Search Results for: birthrites

Birthrites: Miscarriage

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Miscarriage is a death in the heart of life, a death that happens inside the body of a woman. Sometimes a child just brushes the earth lightly, and is gone before the embryo is anything more than a few cells. Even so, there may already have been a strong connection, love, the beginning of hopes and dreams for the child. Later in a pregnancy, when the being has made itself known through kicks and a visible bump, a whole community may have already begun to make a place for it. Whenever a miscarriage happens, it is a loss that cuts deeply, and needs to be grieved…

–Jackie Singer

This quote from Birthrites touched me and made me think of the many women I’ve known who have walked the long, long path of grief. Singer then goes on to share some words from a mother of miscarriage:

“…When you miscarry, the body has already broken its ties with the baby, but I’d already put this child into my family in my imagination. That was what was hard to break…”

It my own experience, my body letting go of the baby was profoundly meaningful. My body’s later reluctance to let go of the placenta—to finally finish breaking the physical tie to the baby—was pretty traumatic. Acknowledging my own miscarriages through ritual, writing, ceremony, and memorial jewelry was very important to me and while these experiences are now past and do not hold the same fresh, raw, intensity as they once did, they are still inextricably a part of me and have shaped my identity and outlook today. I am always on the lookout for miscarriage resources for others and always, always take note when the experience of miscarriage is honored and included in a book.

As previously shared from Wild Feminine

The red of my blood confirmed what my body already knew; miscarriage is birth and death simultaneously. Miscarriage is ecstatic connection and unquenchable loss. The uterus dilates and contracts, as in the process of birth. In its wake follows something ancient, something from the hearts and lives of the grandmothers and women who have walked before, pouring forth from the uterus…

via Wild Feminine: Miscarriage Wisdom | Talk Birth.

Some other past posts about honoring the experience of miscarriage:

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Footprints symbol that held such healing for me and that I make sure to keep available affordably in my etsy shop.

Honoring Miscarriage

Tuesday Tidbits: Miscarriage Care

Miscarriage and Birth

Blog Circle: Tender Mercies, Unexpected Gifts

The Amethyst Network February Blog Circle ~ Sharing Our Stories: A Confusing Early Miscarriage Story

This post is part of a short series of posts from the book Birthrites by Jackie Singer. The first was about ritual and the second about birth as a rite of passage and the third about cesareans.

Birthrites: Meditation Before a Cesarean

You say you honor choices. May 2015 164

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 When birth doesn’t go as planned… | Talk Birth

I have sometimes felt at a loss in how to help women cope with their feelings about their cesarean birth experiences. Jackie Singer, the author of Birthrites, writes about her own preparation for a cesarean (after a previous vaginal birth) and includes this “meditation” suggestion (to use at any time—while walking, sitting, preparing for sleep, stuck in traffic):

The practice is simply to nod the head, and say inwardly, ‘Yes.’ Whatever is going on, whether it be delightful, or thoroughly unpleasant, breathe into it and think, ‘OK, this is what is happening now.’ Pay attention to each sense in turn: what can you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? Notice your thoughts, and remember that they are not you, they are just thoughts. It becomes quite a liberation not to hold on to your judgements about things, but to witness instead how sensations arise and then pass away.

When you find yourself feeling anxious about the coming operation, just remind yourself to nod and say, ‘Yes.’ When you are putting on the ridiculous surgical stockings, think, ‘Yes,’ and allow yourself to smile. When the epidural needle is going in, breathe deeply and think ‘Yes, this pain is like a contraction and will pass.’ When you are numb from the chest down, being lifted onto the trolley and wheeled into the operating theatre, just think, ‘yes, yes, yes.’

Because I had made a birthing necklace in advance of my first baby’s birth…I brought this to the hospital and Cesarean birth goddess pendant, necklace original sculpture (birth art, c-section, doula, midwife, mother)hung it on my wall. Even though I couldn’t see it during the operation, it helped me to remember that this would still be a birth: a challenging and yet joyous event, and one for which the qualities of love, going with the flow, majesty and a sense of humour would be just as important as during a natural labour…

She goes on to describe how she visited with a friend who is a hospital chaplain and they did a little ceremony:

…it was a relief to feel a hand on my belly that spoke of love and wonder and beauty, rather than the functionality of the body. Tess rubbed my forehead and belly with scented oil and laid flowers from her garden on my bump. We shut our eyes and she asked Mother Spirit to surround the baby and me, to keep us safe through the operation, to bring blessings on the hands of the surgeon and the skill of the midwives. This brought me peace in the hours leading up to the operation, and helped me to face it with quiet confidence, feeling protected.

11150546_1614074768804739_5920468981887497904_nThis post is part of a short series of posts from the book Birthrites by Jackie Singer. The first was about ritual and the second about birth as a rite of passage.

Past posts related to cesarean birth:

Cesarean Awareness Month

Cesarean Birth Art Sculptures

Cesarean Trivia

Cesarean Birth in a Culture of Fear Handout

Becoming an Informed Birth Consumer (updated edition)

The Illusion of Choice

ICAN Conference Thoughts

Helping a Woman Give Birth?

Tuesday Tidbits: Cesarean Awareness Month Round-Up

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Birthrites: Birth as a Rite of Passage

“Woman-to-woman help through the rites of passage that are important in every birth has significance not only for the individuals directly bellypictureinvolved, but for the whole community. The task in which the women are engaged is political. It forms the warp and weft of society.” –Sheila Kitzinger (Rediscovering Birth)

“I love and respect birth. The body is a temple, it creates its own rites, its own prayers…all we must do is listen. With the labor and birth of my daughter I went so deep down, so far into the underworld that I had to crawl my way out. I did this only by surrendering. I did this by trusting the goddess in my bones. She moved through me and has left her power in me.” ~Lea B., Fairfax, CA (via Mama Birth)

I have long held that birth is a rite of passage worthy of acknowledgement, care, and deep respect.  This post is second in a series of short posts from the book Birthrites by Jackie Singer (the first was about ritual). Singer writes powerful about birth as a rite of passage here:

Birth is the archetypal rite of passage for a woman, containing the essential elements of any ritual: separation from normal life, a profound transition during which the participants occupy a timeless time, followed by re-entry into society in a changed state. It can also be seen as a holy sacrament; the entry of a soul from another plan into this earthly dimension. Birth has always been, and still is, a momentous event, attended by great hopes as well as genuine risks, and one in which people call on a variety of powers for support and protection…

…such a calling in of the spirit is still possible today, whether the birth is at home in a candle-lit pool, or by Caesarean in a brightly lit hospital…

Some collected quotes from past posts on this theme…

‘All cultures believe that women become better and more generous through the process of giving birth. That is why some cultures use words such as ‘sacrifice,’ ‘suffering’ and ‘labour.’ These terms can seem overwhelming and to be avoided’ however, seen from a different viewpoint, childbirth helps us to become strong, resourceful and determined.’ (The Pink Kit)

via Birth as a Rite of Passage & ‘Digging Deeper’ | Talk Birth.

‘Birthing is also a rite of passage–into parenthood–and like any other passage, it comes upon us and we just have to deal with it. It’s an awe-inspiring experience, and it would be perfectly natural to want to prepare in some way. And you can do that. But to some extent the experience is still out of your control.’ (The Pink Kit)

via Birth as a Rite of Passage | Talk Birth.

“Childbirth is a rite of passage so intense physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, that most other events in a woman’s life pale next to it. In our modern lives, there are few remaining rituals of initiation, few events that challenge a person’s mettle down to the very core. Childbirth remains a primary initiatory rite for a woman.” –from the book MotherMysteries

via Thesis Tidbits: Birth as a Shamanic Experience | Talk Birth.

‘So how can today’s modern goddesses, and in particular mammas-to-be, prepare themselves for life’s many transitions? A good starting point is to create your own rite of passage for whatever transition you may be going through. Pregnant women could change their planned baby shower to a Mother Shower (also known as a Blessingway). Mother Showers celebrate and nurture the mother rather than focusing exclusively on the child and are a growing trend amongst women. They offer pregnant women a chance to honour their pregnancy journey, to enjoy symbolic rituals of preparation for the labour and birthing ahead and indulge in an afternoon of loving, nourishing attention from their closest friends and family. And yes, there are still cupcakes!’ –Kat Skarbek

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

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Birthrites: Ritual

October 2013 021“This is my body; this is the temple of light. This is my heart; this is the altar of love.”

–Sufi song (quoted in Birthrites)

I received a lot of wonderful books for Christmas this year. One that particularly caught my attention was Birthrites: Ceremonies and Rituals for the Child-bearing Years by Jackie Singer. While it doesn’t contain any ritual outlines, per se (which I had been hoping for), it does contain a lot of thoughtful information. I especially appreciated that it includes information about creating ceremonies to acknowledge a variety of outcomes during the childbearing year, including infertility, abortion, and miscarriage, as well as full-term birth. Two quotes from Birthrites about the value and purpose of rituals in general:

Making ritual diverts our attention from the everyday tasks of survival, and for a brief time allows us to notice and comment on where we are. Faced with the awesome experience of findings ourselves conscious in an unpredictable universe, making ritual is a noble attempt to confer rhythm and coherence to our lives…

…there is a paradox inherent in the whole concept of new ceremony, because part of the power of ceremony is that it has the weight of tradition behind it. In times of continuity, ritual would be something handed down by the elders. Perhaps this is an ideal, but we do not live in times of continuity. Rather than abandoning the whole idea of ritual as irrelevant, we need to respond to the challenges of our fast-changing age by renewing ritual practise in a way that honours the past but makes sense to us now.

This reminded me of my own previous post about blessingways and the role of ritual:

…We’re blessing each other. When we “call down a blessing” we’re invoking the connection of the women around us, the women of all past times and places, and of the beautiful world that surrounds us. We might each personally add something more to that calling down, but at the root, to me, it is an affirmation of connection to the rhythms and cycles of relationship, time, and place. Blessings come from within and around us all the time, there’s nothing supernatural about it.

I also think, though I could be wrong, that it is possible to plan and facilitate women’s rituals that speak to the “womanspirit” in all of us and do not require a specifically shared spiritual framework or belief system in order to gain something special from the connection with other women.

In another book I finished recently, The Power of Ritual, the author explains:

“Ritual opens a doorway in the invisible wall that seems to separate the spiritual and the physical. The formal quality of ritual allows us to move into the space between the worlds, experience what we need, and then step back and once more close the doorway so we can return to our lives enriched.”

via Blessingways and the role of ritual | Talk Birth.

This post is part of a four-part series of short posts from Birthrites.

Tuesday Tidbits: What Does it Feel Like to Give Birth?

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‘All cultures believe that women become better and more generous through the process of giving birth. That is why some cultures use words such as ‘sacrifice,’ ‘suffering’ and ‘labour.’ These terms can seem overwhelming and to be avoided’ however, seen from a different viewpoint, childbirth helps us to become strong, resourceful and determined.’

(The Pink Kit)

via Birthrites: Birth as a Rite of Passage

“Understand that the tremendous energy going through you during birth is the same sort of power as the force of ocean waves moving towards shore. Know that just as a bird knows how to build its nest, and when to lay its eggs, you too will build your birthing nest…”

–Janice Marsh-Prelesnik (The Roots of Natural Mothering)

via Timeless Days: More Postpartum Planning

Women preparing to give birth for the first time often wonder what it is really going to be like. What is labor like? What do contractions really feel like? Is it really like “strong menstrual cramps” or is it “agony”? When I was pregnant with my first baby, planning to give birth at a birth center, and reading everything I could about natural birth, I remember feeling like I was studying for a huge test, but a test for which there was no “right answer” and that no one else could explain to me what would be on it. I read quotes about birth being a “mystery,” and found it frustrating. What kind of “mystery”? Why can’t anyone explain it? Culturally, we get mired down in a lexicon of birth-giving that is inadequate to express it, a mainstream birth model that communicates in terms of pain, medication, and clock-watching, platitudes about healthy babies being all that matters, and dichotomies or disagreements about what defines a “good birth.”

This week, a variety of articles caught my eye that help expand our vocabulary of birth by touching on what birth feels like….

My mom told me that when you give birth naturally, you get this power that you never felt before. This is true. Oh yes it is. And no matter what kind of birth you have, we all get that feeling of crossing over and joining our grandmothers and all ancient warrior women. We have joined the ranks. We will never be the same person we were before. We become a new human. A more refined human. A softer, more patient human. An unstoppable human. A mother.

via My Birth Story, My Heart: Lindsey & Soleil | Empowered Birth Project.

Sometimes, along with feeling power, there is intense pain:

…And then the contractions got really bad. They were so strong. So long. And so close together. This was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Sure, maybe I had brief periods of this intense (that’s not really a strong enough word… hellish is more like it) labor, but it was typically brief and pushing came quickly after that.

via My Homebirth in the Hospital – Mercy’s Birth – Mother Rising.

What do I mean by “lexicon”? I mean our language, our vocabulary, for birth. What words do we have to choose from to describe our birth experiences? Is there only pain, or is there more?

…we need more words for pain, because it is ridiculous that we have only one word that is used to describe a hangnail, a broken leg, being hit by a car, and labor.

via Words for Pain | Talk Birth.

In the book Labor Pain, the author describes the results of a study about how women feel labor pain. The most frequently used description was “sharp” (62%) followed by camping, aching, stabbing hot, shooting, and heavy. Tiring was another word used (49%), exhausting (36%, intense (52%), and tight (44%). Other words and descriptions used were burning, grinding, stony, overwhelming, terrific, bruising, knifelike, invaded, baby in charge, powerful, relentless, crampy, like period pain, like thunderbolts, excruciating, frightening, and purposeful. Only 25% of first time mothers and 11% of mothers with other children described pain associated with labor as “horrible” or “excruciating” (the top of the pain-scale range).

How do women having their first babies really learn about birth? Is it only through reading or classes?

“I usually claim that pregnant women should not read books about pregnancy and birth. Their time is too precious. They should, rather, watch the moon and sing to their baby in the womb.” –Michel Odent

via How Do Women Really Learn About Birth? | Talk Birth.

Women may feel a real sense of fear and trepidation about giving birth and, unfortunately, that fear may end up limiting their real options:

Could it be that human fear of pain is being used to generate financial profit? (the opium-is-the-opiate-of-the-masses model). Perhaps once the notion of palliative care reached a certain level of acceptance for the dying within the medical community, it began to spill over into other human conditions (the slippery-slope model). Or, perhaps we don’t want transparency at all (the denial model)…

…I can think of many questions that fall under this topic…Why do we call the intense phenomenon of birth “painful”? How do our genetics, behavior, training and thought-processes affect our experience of pain? What about the health care culture – has it focused on relieving pain at the expense of what we gain from working with pain short of trauma or imminent death? How do we prepare women for working with sensation without automatically labeling it pain? Is the “empowerment” often attributed to giving birth what is learned by going through the center of the “there is no birth of consciousness without pain” experience? These questions are just a start…

via Tuesday Tidbits: Pain, Birth, and Fear | Talk Birth.

Birth environments may also limit women’s movements, sounds, and choices in ways that may actually increase pain:

“Why do we, then, continue to treat women as if their emotions and comfort, and the postures they might want to assume while in labor, are against the rules?“

– Ina May Gaskin (via Birth Smart)

via Spontaneous Birth Reflex | Talk Birth.

Giving birth isn’t simply a physical experience, it is an initiation. Facing fears, meeting challenges, moving through struggle, and coming out the other side, powerfully changed, are core elements of initiatory events.

Giving birth is one of a series of important initiations a woman may experience in her lifetime. Initiations are intimately with change. They bring the initiate from one state of being into a new state of being. Initiations accomplish this task by putting the initiate through a series of experiences that challenge them in a particular way and bring them into new ways of being and of understanding. The initiate must meet these challenges and overcome any obstacles in order for the initiation to succeed in bringing about these changes.

via Thesis Tidbits: Birth as an Initiation | Talk Birth.

In the end, regardless of how your birth unfolds, there is one thing I will guarantee: you will feel the might of creation move through you.

“When I say painless, please understand, I don’t mean you will not feel anything. What you will feel is a lot of pressure; you will feel the might of creation move through you. Pain, however, is associated with something gone wrong. Childbirth is a lot of hard work, and the sensations that accompany it are very strong, but there is nothing wrong with labor.”

via Book Review: Painless Childbirth: An Empowering Journey Through Pregnancy and Birth | Talk Birth.

Other tidbits:

Nané Jordan is looking for contributions to her new book about the placenta. Sounds intriguing and I plan to contribute!

Sign up for the Brigid’s Grove Newsletter for resources, monthly freebies, + art and workshop announcements. Birth Spiral printable poster/gift coming as August’s freebie!

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“Birth is a time of deep transformation. We enter labor with excitement, trepidation and sometimes fear. We emerge with power, confidence and love.”

–Toni Lee Rakestraw, Organic Birth

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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Belly Bowl! (and new altar bowl)

During this pregnancy, one of my personal philosophies has been to do stuff that I haven’t done before. This is my last chance to be pregnant (really!) and I want to make sure I leave no stones uncovered or cool stuff undone! 😉 So, if I’ve thought about doing something in past pregnancies that I didn’t do or learned about something new to try since past pregnancies, I’m doing it now! One of those things was making a clay belly bowl. I’ve already done plenty of belly casts and, of course, I did a new one during this pregnancy too. Luckily, I have a mom who is a potter (everyone should be so lucky!) and so I drafted her for this project. Luckily, she is also a mom who is game for pretty much anything.

Mark and I made another cast of just my belly to use as a mold. FYI, it isn’t as fun to make a second belly cast during the same pregnancy—it feels more like a “chore,” or this again?!

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I am known for my efficiency, so of course we made this cast right before my ceremonial bath project. After it dried for several days, I took it over to my mom’s house and we (mostly she) rolled out a chunk of clay until it was a rough circle. After that, we pressed it into the belly cast and smoothed it out as best we could. She reminds me that there are many steps to go and it may not make it to the end of the project, but it has gotten started!

As we worked on it, I said, “we’re so weird! Look at us!” But, then I said, “but, I like us. I’d so much rather that we actually do stuff like this than be like ‘normal’ people.” Yesterday, she popped it out of the cast mold and it did come out, which was one successful step of those remaining! Now it has to dry (without cracking!), get fired the first time (without cracking or exploding!), and then get glazed and fired a second time. So, it will be quite a few more weeks before we know the final result! At least we tried. 🙂

20141016-095615-35775498.jpg(Postscript: it did totally work! See follow up post: Completed Pottery Clay Belly Bowl! | Talk Birth)

And, speaking of pottery bowls, last year I mentioned to my mom that I’d really like to have an “elemental altar bowl,” which is basically a portable little all-in-one altar. It “holds” all four elements in one: Earth the clay it is made from, water in the dish surrounding the candle, fire in the candle, and air in the smoke/flame. Anyway, I had no idea that she then worked and worked to try to create one for me, experiencing many collapsed or cracked bowls in the process of learning how to make one. But, because that is who she is, she did it! And, I received a beautiful elemental altar bowl for Christmas. While I may say my “love language” is “words of affirmation,” I also know that “gifts” is one of the love languages I express and, I think it may be my secondary love language. It really means a lot to me when someone has paid attention so well to something I’ve said or mentioned or written or expressed and then show that attention via a careful and loving gift like this.

Anyway, she made several other altar bowls recently and we actually have one of them on etsy now! It is hard to photograph in a way that shows all of its loveliness.

It also doesn’t have to only hold water, it can be used in many ways. Yesterday, I picked some rose petals to put it in and added one of my sculptures and lit a candle in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

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“This is my body; this is the temple of light. This is my heart; this is the altar of love.” –Sufi song (quoted in Birthrites)

Tuesday Tidbits: Miscarriage

In the book A Silent Sorrow, the authors quote a responsive reading from the book Bittersweet…hellogoodbye (a book for creating memorial services for miscarried or stillborn babies). The responsive part of the reading from the other people assembled can be unique to your own spiritual path, so “Be with us [divinity name]” or “Hear us, [divinity name]” or ‘[divinity name] grant us healing and strength. Personally, I would simply leave off any divinity name and use plain old “Hear us” or “grant us healing and strength,” because then each person present is able to attach whatever additional meaning to the words they prefer, rather than having it represent any sort of specific belief.

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Some “seconds” of our baby in my heart design were added to our etsy shop this month.

Leader:

For the time of unending tears, pain, and struggle;

times of not being understood by family, friends,

times of longing and emptiness,

times of not being in control,

times of searching within and without.

We pray…

(response)

Leader:

For all the memories of our baby;

for any brief moment of being with our baby,

for those who walked the journey of mourning with us,

for each time of remembering.

We pray…

(response)

Leader:

For the times of letting go.,

for the times of reaching out,

for each new day and each ray of hope,

for the gifts our baby left us:

in giving us new eyes with which to see,

new ears to help us hear others,

a new heart to love more deeply,

and for new values in our lives.

We pray…

(response)

[p. 233]

I’m also letting go of the book Avoiding Miscarriage by Susan Rousselot (see previous post for bookshelf reduction currently in progress). In it, she acknowledges the depth of the experience of miscarriage:

A miscarriage is, by its nature, a life-changing event. From the moment a woman knows she is pregnant, she wonders how that pregnancy with change her life—she imagine the future with that child. How will this impact my work? What changes will need to be made to the house? And what sort of mother will I be?… That unborn child can turn out to be anything, and because of that it is a dream of the future. When that dream is shattered, we don’t just lose a few weeks or months of pregnancy; we don’t even just lose a ‘fetus’ or a ‘baby.’ It is as though we lose a whole lifetime—the lifetime we were going to share with that child. We didn’t mean for the idea to take on such huge proportions, but it did because we are human, and as humans we think about the future, and we wonder.

Like any traumatic event, there is no ‘right way’ to deal with a pregnancy loss. Some women will grieve as intensely as they would the loss of a full-term birth. Others will feel they are doing okay. Some women will react by resolving to take life less for granted. Others may harbor a lingering distrust of their own bodies. Some women may want to take a long time to grieve. Others may want to put the experience behind them by redoubling the pace of their lives…

…Many women who experience a miscarriage feel a powerlessness stemming from the fact that they couldn’t control what was happening inside their own bodies. This feeling is often exacerbated by the good, but often misplaced, intentions, of doctors or others who take charge of the miscarriage—or dismiss it—in an attempt to spare the woman further distress. (p. 67-68)

Regarding the use of the word “worse” in categorizing grief and loss, I shared with a friend recently that one of the things I learned from my own losses and working with other mothers through the organization I co-founded (The Amethyst Network), is that there is no hierarchy of loss and grief. They are all real. They are all valid. There is no prize for the worst experience. And, we can hold the experiences and feelings of each as valid without needing to categorize by who had it worse. Each is hard and “worst” in its own way. It is okay to let the pain hurt and to take as long as you need.

Last week I read this very raw and real miscarriage story and shared the link on TAN’s Facebook page:

“As glad as you were to tell who you told about the pregnancy, you are exactly a hundred thousand times as unglad to bear this news. You call your boss first, because the primary impact on your immediate life is that you will need to be off work for at least a couple of weeks. This is what they call a “missed miscarriage,” where the fetus lived to perhaps eight or nine weeks of gestation, but your body stayed pregnant all the same, put you through that nightmare of sickness and stress for nothing. Less than nothing. That anger comes a little later, not just yet. In any event, you won’t be back at your desk until the material of the pregnancy is gone, one way or another…”

How to Have a Miscarriage | The Hairpin

And, I received an announcement of a new book from a woman who previously emailed me to talk about my own miscarriage memoir. I look forward to reviewing her book soon.

At 33 weeks pregnant, Amy is certain something bad will soon happen, it had too many times before. Deep down she fears it’s only a matter of time before the baby she’s carrying will die. Despite the fact that Amy had been repeatedly slapped in the face with multiple miscarriages, she still can’t seem to quiet that tiny voice in the back of her head that’s screaming at her to not give up hope. Follow Amy’s true story as she stumbles through her journey with humor and warmth, all while dealing with the neuroses that came along with getting her hopes shattered time and time again. All she has to do is close her eyes and she’s lurched back to the memories of her losses; on the floor in her bathroom, in the hospital, and even at her place of work. No one knows what the internal mind of a woman who’d lost five babies and suffered so many let downs goes through. Can Hope ever truly survive memories such as these?

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

Last week, we decided to design some new European charm bracelets to honor the experience of babyloss, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Half of the profits from these bracelets will be donated towards a scholarship to help a local bereaved mother attend Stillbirthday’s Love Wildly event in Kansas City in December.

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“Miscarriage is a death in the heart of life, a death that happens inside the body of a woman. Sometimes a child just brushes the earth lightly, and is gone before the embryo is anything more than a few cells. Even so, there may already have been a strong connection, love, the beginning of hopes and dreams for the child. Later in a pregnancy, when the being has made itself known through kicks and a visible bump, a whole community may have already begun to make a place for it. Whenever a miscarriage happens, it is a loss that cuts deeply, and needs to be grieved…” –Jackie Singer (Birthrites)

via Birthrites: Miscarriage | Talk Birth.

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)

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“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!

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24 weeks! (last week)

Cesarean Awareness Month

April is Cesarean Awareness Month! In honor of the event, my husband and I co-created a new cesarean birth goddess pendant that is now available in our etsy shop. Based on the “cesarean courage” theme of my past cesarean goddess sculptures, this mama has “love” written on her belly in her cesarean scar.

April 2014 046ICAN is offering a series of interesting webinars for free during April:

In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, ICAN will be offering FREE access to our educational webinars for all participants throughout the month of April!

Join us from the comfort of your home online!

ICAN is offering the following webinars in multiple viewings throughout the month, just click on the link and time that works for you to register for the presentation.

via Free Webinars During Cesarean Awarness Month – ICAN of Northern Virginia.

Don’t forget to also check out ICAN’s helpful website. Their ICAN Birth brochure is one of my very favorites for classes, workshops, and tabling at ICAN Brochure- "ICAN Birth"events.

Giving Birth with Confidence shared an article indicating that choice of doctor is strongly linked to increased risk of cesarean, pointing out that “…what’s being done in the way of care might indeed be for the welfare of obstetricians who practice defensive medicine, and may not be for the best welfare of the woman in his care. The results of this study are not addressed in the recently released ACOG guidelines to eliminate the overuse of c-section, but it’s helpful to acknowledge the possible affect of malpractice insurance on women’s birth options…” (via Additional Factors that Can Influence the Risk of Cesarean).

Science and Sensibility offered a list of helpful resources for birth professionals to share with clients regarding cesarean awareness and also explained why we have a Cesarean Awareness Month in the first place.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month, an event meant to direct the American public’s attention to the United States’ high cesarean rate. 32.8% of all birthing women gave birth by cesarean in 2012. A cesarean delivery can be a life-saving procedure when used appropriately, but it takes one’s breath away when you consider that one third of all women birthing underwent major abdominal surgery in order to birth their babies…

via Science & Sensibility » Cesarean Awareness Month.

And Lamaze also collaborated to produce this infographic:

https://i0.wp.com/givingbirthwithconfidence.org/files/2013/10/Lamaze_CesaraenInfographic_FINAL-2.jpg

My own past posts related to cesareans are as follows:

Tuesday Tidbits: Cesarean Courage

Birthrites: Meditation Before a Cesarean

Cesarean Awareness Month

Cesarean Birth Art Sculptures

Cesarean Trivia

Cesarean Birth in a Culture of Fear Handout

Becoming an Informed Birth Consumer (updated edition)

The Illusion of Choice

ICAN Conference Thoughts

Helping a Woman Give Birth?

Tuesday Tidbits: Cesarean Awareness Month Round-Up

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