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Guest Post: A Secular Sabbath

This guest post is part of my blog break festival. The festival continues through December, so please check it out and consider submitting a post! Also, don’t forget to enter my birth jewelry giveaway.

I was happy to review Sarah’s book earlier this year and I absolutely love this guest post from her explaining how digital sabbaticals work in her own life. At our own house we have been observing “computer off day” every Sunday for a number of years. It is most excellent—amazing how much “more time” appears in my life when the digital noise is silenced for a spell. I do need to make sure I commit to having Sundays be “app off days” too, because I didn’t have those devices when I started the practice and it is very easy to trick myself into thinking it is okay to check, “just one thing” on Sunday as long as it isn’t on a computer! (Of course, these days I use my i-devices more often than my laptop anyway)

A Secular Sabbath

by Sarah Whedon

“It is one thing to race or be driven by the vicissitudes that menace life, and another thing to stand still and to embrace the presence of an eternal moment.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel in The Sabbath

 I love that I had the mental space to generate the idea for this guest post while I was taking a short break from everything to do with blogging.

 You see, my dreams at night had begun taking the distressing form of social media streams: Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, Google+, GoogleReader, email, Moodle, Skype, WordPress. (Side note: these are all web-based tools with free versions that I use regularly. There, now if you go look one up, reading about taking a break was also productive.) 

I spend most of my time at home with young kids, but I also manage to volunteer for a couple of reproductive health and justice organizations, Chair an online seminary department, and manage a blog, because I can do most of it online from home using those apps.

My dreams were a warning sign, though, about how I was managing my time and mental resources. I listened, and I decided that once a week I would observe a social media Sabbath. I originally got the idea of limiting technology use once a week from Michael Pollan, whose version is about greening your lifestyle, which is also appealing.

He, of course, got the Sabbath idea from Jewish tradition, in which the day is a time to rest from work, and focus on family and holy things. Michael Pollan’s version doesn’t borrow much from the rich traditions of Jewish observance, my version isn’t exactly like Michael Pollan’s version, and if you decide to observe a secular sabbath, yours won’t be exactly like mine.

Here’s what I do: from 6:30am to 6:30pm on Fridays I’m officially off social media (in practice it’s usually a few hours longer). I don’t use any of the apps I’ve listed above, nor do I do “just one quick Google search” to look something up that I get curious about. I do use my smart phone to take pictures of my kids, navigate around town, and (gasp) talk to loved ones, because those aren’t the uses that were causing me trouble. 

When I observe my version of a secular Sabbath I find that I’m more present all day Friday, and actually all the other days, too. Nobody minds that I’m offline for a day, especially because I set Friday posts to run in advance, and let people know I won’t be available. I don’t dream about social media anymore. And when I step away from the constant input of internet data, I can have my own ideas, like the idea that while Molly is trying to take a bit of a break, I can share how I take my break. 

So that’s how I’ve been claiming some rest time each week for the past month or so. Do you take technology fasts or Sabbaths? How do you do it?

Sarah Whedon is Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious History at Cherry Hill Seminary and is the founding editor of Pagan Families: Resources for Pagan Pregnancy and Birth. Sarah’s teaching, research, and advocacy work center around topics of spirituality, feminism, and reproduction. She makes her home in San Francisco with her partner and their children.Whedon2crop.jpg

Guest Post: The Women’s Lounge

This guest post is part of my blog break festival. The festival continues through December, so please check it out and consider submitting a post! Also, don’t forget to enter my birth jewelry giveaway. This post falls into the Motherful category and was written by my own mother (I’m the 11 year daughter mentioned in the story)!

The Women’s Lounge
by Barbara Johnson

“Excuse me, there’s veal in your baby’s ear,” whispered the stolid-looking, well-groomed businessman seated next to me on the crowded airplane (who had spent the entire trip trying to project himself into another realm where traveling women with multiple children were prohibited from invading his space). I glanced down. Sure enough, there was a pool of tomato sauce, with veal, in my sleeping 6 month old infant’s ear. I grabbed an inadequate airline napkin and swabbed ineffectually away, while Mr. Businessman began searching around in his brief case – presumably to avoid further contact or conversation with me. I seized the moment of his inattention to duck my head discreetly and quickly lick up the remainder of the mess. Slightly gross, but highly efficient…..This episode apparently unleashed some hidden reservoir of chattiness and my seat partner proceeded to produce volumes of photographs of his family, accompanied by amusing anecdotes. No further mention was made of veal.

I managed to extricate myself (holding sleeping baby girl and an insanely oversized diaper bag), my two –year-old high-needs son (understatement), and my two older daughters (ages 9 and 11) from the plane. I was met by an airline representative to be transported to our connecting flight gate. This had been carefully pre-planned, as I knew I had only a 25 minute layover and many small bodies to transport. I was smugly proud of my maternal organizing skills, never reckoning on the embarrassment of hurtling through the Salt Lake City air terminal, honking warning sounds at innocent travelers. We were crammed onto the hindmost seat, facing backwards with our feet braced to avoid being thrown out on our faces every time the vehicle accelerated. The cart reeled past all manner of passengers, including many people certainly more in need of transport that we were. A young man pushing 2 occupied wheel chairs, an elderly woman with a walker, and a blind man with a cane. My humiliation mounted as we beeped them out of our path.

The diaper bag was a massive affair, having been carefully selected for maximum capacity. Its depths contained not only diapers, but boxes of juice, a variety of snacks, my purse and personal items, as well as activity selections for 4 age groups. Oh, and my book that I had been carrying with me for 10 years, hoping for random opportunities for quick reading (hah!). Toys, crayons, tiny cars, stuffed animals, granola bars……It weighed a ton. The relevance of this information will be revealed later.

I could have saved myself this ride had I bothered to check any of the departing flight monitors. They would have told me what I found out upon my jubilantly prompt arrival at the gate. My connecting flight was delayed. Well, that’s not so bad! We can surely occupy ourselves for a while in the airport! No problem! Since there was no departure time listed, I parked the kids in a waiting area and lined up to ask a few questions.

Traveling companions circa 1990

My organized-traveling-mom-with-four-children veneer cracked a bit when I heard that the plane was delayed for 6 hours. This was not good. Must make the best of it! Not to worry! I’m a 24 hour a day parent! A woman of the 90’s! I can do this! No problem!

I returned to my gang, suggesting that we tour the airport and see all the fun sights, like airplanes taking off and landing over and over, and expensively fragile gift shops. Everyone was tired of this after an hour, so I broke out the snacks. Not good enough – the restaurants and vending machine items looked vastly superior to the eyes of my children, but not to my traveling budget.

My 2-year-old son began to melt down. My daughters needed to use the restroom, but I had an irrational and paranoid fear regarding restroom perverts, so we all had to shuffle in together (including the burdensome diaper bag). Exiting the facility, my toddler spotted a candy machine and hurtled headlong towards it, shrieking and maniacally pulling knobs. The baby in the backpack was pulling my hair while bouncing. The big girls were totally loaded down by the diaper bag (it took both of them to lug it around). We were a public spectacle! Oh, the shame! There were still 5 loathsome hours to wait in that sensory-overloaded airport. It was too noisy, to bright, too loud, too hot and too stinky for any sane person to endure for that long! Argh!

There was a gentle tap on my shoulder and I turned to look way up into the face of a burly security officer. Was I to be arrested for disturbing the peace, or possibly vandalizing the candy machine? I cringed.

“Excuse me, ma’am”, he said. “Did you know there’s a women’s lounge over there?”, and indicated a door near the restroom that had a small plaque reading “lounge” on it. I, in my ignorance, had supposed such doors thus marked to be solely for the secret use of airport personnel, and certainly NOT for traveling mothers. But no, apparently I was allowed to enter! The large and kind officer hoisted the diaper-bag-from-hell and led the way, tipping his hat politely at the door as I staggered through it.

An amazing oasis in that desert of chaos greeted me. It was a small, cool sitting room with a couch, table, several chairs and a sink (with paper towels! Oh joy!). As I removed the baby pack, using the handy counter, and collapsed into a chair, a woman of greenish-white complexion emerged blearily from beneath a blanket on the couch, offering weakly to make room for us. “No, no!” I gushed. “We’re fine! There are plenty of chairs. Just settle back down!” She gratefully did. We exchanged stories while I nursed the baby and passed out snacks. She had been compelled to actually miss her connection due to motion sickness, and was actually too ill to continue. Well, that was certainly not fun and possibly worse than my situation. At least we weren’t throwing up. I like to use the reverse psychology of “it could always be worse” to comfort myself under adverse conditions… “Have a cracker?” I offered. She took it and actually seemed improved. Maybe the diaper bag was worth it after all.

The door opened, admitting a cacophony of airport noise, along with a desperate-looking young woman loaded with a rotund infant and a crying 3-ish girl, clutching her stomach. She thrust the infant into my arms, saying “Would you mind holding him? She’s going to throw up!”, and ran out. The baby and I stared at each other. I offered a cracker, which he solemnly accepted, and I hoped was acceptable to his mother. Actually, she looked harried enough to not even notice or care. He was content to merely hold it and watch my kids as they played.

The door opened again, and all eyes turned towards it, expecting the return of the baby’s mother. But no, it was an Asian woman accompanied by a miniature, elderly woman using a walker. They looked around hesitantly, smiling shyly and bowing. Hmmmm……Ms. Airsick, revived by the cracker, shifted around to make room. The elderly woman inched through the children, avoiding fingers and toys, and eased down with an audible sigh. “Many babies!” said the first woman. “Well, they’re not all mine”, I said. She looked puzzled. “I don’t know this one” indicating the solemn fellow on my lap. “Ah”, she replied. “His mother left him with me because her daughter was throwing up, but I never saw any of them before in my life” I babbled. “Ah!” she repeated, clearly baffled. The tiny raisin of a mother (I guess) barked a question in what I supposed was rapid-fire Chinese. “Ah!” said the woman. They both beamed at me and I beamed back. I asked them if they had a long wait, but apparently our conversation about babies had exhausted their English vocabulary. They did say “Hong Kong, many hours, much trouble”. I could read the rest in their eyes. Without a working grasp of the language and a special-needs traveler on top of that, they were trying to travel home and it was not going smoothly. After a while, an Asian-American airline representative came to fetch them. They bowed away, repeating “Thank you very much! Bye-bye!” I wished I could have understood more of that story.

Meanwhile, Little Vomiter and her mother returned. We discussed various stomach complaint home-remedies. Ginger Ale? May try that next time, but of course there’s none available in the airport – perhaps on the plane? Our babies had birthdays only 2 days apart and before you knew it we were exchanging labor stories. Ms. Airsick looked better. Perhaps tales of other people’s discomfort helped take her mind off her own stomach.

The door opened again, admitting a woman with twin four-year olds who looked miserable. We squeezed together to make room. She was having a nightmare trip in which her flight had been totally cancelled and there was a luggage mix-up causing her bags to be sent to Atlanta (they thought). My paltry delay was beginning to seem like a pleasant gift.

This pattern continued throughout my sojourn in the women’s lounge. Women of all ages and backgrounds took solace there. We helped, comforted and commiserated with each other, waving a cheerful farewell as each departed, knowing only the basic fact of TRAVEL INTERRUPTED. In the minutes of our contact, we each forged a bond. It felt as if we were all connected, and fulfilling some cosmic destiny by being thrown together in that haven to support each other. I never asked anyone’s name or more than their travel destination, but we learned so much about each other anyway. The bond of femaleness and motherhood bound us together, allowing us to trust and help each other. I sent my daughters to the restroom with a total stranger, no longer fearful of lurking criminals. We shared an unpleasant, but not unbearable, travel experience and emerged from it enriched. We were like ships that pass in the night, recognizing our bond in a vast ocean. We were all suspended and isolated in a sea of people sailing towards their destinations.

I passed through the Salt Lake City airport many times in the subsequent years, but never faced another delay and never again sought out the women’s lounge. I picture it still exactly the same, with an ongoing stream of stressed women finding peace, comfort and support. I’ve felt this support before, from family and friends in troubled times, but never before I had I been stranded in such a way. The women’s lounge was a haven for us all. The interesting part of it was how quickly we bonded and trusted each other. We were completely united in our efforts to protect our families from the rigors of the airport, and recognized that it was time to band together – no whining allowed. We took care of each other, but it wouldn’t have been possible outside of that room. That space provide a place for us to focus on the needs of ourselves and our children without the mad, jumbled stimulus of the terminal. Bolstered by the peaceful interlude, we were all able to withstand our delays, gathering strength from each other as we prepared to travel onward.

Barbara Johnson was a homesteading, homebirthing, homeschooling, traveling mother of 4 when this trip happened in 1990. Her children are now grown and married, and she enjoys spending time with her 3 grandchildren. She is the director of Shannondale Craft Camp in southern Missouri.

Guest Post: Motherful at Midlife

This guest post is part of my blog break festival. The festival continues through December, so please check it out and consider submitting a post! Also, don’t forget to enter my birth jewelry giveaway.

I was happy to preview Peg’s book earlier this year and enjoyed receiving a post from her reflecting on being Motherful at midlife…

Motherful at Midlife

by Peg Conway

“Life is so unnerving
for a servant who’s not serving.”

These opening lines from “Be Our Guest” in the musical Beauty and the Beast popped to mind during our daughter’s recent fall break from her freshman year in college. The departure of our oldest son two years before had certainly impacted the household, but with both of them away and the youngest now a licensed driver, the house feels like the empty castle that Belle happened upon in the story.  A sense of expectation surfaces, waiting for  . . . what?   Like a phantom limb, my routine was accustomed to more coming and going, more conversation, just more people around.

The Sunday when Kieran was home, we planned a brunch for after church.  As Joe and I worked in the kitchen together to put the meal on the table, a sense of having donned a familiar garment came over me.   “This feels like ‘us’ in a way I haven’t known in a while” I said.  Although our family table has long anchored our life, especially through the busy teen years, something didn’t fit quite the same way. Providing a nourishing meal was not creating the same satisfaction as before.  In early September, my life felt unnerved by fewer nurturing tasks to perform. Just six weeks later our adaptation became clearer, with Kieran home on a weekend when I was booked with several activities related to ongoing commitments I have made.  I had less time and energy for the style of nurturing that had been an essential part of my life for a long time, and I didn’t mind.

Yet at the core I remain a mother. The emotional and spiritual transformation wrought by the physical processes of pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding feel permanent.  What does this mean?  Does one cease to be motherful when the children are grown?  Or rather, how is one motherful at midlife and beyond?  Physician and menopause specialist Christiane Northrup advises that the hormonal changes as childbearing wanes cause a shift in women.  We truly are less nurturing than when we were caring for young children, but what emerges in its place can be creative, powerful, and immensely fulfilling.  Rechanneling motherfulness, women’s midlife initiatives may arise from old passions re-discovered or the pursuit of new paths.  I know several women who have entered politics, local and state-wide, now that their children are grown.  Another started a school for young children to implement her unique vision for learning.  Someone at my church took up pottery making and donates the proceeds from sales to charity.  I can think of two other women who have started consulting businesses.

My own standard for future endeavors is the deep satisfaction I derived from homeschooling, especially being part of a weekly co-op where I team-taught writing and history with other mothers.  I have struggled to articulate just what made it so rewarding, but I think it has a lot to do with community, forging relationships with a diverse group while engaging in a project of personal importance.  Of course my enjoyment also related to spending generous time with my children, but I have had to accept the finitude of that experience.  Grieving and letting go are significant motherful activities at mid-life.

Professionally, I’m still finding my way, but writing is figuring prominently.  I started a blog two years ago, and last month realized a long-held dream by publishing a book, Embodying the Sacred: A Spiritual Preparation for Birth. Involvement in several local non-profits is helping me discern further.  I’m also discovering that simply being present to young people is a motherful mid-life outlet.  Recently I began spending delightful time with my 2-1/2-year-old niece.  We read books, take walks, play with plastic food and dishes, dolls, and blocks, talking all the while about what’s happening then and there.  I also savor moments with my young adult children as they become companions present to me.  The memory that endures from my daughter’s visit is not the food that I cooked on Sunday morning, but the hike we took together with our dog on Monday afternoon…

Peg Conway is a writer and community leader in Cincinnati, OH.  She blogs about life and faith at pegconway.com.  As a childbirth educator and doula, she was certified with Birthing from Within, Doulas of North America, and BirthWorks.  She earned degrees from Xavier University and Northwestern University.  Peg is in the process of becoming certified as a celebrant through Global Ministries University.

Guest Post: Don’t Touch Me… Don’t Even Look At Me

This guest post is the first in my blog break festival. The festival continues through December, so please check it out and consider submitting a post! Also, don’t forget to enter my birth jewelry giveaway. This post falls into the Motherful category…

Don’t Touch Me… Don’t Even Look At Me.

by Veronica of Mormon Monkey Mama


Being a monkey mama isn’t all it’s cracked up to be sometimes. My kids still cry. I still have to discipline and direct my 3-year-old. Yesterday was especially difficult. Squirrel Monkey, 3 years (SM) is getting sick and Owl Monkey, 5.5 months (OM) is still sick. When SM is feeling sick, she is very testy. So, yesterday, she kept doing things she knew she shouldn’t to get my attention, acting out her physical feelings. She didn’t want to eat anything I gave her, she was whiny, and she mostly wanted to watch TV all day. So by the time my husband, Gorillaman, got home, I. Was. DONE. But I can’t be done. I have a nursling. And though that is often very zen… it wasn’t yesterday.

We put the girls to bed at 8:00. That never happens here. SM is usually up until 9:00 or 9:30. She went to bed easily. But OM, who usually goes to sleep pretty easily, was fussy because she couldn’t breathe.

So the mother abuse began…

FACTS:

*Baby toes are like a velociraptor‘s. I have bruises on the insides of my legs from OM taking her big toes and digging them into anything she comes in contact with. Most of the time, especially when we are nursing lying down, that is my leg, groin, or stomach, as she writhes around being frustrated about her inability to breathe easily.

*It’s especially uncomfortable, verging on vomit-inducingly painful, when the baby goes from nursing peacefully to clamp-and-twist in 0.2 seconds. It’s even worse when you have a recurrent plugged duct because of said baby’s latch. I know from experience… a lot of it.

*Babies have unbelievably strong fingers… the better to pinch you with. I have bruises on the insides of my arms and the tops of my breasts from aggravated little fingers that find purchase and CLAMP DOWN! Hand wrangling should be a class for pregnant moms.

*Toddlers/preschoolers have sharper elbows than the coffee table corners we protected them from a couple of years before.

My normally sweet and gentle Owl Monkey has become a baby badger. Ow. Add that to the bone crushing antics of a testing toddler, well, is it any surprise why I avoid any sense of intimacy on a day like yesterday? By the end of the day, when I have been poked, prodded, pinched, and pummeled by tiny hands, feet, and toothless gums, I don’t want to be touched. By anyone. I don’t even want to hold hands. My lucky poor husband, who has been away from his doting family all day, wants to come home and have some sort of physical closeness, even if it’s just to sit together on the couch and watch our show. It’s not fair that our jobs give us seriously different needs. But such is life so we both make sacrifices. So sometimes I snuggle, though it makes me feel like crawling out of my skin. And sometimes he takes a cold shower. 😉 Such is this life of parental bliss. And bliss it is. For just as you think you can’t handle any more, your 3-year-old crawls into your arms again and needs you to snuggle her to sleep. Your 5.5 month old flashes that gummy, milky grin. And suddenly your heart is full again, the bruises don’t matter, and you hug your husband that much closer knowing that only the two of you truly understand…

It’s all worth it.

Veronica is a semi-crunchy stay-at-home mom to two girls and a sweet English Bulldog boy. She is passionate about breastfeeding, gentle parenting, co-sleeping, and babywearing. She spends her days chasing her 3.5 year old with her 23 lb 9 month old on her back! She hopes to encourage and support other LDS (Mormon) moms as they embrace the mommying counterculture and parent instinctively.

Originally published on Friday, July 13, 2012 at Mormon Monkey Mama

Blogaversary birth jewelry giveaway!

***This giveaway is now closed. Sarah is the lucky winner!***

This month I not only hit 300,000 hits on my blog, but it is also my blogaversary! Five years ago, on October 29 I started this website with my first post. I had no idea where it would go from there! I know there are many other more popular bloggers with lots more hits than I have (especially in FIVE years!), but I feel very happy and comfortable with my level of traffic here and the contribution I am able to make. And, interestingly enough, over 150,000 of those hits were during this year alone. And, during just this month I had more hits than in my entire first year of blogging! That slow and steady progress and consistent presence makes me feel really good about my work here. So, to thank my readers for reading and to celebrate my blogaversary and the 300, 000 hits mark, I’m going to offer a giveaway of a beautiful Birth Dancer pendant by Wellstone Jewelry!

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“The sterling silver dancing goddess, nurturing her baby, preparing for birth.”

This is not a donated item—I bought it to resell, but decided I’d like to offer a happy giveaway instead!

There are lots of ways to enter to win this lovely pendant and the giveaway is going to last for a long time—basically through the duration of my ongoing blog festival, which will last until December 15. To enter, do any or all for the following:

  • Leave a happy-blogaversary comment on this post 🙂
  • Become a fan of Talk Birth on Facebook
  • Follow Talk Birth on Twitter
  • Tweet about the giveaway (and comment to tell me!)
  • Share the giveaway on Facebook (and comment to tell me!)
  • Suggest Talk Birth on Facebook to your friends.
  • Share self-care/self-renewal tips with me that I can pass along to my readers!
  • Comment and share your favorite post from Talk Birth (double entry for this one!)
  • Contribute to my ongoing blog festival and you will earn FIVE bonus entries (I’ve received some great contributions so far and will start publishing them next week. If you’ve already contributed, you will be automatically entered in the giveaway. But, seven weeks is a long time, so I could really use some more contributions! Remember that you can send me previously published posts that are your own personal favorites. This could be good exposure for your own writing/blogging! I do not want any pregnancy/birth 101 type of posts, but otherwise I’ll happily accept good quality posts on a variety of subjects).

I added an archive drop-down to the sidebar recently in honor of my blogaversary, so if you want to take a walk down Talk Birth memory lane, make sure to check it out on the right hand sidebar, halfway down —>

And, again, thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for your comments, thank you for feedback and support, thank you for sharing my posts on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me. Thank you for letting me share myself with you. Thank you for caring. Thank you for participating. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to share my voice and my thoughts and to be heard in the larger, virtual community, in addition to in my own small, in-person community. When I began writing here, I felt frustrated and uncertain about my ability to make a contribution to the birth world. I desperately wanted to transform the birth culture in the US. I felt blocked and denied in my access to the people I wished to reach. I felt frustrated and “held down” by the needs of my small children. Writing here offered me freedom and reach and enabled me to be a birth educator and activist in the wider world beyond my own rural home, as well as contributing to my local community. It has allowed me to make a (small) difference in many lives in many parts of the world—I have regular readers from Australia and Kenya and Serbia, for example. I could never have made those connections without my writing and I feel blessed to have found an avenue for my voice and ideas.

Thanks for your support!

After my brother’s wedding earlier this month.

Blog Break Festival!

Blog Festival Entries to date:

Guest Post: Mothers Matter–Creating a Postpartum Plan

Guest Post: Nine Reasons to Choose Independent Birth Eduation

Young Moms: Making Childbirth Education Relevant to Them

Guest Post: A Secular Sabbath

Guest Post: The Women’s Lounge

Guest Post: Motherful at Midlife

Guest Post: Don’t Touch Me… Don’t Even Look At Me

Blogaversary birth jewelry giveaway!

Call for your experiences – the impact of birth trauma and beyond

On recent mini-vacation.

In my family, we have a saying about being, “my own best friend.” We say it when we’re helped out by something we did, or something we plan to do—i.e. “I picked out my clothes in advance last night when I knew I had an early morning ahead of me. I’m my own best friend!”

So, I’m going to be my own best friend right now and host a blog festival as well as a blog break for myself!

I have a crazy October/November ahead of me. I’m teaching three classes—two in-seat and one online—and I’m feeling overwhelmed by that already and they don’t start until Monday. I’m also planning a Sagewoman ceremony for my women’s circle and really want it to be special. Alaina needs a lot from me lately and the boys are really busy with their classes and activities and so my usual opportunities to have alone time to work are becoming markedly diminished lately. And, like a genius, I decided to sign up for FIVE new classes in my doctoral program in addition to the three I’m currently in the progress of finishing! (Luckily, they’re all self-paced and so I don’t have to work on them all at once. If I did, I wouldn’t have been that crazy to sign up for five more.) As I look ahead at the next couple of months, I realize that I need to take a moderate blog break in order to free up my attention and energy for my other projects. I don’t want to totally put my blog on hold, but I do want to, finally, figure out how to write SHORTER posts for the time being and save the involved, insightful posts that I put a lot of thought into for my winter break. I also just really need to give myself permission to be “off” here and direct my attention towards other roles.

Blog Festival

So, for my blog festival, I’m seeking guest posts to publish during my blog break! Rather than a blog carnival, I want to host the posts here (with links back to your own blogs/sites of course). I hope this is a mutually beneficial idea and can showcase the work of other birth/women’s health bloggers! Your post does not have to be new content, it can be a personal favorite, or, related to the specific topic ideas for which I am soliciting content. My wishes are for…

I’m also collecting stories about labial/clitoral tearing for a future article or blog post on the subject. More specific follow-up post to follow about this.

Please email me your contributions for this Blog Festival experiment and I will merrily schedule them!

Permission & Radiance

So, once again I’ve found myself staring at The Mountain of Too Much and a familiar a crisis of abundance. This happens routinely. I should be used to it by now! But, I feel this creeping sense of overwhelm and dismay as I look at my calendar, my commitments, and my neverending to-do list. And, as I continue to try to be more and do better and yet always feel as if I’m not enough. I feel myself getting ragged and I don’t like it. I also have a feeling that I’m forgetting the self-care mantra, “the things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.” I keep getting distracted by little bits and bites and losing sight of what I most value. I’m also not taking care of myself—not eating enough, running out of time to exercise, being preoccupied rather than present, always doing the “should dos” instead of the “want tos.” I crave rest. I fantasize about just being able to rest. But, then I discover I’m not sure I know how.

So, I very much appreciated this extremely thought-provoking audio-blog Women in Cyberspace ~ Our Blind Spots – IndigoBacal.com. She makes a lot of important observations about how women use social media, including blogging, and she shared: “What I discovered was that sharing as much of myself as possible, as much of my inspiration as possible [online] was actually diminishing my radiance…”

I actually have quite a lot more to share about this and various navel-gazing meandering thoughts about me, me, me, but I think I’m going to keep my radiance to myself for a bit. And, practice this whole SHORTER posts goal…

As I listened however, I became aware that at some level almost all the time is the thought, I can’t stop/rest, because I might die. Meaning, what if I die before I “finish”—what if I run out of time for my dreams and plans, what if my life ends before I “get around to it”? And so, this compulsion to do it all now. In case this is my only opportunity. And, what if I don’t matter? Isn’t that stinky? I need to work on this in myself (or not, because I’m really sick and tired of my never-ending, relentless self-improvement project and never, never being enough). I also read/listened to this piece: You Have Permission (Right NOW!) and decided that I MUST give myself permission to rest without worrying about dying. I must! So, I am. And, you, lovely readers, can help me do that by sending me delicious blog posts to publish during my blog festival…

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Oh, and by the way, contributions about how you rest are also most welcomed…

Becoming an Informed Birth Consumer (updated edition)

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“Birth is life’s central mystery. No one can predict how a birth may manifest…Our dominant culture is anything but ‘natural’ so it is no surprise that childbirth, even with the most natural lifestyle lived by an individual family, sometimes needs intervention and medical assistance. This is not to say that any one mother’s efforts to have a natural childbirth are futile. Just that birth is bigger than one’s personal desires.” –Jeannine Parvati Baker (in The Goddess Celebrates: An Anthology of Women’s Rituals, p. 215)

It’s Labor Day and it is also the start of Empowered Birth Awareness Week! A blog carnival is in full swing at The Guggie Daily and I’ve been having some thoughts about birth as a consumer issue. Very often, it appears to me that responsibility for birth outcomes is placed on the mother—if only she’d “gotten educated” she would have made “better choices.” Many people have a tendency or overlook or minimize the impact of the context in which she makes her choices. In that way, I appreciate Baker’s observation about that birth is bigger than one’s personal desires. That doesn’t mean that we can’t take vital steps to alter the larger culture of birth in which we make our choices, however, and one of those ways is to remember to think about birth as a consumer issue.

Though it may not often seem so, birth is a consumer issue. When speaking about their experiences with labor and birth, it is very common to hear women say, “they won’t let you do that here” (such as regarding active birth–moving during labor). They seem to have forgotten that they are customers receiving a service, hiring a service provider not a “boss.” If you went to a grocery store and were told at the entrance that you couldn’t bring your list in with you, that the expert shopping professional would choose your items for you, would you continue to shop in that store? No! If you hired a plumber to fix your toilet and he refused and said he was just going to work on your shower instead, would you pay him, or hire him to work for you again? No! In birth as in the rest of life, YOU are the expert on your own life. In this case, the expert on your body, your labor, your birth, and your baby. The rest are “paid consultants,” not experts whose opinions, ideas, and preferences override your own.

There are several helpful ways to become an informed birth consumer:

  • Read great books such as Henci Goer and Amy Romano’s new book Optimal Care in Childbirth or Pushed by Jennifer Block.
  • Hire an Independent Childbirth Educator (someone who works independently and is hired by you, not by a hospital). Some organizations that certify childbirth educators are Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association (CAPPA), BirthWorks, Birthing From Within, Lamaze, and Childbirth International. Regardless of the certifying organization, it is important to take classes from an independent educator who does not teach in a hospital. (I’m sure there are lots of great educators who work in hospitals, but in order to make sure you are not getting a “co-opted” class that is based on “hospital obedience training” rather than informed choice, an independent educator is a good bet.)
  • Consider hiring a doula—a doula is an experienced non-medical labor support provider who offers her continuous emotional and physical presence during your labor and birth. Organizations that train doulas include CAPPA, DONA, and Birth Arts.
  • Join birth organizations specifically for consumers such as Citizens for Midwifery or Birth Network National or International Cesarean Awareness Network.
  • Check to see if you have a local birth network in your own community or even start your own (I recently co-founded one in my town!)
  • Talk to other women in your community. Ask them what they liked about their births and about their care providers. Ask them what they wish had been different. Pay attention to their experiences and how they feel about their births. If they are dissatisfied, scarred, unhappy, and disappointed, don’t do what they did.
  • Ask your provider questions. Ask lots of questions. Make sure your philosophies align. If it isn’t a match, switch care providers. This is not the time for misplaced loyalty. Your baby will only be born once, don’t dismiss concerns your may have over the care you receive or decide that you can make different choices “next time.”
  • Find a care provider that supports Lamaze’s Six Healthy Birth Practices and is willing to speak with you seriously about them:
  1. Let labor begin on its own
  2. Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor
  3. Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support
  4. Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary
  5. Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push
  6. Keep mother and baby together – It’s best for mother, baby and breastfeeding

These care practices are evidence-based and form an excellent backbone for a solid, mother and baby friendly birth plan.

Why “evidence-based care” though?

Because maternity care that is based on research and evidence for best practice is not just a nice idea or a bonus. It isn’t just about having a “good birth.” Evidence-based care is what mothers and babies deserve and what all birthing mothers should be able to expect! Here is a great summary of pregnancy and birthing practices that the evidence backs up:

20120903-142510.jpgRemember that birth is YOURS—it is not the exclusive territory of the doctor, the hospital, the nurse, the midwife, the doula, or the childbirth educator. These people are all paid consultants—hired by you to help you (and what helps you, helps your baby!).

“As long as birth- metaphorically or literally-remains an experience of passively handing over our minds and our bodies to male authority and technology, other kinds of social change can only minimally change our relationship to ourselves, to power, and to the world outside our bodies” – Adrienne Rich (Of Woman Born p185)
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Related posts:

Birth class handouts

Can I really expect to have a great birth? (updated edition)

What to Expect When You Go to the Hospital for a Natural Birth

Active Birth in the Hospital

The Illusion of Choice

Musings on Story, Experience, & Choice

This post is updated from a previous edition.

Can I really expect to have a great birth? (updated edition)

Given my limited situation, can I really expect to have a great birth today?” For the woman who asked me this question a homebirth, a birth center, a midwife, and a doula were all not remotely feasible options. My answer to her question is a qualified “yes!” and it really got me thinking about ways to help yourself have a great birth when your overall choices are limited. In fact, there is a long list of ideas of things that may help contribute to a great birth!

  • Choose your doctor carefully—don’t wait for “the next birth” to find a compatible caregiver. Don’t dismiss uneasiness with your present care provider. As Pam England says, “ask questions before your chile is roasted.” A key point is to pick a provider whose words and actions match (i.e. You ask, “how often do you do episiotomies?” The response, “only when necessary”—if “necessary” actually means 90% of the time, it is time to find a different doctor!). Also, if you don’t want surgery, don’t go to a surgeon (that perhaps means finding a family physician who attends births, rather than an OB, or, an OB with a low cesarean rate).
  • If there are multiple hospitals in your area, choose the one with the lowest cesarean rate (not the one with the nicest wallpaper or nicest postpartum meal). Hospitals—even those in the same town—vary widely on their policies and the things they “allow” (i.e. amount of separation of mother and baby following birth, guidelines on eating during labor, etc.) Try checking with Cesareanrates.com for local information!
  • When you get the hospital, ask to have a nurse who likes natural birth couples. My experience is that there are some nurses like this in every hospital—she’ll want you for a patient and you’ll want her, ask who she is! If possible, ask your doctor, hospital staff, or office staff who the nurses are who like natural birth—then you’ll have names to ask for in advance.
  • Put a sign at eye level on the outside of your door that reads, “I would like a natural birth. Please do not offer pain medications.” (It is much easier to get on with your birth if you don’t have someone popping in to ask when you’re “ready for your epidural!” every 20 minutes.)
  • You might want to check out either or both of these two books: Homebirth in the Hospital and/or Natural Hospital Birth
  • Work on clear and assertive communication with your doctor and reinforce your preferences often—don’t just mention something once and assume s/he will remember. If you create a birth plan, have the doctor sign it and put it in your chart (then it is more like “doctor’s orders” than “wishes”). Do be aware that needing to do this indicates a certain lack of trust that may mean you are birthing in the wrong setting for you! Birth is not a time in a woman’s life when she should have to fight for anything! You deserve quality care that is based on your unique needs, your unique birthing, and your unique baby! Do not let a birth plan be a substitute for good communication.
  • Two resources I particularly enjoy that shake up the notion of a birth plan are, 1. the birth as a labyrinth metaphor from Birthing from Within and 2. this article about how does one really PLAN for birth.
  • When making a birth plan, use the Six Healthy Birth Practices as a good, solid foundation.
  • Cultivate a climate of confidence in your life.
  • Once in labor, stay home for a long time. Do not go to the hospital too early—the more labor you work through at home, the less interference you are likely to run into. When I say “a long time,” I mean that you’ve been having contractions for several hours, that they require your full attention, that you are no longer talking and laughing in between them, that you are using “coping measures” to work with them (like rocking, or swaying, or moaning, or humming), and that you feel like “it’s time” to go in. If you’re worried about knowing when you’re really in labor, check out this post: how do I know if I’m really in labor?
  • Ask for the blanket consent forms in advance and modify/initial them as needed—this way you are truly giving “informed consent,” not hurriedly signing anything and everything that is put in front of you because you are focused on birthing instead of signing.
  • Have your partner read a book like The Birth Partner, or Fathers at Birth, and practice the things in the book together. I frequently remind couples in my classes that “coping skills work best when they are integrated into your daily lives, not ‘dusted off’ for use during labor.”
  • Practice prenatal yoga—I love the Lamaze “Yoga for Your Pregnancy” DVD—specifically the short, 5-minute, “Birthing Room Yoga” segment. I teach it to all of my birth class participants.
  • Use the hospital bed as a tool, not as a place to lie down (see my How to Use a Hospital Bed without Lying Down handout)
  • If you feel like you “need a break” in the hospital, retreat to the bathroom. People tend to leave us alone in the bathroom and if you feel like you need some time to focus and regroup, you may find it there. Also, we know how to relax our muscles when sitting on the toilet, so spending some time there can actually help baby descend.
  • Use the “broken record” technique—if asked to lie down for monitoring, say “I prefer to remain sitting” and continue to reinforce that preference without elaborating or “arguing.”
  • During monitoring DO NOT lie down! Sit on the edge of the bed, sit on a birth ball near the bed, sit in a rocking chair or regular chair near the bed, kneel on the bed and rotate your hip during the monitoring—you can still be monitored while in an upright position (as long as you are located very close to the bed). Check out the post Active Birth in the Hospital for some additional ideas.
  • Bring a birth ball with you and use it—sit near the bed if you need to (can have an IV, be monitored, etc. while still sitting upright on the ball). Birth balls have many great uses for an active, comfortable birth!
  • Learn relaxation techniques that you can use no matter what. I have a preference for active birth and movement based coping strategies, but relaxation and breath-based strategies cannot be taken away from you no matters what happens. The book Birthing from Within has lots of great breath-awareness strategies. I also have several good relaxation handouts and practice exercises that I am happy to email to people who would like them. One of my favorites is: Centering for Birth.
  • Use affirmations to help cultivate a positive, joyful, welcoming attitude.
  • Read good books and cultivate confidence and trust in your body, your baby, your inherent birth wisdom.
  • Take a good independent birth class (not a hospital based class).
  • Before birth, research and ask questions when things are suggested to you (an example, having an NST [non-stress test] or gestational diabetes testing). A good place to review the evidence behind common forms of care during pregnancy, labor, and birth is at Childbirth Connection, where they have the full text of the book A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth available for free download (this contains a summary of all the research behind common forms of care during pregnancy, labor, and birth and whether the evidence supports or does not support those forms of care).
  • When any type of routine intervention is suggested (or assumed) during pregnancy or labor, remember to use your “BRAIN”—ask about the Benefits, the Risks, the Alternatives, check in with your Intuition, what would happen if you did Nothing/or Now Decide.
  • Along those same lines, if an intervention is aggressively promoted while in the birth room, but it is not an emergency (let’s say a “long labor” and augmentation with Pitocin is suggested, you and baby are fine and you feel okay with labor proceeding as it is, knowing that use of Pitocin raises your chances of having further interventions, more painful contractions, or a cesarean), you can ask “Can you guarantee that this will not harm my baby? Can I have in writing that this intervention will not hurt my baby? Please show me the evidence behind this recommendation.
  • If all your friends have to share is horror stories about how terrible birth was, don’t do what they did.
  • Look at ways in which you might be sabotaging yourself—ask yourself hard and honest questions (i.e. if you greatest fear is having a cesarean, why are you going to a doctor with a 50% cesarean rate? “Can’t switch doctors, etc.” are often excuses or easy ways out if you start to dig below the surface of your own beliefs. A great book to help you explore these kinds of beliefs and questions is Mother’s Intention: How Belief Shapes Birth by Kim Wildner. You might not always want to hear the answers, but it is a good idea to ask yourself difficult questions!
  • Believe you can do it and believe that you and your baby both deserve a beautiful, empowering, positive birth!

I realize that some of these strategies may seem unnecessarily defensive and even possibly antagonistic—I wanted to offer a “buffet” of possibilities. Take what works for you and leave the rest!

I posted on my Facebook page asking for additional thoughts and suggestions and I appreciated this one from doula and educator, Rebecca:

“I think I’d tell people to stop closing doors on themselves you know? Stop making assumptions about what is possible and be open to creating new possibilities – maybe not perfect and exact but inviting in opportunity. No money doesn’t mean no doula in most cases.”

She’s right! A lot of doulas-in-training will offer free birth services, many doulas and midwives do barter arrangements or other trades, and many non-traditional birth professionals also have sliding scale rates.

Great births are definitely possible, in any setting, and there are lots of things you can do to help make a great birth a reality!

This post was revised (from this one) to participate in… And the Empowered Birth Awareness Blog Carnival!

The Gift of Giving Life: Interview with Sheridan Ripley

This interview with Sheridan Ripley is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.

Q1: Many people liken the writing of a book to giving birth to a baby? Did you find this an apt analogy?

YES! We (the co-authors) brought this up a lot. It was like we were gestating together and ideas were growing and growing. The first trimester I actually felt like I missed as I joined the group at the beginning of the 2nd year. It was a 3 year process so the trimester analogy works well.

The 2nd trimester we had plenty of energy and got a lot done and things moved forward quickly. We had that happy, easy 2nd trimester.

That 3rd trimester felt SO SLOW!!! It was the editing, book layout, more editing. Details and more details and felt so long. I know I felt so heavy and weighed down by the process. Luckily we had each other for support and we made a great team.

Finally we were pushing the baby out and while there were little hold ups along the way, it was so exciting. The triumph we felt as we finally held our book in our hands was pretty amazing!

Q2: I’m fascinated by the concept of Heavenly Mother and really enjoyed the sections of The Gift of Giving Life that touched on the relationship with Her. Can you explore more about how LDS women might find strength and connection in this image of the Feminine Divine and how she might aid in giving life?

I believe I am a literal child of a Heavenly Father and knowing that he is a partner with a Heavenly Mother and together they are able to love billions of children, helps me to have faith in my ability to love and raise my boys.

Knowing that our bodies are patterned after their bodies also gives me faith that my body can grow and birth babies! We are mortal and there are instances when medical intervention is needed, but the majority of the time birth is safe. Our bodies are created to create!

As we connect with other women in a supportive loving way we can feel connected to Her because we are each created in Her image. Maybe that is why when women gather around women in childbirth we feel so uplifted, powerful and humbled at the same time.

Some women really feel a need for a connection of a mother figure, especially while pregnant. I have an earthly mom who I am very connected to and she was very helpful during my pregnancy, so I didn’t personally have a desire for a connection with a Feminine Divine at that point.

However there are women who may be missing that mother figure in their life and we all have a deep desire for such a connection. Knowing that there is a Heavenly Mother who stands beside Heavenly Father to help guide us and protect us especially during this time of pregnancy and birth is powerful.

Meditating and pondering on the idea of a Heavenly Mother and how that can help us as we give the gift of life and then raise our children is the best way for me to connect to her. I actually just took time to do this as I hadn’t really thought of this question until you asked it.

That is the great thing about our book and having so many contributors is it will speak to different women, because so many view points are included.

Q3: Do you have any specific tips for women wishing to incorporate more spiritual practices into their pregnancies?

We actually have a newsletter that moms can sign up for where they get a free 20 minute meditation MP3 as well as 5 tips to have a more spiritual pregnancy/birth. I think for each mom it may look different. Prayer and meditation are great places to start, as you will often get inspiration on where to go from there. I also love Mother’s Blessings as a way to have the strength of other women buoy up the pregnant mom. She can benefit from feeling their love and spiritual support

Q4: When women in the birth stories say they asked their husband for a blessing or that their husband gave them a blessing, what does that mean?

A blessing is similar to a prayer. All male members of the Church who are prepared receive the priesthood, which is the authority to act in God’s name. One of the ways they can serve others with the priesthood is by giving blessings by the laying on of hands. They can give blessings of healing or for comfort and guidance. In some cases a wife might ask her husband (or other priesthood holder) for a blessing before or during birth.

I know for me in my first birth, it was so comforting because with my first birth my husband gave me a blessing when I was concerned about the Thing 1’s lack of movement. In the blessing he said he would be born when he was ready. When we discovered that he needed to be born by emergency cesarean immediately even though I was only 34 weeks, I had peace knowing that my husband had just blessed me that “he would be born when he was ready.” I knew everything would be OK.

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Thanks for the interesting interview and the review copy of The Gift of Giving Life, Sheridan!

Visit The Gift of Giving Life site to sign up for their newsletter and to receive a free Meditation MP3 as well as tips to help increase spirituality in your pregnancy and birth.

For my readers I have a coupon code for 10% off a copy of The Gift of Giving Life. Click here and after you add the book to your cart use this coupon code. GWFWXR3F This code is good until Father’s Day 2012.

Honoring Miscarriage

When I had my first miscarriage, I vowed several things in the immediate aftermath. One was that I was going to write a book about it so that other women would not have to experience the same total dearth of resources about the physical process of coping with home miscarriage. While I did publish my miscarriage memoir this year, I am still collecting stories and experiences for a different, more comprehensive book on this theme. However, in the time since I made that vow and since I had my miscarriages, a new resource emerged for women: Stillbirthday. This is the website I NEEDED when I was preparing for the birth of my tiny, nonliving baby. While I received emotional support from a variety of sources, I found a void where the physical information I sought should be. That information is skillfully covered in the birth plans section of the Stillbirthday website. I reprinted information from their “early home birth plan” in my Footprints on My Heart memoir, since it was the information I was desperately seeking during my own home miscarriage-birth. I am grateful the information is now available to those who need it.

My second vow was that, if I knew about it, I would never leave another woman to cope with miscarriage alone on her own. My third vow came a little later after more fully processing and thinking about my own experience and that was to always honor and identify miscarriage as a birth event in a woman’s life.

A friend’s loss

In March of 2010, my good friend, who had doula’ed me very gracefully and respectfully and lovingly through my miscarriage-birth postpartum experience and processing, experienced a miscarriage herself. She didn’t call me while she was experiencing it, so I couldn’t go to her as I had imagined I would if needed, but afterwards I went to her with food and small gifts and hugged her tightly, recognizing all too well that hollow, shattered look in her eyes and the defeated and empty stance of her body. Later, I bought her a memorial bracelet. However, I was still in the midst of coping with my own grief and loss process—my second miscarriage having just finally come to a long-drawn out end only a month before and the experience of which having brought another friendship to an almost unsalvageable point—and my dear friend’s own process, her feelings, got lost along the way. She recently wrote about the experience on her own blog and it was harder for me to read than I would have expected. As she noted, I agree that doesn’t matter how little the baby, or baby-start, or baby-potential that is lost-–there is no quantifying loss and no “prize” for the “worst” miscarriage. It is a permanent experience that becomes a part of you forever. Also permanent for me is the empathy and caring showed to me by my friend/doula during my time of loss and sorrow. I regret that I was not able to be that same source of solace, companionship, and understanding to her. I thank her for having held space for me to grieve “out loud” and I’m really sorry that part of the cost of that was the suffocating of her own sadness or minimization of her own experience. While I do feel like I did what I could to acknowledge her miscarriage at the time that it happened I really wish I would have done more, particularly in terms of acknowledging how very long the feelings of emptiness and grief persist. I made a mistake in taking her, “I’m okay” remarks as really meaning it, rather than being part of the story that babyloss mamas often tell themselves in a desperate effort to “get over it” and be “back to normal.”

That said, I also compassionately acknowledge that it can be hard for people to know what it is that we need if we don’t tell them. So, now I’d like to hear from readers. What are your own thoughts on recognizing and acknowledging miscarriage—how do we best hold the space for women to experience, identify, and honor miscarriage as a birth event in their lives?

Charm & book giveaway (**Giveaway is now closed. Veronica was the winner***)

In harmony with my question and associated thoughts, I am hosting a giveaway of a sterling silver footprints on my heart charm exactly like the one I bought for myself after Noah’s birth and that I gave to my husband and my parents afterward (my husband carries his on his keychain). If you win the charm, perhaps it is something that will help you to honor your own miscarriage experience or that you can give to someone else to acknowledge their loss. This giveaway is in concert with the blog contest on Stillbirthday and will end on March 20. Additionally, everyone who enters will receive a free pdf copy of my miscarriage memoir.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment addressing the subject of honoring miscarriage. I am wondering things like:

What did you need after miscarriage?

What did you wish people would do/say to honor your miscarriage experience?

How could people have helped you more?

What do you still wish you could do/say/write/share about your miscarriage experience(s)?

What do you wish you had done for yourself?

What did you want to tell people and what do you wish you had been able to say?

What did you want to do that you didn’t feel as if you had “permission” to do? (personal, social, medical, cultural, whatever type of permission…)

I will share my answers to these questions in a later post, but I do want to mention that one of the things that was most important to me to have acknowledged was that this was REAL. That was one of the first things I said to my parents about it when they came over to help me immediately after Noah was born—this is real.

Water babies

I continue to honor the experience of miscarriage and babyloss in my own life in various ways. Recently, I found a buddhist monk garden statue from Overstock.com that reminded me of the “jizo” sculptures that honor and protect “water babies” in Japan (mizuko is a Japanese word meaning “water baby” and specifically refers to babies lost during pregnancy—the only specialized word that exists). I have a small jizo inside on my living room windowsill, but I’ve wanted one that could weather the outdoors by Noah’s tree.

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I took this one for size perspective, but you can barely see the sculpture in the shadow to Alaina's right.

I believe I may be partially responsible for the widespread usage of the following quote on the internet now with regard to babyloss mamas:

Miscarriages are labor, miscarriages are birth. To consider them less dishonors the woman whose womb has held life, however briefly.” –Kathryn Miller Ridiman

I found it in an issue of Midwifery Today from 1995 and shared it multiple times on Facebook and on my blog. I have since seen it in many locations around the web and I feel happy that I was able to be a conduit for the sentiment and the increased recognition of miscarriage as a birth event.

To participate in the Stillbirthday blog contest/carnival go here. And, make sure to check them out on Facebook too.