Happy Earth Day!

April 2015 019This morning Mark was having a Unity programming class with Lann, so I made angel food cupcakes with coconut oil buttercream frosting and took the other kids outside for Earth Day fun having a picnic and building troll houses like I used to do when I was a kid. The trolls had an unfortunate run in with moths recently and are sporting refreshed dos, courtesy of my mom (aka Barbara’s House of Beauty).IMG_4385It took me a while to soften into just sitting in the leaves with the kids, without bringing along a book or a notebook or some project to secretly plan to work on while they played. But, once I did soften into it, I didn’t want to leave. We laid on our backs on the earth and admired the way the tree branches make patterns against the sky. We delighted in tiny flowers, found a magical patch of moss, ate our cupcakes and a few pinches of oxalis, and had a picnic.

This morning I enjoyed reading a lovely post by Jodi Sky Rogers (I also borrowed my closing quote from her e-newsletter):

…mosses are a whole unknown world, in fact, a whole Universe of wisdom. They say that ‘rolling stones don’t gather moss.’ So to drink in great worlds of wisdom we must be still just like ancient rocks and boulders who rest in peaceful presence for eons and then allow the insights that rise from the Universe and from the quiet stirring within us so grow like moss on the moist edges of our consciousness.

via Dreamland and Drifting in Between | Jodi Sky Rogers.

I also enjoyed reading about this simple and powerful Earth Day Ritual from Peg Conway:

Let us bless the source of life that brings forth bread from the earth.

Let us bless the source of life that ripens fruit on the vine.

A beautiful sunset provided a perfect closing rite.

Amen!

via Ritual for Earth Day | Sense of the Faithful.

Yesterday, we planted a buckeye tree and this afternoon we planted lavender, motherwort, white sage, calendula, and evening primrose. Life feels sweet and full of growth.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

~ John Muir

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Tuesday Tidbits: Mothers and Babies

IMG_4269I might look like I’m just sitting on the floor at a Red Tent Circle nursing my baby, but really I’m using the power of my mind-manipulating microbes:

So, when a mother breastfeeds her child, she isn’t just feeding it. She is also building a world inside it and simultaneously manipulating it.

via Could Mothers’ Milk Nourish Mind-Manipulating Microbes? – Phenomena: Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Some thoughts from my Facebook friend Jenny about being done having babies and not feeling sad about it:

Today, my heart is too full of four little people, and the man with whom I created them, to even allow room for an ache. In that tiny corner where an ache might form someday, I’m growing my own dreams, my someday-plans that have nothing to do with raising children, nurturing seeds of myself apart from my role as mother. Truthfully, I kind of love having that corner to myself. I’m not sure I want to share it with a sense of sadness over who or what won’t be, because I’m pretty happy with who and what is as well as with what lies ahead…

via Waiting for The Ache: We’re Done with Babies and I’m Not Sad.

Tanner is such a sweet treasure bonus of a baby and I feel like I’m cherishing him a great deal. And, I hold two realities: a definite sense of “doneness” and readiness to be done with the baby stage of my life, as well as a bittersweet pang at the babyness of his babyness and how swiftly it is passing me by. I want to soak in it and yet the world keeps spinning so rapidly and every day he grows bigger right before my eyes. I want to memorize it. I keep telling Mark, “we only get this year to have THIS BABY!” and it kinds of freaks me the heck out!

Foot bath together after salt bowl ceremony.

Foot bath together after salt bowl ceremony at April Red Tent Circle.

And some lyrical musings at 39 weeks from my friend Halley as she stands at the edge of another birth/postpartum experience… April 2015 123

I think about what’s coming next,

The beast that is postpartum.

I think about what’s coming next,

The love that is new baby.

My labor will be (I pray) just one day,

One day among thousands

My mothering will go on and on,

And I’ll need to know how strong I am…

via Messy 39 Week Poetry | Peace, Love, & Spit Up.

Her poem made me get a little teary and brought me back to the Standing at the Edge song by Nina Lee that I found so meaningful during labor and postpartum…

Every mother deserves excellent care postpartum, however, the “arrowhead” of American postpartum care does not show us a culture that values mothers, babies, or life transitions. I am fortunate to have had the kind of excellent care that every woman deserves and that few women receive. Part of this was because I actively and consciously worked towards building the kind of care I wanted following birth, but part of it is because I am lucky enough to belong to a “tribe” that does value pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and mothering.

via Ceremonial Bath and Sealing Ceremony | Talk Birth.

My last postpartum experience was actually a really delicious time of nourishment and cocooning. Postpartum with my first baby was the worst and I just kept getting better and better at planning for and getting what I know I need during that time of tender vulnerability.
That said, I still feel like this more often than I’d like!

Like how parenthood totally doesn't change you at all.via This New Mom Chronicled Her Baby’s First Year In Brutally Honest Doodles.

I enjoyed this post by a dad about why mothers don’t want to be touched. My instinct to shrink away or duck under his arm, doesn’t stop at just my husband though, I don’t feel like I have a lot of physical caregiving energy left for my other kids lately either—Tanner uses up a lot of me!

…I felt offended. It made me feel like she didn’t love me. I was her husband of 10 years. She should want to be held by me… right? I wasn’t one of her children, I was her husband.

“I just wanted to hold, you.” I said. “I’m not asking for sex, or anything. I’m too tired for that. I’m getting old, obviously. It’s been just a long day.”

At the mention of being held, Mel cringed a little. Once again, I was offended. I usually am when this happens. And it doesn’t happen all that often, but always more than I’d like. But it was late, and I didn’t want to fight…

via Why a mother doesn’t want to be touched ~ No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog.

In last week’s post I just missed including this powerful post about the courage and strength of women who give birth by cesarean:

But in the birth world, I see a certain type of birth held up as ideal, and in my work I capture many that would fit the standard. The fictional “first place trophy of childbirth” always seems to go to the un-medicated, vaginal births where mom and partner are active and unhindered by doctors or nurses. Just last night, I read an amazing birth story where mom, unintentionally, gave birth at home in her bathtub. Her husband caught the baby because no one else was there. They sat at home on their couch and soaked in all the newborn goodness. It was a great birth story…and I’m sure it will get passed around again and again.

I had the honor of photographing this gorgeous cesarean birth – not the plan, (she was hoping for a VBAC) but beautiful, powerful – and redemptive, in its own right.

via Three Truths About C-section Mamas

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April Newsletter

The April newsletter from Brigid’s Grove came out last week. If you missed it, you can view it here! We have launched some new cesarean mama goddess designs (see more about them in the newsletter). We’re also offering a new free birth education handout in the newsletter and a discount code for 15% in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month (use code: CAM15).

Cesarean birth VBAC goddess sculpture (birth art, c-section, doula, midwife, mother)Make sure you’ve entered your email address on the right hand side of the BG site to receive future newsletter and special offers and product announcements.

11150546_1614074768804739_5920468981887497904_nOur May newsletter will include free printable birth affirmation cards, a Mother’s Day special offer, new mama goddesses (one catching her baby and one by request with her hands on her belly instead of above her head), and will feature the launch of our new ceremony kits! We’re particularly excited about our Red Tent Resource Kit, for which we published a new book/manual. We are currently working on developing an online class to go with it too as well as a Womanrunes immersion e-course.

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Grinding My Corn Sculpture

IMG_3729It has been almost four years since I wrote my post about “grinding my corn.” In that time, I’ve added another baby, another degree, a book, and a business to my life (as well as lots of other projects!). I’ve also made necessary subtractions and deletions, some painful, some a relief. And, guess what, I still want to grind my corn! My husband works from home with me now and he, too, grinds his corn while parenting and personing. This is what I wrote in my original post:

This is what I’m talking about. There needs to be a third, realistic option (and not just for women. For men too. For families!). I have often expressed the desire to find a balance between mothering and “personing.” I’m seeking a seamless integration of work and family life for both Mark and myself. An integration that makes true co-parenting possible, while still meeting the potent biological need of a baby for her mother and a mother’s biological compulsion to be present with her baby. Why is the work world designed to ignore the existence of families?

via I just want to grind my corn! | Talk Birth.

It felt like it was definitely time for a new grinding my corn sculpture! It took quite some time between my original sculpt and making the new figurines a reality, but she’s here!

IMG_3526I love her and she sits by my computer while I write, on my desk while I teach, and on my bedside table at night. She reminds me of my own capacity—to grow, to adapt, to change, to balance, to hold, to care, to live.

Adding another baby to our family has really pushed us to our coping edge in many ways, sometimes it feels like we’ve tipped past the edge–piled dishes, piled laundry, piled recycling, undone requests, unresponded to messages, other kids wanting books read and projects done. We’re pretty maxed. Our house feels at maximum capacity. Our lives feel at maximum capacity. And, yet, I still reach for the and. Somehow, even when here at the edge, or over it, we do make room…

At one point when my first son was a baby, I was trying to explain my “trapped” or bound feelings to my mother and she said something like, “well what would you rather be doing instead?” And, that was exactly it. I DIDN’T want to be doing something instead, I wanted to be doing something AND. I wanted to grind my corn with my baby. Before he was born I had work that I loved very much and that, to me, felt deeply important to the world. Motherhood required a radically re-defining of my sense of my self, my purpose on earth, and my reason for being. While I had been told I could bring my baby with me while continuing to teach volunteer trainings, I quickly found that it was incompatible for me—I felt like I was doing neither job well while bringing my baby with me and I had to “vote” for my baby and quit my work. While I felt like this was the right choice for my family, it felt like a tremendous personal sacrifice and I felt very restricted and “denied” in having to make it. With my first baby, I had to give up just about everything of my “old life” and it was a difficult and painful transition. When my second baby was born, it was much easier because I was already in “kid mode.” I’d already re-defined my identity to include motherhood and while I still chafed sometimes at the bonds of being bonded, they were now familiar to me…

via I just want to grind my corn! | Talk Birth.

My new sculpture incorporates a small “offering” bowl (as her lap) that to me is symbolic of the fact that though her hands are full, she is still open to possibilities and offerings and can “hold” more, when needed.

IMG_3702Having another baby has really made me pare away a lot in my life, including very basic self-care things like regular showers! I’ve done it before, so I know it isn’t permanent, but it is still hard to feel like I’m trimming away so much that matters to me, while also having so much I want to offer, and constantly having to prioritize and choose. I’ve been looking at it as a sort of “sabbatical.” While I might not be able to do as much face to face projects as I envision and dream of, I can lay the groundwork, I can write, I can prepare and outline and imagine, while also sitting in my bed holding my sleeping baby. Maybe I won’t get outside every day and maybe I have to choose between the shower or yoga, since doing both in one day seems like too much to ask sometimes, but I can use this baby time to incubate new visions and grow while appearing stationary.

Here is a gallery of how I’ve been grinding my corn with my baby this month (click for captions)…

Tanner was my baby-helper at last night’s Red Tent Circle at WomanSpace. It is hard to balance baby-care with circle facilitation (because baby helpers do things like bang the rattle on the floor instead of “passing the rattle”), but I’m still really glad I decided to offer these circles this year. It has been a rich experience so far.

IMG_4269I envision a life of seamless integration, where there need not even be a notion of ‘life/work’ balance, because it is all just life and living. A life in which children are welcome in workplaces and in which work can be accomplished while in childspaces. A life in which I can grind my corn with my children nearby and not feel I need apologize for doing so or explain myself to anyone…

via Corn grinding mama goddess birth art sculpture by BrigidsGrove.

During the Inner Mentor visualization we did last night at our circle, we traveled in time to meet ourselves twenty years from now. The first thing she/I told me is that my baby is now twenty. It felt like a shock to consider that, since right now is so real

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(Side note: this is my 1000th [published] blog post at Talk Birth! It is true that regular blogging eventually produces a significant body of work!)

 

Tuesday Tidbits: Cesarean Awareness Month

11148668_1614543705424512_3613965156253725168_nIt is Cesarean Awareness Month! We finished several new mama goddess designs this month and have a CAM-themed April newsletter ready to go out (subscriber freebie in this newsletter is a new birth education handout: “Can I really expect to have a great birth?” Sign up for the newsletter at Brigid’s Grove!)

Some Cesarean Awareness Month themed posts for this week. First, a meditation for before a cesarean:

You say you honor choices. 11108844_1614067252138824_1518757261202060615_n
Can you really honor mine?
I will always honor the process which
brought forth flesh of my flesh.
I honor your births too.
Can you ever honor my experience, or will I
forever be a part of your statistics on
the way things shouldn’t be?

via Birthrites: Meditation Before a Cesarean | Talk Birth.

And, some past thoughts on helping a woman give birth…what is the balance between birth interference and birth neglect?

There can be a specific element of “smugness” within the natural birth community that has been gnawing at me for quite some time. A self-satisfied assumption that if you make all the “right choices” everything will go the “right way” and women who have disappointing or traumatic births must have somehow contributed to those outcomes. For example, I’m just now reading a book about natural mothering in which the author states regarding birth: “Just remember that you will never be given more than you can handle.” Oh, really? Perhaps this is an excellent reminder for some women, and indeed, at its very core it is the truth—basically coming out alive from any situation technically means you “handled it,” I suppose. But, the implicit or felt meaning of a statement like this is: have the right attitude and be confident and everything will work out dandily. Subtext: if you don’t get what you want/don’t feel like you “handled it” the way you could or “should” have, it is your own damn fault. How does a phrase like that feel to a woman who has made all the “right choices” and tried valiantly to “handle” what was being thrown at her by a challenging birth and still ended up crushed and scarred? Yes, she’s still here. She “handled it.” But, remarks like that seem hopelessly naive and even insulting to a woman whose spirit, or heart, has been broken. By birth. Not by some evil, medical patriarchy holding her down, but by her own body and her own lived experience of trying to give birth vaginally to her child.

via Helping a Woman Give Birth? | Talk Birth.

An educational video and some cesarean infographics from Lamaze: Lamaze for Parents : Blogs : How to Avoid a Cesarean: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

And a VBAC Primer from Peggy O’Mara: VBAC Primer | Peggy O’Mara

Some thoughts on the flawed assumption of maternal-fetal conflict and how that impacts the climate of birth today:

I think it is fitting to remember that mother and baby dyads are NOT independent of each other. With a mamatoto—or, motherbaby—mother and baby are a single psychobiological organism whose needs are in harmony (what’s good for one is good for the other).

As Willa concluded in her CfM News article, “…we must reject the language that portrays a mother as hostile to her baby, just because she disagrees with her doctor.”

via Maternal-Fetal Conflict? | Talk Birth.

And some past thoughts on Birth Strength:

“Women are strong, strong, terribly strong. We don’t know how strong until we are pushing out our babies. We are too often treated like babies having babies when we should be in training, like acolytes, novices to high priestesshood, like serious applicants for the space program.” –Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay’s Dance

via Birth Strength | Talk Birth.

(I would revise this slightly to say “until we have birthed our babies,” since strength is found in many different birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and mothering experiences, not only in pushing out our babies. I still love the quote though!)

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Sheila Kitzinger

‘Sheila taught me, from an early age, that the personal was political – not just by what she said but by what she did. As I was growing up I learnt from her campaigns for freedom and choice in childbirth that passionate and committed individuals can create social change. She never hesitated to speak truth to power. –Prof. Celia Kitzinger, Sheila’s oldest daughter

via Sheila Kitzinger 1929-2015 | Pinter & Martin Publishers.

Yesterday morning, I learned that childbirth education trailblazer, maternity activist, and phenomenally influential author, Sheila Kitzinger has died. By the end of the evening, her name was coming up as “trending” on Facebook, which is the first time I’ve ever noticed anything flagged for me as trending that wasn’t mainstream celebrity-related, holiday, sporting-event, OR horrible tragedy, disaster, or scandal related. So, Sheila continues to break new ground in maternity care activism!

My own work with birth and my philosophy of birth education and activism has been deeply shaped by this marvelous woman. She is one of my all-time favorite childbirth authors and may be the most quoted person on my blog! In fact, as I was scrolling through old posts to find some to share in memorial, I had to quit looking after the fourth page of search results because there were simply too many. Here are some of the ones I did find:

I agree with anthropologist Sheila Kitzinger who said that, “In any society, the way a woman gives birth and the kind of care given to her and the baby points as sharply as an arrowhead to the key values of the culture.” Our current birth culture does not value women and children. Though my focus is usually on the women, it also doesn’t much value men or fathers either. I also agree with Kitzinger’s assessment that, “Woman-to-woman help through the rites of passage that are important in every birth has significance not only for the individuals directly involved, but for the whole community. The task in which the women are engaged is political. It forms the warp and weft of society.”

via A Blessing…and more… | Talk Birth.

Same quotes used in two other posts:

These concepts—and the lack of a similar one in American culture—reminds me of a quote from Sheila Kitzinger that I use when talking about postpartum: “In any society, the way a woman gives birth and the kind of care given to her and the baby points as sharply as an arrowhead to the key values of the culture.”

via Some reminders for postpartum mamas & those who love them | Talk Birth.

And, Rites of Passage… Celebrating Real Women’s Wisdom | Talk Birth.

Touching on the political aspects of birth culture:

“In acknowledging woman-to-woman help it is important to recognize that power, within the family and elsewhere, can be used vindictively, and that it is not only powerful men who abuse women; women with power may also abuse other women.” –Sheila Kitzinger

via Birth Quotes of the Week | Talk Birth.

Personally influential to my own labors:

During my first labor, I experienced what Sheila Kitzinger calls the “rest and be thankful stage” after reaching full dilation and before I pushed out my baby. The “rest and be thankful stage” is the lull in labor that some women experience after full dilation and before feeling the physiological urge to push. While commonly described in Kitzinger’s writings and in some other sources, mention of this stage is absent from many birth resources and many women have not heard of it.

via The Rest and Be Thankful Stage | Talk Birth.

And, my own personal postpartum care: Ceremonial Bath and Sealing Ceremony | Talk Birth.

Her books shaped birth HERstory:

Women’s (Birth) History Month | Talk Birth.

And, my own birth education philosophy (as well as my core value in working with women):

Labour is a highly personal experience, and every woman has a right to her own experience and to be honest about the emotions she feels. Joy tends to be catching, and when a teacher has enjoyed her own births this is valuable because she infuses her own sense of wonder and keen pleasure into her relations with those she teachers. But she must go on from there, learn how difficult labour can be for some women, and develop an understanding of all the stresses that may be involved.

via Sheila Kitzinger on a Woman’s Right to Her Own Experience | Talk Birth.

And, she celebrated birth:

I hope all of the women I know who are giving birth in the upcoming season discover that, as Sheila Kitzinger said, “Birth isn’t something we suffer, but something we actively do and exult in.” (from promo for One World Birth)

via Invisible Nets | Talk Birth.

Thanks for everything, Sheila! You’re amazing!

“Childbirth takes place at the intersection of time; in all cultures it links past, present and future. In traditional cultures birth unites the world of ‘now’ with the world of the ancestors, and is part of the great tree of life extending in time and eternity.” –Sheila Kitzinger

via Tuesday Tidbits: Tree Mother | Talk Birth.

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Small Business Saturday: New Projects!

IMG_3797April is Cesarean Awareness Month and we’ve been working very hard on some new sculpture designs to offer in honor and recognition of the cesarean birth experience. (We’re also working ahead on some cool new father sculptures to unveil for Father’s Day!) They should be ready in the shop by early next week.

April 2015 156The April edition of the Brigid’s Grove newsletter will have a new discount code, articles, links, and a free birth education handout.

We’ve gotten stocked up with some sparkly new treasures in preparation for our new mother blessing and ceremony kits, which will be launching soon!

IMG_3782And, speaking of kits, here is a sneak peek of a big project we’ve been working on…

The_Red_Tent_Resourc_Cover_for_KindleWe’ve finally made some new, taller mama goddesses! These are close to four inches and make perfect birth altar centerpieces.

IMG_3766They look very similar to our smaller figures, so it can be hard to distinguish which is which in the etsy shop. The larger sculptures are those priced at $22. Here’s a comparison pic for size:

IMG_3751I like the compact size of my original figures—they fit nicely in your hand as well as still looking nice (I think) on a birth altar space. They’re also portable enough to travel—I usually take one with me in my purse to my classes and set her on the desk while I’m teaching. However, we have had quite a few requests for larger figures, so we’re doing our best! Even the larger figures aren’t exactly large though and after some failed attempts at going even larger, I’ve realized I’m okay with making them the size I like to make them, rather than trying to please everyone and losing some of my own connection with what I create.

In late March we were excited to attend the WomanSpace grand opening in Rolla. It is an amazing place and I’m so excited about it and proud of my friend Summer for making the vision a reality! The community is so lucky to have this resource available. At the grand opening we had a little booth with some of our items as well as a table for participants to make some free jewelry. Our location was a little out of the way of the main action, so we didn’t make as much free jewelry with people as we anticipated (mainly kids!), but it was a fun time and I enjoyed seeing and talking to many different people (and also feasting on some really good appetizers from Icebox Cookery).

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