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Lento Tempo

“Invite the inner woman to speak in her language of poetry, bones, clouds, dreams, red shoes, fairy dust, ravens, and fissures of the heartland. She who dwells in the wild within will help to navigate the cliffs and valleys. She will show you the passage through – give you eyes to see in the dark. And then, when you are able, she will give you wings to fly out from that both nurturing and devastating abyss into divine light.”

–Shiloh Sophia McCloud

July 2014 037I’m taking an elective class called Women Engaged in Sacred Writing and one of our class texts is Women, Writing, and Soul-Making: Creativity and the Sacred Feminine by Peggy Tabor Millin. While the book itself is not about birth, I was struck by the author’s use of the descriptor “lento tempo” to describe the “slow time” associated with creative projects. My thoughts turned to our family as we await the birth of my sister-in-law and brother’s baby boy. He is arriving firmly on his own timetable and the waiting for him is a process of discovery in and of itself. I’ve never been overdue myself and so it is interesting to notice the parallels between waiting for labor to begin and the very process of labor itself!

Millin writes about the various creative works that require “slow time” and also writes that women crave this time and need it to survive:

Like the gestation in the womb, change happens in lento tempo, slow time. Women crave lento tempo and need it to survive. Slow is the timing of fertilization and incubation, of creative process. Creative writing often resists being manipulated to meet deadlines. We may need to wait on dreams or synchronicity to inspire and guide our work. In lento tempo, we learn the wisdom of letting things rest—bread dough, marinara sauce, roasted turkey, babies, tulip bulbs, fresh paint, grief, anger, ourselves. Almost every book of advice on writing suggests putting a manuscript away for a while once it feels complete. Then the final edit can be undertaken with a fresh ear and eye. Centered Writing Practice teaches us patience, to do by not doing

…Through focused attention, we engage watchful listening—to our inner voice and to our experience. What we achieve is not a perfect product, but a spinning spiral of synthesis. The movement of this spiral cannot be driven, hurried, or organized. Lento tempo is the natural rhythm of creation—of body, earth, and universe. As such, lento tempo is the rhythm of creativity we hear by practicing awareness…

Women, Writing, and Soul-Making: Creativity and the Sacred Feminine

(emphases mine)

While waiting with my mom, sister-in-law, and brother in Kansas, during one day of our visit we suddenly decided to look up any local labyrinths. We found one at a Lutheran church located only five miles from where we were driving at the time and so we swung by and walked the labyrinth together, pausing first to take symbolic pictures crossing the little bridge over to it—just like my sister-in-law prepares to cross the bridge into motherhood and take her own labyrinth journey of birth. We sang “I Am Opening,” one of our mother blessing songs, together when we reached the center. During the course of our visit, we kept discovering new “signs” every day that “today is the day!” and we eventually made a joke of it, since so far none of the signs have borne fruit! However, on this day we decided that our time in the labyrinth was a story and a precious moment in and of itself, independent of whether it eventually ended up having any part of the baby’s birth story.

I also recently re-read a quote from a book I read two years ago that describes the inward and outward swing of women’s lives. Since it is the time of the new moon now, it seemed particularly relevant:

“When we become practiced in the art of moving between the ‘upper’ and ‘under’ worlds of our lives (outwardly focused and engaged with the world; inwardly focused and listening to our soul) not only does the pattern of light moving into dark, into light again become clear, but also the gradations. We often experience this movement in dramatic (and unpleasant) swings from one to the other, but bringing practice and awareness to this journeying allows us to settle more gently into these transitions; just as the moon takes two weeks to darken, or lighten in small gradations. After all, we do not spend half the month in a dark moon, and half with a full moon. Rather, there are just a few days each of full darkness and full moon, and all the rest of the time is in gradual transition.”

Journey to the Dark GoddessJane Meredith

May we honor the call of lento tempo in our own lives, in our pregnancies, in the lives of our children, and in the unique unfolding of our births and creative projects.

Talk Books: Chasing Hope: A Mother’s Story of Loss, Heartbreak and the Miracle of Hope

71UaAXUX1bLLast year I was contacted by a writer working on a memoir about miscarriage. She had questions about my own miscarriage memoir and we had a short email chat about publishing. This month, she sent me a copy of her finished book to review. Though I told her I probably wouldn’t get to it until August, I was surprised to find I was not able to put it down! The author, Amy Daws, writes with the sort of first-person intensity that feels more like reading a riveting novel than a traditional memoir. Chasing Hope is a story of recurrent pregnancy loss and the eventual birth of a long-prayed for rainbow baby. It is a heart-wrenching and beautiful book and made me cry more than once! Amy and her husband experience five traumatic losses, including the miscarriage of two sets of twins. The miscarriages occur in the second trimester, past the commonly touted “safe” point and take place following ultrasounds that show the babies still healthy and active. The miscarriages detailed are very bloody and stressful and her processing of them is very honest, real, and familiar. Readers may find the stories either affirming or stressful (or both) and should proceed with some caution based on the recentness of their own experiences. As I read, I was strongly reminded of the incredible, overpowering, unbelievable blood of second trimester loss.

I cried the most when I got to the birth of Amy’s living baby girl and it vividly reminded me of the deep relief and joy in the birth of my own rainbow baby:

“…For months I tried not to love her too much in my belly because I was scared it would hurt more when I lost her. I rejected my feelings for her because I was in a constant state of survival mode and I needed to protect myself. Now was the time for me to make amends for not believing in her. For not fully loving her as I should have. Even though I was lying half naked on an operating table with doctors and nurses buzzing all around me, I didn’t care. This was my moment and nobody was going to take that away from me…”

Excerpt From: Daws, Amy. “Chasing Hope With Bonus.” Stars Hollow Publishing.

Amy also writes candidly of the impact on her relationship with her husband and with the people around her: “I looked into his eyes and saw all the pain and anguish in them that I’d seen so many times before. We were broken, together. Ruined forever.”

Amy also writes with a forthright, raw tone and an occasional almost harsh intensity that is completely appropriate to the magnitude of the experience:

“We lost our baby and feel like shit. We feel like God took a big dump on our hearts, and slapped us in the face. Not only did we lose our baby, we lost our baby in the supposed safe zone. Twelve weeks is supposed to be the time when my risk of miscarriage went way down. Snap. Guess the joke’s on us! And bonus: it took us three years to get pregnant in the first place, so now we’re really fucked. We feel miserable and can’t talk about it without crying, so please don’t say anything to us about it…”

Excerpt From: Daws, Amy. “Chasing Hope With Bonus.” Stars Hollow Publishing.

I would particularly recommend this book to mothers with recurrent losses as well as to those with second trimester losses and to pregnancy loss support groups in general. It is a powerful, intense, and ultimately hopeful read.

On Amazon: Chasing Hope: A Mother’s Story of Loss, Heartbreak and the Miracle of Hope by Amy Daws. ISBN 9780990325208

Book trailer: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RVwtQEScNRc

Author’s site: http://amydawsauthor.com/books-2/

Reviewed by Molly Remer, Talk Birth

Disclosure: I received a complimentary digital copy of this book for review purposes.

Celebrating Motherhood: Creation

“To me the only answer a woman can make to the destructive forces of the world is creation. And the most ecstatic form of creation is the creation of new life.”

–Jessie Barnard (letter to an unborn child in the book Celebrating Motherhood)

July 2014 136

“You are entirely engrossed in your own body and the life it holds. It is as if you were in the grip of a powerful force; as if a wave had lifted you above and beyond everyone else. In this way there is always a part of a pregnant woman that is unreachable and is reserved for the future.”

–Sophia Loren (quoted in Celebrating Motherhood, p. 20)

“Throughout pregnancy and childbirth, a woman is driven to dig deep into herself for an inner strength she had not known existed. After birth, the smell of her baby opens a mother’s soul to a new intimacy. She has crossed the threshold into motherhood…I have had the privilege of living with indigenous mothers around the worlds and of seeing first hand their age-old ways of loving and teaching their children. I learned from these mothers that the natural world has eternity in it, and a mother’s instincts during pregnancy, birth, and child rearing links her to this eternal chain of life.” 

–Jan Reynolds (quoted in Celebrating Motherhood, p. 20)

“No force of mind or body can drive a woman in labor, by patience only can the smooth force of nature be followed.”

–Grantly Dick-Read (quoted in Celebrating Motherhood, p. 22)

I recently finished reading a book that has been on my shelf for a long time. Celebrating Motherhood: A Comforting Companion for Every Expecting Mother by Andrea Gosline and Lisa Bossi, is a treasure-trove of delightful birth quotes that will satisfy my birth-quote-archivist soul for a long time. I’m planning to do a series of short posts of quotes and readings from this book, similar to the series I did with the book Birthrites!

July 2014 005

24 weeks! (last week)

Women, Birthing, and Boundaries

“Birth doula work is not about double hip squeezes. It isn’t about birth plans. Birth doulaing at its heart is a spiritual path that will rip away your narcissism and your selfishness. It will restructure your values and strengthen your compassion and empathy for all people through pain and humility. It is about learning how to BE in the presence of conflict and the human experience of living at its most raw and gut wrenching…”

–Amy Gililand

Watch out! Bookshelf reduction mission in full swing!

Mark has become embroiled in many land and garden improvement projects in the last couple of months. Now that it is hot outside again, he has switched some of this attention to interior home improvement projects as well, one of which is building a new little countertop onto the half-wall between our kitchen and dining area (saw is presently squealing in my ear as I type) and one of which is painting some of the walls in our house. Wall-painting necessitated bookshelf moving, which necessitated book removal, which prompted me to go on a massive book decluttering and downsizing mission. As I’ve mentioned, I am thoroughly in the mood to wrap up, wind down, finish up. I feel a powerful, powerful call to finish all kinds of things so I can fully greet my baby in October. So, this bookshelf downsizing played right into my current mood. One of the books that didn’t make my “keep it” list was The Feminine Face of God, a classic feminist spirituality book by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins (now in a giveaway box near you, so if you’re interested and you’re local, let me know and it is now yours!). This isn’t because I don’t like the book, it is because I don’t feel as if I will need to return it to again. In evaluating and reducing my book collection, I find odds and ends I’d marked to write about or remember. Rather than storing the whole book, it makes sense to me to save the one or two pages I’d marked instead and let the book move on to enrich new lives. From The Feminine Face of God, I’d saved this quote about women and permeable boundaries:

Women have permeable boundaries. Perhaps it is the experience of our bodies in touch with the bodies of others that makes it hard for us to close down our psyches. Perhaps it is genetic. Or both. Or something else. But our bodies feel the irrevocable connection of the tides with our cycles of monthly bleeding. And in lovemaking we can be penetrated and receive another. And with pregnancy we carry another for nine full moons, more or less. When we separate from that other, we can feed it from our own body. And later the cycles that tie us to the moon and tides stop. And all this is true whether we give birth or not, have sex of not. The possibility is what creates the openness, and this openness is a precious gift (p. 183).

The distinct flavor of experience which comes with the gift shapes how we perceive reality, how we act, how we create, and what we value. And more than anything else women value relationships. We blend and weave and combine and sustain all kinds of relationships, and this work, this webmaking, not only shapes our lives but makes us profoundly vulnerable to the needs of others.

This is why, to me, attachment is at the core of the mothering life. (As opposed to the “detachment” often espoused by pop-culture interpretations of Eastern philosophical thought.) I think it also explains why women can hurt and wound each other and why when we let people in “too far,” sometimes we need to push them all the way out again. Or, when someone disappoints us or lets us down, why we might turn to reject them. They’ve been allowed to enter our permeable boundaries and if we lose trust or a sense of closeness for some reason, we shut them completely out, rather than recognizing it as a momentary experience.

In the book, the authors go on to explain:

The solution to our permeable boundaries is not to seal them off or barricade our hearts and adopt a ‘me first’ attitude. When we do that, we suffer unbearable isolation. But neither is it to betray the deep sources of wisdom and meaning in our lives. Instead we need to find the unique, and probably unstable, balance that fits us at a particular time, a balance that includes, but is not limited to, the needs of our partners and family. (p. 185)

Does needing to carve out the time and space we need for our own deep places make us selfish? This is one of the fears Anderson and Ruth explore….

Of all the fears we have heard from women about taking time and space for themselves, the most common by far was the fear of being selfish. If there is a mantra women repeat to themselves to deny their longing for solitude, it is probably, ‘Selfish. Selfish. Am I being selfish?’

For two years following her separation from her husband, Lynette lived alone in a tiny studio apartment, studying massage therapy, and asking herself this question. She no longer led the young people’s group at church, or planned and prepared festive parties for her friends and extended family. She didn’t even read the newspaper much.

‘So people call and ask, ‘What’s happened to you, Lynette? You used to be so outgoing and giving,’ she told us. ‘Just yesterday one of my favorite aunts telephoned and said right out, ‘I love you, my dear, but it’s clear to me you’re being very selfish pursuing this massage-therapy business. Living in your own apartment with no one to look after but yourself is very selfish and ungrounded!’

‘You know,’ Lynette told us thoughtfully, ‘doing something for yourself is like being pregnant. From the outside, being pregnant can look selfish. You take in all this extra food. You sleep more than usual. You are not as interested as you used to be in other people’s lives, including the lives of your own family. But inside another life is growing. It needs quiet, nourishment, and rest. At first, no one can see this life, but this has absolutely no bearing on the matter. The inner life is growing and it demands your attention.

‘But,’ she continued, ‘being pregnant is easier than this other birthing. Because in our material society, we trust the process that gives us something we can see and touch and hear—a live baby. This other birthing—well, who can be sure? So much trust is needed to turn down or tune out the internal critic and focus on what is happening inside you instead of always serving others.’ (p. 204)

In the closing to this section about the call for solitude and the attachment of family life, the authors quote another participant, Sara:

“True caring means being able to give from fullness…And for that I need my solitude. It is the very birthplace of altruism.” (p. 204-205)

In typing all of the above in the non-solitude I am currently experiencing this is what happened to my little pile of books to be blogged about:

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That would be new countertop wood shavings and a Baby Hugs bear.

And, I gained a creative companion:

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:)

Yahoo with a Doppler!

Ever since 17 weeks pregnant I have been able to pick up what seemed like two heartbeat sounds via doppler at home. The first time it happened was so surprising and so distinct (and the rates were different) that I went to our first ultrasound halfway expecting to find out that I was having twins. It was only one little boy though, but he was so squished up against his anterior placenta that I still kept thinking it might be twins and they missed one somehow. I developed somewhat of an obsession with trying to figure it out and felt like I had a split personality—one part of me was completely convinced there had to be two babies and the other part of me was completely convinced that there could only be one and the two parts duked it out constantly, so I could be equally as certain about either possibility within the span of about five minutes. Luckily, the Pregnancy Resource Center in a nearby town was looking for volunteers to do training ultrasounds and so I had the opportunity to go there last week for a quick ultrasound and finally set my mind at ease by stopping the crazy-making flip-flopping my head was doing about the whole thing. I’d told my doula/friend that I felt “crazy” about thinking it could be twins, but that “I’m not just some random yahoo with a doppler!” Well, it turns out, I am just a random yahoo with a doppler as the second ultrasound also showed just one little boy baby (with one heart) who has been in there mystifying me!

So…for those other random yahoos with dopplers out there googling for answers, here were my reasons for thinking it could be twins:

  • Heartbeats were regularly different rates (127/135 and 147/156) AND on at least two occasions I picked up a distinctive double “clop-clop” sound in two separate places rather than the secondary sound being the “whooshy” cord sound googling told me I could be hearing (and that Logic Brain told me was most likely what I was hearing).
  • Two distinct locations that made me think it couldn’t be same baby from different angle—i.e. one heartbeat low on left side and the other “heartbeat” high on right side (I pictured two ying-yang style babies in there!)
  • Baby’s position via ultrasound so “crammed” into placenta like he was crowded by someone else.
  • Original (real) baby never changing position very dramatically (at least while I was paying attention) at all between about 15 weeks and 21 weeks. Head-down with back/heart on low left side (since then he has switched around several times).
  • The sensation of being “one-sided” pregnant as in I felt aware of the real baby on the right, but a sense of “blankness” on the right side (Logic Brain correctly identified for me that this was because my placenta is anterior and on the right and thus blocks a lot of baby movements. I also had an anterior placenta with my second baby though and I never once thought he was twins).
  • The clear and real sensation that when I was listening for both heartbeats that I was listening for the “second baby.” That is how I would feel in the moment—“time to find the other baby”—but then Logic Brain would kick in afterward and say things like, “I thought I heard a second heartbeat sound” (but in the moment, it would feel like I was listening to one baby and then the other baby).
  • The fact that Mark also heard it and thought the same thing AND that our midwife was able to pick up two sounds/two rates as well (at about 18 weeks) and she said that it was uncommon to hear from multiple angles like that while baby was still fairly small.
  • Having been pregnant quite a few times and never before having had any thoughts of twins or hearing any double heartbeats.
  • Twins being everywhere (including the main characters in the book club book I’m reading with the kids and seeing four sets of them at the LLL conference, etc. ;) )

And my reasons for thinking it wasn’t twins:

  • Only one baby seen via first ultrasound (and, obsessively googling revealing that it is fairly rare for a mistake to be made and two babies to be overlooked via ultrasound).
  • No dreams about it being twins. (My mom teased me about this one, but I felt certain I would have had some dream intuition about it). Then, the night before I heard back from the PRC that I could have an ultrasound there, I did have THE DREAM and it WAS twins. Of course, Logic Brain correctly told me that if I’d spent hours before bed reading stories online about Star Wars and then dreamed I was fighting with light sabers, it would not, therefore, mean I was a Jedi.
  • The fact that most often the first heartbeat sound was of the “clop-clop” variety and the second of the “whoosh, whoosh” variety (but fast, meaning it was the cord and not the placenta, uterine arteries, or my own heartbeat).
  • I read online that many, many times when FHT are detected during any pregnancy, it is really the cord and not the heart, but for the purposes of determining fetal life, both count equally and thus cord tones are regularly accepted/recorded as FHT with no distinctions made between them.
  • No dramatic weight gain (I am up to about ten pounds gained now at 22 weeks) AND not measuring particularly big (around 24 weeks or so) AND not looking particularly “big” either. I was pretty sure there was not actually room for two babies in there!
  • Having an anterior placenta and knowing that it could impact sensations of fetal movement as well as ability to hear heartrate clearly. Also, finally my husband’s Logic Brain pointed out to me that babies with posterior placentas probably look equally as “squished” into them if they were viewed from the back as our baby did with his anterior placenta, only with posterior placentas they aren’t “in the way” and thus you don’t get the same impression of the baby’s being tucked into it like a pillow.
  • The sneaking sensation that perhaps the “distraction” of wondering if it was twins was keeping me from actually thinking about the real baby and everything he will need from me/what will need to change/how I will cope with just one new baby I wasn’t expecting to have!

Before we knew for sure, I took a video to try to show what I was hearing. Unfortunately, it isn’t as convincing as some of the non-video’ed times were (like when one was at the very top right and the other very low on the left!), but it is what I have to share as a “how to know whether you, too, are a random yahoo with a doppler” data point.


So, this experience, coupled with my gender mispredictions, means that basically my overall “intuitive” track record during pregnancy is pretty terrible! At the ultrasound they did let us listen to the heartbeat both ways—cord and back and coupled with the visual image, I could more clearly “see” what it was I had been hearing and how it was able to work (nothing really explains the rate differences though except normal variability in fetal heart rate and/or a none-too-spectacularly-sensitive-home-Doppler). Also, this was the first baby for which I’ve ever been able to see so clearly via ultrasound the exact location and insertion of the cord. It was very cool and I wish I had a picture of it to share!

Here are two of the pictures I did get:

And, one of me today at 22 weeks!

June 2014 072Now that I’ve passed 20 weeks, I do feel a lot of movement even with the anterior placenta, so the “one-sided pregnant” feeling is fading.

 

LLL of Missouri Annual Conference

This past week Mark and I went to the La Leche League of MO conference. It was the first time we’ve gone anywhere together without any kids for TEN years! (And, technically we did have one with us, but he’s still in utero!) We were very grateful for my parents who hosted our kids for overnight fun. The conference schedule was packed and very tight. We got there at 8:30 on Thursday morning and didn’t leave until 10:30 Friday night. (The first day was scheduled from 11-10 [vendor set up is why we were earlier] and the second from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. These LLL conference organizers don’t mess around!)

We set up our Brigid’s Grove vendor’s booth first and Mark spent the majority of twelve hours two days in a row sitting at that booth!

After getting our booth set up, I set up our LLL Group’s boutique table. We always have a pretty good table, if I do say so myself. I’m not sure if we sold much though, since the sales are handled by the conference and a percentage of the profits comes later on (based on everything I had to pack back up to go home, I’m thinking it was not much).

June 2014 017We then had lunch and some introductory presentations and then a keynote presentation about making medical decisions which was given by a wonderful physician I’ve known since before I had Lann. I then went to her breakout session on “vaccinations and other controversial topics.” Due to the tight schedule, the next session began immediately and I enjoyed listening to a very informative session on Pumping in the NICU, for moms establishing a milk supply while expecting to be pump-dependent on a long-term basis. At dinner, I got to sit with LLL founding mother Marian Tompson (this was a perk of early registration) and got a picture with her. (Not the most flattering picture of me, but oh well.) I’m so inspired by these seven founders and what they contributed to the world. (I reviewed Marian’s book a couple of years ago here.) In the picture she’s holding her copy of the Amazing Year workbook that we distributed (with permission) in preparation for my own session the following day.

June 2014 024After dinner, I went to a session on Slow Weight Gain. Even though I’d signed up for another session after that, I took a little break and sat with Mark instead before going to an Area meeting for my Group’s area.  We then packed up the booth and took our wares to our room where we FaceTimed with the kids for a little while before bed.

The next morning began early with re-setting up our booth and getting some breakfast and then going to my first session which was called the Proficient Pumper and was about helping mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals while expressing milk. This was followed by a helpful session on assessment of tongue tie and then lunch. The conference organizers bought two of our nursing mama goddess pendants as thank you gifts for the two primary speakers and I was delighted to see Marian Tompson wearing our little nursing mama while giving her lunchtime presentation (which was about self-compassion).

10277612_10204178609655464_2447639414533920230_nAfter lunch, I got my Womanly Art book autographed and a fresh picture with Marian, both of us sporting our mama goddess pendants from Brigid’s Grove. :)

June 2014 031I opted to skip the next session, since I’d signed up for another one about pumping and I’d already been to two other pumping presentations by that time. I wanted to have a little down time to focus on my own upcoming presentations and make sure I felt centered and prepared for them. It was hard to focus though as I was nervous as well as distracted by everything else going on.

June 2014 035I sat in for a while during the alumni presentation where different anecdotes from LLL history were shared by Marian and other LLL “lifers.” Then, I got set up for my own first presentation: Create Your Amazing Year, using Leonie Dawson’s workbooks and my own experiences. I started out pretty nervous, particularly because there were people I’ve known for a long time in the audience and somehow it is easier to present in front of “strangers” than to friends! I warmed up though and surprised myself by sharing more little snippets about my students than I originally meant to. I was worried about sounding like “commercial”–either for the workbooks (for which I make no money!) or for my own business, since my experience of the Amazing Year workbooks is integrally tied to the jewelry business Mark and I have co-created—but it didn’t feel that way at all. I’d worked really hard on making a little slide show presentation that was a good visually accompaniment to my ideas and had all kinds of happy, useful little pictures and quotes and inspiration in it. I finished my hour with exactly four minutes to spare, which was pretty good since I certainly had never rehearsed it verbally to make sure my timing was right! I learned from birth class work though that one page of notes gives me one hour of material and that held true for this work as well.

After this session was dinner and a nice presentation by Marian about LLL Leaders changing the world. Following dinner was my final session, Active Birth and Pelvic Mobility. Since my session was scheduled from 7:30-9:30 p.m., I anticipated that people would do “conference math” and decide to go home early and skip my session. I was right. I had 12 people signed up, but only three actually came and none of them were actually registered for the session! We  had a really great time together anyway and they seemed appreciative of the information and excited about what they learned. I finished early on purpose to make sure to get back for the close of the silent auction, but ended up having to wait around then for the other speaker’s session to finish before the auction actually closed. I got outbid on the lovely breastfeeding mermaid picture I wanted, but I did win a nice new, red BumGenius diaper and some Soft Star Shoes for new baby boy.

While our Brigid’s Grove booth was never exactly hopping with activity, we did double the (very modest) sales goal we’d set before leaving. I told Mark not to expect many pewter sales, because lots of people don’t have tons of extra money they bring to conferences, and to expect lots of small bead and charm sales from people wanting to bring little, affordable gifts home to people. I was totally wrong and most people skimmed right past the traveling bead shop (I think because it was too much to look at for the tight conference scheduling) and headed straight for the pewter. We sold completely out of our breastfeeding mama goddess pendant! We were invited to have a booth at an upcoming LLL mini conference in St. Louis in August and we’re strongly leaning towards going.

Pewter Breastfeeding Mama Goddess Sculpture Pendant  (custom sculpture, hand cast, LLL, IBCLC, nursing))…She’s just feeding her baby. Is she? Or is she healing the planet at the very same time?

Milky smile, fluttering eyes, smooth cheeks, soft hair. Snuggle up, dear one. Draw close. Nestle feet to thighs, head to elbow. And know that you are encircled by something so powerful that it has carried the entire human race across continents and through time for thousands upon thousands of years on its river of milky, white devotion.

via Pewter Breastfeeding Mama Goddess

The most beautiful thing about conferences like this is the sense of continuity with work that has been going on for 60 years, as well as a sense of connection with the many, many women present and past who have served other women. The face-to-face time with Leaders scattered around the state is invaluable and I am surprised by how connected I feel with these friends I only see at most once a year. I’m not sure what my role in LLL will be in the years to come, as I feel myself moving further and further away from my original interest in one-on-one helping, but I’m pretty sure I can’t help but be a “lifer.”

Opening Up…

Sacred Body  May 2014 070
Sacred Space
Sacred Womb

Holding
enfolding
protecting
nourishing.

Spinning cells into soul
into body
into breath
into life.

Unfurling without conscious control or effort.
Dancing together in the incredible might of creation…

Last month, one of the blogs I write for was doing a round robin topic on what makes a family. Though I missed my chance to officially participate I still have something to say about the topic anyway! For me, the question of what makes a family boils down to opening up to make room. In February of this year I found out I was pregnant again, even though we’d made what felt like a very firm decision not to have any more children. We’ve never experienced an unexpected pregnancy before. I’m a “planner” by nature and my children have all been very planned out (I even went for a “preconception” health care appointment before conceiving our first baby!) After my initial feelings of surprise and some degree of distress and even sadness, I was really amazed to see how very soon I started to feel space opening up in my mind, heart, body, and family for a new person. And, I thought, isn’t this the very essence of family? Opening up. I spent my childhood with three siblings, but geographically isolated from other family members and so almost all of our holidays were spent as just us, the immediate family. It used to make my mom feel sad not to have a houseful of company for Thanksgiving. However, then, even as the residents of the actual family house decreased as we grew up and moved away, our family opened and expanded to include more members (and more schedules!). I got married in 1998 and our family boundary expanded to include my husband. We then had our first baby in 2003 and the family opened up to receive a first grandchild and then later the spouses of my siblings and two more grandchildren from me. My brother and his wife are having their first baby in July and again our now-extended family expands to create room and joyfully anticipates his arrival. And, with my own new baby boy due in October, we again open and welcome with love.

My parents’ house at Thanksgiving is pretty full and pretty busy now!

Body opens
heart opens
hands open to receive

Birth mama
birth goddess
she’s finding her way
she’s finding her way…

via Birth as Initiation.

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