by Robyn

Book Review: The Sacred Gift of Childbirth

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

The Gift of Giving Life has a friend!

The Sacred Gift of Childbirth

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

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

So first, what do we have in common?

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

What is different about it?

Author

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

Length

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

Content

Charts & Worksheets

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

Research & Statistics

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

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

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

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

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

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

A few more thoughts:

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

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

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

by Robyn

How a Prisoner of War Story Helped Me Prepare for Birth

January 20, 2016 in Adversity, Book, Depression, Faith, Fear, Gratitude, Guest Post, Jesus Christ, joy, Missions, Motherhood, Pain, Postpartum Depression, Pregnancy, Preparation, Robyn, Savior, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Waiting by Robyn

American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese are shown at the start of the Death March after the surrender of Bataan on April 9 near Mariveles in the Philippines in 1942 during World War II. Starting on April 10 from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan Penisula, 70,000 POWs were force-marched to Camp O'Donnell, a new prison camp 65 miles away. (AP Photo)

American and Filipino prisoners of war captured by the Japanese are shown at the start of the Death March after the surrender of Bataan on April 9 near Mariveles in the Philippines in 1942 during World War II. Starting on April 10 from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan Penisula, 70,000 POWs were force-marched to Camp O’Donnell, a new prison camp 65 miles away. (AP Photo)

 

I want to thank my friend Natalie for this beautiful post.  We became friends because of our mutual love for birth but beyond that Natalie really is a beautiful person inside and out.  –Robyn


I am currently “overdue” with my FIFTH boy. Yes, my fifth. There are no girls among them. That’s a lot of boys. And oh how I love them. 
And after all these boys, I am a bit experienced, in my own experience at least.  And that is why I have been so scared recently. Yes, scared to bring home another baby because I know what could possibly be coming along with him.  Finally, after going through 4 newborn phases, I’ve figured out that I usually get a good case of post partum OCD/anxiety. After I give birth, I really struggle with the newborn phase. I struggle with scary and intrusive thoughts, anxiety, lots of crying, irrational fears…… which result in guilt, embarrassment, shame, and feelings of failure, for a few months.  I’ve had some hard times. I know that there are a lot of mamas out there who also have hard times after their babies arrive. Oh how we love our babies, but we don’t love what the hormones that come along with them, can do to us.  And there are many mamas who go through much more intense experiences than I do –especially with post partum depression that can last for many, many months.
My poor little soon-to-be baby boy.  I am so excited to meet him, but I have not felt ready to jump into that phase of life again.  And yes, I’m over 40 weeks!  What 40 week pregnant woman isn’t asking every other mom what she can do to encourage her baby’s eviction!?  Me. I’ve been over here chanting… “Not quite yet. Not quite yet.”  So even before he’s here, I’ve already felt guilty for not being ready.
But that all changed a couple of days ago. On my actual “due date,” we had the adult session for our stake conference.  I decided to go, even though I’m at that phase where I just want to hibernate and not socialize or be seen in public. Yet, I knew it would probably be good for me to be spiritually fed. So I changed into my maxi skirt, told my husband to pull on my boots for me, and off we went.
I have been trying really hard to get emotionally and mentally prepared for this next phase.  I also have been constantly reminding myself that I have overcome it before, and I can overcome it again.  I’ve prayed and have continually given myself pep talks and positive affirmations.  I’ve been trying, but had not quite conquered the fear of the future. Earlier that day, I had broken down into tears, while telling my sister-in-laws how nervous I was to care for another baby. 
But we made the trek through the snow to our stake center. And on this night, a special story really struck me. Yes, a story about a man who was a prisoner of war.  I will share most of the story, but you can read the full article on LDS Living:

“When my father, Alfred R. Young, was liberated from a Japanese POW camp at the end of World War II, he weighed 90 lbs.—scrawny for any man, but skeletal for someone 6 feet 3 inches tall. His weight, however, was only ashadow of concern compared to his mental and emotional condition after 39 months of wartime captivity. He endured two hellship voyages; physical, mental and emotional starvation; innumerable beatings; forced labor; disease; psychological abuse; isolation; and six months of Allied bombing raids that eventually obliterated his prison camp, devastated Tokyo and Yokohama, and killed many of the men who had become his brothers.
His physical internment ended in 1945, but Dad was still a captive almost eight years later when I was born. I knew he was a captive because Icould see he was somewhere else, walled up inside the sternness of his countenance. I knew it because I could see emptiness in the depths of his eyes.
One of those pictures was a close-up of a man completely alone, whose eyes were so deeply set that sunlight could not reach them. I can still remember my amazement upon learning that the man in the picture was my father.
In 1939, Dad had enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and was bound for Fort McDowell near San Francisco. From there, he was sent to Clark Field—an air base on Luzon Island in the Philippines.
Dad’s enlistment required only two years of duty overseas, but by 1941, America was preparing for war and his return to the States was canceled. Consequently, on December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dad endured the terrible destruction that swept over Clark Field, doing to America’s air power in the Pacific what had just been done to its navy. Before the war was two days old, Dad had lost two bombers and was the sole survivor of his crew.
Christmas 1941 found him in a foxhole on an island named Bataan. In the dead of night, his outfit was split up and he was assigned to a group that boarded an inner island cruiser. He was assigned to a machine gun post on the Pulangi River among the iguanas and head hunters.
For four months, he watched planeload after planeload of American officers and men evacuating from the Del Monte Air Field just a few miles tothe north. As a bombardier, he should have been aboard, but the call never came. One morning, he and his men awoke to discover that their officers had vanished in the night. Those left behind survived on worm infested rice, lived off the land, traded with the More people, and eventually retreated into the hills.
Life as a Prisoner
When his command surrendered in May 1942, he passed through thegate of a makeshift prison camp at Malabalay. From there he was among prisonersloaded into what would become known as a hellship and was taken to Manila’s in famous Bilibid Prison. From Bilibid, he and thousands of other prisoners were loaded into the holds of unmarked freighters bound for hard labor in Japan to drive the Imperial machinery of war.
Climbing down the metal ladders into the dark holds of those ships, prisoners were forced at rifle butt onto cargo shelves where they crawled in darkness toward the bulkhead. Dad descended until nothing but the naked rivets and rough joinery of the hull separated him from the murky waters of Manila Bay. In the deep shadows, he crawled through the prisoners, already packed intothe hold like bodies without coffins, until he came to the small wedge of a space where the curvature of the hull met the underside of a cargo shelf. The hatch closed. Darkness swallowed him.
Cradled in cold steel and stifling stench, groaning men with dysentery and other diseases lived and died around him in their own waste. It was impossible to know whether the shadowy forms around him were still men, orcorpses. The only reprieve was waiting on deck in the long lines for the over-the-side latrines that had to serve nearly 2,000 prisoners.
Because the freighters were unmarked, during their journey they came under Allied submarine attack. Dad watched, with the rest of the men inline, none of whom had a life jacket, as the captain tried to out-maneuver white tufted torpedo trails that claimed more than 3,000 prisoners. Fortunately, Dad’s ship escaped such a fate.
Not until the prisoners aboard the Tottori Maru were unloaded in Busan and hosed down on the docks like cattle, were all the dead discovered inthe holds. From Busan they sailed for Mojiand. Dad was sent to a labor camp on the island of Kawasaki in Yokohama’s waterfront industrial area.
There he endured steel gray days of disease, deprivation, starvation, forced labor, humiliation, beatings, and the constant threat of death for more than three years. He worked at the nearby steel mill, brick factory, railroadyard, and docks.
Reading material in the camp was scarce. He read Robin Hood so many  times he never wanted to see it again. Commenting one day to a fellow prisoner about how glad he would be for anything new to read, Jim Nelson, a young man from Utah, said he had a book he would gladly loan to him, but it was about religion. Dad exclaimed that he was desperate enough to read anything. Anything!
With the book in hand, Dad took it to the mat where he slept, sat down cross-legged under his blanket and began his first reading of the Book of Mormon. Much to his delight, it was not a book about religion, it was a story.
In fact, it was a story about a family, and memories of childhood and family were something that had already saved his life through the long ordeal of captivity. Whether it was the dreariness of meaningless labor or surviving the kicks and fists of his captors, he escaped into his memories of home, and in the Book of Mormon he found himself suddenly in a family with a bunch of rough and rowdy kids who acted just like his five brothers and two sisters.
Before the story was 10 pages old, the neighbors had tried to kill the father, the family had left home, wealth, and comfort behind to cross a wilderness, and the boys were swept up in a quest. And it was an exciting onethat resulted in theft of the family fortune, assault and battery on the youngest brother, beheading a corrupt military commander, subterfuge (complete with costume), kidnapping a servant, and smuggling a priceless treasure out of town in the dead of night. Whether or not the book had any religious significance, it was one walloping good tale!
After completing the Book of Mormon, Dad asked if there were other books like it that Jim would let him read. Jim admitted he had another book, but he really didn’t think Dad would like it. Dad pleaded, however, and excitedly returned to his mat and his blanket to lose himself once again, this time in the pages of something called the Doctrine and Covenants. When he finally finished, Jim wanted to know what Dad thought. Dad replied thoughtfully: “It’s very well-written, but the plot is lousy.”
Liberation at Last
From October 1944 through July 1945, as Allied air strikes intensified over Tokyo and Yokohama, Dad lived in the crosshairs of Allied bombsights that widened their circle of terror night after night and then day after day, killing  many friends and forcing him to dispose of their remains while assigned to body-burning work details.
Liberation finally came on August 29, 1945. In the chaos of release, Dad lost track of Jim. In fact, he tried to lose track of everything stained with the memory of his time as a POW. However, he crammed a  duffle bag with  belongings and memories he wanted to forget and put Jim’s books  on top of everything else.
On his way home, Dad kept leaving the duffle bag behind from ship to ship and port to port, trying to lose it. But from Tokyo Bay to Tulsa, it kept turning up, always a few days or weeks behind. But those were days for forgetting. The world had changed. Dad was out of step and anxious to make up for lost years. So the books followed him through his re-enlistment, marriage, a promising career in nuclear weapons, and the death of a daughter.
The books were still there when I was born in Albuquerque in 1953. Owing to the loss of their daughter, my parents feared to even hope that they might bring me home from the hospital, but I survived. And after a year, they began to look farther ahead, wanting to offer me a better home environment than they knew how to create. Those were days before post-traumatic stress had a name, and Dad was still captive to the ghosts of Kawasaki, disabling headaches, paralyzing dreams, alcoholism, and other disabilities resulting from the beatings, psychological abuse, and starvation.
Faced with a crisis of parenting, Dad remembered the Book of Mormon and the talks he had had with Jim about the Church. So he looked up the Church in the phone book and left a message asking that the missionaries drop by. Time passed, the message was lost, and the missionaries never came; at least, not in response to the phone message.
Weeks later, however, two full-time missionaries, traveling through our neighborhood en route to their tracting area, decided to try just one more door before going home for dinner.  They picked out our little house in the middle of the block. No one answered the doorbell; Mother was in the backyard and Dad wasn’t home from work.  But as the two missionaries mounted their bikes and were about to leave, Dad, who had worked a lot of overtime recently and had decided to come home early that afternoon, pulled into the driveway. Ignorant of Dad’s message asking that the missionaries drop by, they  introduced themselves.  Dad replied: “It’s about time. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Mother and Dad were baptized in the spring of 1956. In August ofthe following year, our little family was sealed in the Los Angeles Temple. On the way back to Albuquerque, we stopped in Reno, Nevada. Dad had had no contact with Jim Nelson since the war but had heard he was living in Nevada.
We stopped at a pay phone and Dad found a listing for James Nelson. A phone call and a brief conversation with Mrs. Nelson confirmed that it was the same Jim Nelson who had been a prisoner of war in Japan, but he was still at work. We drove to the Nelson home and were sitting in the living room when Jim got there. The reunion was everything that could be wished, but nothing was said about the Church. Nothing, that is, until Dad reached down to pick up the two books he had hidden on the floor beside the couch.
“Jim,” he said as he lifted the volumes into view, “We’re on our way home from the LA Temple where we’ve been sealed and thought we’d drop by to return your books.”
Until the day Dad died, in 2012, he was true to what many people have heard him say: “If what I went through was the only way I could receive the Book of Mormon, I would do it all again—even knowing beforehand what Iwould have to endure—just to have that book.”
Wow. Wow. What an amazing story.  What a HARD experience.  I sat there feeling grateful for the blessedlife that I live, and for the challenges that I have, even though some trials may be difficult.  And then it hit me.
“If what I’ve gone through is the only way I could have received my children in this life, I would/will do it all again – even knowing beforehand what I would/will have to endure – just to have my precious children.”
 
And just like that, something clicked in my mind and in my heart.  I wondered if there was a time when I was accepting my life’s mission as a Mother, where I told Heavenly Father the same sort of thing. That I was willing to go through such hardships, to bring my children to me in this earth life. Somewhere, sometime, I just might have agreed to this.  I know I can do it. I know it’s worth it. I know I’ll have another beautiful little soul to love and who will love me for many years to come. To enrich and bless my life. To teach me. To help me grow, and who can live with the rest of our family forever and ever. What a blessing. And I will go through what I need to go through, to have him in my life.
How especially blessed am I to know of God’s love for me. That He will be there for me, if these times are difficult, and if I have to go through the hardships of newborn life. I had someone remind me of a beautiful song, that I could apply to my post partum period.  I love it so much – it’s been in my head ever since. I want to share the words that strengthen me, even when I feel like my world is falling apart.  The song is “MyKindness Shall Not Depart from Thee,” written by Rob Gardner.  You can listen to it on this link .
Though thine afflictions seem
At times too great to bear,
I know thine every thought and everycare.
And though the very jaws
Of hell gape after thee I am with thee.
 
And with everlasting mercy will I succor thee,
And with healing will I take thee ‘neath my wings.
Though the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
Know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!
 
The Son of Man hath descended below all things.
Art thou greater than He?
 
So hold on thy way,
For I shall be with thee.
And mine angels shall encircle thee.
Doubt not what thou knowest,
Fear not man, for he
Cannot hurt thee.
 
And with everlasting kindness will Isuccor thee,
And with mercy will I take thee ‘neath mywings.
For the mountains shall depart,
And the hills shall be removed,
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea,
But know, my child,
My kindness shall not depart from thee!
 
You can watch the music video here:

 

 

Kindness – Paul Cardall – from Ephraim’s Rescue Soundtrack (2013)

This book makes me feel like some sort of “Goddess”

January 22, 2015 in Pregnancy, Preparation by enjoybirth

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

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

 I cannot keep my hands off this book. It’s stories and essays are exactly what I’ve been craving my entire pregnancy. I told my husband that this book makes me feel like some sort of “Goddess!” and it makes me really appreciate the role I’m playing in bringing a new little life into the world. It works well as a guided scripture study, and it is great for those who are experiencing infertility as well. Overall, it’s intelligently written and has some deep doctrinal points.

 

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

by Robyn

Approaching the Throne of God

October 10, 2014 in Fertility, Free Agency, Nourishment, Prenatal influences, Preparation, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

st-george-utah-temple-1083599-gallery

I really loved conference as always. How is it that the messages are for such a general audience but feel so personal at times?  I wanted to share a few thoughts I had while listening to “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence” by Elder Jorge Klebingat of the Seventy.

He began by asking a few questions in relation to how we would feel approaching the throne of God. Would we shrink or approach with confidence? He followed this up with six suggestions that can help restore and strengthen our spiritual confidence.

I would like to expand on the second suggestion to take responsibility for your own physical well-being. This is the excerpt from his talk,

Your soul consists of your body and spirit (see D&C 88:15). Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught that we should “regard our body as a temple of our very own” and that we should “control our diet and exercise for physical fitness” (“We Are Children of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 87; Liahona, Jan. 1999, 103).

President Boyd K. Packer has taught “that our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character” (“The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character” [Church Educational System fireside, Feb. 2, 2003], 2; speeches.byu.edu). Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves. If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.

Diet and exercise are two factors that can affect fertility (source). The childbearing process is physically and spiritually demanding. I don’t think we will stand blameless before God if we put ourselves and our babies at risk because we were not willing to take care of our physical bodies.  I imagine we will give an accounting of how we valued and used our gift to give life.

The truth is we should be preparing our bodies to make and carry life long before we are even pregnant or thinking of being pregnant. Each woman is born with the eggs that will become their children. They are essentially carrying life all of their days. We are creating temples. We have a responsibility as co-creators to be in the best health we can be to carry life and sustain it.  What quality of food/materials would you use to build a temple?

I put together six ways we can physically prepare for birth. In doing so I, like Elder Klebingat, hope “to edify and not to offend.” If we are humble we will discard what we don’t need and put into action what we do need to change. Please keep in mind that this is not medical advice. You should discuss any of these suggestions with your caregiver.

  • Before you are even pregnant or thinking about it, take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid and a supplement with omega 3. There are a lot of brands to choose from and not all are created equal. I am not going to recommend a specific one other than tell you to look for one derived from whole foods. A prenatal made from whole foods is more easily digested and used by your body.  Some people recommend skipping the prenatal and eating a balanced healthy diet.  For most people it is not likely that your diet will supply you all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.  Our body needs replenish vitamins and minerals through diet and supplements.  Growing babies depletes the body’s stores of vital minerals.  I didn’t realize how deficient my body was in magnesium until I started taking magnesium.  I feel that I was able to carry my baby longer this last pregnancy because I had built up my mineral stores. It is not enough to assume your baby can just take everything from your body it needs. Your baby cannot take what is not there. This kind of attitude can put you and your baby at further risk.
  • Avoid unnecessary over the counter or prescription drugs. All drugs cross the blood brain barrier of your baby and can affect their development.  Some drugs are more concerning than others. You can be prayerful in your approach discussing the pros and cons with your caregiver and then taking it to the Lord.
  • Take care of your teeth.  You are more likely to have problems with your teeth and gums when you are pregnant so any issues you may have now will only be magnified if you are not taking proper care of your teeth. For more information see this post.
  • Begin exercising or keep exercising. It was harder to force myself to exercise while I was pregnant and tired but I know I felt better for doing it.  Research shows that women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to experience complications specifically gestational diabetes. This link contains tips for exercising safely during pregnancy.
  • Learn exercises to prepare your body for birth. Some examples are kegels, squatting, tailor sitting, pelvic rocks, relaxation, etc.
  • Nourish your body. Eat a balanced diet.  Choose quality foods.  I am not going to give a specific diet to follow but keep in mind the Word of Wisdom and other references to food in the standard works when deciding how to best nourish you and your baby with food.  Keep a journal of what you eat.  Look for patterns and ways you can improve.

The Lord knows we are not perfect and honors us for continually striving to do better. Do not guilt yourself for past mistakes.  I love the promise Elder Klebingat closes with,

Brothers and sisters, . . . acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t be immobilized by them, because some of them will be your companions until you depart this earth life. No matter what your current status, the very moment you voluntarily choose honest, joyful, daily repentance by striving to simply do and be your very best, the Savior’s Atonement envelops and follows you, as it were, wherever you go. Living in this manner, you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.

Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings. I testify of a loving Savior who expects us to live the commandments. I testify of a loving Savior who is so very anxious to bestow His grace and mercy. I testify of a loving Savior who rejoices when we apply His Atonement daily with the calm and happy assurance that we are facing in the right direction. I testify of a loving Savior who is anxious for your “confidence [to] wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45). In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

 

Further reading from the Gift of Giving Life:

Spirit-Mind-Body Connection page 220

Constant Nourishment to Body and Spirit page 236

Choice & Accountability page 140

 

 

by Robyn

Help Us Name Our New Baby

April 14, 2014 in Book, Giveaways, Preparation, Robyn, Virtual Book Tour by Robyn

DSC_0053

We have been teasing you with our posts about our new “baby.” And the truth is, none of the authors is actually pregnant but we are busy gestating a new project.

We are birthing an online pregnancy and childbirth class!

It is also our intention that these classes are more than a childbirth education class. While the majority of childbirth classes concentrate on physical and/or mental preparation, this class will focus on spiritual preparation. We hope women choose to access the classes early in their pregnancy. It is the kind of class you could take even when you are not pregnant. We hope to add classes for women in other stages of life including coming of age and advancing past the childbearing cycle. So coming up with a name has been a challenge.
Picking a name for a baby can be tricky as you know so we would love your input. Tell us why you like or dislike some of these names. Even better, suggest one!

Gift of Giving Life Journey
Gift of Giving Life University
Gift of Giving Life Classes
Gift of Giving Life Series
The Gift of Giving Life Interactive Online Education
Gift of Giving Life Spiritual Childbirth Education

The classes will be steeply discounted in the newborn stage as we get all the classes up and running smoothly.

Purchase the book during our Virtual Book Tour (April 15-May 11) for an entry to win early-bird access to our spiritual childbirth classes!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

by Robyn

Focus Meditation for Birth Workers

February 18, 2014 in Doulas, meditation, Midwives, Obstetricians, Prayer, Preparation, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

I have been taking a midwife assistant class recently and one of the assignments I was given was to share a grounding exercise.  I pieced this focus meditation together based on some of the energy centers of our body and what I felt would help me step away and ground myself before entering a birth.  This is my first attempt at writing my own meditation so, you know, it is a humble offering. So far I like using it.  I think it would be helpful for doulas, midwives and helpers at any birth to do something similar.   I think I may do this one (along with prayer) as needed on any given day when I need to refocus with my children.  I also really like the calm heart meditation for this purpose.  I also usually pray before entering into laborland with a family.   What kinds of things do you do to ground yourself?

Grounding Exercise: Focus Meditation

Close your eyes.

Place your hands palms together like they are praying in front of your heart. This is the energy center that relates to our ability to give and receive love. 

Breathe in gently.

Breathe out gently.

Let your service be that which is motivated by love.

Now move your prayer hands parallel to your throat. This energy center relates to sound. It has to do with seeing and hearing truth.

Breathe in gently.

Breathe out gently.

May you speak and hear truth.

Now move your hands between your eyes above the nose where your “third eye” resides. After gently pressing your thumbs into this spot, roll your eyes upward toward the source of all truth. Focus yourself to this third eye. This energy center governs the mind. This chakra is the seat of wisdom, vision, intuition, and our concepts of reality. *

Breathe in gently.

Breathe out gently.

May you be conscious of the dialogue inside your mind and distinguish truth.

Now lay your hands open palmed on your knees.

Breathe in all of the resources that you will need for this birth.

Breathe out all of the things you will not need.

Breathe in strength, calm, focus.

Breathe out stress, fear, distraction.

Breathe in peace, humility, diligence.

Breathe out doubt, selfishness, pride.

Breathe in faith, power, love.

Breathe out the negative.

Breathe in the positive.

*We have a tendency to over analyze, over-think and let our mind get in the way of our intuition or promptings. Make sure that it is your inner vision that runs your life rather than those around you. Beware of getting stuck in a vision that someone else has for your life or seeks the approval of those around you instead of God.

by Lani

Becoming Zion: Book Recommendations

January 17, 2014 in Book reviews, Divine nature, Intuition, Jesus Christ, joy, Lani, Motherhood, Music, Preparation, Savior, Temple, Zion by Lani

So I’ve been a bit obsessed of late with Zion. Can you feel the momentum like I can? Things are happening. We are being prepared for big things. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I feel in my gut that we and our children and grandchildren will build Zion, we will BE Zion. I want to get there as quickly as possible. I’m done with darkness and misery and suffering. I can’t wait for light, truth, love, peace, wholeness, and Christ in our midst!  During a recent trauma-release session with a therapist, I was asked to go to a “special place” in my mind. I chose to place myself in the center of Zion’s temple because there was no safer place I could imagine. It was awesome, at least in my imagination.

Maybe you’re as eager as I am? If so, here are some books you might love (if you haven’t read them yet)…

81pYSv-cBJL1) The Triumph of Zion: Our Personal Quest for the New Jerusalem, by John M. Pontius 

I started reading this book at the end of the summer last year (after reading another of his books, Visions of Glory). The vast amount of information contained in The Triumph of Zion made me overlook its minor flaws. I learned so much from this book about Zion, translation (the spiritual kind, not the language kind), the Second Coming, etc. There is a lot of repetition and rehashing of the same information, but I tried to see it as an intentional gift to really embed the information in my brain rather than as an editing mishap. If you want to better understand what needs to happen in order for Zion to be built, this is a great resource.

 

64982762) Light in the Wilderness: Explorations in the Spiritual Life, by M. Catherine Thomas

After two separate strong, wonderful, spiritual women recommended this book to me, I knew it was time. I think I have marked almost every single paragraph in the book with my red pencil and stars and circles and notes. This is one of my new all-time favorite books ever.

If you know Truman G. Madsen’s work, it may interest you to know that his review is quoted on the back cover of Light in the Wilderness: “This remarkable and penetrating book deals with some of the toughest spiritual issues of our time.” I discovered Truman G. Madsen as a teenager and devoured all the books my stepmom had by him. She later gifted them all to me, and I absolutely treasure them. In fact, Truman G. books were the only spiritual books I could stomach during my battle with anxiety/depression in 2012. He was the thread that kept me connected to God. I love him. Light in the Wilderness reminds me a lot of Madsen’s style.

M. Catherine Thomas is a convert, a mother of six, has a PhD in ancient history, taught at BYU and the Jerusalem Center, and has served four Spanish-speaking missions with her husband. I hope I can hear her speak someday. I love her! Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Everything in the Cosmos is playing music based on its particular configuration and vibration. The spheres are full of music. The elements of our physical world play the music given them by their Creator, but . . . we shall see that Man can choose to a degree the energy by which he will vibrate and the music that he will play” (p. 39).

“One day our former glories will be unveiled again; meanwhile, just the knowledge that we are full of unutterable wonders can light our way–yes, can cause us to question our current perceptions of reality and expand toward greater ones” (p. 64).

“But setting aside a human tendency to be gripped by fearful or miserable thoughts, we can quietly, deliberately, and deeply entertain the possibility of the opposite of what the thought is tempting us to believe. What might be a truer way of looking at this situation?” (p. 82).

“How important it is to realize that like is drawn to like: intelligence to intelligence, truth to truth, light to light (see D&C 88:40), but also anger to anger and pain to pain. We will draw to ourselves the sort of energy from unseen beings that we ourselves entertain” (p. 186).

I can’t wait to read this book again, and again, and again. It is like a manual for becoming pure in heart, becoming Zion.

 

97803408243753) The Mozart Effect, by Don Campbell

As I’ve written before, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Zion’s builders/inhabitants it is this: they SING. Over and over and over the scriptures declare that Zion is home to those who sing “songs of everlasting joy.” I got a copy of The Mozart Effect for a few dollars at Goodwill last year and promptly started devouring it. I learned so much about the healing power of music and song from this book. It’s dated (making reference to cassette tapes, etc.) since it was written back in the 90’s, but the information is still as pertinent as ever. If you want to have a better understanding of why Zion’s inhabitants will spend so much time singing (and making music, I’m sure), this book is a great overview.

 

babyandhandxsm4) The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth

Ha ha! Really though. I have long felt that we were inspired to write our book when we did because it would play a part in preparing the mothers of Zion to birth and raise the most powerful spiritual army that has ever lived. You may have heard the phrase often quoted by birth advocates: “Peace on earth begins with birth.” I absolutely believe this is true. And Satan knows it too, which is why he has worked so hard to disempower women in their life-giving journeys from the very beginning of their journeys. If he can throw a wrench in a mother’s views about her body, about her own strength, her connection to her baby, her faith in her intuition from the very beginning, he’s gone a long way toward accomplishing his efforts to weaken families. But if we can strengthen a mother from the very beginning, if we can lift her and support her and help her discover her own power and intuition, we have made huge strides toward weakening Satan’s influence over that particular family. The Gift of Giving Life can strengthen the mothers of Zion, and the mothers of Zion will help usher in a millenia of peace. This army of peace is being unleashed upon the earth even as we speak, and it is growing. So exciting! If you haven’t read our book yet, we hope you will!

Do you have some other Zion-focused book recommendations?

Please share in the comments! 

by Lani

New Moon, New Year, New You

January 3, 2014 in Events, Jesus Christ, joy, Lani, Preparation, Savior, Waiting, Zion by Lani

On New Year’s day, I had the privilege of gathering with eleven lovely souls in a cozy space in Utah County to celebrate the New Year on the new moon with a powerfully symbolic group meditation.

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We also spent a lot of time talking about awesome spiritual things, among them the significance of the new moon. New moons and sabbaths were both considered sacred and special to the ancient Israelites. Jewish law required that certain rituals and sacrifices be performed on the new moon, and it was during the new moon that the gate to the inner court of the temple was opened, and the Lord presented Himself to the people at the gate (see Ezekiel 46:1-3). I like the way Felice explains this in her new moon blogpost: “It seems to me that if we are seeking Him, there is special opportunity on the Sabbath and the New Moon, when He ‘opens the gates to the inner court.'”

Isaiah 66 explains, “I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. . . . And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord” (vs. 18, 23).

I can’t help but draw a connection between the new moon, the empty womb, and the empty tomb. Each could be viewed through a variety of lenses. Each could be seen in terms of what they lack, but I prefer to see them in terms of what they have given birth to (or will). The new moon gives birth to increasing light. The empty womb has given birth (or will give birth in the future) to a precious new soul. And the empty tomb “gave birth” to the resurrected Christ who “gave birth” to eternal life for all of God’s children. When we look at the new moon, we can choose to rejoice that the waning of the light is over and the brightest light is to come.

I long so much for Christ’s return. So learning about the history and symbolism of the new moon has been especially meaningful for me. I intend to spend each of the coming new moons centering my thoughts and focus on the Savior, celebrating (in advance) the day of His return, seeking His “inner court” and His face, looking toward the increasing light that will come from the Light of the World.

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Before we can build the New Jerusalem on earth, we have to build that “city of peace” within ourselves. We have to become the New Lani or the New Marie or the New Jessica… new and improved, with salem/shalom or peace/security/wholeness at our cores. Let’s make 2014 the year that we make great progress in growing Zion within ourselves and our families, when we rejoice in the knowledge that our personal quests for greater light are bringing that future day of joy and triumph closer and closer. O come, O come, Emmanuel!

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by Lani

Gift Ideas for the Pregnant Woman You Love

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

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

1) Body pillow

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

2) House plant

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

3) Stretchy wrap

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

4) Epsom salts

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

5) Maternity top

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

6) Prenatal massage giftcard

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

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

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

7) A tree of life

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

8) A good book

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

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by Lani

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 1

November 4, 2013 in Birth Stories, Cesarean, Depression, Education, Faith, home birth, hospital birth, Lani, Midwives, Personal Revelation, Postpartum Depression, Prayer, Preparation, Traumatic Birth, VBAC, Waiting by Lani

1011942_669099829783949_352451545_nCherise is an Arizona Mother, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Placenta Crafter, and Creator of the marvelous “Big Baby Project” (a website full of empowering vaginal births of babies 9 lbs and over). I love how her story illustrates what I wrote about in my essay “Unity with Providers of Care” in The Gift of Giving Life. I love that Cherise continued to search and pray until she found the right care provider for her. -Lani

 

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 1
By Cherise Sant

My first encounter with childbirth started with the birth of my first child. That experience was eye opening, disappointing, affirming, traumatic, magical, overwhelming and set the stage for the worst depression of my life. I had resisted an induction but eventually caved to the pressure I was receiving from my obstetrician. The ultimate result was a healthy baby boy born via cesarean and my broken heart and body.

My second birth was an empowering vaginal birth in the hospital, but I was met with mistrust, abandonment and even violence though I had carefully chosen my provider and a “natural birth friendly” hospital. Even more disenchanting was to have my baby caught by a resident student as there was no obstetrician in the hospital at that time. If something catastrophic had occurred, I would either have had to wait until someone arrived or transfer to another hospital. It was then that I asked myself, “Why did I get out of my bathtub at home and tear down the freeway in transition to come here and meet negativity and contention when the help I was going to the hospital to potentially receive wasn’t even there?” I knew my next baby would be born at home. Should a need arise, I would then go to a hospital.

Three and a half years later, the month after my daughter weaned, I became pregnant again. Thankfully, there were a handful of midwives who had extra credentials, allowing them to legally attend me in a VBAC at home. I began to interview them. The first one I interviewed was “the one” – or so I thought, until I knelt down and prayed to know if she was. Very clearly, the answer was “no.” I was stunned. I knelt there in a sour stupor, trying to work out what that meant. Did that mean I wasn’t supposed to pursue a home birth? Was I willing to go back to the hospital? The next couple of weeks reflected no progress on the part of my attitude. I knelt down again and asked, hoping maybe I wasn’t clear that first time, but very clearly, the answer that came again was, “She’s not the one for you.”

I didn’t know whether this birth would involve a tragedy, but there was one person that did know all, and that was the Lord. So I resigned my will and continued the search. I was not only searching for a provider, but also asking whether home birth was the Lord’s will for my family. I really had to search myself- why did I want this? After a lot of prayer and contemplation I concluded that it was because I wanted my birth to be treated as sacred. I wanted the spirit of love to be unrestrained. I knew that would best be achieved in my home, with people I knew beforehand rather than meeting a stranger in a hospital and hoping for the best.

I interviewed another midwife, and then another. Their philosophies clearly did not match my own and I was feeling defeated. At the time I was teaching childbirth education at an obstetrician’s office, and knowing that she was more mother-baby-friendly than most, I considered choosing a hospital birth with her. Still, there was no peace and approaching my 17th week I felt like I was running out of time. I did NOT want a last minute scramble. I continued to pray, search my scriptures and explore my thoughts and feelings about all of the possibilities.

One weekend, I was volunteering at a birth event where a screening of a popular birth movie was taking place. I was sharing my dilemma with a friend and fellow birth worker. She then told me about a midwife who was credentialed to attend VBACs at home and that she’d been in practice for 30 years. In that moment, something came over my body, mind and Spirit that had never happened before. My bosom burned like a fire, and my mind flooded with messages of love and support from my Heavenly Father. I knew for certain that she was the one I was looking for. I got her information and sat down for an “interview,” though I already knew she was the one.

It turned out that not only did our philosophies match but she was the only midwife in the state (of whom I was aware) with the skills and support I was looking for. (And I was pretty picky.) In particular I wanted someone who was comfortable enough to use only her fetoscope during labor instead of the Doppler. I wanted access to herbal knowledge and teas – which she had an abundance of! The Lord knew exactly what I was looking for and wanted, and he was providing for me. I felt so loved.

Even still, the weight of my decision caused me to doubt. I prayed and sat down with my scriptures yet again. I opened right up to scripture which basically said to me, “I already answered your question, don’t keep searching for what you already have.” I prayed prayers of gratitude for my answer and continued to prepare.

Look for Part 2 (the birth story) in a future post…