A Birthday, an Anniversary

Ten years ago yesterday, my husband and I went to our 37-week check up to find out that we were going to the hospital to be induced due to pre-eclampsia.  I was huge and swollen but felt fine.  I wouldn’t be going back to class, though.  (I was still in college at the time.)

Ten years ago this evening, around 7:45 to be more accurate, our baby girl was born in the hospital, and I morphed from a pregnant mama into a mom — drugged, clueless, bewildered.  I had just done the hardest thing ever, experienced the greatest pain ever, was in the hospital for the first time in my life as a bed-ridden patient, and now I was responsible for a baby I couldn’t even see or care for properly.  It may be easy to understand now why I work closely with pregnant mamas and support other mothers.

I teach Bradley classes to help all who want to be healthy and know about the process, all who don’t want to walk into their birthing situations not knowing what’s going on.  I serve as a doula selfishly because it is a window into a sacrament of life, in my opinion, but I also sacrifice my time to help others have a more calm, peaceful, empowered birth.  I hope to advocate for mothers, to help them when they feel they need it.  In my ten years as a mother, I have learned these things can make all the difference.  All these things help mothers in their role, in their lives.

Being pregnant and mothering is not always easy.  It’s hard, frustrating and exhillarating all in a day, with windows of peace of calm (and not always just when the kids are sleeping, though that helps).  Time is our best teacher.  We cannot always go up to a woman and tell her the things that will make her “job” as mother easier.  I don’t know that I would have listened and heeded such advice.  Many of us have to experience it for ourselves, learn in our own time.

So on this, my daughter’s tenth birthday, I also celebrate the anniversary of my motherhood and revel in all the lessons I’ve learned along the way, a few of which I share on this blog, most of which I’ve either internalized or will experience again and again until at last I truly learn what it is I need to know.  I’ll always be learning.  Whether we have one child or four (or heaven help you if you have more!), we will never fully know or understand everything.

As I kiss the kids good-night I always wish them peace and love and hope that when it’s their turn to be parents, they will know more than I.  We do the best we can with what we have, which may sound cliche, but it’s true.

We didn’t plan the timing of our first child, whose birth was also induced, but maybe that’s what I needed to become the mother I am.  Maybe I needed the divine intervention because Lord knows if I knew what I would be getting into, I may not have been humble enough to choose this route!

Blessings and gratitude to my eldest child and to all us mothers who should celebrate our motherhood daily if for nothing else than for the fact that we are doing our best.  The rest is out of our hands.  Here’s to the decades to come.


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pregnant_belly.jpgPregnancy is an exhilarating time — all the anticipation, excitement and sacredness of what’s happening within.  Then there’s birth.  Ah, words can only try to capture what happens. We understand what’s going on physiologically, but for every woman, there’s a different psychological and spiritual story unfolding.  Let us not forget postpartum.  After all this excitement and focus on the mother, now the focus is on the baby; the woman that was once treated like royalty in her pregnant state is now a slave to this infant who is solely dependent upon her.  Hopefully she had a wonderful birth experience and developed the mama bear bond with her babe and gives of her time and body with a happy heart, for what wouldn’t she do for this new love in her life?

For the past week in my blogging absence, I’ve been working with our BirthNetwork for the BOLD Red Tent and the play “Birth.”  My time and energy were absorbed in the planning and nurturing of the events, and I had to draw some boundaries for myself (coincidental that that was my last blog topic, eh?).  Then, one by one, the events were born.  I suppose we had triplets!  Two Red Tents and one “Birth” play.  The events were fabulous, and I have earned a new level of respect for the women in my community and the talent and generosity therein.  I was amazed at the beauty of sharing, the diversity of stories, the openness of women’s hearts given the space and even amazed at my own ability to help pull something like this together — not by myself but with the help of others.

Now in our postpartum phase of the BOLD events, I miss the excitement, anticipation and connection with other women.  Those elements are too few in our society.  Yet it was a lovely birth, and I come away knowing that I have much work to do for improvement in maternity care.  In the words of one of my former midwives, I’ll “do it with a happy heart.”

I believe our lives are meant to serve, and I’ll consider it a blessing to serve the wonderful women in our community.  May we all be blessed with beautiful births, whether it be of children or of creative endeavors, and may we all feel the support of one another.


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Tell Us About Your Birth Experience — Launch of The Birth Survey

Today CIMS (Coalition for Improving Maternity Services) nationally releases The Birth Survey.  The major effort to make maternity care transparent is underway, and your story makes a difference.


  • Pregnancy, a naturally occurring part of a woman’s life, is treated like a medical condition.  The baby is a human, not a tumor, and in a majority of pregnancies, there are few risk factors.  Many of the obstetrical interventions, however, increase the likelihood that a woman will have complications from her pregnancy/birth.

  • The rate of interventions is more determined by the facility or provider than the woman herself.

  • In places where statistics for interventions and quality of care have been made publicly available, maternity care has been highly receptive to quality improvement, most likely because there were so many simple improvements to make.

CIMS, Lamaze International, Citizens for Midwifery and other birth advocacy organizations strive to improve the quality of maternity care — to make it truly mother-friendly — and believe that through transparency, the change will come.


  • When you go to buy a new camera, you read the reviews, check the sites rating the hundreds of cameras you have to choose from and talk to your friends to see what they’ve had the best experience with.  Is choosing your maternity care provider any different?

  • But when you go to look for a doctor or midwife, apart from checking the listings and talking to your friends, you’re not going to find which one has the best rates, provides the features that are most important to you — whether that be in natural pain management, low episiotomy rates or successful cesareans.

  • So, The Birth Survey aims to list the providers and facilities.  We’re collecting data so you can have a “features” list, the statistics for interventions.  And, we’re hoping you will share your experience so that others can learn from you, even outside your immediate circle of friends or those who bump into you at the grocery store.  (We know you’ll tell your story to anyone who will listen!)

Take a step toward making mother-friendly care a reality for all.  Take the survey (if you’ve given birth within the past three years).  Tell your friends.  Let’s paint the picture of what maternity care is really like so we know how to keep it good but to make it even better.

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The Gift to Birth Well — A Reflection from Pregnancy

(No, I’m not pregnant now.  This is from our last pregnancy, with thoughts relevant even now.)

After receiving accreditation as a childbirth instructor, I figure I’m supposed to know all about natural childbirth, at least have access to unbounded information about it.  I’ve also been blessed with three healthy children.  So, at our fourth birth, it should be a piece of cake, right?  Most mothers know this isn’t true.  Every pregnancy, every birth is as unique as every child.  I still learn things in this pregnancy as we go, and as this is our first home birth, we’re not finished learning yet!  (Not for a few weeks, anyway!)

Regardless of what I have to learn, I’m still amazed at what my body, what women’s bodies, know to do.  There is a baby growing!  My children ask how I know how to make a baby.  I honestly tell them that my body is just the house for the miracle of life. The flower doesn’t have to know how to bloom; it just does.  Of course, there are ways to provide optimum performance, and I do better when cared for with love.  In the meantime, the process keeps unfolding until we have a baby.  Both the process and the baby are phenomenal.  Isn’t it amazing?  We know how to do this; we participate as closely as ever to the divine unfolding and revealing of life.

Birth may be an obvious way to observe a greater knowing, but I believe that we all also possess the ability to give birth to the divine in every moment, for in every moment we are given the opportunity to breathe.  We make a conscious choice about the energy we contribute in every situation, and we determine whether or not we follow our heart, the still small voice.  This doesn’t mean we have to be painting, writing, sculpting, dancing, acting, sewing, or whichever art you pursue every waking moment, but it means you do not deny yourself the opportunity, either.  I find it best to do what must be done when it must be done.  If it’s not bothering me, it can wait.  If I feel I can’t possibly think in this house because it’s too dingy and dirty, then perhaps I need to spend a couple of days cleaning.  I still need to maintain my connection to the Spirit of creativity.

Whether I’m writing a novel or birthing a child, I know I house divine potential.  Similarly, divinity abides with me as I clean or nurse or chauffeur.  I can do all things with love, and with love, I can birth well in every moment.

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Living or Waiting

baby_on_board.jpgA doula client of mine is due any day now, and I’m reminded of what it’s like to be in those last days of pregnancy, full of life and discomfort, joy and anxiety.  You want to make plans, but you have to be willing to let go of those in an instant.  Life takes precedence.

Perhaps it’s not so much waiting that we’re really doing; that’s just our perception.  What’s really going on is that we’re making plans, scheduling our time, arranging our lives as we see fit . . . until Life happens, waking us from our delirium, our illusion that we have any kind of control.

Many of us have friends who are waiting for the right time to buy a house or to have kids.  Many of us put off dreams until we have the nest egg or until the kids are grown.  Most of us are just waiting for the perfect time to do something with our lives, if only we knew what that something was — if that time ever does come.

There is beauty in perfect timing.  A sense of control is satisfying to us, especially to our ego.  But don’t you just love the stories of someone living passionately?  They do what they do now because there is no better time?  They (like we could, too) use their talents to the max, love fiercely and live like this were their last day.

Have you seen Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture?  He has a book that just went on sale, too.  This guy gets it and probably always has.  It may just be that his eminent mortality makes his message speak louder to us than the ever-present existence of our own mortality.

We may think we’re waiting, but wouldn’t it be better for us all if we were living.  We can live our days, excited about the potentiality therein.  If what happens saddens us or brings us grief, we can hope to have the wisdom to find the meaning of it all,  to experience the growth that is offered. 

I look forward to the birth that is to come, though probably not nearly as much as the mother!  I hope to live these days with joy and gratitude.  May I not take the moments and all they are filled with for granted. 

We have a garden to plant now.

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Clay Mama Beads

Venus_von_Willendorf_01.jpgNot the most interesting title, but true nonetheless.  I’ve been wanting to do this since I myself got a Venus of Willendorf-inspired bead for my blessingway necklace.  I realize that making the tiny beads is a true talent.  Even making the bigger ones is a skill.  As I’ve just begun, please don’t take my experience as the rule.  Take it as inspiration!  I myself received a beautiful gift of a necklace from my roommate at the CIMS Forum.  She made her beads of polymer clay.  Beautiful is all I can say!  Nope, she’s not selling them, or I’d send you her way!  If you’re looking for ceramic clay beads, this looks like a good artisan site.

What I did:

  • Take a small wad of clay


  • Roll and smoosh it to get it compact.
  • Shape away!  I also used the coil technique 
    to add a little extra to the “belly.”


  • I used a tool (above the coil in photo above) to cut the hole through the bead.  Important to remember is that the clay shrinks about 10% when fired.  If you’re using a bead tree, know that your bead needs to fit on the steel rod loosely.  Also, when glazing, I’ll have to make sure to wax resist well so as not to get glaze round the rod/hole.
  • I’ll dry these and fire them with the rest of the items.  This will be a first, so I’ll have to update you on the process/results.I’m going to have my childbirth class make some tonight while we’re discussing birth.  It’s always good to engage the senses!


Have fun!

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