First of all, I’m 20 weeks pregnant already! I can hardly believe it, though I also feel as if I’ve been pregnant for a “long time” too. I remain in a state of being both constantly aware of being pregnant and constantly in something like disbelief or “denial.” I feel surprised when I see myself in the mirror and in my head I still feel distanced from the idea of being pregnant and the identity of Pregnant Woman. It still feels somehow “far away,” like that chapter of my life is still closed for me mentally.
One of the reasons I decided to hire a midwife for this pregnancy was because I feel like I need to bring it back into the front of my mind and to give time and attention to this experience. I need some time to focus on being pregnant and on my new baby and have interaction with someone who cares about exactly that. I need someone to pay attention to me as Pregnant Woman and to care about me in that way that midwives do so well.
(Yes, I do still have Alaina’s Ergo, but apparently I think maybe each baby needs its own new baby carrier!)
With regard to Pregnant Woman, I took the leap and signed up for the online Sacred Pregnancy retreat training in August. I’ve thought about it several times and now feels like the right time for me—I hope to benefit from it both personally and professionally.
Speaking of the Amazing Year workbook, I’m gearing up to give two presentations at the La Leche League of Missouri Conference coming up this week. I’m doing a session on the amazing year and my first continuing education eligible session on active birth/pelvic mobility. I’ve been working hard on preparing for both sessions as well as getting all of our booth stuff ready, since we’ll be having a Brigid’s Grove booth at the conference too. (Mark will be working at it while I attend sessions.) My LLL Group also has a sales table in the boutique for which I am providing most of the items and we also got silent auction donations ready over the weekend.
Back to the Renaissance Festival where some dear friends were working as pirates, I received this lovely surprise birthday gift.
It is perfect for my Red Tent plans for August!
Speaking of the Red Tent, I enjoyed watching this video again today and thinking about my plans and wishes for this event:
And, surfacing from celebration and shifting to the pain women experience as part of the childbearing year, I appreciated two powerful articles this morning. The first was about a backlash to the backlash with regard to traumatic birth:
If we want to reduce the prevalence of traumatic birth experiences, we’re going to have to confront some common expectations, narratives, and perceptions around childbirth to help shape women’s beliefs and emotionally prepare them for the realities of childbirth. Childbirth is often glamorized as a spiritual journey, but physically, it is called labor for a reason. Sure, it can be a transcendent experience for many women, but it can also be a challenging ordeal involving blood, sweat, and tears, among other bodily fluids. Without adding any other stressful or complicating circumstances, childbirth already has all the necessary ingredients to be bewildering, frightening, and emotionally exhausting. And yet, because of the subjective nature of experience, two mothers can have the same events happen during birth, and one can emerge merely rattled while the other emerges with PTSD.
A good place to start with recalibrating beliefs and expectations of childbirth is with the image of an ideal birth with little pain, no complications or medical interventions, dim lights, and soft music. It’s a lovely and inspiring conception of birth, but we should also acknowledge that absolute perfection is rarely a reality. Most births don’t have complications but some do, and it is unfortunate when women feel they or their births are failures for failing to meet their preconceived notions of success. Women should strive for a birth that is manageable and meaningful, but without a sense of entitlement that it must be fast, painless, and stoic. Holding unrealistic expectations of childbirth can set women up for disappointment…
(Just a note that the conclusion of this otherwise powerful piece felt a little forced and a little too close to “at least you have a healthy baby” for my taste.)
And, then there was this essay about a cesarean picture on Facebook that was reported as “violent”:
This is motherhood. Raw and uncut. Refuse to be silent, show up and stand out, rip off the covers and be seen. This is the motherhood behind closed doors. This is the warriors path and these women are foot soldiers on the battlefield to make miracles and bring fragile lives onto this Earthen soil. Don’t let anyone tell you your birth wasn’t beautiful, that that your moment of utter transcendence wasn’t real. Never believe for a moment that you, too, did not emerge a butterfly…
The cesarean post reminded me of some of my own previous posts about Cesarean Courage. And, the piece about recalibrating childbirth reminded me of these two articles, the first about the strength found in our most shadowy “what’s ifs” and darkest places:
I’ve also come to realize that despite the many amazing and wonderful, profound and magical things about birth, the experience of giving birth is very likely to take some kind of toll on a woman—whether her body, mind, or emotions. There is usually some type of “price” to be paid for each and every birth and sometimes the price is very high. This is, I guess, what qualifies, birth as such an intense, initiatory rite for women. It is most definitely a transformative event and transformation does not usually come without some degree of challenge. Something to be triumphed over or overcome, but something that also leaves permanent marks. Sometimes those marks are literal and sometimes they are emotional and sometimes they are truly beautiful, but we all earn some of them, somewhere along the line. And, I also think that by glossing over the marks, the figurative or literal scars birth can leave on us, and talking about only the positive side we can deny or hide the full impact of our journeys. What if it was okay to share our scars with each other? Not in a fear-mongering or “horror story” manner, but in honesty, depth, and truth—what if we let other women see the full range of our courage?
And, the second about the many possibilities for birth regret:
I’ve come to realize that just as each woman has moments of triumph in birth, almost every woman, even those with the most blissful birth stories to share, have birth regrets of some kind of another. And, we may often look at subsequent births as an opportunity to “fix” whatever it was that went “wrong” with the birth that came before it. While it may seem to some that most mother swap “horror stories” more often than tales of exhilaration, I’ve noticed that those who are particularly passionate about birth, may withhold or hurry past their own birth regret moments, perhaps out of a desire not to tarnish the blissful birth image, a desire not to lose crunchy points, or a desire not to contribute to the climate of doubt already potently swirling around pregnant women…
Last night, I enjoyed looking at photos from a very interesting art exhibit called Mama that explores birth as a creative process…
The artist has a beautiful etsy shop as well in which she sells her “mamamore” sculptures:
I’m currently looking into ways to reproduce some of my own sculptures, so that I can make them more readily available to women without burning myself out in the process. Here is a photo of a recent batch that mostly headed to Canada for a shop there, with a few extras that went on etsy (and a few are prototypes for possible casting in resin).