The Yoga of Motherhood

March 19, 2015 in Divine nature, Intuition, joy, Lani, Marriage, meditation, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Rebirth, Rites of passage, Yoga

 

Perhaps the essential purpose of all relationships is to create the laboratory in which we uncover our own divine nature and encourage theirs. -M. Catherine Thomas

In perusing the journal I wrote during my first pregnancy, I chuckled to myself when I stumbled upon these words (written September 10, 2003, just a couple of weeks before I gave birth):

Sometimes I almost wish for a trial or challenge to come so that I can be refined by its fire. . . . I almost hope that motherhood will be a challengeWell, I know that it will be a great challenge. But I hope I will look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow every day. Because I do want so much to develop and become a better, more loving and more Christ-like person.

The very next entry wasn’t until two months later, November 21. I wrote this:

I said last time I wrote that I sort of wished for a trial to come. Well, it certainly came. The first few days and weeks after my baby was born were some of the most difficult of my life. I didn’t get any real sleep until after we came home from the hospitalwhich was two days after her birth. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the new role of mother. I was having difficulty breastfeedingwhich made everything more difficult. . . . Plus I was trying to recover from childbirth (which left me with multiple tears and lots of pain). It was hard for me to do virtually anything because it hurt to move.

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The remaining pages of that journal include a lot of venting about the challenges of caring for a very high-needs baby (who turned into a wonderful young lady, by the way). She didn’t sleep well, she didn’t eat well, she wanted to be held constantly, etc. etc. In June of 2004, I wrote down a passage from a book that helped me put things into perspective: “One of the greatest surprises, and greatest joys, comes as you realize that those have-to’s in your life actually got you where you wanted to be all along” (Emily Watts, Being the Mom). Indeed they have. My four children, and all the have-to’s that come with them, have done exactly what I hoped for as a soon-to-be mother: they have made me into a “better, more loving and more Christ-like person.”

Loveliest of the arts

Back in February I started Kundalini Yoga teacher training, so naturally I’ve got yoga on the brain. What is yoga? Here’s how Yogi Bhajan describes it:

Yoga is essentially a relationship. Consider the origin of the word “yoga.” Yoga, as we in the West understand it, has come from the biblical word, yoke. This originated from the root word in Sanskrit: jugit. They both mean “to join together,” or “to unite.” Yoga is the union of the individual’s unit consciousness with the Infinite Consciousness. The definition of a yogi is a person who has totally leaned on the Supreme Consciousness, which is God, until he or she has merged the unit self with the Infinite Self. That is all it means (The Aquarian Teacher, p. 14).

So the ultimate goal of yoga is union with God. How do we unite with God?

Last weekend in teacher training, our instructor said: “Confront your ego/shadow self until you get to I am, I Am.” After saying this, she shared a story about her early years as a yogi in Brooklyn, NY, living in the ashram. Every morning before sunrise, she went to group sadhana [daily yoga/meditation practice]. She had grown up as an only child, so it was quite an experience being with all of those people. She said that life in the ashram was: constantly having people pushing your buttons, triggering your stuff. As she said those words, I thought: sounds like a family. Isn’t that why God gave us families? To help us confront our egos, our shadow selves, until we get to I Am?

Byron Katie has said:

The people we most need are the people we’re living with now. Again and again, they will show us the truth we don’t want to see, until we see it. Our parents, our children, our spouses and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves yet (qtd. in M. Catherine Thomas, Light in the Wilderness, p. 165).

And Richard Rohr has said:

So we absolutely need conflicts, relationship difficulties, moral failures, defeats to our grandiosity, even seeming enemies, or we will have no way to ever spot or track our shadow self. They [others] are our necessary mirrors (qtd. in M. Catherine Thomas, The Godseed, p. 168).

Yogi Bhajan called marriage between a man and woman the highest yoga: “Male and female make a union and this complete union is the greatest yoga” (The Master’s Touch, p. 138). Indeed, marriage provides ample opportunities for confronting our shadow selves, refining our behavior, and drawing closer to God. Perhaps it’s because I married a very kind, easy-to-live-with guy, but marriage hasn’t been my highest yoga. For me, it has been the yoga of motherhood that has tested and refined me most of all.

Yogi Bhajan taught that it was the job of a yoga teacher to “poke, provoke, confront, and elevate.” If that is the case, no one has been a greater teacher to me than my children. No spiritual practice has done more to purify my soul than motherhood. Yogi Bhajan said: “The ocean is a very calm thing, but when the winds are heavy and high, then it’s very choppy. The wind represents your egothe higher the ego, the choppier is a person’s life.” Clearly I came to this world with a whole lot of ego to process through. My teachers have had quite a job to do, and they have done it very well.

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Being a mother has required more discipline, patience, endurance, sacrifice, strength, selflessness, service, intuition, love, and reliance upon God than anything I have ever done. Mothers partner with God in a way that no one else can. I put this slideshow together as a tribute to the divine yoga of motherhood.

I remember when Dallin H. Oaks shared this story in conference:

One of our family members recently overheard a young couple on an airline flight explaining that they chose to have a dog instead of children. “Dogs are less trouble,” they declared. “Dogs don’t talk back, and we never have to ground them.”

True. Dogs are lovely companions. But we’re in this life to be refined into godliness. Yoga is the “sacred science of god-realization.” I thank heaven for my four excellent yoga teachers who “poke, provoke, confront, and elevate” me daily.

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Towers of Strength: a Call for Stories

January 28, 2015 in Adversity, Atonement, Book, Book reviews, Depression, Divine nature, Fear, Grace, Grief, joy, Lani, Miracles, Pain, Postpartum Depression

Last weekend I attended Felice’s Therapeutic Imagery Facilitator Training. It was five billion times more awesome than I ever could have imagined it would be. I’ve been guiding my daughters on imagery journeys nearly every night since, and I can’t wait to share these new skills with everyone and anyone I can. So much healing happened in that sacred space last weekend. What an honor and privilege to have been a part of it. I love these women!

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After the workshop was over, I was talking with the lovely Anna Hargadon (one of the creators of the awesome film Women of Faith). She asked me, “So what’s your next project? Do you have anything you’re working on?” Maybe it was God’s way of nudging me to get moving. One of the first things that happened after I recovered my will to live last fall was that God gave me an assignment. It’s time to write another book, He said.

So this is me acting on that prompting. Last Sunday, as I drove home from church, the book’s title came to me. It was inspired by something I learned reading Heather’s new book, Walking with the Women of the New Testament. In my review of her book, I wrote:

Heather writes, “While we don’t know the details of Mary Magdalene’s infirmity, we might deduce based on what we know of the others whom Christ healed from evil spirits that she was tormented with some sort of mental infirmity. The fact that she had seven devils cast out of her suggests that her infirmity may have been severe” (p. 77).

Heather explains that Christ called Mary “Magdalene” (meaning “tower of strength”) probably in much the same way that he called Simon “Peter” (meaning “rock”). After her healing, Mary became a devoted follower of Christ and a likely “tower of strength” to those around her, including Christ Himself. Of all the people Christ could have appeared to immediately after His resurrection, He chose Mary Magdalene.

Being a woman who struggles with “mental infirmities,” I gather peace from Mary’s remarkable recovery. If Christ can turn an infirm and darkness-plagued Mary into a “tower of strength,” maybe then there is hope for me too?

The title God gave to me for this book is inspired by Mary Magdalene, the original “Tower of Strength” and one of my heroes.

Towers of Strength: Stories of Triumph over Darkness. What do you think? This probably isn’t what the book will look like, but I had fun making a pretend cover. A quick search on Deseret Book’s website only brought up a few titles discussing mental illness, and none of them (as far as I could tell) is written from the perspective of the “mentally ill.” Mental health practitioners and caregivers certainly have valuable insights and perspectives to share, but I just feel strongly that we need to give a voice to the ones living with the illnesses. I feel like there is a sort of assumption that the mentally ill aren’t capable of speaking for themselves, but I couldn’t disagree more. Our voices need to be heard. It’s time.

So far this is what I have in mind:

  • Spiritual thoughts and stories about mental illness from the perspective of Latter-day Saints, emphasis on stories of triumph.
  • Written by those who have lived with and/or overcome mental illness.
  • Stories of all types of triumph (through counseling, medication, meditation, energy healing, temple work, prayer, priesthood, etc.)
  • Similar to The Gift of Giving Life with stories from a wide variety of people with a wide variety of challenges.
  • Intended to bring hope to those who are still struggling in darkness and their loved ones and to help doctors, counselors, and caregivers to better understand the perspective of “patients.”

If you feel impressed that you have a story to share or know someone who might, please send me an email (askbusca at gmail dot com). And please spread the word on whatever groups, forums, and facebook pages you feel might generate interest. The deadline for story submissions is May 1st. And if you know of a publisher who might be interested, please pass the word along to them too! Thank you!

**Posted today, January 28, 2015, in memory of Ashton Mayberry who suffered from depression and anxiety and took his own life on January 28, 2014.**

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God Keeps His Promises

March 12, 2014 in Adversity, Book, Dads, Depression, Faith, Fear, Grief, Lani, Loss, Miracles, Personal Revelation, Postpartum Depression, Priesthood blessings

It has been nearly two years since I experienced what I can only describe as a “nervous breakdown.”

It started in April of 2012, coinciding with the birth of our book, The Gift of Giving Life, a year and two months after my fourth child’s birth.

And then my Grandma died. And I fell. Fast.

After several months of struggling to breathe, struggling to eat, struggling to keep the panic and despair from crushing me, God sent a friend to my home. She said, “I think maybe it’s time for you to try medication.” I had resisted medicine for a long time, trying countless natural remedies for anxiety and depression to no avail. But my friend had been where I was before, and she could see that I needed more help. She went with me to the doctor. I got my prescription. I held the bottle in my hands, but I was terrified to take it.

So I did the one thing that I always do when I don’t know what to do: I asked my husband for a blessing. In the blessing, God told me that “the medication would be of benefit to me” and that I would “be healed.” With that promise to give me courage, I took my first dose the next day, August 1, 2012. Adjusting to the medication took many weeks, but I clung to that promise despite horrific medication-induced insomnia, emotional ups and downs, and an even-more-horrific spiritual numbness that came over me.

It was during this dark period of adjustment that I hit my deepest lows, losing my very will to live. But, with time, as my body adjusted, my mind and spirit began to come back into balance. My co-authors prayed me well enough to join them in the Los Angeles temple in September, a miraculous feat.

As we celebrated my 32nd birthday, nearly three months after I started my medication, I was truly happy again. I was eating (and finally gaining some weight back). I was enjoying life. I had endured so much discomfort, despair, fear, and doubt in those weeks of adjustment, but God’s word was true. The medication had been of benefit to me. It had helped save my life. God’s promise was fulfilled.

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The relief was so magnificent that I couldn’t help but exclaim in joy and complete sincerity (on a nearly daily basis), smiling from ear to ear to my husband: “I don’t want to die today!” The victory of that declaration filled me with overwhelming gratitude to God and to my many friends and family who had helped me reach that triumphant place, most especially my husband.

The next question that filled my heart and mind was: “How long?” I wondered, “Will I need to take this medicine for the rest of my life?” I was willing to accept whatever I needed to do to stay stable so that I could take care of my family, but I also hoped that I would find a way to heal whatever needed to be healed so that I could move forward without medical assistance.

In another priesthood blessing, God answered my question: “You will be able to be happy without medication.” He didn’t tell me how long it would take, but I was satisfied with just knowing that someday I’d get there. And so I went on, taking my medication, feeling grateful for my rescue from the darkness. 2013 came and then 2014.

It has now been a week since I took any medicine.

About a year ago, I started cutting back on my dose, little by little, very slowly, adding in supplements recommended by readers and friends to ease the withdrawal. I took a dose last Tuesday, but when I was due for another dose I felt restrained from taking it. The next day I felt restrained, and the next, and the next. I didn’t hear a voice, but I felt a message in my gut: “You’re ready. It’s time.”

I have said to my husband more than once in the past few days, “Now watch, I’ll probably crash next week.” (<—That’s a text message from “Anxiety Girl,” of course.) He shakes his head and says, “Nope. You won’t.” And I think I believe him.

The other night, I asked him for another priesthood blessing. He said, “God wants to remind you of the promises He has made to you. He will keep those promises.”

God kept His promises to me.

I am happy (without medication). (!!!)

Healing Prebirth Wounds

January 15, 2014 in Abortion, Atonement, Dads, Energy Healing, Jesus Christ, Lani, meditation, Miracles, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Prenatal influences, Savior

 

“I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief. There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.” –Boyd K. Packer

Back in October, I wrote about discovering that my youngest daughter had come to this earth carrying wounds from a previous womb experience. She had been aborted by another mother. As I explained in my previous post, my daughter spent much of her toddlerhood in a state of distress, anger, sadness, and angst. Once I understood why, I felt compelled to do whatever I could to help her heal.

In June of 2013, I attended a meditation retreat taught by Felice. While there, I learned the meditation “Ra Ma Da Sa” for the first time. I learned that this particular meditation is a powerful healing prayer. We sang Ra Ma Da Sa at the retreat, and it was so beautiful that it penetrated every inch of my body and sent my spirit soaring.

The complete mantra is “Ra ma da sa sa say so hung.” It means sun, moon, earth, infinity, totality of infinity, I am Thou. Or, as I like to say, it’s basically a very condensed version of D&C 88:7-13:

This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God.

All healing comes from Christ, and His light infuses and gives life to everyone and every thing in the universe.

After returning home after our summer trip to UT, I decided that I wanted to sing/chant “Ra Ma Da Sa” every morning for 40 days with the intention of helping my daughter heal from her prebirth wounds. So I did. And it was life-changing.

Before I tell you more, I want to also explain some more background. I learned when my daughter was born that she was likely originally sharing my womb with a twin. Since then, I have received line upon line more and more information about her twin, my unborn son. I feel he is a powerful healer-soul, his name is Elijah, and he very much wants to come to our family, in part because he is very close with my daughter and his presence will help her (and me).

Four days into my 40 days of “Ra Ma Da Sa” I had a powerful “vision” type of experience while meditating. It was early in the morning and my daughter was still asleep. As I chanted on her behalf, I envisioned where she was and sent my love to her. Then I saw (in my mind) my unborn son, Elijah, appear at her side. He laid down by her. And then, suddenly, it was like her spirit was in pieces floating around her body. Elijah started gathering all the pieces of her spirit in the palm of his hand.

A few moments later, the Savior appeared at the foot of the bed. And Elijah handed all the pieces of her spirit to Christ. In the palms of Christ’s hands, the pieces fused together in white light. Elijah gathered more and more pieces and continued handing them to Christ, and in His hands they continued to glow and combine.

At the end of the meditation, I kept feeling the urge to cup my hands to receive her glowing spirit. Finally I did. I held her re-combined spirit in my palms. Then I put my hands to my chest and put her spirit into my heart. I told her, “You can be whole now, Baby.” And I filled my heart with love for her. Then I moved my hands from my chest, outstretched in front of me and set her free. It was amazing.

The next day, my daughter was awake while I meditated. When I started “Ra Ma Da Sa,” she sat on my lap and grabbed my arms to wrap them around her. So I sat chanting with my arms around her until she got up. A little bit later she came back in with her baby doll. At first she pushed her doll toward me and put its arms around my neck. Then she sat down in my lap with the baby on her lap and told me to hold the baby. So I continued chanting with my hands holding her arms and both of our arms around the baby. At that moment it seemed so clear that she was presenting the baby doll as her inner child—the spirit who had experienced prenatal and premortal traumas. And we were cradling that part of her in our arms while I prayed for her in song. It was only one of many beautiful, tender moments we shared during those 40 days.

There were many days, however, when my daughter’s behavior seemed to be getting worse. Her anger, neediness, screaming, and obvious emotional pain weighed heavily on me, and I wondered, If this meditation is supposed to be helping her then why does she seem worse than ever? But I carried on, hoping things would settle down eventually. Sometimes the process of healing stirs up subconscious resistance.

For 40 days I prayed in song for my daughter’s healing. And slowly, bit by bit, it came. Gradually, her energy shifted. The angst that had been so much a part of her presence dissolved little by little until it was just gone. She was, quite literally, a new child. But it wasn’t just her. We were all new. She opened herself up to connect with her father in a way she hadn’t ever done before. And simultaneously, my husband felt an intense love for our daughter, unlike anything he had felt for her before. It brought him nearly to tears when he told me about it, and he doesn’t cry.

Once freed from her pain, we watched my daughter soar. While she hadn’t been very verbal before, she suddenly began speaking in sentences. She blossomed socially, becoming a much more chatty and talkative companion. Where I used to feel weighed down by the pain radiating from her, I now could feel her peace and joy. Extended family members who visited couldn’t believe the change in her. She was free!

Another mother who is raising a former-castaway asked me last year:

When I discovered that my daughter had been aborted, it made sense to me why she is the way she is and the love I needed to show her. But I was thinking, why would her soul need healing if she was in heaven in Christ’s presence? Wouldn’t you think being in his presence would heal those wounds?

Her question led to lots of pondering and seeking. The answer that came to me, was this…

In many near-death experience accounts, we see that individuals are often given a choice of whether to return to their bodies or remain in heaven. I believe this emphasis on freedom of choice is a universal principle in God’s plan. As I pondered the aborted children waiting in heaven, the impression that came to me was that some of them are completely healed by Divine Love. But I felt impressed that it was all governed by choice. Some of those children choose to receive complete healing of their previous womb trauma. Their pain and sadness are completely swept away.

IMG_6114However, I believe the aborted are also given another option: to retain a portion of their memory of the experience and their pain upon returning to Earth. I feel that some of these children accept a mission to bring to light the reality of their existence and the truth about the trauma experienced by the aborted. They retain their “scars” just as Christ chose to retain His scars… as a testament to the world. They take up this bitter cup in order to share their truth so that future souls can perhaps be saved the anguish they have suffered.

When all of these impressions washed over me, I was in awe of these courageous souls. I began to weep as I looked down at my own daughter, recognizing the immense greatness of her soul, willing to carry such a painful burden so that others might know the truth. What strength! What love!

What a privilege to have been chosen to bear her, love her, and play a small part in helping her heal. I pray her experience and mine will aid others in their own paths to healing.

If you’d like to learn more about the “Ra Ma Da Sa” meditation

and try it yourself, see Felice’s post HERE.

He will make her wilderness like Eden

December 13, 2013 in Adversity, Depression, Lani, Nourishment, Pain, Personal Revelation, Savior, Waiting, Zion

A few days ago I opened my scriptures in a random place… Jacob 5:

21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.

22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.

I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately. Lamenting this weak and flawed body/mind I’ve been given. It often feels like my spirit was planted in a very “poor spot of ground,” a very screwed-up, broken body/mind. I have a crooked and sometimes painful back, very poor eyesight, multiple food and chemical sensitivities that sometimes give me head and body aches, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and other ailments. It’s exhausting living in this body. Sometimes I sincerely doubt my ability to endure to the end.

As I pondered the scriptures I opened to, I saw what God was trying to tell me. Yes, I was planted in what could be called a “poor spot of ground.” But God knew exactly where He was planting me. In fact, my patriarchal blessing specifies that I was placed exactly where I am for a reason: “It is in this environment that you have been brought forth and placed in the families that you have been raised.” And even in this poor spot of ground, God has nourished me with intellect, talents, spiritual gifts, and lots of family and friends who love and support me. Through that abundant nourishment from God, I have, indeed, brought forth much fruit.

Then yesterday, I opened up my scriptures to Mosiah 2, to the beginning of King Benjamin’s address. And I noticed a scripture I hadn’t really “seen” before:

9 And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, . . . hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.

10 I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should . . . think that I of myself am more than a mortal man.

11 But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind.

I know our prophets are not perfect. I know they experience challenges just like the rest of us. But in that moment it just really struck me as a tender mercy to know that King Benjamin himself was open about experiencing “infirmities of the body and mind.” And I loved that he didn’t just say “infirmities.” He specified that both his body and his mind were affected. As one who experiences infirmities of both the body and the mind, it was comforting. King Benjamin did so much good. There’s no disputing that he played a crucial role on this earth. And he didn’t let his infirmities stand in his way. That inspires me.

 

My mom is always telling me that she never expected me to live very long. I don’t know if it was motherly intuition or just her own imagination. She often says things like, “You didn’t need to come here to be proven, but you wanted to come to make a difference in a world full of problems.” I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know how long God “will suffer that I may live.” But I pray that God’s grace will hold me up and carry me through whatever my future has in store… that I can bring forth more fruit unto the Lord, despite my infirmities. I also hold out hope in the promise found in Ether: “My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (12:27).

In two days, I’m singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” with a small group of women in sacrament meeting (pray this sore throat doesn’t get in the way!). I chose the song, in part, because it felt like a very personal prayer/lament. I long for the END. I long for the reign of peace and love. I ache for the day when darkness is destroyed, when the waste places of the world shall blossom like Eden, when my broken body will be made whole. O come, O come. Please come.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Receiving Michael

May 27, 2013 in Abortion, Adversity, Atonement, Birth Stories, Cesarean, Energy Healing, Forgiveness, hospital birth, Lani, Loss, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Pregnancy, Prenatal influences

The following story was originally published on my new website theyremember.org. “they remember” is a project I created in partnership with Sarah Hinze, author, pre-birth experience expert, spiritual giant, and my mentor. We are sharing stories of unborn spirits, particularly those who were previously aborted. Sarah has written extensively about these “castaways” and what happens to them. I, too, have had spiritual experiences centered around these special souls in need of rescue. Shari graciously gave permission for me to share her story here. I love the beautiful healing journey Shari and her son participated in as he made his way to Earth. -Lani

Receiving Michael

By Shari

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In the summer of 2003, I was sitting with a couple of women friends and we were discussing various things of a spiritual nature.  One of the women who was particularly in tune, said she perceived a man and a boy’s spirit present in the room. I felt that it was my grandfather, and the next child I was to have.  I felt him say that this was Michael, and he was very special.  He also let me know that he was with the family and was within their care.

It was not until the fall of 2005 that I actually became pregnant with Michael.  The day I found out I was pregnant I literally danced for joy!  I had known he was coming for a number of years and was so anxious to have him.  I could feel he was pleased I wanted him so much.  Yet, in the ensuing weeks, I could feel a sadness about him.  I did not understand why.  I tried to focus on him and figure out why he was not happy, but it was difficult getting in tune while dealing with morning sickness.

In the beginning of February,  I was feeling much better.   At that time, I finally received the answer I had been looking for.  I was told by a friend who could see and talk to spirits, that Michael was grateful I was going to be his mother and that he was sad because he had been aborted a few years prior by another woman.  Now he had been reassigned to me.  I was informed that he would probably be a difficult child with emotional issues, and that I would need to raise him knowing the Lord.  I was not terribly shocked, actually I was more relieved to understand why had felt the way I did, but I was concerned about having an emotionally difficult child.  I had one already that was difficult, and this being my fifth child,  I was not sure I could handle another one.  Yet with information comes understanding and possible solutions to problems.

About a month later I was pondering the situation right before going to bed.  I felt impressed to pray for Michael. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I was given the words to pray for him so that, through Christ, he could release his feelings of abandonment, rejection, trauma and fear.  I prayed that he would see his previous mother through the eyes of the Savior and feel his love for her so he could forgive her.  I felt him let go of the negative emotions and forgive.   As he did so, I could feel his spirit getting lighter as a sweet sense of relief came over him.  I also prayed he would forgive his previous father and the doctor who performed the abortion.  This was not as intense as the forgiveness of his mother, but I felt it was important.  I believe it is important to come to earth as unencumbered by grief and trauma as possible and I wanted Michael to have the healthiest and happiest start to his life with us as he could.  As the prayer continued,  I could feel the Savior’s love for Michael.  I felt him bless him with specific spiritual gifts to help him with his mission in this life.

Finally, the time came to give birth.  Michael showed signs of distress, and consequently was born by C-section. Within the weeks following I prayed to understand why he was born this way.  I was given the impression that he had experienced enough trauma and was being spared a difficult birth.  I believe this healing process has altered what could have been a difficult and frustrating childhood. At the time of this writing Michael is almost 4 months old and he couldn’t be a sweeter, happier baby.  I am grateful beyond words for the Savior’s intervention and healing of my sweet son.

Update 2011: Michael has been a wonderful, sweet and easy going child.  The only effects I can see from the trauma he experienced is that he is a bit more fearful and cautious than my other children.  He is almost five.

Birth Story: The Miracle of Forgiveness

February 11, 2013 in Birth Stories, Book, Forgiveness, Lani, miscarriage, Personal Revelation, Priesthood blessings

The following is the birth story of one of our book’s contributors, Deanna. She received a beautiful Christmas gift this past year. I adore this story. It teaches so many important truths. I hope you love it too. (Please be aware that the first paragraph of this story contains a loss.) -Lani

 

The Miracle of Forgiveness

By Deanna

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him.” -1 Samuel 1:27

We had found out we were pregnant Christmas 2011. We were very excited because we had been trying for months even though we’d had no fertility problems conceiving our other two children. Then we miscarried. When I went to see my OB, the nurse asked when I had had a positive pregnancy test. I said, “Christmas morning.” She expressed sympathy and then the words, “You will have that same baby in your arms by the following Christmas,” came into my mind.

Later, I realized that the reason I had miscarried and also the reason I was having trouble getting pregnant was because I was holding a grudge against someone who had deeply offended me. I could not let it go and started to have anxiety attacks and depression. I prayed to be able to forgive her, but I couldn’t reconcile between forgiveness and being taken advantage of by her.

In order for the revelation to be fulfilled (me having that baby by Christmas) I had to conceive late March/early April. That just so happened to be General Conference weekend and “coincidentally” I was also ovulating. Most of the talks were about forgiveness. All along I knew I had to forgive her, but I didn’t know how to do that. During Conference and especially Pres. Monson’s closing remarks, I knew exactly what I had to do. I resolved to do it and sort of made a deal with the Lord that if I did it and forgave her that I would be able to conceive.

We did conceive, and my due date was Dec. 21. I had been late with my other two, so I wasn’t sure that I would even have the baby by Christmas. I started to wonder if the revelation was just “Christmas time.” On the night of Dec. 23 with no real contractions and me feeling very anxious, my husband gave me a blessing. In it he said, “The Lord will fulfill His promises to you.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I had faith that he would be born on the perfect day for him.

My contractions (that really let me know “this was it”) started at 1:00 a.m. on Christmas morning. Our son was born on Christmas day at 1:25 p.m. The Lord indeed fulfilled His promise to me.

santababy

Very Early Miscarriages

December 10, 2012 in Heather, miscarriage

When my husband and I first started trying for a baby we had some unexpected difficulties. My sister-in-law gave me the book, “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler and right away I started charting my cycles, hoping we could help a baby come. After a few months of charting I was starting to get a feel for what was normal for me and so I was surprised when my period was a few days late. I noticed that my breasts were a bit more tender than usual and  I started to get hopeful that maybe a baby was on its way. Yet the next day my period came, a little heavier than normal. I bawled. It wasn’t just that I wanted a baby, it was that I felt I had just lost my baby. I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling. I didn’t have any real proof that I was pregnant, I just knew that I had been. For two days I cried and I felt my loss keenly. The hardest thing was that I didn’t know if I was overreacting to a late period, or if what my soul had told me– that there had indeed been a tiny life conceived and then lost– was true. I didn’t tell anyone, except for my husband, about it because I didn’t want them to belittle my loss. Several years later I read Lani’s post about her early miscarriages and I felt so validated. I wanted to share it here because I feel like it is important to give voice to the things that a woman’s soul can know, even if there isn’t any physical “proof” of it. 

Here is what Lani said when I asked if I could share her post:

“I originally wrote this post in April of 2008 to provide comfort to women (like myself) who have lost a child very, very early in pregnancy, particularly those who never had “proof.” I found that there was so much support online for women with proven miscarriages but almost nothing for women like me, with only intuition. I felt driven (by God, I believe) to write my feelings in this post. And it has been so rewarding to see how many women have found great comfort in what I have written. I hope it may bring many more hearts peace.”

 

I have experienced what I believed to be two [now three] very early miscarriages in my past, both while actively trying to conceive. How do I know they were very early miscarriages and not just late periods? The truth is, I have no concrete scientific evidence. The only evidence I have is my own intuition that I was pregnant and beginning to experience my body’s pregnancy cues. I did not have positive home pregnancy tests to back-up my hunches. There are some who want to exclude me (and others who lack concrete proof of pregnancy) from the club of “true miscarriages.” They would dismiss our experiences as insignificant, make light of our anecdotal “proof” of pregnancy, or chuckle to themselves at our apparent “wishful thinking.” Unfortunately, for those experiencing very early miscarriages, finding understanding and comfort is no easy task.

Look up “miscarriage” in any pregnancy book or website and nearly all of them tell you the same thing: “If you suspect you are having a miscarriage, call your care provider immediately!” When I had my first miscarriage, I was frightened and a little panicked. Everything I had read led me to consider it a sort of emergency. So I called my health clinic to speak to a nurse for guidance. After waiting on hold, I explained that I thought I was having a miscarriage and wanted to know if I should come in. She asked me a few clarifying questions and concluded, “It sounds like it was probably just a late period.” I explained why I disagreed, and she said, “Well, if you want to do a pregnancy test, we can see if you were pregnant or not.” What good would a pregnancy test be now that the pregnancy was over? I was a bit rattled by her callous and abrupt manner. “Ok, um… so I don’t need to come in? Is there anything I need to do?” She seemed impatient to end the conversation and move on to a patient with a real crisis, “No, there’s nothing we can do for you.” Ouch. “Okay, bye.” Ouch.

The day my second miscarriage began, I stumbled upon a website with information and comfort for women experiencing pregnancy loss. I felt initially fortunate to have found the site and plunged right in expecting it to quell some of the ache in my heart. Ultimately, I left the site feeling worse than before (and angry to boot). In the section with answers for those who aren’t sure whether they were pregnant, I was bombarded with statements implying I was wrong to think I had experienced a miscarriage, that my “evidence” was only proof of my ignorance of female reproductive cycles and their quirkiness. A positive pregnancy test was the only valid ticket into the club. I felt ill as I read it. Comments sections of the site are filled with “Thank you so much” statements. I am certain this website has brought countless women comfort in times of great pain and loss. However, it was the opposite for me–a twisting knife in a wound that had only just begun to bleed. I was not welcome. Once again, the baby I was mourning the loss of was “just a late period.”

Speaking for myself, I can say that I know my body very well. I know my menstrual cycle very well. I’ve had late periods. And I know my body’s “pregnant” cues. I feel confident that my intuition was correct for both of my miscarriages. I have found that far too many in the medical community are slow to trust women’s intuition about their own bodies, particularly when it comes to pregnancy and birth. Ultimately, for a woman who believes she is experiencing a miscarriage after trying to conceive, whether or not it was an “actual pregnancy” is completely irrelevant. She believes she was pregnant, and that belief alone is all it takes to make that pregnancy real enough to be mourned when it is taken away. Telling this woman that her loss is not a real miscarriage will not be helpful to her.

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Linda Layne, author of Motherhood Lost, describes the “breathtaking insensitivity” toward miscarriage in western society. She says, “[T]he additional hurt that bereaved parents feel when their losses are dismissed and diminished by others is needless and cruel”(source). That is exactly how it felt to me–needless and cruel–when I was cast aside by those I looked to for comfort.

Fortunately, there are groups like M.E.N.D. where all varieties of pregnancy and infant loss are acknowledged. M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) is a Christian non-profit organization offering resources to families experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. In a 1998 M.E.N.D. newsletter addressing miscarriage, Rebekah Mitchell explains:

I have found that society drastically minimizes early pregnancy loss. . . . As mothers, we are attached to our babies the moment conception is confirmed and sometimes even before fertilization occurs if the pregnancy was planned in advance. . . . Most of the parents who attend our M.E.N.D. share groups have either suffered a late term stillbirth or a neonatal death. But there is always at least one set of parents who have lost their baby to an early miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. The grief is no different for any of the parents. . . . Occasionally, a mother who has miscarried will attempt to apologize for being there as if she didn’t belong. We never compare grief! Every parent who has lost a child deserves to mourn and have their grief validated. (source).

Reading these words was extraordinarily comforting as I mourned my second miscarriage, particularly after reeling from the exclusionary and insensitive words I had read elsewhere.

I want all women experiencing any form of pregnancy loss to feel validated. My heart goes out to all parents whose hopes and dreams slip away from them with each drop of blood, regardless of when that blood appears or whether it had a prelude of a positive pregnancy test. I honor your pain. I have known the loss you feel. It is not “just” anything. It is real. I hope to see a day when peace will be easier for us to find because compassion is easier to find as well.

Have you ever experienced a very early miscarriage? How did you know? What helped you deal with it?

Felice’s Birth Story

November 7, 2011 in Birth Stories, Fear, Felice, Holy Ghost, home birth, hospital birth, meditation

This is my first time posting on the new blog. It’s weird to have a month off. But also nice. You may notice that my user name has changed. I’m still the same old Mother Earth, but I started a new blog and that’s why I changed my user. For the birth story of this week, I am posting my own pregnancy and birth story. Enjoy!

I found out I was pregnant a week before my 28th birthday. It was a planned pregnancy, but I was still surprised. I honestly thought I wouldn’t ever get pregnant. I had pretty awful morning sickness, and I was just struggling to survive when my husband started acting weird and unstable. I won’t go into all the details but at 10 weeks pregnant, he filed for divorce.

He had mental health issues before, but his sudden need for attention was putting me through an emotional roller coaster. When it came to the morning sickness, I remember mostly feeling angry. I hadn’t done anything wrong. I hadn’t eaten anything bad, and yet, I was sick and there was nothing I could do about it. On top of that, my spouse’s behavior was all over the place. He filed for divorce one day, then wanted to stay together forever, then asked me if I was going to get an abortion. When he finally moved his stuff out two weeks after filing for divorce, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace and calm wash over me and fill my whole house.

That’s when I knew it was the right thing. Of course, it took another two months or so before I stopped hurting on some other emotional levels (like accepting the idea of being a single mother), but for the most part, I felt really good almost immediately—and my nausea went away at right about that same time. Could they be related? I don’t know.

I  couldn’t use the word divorce or divorced for a really long time, because I didn’t like the stereotype I had of the bitter divorcee. I knew I didn’t want to be like that. I realized then that I had a choice, to become bitter or become better. This was such a huge revelation to me.

I realized that I had been living with an abuser, and that it was a life full of fear. I decided that I wanted to conquer some of my fears. I had all of this sudden confidence. I started reading a book on public speaking and the next month I got up and spoke in testimony meeting (after 10 years fearing it).

People started to notice that I seemed happier and more confident. They did not know yet that I was pregnant or had been abandoned. That was sort of shock to them. Once people found out, I was surprised by the outpouring of love and support that came from all sides. I didn’t have many close friends in my ward because I kept aloof from many people. My husband always told me that people didn’t like me (I realize now that he made up these stories) and so I became withdrawn and unapproachable. Once I came out of that withdrawn state, I realized that people actually loved me and gravitated toward me. So, much of my early pregnancy was spent growing into the fact that I was lovely and loved. I also stared to fall in love with the person inside me. I knew she was a girl and I also knew her name, because she told it to me, years before, in the temple.

When a woman I knew at church found out about my situation, she took me into her confidence. She had had her second baby during the midst of some serious marital turmoil and kept telling me how satisfying it was to have a natural birth. To do something to powerful. A victory.

I still remember sitting across from her at a coffee shop and listening to her whole story and thinking, I don’t want to think about this. I had been too afraid to think about how I would birth. Honestly, I was thinking of getting an elective c-section. I didn’t really know much about my choices.

But she and I became close, and I started frequenting their house around dinner time. They’d feed me, then we’d chat for a few hours and I’d go home and take some sort of homeopathic sleep aid to drug myself to sleep.

She raved about water birth and she also told me about doulas. I thought the idea sounded insane—till I met the one who would became my doula.I had been seeing the same OBGYN for years. I liked her, but once I got pregnant, I wasn’t getting much time with the doctor and I had a lot of needs. I needed someone to talk to me about my fears. She seemed uncomfortable talking on that level, and she just didn’t have the time.

I wished my mother were around (she died when I was 11). But after talking to my aunt and some other older motherly type women, I realized that they weren’t much help. They either didn’t remember giving birth, or didn’t have much information or advice on it.

I felt unprepared and blind. I am a reader, so of course I bought books, but the 5+ I bought were not much help. When I met my doula at an introductory childbirth ed class I was drawn to her light and calm energy.  She agreed to be my doula and I started attending her yoga class. I can’t tell you how transformative this yoga was for me. It was a lovely group of women in a beautiful, healing space. We began each class by introducing ourselves and telling a little about what was going on with us. One woman, who was nearing delivery when I first started coming, said that she was planning to birth at home. I was shocked. “What will you do if you have a problem?” I asked her.

“I’ll just transfer to the hospital,” she said.

I was sort of in awe of this. She came back to the class to visit after she had her baby and said it went well. I guess you could say, I pondered all of these things in my heart.

I kept going to yoga and for the first time in my life I learned to meditate in a way that was really effective for me and I began receiving lots of personal revelation. I also started to have a very real and interactive communication with my unborn baby.

As my pregnancy progressed, I realized that my baby was telling me that she wanted to be born at home. It was funny how far I had come and how much less fear I had by then.  I loved the idea of water birth, so I thought, why not?

So at 32 weeks I told my doctor that I wanted a home water birth. I was surprised by her reaction. She didn’t take it well. Now I know why. She has a totally different world view and home birth was not in it. She is the doctor who is occasionally on television stating her belief that the c-section rate should be 50%. Yikes.

I left her office crying. The midwife I had engaged was a wonderful, spiritual woman. She told me not to worry. She told me to meet her back up doctor so that I would know that not all doctors were that way. Indeed, her back up was a nice. And sort of cute. I could tell my baby had a crush on him. I told her not to get any ideas.

He said, “I know that as a home birth patient, this meeting is really just a formality, just in case.” He admitted that home births are safe and he had no stigma about it. I asked if he wanted a copy of my birth plan, just in case, and he said that I could give it to him, but that he already knew what I wanted–a natural vaginal birth, as gently as possible.

Through the whole pregnancy, I missed my mother intensely. I did find great peace in meditating on her and my other female ancestors, and often felt her presence.  Out of the blue, several of the widows in the ward let me know that they were aware of the fact that I didn’t have a mother and that they were all (seven of them) going to volunteer to be my daughter’s surrogate grandmas and my helpers. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude. Some of them ended up being very key in my transition to motherhood and my daughter still calls one of them Grandma today.

I should mention how big a part the Atonement played throughout my whole pregnancy. I had used the Atonement before in my life for forgiveness, but I had never understood how to use it to take away my pain and sorrow. I learned how. It’s not something I can explain, but I did read every scripture about Jesus I could find and I meditated on him. I also read D&C 121:7 over and over. “Thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.”

At first, getting a divorce after 4 years of marriage seemed horrible—how would I ever I ever be able to be normal after so much abuse? How would I ever even be able to talk about it? But the Atonement is miraculous. I can only describe it like this: I can remember things that happened in my marriage, but they pain me no more. It is truly amazing.

* * * *

As her birth neared, the situation with my ex became full of tension. As an attorney, he was trying to us the law to bully me. He tried to oppose the home birth. He also egged my car, had people crank call me, and he even tried to force me to allow him at the birth.

Some people weighed in and thought I really should let him be there. I think they thought it would make him snap out of whatever it was and get us back together, but they didn’t understand that this man had physically and emotionally abused me. (I was still too ashamed of staying with him for so long and still wasn’t public about that yet.) And if I had learned anything, it was that emotional stuff is what causes most of the complications in labor, so my attorney told him where he could go.  Things remained tense.

I tried to stay calm and focused. I didn’t want anything to interfere with my peaceful birth.

On the day before my guess date, I felt a warm menstrual crampy feeling. I thought nothing of it. Then I realized that the tightening in my belly could possibly be surges. So I called my friend and she came over and we timed my surges. They were one minute long, 4 minutes apart for an hour. In the childbirth education classes I had taken, everyone always said that when that happened (4-1-1), it was time to go to the hospital. So we called my midwife and I called my friend Bethanie and told her to come, too. I was so sure I was going to have my baby in an hour with no pain at all. I called my doula, but she didn’t seem to be worried. She said, “Oh you’ve got hours. Check in with me in the morning.”

I put on some comfy lingerie thingy and was lying on the bed, watching the movie and chatting with my friend.

When Davi, my midwife, came at 11 p.m., she checked me and I wasn’t even effaced. She asked how I felt. I was using my Hypnosis relaxation techniques and the surges didn’t feel painful at all, so I said I was fine, but my back was a little achy. She said I should try to sleep through them and she would come back at 6 a.m.

We filled the birth tub. Bethanie got there soon after. By then, there was no sleeping through anything. The surges were coming strong and I was feeling them in my back—not where I planned to feel them. I tried to breath.

Beth put a hot wash cloth on my back and applied counter pressure. But the washcloth got cold so fast, I got annoyed and said I was getting in the shower to let the water run down my back. I got in the shower and leaned on the 5-gallon emergency water bottles I store in there (it’s a big shower). And let the water run down my back and tried to deeply relax through the surges. After what I thought was maybe 30 minutes in the shower (I was so lucky to have a never ending supply of hot water—miracle?) I decided I had to have made quite a lot of progress and told Beth I wanted to call Davi again.

“Well, she’ll be here in a just a little while,” she said. “It’s already 4:30.”

“What? You mean I have been in the shower for a couple of hours?”

She nodded.

I was amazed. I had heard that time warps in labor, but that was amazing. When Davi came she checked me and said that I was fully effaced but not at all dilated. I was annoyed. I had been working so hard. She said she’d be back in an hour or so with her assistant and that she wanted me to walk. Bethanie took me outside and walked with me, arm in arm.

At 7:30 or 8 my old bishop came over to give me a blessing. I told Davi we were going to go in another room and she said, “Oh, good, Prayer is good.” She was very supportive of the whole thing. Davi is a Sikh and very spiritual.

I don’t remember the blessing at all, but Beth told me later that he specifically blessed that the midwife would know what to do and that everything would go well. (He did not say according to my plan.)

I labored in the tub a bit, which felt nice on my back. I kept trying to visualize my vagina opening as wide as the Grand Canyon. I kept thinking, “She has to be here soon.” I have been doing this forever.

 laboring in tub

I puked again and Davi told me to stop fighting the surges. She was right, when I fought them, I puked. So I just let go and tried to breath. Her assistant kept checking the heart tones–it seemed like every 5 minutes, but I guess was every 30. She kept checking my blood pressure too. I guess they were worried about it. Which is weird because I have always had low blood pressure. I didn’t think much of it, but Davi would occasionally tell me to open up and she’d throw some homeopathic pellets in my mouth to keep my blood pressure down.

At 10 a.m. my friend Lisa showed up from the airport. She didn’t know if I would have a baby yet, but she told me a few days before that she was praying that she could be there at the most useful time, whatever that was.

They put her to work right away on hydration. They were giving me Pedia-lite because of all the puking. My doula, finally showed up around 1:00 p.m. and they made me walk again. This time Davi and Khefri were both supporting me. I remember a neighbor walked by us with her dog and saw me and asked. “Do you need a ride to the hospital or something?” She said.

Davi just smiled and said in her cheerful way, “Oh, everything is fine. She’s just in labor.”

“Uh. Exactly,” said the woman.

We just kept walking. I couldn’t talk through the surges. My back was killing me. Finally, I whispered, sort of ashamed of myself even as I said it, “isn’t there anything you can give me for the pain in my back?”

“Well, there are the sterile water papules,” said Davi.

“Oh, yes! Women swear by them in London,” said Khefri.

“What are those?”

“It’s just sterile water injected into the muscles around your spine and it temporarily paralyzes the muscles so you don’t feel anything.”

“What? How come I never hear of them? Do doctors know about these? Why don’t they give these in hospitals?” I asked.

“Because they are free.”

Even in labor, I was so annoyed. That needs to change, I thought.

We went back to the house and Davi warned me that it would sting really bad for about 3 seconds and then be fine. I bit on a pillow and it did sting, but it was brief.

The injections did help. I was still sort of whiney and weepy, but for the most part just trying to breathe deeply. I sat on the birth ball and leaned over the bed and Khefri massaged my back. Different people were handling the camcorder and whoever it was did a pretty good job. I liked how they occasional swung over to the clock to show what time it was. That was about 1:30.

Then she said she wanted to break the water for whatever reason and I said okay. She warned me that if there was more than 1+ meconeum we had to go to the hospital. It was trace. However, later, when I stood up, we saw more meconeum on the chux pad and she said it was between trace and 1+ and we had to watch it very carefully because the baby was stressed.

She had me try pushing once, but I didn’t feel pushy. I didn’t know exactly what to do. She checked me and said that I had a little lip of cervix that hadn’t effaced and it was blocking the head from coming down. She tried to reduce it with some tool. That hurt. I screamed out in pain, but it seemed to reduce it. I tried pushing again in different positions, but my baby didn’t seem to like any of them. Her heart rate was down to 90 or something. I pushed a few more times and her heart rate recovered, but not quickly.

Finally, Davi said, “Felice that is three strikes: the muconium, the cervical lip and her heart rate in distress.” She said, “Your baby is not going to be born at home. It’s time to go to the hospital. This is not an emergency; we just need to go now.”

I was disappointed but I was so deep in laborland that I just went with the flow. I trusted Davi, and I was just trying to breathe through the surges. We all piled into several cars. I didn’t even bother with the seatbelt. I was wearing a robe, naked underneath except for a bra. Davi’s assistant was in the back seat with me taking the heartbeat every 2 seconds (it seemed). Her heart rate was fine.

They kept telling me, “don’t push,” and I kept thinking, What are you talking about? I’m not doing anything.

“How do I not push?” I asked.

“Just blow.”

So I filled up my cheeks and blew. I guess I was pretty spaced out, looking out the window and not really responding to them. Davi snapped her fingers and said if I didn’t perk up they were going to try to give me a section. I instantly snapped out of it and acted very perky. “Hi, how are you? I’m good.” I said. They all laughed.

When we got there, we parked and took the secret back entrance. I thought I might get a wheelchair or something, but she said, “We don’t have time for that. Run.” So they pulled me, half running behind them with my robe flying open. When we go to the floor, Davi asked the first person she saw where our room was. “I called ahead. Dr. C is meeting us here.”

“Oh,” said, one of the nurses, barely looking up. “It’s the failed home birth.”

Davi didn’t hear her. She saw the room number up on a board and just started pulling me in that direction.

I don’t even remember what the nurse looked like, but her words totally crushed me and did for a long time afterward. If I had been less vulnerable I might have been able to say, I am not a failure. I am here because my midwife brought me here and that is what a good homebirth midwife is supposed to know when to do.

Dr. C showed up and Davi explained what was going on and her reasons for transferring. I was on my back and Dr. Chin asked me if I wanted to try switching positions to all fours or something else. I thought this was very nice of him to ask that, but I couldn’t move. I was crying about feeling like a failure and once on my back, it felt very painful to move. So I didn’t. I pushed a few times, with people holding my legs back.

Pushing didn’t make sense to me. Maybe it would have if I had been in a different position, but even at home, I hadn’t really gotten it.

Looking back on it, I see how the mind-body connection was at work. Though I was anxious to meet my baby and get her out, I also didn’t want her out. I knew that once she was out in the world I could no longer protect her. I knew that once she was born, I would have to deal with my ex again, who had already started to use her as a pawn. So I wasn’t really giving pushing any real effort. I was whining, crying and sort of hoping someone else would make a decision for me. I gave a few okay pushes and then Dr. C told me that my baby was having more trouble recovering after each one and that he’d give me the chance to do it myself, but if I didn’t do it soon, he’d have to use the vacuum. I didn’t do it on my own, so he used the vacuum on the next push and she was out.

It was amazing. The only way I can describe the release of pressure on my belly is like a zit popping. I never really felt the ring of fire, or much physical pain at all during pushing. (I’m not sure if this was effective hypnosis or a miracle or endorphins or all three.)

They put my baby girl on my belly and I grabbed her arms and pulled her up to my chest. The connection was instant. This was what all this work was for. They took her a way for a few minutes to check her over, but all of my birth companions were watching them like mama hawks and making sure she was okay and talking to her. Then they brought her back and Bethanie and Davi helped me latch her on so she could nurse. She was a little tired, but she nursed right away.

Right after the birth I was giddy with endorphins. Dr. Chin took about an hour to sew me up, so I was just laying there with my baby and enjoying being with my birth companions.

I remember feeling like my teeth were gross and said I wished I could brush them. Bethanie whipped out my toothbrush from my emergency bag and brushed my teeth for me while I held my baby and then gave me a cup to spit and water to drink.

I have never had anyone brush my teeth—at least not that I remember—but I will always remember it as one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I couldn’t get up or do it myself and having clean teeth felt so nice. I still cry when I think about it. It was such a gesture of pure love.

My birth companions shielded me from a lot of the hospital nonsense that was going on around me. I didn’t find out till later that the nurse was having a hissy fit in the corner because I had refused the eye drops and the vitamin K shot.

We forgot to look at the clock for the exact time of her birth but it was about 3:19 p.m. (only about 30 minutes after we got there) on her guess date (June 16, 2006). Incidentally, I was also born on my guess date. I guess we are punctual people.

Dr. C told me I could go home 6 hours after I was admitted or 24 hours or 48 hours. By the time he told me this that would have meant we would leave in 3 hours. I didn’t think I would be ready to walk in 3 hours, so I opted to stay overnight.

Lisa, who had flown in from New York and was planning to stay at my house, stayed at the hospital with me. All the others went home after lots of pictures.

 felice and phoebe

I got lucky and had some wonderful recovery nurses. Despite not being able to walk yet, I was full of giddy energy and talking about the birth with Lisa.

Finally, Lisa, who had also been up all night on a red-eye from New York, said, “You should get some sleep while that baby is sleeping,” so I decided to settle in and try. A nurse came to check my vitals and I agreed to let her if she promised to tell the other nurses and the next shift not to bother me. I didn’t need my vitals checked every 4 hours. I was fine.

She said she’d take care of it.

I finally fell asleep and about an hour later another nurse–the next shift–came in to check my vitals. I told her that I was going to check her vitals if she didn’t get out of there. She looked pretty shocked. I don’t think anyone had ever done that to her before. I felt bad, but not really. I was so tired after finally falling asleep and being woken up.

Phoebe slept the whole time. By 9 am I was ready to get the heck out of the hospital but they made us hang around a few more hours. I thought about just leaving, but they actually have an ankle bracelet they put on babies—so none get stolen—so if we tried to leave with her, we would have set off an alarm. Hmm. No worries about stolen babies at a homebirth.

When we left we took everything that wasn’t nailed down. I figured if I had to give birth in the hospital, I was going to get my money’s worth. Blankets, diapers, gloves, Advil, nail scrubber, underwear, pads, and pacifiers. I also asked them for my free gift, which I knew they usually gave out, but they did not offer me. Humph. It was a diaper bag filled with formula, which I threw out, but the bag came in handy.

Buckling her in to the car seat was not something I had wanted to do for 40 days, but we both survived it and we drove home. The house was cleaned and everything was put away and laundry was done. The ladies had been busy.

I fell into my wonderful soft bed and just enjoyed being home. Davi came and checked on me and we talked. I told her about what the nurse had said and she said if she heard it she would have decked her. “You didn’t fail. You were a successful home birth transfer. And you had a lovely birth. There was a lady down the hall who was screaming her head off.” Davi told me that every one of the staff was in awe of me, and that I was very graceful.

I didn’t remember being graceful. I thought I had lost it. Later, when watching my birth video I realized that I was indeed graceful. (Another good reason to film your birth—you don’t remember it accurately).

I wondered afterward, if we really needed to go to the hospital—If I could have done it at home, but in the birth video, I saw that when she came out, Dr. C unwound the cord from her neck, and she was a little blue when she first came out. So, while I could have done it at home, I know that my indecision about getting her out or keeping her in would have likely dragged things out and hurt her.

Looking back on the whole saga, I realize that what I was feeling must be how Heavenly Father feels. He knows we need a body, but once we come here, we are exposed to all the temptations and weaknesses of the flesh. He can’t protect us anymore–well, he can, but only as much as we let him.

Becoming a parent has brought me so much closer to understanding Heavenly Father and how much he loves us. I’m so grateful my little girl chose to come to me and I am so grateful that my body did everything it needed to do. It is truly divine. I am truly divine.

Felice and Phoebe