We’ve created a series of images for use on social media and they’re available via the Brigid’s Grove blog: National Fertility Awareness Week (#1in6) – Brigid’s Grove
It is World Breastfeeding Week and we’ve been busy supporting celebratory events around the country. We donated nursing mama sculptures to the World Breastfeeding Week picnic in Springfield, MO and to two LLL Leader workshops, one in NY and one in Tennessee. Today, we donated a birth sculpture and 4o goodie packets to the upcoming Women in the Wild photo shoot in Kansas City and we also mailed a spiral mama sculpture and 20 goodie packets to a Live, Love, Latch event in Portland, TN.
Is there a Live, Love, Latch event near you? Check it out here: Events – Live, Love, Latch!
On August 22, we’ll be giving away some goodies at MamaFest in Rolla, which is also registered as a Live, Love, Latch event.
What is MamaFest?
It’s a celebration! A celebration of women, of community organizations that serve women, of women-owned/women-oriented businesses. We want you to come visit the vendors, have some refreshments, visit with your friends on the couch, and take home awareness of what your community has to offer YOU.
(Men and children are welcome to attend!)
via MamaFest 2015.
I’m particularly excited about the Women in the Wild event. This article about the effort really brings home why it matters:
…The women behind this photo would like to shift the paradigm, to change the narrative of shame that is inflicted upon mothers. They would like to celebrate the bodies of mothers, with all of their glorious imperfections, because they are strong, and beautiful. Mother of one, Jacklyn Kosakowski, shared: ”When the opportunity came up to take this photo, I honestly wasn’t doing it for others. I did it for myself. My changing body during pregnancy was difficult for me, and especially afterwards was hard. I’m at a good place with myself and I have just recently began to appreciate my stretch marks and mommy belly. This body carried and nourished my baby for nine months and pushed for four hours just to meet her, so I should be proud of this body. To just be out in the open, half naked, with other beautiful mothers was such an amazing feeling. There was no judgement, we all looked beautiful.”
You can also visit Erin White Photography on Facebook for more information and beautiful, inspiring photos.
The theme of the 2015 World Breastfeeding Week is: “Let’s Make it Work” and it focuses on mothers combining breastfeeding and employment.
The WBW 2015 theme on working women and breastfeeding revisits the 1993 WBW campaign on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative. Much has been achieved in 22 years of global action supporting women in combining breastfeeding and work, particularly the adoption of the revised ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection with much stronger maternity entitlements, and more country actions on improving national laws and practices. At the workplace level, we have also seen more actions taken to set up breastfeeding or mother-friendly workplaces including awards for breastfeeding-friendly employers, as well as greater mass awareness on working women’s rights to breastfeed.
Images for the 2015 theme of “Let’s Make it Work” are available here: WHO | World Breastfeeding Week.
Why does the support of employers matter to breastfeeding women? It matters immensely. Women and their babies don’t exist in isolation, they are nestled within larger systems that can either help make or break the breastfeeding relationship:
“Governments and commercial companies will ‘invest’ billions in expensive new technology: roads, bridges, airports, dams or power generation plants, ‘for the good of society’. They may even ‘invest’ in schools and hospitals, but the crucial primary investment in the emotional, physical and mental health of all humans, which breastfeeding and mothering provide, is invisible.”
—Gabrielle Palmer (The Politics of Breastfeeding, p. 333)
Seriously. This is why World Breastfeeding Week matters. It isn’t just about breastfeeding memes and platitudes, it is about systemic change in the US and around the world.
I was interested by this story about an Argentinian politician and her baby breastfeeding at work:
…We’re having a moment here when it comes to the cultural conversation surround public breastfeeding. When we talk about women balancing work and childcare, part of what we’re talking about is women living in a world that makes it difficult to care for their children while simultaneously managing the rest of their lives. It’s not that it’s physically impossible to care for a baby while going about one’s day, it’s that we live in a world in which women are shamed for things like breastfeeding in public.
…We are mammals because as a species we nurse our young. This is a fundamental tie between the women of our time and place and the women of all other times and places as well as between the female members of every mammal species that have ever lived. It is our root tie to the planet, to the cycles of life, and to mammal life on earth. It is precisely this connection to the physical, the earthy, the material, the mundane, the body, that breastfeeding challenges men, feminists, and society.
Breastfeeding is a feminist issue and a fundamental women’s issue. And, it is an issue deeply embedded in a sociocultural context. Attitudes towards breastfeeding are intimately entwined with attitudes toward women, women’s bodies, and who has “ownership” of them. Patriarchy chafes at a woman having the audacity to feed her child with her own body, under her own authority, and without the need for any other. Feminism sometimes chafes at the “control” over the woman’s body exerted by the breastfeeding infant…
Past World Breastfeeding Week posts:
- Wednesday Tidbits: World Breastfeeding Week!
- World Breastfeeding Week Post Round Up
- Tuesday Tidbits: National Breastfeeding Month
- The WHO Code: Why Should We Care?
- Tuesday Tidbits: Breastfeeding and Ecofeminism | Talk Birth
- Tuesday Tidbits: Breastfeeding Research | Talk Birth
Sign up for the Brigid’s Grove Newsletter for resources, monthly freebies, + art and workshop announcements.
And, as is our tradition, in honor of WBW and National Breastfeeding Month, you can get 10% off items in our shop throughout August: WBW10OFF.
April is Cesarean Awareness Month and we’ve been working very hard on some new sculpture designs to offer in honor and recognition of the cesarean birth experience. (We’re also working ahead on some cool new father sculptures to unveil for Father’s Day!) They should be ready in the shop by early next week.
The April edition of the Brigid’s Grove newsletter will have a new discount code, articles, links, and a free birth education handout.
We’ve gotten stocked up with some sparkly new treasures in preparation for our new mother blessing and ceremony kits, which will be launching soon!
They look very similar to our smaller figures, so it can be hard to distinguish which is which in the etsy shop. The larger sculptures are those priced at $22. Here’s a comparison pic for size:
I like the compact size of my original figures—they fit nicely in your hand as well as still looking nice (I think) on a birth altar space. They’re also portable enough to travel—I usually take one with me in my purse to my classes and set her on the desk while I’m teaching. However, we have had quite a few requests for larger figures, so we’re doing our best! Even the larger figures aren’t exactly large though and after some failed attempts at going even larger, I’ve realized I’m okay with making them the size I like to make them, rather than trying to please everyone and losing some of my own connection with what I create.
In late March we were excited to attend the WomanSpace grand opening in Rolla. It is an amazing place and I’m so excited about it and proud of my friend Summer for making the vision a reality! The community is so lucky to have this resource available. At the grand opening we had a little booth with some of our items as well as a table for participants to make some free jewelry. Our location was a little out of the way of the main action, so we didn’t make as much free jewelry with people as we anticipated (mainly kids!), but it was a fun time and I enjoyed seeing and talking to many different people (and also feasting on some really good appetizers from Icebox Cookery).
We’ve been busy molding and casting new designs, some of which will be unveiled next week. The newest sculpture we’ve finished, but who isn’t ready to be sold yet, is our springtime/watergathering goddess sculpture. She joins our winterspirit/red tent sculpture. To me, she is kneeling by the riverside, joyful that the springtime thaw is here and the waters flow freely once again. She is welcoming the new—the buds, the blossoms, the tender new shoots, the newborns, the vibrant wellspring of creation and delight.
Our Womanrunes book has been available via Amazon domestically and internationally since August, but this week we added a separate listing for book and card sets on Amazon. We sell the sets in our etsy shop, but the books sold on Amazon ship directly from Amazon itself which means only books have been available there, since the cards are printed by a different company. However, for those shoppers who prefer to use Amazon, we now have a fresh Amazon listing that is for book and card sets.
I’ve been really delighted to get some great messages about women using Womanrunes in their Red Tent circles. The Red Tent in Lawrence, KS sent me a picture of the Womanrunes there:
Speaking of Red Tents, I registered with Red Tents in Every Neighborhood as a sisterhood tent in preparation for our first Red Tent Circle in February. So, now we have an official member badge 😉
If you are local and would like to join the Red Tent Circle, you can find us on Facebook here: Rolla Red Tent.
Hopefully, the Red Tent will be held at WomanSpace! This gathering place by women, for women that has been long dreamed about by our communit is finally becoming a reality in 2015!
Our cesarean birth goddess pendant was featured in a treasury: Pregnancy Affirmations by Lauren Oland on Etsy.
And one of our babywearing pendants in another treasury: The Goddess in Every Woman by Stacy Solmo on Etsy.
“…As we ready ourselves to accept new life into our hands,
Let us be reminded of our place in the dance of creation.
Let us be protectors of courage.
Let us be observers of beauty.
Let us be guardians of the passage.
Let us be witnesses to the unfolding…”
—Cathy Moore (in Sisters Singing)
Lots of events in October! I just found out that National Midwifery Week is October 5-11 (same as Babywearing Week). It is finals week for me (I teach on an 8 week session schedule) and so I don’t have time for a lot of things other than grading, but I did pluck some delicious quotes out of past blog posts…
“It’s hard to describe if you’ve never been there, but to watch a woman access her full power as a woman to give birth is awe-inspiring, and I never get tired of being witness to it. It’s an honor to watch that transformation take place.”
~ Julie Bates, CNM
“There is no ‘normal’ birth–each is individual and nonconforming. Childbirth opens an extraordinary spectrum of physical, emotional, and spiritual growth opportunities that is nothing less than extraordinary, which women should be supported in freely exploring. The Midwife must guard parameters of safety, yes, but she should also encourage women to play their edges, experience deep currents of emotion, discover their own ways of transformation, and chart new creative territory.”
“Midwifery asks us to truly become at home with ourselves, with nature, and with women. Birth takes us out of our external experiences, our linear timing of progress, and our everyday rituals. In contrast, birth time is measured in a circular movement like the seasons. There are rhythms and patterns. If we let birth unfold with spontaneity and attuned to nature, we will end up appreciating the nature of our souls as well.”
–Mary Sommers (More than a Midwife)
To me, midwife means: loves women. I wrote about this idea in a past post:
I know the traditional root of the word midwife is “with woman” some sources say “wise woman”, but I’d like to offer another. When I was pregnant with my second son, I had a wonderful midwife and we spent many hours together talking about birth and midwifery. During one conversation she said to me, “you can’t be a midwife unless you love women.” This struck me profoundly—a midwife must love women…
To acknowledge midwifery week and the profound gift of service offered by midwives to so many women, we also set up a special discount code in our etsy shop. It is our best one ever: 20% off a purchase of $12 or more (expires October 12). This could be the perfect opportunity to find a special gift for your midwife! To receive the discount use midwifeweek2014 for the 20% on $12+ (Remember, this week only we also have one for International Babywearing Week: babywearing2014 for 15% off any purchase.)
We’ve been working on improving our colors for our birth art sculptures recently and are finally getting some really nice results! We also have new pigments ordered so we can do even more colors soon.
“I watch her face become alight with joy and ecstasy. ‘You’re here, oh look, you’re here! You’re so beautiful! I love you! We did it!’ It hasn’t been easy, but it was worth it…She knows–in a way that can never be taken from her–the story of her own courage and strength.”
–Jodi Green in SageWoman magazine
After talking with my doula last week about my own powerful need for postpartum care, I re-read my own past post about “birth regrets” and was reminded again how the theme of inadequate postpartum care in my own life resurfaces multiples times. I told my doula that I’ve never really been happy with my postpartum care, recovery, and experience until I hired her for my last birth and became very, very, very clear about exactly what I needed from the people around me following birth. This is despite having an extremely helpful mother who cooked and cared for me very well and lovingly after each birth AND an extremely involved, nurturing husband. I still needed MORE. Postpartum is hard! Many hands, helps, and small care-giving tasks are needed.
It is interesting to me to see that this is where my regrets and “things to fix” come from, rather than from the births themselves. It is kind of hard for me to write about clearly because I did get good care every time from my mom and from Mark, but I still needed MORE. And, I don’t think it is necessarily “fair” to them to skip bonding with the baby because they’re so busy helping me crawl to the bathroom, or whatever! I also didn’t take particularly good care of myself–emotionally, mainly–following birth.
Midwives are wonderful and midwife-attended birth is wonderful, but it feels like very often birth is the moment and then they fade away and the mother must pick up the early postpartum pieces herself, when perhaps her vulnerability and need for support and physical care is highest then, definitely more than prenatally and, I would argue, often more intensely than during the birth itself.
(Oh, and by the way, I still joke that what I’ve really needed is a continuous postpartum doula for the last 11 years…when my first son was born).
My birth regrets post is a companion to my “bragging rights” and birth post:
‘…Frankly, I think all mothers get bragging rights on their babies births. Birth is awesome and amazing and power-full. Every mother must face it. Sure, she may face it differently than me, but it IS a labyrinth we all go through. This is the way of life. So, mothers, brag away. Brag about whatever part of your labor and baby’s birth made you feel empowered….find that piece, even if it’s just a tiny moment, and cling to it. Shout it from the rooftops!…’
Speaking of doula Summer, Rolla area families should take note that she is available for a variety of different birth and postpartum packages as well as birth classes: Summer Birth Services. I’m looking forward to her care again in October when I have my baby!
And, still speaking of Summer, I am so excited to share that she is moving forward with the Womanspace community resource center idea that we have talked over and visioned for so many years.
…I visualize a center. A place where women can come together to learn, to talk, to develop, to grow. A safe place. A nurturing place. A supportive place. Hostess to LLL meetings, book clubs, birth circle, birth info nights, prenatal yoga classes, birth classes, birth art workshops, pregnancy retreats, journaling workshops, craft classes, crafty mamas meetings, a miscarriage support group, postpartum mamas support group, birth counseling/consultation sessions, dancing for birth, prenatal bellydance, drop-in support chats, blessingways, red tent events, meet the doulas night, Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal groups, women’s spirituality circles, playgroups, baby massage classes, baby/tot yoga, girls’ coming of age classes, an ICAN chapter, Friends of Missouri Midwives meetings.
A gathering place. A woman’s place.
It will have a large, open meeting room, access to a bathroom and another, smaller room that could be an office, consult room, or playroom. We will have counter space to plug in some minimal cooking implements like a microwave. There will be comfy couches, chairs, toys, a lending library of books and films as well as perhaps toys/games/puzzles. There will be big pillows on the floor and beautiful art all over the walls. Other women wishing to have groups/classes for women, could also use the space for their groups/events.Think we can do it? And, if so, what can I not do to make space in my life for it? In a way, my vision is that this will be that classic “room of one’s one” that every woman needs access to. WomanSpace…
The above is an excerpt from a post I wrote four years ago! It is so exciting to have it going somewhere. Summer posted on her blog today with her expanded and deepened vision of this space: WomanSpace ~ Making the Vision a Reality
Related to celebrating women and mothers, I updated my mother blessing/women’s ritual page this week: Blessingways / Women’s Programs | Talk Birth.
And, returning to the need for mother care, it so important to recognize that women need support following birth regardless of the week of gestation at which she gives birth. Personally, I was knocked off my feet by my need for immediate support following my first miscarriage. I had never once dreamed miscarriage would be such an intense, physically demanding birth experience. I’m glad this information is now reaching others via Stillbirthday…
When a mother is experiencing pregnancy & infant loss, she needs immediate support.
If you’re a bereaved mother on facebook, it is extremely likely you’ve heard the cry of the newest bereaved mother, sharing that she just very recently endured the death and birth of her beloved baby.
What is some practical support she can use? We have three little buttons published in several places throughout the website, for support prior to, during and after birth in any trimester. Here’s a link for support in the earliest days and weeks after birth:
Switching gears somewhat, another one of my quotes from a Pathways magazine article was turned in a Facebook meme and has been shared on Facebook over 3,000 times. I again would have missed it except for two of my friends tagging me in the post!
Remember that in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, we’re offering a 10% off discount code on any of the items in our shop through the end of August: WBW10OFF.
I am 30 weeks pregnant now! I had a bit of an “OMG, can I actually DO this?!” moment last night when the new session of classes began for me. My students asked me how much longer I have left of my pregnancy and my answer was, “about ten weeks.” I have 8 weeks of class…
It is a hot time of year to be pregnant and while I feel good and healthy over all, I am noticing some different things compared to past pregnancies. I weigh 165 pounds now, which is pretty big! I have way more round ligament pain than I’ve ever had before, including just randomly while walking or sitting, rather than exclusively related to getting up “wrong” or twisting in a not pregnant-friendly way. I also keep having some mild heartburn. And, getting up from the floor is a much bigger challenge than ever before.
I’ve mentioned several times in recent posts that Mark and I have been working on birthing a big project together and it is finally here!
Our first collaborative book project! I did the writing and he did all the illustrations, layout, and formatting. This has been a project about 18 months in the making, a more significant undertaking and more significant expenditure of energy than I could have guessed when I began.
I like how the experience of the final stages of the book have paralleled my own pregnancy. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, our co-creative work on our business endeavors this year is really entwined with the progress of gestating and preparing to welcome our new baby.
As we’ve worked over the last weeks on the final push to finish the book, I saw this meme on Facebook:I shared it on our page and noted that when you’re both creative and you’re both home, the effects may be even more dramatic!
Our Embrace Possibility pendant is the design that has perhaps always held the most personal meaning for me, but as we continue to focus in on our shared vision and to embrace new directions, ideas, and projects in the context of our co-created business, she returns to me as very personally meaningful.
And, I shared this on our page recently since it has spoken to me anew in multiple ways this month:
In 2012, when we held our first Mamafest event, my eye was caught by this room within the beautiful setting of Tara Day Spa:
I wanted to have a Red Tent in this room! I could just feel it calling to me. The next year, when the time came to plan the event, I was dealing with a lot of different things and I knew I did not have the energy to also pull off a Red Tent event and so I tabled it again, but still, I saw that room that year and I wanted it.
The following year, we started planning even earlier for Mamafest and I had been seeing posts and updates from the Red Tent Movie (Things We Don’t Talk About) and I decided I wanted to host a screening and a Red Tent event during our Mamafest this year. While there are things I would do differently in the future, notably that having a screening at the same time as another event was simply too much, I still feel so happy and pleased that I did it. I scheduled the film based on past experience in which the final half of Mamafest slows down in terms of traffic and so it seemed like the film screening would be a good way to keep people involved with the entire duration of the event. However, this year was so busy and vibrant and successful and energetic, it felt like it was actually disruptive to the flow to try to pull people away for the screening and the “calm” and contemplative energy of the film ended up not matching the celebratory, exciting atmosphere of the rest of the event. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely do the screening separately and then offer the Red Tent space and mini-ritual during Mamafest itself.
Anyway, back to set up. We arrived at Tara Day Spa almost three full hours before the event was scheduled to begin and we needed every single minute of it, plus some. I am so grateful to my husband and my friend Amy who took over most of the actual hanging of the red fabric in the Red Tent space. When I saw the finished entrance, I knew I’d fulfilled my dream!
We set up the inside in an inviting manner with several little stations: a refreshment station with chocolate, tea, and bindis, a henna tattoo area, and a free jewelry making station. Due to size constraints, we actually had to make an “emergency” decision to move the screening of the film itself to the upstairs room at Tara. It was a little stressful to make this transition, but I think it was the right call. We did a mini ritual to open the film (had some technical difficulties getting the film equipment set up and I was extremely flustered to have to make this last minute switch, so that was not ideal for the mood I had wanted to create), we watched the film and then closed by circling up and singing a song together. We ended right on time and then it took more than another hour to dismantle and repack everything. This type of event is not for the faint of heart! Nor is it for pregnant women unless they have husbands and good friends to pack up most of their stuff for them! My midwife was at the event and we did a short prenatal visit in the Tent while we were taking it down. My blood pressure was reasonably normal, but my heart rate was 104 (normal for me is in the 70’s)!
We also had a Brigid’s Grove booth right outside the Red Tent space (plus, I brought the materials for our LLL booth and for the RBN booth itself. My car was so full!) I had mistakenly assumed that I could move between both the Tent itself and our booth and I told Mark that I thought it was unlikely we would sell anything, or maybe just a few dollars worth of charms, so I wasn’t concerned beforehand about adequately staffing the booth itself. My focus was on the Red Tent and on giving this experience as a community service, not on trying to sell stuff. As it turned out, our booth was much busier and more successful that I ever expected (we ended up making almost as much money in just four hours at this event than we did in two 12 hour days at the La Leche League of Missouri conference in Columbia this summer!) I am eternally grateful to my friend Amy who sat at our booth most of the time and did not get to enjoy most of the rest of the event accordingly. It was not her “problem” that I couldn’t divide myself into multiple people (can’t perform that magic trick until my due date in October!) and work at everything that needed me to work at it, but she was very helpful and I appreciated it so much. If I was doing it over again, I would have asked Mark to stay to work at the booth rather than taking advantage of my friend. He assumed it was a woman-only space and it would not be really appropriate for him to stay (plus, someone needed to take care of our kids), but really our purpose is not on an event that is exclusively for women, it is simply an event focused on woman-celebration and men can certainly be involved with that!
Another friend took this picture of me at my free jewelry making station. You can feel the 104 heart rate, perhaps, but also the satisfaction of mission accomplished. I did what I said I wanted to do three years ago when I saw that beautiful temple-like room sitting there waiting for me!
I would like to plan an ongoing Red Tent Circle throughout 2015 and I set up a Facebook group for Rolla area women who are interested in participating in future Red Tent activities.
There were a lot of fun activities as part of Mamafest and one of those was a photo booth from Little Mother Photography. When talking about props prior to the event, I’d suggested a cowboy hat and they brought one! I’ve never worn a cowboy hat before in my life, but when Kandi said she had it there especially for me, I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, they laughed too much at me to capture my lasso pose…
Other Little Mother photo booth pictures are here.
When my friend and doula Summer and I conceived of this event three years ago, we said we wanted to plan an event that we also wanted to go to. And, we did it again!
Huge, enthusiastic thanks to Tara Day Spa in Rolla for allowing us to host our event in their space. It is a beautiful and perfect and special setting for Mamafest!