provide for that child’s birth and life.

A few months later, I became pregnant. Each day was a constant struggle between faith and fear as we strained to hold fast to the Lord’s assurances that we would have the money we would need.  And I had to make a decision—where would my 3rd baby be born? We had never felt comfortable considering home birth in the past, but we knew that having our third baby at home would cost thousands of dollars less than paying for a hospital birth out-of-pocket. Only a week after I got a positive pregnancy test, I was already agonizing over the decision.  My husband gave me a priesthood blessing in which the Lord told me that He would guide me to make the right decision for us.  This scripture spoke to me in my dilemma:

 

Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord 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, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him (Alma 58:11).

 

I agonized more and more and settled on a hospital birth with nurse-midwives recommended by a friend.  I definitely never had an overwhelming feeling that it was the answer to my dilemma, but it felt fine in the beginning.  After three or four prenatal appointments, I had met most of the nurse-midwives and loved them all, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t quite the right path for us.  So we went back to the drawing board and opened-up that agonizing question again.  Only this time (and for the first time in my life) I was really open to accepting home birth as the answer, and so was my husband.

On Halloween night (2008), my husband and I spent a couple of hours praying for guidance, searching the scriptures, and exchanging our thoughts and feelings.  We felt that the Lord was leading us toward a home birth and that our next step was to pray and ask the Lord if this choice was right.  When I prayed, I asked God to please help us to receive a clear answer so that we could move forward with confidence.

Then I asked for a priesthood blessing. What followed was one of the most tender and beautiful spiritual experiences of my life—the kind that words feel inadequate to describe or explain.  The actual words of the blessing were marvelous, but more than the words was the feeling that overwhelmed me.  We didn’t get far into the blessing before tears were streaming down my face as I choked back sobs (and I don’t cry easily).  I felt the most incredible burning in my heart—like I was being filled with the burning, life-giving love of God.  There is nothing in the world like that feeling.  It completely overwhelmed me.  I don’t know if an answer to my prayers has ever been so clear. When the blessing was over, I just hugged my husband and sobbed in his arms with joy and gratitude for the beautiful gift God had just given us.

Our answer was clear: we were having our baby at home!

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We continued to seek the Lord’s guidance as we selected the midwives who would attend our baby’s birth, Mary and Nedra. 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 also took some maternity photos for us (like the one above).  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.

Then, on April 1, 2009, my son made his debut. My water broke in the afternoon, contractions started a couple of hours later, and about five hours later, I was clinging to my husband’s arms over the edge of the fishy pool, moaning through the hardest contractions.

I could tell I was in transition when I found myself reaching my limit.  It was at this time that I turned to God.  I don’t think there is any other physical experience that brings a person closer to the veil between earth and heaven than childbirth—particularly the 7 cm to delivery span.  I silently cried to God: “Help me!” My mind wandered back and forth between my present physical surroundings and an otherworldly distant space.  Somewhere in that space I found myself calling to my deceased friend, “Catheryn, I need you now!”  I don’t know if it was her voice or my own that whispered in my head, “It’s almost over.  You’re almost finished.” My husband’s soothing touch and the words “It’s almost over” playing over and over in my head are what carried me through to the end.

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I moved to the bed for the delivery. Perhaps it was Mary’s oil and hot compresses, but I never really felt the “ring of fire.”  I didn’t even really know the head was out until I heard someone say, “His head is out!”  Then Mary said, “Reach down and pull out your baby!”  I grasped onto his warm, slippery shoulders and pulled him up onto my chest.  It was 10:55 pm on April 1—an April Fool’s day baby!

At first all I could see was the top of his dark-haired head and his slippery arms and back.  We touched and rubbed him—alternating between smiling at each other and staring at our baby—as the midwives draped a towel over him.  I breathed quickly in and out, saying something like, “Oh my gosh!” and then, “Is he OK? Is he OK?”  Mary smiled and calmly said, “He’s just fine!  He’s doing great!”  Everyone started talking and smiling and taking photos.  My husband felt a tear roll down his cheek and watched it land on my shoulder.

Afterward, I was so full of energy and endorphins that I couldn’t stop smiling and didn’t really sleep for at least a day.  Within an hour after the birth, I was up and showering.  Then I went downstairs to grab a bite to eat, almost as though my body hadn’t just given birth (intact perineum… woohoo!).  The next days, weeks, and months I spent in bliss, more deeply in love with my tiny little boy than I ever imagined I could be. I had never experienced anything like the intense, fierce bond I was blessed to experience with that tiny baby boy, despite having two older children (whom I loved).

When the Lord communicated to us all those years ago that we would be blessed for inviting another of His spirit children into our home (two years later, we invited our 4th), I couldn’t have imagined just how blessed we would be.  I know with all my heart that our greatest blessings and joys come when we allow the Lord to guide us in all of our decisions.

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by Lani

God Keeps His Promises

March 12, 2014 in Adversity, Book, Dads, Depression, Faith, Fear, Grief, Lani, Loss, Miracles, Personal Revelation, Postpartum Depression, Priesthood blessings by Lani

It has been nearly two years since I experienced what I can only describe as a “nervous breakdown.”

It started in April of 2012, coinciding with the birth of our book, The Gift of Giving Life, a year and two months after my fourth child’s birth.

And then my Grandma died. And I fell. Fast.

After several months of struggling to breathe, struggling to eat, struggling to keep the panic and despair from crushing me, God sent a friend to my home. She said, “I think maybe it’s time for you to try medication.” I had resisted medicine for a long time, trying countless natural remedies for anxiety and depression to no avail. But my friend had been where I was before, and she could see that I needed more help. She went with me to the doctor. I got my prescription. I held the bottle in my hands, but I was terrified to take it.

So I did the one thing that I always do when I don’t know what to do: I asked my husband for a blessing. In the blessing, God told me that “the medication would be of benefit to me” and that I would “be healed.” With that promise to give me courage, I took my first dose the next day, August 1, 2012. Adjusting to the medication took many weeks, but I clung to that promise despite horrific medication-induced insomnia, emotional ups and downs, and an even-more-horrific spiritual numbness that came over me.

It was during this dark period of adjustment that I hit my deepest lows, losing my very will to live. But, with time, as my body adjusted, my mind and spirit began to come back into balance. My co-authors prayed me well enough to join them in the Los Angeles temple in September, a miraculous feat.

As we celebrated my 32nd birthday, nearly three months after I started my medication, I was truly happy again. I was eating (and finally gaining some weight back). I was enjoying life. I had endured so much discomfort, despair, fear, and doubt in those weeks of adjustment, but God’s word was true. The medication had been of benefit to me. It had helped save my life. God’s promise was fulfilled.

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The relief was so magnificent that I couldn’t help but exclaim in joy and complete sincerity (on a nearly daily basis), smiling from ear to ear to my husband: “I don’t want to die today!” The victory of that declaration filled me with overwhelming gratitude to God and to my many friends and family who had helped me reach that triumphant place, most especially my husband.

The next question that filled my heart and mind was: “How long?” I wondered, “Will I need to take this medicine for the rest of my life?” I was willing to accept whatever I needed to do to stay stable so that I could take care of my family, but I also hoped that I would find a way to heal whatever needed to be healed so that I could move forward without medical assistance.

In another priesthood blessing, God answered my question: “You will be able to be happy without medication.” He didn’t tell me how long it would take, but I was satisfied with just knowing that someday I’d get there. And so I went on, taking my medication, feeling grateful for my rescue from the darkness. 2013 came and then 2014.

It has now been a week since I took any medicine.

About a year ago, I started cutting back on my dose, little by little, very slowly, adding in supplements recommended by readers and friends to ease the withdrawal. I took a dose last Tuesday, but when I was due for another dose I felt restrained from taking it. The next day I felt restrained, and the next, and the next. I didn’t hear a voice, but I felt a message in my gut: “You’re ready. It’s time.”

I have said to my husband more than once in the past few days, “Now watch, I’ll probably crash next week.” (<—That’s a text message from “Anxiety Girl,” of course.) He shakes his head and says, “Nope. You won’t.” And I think I believe him.

The other night, I asked him for another priesthood blessing. He said, “God wants to remind you of the promises He has made to you. He will keep those promises.”

God kept His promises to me.

I am happy (without medication). (!!!)

by Lani

God is Not a Single Parent

February 27, 2014 in Dads, Divine nature, Family History, Heavenly Mother, Jesus Christ, Lani, Puberty by Lani

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A few months after I turned 12

During my “coming of age,” the years when I grew from girlhood to womanhood, I lived with my dad and stepmom in Massachusetts. At the time my dad and stepmom both had private practices as mental health professionals. My dad worked specifically with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, many of them referred to him by LDS bishops. Living with two therapists, talking about deep spiritual and emotional stuff was normal to me. I talked to my parents a lot about everything.

However, I don’t think I fully grasped until very recently how fortunate I was to come into womanhood in a home where we spoke often of Heavenly Mother. My dad talked about Heavenly Mother a lot. In working with his clients, especially his female clients, Heavenly Mother was frequently an important part of their healing journey. Many had been abused by male authority figures, so it was difficult for them to connect with God the Father. My dad always emphasized that both of our Heavenly Parents are involved in our lives and sending their love and healing to us when we need it. It was my dad who introduced me to the hymn “O My Father” and its mention of Mother in Heaven.

I am so grateful to have experienced my development into womanhood while being tutored by a father who had developed such respect and love for women and Mother in Heaven. I would guess that one of my dad’s first powerful learning experiences in that journey happened on his mission among the Cuna people in the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama.

Mola-211x300The Cuna people live in a matriarchal society. Daughters are prized and given elaborate celebrations when they reach puberty. The Cuna also have many beliefs and traditions in common with Latter-day Saints. Their greatest spiritual teacher Ibeorgun (“Man of Light”) descended out of heaven, taught them principles of honesty and chastity and respect for others, and organized their leadership (three top chiefs with twelve chiefs under them). That’s just one of many interesting parallels.

In my dad’s mission journal, he shared his discovery of another theological belief we share in common with the Cuna. Dad had been working with his companion and a Cuna young man on translating the first missionary discussion into the Caribe Cuna language. This discussion included teaching concepts regarding man’s divine heritage as children of God. Here is the rest of the story in his words:

We were in the middle of this project when our Cuna woman friend brought a load of laundry. She had her daughter with her and we stopped to engage them in conversation and decided to try our translated content with her.

After going over the discussion introduction, we came to one of the first questions [spoken in Cuna], “Who created the earth?”

“Pap Tumadi,” she answered. “Great Father” is their title for God.

The next question was, “And who created you?”

We fully expected the same response, “Pap Tumadi,” because that was the “correct” answer.

But, what she answered led me to know we had miscommunicated, “Andi pap e ome.” (“My father and my mother.”)

“No, I’m not talking about the creation of your physical body. I mean, who created your spirit?”

Her answer caused my hair to stand on end, “Pap Tumadi e Ome.” (“Great Father and His Wife.”)

“Are you saying that Pap Tumadi is married?”

“Of course! We have earthly parents, and we have Great Father and His Wife who created us spiritually. The Christian missionaries tell us we are confused when we tell about them. But our traditions are very clear – we have two Great Parents.”

I’m sure it gave my dad great pleasure to tell this woman that he agreed with her 100%. He went on to bring many, many Cuna brothers and sisters into the waters of baptism. His mission was, in part, a fulfillment of a prophecy given by one of the Cuna chiefs, Iguagindibipulele: “The salvation of the Cunas will arrive when Mergies [Americans] come two-by-two to teach the Cuna people.”

My heart is full of gratitude to be part of a Christian church with an understanding of divinity that honors both masculine and feminine. My heart is full of gratitude for an earthly father who instilled within me a knowledge and love for my Divine Mother. And I smile when I think of the young Cuna mother who helped to plant those seeds of respect for Heavenly Mother in my father’s young heart nearly fifty years ago.

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Dad and Me on my wedding day

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by Lani

Healing Prebirth Wounds

January 15, 2014 in Abortion, Atonement, Dads, Energy Healing, Jesus Christ, Lani, meditation, Miracles, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Prenatal influences, Savior by Lani

 

“I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief. There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.” –Boyd K. Packer

Back in October, I wrote about discovering that my youngest daughter had come to this earth carrying wounds from a previous womb experience. She had been aborted by another mother. As I explained in my previous post, my daughter spent much of her toddlerhood in a state of distress, anger, sadness, and angst. Once I understood why, I felt compelled to do whatever I could to help her heal.

In June of 2013, I attended a meditation retreat taught by Felice. While there, I learned the meditation “Ra Ma Da Sa” for the first time. I learned that this particular meditation is a powerful healing prayer. We sang Ra Ma Da Sa at the retreat, and it was so beautiful that it penetrated every inch of my body and sent my spirit soaring.

The complete mantra is “Ra ma da sa sa say so hung.” It means sun, moon, earth, infinity, totality of infinity, I am Thou. Or, as I like to say, it’s basically a very condensed version of D&C 88:7-13:

This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God.

All healing comes from Christ, and His light infuses and gives life to everyone and every thing in the universe.

After returning home after our summer trip to UT, I decided that I wanted to sing/chant “Ra Ma Da Sa” every morning for 40 days with the intention of helping my daughter heal from her prebirth wounds. So I did. And it was life-changing.

Before I tell you more, I want to also explain some more background. I learned when my daughter was born that she was likely originally sharing my womb with a twin. Since then, I have received line upon line more and more information about her twin, my unborn son. I feel he is a powerful healer-soul, his name is Elijah, and he very much wants to come to our family, in part because he is very close with my daughter and his presence will help her (and me).

Four days into my 40 days of “Ra Ma Da Sa” I had a powerful “vision” type of experience while meditating. It was early in the morning and my daughter was still asleep. As I chanted on her behalf, I envisioned where she was and sent my love to her. Then I saw (in my mind) my unborn son, Elijah, appear at her side. He laid down by her. And then, suddenly, it was like her spirit was in pieces floating around her body. Elijah started gathering all the pieces of her spirit in the palm of his hand.

A few moments later, the Savior appeared at the foot of the bed. And Elijah handed all the pieces of her spirit to Christ. In the palms of Christ’s hands, the pieces fused together in white light. Elijah gathered more and more pieces and continued handing them to Christ, and in His hands they continued to glow and combine.

At the end of the meditation, I kept feeling the urge to cup my hands to receive her glowing spirit. Finally I did. I held her re-combined spirit in my palms. Then I put my hands to my chest and put her spirit into my heart. I told her, “You can be whole now, Baby.” And I filled my heart with love for her. Then I moved my hands from my chest, outstretched in front of me and set her free. It was amazing.

The next day, my daughter was awake while I meditated. When I started “Ra Ma Da Sa,” she sat on my lap and grabbed my arms to wrap them around her. So I sat chanting with my arms around her until she got up. A little bit later she came back in with her baby doll. At first she pushed her doll toward me and put its arms around my neck. Then she sat down in my lap with the baby on her lap and told me to hold the baby. So I continued chanting with my hands holding her arms and both of our arms around the baby. At that moment it seemed so clear that she was presenting the baby doll as her inner child—the spirit who had experienced prenatal and premortal traumas. And we were cradling that part of her in our arms while I prayed for her in song. It was only one of many beautiful, tender moments we shared during those 40 days.

There were many days, however, when my daughter’s behavior seemed to be getting worse. Her anger, neediness, screaming, and obvious emotional pain weighed heavily on me, and I wondered, If this meditation is supposed to be helping her then why does she seem worse than ever? But I carried on, hoping things would settle down eventually. Sometimes the process of healing stirs up subconscious resistance.

For 40 days I prayed in song for my daughter’s healing. And slowly, bit by bit, it came. Gradually, her energy shifted. The angst that had been so much a part of her presence dissolved little by little until it was just gone. She was, quite literally, a new child. But it wasn’t just her. We were all new. She opened herself up to connect with her father in a way she hadn’t ever done before. And simultaneously, my husband felt an intense love for our daughter, unlike anything he had felt for her before. It brought him nearly to tears when he told me about it, and he doesn’t cry.

Once freed from her pain, we watched my daughter soar. While she hadn’t been very verbal before, she suddenly began speaking in sentences. She blossomed socially, becoming a much more chatty and talkative companion. Where I used to feel weighed down by the pain radiating from her, I now could feel her peace and joy. Extended family members who visited couldn’t believe the change in her. She was free!

Another mother who is raising a former-castaway asked me last year:

When I discovered that my daughter had been aborted, it made sense to me why she is the way she is and the love I needed to show her. But I was thinking, why would her soul need healing if she was in heaven in Christ’s presence? Wouldn’t you think being in his presence would heal those wounds?

Her question led to lots of pondering and seeking. The answer that came to me, was this…

In many near-death experience accounts, we see that individuals are often given a choice of whether to return to their bodies or remain in heaven. I believe this emphasis on freedom of choice is a universal principle in God’s plan. As I pondered the aborted children waiting in heaven, the impression that came to me was that some of them are completely healed by Divine Love. But I felt impressed that it was all governed by choice. Some of those children choose to receive complete healing of their previous womb trauma. Their pain and sadness are completely swept away.

IMG_6114However, I believe the aborted are also given another option: to retain a portion of their memory of the experience and their pain upon returning to Earth. I feel that some of these children accept a mission to bring to light the reality of their existence and the truth about the trauma experienced by the aborted. They retain their “scars” just as Christ chose to retain His scars… as a testament to the world. They take up this bitter cup in order to share their truth so that future souls can perhaps be saved the anguish they have suffered.

When all of these impressions washed over me, I was in awe of these courageous souls. I began to weep as I looked down at my own daughter, recognizing the immense greatness of her soul, willing to carry such a painful burden so that others might know the truth. What strength! What love!

What a privilege to have been chosen to bear her, love her, and play a small part in helping her heal. I pray her experience and mine will aid others in their own paths to healing.

If you’d like to learn more about the “Ra Ma Da Sa” meditation

and try it yourself, see Felice’s post HERE.

by Lani

Gift Ideas for the Pregnant Woman You Love

December 11, 2013 in Babywearing, Book, Dads, Lani, Pregnancy, Preparation by Lani

Being pregnant this time of year is great. For one, you can blame the holidays for the ten pounds you gained from November through December. 😉 But I also just think there’s something special about carrying a child during such a love-filled season. Whether you’re pregnant right now or know someone who is, I hope it’s a magical month for you and those you love. And in case you have a pregnant woman in your life, here are some gift ideas that will make her month even merrier.

1) Body pillow

If she doesn’t already have one, she needs one. I got a body pillow during my first pregnancy, and I slept with that thing through all four of my pregnancies. It was the best.

2) House plant

Not only would this lovely little friend remind her of your love and support as she prepares for birth and then adjusts to her new life as a mother, but it would also purify the air in her home, keeping her and her baby healthier. I’d be sure to give my new momma friends the most tolerant and low-maintenance options, of course.  Rubber plants and snake plants are very forgiving when it comes to neglect from busy caretakers. (See this post for more info).

3) Stretchy wrap

Second only to a pair of breasts, a stretchy wrap is, without a doubt, the most helpful and useful newborn care item available (in my opinion).  This is why mothers have been tying their babies to their bodies for thousands of years.  I love making stretchy wraps and giving them away to any new mom who will take them.  They’re so easy and inexpensive to make, if you watch for good clearance fabrics.  See here.

4) Epsom salts

So I’m obsessed with magnesium.  Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate.  When you soak in a bath with epsom salts, you boost your body’s magnesium levels.  Magnesium has been called “nature’s Valium” because of its anti-anxiety affects, so it can help new and soon-to-be moms to quell their stress and fears.  Magnesium will also help release tension, reduce fluid retention if you’re swelling, help prevent preterm labor, ease muscle cramps, and reduce constipation, among other things.

5) Maternity top

Especially if she’s toward the end of her pregnancy, she’s probably getting really tired of wearing the same few clothing items over and over and over. A cute new maternity top would be a treat. If you’re not her baby’s father, ask him her size, and be sure to get something stretchy and comfortable to accommodate her beautiful belly. I like this and this.

6) Prenatal massage giftcard

Massages can work wonders, especially for pregnant women. Listen to this:

In [pregnant] women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (“stress hormones”) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression). These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence points strongly to maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care. (Source: American Pregnancy Association)

Stress relief and serotonin? Can I get some of that, please? What a gift to give your pregnant friend.

7) A tree of life

At no other time is a woman more representative of life and life-giving than during pregnancy. She is a tree of life, her placenta is a tree of life. Give her a tree as a symbol of her strength, life-giving power, and beauty. A friend of mine gave me a necklace with a tree of life charm that I adore. You could give her an actual tree, like the bonsai I received from my friends. A piece of art like this print or this metal wall hanging. Etsy is full of beautiful trees of life (click here for a sampling).

8) A good book

I did a lot of reading during my first pregnancy. I don’t read many books these days, but Robyn recently shared a list of awesome Mormon-birthy books that I’m dying to check out. Post your book recommendations for pregnant mothers in the comments. Or you could always give her this one. I hear it’s discounted for the holidays. 😉

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“It Gave Me Hope”

September 25, 2013 in Book, Dads, Motherhood, Sheridan by enjoybirth

I spent a lovely weekend in Utah.  I flew up to join Robyn at the Empowering Fearless Birth Conference.

I got to spend Friday with my Sister In Law for her birthday and that was fun.  We went to dinner and watched a chick flick.  Safe Haven – sweet movie.

Then it was Saturday and that was a full, long day.  Robyn and I met early and set up our table.

Our booth

Panel

Our panel was in the morning.  There were 5 of us on the panel – Me, Robyn, Cherylyn, Rebecca and John.  (Umm, how did we forget to get a picture of the panel???)  It was so great to have a man on the panel, to hear his insights into birth and how it can be sacred.  I loved meeting Cherylyn and Rebecca.  I think we were a great panel.  🙂

There were probably 15-20 women who came to the panel.  Most had read our book.  After introducing ourselves we took some questions from the audience.  One that sort of stumped me was – “How were your births spiritual and what did you do to prepare for that?”  I will post about my response later this week.

My favorite part was when Rebecca asked the women who came why they chose our class to come to.  It was so touching to hear their replies.  My heart was so full and the spirit so strong as I heard how important and meaningful our book has been to them.  It makes all the hard work worthwhile!

Meeting Moms

Then the fun of being a vendor began.  There were moms everywhere in the vendor area and it was fun to talk with the ones who stopped at our table.  Most had not heard of our book and it was wonderful to be able to share it with them.

Then there were the women who had already read our book.  It was so wonderful to meet them and hear their stories.  Some are very tender and private so I will not share them here. But I wanted to share my joy at meeting each of them and so appreciate the stories they shared with us!

I think the overwhelming message was that The Gift of Giving Life gave them hope through different challenges and also hope with becoming a mom.

Mother’s Who Know – Amazing Program for Spiritual and Personal Growth – Give Away!

September 23, 2013 in Dads, Divine nature, Motherhood, Personal Revelation, Sheridan by enjoybirth

I started the Mother’s Who Know course in July in hopes to be a better Mother and be able to help my boys fight against pornography.

The program stems from of a pornography addiction recovery program – Sons of Helaman and a Pornography Prevention Program Girls Who Know/Boys Who Know.  It has been so successful that parents were wanting a program for themselves and then Mother’s Who Know (now Parents Who Know) was created.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, or how it would change me.  But I knew I wanted the skills and information to better support and protect my family.  Which I got 100 times over!

Breaking Lifelong Habit

feetFor instance I have had a bad habit of picking my toenails/feet since I was a child.  I honestly thought I could never stop.  I had tried many different things, but it was such an ingrained habit of over 40 years.  It wasn’t even something I was thinking of working on, but in praying about my GIRL POWER goals, it popped in my mind.  With Celestia’s help as well as support and suggestions from my classmates I have stopped picking!  It is miraculous to me.  From gaining power over this addiction/habit I realize how powerful my mind and faith can be!

Finally Achieving Important Goals

I also achieved other goals I had been struggling with, such as cooking consistently for my family.  If you look at my personal goals for the last 10 years, every year I have something along the lines of “cook x dinners a week” but I have always struggled with doing it.  Well, I have also gained mastery over that and am cooking 4 meals a week.

Grounded in the Basics

The most awesome part is the basics of reading my scriptures, praying twice a day and writing in my journal.  I am now doing that every day and it has been what has truly enriched my life and given me the power to make so much progress.

I recommend this course wholeheartedly for any parent who wants to improve their relationship with God and their families.

Click here to learn more.  I am taking the October Course as well, to keep moving forward and also because I hope to one day become a mentor myself so I want to do the course one more time to solidify all I have learned!  So if you sign up for the October course I will see you there!

Sign up by September 25th to save $50!

Give Away!

I just found out that Celestia is doing a give away for a slot in her class.  I think the deadline for that is the morning of the 25th.

Sheridan