My favorite birth I didn’t attend…

October 30, 2017 in Angels, Birth Stories, Doulas, Dreams, home birth, hospital birth, Intuition, Sheridan by enjoybirth

Awhile ago Robyn posted about a birth that changed her heart.  It made me think about a recent birth I didn’t attend, at least not physically.

One of my dearest friends started as my Hypnobabies student many years ago. She asked me to be her doula. I attended Mia’s birth and it was a fine hospital birth. Not quite what she had hoped for, but there was love and joy there.   Wendy and I as her doulas, her husband, her mom and nurses and the doctor.

Then she asked me to attend Luca’s birth. A fun, joyous homebirth filled with angels and miracles. Wendy, Angela and I as her doula, husband, midwife, assistant, her mom and daughter, ancestors and angels too. I had a powerful spiritual experience at her birth.

When she was pregnant with her 3rd I knew I would be invited to her birth. However, I didn’t know if I would be there. I had a cruise planned for when she was due.  We were good friends by now and I certainly wanted to be there to offer her love and support. I also knew it would be an amazing spiritual birth and angels would be attending and I wanted to witness it.

I “knew” I wouldn’t be there. 

I attended her blessing way which was amazing and filled with love and well wishes. I had written a letter from God for her and it alluded to some things that made me wonder if she would have the homebirth she wanted and again I felt that I would miss the birth.

The week before I left Andrea started getting pressure from her midwife to do natural induction techniques as her liver levels were starting to look weird. Andrea felt strongly not to do that. I supported her, though I sort of wanted her to do them so I could be there for the birth. But I trusted her intuition!

The night before I left a friend and I took Andrea out for dinner. We discussed her plans and how she had gotten another blood test and was waiting on the results. We all agreed that things would work out the way they needed to, that Andrea just needed to keep praying and following the spirit. She trusted her care provider and God and all would end up fine.

Hospital Induction!

The next morning, as I was doing last minute preparations to leave for my trip, Andrea called me. Her midwife had called and said she needed to go to the hospital and get induced that day. Her liver levels were getting dangerous and homebirth was no longer an option. I had about an hour free and was able to go to her house and talk to her while she was trying to figure out which OB would take her and her insurance, pack, etc.

We had a spiritual moment together as the Spirit witnessed to both of us that she had been right not to do natural induction methods, that this baby needed to be born at the hospital and this was the least dramatic way for this to have unfolded.

Angela and Wendy showed up just as I was about to leave and we gathered around and sang Be Still My Soul and we prayed together for Andrea and her baby. That was a precious moment and I left knowing she was in good hands and that I would be there in spirit. That she would feel my love and that I had played the role I needed to in this birth in the past hour.

I left this full size painting with her, which she brought to the hospital. It reminded her I was there in spirit!5112141_She_Will_Find_What_Is_Lost_-_Brian_Kershisnik

It was so challenging for me, because by the next day as the boat left port, the baby still hadn’t been born. On the boat that night, I had a dream that I was at the birth and that all was well.   I was on pins and needles until the next time we had internet access. I was so relieved to hear that indeed a baby boy had been born safe and sound and all was well.

Blessings

I was able to be at church the Sunday they blessed baby Arrow and to hear rejoice in her testimony of following the Spirit when it comes to birth. That we can make our plans and that we need to be flexible and follow the spirit if plans have to change.

The birth was amazing, there were angels, there were miracles and while I am sad I physically missed being present at the actual birth. I still was able to be there in spirit and to be a part of her birth experience.

Because birth is not One Moment in time. It is a journey.

Thanks for letting me share about the favorite birth I missed.   I would love to hear about any experiences you have had about being at a birth, when you weren’t actually there.

(I have only missed 2 other births as a doula. 1 was an emergency cesarean and I arrived when the mom was already in surgery. The other I attended the 1st 24 hours and then left on a trip and my back up doula was able to be there for the birth.)
by Robyn

Interview with a Student Midwife

July 27, 2015 in Doulas, Dreams, Education, Faith, home birth, Marriage, Midwives, Motherhood, Parenting, Placenta, Prayer, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

Angela Geurts

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a student midwife? I asked my friend, Angela Geurts, to answers some questions about life as a midwife in training. – Robyn

 

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

Sometimes each of us may feel that we have a calling in the church stamped on our foreheads. For me, it has been the calling of ward/stake Emergency Preparedness Specialist. Not sure how or why, but it seems to be a calling of choice for me regardless of where I live. I’ve learned all about food storage and rotation, using wheat and stored foods, having a home apothecary of natural remedies, etc. After my 5th baby was born at home I realized “Wow, I now have four daughters. Four daughters that will grow up in uncertain times, which may very well need my help during their child bearing years and experiences… and I do not know enough.” My emergency preparedness focused in sharply on how I could be prepared for this eventuality….

The decision to become a midwife was a difficult one for me. I have always valued being at home with my children and supporting my husband as he works to provide for our family. It took me about 2 years of soul searching, scripture study and earnest prayer before I made the decision to enter this occupation of sacrifice, with my husband’s support. Many scriptures spoke to me, but I felt my answer was found in Abraham 1:2; mainly in the line “desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge.” That is what I most desired; to have the knowledge necessary to help my daughters, and women in the church to have a beautiful and safe birth regardless of what the circumstances might be. To have the knowledge, skill set and experience to provide care for them in a home setting. My world view includes the belief that in the near future hospitals may not be available in times of catastrophe or chaos as an option for birthing women, and so my focus is on gaining all the skills that may be needed in such situations.

I also was influenced by the midwives who attended my personal births, and the care and great birthing experiences that they provided for me and my family including Nancy Mooy, CNM (Utah, retired), Michelle Bartlett, CPM (retired), Kathy LeBaron, LM, CPM and Valerie Hall, LM, CPM, with whom I am now an intern. Each one of my personal birth experiences taught me important life lessons and added to my desire for other women to have the birthing options and experiences that I enjoyed. Particularly my home births, where we together as a couple received a great strengthening power from working together and relying on each other; that is when I realized “Wow, this is what birth is meant to accomplish for a family.”

 

What midwifery school and training did you decide upon?

I decided on the National College of Midwifery in Taos, New Mexico, because it was a program that I could complete from home while raising my five children, and it seemed to me the best financial option at the time; according to my financial plan, I could achieve the needed training for state licensure for about $15,000.00.

 

At what point in your path as a midwife are you at?

I am in the beginning of attaining my Primary Under Supervision numbers, with 27 credit hours of academics still complete. For births as Assistant, I have 39 out of 20 required, and for Primary births I have 6 of 25 completed. I will complete all of my academics and numbers by August of 2016 and apply to take the NARM either fall of 2016 or early 2017.

 

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

A typical week… is basically fly by the seat of your pants… taking care of my home (cooking meals, cleaning – admittedly these activities have gotten fewer and fewer with all the load of midwifery), my five daughters ages 1-17, writing to my missionary son, making appointments and scheduling for the midwifery practice, completing office details like charting, keeping contacts current, and doing MANA statistics, trying to squeeze in 10 hours per week of academic classwork, attending prenatal visits 1-2 days per week, performing massages (for continued income) of 4-6 per week on average, providing placenta encapsulation services and limited doula births, and working on my current church callings (ward emergency preparedness & stake assistant emergency preparedness coordinator). A typical birth load for our practice is about 3 births per month, although births don’t usually happen like that-sometimes we have no births in a month and sometimes 6-7-there is always an ebb and flow to birth work.

 

How has your commitment to become a midwife affected your family?

Being a midwife is one of those professions that require the whole family to sacrifice and bend and flow. Particularly in home birth settings where being on call is something that is constant, and induction of labor is not an option, being ready to jump and go at all times with a young family involves multiple layers of planning and back up plans. Scheduling vacations is difficult, and often needs to be done at least 9 months in advance. There are some good things; for instance, my children often have to step up and take care of younger siblings, meals, cleaning, and planning for alternate ways to take care of their activities and commitments if Mom is not available to help. Finding the balance between meeting my family’s needs and having just the right amount of clients/clinic days/office work is a constant process. The first few years of my midwifery training, working at a birth center one hour from my home I thought was going great and the kids were adjusting and everyone was happy. Then I conceived our 6th child, and stepped back from the rate I was doing midwifery. The relief from my husband and children was tangible, and they often mentioned how happy they were to have me home again. When it came time for me to get back at it, each one of my children had different nightmares about me leaving/being gone/being injured. That is when I realized that though I thought all was well before, it really wasn’t. Finding that balance for my family is something that I intend to seek for direction from the Lord in prayer and humility for the rest of my career.

 

What are some of the blessings and challenges you have faced?

Baby number six takes the cake for being the biggest challenge (and blessing) to my midwifery education. I was half way through my training and numbers when I conceived, and really it’s taken a toll of extending my training a good two years. And accepting that, like in birth, the speed of my midwifery education and control of the outcome is in God’s hands and not mine. I’ve really tried to settle in to the fact that maybe He just wants me to get all the experience and education, and is less concerned about how quickly I accomplish it or whether I become licensed. (Of course, I do not intend to practice illegally, either). I’m just doing my best and relying on, trusting in and following the divine direction that I receive. By the way, there is plenty of ‘no clue what God wants me to do.’ So that just equates to moving forward with what I do know He wants me to do, and trying to let go of the worry over everything else.

 

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

With a young family in tow, midwifery learning can begin in the books, long before you ever decide to begin formal training. You might also consider completing doula training or workshops, becoming a childbirth educator, taking a midwife assistant class, and perhaps some courses in counseling women with breastfeeding issues; each of which will give you more tools to help mothers if you decide to pursue midwife. I would recommend purchasing all of Anne Frye’s books including Holistic Midwifery, Healing Passage and Diagnostic Tests. Next in line would be Varney’s Midwifery, and LLL breastfeeding answer book. And of course, learning about dietary needs, herb’s and tincture’s goes right along with midwifery in all its glory 😉

 

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

I think the most touching and spiritual experiences are when the whole family participates in the birth; or when other small children are brought in with mom, dad and the new baby. But for the most part, spiritual experiences for me happen each day, mostly when I am talking with parents about how birth may go, and the type of experience that we are trying to create for them as providers. It is in those moments when I share something that is absolute truth and feel the spirit witness to me that it is true, that is part of each visit day and hopefully each birth. It’s kind of a little divine witness that helps me remember the importance of what I am doing and how I am trying to do it. Most of the time those witnesses are associated with the importance of family, and the way God has designed for families to come about, through the process of experiencing the birth together, and putting their faith in God and efforts towards educating themselves, taking responsibility and preparing themselves for the process.

 

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

The supreme courts’ recent decision on marriage, and the recent laws that have been passed in my state which have threatened my personal religious freedom (as in mandating that I cannot choose what clients I serve as a midwife without responsibility for litigation) caused me to reflect and soul search about why I am putting so much effort, time, money and sacrifice into midwifery training. This caused me a bit of grief and anxiety for a while, until I came to my real purpose: supporting, upholding and sustaining the family unit through a birth environment and experience that enables, teaches and empowers. Birth is meant to physically draw a couple together in a unified purpose which allows them to experience trial, work, long-suffering and unsurpassed joy together. That is why I am becoming a midwife, and I know in this pursuit I am absolutely using my daily work to “promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

Watching and learning from my preceptor, Valerie Hall, as she uses and seeks for inspiration and direction with each client and each birth has been a great blessing. There is no differentiation between religion and work, they are rolled into one; together they define each of us. Getting an answer to prayer takes effort, and keeping yourself in a position to receive answers quickly when under pressure necessitates that daily effort is made to pray, read the scriptures, spend time strengthening my marriage and my family… and still it is difficult to obtain answers quickly in times of decision making… so it’s a talent I’m trying to develop and tune into in all aspects of providing midwifery care.

by Lani

The Messenger

December 3, 2014 in Adoption, Angels, Book, Depression, Dreams, Lani by Lani

sarahandmeFor many years, I have been fascinated by pre-birth experiences (PBEs). I have also had the privilege of sharing a heaven-sent friendship with Sarah Hinze, the expert on PBEs with decades of research. Her website explains PBEs in more detail:

In a typical prebirth experience (PBE), a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, etc., receives communication from a child before she is born, or in many cases, before he was even conceived. These unborn children at times can warn, protect and enlighten us through the veil.

Most of my children appeared to me in dreams or visions before they were born. I have written about some of those experiences on my blog (see HERE, HERE). I cherish these glimpses from beyond the veil.

Last week I wrote a blogpost on my blog about an encounter with an “angel.” Angels have been on my mind a lot lately. So when I was at the dollar store today and saw a little book called Moments with Angels (by Robert Strand), I picked it up. Robert Strand is a pastor who has spent thirty years collecting inspirational stories like the ones in Moments With Angels. I’ve only read a few of the stories so far, but I’d say it was worth $1, especially after finding a pre-birth experience on p. 21. Definitely money well-spent. I instantly wanted to share the brief PBE/angel story here. Here’s an excerpt:

Yvonne (name changed) was 17, pregnant, penniless, and afraid. She was at her wits’ end not knowing what to do. . . . Nightly, she cried herself to sleep.

Then, one night an angel appeared to her in a dream. It said, “Don’t be afraid. Everything will be fine because you and your baby will be well taken care of.”

The angel pulled back the curtain and gave her a look into the future. Yvonne watched as her baby, healthy, strong, and beautiful was placed by the angel into the arms of a wonderful, caring, loving couple. The next scene showed the baby as a grown woman, mature and happy. The angel told her God was concerned about the baby and would work it all out for good for her as-yet-unborn child. Then the angel turned to Yvonne and touched her with a light that seemed to give off a warm glow that stayed with Yvonne in her heart.

As Yvonne awoke the next morning she felt wonderful, loved, and that everything would be worked out for the best. On this same day she was introduced to a lady who told her about a support group/home for unwed mothers. The next day Yvonne found herself in attendance with this support group where she found healing. . . . Her choice was to give birth and place the child with a Christian adoption agency.

God is good.

I love Maggie’s Place, a local support home for pregnant women in need. I hope to be more involved in their mission as my children get older.

More stories like this one:

Saved from Suicide
Caleb-Colton
Ready to Receive
More stories collected by Sarah
Sarah’s soon-to-be-released book

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by Lani

Wounded Warriors

October 4, 2013 in Abortion, Atonement, Depression, Dreams, Energy Healing, Forgiveness, Grief, Intuition, Lani, meditation, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Pregnancy, Prenatal influences, Priesthood, Priesthood blessings by Lani

A reminder of our official disclaimer:

Though we have made every attempt to be consistent with the correct doctrine and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Gift of Giving Life and all related media are an expression of many of our own thoughts and reflections upon pondering the truths of the gospel that we treasure. Our book, website, and facebook page are not official declarations of doctrine in regards to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which we belong and cherish our membership. Please make sure to pray and ponder about everything you read.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to quote a scripture:

“The whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:8).

I absolutely believe those words to be true. In the context of Moroni’s words, I interpret the word “whole” to mean “without sin.” Little children are 100% whole in that sense. However, I have come to understand that while all children are whole, in the sense of being “without sin” themselves, some babies come to this earth already spiritually wounded. I have learned this truth first-hand.

In 2010, when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter (fourth child), something led me to the website of Sarah Hinze. At the time I felt very drawn to Sarah. Sarah has done extensive research into pre-birth experiences, and I found her research fascinating. I felt like God wanted me to connect with her, but I didn’t know why. Simultaneously, I was experiencing (for the first time) antepartum depression. I had never been depressed during a pregnancy before. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so much darkness and misery. It seemed so strange after three previous happy pregnancies.

After the birth, when my baby was eleven months old, I had a striking and memorable dream. Occasionally God speaks to me in dreams. I feel that this was one of those divine messages. Here’s what I saw…

I was walking with someone. I don’t know who it was. The road we were walking down looked like a ghost town. Dark, abandoned buildings. Dirty. Trash everywhere. But we were the only people walking down a deserted road. Eventually, we went over to the gutter on the side of the road, and I picked something up. At first I thought it was just a piece of garbage. But then, as I looked closer, it seemed to transform in my hand. It was a baby!  A tiny baby… only an inch or two or three. It fit in the palm of my hand, and it was alive.

My immediate thought was, “We have to find her parents!” I held her and began searching. As I searched, she grew miraculously (in the space of a few hours) to be five or six years old. A sweet little blonde girl. I took care of her while looking and looking for her parents or at least a suitable home for her. As I cared for her, I felt my heart ache and fill with love for her. Part of me really wanted to keep her, but another part of me thought, “I can’t take care of another kid right now!”

Eventually, after realizing that our search was futile, we brought her to a non-descript building. There was a massive line of children coming from the door. I got the impression that all those children were like her. They were waiting in line because they had nowhere to go. We headed to the back of the line to leave her there, but my heart was torn and breaking. I wanted to keep her, but I also didn’t feel like I could. Then the dream ended.

My interpretation of the dream was that the little girl from my dream was a special spirit who had been rejected and cast aside repeatedly, perhaps through abortions. She was hurting, and she desperately wanted to come to Earth, to be wanted and loved. I felt that I had been chosen to “rescue” her because I have the compassion and experience to know how to nurture a soul acquainted with abandonment. I felt that she would be bringing some of that heartache with her to Earth and that I had the means within me to help her heal. I thought this spirit sister was still waiting to come to my family, that she was a child I had not yet brought to Earth. I also felt that God was calling me to help rescue all the other children like her, castaways waiting for their turn on earth.

IMG_6650When I told my husband about the dream and my interpretation, his response was, “Maybe it’s just telling us where [our youngest daughter] came from?” I assumed he was just speaking from his own lack-of-desire to have any additional children. I wasn’t ready to open my mind to that possibility. No, it couldn’t be her, I thought.

A little over a year later, through a series of divinely-orchestrated events, I finally met and became dear friends with Sarah Hinze—the woman I had admired from afar on the internet since my pregnancy. I devoured several of Sarah’s books and developed a special connection with her. Over the past several decades, Sarah has gathered many stories about the spirits of aborted babies returning to earth. So we started working on some projects together, with a mutual desire to raise awareness about the “castaways” (like the little girl in my dream and countless others like her).

Through my work with Sarah Hinze, I became familiar with two stories that were influential in helping me open my mind and heart to the truth about my dream, my pregnancy depression, and my daughter:

We found that these were the feelings of the little girl in my womb. I was feeling all her feelings with her. . . . we learned that this little soul had been in another body that had been aborted. She was experiencing again the fears, rejection, sadness, and feelings of being not loved or wanted. She was feeling that she was nothing; and that she might possibly be destroyed again (“Learning to Trust“).

 The day I found out I was pregnant I literally danced for joy!  I had known he was coming for a number of years and was so anxious to have him.  I could feel he was pleased I wanted him so much.  Yet, in the ensuing weeks, I could feel a sadness about him.  I did not understand why. . . . In the beginning of February, I finally received the answer I had been looking for.  I was told by a friend who could see and talk to spirits, that Michael was . . . sad because he had been aborted a few years prior by another woman (“Receiving Michael“).

As I pondered these stories, my mind began to open to the possibility that my husband had been right with his interpretation of my dream.

Indeed, our youngest daughter had, over time, grown into a very clingy toddler who cried excessively. Though I had always gone out of my way to help her feel safe and loved and secure, she still seemed to have a constant mistrust of my permanence in her life. Always afraid to let me out of her sight. She was restless, doubtful, anxious, and seemed so often unhappy. And I was exhausted and at my wit’s end wondering what I had done wrong with her. All she had known all her life was love, safety, and compassion. So why was she so miserable?

Then just a few months ago in June, I finally asked God. After feeling little whispers here and there, urging me to open my mind and heart, I got on my knees, and I asked if my youngest daughter was the little girl from my dream. Almost immediately, it was like hundreds of little puzzle pieces clicked into place in my head, and a tidal wave of intense anguish swept over me. I gasped and started sobbing. I felt impressed that the vast portion of the pain I was feeling belonged to my daughter. I believe I was given a small taste of the agony of her festering pre-mortal wounds. And I sobbed and sobbed, bathed in her agony and my own guilt for having been so blind to her wounds (and so resentful of her neediness), for nearly an hour.

Once I had calmed down enough to explain to my husband why I was sobbing, I asked for a priesthood blessing. Within that blessing, I was given divine confirmation of the impressions and revelation I had received. She was the little girl from my dream. She had been cast away multiple times in the past. My heart was broken for her.

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A few weeks later, I had a conversation that served as another witness to my daughter’s pain-filled past. She is now two-and-a-half years old. On that particular morning I had been praying and meditating with the intent to help her heal. So it seemed fitting that she, somehow sensing my focus on her pre-earth self, started a conversation with me about it:

“I was in your belly,” she said.

“Yes, you were!” I said with a smile. “Did you like it in my belly?”

“No,” she answered. And then the moment passed.

Maybe ten minutes later, we were in her bedroom changing her clothes or doing some other morning task, and she said, “I was sad.”

“When were you sad?” I asked.

“In your belly,” she said.

Though I was not excited to learn that my daughter’s womb experiences had been, in fact, painful for her, it was also a relief to hear her little voice speaking the words. I felt that it was both a confirmation that I wasn’t crazy and a confirmation that my efforts were doing something and stirring up something inside of her, which is often one of the first steps to healing. I was happy that something had given her the voice to speak her pain out loud.

I will have to save the rest of our healing journey for another blogpost, but I wanted to at least share this much today. I want to bear my firm testimony that there are many spirits being sent to earth in these days who have “baggage.” They are, of course, whole and pure, in the sense Moroni spoke of. But some of them are also carrying painful wounds that they received before they ever took their first breaths. I believe that many of these children are being compensated for their previous trials and pain through being sent to loving homes where they can be nurtured in peace and heal. Perhaps one of your children (or a future child) is among those wounded souls. These special spirits need special mothering, tenderness, empathy, compassion. You can read more of their stories HERE.

I have written about the Spirit of Elijah in our book. I believe these special wounded spirits are among those Malachi was making reference to when he said:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children” (Malachi 4:5-6).

I invite you to turn your heart to these children. I invite you to gain your own testimony of their existence. I invite you to resolve to do whatever you can to help them heal. It is my belief that some of the most valiant and gifted of heavenly fathers children are among them, and it is for this very reason that Satan has (often repeatedly) thwarted their entrance into mortality. They are the armies that will eventually destroy him. Let’s help empower them to do so.

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For My Own Spiritual Growth

May 23, 2013 in Angels, Birth Stories, Book, Dads, Doulas, Dreams, Faith, Fear, Felice, home birth, Midwives, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Preparation, Temple by Progressive Prophetess

For My Own Spiritual Growth

By Nicole Cunningham

Something I used to frequently say regarding childbirth was that I was born in the last days because Heavenly Father knew I couldn’t handle a natural childbirth and knew I needed epidurals. It was something I would always joke about, but also really believed. I might be mentally strong, spiritually strong, but physically strong? No way. That was not for me. I wasn’t a hardy pioneer woman that pushed handcarts and gave birth along the Mormon trail. Heavenly Father knew me and knew my mental and physical limitations. Or so I thought.

My first son was induced ten days early due to cholestasis. I had an epidural, pushed for 3 hours due to his posterior position, and he was delivered via forceps. Overall, the experience was fine, despite the complications of everything, and I was grateful for my beautiful healthy, round-faced boy. My second son was also induced upon my request because I was tired of being pregnant and, to be honest, was nervous about going into labor naturally because I had never felt a non-pitocin contraction without the promise of a speedy epidural nearby. Something that touched me about the birth of my second son was when my sweet doctor said, “Reach down Nicole and pull out your son.” I had no idea I could participate in that way and hold him immediately on my chest for as long as I wanted! What a sweet experience that was.

Nine months before we conceived our third baby, I nonchalantly decided to watch The Business of Being Born. I knew that it would talk about all the risks of having an epidural and everything that goes with that, but I thought it might be interesting to watch. I enjoyed the documentary and found it informative but, quite honestly, I felt like it made home birth look terrible! Despite how I felt about the film, I could not shirk the feeling in the days that followed that my next baby should be born without an epidural or any other form of pain medications. I cannot tell you how hard I thought this was going to be for me! I tried to ignore the feeling, but I knew the Spirit was telling me all too clearly that this was what I needed to do. I cried every time I thought about it. I didn’t understand why Heavenly Father wanted me to do this. I was the woman who LOVES her epidurals–I was no pioneer.

I asked for my Heavenly Father’s guidance to help me not be afraid–that if I was really supposed to do this, I asked for Him to help me become as prepared as I could. I asked for His guidance every step of the way, through every decision. I would always find myself asking, “Why do you want me to do this?” “Is it for the health of my baby?” “Is something going to happen?” and every time, I would receive the same calming answer, “For your own spiritual growth.”

I soon found myself diving into everything I could learn about natural childbirth. A friend told me about hypnobirthing, water birth, and dear Ina May Gaskin. I continued to devour anything I could on birth. I was going to fill my brain with every morsel of natural birth knowledge that I could and let the Spirit guide. I took a hypnobirthing class at the hospital with my husband and then later ordered the Hypnobabies home-study course with a friend. I really wanted a water birth, but found out that the hospitals in my area wouldn’t allow them, so I started to look into home birth.

Deciding on a home birth was a very difficult decision–one that took so much study, pondering and prayer. We felt good about it and once we made the decision, we felt so much peace. A few days after we decided, my husband had a dream that the home birth was a peaceful experience and that everything went well. This all happened before I got pregnant, so when we finally did (9 months after the prompting), we were so excited! I could finally begin my journey!

Something that really bothered me was the feeling of being alone in what I was doing. Why was I learning all of this wonderful information, but couldn’t find any natural or home birth stories from LDS women? I felt like I was being grouped into the stereotype of the “typical” home birth mom like you see in the movies. I wanted to know about other mothers that shared my same beliefs and had also done home births. My friend sent me a link to Heather’s blog, Women in the Scriptures, and I devoured all of her posts on birth and the symbolism and spirituality that goes with it. I saw on her blog an icon for The Gift of Giving Life. I eagerly waited for the book to be published and for my copy to arrive. The day it came in the mail was like Christmas; I was yearning for the information and support inside.

Before I was married and preparing to go to the temple, I would do baptisms and while waiting in the chapel, read Elder Packer’s book, The Holy Temple. The entirety of that book was read inside the temple. For me, it was a wonderful way to prepare, and I looked at reading The Gift of Giving Life in the same way–a wonderful way to prepare for a sacred event. What an uplifting light it gave to my pregnancy! Whenever I was discouraged or nervous, I would read and then would feel such calm reassurance that everything would be fine. Armed with Hypnobabies, The Gift of Giving life, and supportive friends and family, I had such an amazing pregnancy. Everything was different compared to my last pregnancies–my outlook was more positive and that in turn helped physically. I felt so bonded to my baby, and so at peace. We found 2 great midwives who we felt so blessed to work with. Even though they were an hour and a half away, we still felt we made the right decision. I felt so uplifted, cared for and loved after every appointment with them.

871326072459264_a-4cf2abaa_m2OWUQ_pmMy baby’s guess birth date came and went and it was amazing how my perspective had changed compared to my other pregnancies. Every day “overdue” wasn’t an eternity of complaints and impatience, but just another day to prepare spiritually. I looked at approaching the birth of my sweet baby as a sacrament, an ordinance–something that I wanted to be spiritually worthy of. I wanted to be completely clean. With my other births, I looked at birth as merely a medical event that I had to go through, to get the end result. The spirit and love in our home was very tangible to us because of our preparation.

The night before Kate was born, I went upstairs to read in bed and write in my journal. I pondered about our upcoming home birth and wondered how it would all turn out and when it would come. I felt content to continue to be patient and was just enjoying the end of what to me was a simple but perfect day with my little family. My husband came up to the room and we talked a while about the birth and how excited we were and how crazy it was to not know when the baby would come (we were so used to planned inductions).

He left the bedroom to get some things together for his classes the next day, while I said my nightly prayers. I told my Father in Heaven that I hoped that I was ready for the baby to come, that I would have faith in my body and faith that everything would turn out fine. I expressed some concern about being a week over, but said I would leave it in His hands. I prayed for the health of my growing baby as usual, but for the first time prayed for my baby as a person, an adult spirit that was about to join our family. We didn’t know the gender but had feelings that we were having a girl. I tried to picture this beautiful spirit and what she was feeling as she was about to start her life on earth, in our family. A very beautiful feeling of love and peace came over me and a very powerful message of “Thank you” was communicated. I KNEW this was from the child that was about to join our family and it is an experience I will never forget.

The next morning, on August 7th, 2012 I woke up around 8:30. My boys had let me sleep in. I took a shower and felt great. I was planning to take them to the park and meet a friend. As I went into the kitchen to make some eggs for breakfast, I felt a little twinge that felt like a stomachache and decided on a bowl of Wheaties instead. I did some other things around the house and then got on the computer to check my email. I texted back and forth with my friend about our plans to go to the park, then felt that same twinge of discomfort. I decided that I just wanted to rest and told my friend I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the park.

It was around 10:30 at this time. I went upstairs and lay down, put on a hypnobabies track and tried to rest, but these “twinges” kept coming. Of course I had started labor and what I was feeling were pressure waves (contractions), but of course I was in denial. Around 10:45 they were very close together, probably 2 minutes apart, so I texted my husband and said that maybe after his next appointment he could come home to be with me. I did admit that maybe I was in labor, but that it would probably slow down or the contractions would go away. Within 5 minutes of texting him, they grew more intense and I told him to come home now! He was home a little after 11 and he got the boys to the neighbors.

By this time I was really feeling things, but not knowing how to handle the intensity. Nothing seemed to help, I just wanted to pace around the house and I’m sure I looked pretty funny. My husband got back around 11:40, called the midwives and our doula and then started filling up the birthing tub. I asked him what he was doing and he proceeded to tell me that we were having a baby and was filling up the tub for our water birth. Of course I was still in major denial and told him the water would get cold and that I still had a long way to go before the baby came. I still even thought that maybe the pressure waves would stop and it was just false labor. But he continued to get things ready and was able to help me calm down long enough to lie on the bed and get a blessing. The blessing was beautiful–that everything would work out fine, that my body would know what to do and that angels were present, helping us. I immediately thought of both my grandmothers and hoped they would be there.

Around this time it was 12:30 and I was turning into quite the moaning, laboring mama. But it felt so good to just go with what my body was telling me to do. Around 12:40 our doula, Shari showed up and I felt like I came out of my own little world of “labor land” to tell her that at that moment I was getting a break. She asked how long my breaks were and I said, “maybe 20 seconds.” I remember thinking how silly I must have seemed to Shari and my husband, moaning so loudly so early on in the labor, like I was ready to have a baby or something. I was also noticing that it felt good to push, but of course in my head that wasn’t because the baby was coming, it was just because it felt good. I said I wanted to go to the restroom, so Shari and my husband helped me into the bathroom. I said I felt like vomiting and Shari informed us that I was probably in transition. That was the first time it occurred to me that I was really in labor, let alone about to birth my baby! I said, “The baby’s coming!” and they helped me back to the bedroom to the birthing tub. I got in, pushed a few times, the bag of waters broke and a few minutes later Kate was born at 12:56.

Shari grabbed her out of the water and handed her to Aaron. Aaron checked and said our baby was a girl and we both started crying. She opened her sweet eyes and calmly looked at her Daddy. He handed her to me and she immediately started nursing. Our sweet 9 1/2 pound healthy baby girl had joined our family.

Yes, the midwives were still on the way. Yes, that sounds crazy and many ask us if we were scared or panicked that we had an “unassisted” birth. And the answer is no we weren’t. Never did fear enter me during any time during my labor. I was too busy birthing my baby! But it was more than that. We knew that this was what we were supposed to do. That one prompting more than a year before led to that moment, when we knew everything would be okay, and it was.

In the hours and days that followed, my husband and I talked about Kate’s birth and the amazing experience it was. We discussed that had we not prepared for a home birth, the situation would have been traumatic and treated as an emergency. We would have called 911, or I would have had Kate in a car, or my front yard, who knows!

Many people ask me if we will have home births with the rest of our babies. I hope so. But only if the Lord says it’s okay. While pondering and internalizing the fast 2 1/2 hour labor I had with Kate and why we needed to have a natural, home birth, the answer to why, was not because it ended up being a fast labor (though I am sure that is part of it). The answer is still the one that has been given to me time and time again—“for my own spiritual growth.” Heavenly Father knows what we need to be closer to Him, and He will give us those experiences that are needed for us to completely and wholly rely on Him.

This was my journey in becoming more in tune with the Spirit. I learned to know the will of the Lord in my own life like I never had before. Has this experience turned me into a natural childbirth advocate? Yes! I love all things birth. Has it turned me into an anti-hospital, never have an epidural mom? No. It has turned me into a “seeker of personal revelation” advocate. That is what is most important–to include the Lord in the decisions you make. Because no doctor, midwife, or expert alone, of any kind, can tell you what is best for you or your baby. Giving birth does not need to be fearful. We all can do hard things—with the Lord’s help. Ponder, pray, and seek for knowledge and the Lord, who is our greatest Advocate, will help us know His will.

Thank you wonderful sisters for being inspired to write The Gift of Giving Life. I have told everyone about this book. I will give copies to anyone with a soft heart to listen to its message. And I can’t wait for the day when I can give Kate my own copy—highlighted and weathered, for her own journey into divine motherhood.

by Robyn

Our Babies: How We Came to Name Them

August 20, 2012 in Birth Stories, Dreams, Faith, Family size, Fear, home birth, Midwives, Prayer, Pregnancy, Prenatal influences, Robyn, Savior, Uncategorized by Robyn

After reading a post on Bonnie’s blog I asked her to submit a complete version about how she and her husband named their last three children.  I love the meaning that each name was given.  Thank you Bonnie for sharing your heartfelt story.  –Robyn

How We Came to Name Them Joshua, Charles, and Talita

by Bonnie Hansen

The three children born to us since the passing of our son, Tyler, all have names that point toward the Savior, Jesus Christ.  We feel their names were inspired by Him to remind us of His great atonement and resurrection and the faith needed to believe in those realities and the great Plan of Happiness that plan being that we will be able to live forever as a family, that Tyler is not lost to us, but rather has just moved on ahead of us for a while.

About a couple of months after Tyler passed away, my husband, Scott, had a dream where we were both laying in bed asleep.  He awoke to see a little girl, with curly blond hair standing by our bedside.  She looked over me to him and said excitedly, I can’t wait! Then the dream ended.

A few weeks later we were at my mom’s house and Scott was listening to a cd by Daniel Rona about places in the Holy Land and the events that occurred there.  He spoke about the daughter of Jairus being raised from the dead by the Savior as it is written in the book of Mark, chapter five.  He explained that when the Savior said to the young girl, “Talitha, cumi,” he was not just saying, “Maiden, arise.”  The word Talitha in Hebrew means female lamb.  It was often used as a nickname for little girls with curly blond hair.  Daniel Rona believes that the daughter of Jairus was no stranger to the Savior since he spent over a year living in the area where she lived.  He believes, rather, that the Savior called her Talitha as an endearing nickname to someone he knew well.  As Scott was listening to this story, his eyes filled with tears and he knew the name of the little girl with curly blond hair who was to come to our family.

About 5 or 6 months later we learned we were pregnant.  We thought this was our little girl, but an ultrasound revealed it was a boy.  Scott said with a groan, We have to do this again! However, I had a boy name already picked out. It came to me when I was watching a BYU devotional by Elder David B. Haight.  He quoted the scripture that says, “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”  (Joshua 24:15).  The mention of Joshua immediately reminded me of an article in the Ensign I had read the month before.  The article had been very timely and felt like it was written just for me.  At the time we were dealing with allegations brought by the DCFS in regards to Tyler’s death and struggling with all the fear and emotional challenges that brought.

The Ensign article was called The Twelve Spies and was about Joshua and Caleb and how they were faithful in doing what the Lord asked despite overwhelming odds against them.  The article begins with these words:

“Among all the philosophies one could choose to follow in life, the choice between two basic but opposing approaches faith versus fear influences our lives more markedly than any other.”

At that time in my life I was having to choose every moment which emotion I would live by: faith or fear.  I was so impressed with Joshua’s faith and knew Heavenly Father wanted me to exercise faith like he had.  I knew right then that if the Lord blessed us with another boy I would name him Joshua.

Through some miraculous tender mercies we were blessed to find the absolute right people to help us deal with the DCFS and the charges were dropped 9 months after Tyler’s death.  Amazingly enough I conceived the night after the whole DCFS nightmare ended.  It was as if Heavenly Father was just waiting for the stress of that period to end before sending us the next precious spirit to enter our family.

I had a wonderful pregnancy, healthy and joyous.  I also went on an amazing journey of discovering natural childbirth and homebirth.  I felt like the Lord was guiding me every step of the way.  Joshua’s birth was absolutely the best of all my children’s births.  The memory of his birth carried me through moments of postpartum sadness and breastfeeding difficulties.  I was then, and still am, filled with gratitude to the Lord for helping me have such an empowering, sacred birth experience.  Now, at the age of 8, Joshua has taught me much about faith and unconditional love as he has struggled with some Aspergers tendencies.  He is sweet, innocent, and loving, and I have no doubt that he was sent here for me to learn much from.

Nineteen months after Joshua was born we learned we were expecting again.  We thought, surely this is our little girl, then we can be done having kids!  An ultrasound at 20 weeks revealed another boy.  Okay, I thought, were we wrong?  Was the dream just a wish?  I knew I should be grateful for any baby boy or girl, but I couldn’t help grieving for the little girl I had thought we would never have.  After all I was 40 years old at the time and 6 kids was a lot!  The Lord blessed me, however, to know we were not done having kids.  A couple weeks after the ultrasound I dozed off while reading my scriptures.  As I started waking up I realized I had been dreaming.  In the dream I was arguing with someone.  The person was saying, “seven kids.”  And I was saying, “no, six.”  They kept saying, “No, seven.”  I wondered who I had been talking to.  I picked up in the scriptures where I had fallen asleep and read, “Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand” (Jacob 4:10). I felt in my heart that it was not a coincidence.  I had to take a walk to think it through and to talk to Heavenly Father about it.  By the time I came home, I felt like I really could do it again if the Lord helped me to be healthy and in shape so the pregnancy would not be too difficult and that it could be joyful even like Joshua’s had been.

Still, I struggled with this pregnancy.  I was overweight and uncomfortable.  In my less faithful moments I struggled with feelings of doubt that I would ever have the promised little girl.  I didn’t feel like I knew the baby I was carrying.  I had no boy name picked out, neither did Scott.  One morning as Scott sat at the kitchen table reading his scriptures he was thinking about the baby inside me and asked out of the blue, “Baby, what is your name?” Immediately he heard in his mind “Charles.”  He said, “Are you sure?!?!”  He knew that it was the name the baby wanted.  He told me about the experience but didn’t tell me the name.  He wanted me to receive the name by inspiration as well because he knew I wouldn’t like the name and would have to know it was divinely inspired to accept it.  All he told me was that it was a good English name. It was actually my sister-in-law who guessed the name first.  Scott was right, I didn’t like it at first, but as I thought about it, the name just seemed to stick to him.  It wasn’t until we were watching a performance of Handel’s Messiah three weeks before his birth that I knew for sure his name was Charles and that it was okay.  The director of the performance was a counselor in our Stake Presidency and had the middle name of Charles.  I felt something stirring in my heart as I thought of his love for inspired music and his love for the Savior.  In those brief spirit-filled moments the name Charles came to symbolize the joyful praising, through beautifully inspired music, of our Savior, His birth and His resurrection.

The day after Charles’ birth, (another incredible homebirth) while talking to a really good friend about the birth and his name, she said, “You have to read about Charles Wesley.”  I was amazed she thought of him because I had noticed one Sunday during the pregnancy that my favorite Easter Hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” and my favorite Christmas Hymn “Hark the Herald Angels” were written by Charles Wesley.  Was it a coincidence that this baby was conceived at Easter time and born at Christmas time?  After talking to my friend I asked my daughter, Ali, to look up some information on Charles Wesley on the internet.  I was struck with the knowledge that Charles Wesley was born on my birthday, March 29th, (which also happened to be 2 days after Easter that year) and that he died on December 18th.  December 18 was Charles’ due date.  Coincidence?  Who knows?  But I have to think that it all ties together somehow.  To me it all points back to the Savior, His life and His mission.

Even though I hadn’t felt like I knew Charles while I was carrying him, I fell absolutely head over heels in love with him when he was born.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.  He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  Heavenly Father had sent us another incredible spirit.  He smiled easily and often.  In fact, his birth video shows pictures of him on Christmas day, when he was five days old, smiling joyfully from ear to ear.  Earlier that same day we were listening to a music cd our daughter had received as a gift.  The music was beautiful.  Charles’ eyes grew wide and his wriggling little body suddenly became still.  He was enraptured.  Now at 6 years old, Charles takes great pride in his name and loves the fact that he is a “Christmas baby.”

The Lord generously blessed me with my desires to be healthy and to get in shape for the next and (what I thought was the last) pregnancy.  On Dec. 31, 2007, two years after Charles was born, we learned we were expecting again. It had taken 6 months more than we thought it would to get pregnant.  Never had both my husband and I wanted to get pregnant more than this time.  I doubted at times it would really happen considering my age, but the Lord comforted and reassured me that it would.  We kept it as our delightful little secret for a couple of weeks from our kids and a bit longer from everyone else.  The pregnancy was joyful, even though tiring at times.  I decided not to have an ultrasound to find out the gender of the baby.  I felt like Heavenly Father wanted me to trust him.  I tried to be faithful but doubted at times if I really was carrying the little girl we had dreamed of.  In my more faithful moments the Lord was able to help me understand more of why she was to be named Talita.  In a journal entry dated June 25th when I was 6 months pregnant I wrote to my future baby:

I believe you want to be named Talita to remind me and your dad and everyone you meet in mortality to have faith and hope in Christ, His atonement and resurrection.  Joseph Brickey’s painting of the daughter of Jarius depicts it well.  Though we all have moments of grief and sorrow the Savior stands at the door.  When we are ready, the door is opened, the light comes pouring in and life is restored, joy and reunion take place, and our mortal moment of suffering is ended.  Because of our Lord and Savior, we can have joy forever.   This is what you want me to focus on, not the aching loss, but the hope of eternal life and the joyous reunion with loved ones, all made possible because of our beloved Savior.  From now on, when I say or think your name I will focus on the Savior standing in a light-filled doorway, just waiting to bring life and joy to my life and our family’s life.

On another day I wrote:

Talita means hope, it means joy, it means Jesus wants to answer our prayers, bring back that which was lost or taken away. He wants to dry our tears, fill us with joy, happiness, and peace. We just have to trust Him that those things will happen at the right time for us. The daughter of Jairus wasn’t healed immediately when he asked. Jairus had to wait for the right moment‑‑when he and his wife had suffered just enough, when the doubters and naysayers were gone and they could be alone with the Savior.  We will have to wait for the millennium for Tyler’s spirit to re‑enter his body, to be reunited with him, to be able to embrace him and rejoice together. But it will be the right time then. It will be the right time.

Talita’s labor and birth unfolded much differently than I had expected but was nonetheless amazing and spiritual.  The day she chose to come earthside was September 11, 2008.  I don’t believe the day was coincidental either.  As I have reflected on it over the past 3 years I believe that she chose that day as another reminder to us to focus not on the sorrow and grief of death, but rather to focus on the One who claimed victory over death, to find peace, joy, and healing in His incredible gifts of life to us.

Although my labor with Talita was long—over 30 hours—it was exactly as it needed to be.  Her cord was extremely short and the labor and birth needed to be slow and gentle for a safe birth. She was born at home into the loving hands of my caring, experienced midwives.  My husband was behind me holding me and supporting me.  When my midwife turned her over on my lap both my husband and I exclaimed with joy “It’s a girl!”  Over the next few hours as we said her name, she would turn her head to the sound.  It was as if she knew and recognized her name.

Her hair was dark and more plentiful than any of my other babies.  I wondered if she really would have curly blond hair like in my husband’s dream.  It didn’t take long before her hair lightened, and as it got longer beautiful little curls began to take shape.  Now at the age of 3 her hair is honey blonde and has beautiful waves and gentle curls to it.  She is the only one of our 7 kids to have curly hair and I am loving it. As fun as that is, however, it is her sweet, feminine, loving spirit that is an absolute joy to have in our home.  At the end of her birth video I put these words:

Talita,

God’s little lamb,

sent to remind us

that miracles happen.

Mark 5:35-43 (KJV)

Lovingly dedicated to her brother,

Tyler Boyd Hansen

August 20, 1992 – February 16, 2002.

My heart is filled with gratitude and love to my Father in Heaven and my Savior for Their tender, watchful care over me and my family.  Truly, we have been greatly blessed, and I look forward with great anticipation to the day when our family will be fully reunited. While it has been a sweet, tender mercy to feel my son’s presence at the births of his siblings and at many other sacred moments, my heart longs to see him and embrace him again.  Through our Savior’s sacrifice, I know that one glorious day all of us will get to embrace him and thank him for all he has done for us, not only during his short mortal life, but, with the help of our Savior, all that he has done for us since.

Why is it SO HARD to Pick a Baby’s Name?

July 10, 2012 in Dreams, Motherhood, Sheridan by enjoybirth

It may not be hard for everyone, but it was hard for us!

We had a girl name from the very beginning.  Ariana in case you need a good girl name.

But had the hardest time with finding a boy name.  Each boy was born without a name.  I am always amazed when people know the name months before they have the baby.  Or sometimes even before they are pregnant!

With T1 he was 6 weeks early so we had a good excuse. He was named before he left the hospital.

T2 was 2 weeks late and we had a list of our top 10 and I had been whispering the name I liked in DHs ear each night.  When DH said he looks like a C.  I suddenly wasn’t sure.  But in the end indeed he was a C.  He too left the hospital with a name.

T3 was 1.5 weeks late and we had a list of 40 names.  Names like Zeus and Shark Boy (thanks to suggestions from T1 and T2)  The name I really wanted – Gideon – was relegated to his middle name.  He went home from the hospital without a name, but a few days later we went back to fill out his birth certificate.  It took awhile to figure his name out.  I still sometimes wish we went with Gideon.  I guess I should have been whispering it in DHs ear.  But at least it is one of his names.

I have been on the hunt for another boy name for years, just in case!

How about you?  Was it hard for you to come up with your baby’s name?

by Lani

Guest post: Hands Full, by Cherylyn

April 11, 2012 in Dreams, Family size, Fear, Intuition, Lani, Marriage, Motherhood, Prayer by Lani

I am excited to share this guest post written by Cherylyn. She is a powerful force for good in the birth blogging world, and I’m happy to know her. Cherylyn is a mom of six who’s figuring it out as she goes. She’s a birth doula, aspiring midwife, and author of the Mamas and Babies blog and its accompanying pages on Facebook and Google +. –Lani

Hands Full
By Cherylyn

“You’ve got your hands full!”

That’s the most common thing I hear when I’m out with my kids. Even if I only have the youngest three or four with me. Maybe it’s because they’re fairly close in age, or maybe it’s the sight of me with a baby on my chest in the wrap and one on either side of me holding my hand. Sometimes I have all six kids with me, and that’s when people simply stare.

Even in Utah where “big” families are more common than in other areas, the socially acceptable number of children seems to be getting smaller. Growing up in California with five siblings, we were stared at and people would ask my parents if we were all theirs, and “How many children do you have?!” Still, to me, it was normal. It was what I knew, and life was good. I wanted that for my own children.

We never talked about how many children we would have. My husband and I both came from what society would consider big families, and we had an unspoken desire to have a big family as well. We wanted our children to have the companionship of many siblings and the joy of a loving family. We also desired to follow the commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth.”

My husband’s ongoing struggle with chronic illness interfered with work, finances, and daily functions in general. We couldn’t plan for a large family without feeling an intense burden and wondering how we would ever manage to get by from day to day, let alone from month to month or year to year. He often felt overwhelmed just providing for and taking care of each child we had, and couldn’t imagine having more. At times he expressed a desire to be “done” and relieve the ever-increasing burden he felt as a father to provide for his family. I felt strongly there were more spirits waiting to come to our family, and I listened to his concerns and continued to pray and seek the Lord’s will and wait patiently. We took it one child at a time.

We’ve been blessed with tender mercies along the way. While pregnant with our fourth, a voice spoke to me, whispering “Don’t forget about me,” and a child’s spirit has appeared to my husband more than once. We felt the presence of another child who wasn’t here yet, sometimes in a dream, sometimes just a comforting feeling that she was there. Many times I would count heads, counting everyone, and feel as though we were still missing someone. Each time a child was born, we knew that waiting spirit had not yet come. Even after two miscarriages, we prayed and felt we should keep trying. She still hasn’t come, and we look forward to the day she’ll join our family. I think we’ll know when that time comes.

When I’ve felt overwhelmed by life, I’ve found myself on my knees, asking the Lord to bless us with the means to provide for the children He’s sending us, temporally and spiritually. We’ve not been disappointed. Despite ongoing challenges, our needs are always met. I find that when we follow His direction we are in turn given access to blessings to help us with what we’ve been asked to do. As our family increases in size, so does our faith, and we feel encouraged to move forward.

We enjoy our children every day. There’s a chaos to six children under 12, and yet a peace and joy to it as well. We find our parenting and lifestyle have changed to better suit our growing family, and we’re enjoying the journey. Our family is our top priority and most treasured blessing.

I find if my focus is on my family, most of the time I don’t even notice if someone is staring. Even when the judgmental comments come, I’m able to shrug it off because I realize that they simply don’t understand my perspective and the gratitude I have to the Lord for blessing me with a quiver full. I know these days will pass and I’ll miss watching them grow and learn. I’m told I’ll even miss the diapers and laundry.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalms 127:3)

I love having my hands full.

by Lani

From Beyond the Veil, by Elizabeth

April 9, 2012 in Angels, Birth Stories, Dreams, hospital birth, Lani, Motherhood, Postpartum Depression by Lani

Last night my husband and I watched the Church’s Bible videos depicting that last events in the life of Christ. They were so moving, but I think the most touching part for me was when the angel appeared to comfort Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. I have heard and read about that angel so many times, but seeing that angelic comfort depicted before my eyes was so powerful. That scene and Elizabeth’s story have tenderly reminded me that it is during our darkest hours and our most difficult moments that we can feel certain we are in the presence of angels. Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience, Elizabeth. Elizabeth and her husband have been married for nine years. They live in a small town in Utah where they spend their free time swimming, playing board games, and battling with swords. -Lani

*****

This is a tale of the wonderful spirits alive, passed on and not yet born, that helped me before, during, and after the birth of my first son.

My water broke thirty-six hours before I delivered. After twenty-four hours with no contractions, I was given Pitocin; I had tried every natural way under the sun. After seven hours on Pit, I needed sleep, so I got an epidural. After a three-hour nap, I had it turned off. Since things progressed very slowly when I woke up, the nurses/doctors didn’t believe me when I said my baby was coming soon. My doula nearly had to receive the baby, as the nurse barely made it, and my son came with no doctor or midwife.

Six weeks after my son was born, I was suffering from severe postpartum depression.  I would look at my son and wonder when this kid’s mom was going to show up to get him.  I would nurse and try to bond with him, sing hymns to him at night, but nothing would open my heart. I knew this little soul loved me and deserved a mom who loved him back. I kept thinking I did something wrong when I had him that caused me to lose the love I had with him prenatally.  I blamed everything from my need for Pit to me being unfit.

One night while singing “I Am a Child of God” while nursing, I closed my eyes and saw my youngest brother, who passed away eleven years ago. He showed me his view of my birth. I saw him standing behind my doula, giving us support. When I got so exhausted from being on Pitocin for seven hours, I knew I needed sleep to be able to birth my son.  Feeling like a failure, I got my epidural.  My blood pressure that had been creeping progressively very high because of the Pit dropped suddenly to below 90/50. He told me that he was not there to send off my son (whom he knew but wasn’t really close to), but he was there to greet me if I was to head home.

He then showed me an event that happened the first year of my marriage that I had forgotten about. My husband and I were stuck in a bad snow storm and our car nearly rolled. At the time it was pushed back onto its wheels and turned 180 degrees back to straight.  My husband and I looked at each other and said, “I think we have just met our future children.”  In this vision, I saw my son in the middle of five adult spirits, directing them to keep us safe. On my son’s right were two of the children I would eventually miscarry. On his left were a boy and a girl who have not yet had the opportunity to receive a body. My brother reminded me of our Heavenly Father’s love and that I need to bring those last two spirits into the world.

I spent some time pondering what had just transpired, opened my eyes, looked down at my son, and fell in love.

by Lani

Turning My Heart

February 3, 2012 in Book, Dreams, Fear, Holy Ghost, Lani, Motherhood by Lani

My first essay in The Gift of Giving Life is called “The Spirit of Elijah.” The following story was, at one point, part of that essay. But I later cut it out and made it into a separate story that eventually became one of the book’s “deleted scenes.”

It reminds me of Heather’s post “Satan Hates Mothers.” And it reminds me of something I heard over the pulpit at church a few weeks ago when a new convert was speaking. As his family was nearing baptism, he explained, they encountered lots of opposition. He described it as Satan throwing cinder blocks at them. I was so touched and impressed when he said, “I told the missionaries that if Satan was going to throw cinder blocks at me, I would just build a house with them.” Let’s build some houses, my friends!

Here is my story, “Turning My Heart,” as it was when we cut it. I hope it touches someone’s heart out there. In fact, I think I’m needing to reread it as much as anyone.

 

Turning My Heart

By Lani Axman

When my second child was a toddler, and we ventured headlong into the “terrible twos,” I found myself devoid of any desire to have another baby. The adversary had been working on me.  Each day felt like a battle to find joy and fulfillment in motherhood.  Satan whispered negative thoughts to me, persuading me that I wasn’t fit to take on any more children, that we couldn’t possibly afford any more children, that the world would look down on me for having more, that two was definitely more than enough.  When I did think of trying to care for a third child on top of everything else, I was overcome with a paralyzing, overwhelming fear. I also entertained thoughts of how uncomplicated my life would be with only two children to care for.  I thought of all the goals and dreams I would have time and energy to pursue with my childbearing complete. Satan almost had me convinced that I could be done, that I wanted to be done.

Even while I stubbornly and fearfully kept my heart closed, deep down I knew I still wanted more children.  I also couldn’t shake the memory of a dream from several years earlier of a little blond toddler boy running into my arms.  We had two daughters, but I knew that my son was waiting to come.  My heart softened just enough.  So my husband and I began to pray.  We asked the Lord whether we should have another baby.  We waited for an answer.  God simply said, “It’s up to you.”  But accompanying that response was a subtle whispering of an impression that we would be blessed for choosing to welcome another child into our home.  We made a chart in my journal outlining the reasons for and against having another baby at that time.  I wrote our final consensus at the bottom of the page: “Trust!”  Within two months, I was pregnant.  And to say that we were blessed for choosing to welcome a third child into our home would be a cosmic understatement.  I was amazed, and still stand all amazed at the outpouring of blessings we received.  My blond little boy had made his appearance.

When my son was approaching a year, through promptings, prayer, and much pondering, we chose to surrender (a.k.a. take a flying leap off a very tall cliff) and consecrate our bodies and fertility to the Lord, letting Him choose the timing of our next conception.  Four months later, our fourth child was conceived.  Though the adversary redoubled his efforts to tear me down throughout my fourth pregnancy, continually working to convince me that I was crazy to conceive that child and would be crazy to conceive any more, I still hoped that the child in my womb would not be our last.

It has now been four months since her birth, and she has brought more joy and love into our family than I ever could have imagined.  No wonder Satan was so angry at me for welcoming her here.  Thank heaven I turned my back on my fears and instead chose “Trust!” all those years ago. Joy and rejoicing in my posterity, indeed.