Gift Babies: Hollie’s First Birth

December 1, 2014 in Birth Stories, Book, Fear, hospital birth, Lani, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

We love hearing uplifting birth stories from our readers! Do you have a gift baby? A “gift baby” was born under the influence of The Gift of Giving Life. Please send us your gift baby stories! Here’s one from Hollie:

It took three pregnancy tests to convince me this was really happening. We were married only a month and a half and now a baby was coming. My initial feelings were absolute fear. How on earth could I do this? I was in my second year at university and we were living off of Marks part-time job. This was not the time for having a baby (or so I had thought). If I’m being totally honest, my feelings went a lot deeper and lot more personal than this. All I knew was that I was very much pregnant, and I very much didn’t want to be. I think what was most difficult about dealing with this situation was the guilt that came with it. How could I not want a perfect little son or daughter? I had spent my entire teenaged life dreaming of having a family and now faced with the reality I just wanted a way out.

I felt awful. I kept imagining the beautiful child inside me and thinking ‘How can I not want you?’ I spent a lot of time on my knees and shed an awful lot of tears. A trip to the states and a browse in one of my favourite book shops solved everything. As I stared at the cover of The Gift of Giving Life I felt a little sense of excitement about being able to feel the spirit about being pregnant and giving birth. After reading the contents and seeing the sort of discussions that I would be able to partake of, I knew I had to take this book home. And I was right. This book calmed all of my fears and totally blew my mind. I read the whole thing slowly, and over the course of the nine months. I managed to finish it the week before I gave birth.

One of my favourite parts was reading the thoughts and feelings of a woman who seemed to have been able to put into words the way I had felt when I found out I was pregnant. I remember thinking ‘It’s okay. I’m not the only one. It’s okay to feel like that.’ And that’s all I needed. To know that it was okay to be pregnant and not want to be. After I came to terms with that, I could accept it, take time to heal and figure out that this was the best time for a baby and that although it wasn’t part of our plan, it was definitely a part of Gods plan.

So there I was – five days overdue and at 4 am the contractions woke me up. They were hard, fast and very painful. I was hurting, but I wasn’t afraid and I wasn’t panicked. I was very calm and very focused. I had a firm belief that this was my purpose and what I was designed to do. I knew I could do it and I knew there was no need to worry. I had learned from reading my book that women who have a great fear of giving birth actually tend to have longer labours or complications in childbirth compared with women who are not afraid and keep calm. I even researched this by asking women that I knew, and it seemed to be true. I had great faith that if I stayed calm and had courage that I could do this.

I listened to the sound of rainfall and did my breathing exercises whilst sitting on the bathroom floor trying to figure out when was the right time to call my husband home and when we should go to the hospital. I was so confused – my sister had given birth three days prior and she had been in labour for 40 hours but this was happening so fast. The contractions were almost over-lapping and they were extremely painful. This was difficult for me to deal with without getting panicked, but I just kept telling myself that I could do it and that it would be over soon. This wasn’t going to go on forever, and when it was over I’d have a beautiful little girl to spend everyday with.

At 8.45 am Mark came home, and we called the hospital. It was quite far away so I was reluctant to go in and be assessed because I knew if I wasn’t at least 4 cm dilated they would send us back home. But the contractions were so fast and we felt we should go. We arrived at 10.20 am and after assessment I was told I was 5cm – wow! This was happening quickly. I had always imagined lying on a bed to give birth but sitting down just wasn’t an option in reality. I could feel so much pressure like the baby was coming already so I just had to stand. And I was right – she was coming, and I couldn’t control the urges to push. With my husband there to witness the most incredible moment of our lives and my mother there to hold my hand and motivate me to push that little bit harder, my little Lillie was born at 12.31 pm. It was quick and painful, but I loved every single second. I have never felt anything so exciting and exhilarating. Giving birth to my little girl was the best experience I’ve ever had. It was so positive and so within my capacity. I felt wonderful and so happy to finally have this beautiful, perfect girl.

I truly believe that I owe my birth experience to the things I learned and kept with me from The Gift of Giving Life. I will always treasure the special things I read in it and shared with my husband. I will always treasure calling my sister who was also pregnant with her first and discussing the things we read in this wonderful book. And I will always read this book throughout my pregnancies. It is one of the best books I have ever read and I urge every woman, mother, mother-to be to take in its words and let their hearts be touched.
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P.S. We’ve discounted The Gift of Giving Life for the holidays! Click HERE to snag this super deal!

Comfort for Birth Trauma

April 29, 2014 in Adversity, Attachment, Birth Stories, Book reviews, Depression, Fear, Giveaways, Lani, Traumatic Birth, Virtual Book Tour

*Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from the wonderful Kylie of Satisfied by Sunshine. Kylie is a beautiful soul. As with so many beautiful souls, Kylie has seen the bitter despair of darkness and found her way back into the light of joy. (You can read about her inspiring climb out of anxiety/depression HERE.) For our Virtual Book Tour, Kylie has shared how our book helped her come to peace with unexpected and traumatic changes in her first birth experience. Here’s an excerpt:

And here I realized that the suffering I was experiencing wasn’t because anything I had ‘done wrong’, or should have planned better for in giving birth, but that I was attached to the idea that if birth isn’t peaceful, relaxed, and done a certain way, then it was not what I wanted. . . . And when I let go of what I thought was the best type of birth, what I wanted, and expected I found a well of healing within. It was okay that events did not follow my desired birth plan, but actually were far from it. I did my best to work towards what I thought was best, and in the end God wanted to teach me something better. A lesson of trusting Him. A lesson of letting go of my plan and embracing His, and that lesson was powerful. It prepared me to be willing after all I could do to . . . embrace what was, what is and find joy, and healing in my continued endeavor of motherhood. It allowed me to see the beauty in every birth, every type and every situation. These were the lessons I learned through my own experience and found within the pages of the Gift of Giving Life. Birth is beautiful and spiritual, even when unexpected turns occur in how you wanted your birth experience to be.

You can read the rest of Kylie’s Virtual Book Tour post HERE.

Kylie has generously donated one of the prizes for our Virtual Book Tour giveaways… a gorgeous tree of life pendant necklace. Find out how you can enter to win it by visiting our Virtual Book Tour page.

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Kylie has lots of other beautiful necklaces available through her Etsy shop The Sister Tree. I want them all!

Mrs. Tips and 20% off!

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

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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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

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!

Start Telling Your Stories

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

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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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Our Deliverance

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

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

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

 

Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him (Alma 58:11).

 

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

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

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

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

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We continued to seek the Lord’s guidance as we selected the midwives who would attend our baby’s birth, Mary and Nedra. And the Lord, my God, “did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith,” just as He had told me He would, through the scriptures, at the beginning of my pregnancy.

The blessings and miracles continued to pour down upon us.  In February, I attended a doula training workshop (offered for free as a gift to the community by the doula trainer) where I met many women who would become my friends.  One of them, Cassie, offered to be my doula and take photographs of my birth (again, for free).  She also took some maternity photos for us (like the one above).  Unexpected additional income came to us, with the probability of further additional income opportunities in the future.  Just as the Lord had promised, we found ourselves with enough and to spare financially, and our baby’s birth was completely paid-for by my 36th week of pregnancy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Miracle Birth Story of Melchizedek

February 28, 2014 in Angels, Conception, Death, Felice, Fertility, Priesthood

I have been thinking a lot lately about miracle births. Jesus Christ’s conception and birth are of course, the most famous and miraculous, but there are a whole lot of other miracle conceptions and births in the scriptures, and in every day lives. For example, a friend of mine has shared that her parents have no idea how she was conceived. The parents of Melchizedek evidently felt the same way, for similar reasons, however, my friend’s mother survived the ordeal.

The following story is from the second book of Enoch, which is not included in the traditional Christian canon, but is one of the few apocryphal books mentioned throughout the cannon. We could discuss why it was excluded by that early century committee at length (some LDS scholars believe it was put down because it had too much evidence of God having a physical body, which went against teachings of the time.) but we won’t do that now. Let’s just jump into the good stuff–the jaw dropping, miraculous and strange birth story of Melchizedek.  If you are familiar with bible stories, it is no more strange than many of them, but it is apocryphal, so read it with discernment. I’m not saying it is 100% factually true, but it gives one much to ponder.

 

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Behold, the wife of Nir, whose name was Sopanim, being sterile and never having at any time given birth to a child by Nir –

Sopanim was in the time of her old age and in the day of her death. She conceived in her womb, but Nir the priest had not slept with her. From the day that that The Lord had appointed him to conduct the liturgy in front of the face of the people.

When Sopanim saw her pregnancy, she was ashamed and embarrassed, and she hid herself during all the days until she gave birth. Not one of the people knew about it. When 282 days had been completed, and the day of birth had begun to approach, Nir remembered his wife, he called her to himself in his house, so that he might converse with her.

Sopanim came to Nir, her husband; and, behold, she was pregnant, and the day appointed for giving birth was drawing near. Nir saw her and became very ashamed. He said to her, “What is this that you have done, O wife? Why have you disgraced me in front of the face of these people? Now, depart from me and go where you began the disgrace of your womb, so that I might not defile my hand on account of you, and sin in front of The Face of The Lord.”

Sopanim spoke to her husband, Nir, saying, “O my lord! Behold, it is the time of my old age, the day of my death has arrived. I do not understand how my menopause and the barrenness of my womb have been reversed.” . Nir did not believe his wife, and for the second time he said to her, “Depart from me, or else I might assault you, and commit a sin in front of the face of The Lord.”

And it came to pass, when Nir had spoken to his wife, Sopanim, that Sopanim fell down at Nir’s feet and died. Nir was extremely distressed and said in his heart, “Could this have happened because of my word? And now, merciful is The Eternal Lord, because my hand was not upon her.”

The archangel Gabriel appeared to Nir, and said to him, “Do not think that your wife Sopanim has died because of your error, but this child, which is to be born of her is a righteous fruit, and one whom I shall receive into paradise, so that you will not be the father of a gift of God.”

Nir hurried and shut the door of his house. He went to Noah, his brother, and he reported to him everything that had happened in connection with his wife. Noah hurried to the room of his brother. The appearance of his brother’s wife was in death and her womb was at the time of giving birth.

Noah said to Nir, “Don’t let yourself be sorrowful, Nir, my brother! For The Lord today has covered up our scandal, in that nobody from the people knows this. Now let us go quickly and bury her, and The Lord will cover up the scandal of our shame.” They placed Sopanim on the bed, wrapped her around with black garments, and shut the door. They dug a grave in secret.

When they had gone out toward the grave, a child came out from the dead Sopanim and sat on the bed at her side. Noah and Nir came in to bury Sopanim and they saw the child sitting beside the dead Sopanim, wiping his clothing. Noah and Nir were very terrified with a great fear, because the child was fully developed physically, he spoke with his lips and blessed The Lord.

Noah and Nir looked at him closely, saying, “This is from The Lord, my brother.” And behold the badge of priesthood was on his chest, and it was glorious in appearance. Noah said to Nir, “Behold, God is renewing the priesthood from blood related to us, just as He pleases..”

Noah and Nir hurried and washed the child, they dressed him in the garments of the priesthood, and they gave him bread to eat and he ate it. And they called him Melchizedek .

Noah and Nir lifted up the body of Sopanim, divested her of the black garments, and washed her. They clothed her in exceptionally bright garments and built a grave for her. Noah, Nir, and Melchizedek came and they buried her publicly. Noah said to his brother Nir, “Look after this child in secret until the time, because people will become treacherous in all the earth, they will begin to turn away from God, and having become totally ignorant, and in some way when they see him, they will put him to death.”

Then Noah went away to his own place, and behold, great lawlessness began to become abundant over all the earth in the days of Nir. And Nir began to worry excessively about the child saying, “What will I do with him?” And stretching out his hands toward heaven, Nir called out to The Lord, saying, “How miserable it is for me, Eternal Lord, that all lawlessness has begun to become abundant over all the earth in my days! And I realize how much nearer our end is, on account of the lawlessness of the people. And now, Lord, what is the vision about this child, and what is his destiny, or what will I do for him, so that he too will not be joined with us in this destruction?”

The Lord heeded Nir and appeared to him in a night vision. And He said to him, “Behold already, Nir, the great lawlessness which has come about on the earth, which I shall not tolerate anymore. Behold, I plan not to send down a great destruction onto the earth. But, concerning the child, do not worry, Nir; because I, in a short while, will send My archangel Gabriel. And he will take the child and put him in the paradise of Edem.

He will not perish along with those who must perish. As I have revealed it, Melchizedek will be My priest to all holy priests, I will sanctify him and I will establish him so that he will be the head of the priests of the future.”

Nir arose from his sleep and blessed The Lord, Who had appeared to him saying:

	Blessed be The Lord, The God of my fathers,
	Who has not condemned my priesthood 
	and the priesthood of my fathers,
	because by His Word, He has created a great priest
	in the womb of Sopanim, my wife.
	For I have no descendants.
	So let this child take the place of my descendants and become as my
	own son, and You will count him in the number of your servants."

“Therefore honor him together with your servants and great priests and me your servant, Nir. And behold, Melchizedek will be the head of priests in another generation. I know that great confusion has come and in confusion this generation will come to an end, and everyone will perish, except that Noah, my brother, will be preserved for procreation. From his tribe, there will arise numerous people, and Melchizedek will become the head of priests reigning over a royal people who serve You, O Lord.”

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It happened when the child had completed 40 days in Nir’s tent, The Lord said to the archangel Gabriel, “Go down onto the earth to Nir the priest, and take the child Melchizedek, who is with him. Place him in the paradise of Edem for preservation. For the time is already approaching, and I will pour out all the water onto the earth, and everything that is on the earth will perish. And I will raise it up again, and Melchizedek will be the head of the priests in that generation.” And Gabriel hurried, and came flying down when it was night, and Nir was sleeping on his bed that night. Gabriel appeared to him and said to him, “Thus says The Lord: ‘Nir! Restore the child to me whom I entrusted to you.’ ”

Nir did not realize who was speaking to him and his heart was confused. And he said, “When the people find out about the child, then they will seize him and kill him, because the heart of these people are deceitful in front of The Face of The Lord.” And he answered Gabriel and said, “The child is not with me, and I don’t know who is speaking to me.”

Gabriel answered him, “Do not be frightened, Nir! I am the archangel Gabriel. The Lord sent me and behold, I shall take your child today. I will go with him and I will place him in the paradise of Edem.”

Nir remembered the first dream and believed it. He answered Gabriel, “Blessed be The Lord, who has sent you to me today! Now bless your servant Nir! Take the child and do to him all that has been said to you.” And Gabriel took the child, Melchizedek on the same nught on his wings, and he placed him in the paradise of Edem. Nir got up in the morning, and he went into his tent and did not find the child. There was great joy and grief for Nir because had the child in place of a son.

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The Lord said to Noah, “Make an ark with 300 cubits in length, in width 50 cubits and in height 30 cubits. Put the entrance to the ark in its side; and make it with two stories in the middle” The Lord God opened the doors of heaven. Rain came onto the earth and all flesh died.

Noah fathered 3 sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. He went into the ark in his six hundredth year. After the flood, he lived 350 years. He lived in all 950 years, according to The Lord our God.

To our God be Glory always, now and in the ages of the ages. AMEN.

Crazy interesting huh? Not much is said about Melchizedek in our scriptures, but for some reason he was important enough that the highest priesthood–the “Priesthood after the order of the Son of God” was re-named after him. Some people believe that he was Jesus Chris, visiting the earth before his coming in another form. I am not certain but I believe that if he was a man, he was awesome, and had elevated himself to be very much like Christ, and was a type of the Christ to come.

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)

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I pray that we can all think about and learn more about Melchizedek, the prince of peace, as we study the scriptures and receive inspiration. Feel free to share any insights you have.

Through the grace of God,

Felice

 

 

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 2

December 9, 2013 in Angels, Birth Stories, Fear, home birth, Lani, Music, VBAC

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). This is Part 2 of Cherise’s birth story. You can read Part 1 (her quest to find a supportive care provider HERE). I love how the words of one of my favorite songs gave Cherise strength when she felt like giving up. -Lani

 

Sacred Space for Birth, Part 2
By Cherise Sant

Aaron’s estimated “guess date” came and went, and I got to practice the patience I’d so often preached in class. I joined a yoga studio and practiced prenatal yoga for the final month of my pregnancy. That was such a good choice! It was the perfect preparation for birth, as well as a much needed sanctuary in the final days which were such a challenge emotionally.

At 40 ½ weeks gestation, I received a notice that the following week, the water in my neighborhood would be shut off for 12 hours. I laughed and thought wouldn’t that be hilarious if baby came that night? Except it wouldn’t really be hilarious at all. I shared my dilemma on facebook and some amazing women offered their homes should I go into labor on that particular night (even one woman I’d never before met), and I felt God’s love and support again.

Then came week 41, and I was still pregnant. I tried to avoid anyone that would ask questions in effort to keep myself positive and looking forward. I knew my movement wouldn’t be as limber or energetic as before, but I trudged to yoga class anyway. I tucked in with my mantra that I was at peace and accepting God’s plan, and I let the tears flow. Two nights later was the night of the water shut off. I filled the tub and put water on the stove in case baby decided to join us that night. The water was scheduled to come back on at 6am the next morning. My husband was away at work that night and I snuggled down with my then 4 and 6 year old and we all went to sleep. I woke just after 6 a.m. to go to the bathroom and was relieved to see water flowing. All was well. I went back to bed.

At 7:07 I awoke with a pain in my back, so I sat up and that helped some. I stood up and that helped more, but I was tired (I loved to sleep in whenever possible). I bounced on my birth ball while leaning over on the bed. As I felt sensations in my back and belly, I knew that these were contractions, and they were different than what I had experienced thus far for this pregnancy. I called my mom and asked if she could come and help me with my kids. I didn’t know if baby was coming that day but I knew I’d need some help. Just a bit later I called my husband who was just on his way home from work to make sure he was on his way, and I gave my sweet doula the heads up as well. I called my midwife but wasn’t ready for her to come quite yet.

Bouncing on the ball was helpful for a long time, and then I wanted to get in the bath. My husband sat with me until I requested that he set up the birth pool so that I could have more room to move around and more water to cover my belly. I soon asked someone to call the midwife. So then my sweet mother came in and sat next to me. I told her she would feel like she’s not doing anything, but just by being there she would be doing a lot. She wrote in her notebook, and I breathed deeply and imagined swirls of color to keep my mind moving but off the contractions. I walked around, I bounced on the ball in the kitchen, and my birth team arrived.

I don’t remember just who but various people brought me herbal tea with honey, and some gluten free toast. I labored on the toilet as things got quite intense, and I cried. I leaned upon my husband, and he held me as I moaned and swayed. Then the birth photographer and a dear friend came with her new little one. I was at his homebirth just 4 months earlier. She came in to say hi, and I could her little guy breathe. Hearing that newborn breath awoke me to the purpose of all the discomfort I was feeling, and I got excited. It was all really happening.

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After the wave of contractions I experienced in the bathroom there was an internal shift and I knew that it wouldn’t be long now. I knew I had to get to that birth tub. So I did, and then things seemed to slow down for a minute. My kids were going back and forth between PBS kids and checking on me, and during a contraction I could tell my 4 year old daughter was a little concerned about me. After that contraction I looked back at her and smiled warmly. I told her, “Mommy’s okay, I’m just having a baby!” She relaxed and smiled.

And then I got really, really uncomfortable. I started getting grunty and really felt like I had to poop (which I knew was baby), and I got a little excited. After one BIG contraction and guttural moan I pushed hard! I was imagining I was pushing the baby down closer and closer with that push, so I felt satisfied. Until I heard my husband say to our daughter, “Daphne, don’t touch that!” I looked back to see that… I pooped. I pooped! “Oh great!” I yelled, irritated. Of course the evidence was quickly removed and I labored on.

I had been listening to my birth CD and on it was the most beautiful song called “Long Time Sun” sung by Snatam Kaur. I then went into a place of intense pressure while baby worked his way down, and I distinctly remembering feeling like my body would crack open if this continued. And that was a problem because I pretty much had to continue. My mind flooded with doubt and fear – words like “I can’t do this, this is too hard, I don’t wa—“ I recognized immediately the negative talk that had begun, and I remembered that even though I didn’t feel it at that moment, I knew that somewhere I had what it took to birth this baby. I am connected to an endless source of energy and light and power in my Savior, and with his help I can do anything! And then I remembered the words of the song I had just heard…

May the Long Time Sun
Shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on
Guide your way on

I prayed a desperate prayer and tried different positions in the water in a fruitless attempt to find some relief. I moved to a squat – holding onto the sides of the tub and I bore down. Emotions raged, pain seared, and I knew my baby was coming. And then he was with me, and I was with him. Time didn’t mean anything to me then but I know it was only a matter of minutes before his head was born. “His head is out!” I announced excitedly and a bit proud. More pushing, and I remember my mom coming around to the front of the tub with the video camera sobbing unrestrained. My husband (who never left my side) and our other children were at the tub side now.

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Then little Aaron left my body, and I pulled him right up to my chest. The emotions that I experienced at that time cannot be described with words. It was overwhelming, it was so special, and yet so normal, like “Of course, I just had a baby.” I was on top of the world. I stayed in the water for just a few minutes as I let it sink in and looked at my baby. We had a boy! As I’d pulled him up, I immediately could tell that he was little!! My smallest baby for sure, and yes he weighed in at 5 pounds, 15.9 oz. Later I would marvel that I changed course on a path to VBAC and didn’t have planned cesareans at 39 weeks. I couldn’t imagine how small and fragile he would have been 2 ½ weeks prior.

The next hour was a whirlwind but I was lucid and consciously participating. The baby latched on, and I tucked into my own bed and after some delicious food and loving faces I went to sleep. The midwife returned to my home to weigh the baby, check my sutures (I tore along an old scar line), blood pressure, etc. in the days that followed. Everything was perfect. My home was blessed with love and angels at the time of his birth and in the weeks that followed.

Even many months after Aaron’s birth, I could walk back to that spot where the birth pool sat and I gave birth and feel it. I felt the strength, beauty and power of those precious, sacred moments. We’ve since moved away from that home, and on the day we left, I stood there once again and drank in the spirit of love I felt there.

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The children were so glad to have been present, and I believe they have a special bond with him because of that. As a mother I felt so whole and so supported through everything that I felt nothing but love for this new little one. He wasn’t a burden at all as I admit I had felt about the first two. I had enough – I always had enough to give. I believe it is because during his pregnancy and birth that was my reality. I made it my reality with the help of the Lord. The Lord inspired my path, I had a vision of what I wanted, he agreed, then I imagined it, I spoke about it, I felt it, I prepared for it and then I experienced it.

I know the Lord cares about me, so he also cares about you. He cares about our births, and that women and children are met with respect and love during the sacred and tender time of birth. He wants to be involved and will guide your path if you are willing to do the walk of faith. I am forever grateful for such a loving Heavenly Father who always leads to joy and healing.

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

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…

Sacred Space

September 11, 2013 in Birth Stories, Breastfeeding, Faith, home birth, Intuition, Lani, Midwives, Motherhood, Personal Revelation, Pregnancy

Sacred Space
By Brittney Walker

I met Lani several years ago at a doula training I fell into after the postpartum doula training I’d signed up for was cancelled. Birth wasn’t so much my thing as was helping new moms through the trauma of those first weeks postpartum.

Lani and I kept in touch, and in time she invited me to contribute to The Gift of Giving Life while they were still collecting birth stories. I remember thinking it was cute that these ladies were collecting spiritual birth stories. Birth was many things to me, having experienced three of my own, but spiritual wasn’t one that stood out. Becoming a mother and bringing new life into this world are, of course, sacred, spiritual things but birth itself? Not in my experience.

Then I became pregnant with number four. For many reasons, we chose to deliver this baby at home with a midwife – our first outside of a hospital. Right off the bat we learned we were in new territory. After research and interviews we found a midwife we not only felt comfortable with but also with whom our personalities just clicked. I knew I could confidently trust my midwife with my baby’s (and my) life.

An early complication arose so we ran some tests and met with our midwife. She educated us, presented our treatment options, and then asked the game-changing question: “so what do you want to do?” There was no indication of bias or judgment in her face. She deferred the decision to us, the parents – our first crash course in midwifery care. It was clear that we would be in the drivers’ seat regarding our prenatal care for this pregnancy. I felt overwhelmed and inadequate. We’d always just been told what to do, and signed the dotted line and then done our best to be good patients. We had no medical training and didn’t feel qualified to make such weighty decisions. My midwife assured us that there was no one more qualified and that she knew we would make the right choice.

We didn’t understand the biology behind what was going on and couldn’t see the future so we took our question to the only one who can. We prayed fervently about what to do. We asked in faith, knowing the Lord’s love for us and our little one and we received an answer. I felt peace, went forward in faith and trusted that things would work out. They did.

This became the theme for this pregnancy. I relied heavily on the Lord for wisdom and peace. I developed a more active relationship with Him than I had ever had and happily handed over the steering wheel in favor of the passenger seat.

With three boys at home we went into our second trimester ultrasound with one thing in mind: Our baby’s sex. As focused as we were on that issue it took us a while to realize that the tech seemed oddly preoccupied with our baby’s nose and lips. After a long, very odd ultrasound, the tech left and then returned with an obstetrician, asking her to have a look. Then came the news, they suspected our baby may have a cleft lip and palate but couldn’t get a great look at his face. They needed us to come back in a couple of weeks. My first thought was, of course he doesn’t. (Yes, another “he”.) No family history of birth defects, no risk factors, nope, not us. My second thought was, so what if he does? Why are they making such a big deal about it? If that’s how it is then that’s Heavenly Father’s plan for my baby and our family. We can handle it. So, we scheduled the follow up.

A couple weeks and too much research on my part later, a second ultrasound confirmed that our baby would have a cleft lip, possibly palate. The news was harder this time with my newly acquired full knowledge of the implications. Likely, this meant no breastfeeding. Breastfeeding isn’t just a feeding method but a parenting style and the only way I know how to do it. And what about our home birth? Cleft babies have a higher risk of breathing difficulties at birth so many homebirth midwives won’t attend cleft babies’ births. There is also the possibility of related defects that may not have been caught on ultrasound. However, I’d also read stories of cleft babies being unnecessarily rushed away from their parents to the NICU where the hospital didn’t know what to do with them until someone from the babies’ cleft team could arrive (as much as a week or two later) to free them.

Again, I was faced with a decision I could never make on my own. Was I risking baby’s life? I found stories of cleft babies born at home with good outcomes but always by surprise. My midwife had recently delivered a cleft baby and was confident that she could handle whatever came up and planned on extra safety measures. Another thorough ultrasound didn’t show any signs of other related defects as far as they could see. He seemed a very healthy baby boy. But again, it wasn’t until we took the matter to the Lord that the overwhelming confirmation came, I was birthing this baby at home. I felt a calm peace about this decision that couldn’t be swayed and drowned out the concerns of well-meaning family and friends. I knew.

Months later our little boy was born perfect, the way God created him — into the waiting hands of his father. I wrote on my blog:

I’ve heard people talk about birth being a spiritual experience but with my first three babies coming into the world amid lights and hustling bodies in an unfamiliar and kind of scary environment, it just wasn’t something I ever understood.

But in my room, at 10:14 that Sunday night, I felt Heaven and Earth meet. In my room, surrounded by people who love me and baby Clayton I felt part of something great and eternal. I wondered how I’d ever shared something so sacred with strangers in a strange place.

That feeling has stayed with me through the last week and a half. When I would normally be feeling alone, fighting for my sanity, and feeling guilt and sadness for my baby’s rude entry into the world, I instead feel supported, joyful, blessed and in tune with my new little bundle.

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

His birth was perfect. I felt loved, supported and trusted by my caregivers and family members (including friends) that were present. I felt the comfort, peace and protection provided by the walls that house my precious family. The sacred space where we labor to raise these precious young men took on a new purpose that night as we welcomed a new member to our forever family.

With pain in my baby’s future, with surgeries looming on the horizon and more challenges in his future than I ever would have chosen for my child I took comfort in his gentle entrance into the world. With a childhood of doctors, nurses and therapists ahead I found peace in the intimacy of his birth. I couldn’t breastfeed this baby but nestled in his own bed between mommy and daddy from that first night he didn’t feel the lack. No strangers’ hands, no poking or cutting, no feeding tube, no hospital stay separated from Mom… my boy was born into a room full of people who will be there and support him through any challenge life has in store.

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

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Photo credit: Shelly Ivy at ivystudiosphoto.com

Heavenly Father had a plan for me and my baby. He answers prayers and provides us all the tools we need to endure our trials and hardships. Clayton’s gentle beginnings gave me peace when I soon had to hand him off to his first surgical team. He endures surgeries, recoveries, trauma and related struggles like a brave little soldier while I cling to the memory of the gift of his peaceful entry into the world.

His birth matters. To me, and I think to him in an intrinsic way he may not ever be aware of. It has had a profound and abiding impact on my relationship with my baby and the whole family. I thank Heaven every day for that gift.

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IMG_0285Brittney Walker is a homeschooling mom to four wily, awesome little men. She has written about parenting and babies online and in print since her nine-year old’s birth and currently hosts a support group for expectant and new moms, supports new mothers through placenta medicine and is pursuing her breastfeeding counselor certification through Breastfeeding USA.