by Lani

Celebrating Life on Mother’s Day

April 23, 2016 in Abortion, Adoption, Adversity, Depression, Fertility, Grief, Heavenly Mother, Lani, Loss, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Waiting by Lani

 

Image SourceMother’s Day can be really hard.

Hard because you want to be a mother, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Hard because you recently lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth.

Hard because you’re healing from an abortion.

Hard because you have been waiting to adopt for a very long time.

Hard because you weren’t able to have as many children as you wanted.

Hard because your mother passed away, and you miss her terribly.

Hard because you wish you could spend more time with your children.

Hard because you’re a single father without a partner.

Hard because you’re a single mother, and you’re tired of doing it alone.

Hard because you’re unable to be with your husband or wife because of military, work, or other reasons.

Hard because your stepchildren reject you.

Hard because your mother struggled to give you the love you needed.

Hard because you struggle yourself to be the mother you want to be.

Hard because your mother was brutally abusive.

Hard because your mother committed suicide.

Hard because you gave your heart and soul to raising your kids, and now you never hear from them.

Hard because you long to know your Mother in Heaven.

So hard.

It’s OK if you love Mother’s Day. It’s OK if you hate Mother’s Day. Your feelings about Mother’s Day are valid and real, and I want you to let yourself feel them. You don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to hide your tears. Because I believe Dr. Aletha Solter’s words about children are also true about adults:

No matter what the source of stress, children will not feel better until they have been allowed to cry and rage as much as needed (Tears and Tantrums, p. 12).

Sometimes we will cry and rage for years.

I can’t take away your pain. I won’t take away your pain. Your pain belongs to you. But I do want you to know that I celebrate you.

I have carried some heavy rocks in my backpack. One of the heaviest was labeled: no-will-to-live. It was so heavy that when it was gone I felt like I might float right up to cloud nine-hundred-and-nine from the relief of it. I never could have imagined how much joy and hope my future would hold. I thank God every day that I chose life. This Mother’s Day I have so much to celebrate.

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These words quoted in our most recent General Conference are brutally true:

Each one of us experiences dark days when our loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure. –Thomas S. Monson

I know you have carried, are carrying, and will carry some of your own heavy rocks. You too have known indescribable sorrows. You have dragged yourself, bloody and bruised, over piercing paths and menacing mountains.

But.

You are still here. You are still breathing. You have successfully endured. All of your days. And all of your nights. And you are still here.

That is why I celebrate you.

Yes, let’s celebrate mothers. Because there are some inspiring and remarkable mothers out there, and thank the Lord for those nurturing souls who heal humanity with their presence. Yes, let’s celebrate women. Because women give life in so many ways beyond what happens in the womb. But even if you don’t personally feel like celebrating anything on May 8th this year (and that is totally OK), I will still be celebrating you.

That’s what Mother’s Day will be for me this year… A celebration of the gift of life. A celebration of the ones who gave us this messy, brutal, exquisitely beautiful thing we’re living every day.

I will celebrate those who have had the courage to give life, and with an extra measure of compassion and awe I will also celebrate those who have had the courage to give life a chance. And to keep giving life a chance… day in and day out… even when those days are full of ache.

I am so glad your mother gave you the gift of life. I am so glad you exist. And every day that you choose to keep going is a gift to humanity and yourself.

On May 8th I’ll be holding you in my heart.

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Sale begins April 24th

Sale begins April 24th

by Lani

Channing’s Milk-Sharing Story

February 25, 2015 in Adversity, Breastfeeding, Gratitude, joy, Loss, Love, Motherhood by Lani

By Channing Parker

Before the birth of my daughter, my pregnancy daydreams focused heavily on nursing my new baby while she slept in my arms. With each feeding, she would snuggle in close to me and drink until she was satisfied. I would pull her close, take in her sweet baby goodness, and drift off in blissful mommy vibes. When the time came for her to be welcomed to this side of heaven, I just knew that everything was going to go perfectly according to my plans. She settled in for her first feed, she latched beautifully, ate, and snuggled into her first newborn sleep.

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Does it sound like a dream? I think those were my post-delivery hormones talking. The harsh reality outside of the delivery room was that my daughter had a very difficult time nursing. My dreams of peaceful rocking chair feedings came crashing down when we got home. Each time I nursed my toes curled as I offered my raw, cracked skin over and over again trying to help my daughter successfully latch. Every feed ended with both of us soaked in tears and milk. I was so frustrated! I had milk to give and a hungry baby to eat it, but something went wrong between point A and B and we failed to fill her tummy. We were just one week in and I was ready to give up until I stumbled upon a solution that was perfect for us – bottle-nursing. Bottle nursing consists of pumping breast milk and feeding it to baby via a bottle. My first pumping session produced more milk than could be eaten in one feeding, and for the first time since my daughter was born, I felt a sense of relief.

I hoarded any extra milk I had in the freezer. Within a month, my little freezer was bursting with frozen breast milk. It was at this point that I realized my body produced abnormally large amounts of milk – enough to fill about three babies per feeding. I went back and forth considering dumping all the extra down the drain when I was inspired to look into informal milk donation. I prayed and poured my heart over my decision to donate my milk to a mother who adopted her baby, born just a few weeks after my daughter. I moved forward and met this mom and her baby.

We talked for a while and got to know each other and cooed over our babies. I joyfully packed every bag of milk I had into her cooler. She gave me a hug walked away with a huge smile. At that moment, I realized she was carrying away 120 ounces of me. My tears. My milk. My heart. I felt lighter. Over the next ten months, God lead three other women just like her to my tiny freezer. Each time they came, they chipped away at the raw pain inside me and took those pieces away in bags of breast milk. Those parts of me that ached to be acknowledged and loved were wrapped in hugs and grateful smiles from fellow mothers. Eventually, the place in my soul that once housed a gnawing emptiness began to be filled with hope, love, and friendship.

God turned my dream of feeding one baby into something even more beautiful and fulfilling. He took my fiery determination to breastfeed and passion for my child and softened it into a passionate compassion for His children. The Lord knew that the joy of feeding just one baby was not enough for me, so he allowed me to feed four more. I look back on my experience as a milk donor and joyfully praise Him. How great His wisdom and His love!

My experience with milk donation is that an ounce given is received back one hundred times over in the the joy of selfless service. For both donor and recipient, an exchange of freely given breast milk is about so much more than filling bellies. It is about finding healing and bringing peace to the hearts that long for love, and that is a treasure that cannot be measured in ounces.

DSC_0114Channing Parker is an LDS wife and mother who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a passionate student and teacher of yoga and loves to share her love of life and learning with others. Find her at The Little Blog Of Awesome and let some of her radiance and joy rub off on you!

by Robyn

A Gift for an Angel

December 9, 2014 in Angels, Birthdays, Christmas, Death, fasting, Grief, home birth, Jesus Christ, joy, Loss, Love, Mary, Robyn, Savior, Thoughts, Uncategorized by Robyn

December is special to me for many reasons.  Not only do I get to celebrate Christ’s birth, I get to celebrate my firstborn son’s birthday.  Kyle only spent two birthdays on earth with us before he died  but we still celebrate his birth every year.  If you have read “Birth in Remembrance of Him” in the Gift of Giving Life then you are familiar with his birth story.  His birth will always be very special to me.  He came just days before Christmas surprising us on a starry night.  No hospital, no midwife, just me, my husband and a newborn baby in a tiny little room.  I felt a special kinship with Mary, Joseph and the precious Baby Jesus.  I will always treasure that night.

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The cutest angel on our tree.

 

How does one celebrate an angel birthday? I don’t think there is a right way to do it.    We started by releasing balloons for each year old he would be.  We each write a message on the balloon and release it into the sky.  As the years pass, the number of balloons has grown so we are looking to change things around a bit. We will likely continue to open a gift from Kyle.  It is usually a Christmas book or other classic children’s book.  We have also donated a book to our local library because Kyle loved books so much.

This year I decided to give Kyle a gift.  It was early because I gave it to him on Fast Sunday.  As I have blogged about before, I moved this past year.  In my old ward, I often shared my testimony.  It was not unusual for there to be lots of pauses which made it easier for me to get up. The new ward has a line waiting every fast Sunday so if you want to get up you have to get up early and get into the line up.  I also felt a little more nervous to get up in this new ward.  And there is always the challenge of keeping the toddler happy while you go wait your turn.  While she was distracted with the cute boys behind her I snuck to the stand and waited my turn.  And then the bonus, my four year old followed me.  I admit to feeling like my thoughts were scattered but what I do know is,

“Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.” Doctrine and Covenants 62:3

My belief is that my angel, Kyle, will read it.  It is my gift to him.  And that is the glue that will bind us together forever as a family, Christ.  Our living testimonies of Him.  I also realized after finally getting up was that I could keep giving that gift to him.  So I have shared my testimony in my primary class, Family Home Evening, on my Facebook page, Instagram account and blog.  And now you get to hear it too.

I do know that Christ lives.  He is my Light.  He brings me hope as I seek repentance and forgiveness. He has the power to save.  He leads and guides His living church through a living prophet of God on the earth.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God as is the Bible.  My heart rejoices in their power.  I know that it is because of the Savior that my family can be together forever.  This is not wishful thinking.  This is eternal truth.  I bear witness to it.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

by Lani

Healing Heartbreak

May 8, 2014 in Adversity, Book reviews, Fertility, Grief, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Pregnancy, Virtual Book Tour by Lani

Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Brittney at Notes from a Been-There Mom. Brittney has shared some of her journey on our blog before–the birth story of her fourth baby, born with a cleft palate. Since that birth, she has experienced multiple heart-breaking miscarriages. Those losses have inspired her to partner with me in creating a book for moms mourning miscarriages: Light in the Mourning. You can read more about that project and how to submit stories HERE.

Three weeks before Brittney's first miscarriage

Three weeks before Brittney’s first miscarriage

Here’s an excerpt from Brittney’s beautiful post today:

Day after day, I walked past a copy of The Gift of Giving Life on my dresser. I felt a pull toward it. The book felt like a warm spot it a cold world. But I couldn’t pick it up. The last thing I wanted to read about was the joy of all those moms with beautiful round bellies birthing their healthy babies. (Clearly it had been a while since I’d visited those pages.)

Finally the book won. I decided I’d read all the ribbon stories I’d always skipped but that was it. (Stories mentioning loss are marked with a ribbon to protect the faint of heart like me.) My heart broke as I read stories of mothers suffering; mothers who endured trials I would have thought unendurable. I felt the greatness, strength and beauty of the authors through their words and suddenly found myself in the best of company. I wanted to change their stories, breathe life into their babies and hold them up. Instead, in their respective times of darkness, these women found peace. They found light. I kept reading.

Brittney’s post brought me to tears. I so appreciate her willingness to share her courageous journey. You can read the rest of her post HERE.

 

by Lani

Cherie Burton Book Review

April 28, 2014 in Adoption, Adversity, Book reviews, Depression, Fertility, Grief, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Personal Revelation, Virtual Book Tour, Waiting by Lani

150602_426562187424709_1846303491_nToday’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Cherie Burton. Cherie is an amazing, powerful woman and mentor/coach of other strong women. Because of her family’s history with depression and suicide, she is passionate about helping others achieve health and emotional balance. Cherie was also Utah County’s Young Mother of the Year in 2011 and considers being a wife and mother her greatest calling.

I loved meeting Cherie last summer. After she contacted me to set up a meeting, I spent some time on her blog reading about the miraculous and beautiful adoption of her Elijah. It struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons. One being that I began having spiritual experiences with my own unborn son (also named Elijah) almost as soon as my fourth baby was born. I felt his presence among my children often, I dreamed about him, I saw him in vision. Reading about Cherie finding her Elijah stirred my own heart’s assurance that my Elijah wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

I love Cherie’s post about The Gift of Giving Life. Here’s an excerpt:

the-gift-of-giving-life-book-review-1I read The Gift of Giving Life in 2012, shortly after the miraculous private adoption of our magnificent son, Eli. I wept with the women who detailed their experiences with loss, grief and divine compensation. I felt a rising empowerment, a blazing second witness that women are in a very real partnership with The Creator of All as they sacrifice and bear down and descend. And then nobly and beautifully ascend. The Atonement of Christ is demonstrated more mightily through the sacrificial practice of mothering than through any other practice on Earth.

The Gift of Giving Life is a book about power. Woven into each chapter are stories that affirm the massive spiritual powers of wisdom, love and creation embodied in the Feminine. I love that this book addresses so many women’s experiences, from so many walks of life, who have the same underlying belief: That God knows our hearts and our needs as women and will mold a perfect plan that, through birth and rebirth, will take our souls and bodies to heights and depths we could never before fathom. I have learned that it is not just the experience of giving birth physically that empowers a woman to call herself mother. It is the praying, the losing, the weeping, the waiting. The pouring of her heart and soul into a vision and promise that only she and her Creator can hold form for.

You can read the rest of Cherie’s beautiful post HERE.

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by Lani

Mrs. Tips and 20% off!

April 24, 2014 in Birth Stories, Book reviews, Giveaways, Grief, Lani, Loss, Virtual Book Tour by Lani

the-gift-of-giving-life-book-review-1Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Yvonne at Mrs. Tips. A little bit about Yvonne from her “About” page: “I’m a 31 year old SAHM who sometimes WAHM making fun things for my etsy store I have with my two sisters (SwedishSisters.etsy.com). I am enthusiastic to be alive and I love life!” I’ve only met Yvonne once in person at our new moon gathering in January, but I have to say that if anyone could be called a “sunbeam,” it’s Yvonne. She’s a ray of light and joy!

I loved reading about her third birth experience and how The Gift of Giving Life helped her through the hardest part: a shoulder dystocia. And I also loved reading about how the book gave her the sensitivity to help a friend as she grieved the loss of her baby. Here’s an excerpt:

As I continued to read the book after Cassie’s birth, I was able to share with Krystal chapters that I felt would help her through her grieving process. I asked her later if I was remiss for just e-mailing her a chapter I had read (I scanned it and e-mailed it to her as a pdf) without knowing if she really felt up to reading anything like that in the moment, and she told me that what I had sent her was perfect. She needed to know that it was okay for her to feel the full range of emotions she was feeling.

I learned from those grief chapters what NOT to say to a grieving parent and what to DO for a grieving mother. I think the sensitivity I gained from this book has helped strengthen our friendship. I felt more confidence in mentioning Kale in our conversations rather than being afraid to talk about him in an effort to protect her emotions as I may have done before reading the chapters in this book that dealt with mourning the loss of a child. He is not a taboo subject when we are together.

Robyn’s essay on grief is one I myself have shared with friends grieving losses. It’s a wonderful resource.

Click HERE to read the rest of Yvonne’s post. And then head over to our Virtual Book Tour page to see how you can enter to win some awesome prizes.

We’d also like to announce that we’re making it even easier for you to get loads of entries

The Gift of Giving Life will be 20% off from now until Mother’s Day on Amazon!

A friend of mine gave copies of the book to her mother, mother-in-law, and grandmothers for Mother’s Day last year. Think of all the wonderful mothers you know whose hearts would be warmed by The Gift of Giving Life. Buying the book earns you four entries into each of our prize giveaways and one entry to our spiritual childbirth education class giveaway! Head over to Amazon and take advantage of this super deal.

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by Lani

The Errand of Angels

April 22, 2014 in Adversity, Angels, Birth Stories, blessingway, Book, Book reviews, Giveaways, Lani, Loss, Mother Blessing, mother-centered baby shower, VBAC, Virtual Book Tour by Lani

Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Meg of Naturally Meg. I had the honor of meeting Meg last summer at a Gift of Giving Life Party I hosted at my parents’ house. Robyn and I are on the right. Rachelle, one of Meg’s “angels” for her last pregnancy and birth, is on the left. Meg’s the one with the beautiful baby belly:

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So it warmed my heart to read in Meg’s post today about the support and love she received as she brought that baby into this world. Meg is a beautiful soul. And she also happens to be a cancer survivor. Her journey of battling and overcoming cancer is so inspiring. You can read about it HERE.

I love Meg’s post for our Virtual Book Tour. It’s all about the angels who have aided her in her motherhood journey. Here’s an excerpt:

The errand of angels is given to women.

In my experience of having babies, losing babies, bed rest, infertility, and postpartum recovery I have been so very, very blessed by many angels. Sometimes it’s been friends who are near and dear to me and other times it’s been women who have come out of the woodwork and been absolute miracles in my life. There have also been some very sacred times where it has been women spirits who I can not see but I have felt their calming influence as I’ve gone on my own journey of womanhood and motherhood.

You can read the rest of Meg’s beautiful post HERE. Then head over to our Virtual Book Tour page and enter to win some of our awesome giveaway prizes!

by Lani

Start Telling Your Stories

April 17, 2014 in Adversity, Birth Stories, Book reviews, Grief, Lani, Loss, Virtual Book Tour by Lani

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“Read the book and start telling your stories.” -Ashlee Miller

2014-04-17 08.47.28 amToday’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Ashlee Miller. Besides being a personal development trainer, Ashlee is a:

  • Vibrant mom of two fantastic boys and one beautiful girl who teach her how to love and live.
  • Happy wife to her husband (and business partner) of almost 15 years.
  • Teacher of faith-based results, natural healing, inner peace and prosperity
  • Student of the scriptures and other good works
  • Lover of delicious food, any kind of of travel, reading, and the beach!

Ashlee’s post is about stories and journeys, coming to terms with loss, and transformation and rebirth. Here’s an excerpt:

The thing about birth, is rarely do our stories just involve those last few hours of pregnancy and then the delivery of a brand new baby.  For most of us, our stories begin long before that as we overcome our excuses, our fears, our false beliefs about birth and ourselves.  We each are set on a path with different experiences and no story can be the same. Every story has triumph and conflict and there are both sad and happy endings.

My story includes more miscarriages than I can remember and three beautiful births.

Read the rest of her post HERE! Then share Ashlee’s post on facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to earn entries toward our awesome Virtual Book Tour prizes!

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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

She Understands me

March 3, 2014 in Adversity, Church History, Death, Grief, Lani, LDS History, Loss, Midwives, miscarriage, Motherhood, Music by Lani

Ellis-Shipp

“It is to me the crowning joy of a woman’s life to be a mother.” -Ellis Reynolds Shipp

Did you know that Dr. Ellis Shipp, one of Utah’s first female doctors (who trained many women to become nurses and midwives), wrote a hymn in the hymn book? I had forgotten until yesterday when my friend (who is mourning her second miscarriage) posted this on facebook…

As I sung/listened to this hymn today, I realized that the woman who wrote the words understands me. Some of her own babies did not make it past infancy, yet she pushed forward, continued to bear children, and went on to help Utah women as their midwife and first female doctor. She has been a hero of mine for years, and only became more dear to my heart through the re-discovery of this hymn. Even though it made me cry, her song brought me joy and peace today.

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You can read more about Dr. Shipp’s wonderful legacy in Robyn’s post HERE.