For today’s “guest post,” I’ve asked three of our book’s fans who have not yet crossed the bridge into motherhood to join me for an interview.
Childbirth wasn’t something I became interested in until I became pregnant myself. So it intrigued and excited me that we had women reading our book who were not yet married or mothers. I wanted to dig into their heads and see if I could figure out how to get more of their peers to begin educating themselves about their sacred life-giving abilities (before marriage and pregnancy).
I’ve loved “talking” with these women… Shaylee Ann, Emily, and Lynette. I hope you love them too. -Lani
First, tell us a little bit about who you are and what keeps you busy?
Shaylee Ann: I am a newlywed, homemaker, and sales representative for ModestPop.com on the side. I used to blog my heart out, and I hope to go back to that some day. I love reading, especially “birth” books. I do a fair bit of writing when I have the time. I cook some – and I actually enjoy it! And I do my best to share the gospel of Jesus Christ every chance that I get.
Emily: I always wanted to be a stay at home mom with fourteen kids. In my 30s I’ve started just praying my heart out that I get even one. For now, I am single. I’m a professional who tries to juggle a busy job, a home and a church calling. I love to learn. In the personal time I eek out of my far too busy world, I love learning about herbs, essential oils and other more natural ways of managing ourselves. I also love to cycle. My body is most happy in the saddle of my road bike.
Lynette: I am a freshman at the University of Utah. I love living in Salt Lake City. I love hanging out with my little brother, and I enjoy running half-marathons. I am currently studying English and Pre-Med. My long term goal is to become an OB-GYN and Midwife. I lifeguard and write for The Daily Utah Chronicle (the university newspaper) every week as well as explore this fabulous city!
How did you hear about The Gift of Giving Life?
Shaylee Ann: From Heather’s blog. I had been following her for a while – found her on Pinterest a few months before – and read this post. When I realized that she was the co-author of a birth book written by LDS women, for LDS women, I immediately ordered two copies (one for my mother, and one for myself). Definitely money well-spent!
Emily: I am friends with one of the authors. Its her baby. You tend to hear about people’s babies.
Lynette: I believe I followed a link from Heather’s blog a couple years ago. I become enraptured by the raw and honest stories women had shared. I couldn’t stop reading and researching after that.
How has The Gift of Giving Life impacted your personal beliefs and plans regarding giving birth in your future?
Shaylee Ann: I have always wanted children – lots – and birth has ever been beautiful in my eyes. A lot of what is in The Gift of Giving Life is not new to me, but everything that I have read has strengthened my resolve to be a mother and to give my children the very best that I possibly can – from the beginning. It has also increased my testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and of the divinity of women and mothers – of our Father in Heaven’s love for those who “bear the vessels of the Lord.”
Emily: When I was sixteen and read Wallace Stegner’s All the Little Live Things, I was so impressed with the idea of not numbing the opportunities we have to FEEL those most crucial of passings, both in coming into and leaving this world. I have wanted to have a natural childbirth ever since. In reading TGOGL for the first time, I felt like my core wasn’t entirely foreign, but a communal desire shared by many women who shared my faith. It was like coming home for the first time. The book certainly encouraged me to pursue my heartfelt desires to have a more spiritually-based experience in pregnancy and childbirth. It also gave me hope that there are other people out there like me.
Lynette: Reading about countless women who were brave enough to believe in themselves and their bodies has completely influenced my outlook on just about everything. When I began learning and hearing about women who were fighting desperately to help amend the process of birth back to the normal and natural way it has always been, I decided to never let anyone dictate how I work with my body. I want to help give other women the information and power to make those decisions for themselves.
Are there women in your life who have been influential in guiding you to where you are in your perspective on childbearing?
Shaylee Ann: Absolutely. My Mother, especially. She has given birth to nine children – five natural home births – and I have been present for five of those. She taught me since I was very young of the beauty of birth, procreation, life, as well as the beauty of death. I look forward to the day that she will be attending me in my labors, as I once did her. Aside from Mom, there have been mothers of my friends, midwives, neighbors, Sister Julie Beck . . . many, many wonderful and inspiring women.
Emily: My mom influenced me greatly in helping me know that motherhood is a divine role. She definitely influenced me in wanting to have a family, but she did nothing out of the norm in her methods of having one. Truly my perspective on childbearing came on its own. I was born with it to some degree. Maybe it was my dissertation topic in heaven before I came?
Lynette: My mom completely influenced me. When I was going through this phase of reading each and every birth story I could get my hands on, I remember sitting on the couch with her, excitedly explaining everything I had discovered. She smiled at me and said, “Oh honey, don’t you think I’ve know this about you?” Growing up, I would come home from elementary school and watch “Bring Home Baby” and “Birth Story” on TLC. I guess I just forgot about it. It was comforting and familiar to revert back to it.
Do you have friends your peer group who share your interest in these subjects?
Shaylee Ann: Yes, a few. My best friend, and soon-to-be-mother, M; and then a couple others that I have met in the past five or so years. Mostly, though, I’m the odd-one-out when it comes to “liking” birth.
Emily: No, not at all. I am the resident alien in all of my peer groups.
Lynette: Not that I know of. For my final project last semester I wrote a research paper on the risks of induction within child birth. Throughout the writing process, we edited and reviewed each other’s papers. I think I raised a lot of eyebrows and perhaps caused some uncomfortable feelings among my eighteen-year-old peers. I think it was a great learning experience for all though.
What do you think is the most helpful thing experienced mothers can do to help their not-yet-mother friends and family prepare for their futures as mothers?
Shaylee Ann: Talk. That is the biggest thing. Share your experiences. Let future mothers know what to expect – and be completely realistic about the birth. Never shy away from the less pleasant topics such as birth injury lawyers either. It is an unfortunate fact that childbirth does not always go to plan, but it is reassuring to know that compensation is available for families who have gone through trauma as a result of the negligence of a medical professional. It is all life, and it’s all perfectly natural after all. Another thing would be to maybe invite a young wife not-yet-mother to attend one of your deliveries. I for one love to attend births as just an observer. First-hand experiences generally make for the best.
Emily: Talk about it. Don’t always assume that the subject is taboo or because someone is single and a professional that they must not be interested in the subject. I have so intensely appreciated my friends who have given me the play by play, blow by blow of their delivery experiences and allowed me in a way to vicariously walk that road.
Lynette: The most helpful thing would be encouraging women to educate themselves. You can make whatever decision you want about you, your birth and your baby, but you have to be informed.
What are you doing to prepare yourself for pregnancy, birth, and motherhood?
Shaylee Ann: Reading this book! 😉 I also pray a lot, study women in the scriptures, read other incredible books on birth, and observe the women around me. I love to imagine the changes that will take place once I am expecting a child, in every aspect of my life. I find such peace in envisioning that time. Lastly, and most recently, I attend the temple and seek the direction of the Lord in the celestial room.
Emily: I try to live a healthy lifestyle so my body will be ready for the experience. I read about the subject. I talk about the subject with friends and families. I ponder and meditate on the ideas. Mostly I just hope that one day my life will have that sort of crazy in it. I also try to have my home be an open door to little people and not-so-little people to fill the holes until then.
Lynette: I am learning more about the options available to women. I am also learning about the oppression and negativity that is so easily found in health care and women’s choices. I hope that I can help change that attitude.
Do you have a favorite chapter/essay/story/passage in The Gift of Giving Life?
Shaylee Ann: Goodness, I don’t know if I can choose! I love the chapters on Personal Revelation and Patience, but really, all that I have read so far has been my favorite (haven’t finished all of it yet). This book seems to be one of those healing books, for me. When I am seeking for answers, need to clear my mind, or just feel in the mood to read a good birth book, I devour it until I have to pause and go on with life. Then I wait until the time I just need a good cry, and pick it right back up.
Emily: My book is on (perpetual) loan out, so I can’t pull out the specifics, but my favorite essay is Heather’s on waiting. I love her discussion of some of the most incredible women in the Bible and how they had to wait so long for the miracle of childbirth to happen in their lives. I especially loved the idea that Heather shared that Heavenly Father blesses many of his most valiant children with that task of waiting. It resonates, you see.
Lynette: Not that I can think of at the moment. 🙂
Are you also a woman preparing for childbirth before marriage/pregnancy? We’d love to hear from you too. Please use the comments section to answer the questions and give us some more “interviews” with women who are ahead of the game and educating themselves early. You’re awesome.