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Birth and Breastfeeding Christmas Ornaments!

 

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We are delighted to offer birth, breastfeeding, and goddess ornaments for your holiday celebrations this year! Perfect for nursing mothers, pregnant women, doulas, midwives, as well as for goddessy women in any stage of life, these ornaments are offered in four of our classic designs, one mini-design (so far!), as well as five new Story Goddesses. Each ornament is individually hand cast in clear casting resin from our original sculptures. Their beautiful translucency gives them the appearance of being glass or crystal, while still being extremely durable and nearly damage-proof (we have four energetic kids, so our products get a lot of serious product testing to make sure they can hold up to being dropped!).

Each ornament is about 3 inches tall and the prices range from $15-21. The mini goddesses are only an inch tall and are $7. Each is freestanding and can also sit on a mantle or table, or can grace your tree with abundance, empowerment, and bountiful blessings throughout the season!

These are extremely limited edition. We will be making them by hand from November 1-December 1 only. After that, they’re gone!

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Talk Books: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn

March 2016 121Several months ago, I received an email from one of my former college students. His wife was newly pregnant and they had several specific questions. They asked for my help and recommendations with where to go for answers and without hesitation, I suggested a book: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn. I was confident that not only would they find the answers they sought in the book, but also reliable, practical, helpful answers to questions they haven’t even thought to ask yet.

Co-authored by a foremost authority in childbirth and doula education, Penny Simkin, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn was one of the first books I bought as a new childbirth educator in 2005. Now, newly revised and updated, the book has a companion website packed with resources to help you have a healthy pregnancy, a rewarding birth, and a nurturing postpartum.

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about this book as a wonderful resource for childbirth educators are the line March 2016 119drawings illustrating a variety of positions and concepts. This new fifth edition has lots of black and white photos as well. The fact that the book is co-authored by a world-renowned doula, a nurse/lactation consultant, a nurse/childbirth educator, a social worker, and a physical therapist, means it is an interdisciplinary resource benefiting from the skills and professional experience of each co-author. Childbirth educators and doulas as well as pregnant couples will want to check out the companion website which has a plethora of pdf handouts available on numerous topics including comfort techniques, nutrition, and parental leave.

Evidence-based, comprehensive, and encouraging, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn is an ideal companion for both childbirth professionals and expectant parents.


Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Newborn is published by Meadowbrook Press, an award-winning publisher specializing in pregnancy & childbirth, baby names, parenting & childcare, and children’s books & poetry: Meadowbrook Press. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn

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

Birth and Breastfeeding Goddess Christmas Ornaments!

October 2015 108I am beyond excited to share these with you! We are offering birth, breastfeeding, and goddess ornaments for your holiday celebrations this year! Perfect for nursing mothers, pregnant women, doulas, midwives, as well as for goddessy women in any stage of life, these ornaments are offered in four of our classic designs and in one mini-design. Each ornament is individually hand cast in clear casting resin from our original sculptures. Their beautiful translucency gives them the appearance of being glass or crystal, while still being extremely durable and nearly damage-proof (we have four energetic kids, so our products get a lot of serious product testing to make sure they can hold up to being dropped!).

Each ornament is about 3 inches tall and is $15. The mini goddesses are only an inch tall and are $6. Each is freestanding and can also sit on a mantle or table, or can grace your tree with abundance, empowerment, and bountiful blessings throughout the season!

These are extremely limited edition. We will be making them by hand from November 1-December 5th only. After that, they’re gone!

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National Fertility Awareness Week

October 2015 010In the UK, it is National Fertility Awareness Week, bringing attention and support to the #1in6 couples who experience challenges with their fertility.

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

Tuesday Tidbits: This Time Last Year…

As I mentioned in my 11 month update, the first year of life with a new baby feels like a journey through a labyrinth. The moments I experienced last year while pregnant take on a particularly poignancy as I round the curves of The Return, this time with baby in arms.

I love the moments of continuity…last year with my pregnant belly, this year at the pumpkin patch with a toddler selecting his own pumpkin.

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Last year getting my pregnancy photos taken and having a mother blessing, this year having some breastfeeding photos taken (note: carefully selected goddess sarong for photographic continuity!).

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_DSC0457fInterestingly, this time last year I was taking online instructor trainings for Sacred Pregnancy and Sacred Postpartum. This year, quite by accident (in terms of exact timing), I ended up starting the Sacred Pregnancy Birth Journey instructor course online. I won this course in a Red Tent fundraising auction via Moon Times in the winter, but I didn’t actually take it until this month.

For today’s tidbits post, I’m taking a walk down memory lane and looking at posts from around this same time last year…

Stretching time, wondering about twins, and making a belly cast:

I felt on the edge of tears from the time I woke up almost until the time we did the belly cast—feeling stressed, rushed, and WHY. However, we had a great time doing the cast (even though we had to stop to rescue a hummingbird from the actual jaws of a cat, save Alaina from being clawed by another cat, and answer computer questions from the boys. Sometimes I have to pause and realize that the overwhelm I feel lately is probably just a feature of the realities of having three kids with various needs already, a job, a business, a dissertation to write, books waiting to be born, and several serious life passions and be preparing to add another human to the family. Perhaps it would be weird if I didn’t feel overwhelmed and a little panicky, rather than it feeling like it is a personal failing that this is how I’ve spent a lot of time feeling lately.)

Source: Stretching Time | Talk Birth

Then, painting and re-painting that belly cast into a fall leaves theme that I still love: September 2014 122

I am 100% pleased with the re-do. Sometimes a revision is exactly the right choice! I feel like the comparison of my first attempt and my second looks like one of those side-by-side Pinterest comparisons, only both of these were from me!

Source: Belly Cast! | Talk Birth

And, from there, making another belly cast with the intention of creating a pottery belly 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!

Source: Belly Bowl! (and new altar bowl) | Talk Birth

And, it worked!

Completed Pottery Clay Belly Bowl! | Talk Birth

I mused over whether I was ready or not:

The inexorable march towards Birth-Day is such an interesting, liminal place to be in. It both feels “mysterious” and inevitable. The closer I get to my official due date, the more wide open the possibilities seem as to when he will be born…when, in reality, the options narrow each day! I still have a certain sense of unreality about the whole thing—like, am I really going to do this? Am I really going to have a BABY????!!!!!

Source: Ready or Not! | Talk Birth

But, my Sacred Postpartum training really helped me prepare, as I took a ceremonial bath:

And, that is when I had my “breakthrough” moment. My eyes were prickling with tears and I said: “I associate taking baths with being weak and wounded.” I associate baths with cleaning blood away from myself and gingerly poking around for tears in my most vulnerable tissues.

Source: Sacred Postpartum, Week 2: Ceremonial Bathing | Talk Birth

And learned how to make Happy Tea:

I’ve been interested to note that I’ve dreamed with increasing realism about the baby for the last three nights in a row. Last night, I was getting him latched on for the first time. The night before, my mom and Mark had brought him to campus for me to nurse on my breaks from class. The night before that was a water birth dream (two actually, both about twins). To me this indicates that whatever lingering “not readiness” I might be experiencing in my waking life, my subconscious is getting it. At some level, my brain is getting down with the idea of really, truly having another baby and it is incorporating him into my dreamscape/life accordingly.

Source: Sacred Postpartum: Happy Tea + 40 Week Update | Talk Birth

My Mother Blessing ceremony also helped me recognize my own strength and courage:

I discovered in this post-ritual reflection that it is just part of my personal process to be able to say, and be vulnerable enough to have people hear, see, or read, that I think maybe I can’t do something or that I’ve said yes to too much. The answer for me is not, “then don’t” or “stop” or “quit” or “take it easy,” it is to move forward and to see, again, that I was actually enough for what scared me or felt too big or too exhausting.

Source: Mother Blessings and the Power of Ritual | Talk Birth

In the power of ritual, I learned (again) that life is like birth, and we give birth as we live.

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Guest Post: Five Common Surrogacy Myths

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Special request still in progress for a friend whose family was birthed via a beautiful surrogacy experience.

North America’s leading surrogacy agency, Family Source Consultants, highlights five of the biggest misconceptions about surrogacy

Chicago – June 4th, 2015 – If you’re thinking about becoming or using a surrogate, you may feel inundated with information and unsure where to start. There can often initially be a lack of understanding about the process involved and a lot of misinformation out there, too.

Staci Swiderski, Co-Founder of Family Source Consultants, says: “If you’re in a position where you’re contemplating an alternative path to family creation, you might be overwhelmed and possibly apprehensive when looking at the many choices you have before you.  It is our mission to alleviate the pressures all parties are facing and to help make this experience positive and fulfilling for everyone involved.”

Here are five common misconceptions about the surrogacy process: 

  1. The child is genetically-related to the surrogate. Although this can be true if the arrangement is considered to be a traditional surrogacy, with a gestational surrogacy arrangement, the embryos are created with either the intended mother’s eggs or an egg donor – never those of the surrogate.
  2. Building a family via surrogacy is only for the wealthy. Based on Family Source Consultants’ experience, many intended parents have an average income. Additionally, there are financing options available from lenders who specialize in reproductive arrangements, as well as cash discounts and payment plans.
  3. The surrogate may not give up the child. Surrogates have to already have their own children and completely understand that they are helping another family to have this child. Of course, the surrogate will care for the child and have an emotional bond, however, she is fully aware that the child is not her’s to keep. Surrogacy agencies should always work with attorneys who specialize in reproductive law and, with the correct legal procedures in place, intended parents are the legal parents of the baby. In addition, a surrogate (and her partner if applicable) must undergo a psychological evaluation prior to entering into a legal agreement with the intended parents.
  4. The surrogate needs the compensation or is poor. Many surrogates who are enrolled in Family Source Consultants’ surrogacy programs have a full-time career, are financially stable and often have a partner who has a secure, well-paid job, too.  Family Source Consultants have actually worked with many surrogates who are considered to be the breadwinners of their marriage or partnership. A surrogate should never fully depend on the compensation that she receives in order to live a stable lifestyle. Financial problems or any indication that a surrogate candidate is motivated by money can be reason for disqualification.
  5. Intended parents who live in a less surrogate ‘friendly’ state cannot utilize surrogacy as a family building option. Family Source Consultants’ intended parent clients come from all 50 states and internationally. The important factor is that the surrogate must deliver in a state where her legal rights as a parent are protected. Some of the best states for surrogacy law include Illinois, Florida, California, Nevada, Arkansas and Connecticut and some of the less-friendly states include New York, Michigan, Washington and Nebraska.

About Family Source Consultants

Family Source Consultants is one of North America’s leading surrogacy agencies, with offices in Illinois (Hinsdale and River North in Chicago) and Florida (Cape Coral).

When matching and facilitating Gestational Surrogacy and Egg Donation arrangements, Family Source Consultants work with traditional, gay or lesbian couples and individuals of all races, religious and ethnic backgrounds. They provide personalized support throughout the entire process and work with the very best reproductive law attorneys and doctors.

What’s unique, is that 75% of its employees have been a surrogate/egg donor/intended parent, including Founders, Staci Swiderski who completed her family through surrogacy and has been an egg donor twice; and Zara Griswold, who built her family via surrogacy using the assistance of an Egg Donor.

 

 

What should I pack in my hospital bag?

Mollyblessingway 037Packing a bag of labor and birth supplies to bring to the hospital or birth center has become a modern-day ritual of birth preparation. Plan to have your bag packed and stored close to the front door of your home (or in the trunk of your car) several weeks prior to your due date.

Here are some ideas of what to pack in preparation for birthing day:

General

  • A sign for your door indicating your desire to labor without medication (if this is part of your birth preferences).

Edible Supplies

  • Hard candy or little lollipops for a quick boost of energy.
  • Honey sticks: These sealed, clear plastic straws hold about a tablespoon of honey and are another excellent source of quick energy. You can often find them at farmer’s markets or health food stores.
  • Clear liquids to drink: Herbal tea, sports drinks, apple juice, or white grape juice.
  • Water bottles for you and your partner.

Personal Supplies

  • Lip gloss or lip balm (many women find their lips getting dry during labor).
  • Your own nightgown or large, long t-shirt to wear instead of a hospital gown. (Why wear your own gown in the hospital? Many women find this comforting, comfortable, and an excellent reminder of personal autonomy and individuality).
  • Warm socks: Many women’s feet get cold during labor.
  • Toiletry bag with toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
  • Hair ties or elastic bands to hold long hair away from your face

Comfort Supplies

  • Back massager (or, simply, a tennis ball for someone to roll over your back).
  • Your own favorite pillow.
  • Flexible straws and a cup to make getting a drink easier.
  • Special picture or artwork to look at during labor (if you’ve created a birth plan poster bring it to hang on the wall of your room)
  • If you are planning to use aromatherapy during labor, pack your special essential oils.
  • Supplies for a birth altar for inspiration, encouragement, and support during labor. (I make birth art sculptures as well as birth blessing pouches that can be wonderful for this purpose.)
  • A “touchstone” object to hold during labor—this could be a special smooth rock, a little stuffed animal, a piece of jewelry, or other meaningful small object that feels good in your hand.
  • Special birth music on a birth playlist on your phone or MP3 player.

Birth Partner Supplies

  • Snacks: Things like granola bars, fruit leathers, or other quick snacks that do not have a strong smell are ideal.
  • List of people to call with the happy news.
  • Toiletry bag with toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
  • Change of clothes.

After the Birth Supplies

  • Nursing nightgown (any gown that opens in the front for breastfeeding).
  • Breast pads (disposable or washable cotton).
  • Pads for post-birth bleeding (lochia).
  • Clothes for baby to wear home.
  • Comfortable clothes for you to wear home (loose cotton pants—even maternity pants—work better than jeans)

Supplies That Won’t Fit Into a Bag

  • Birth ball (some hospitals have them available to use).
  • Car seat for your newborn properly installed in the backseat of your car.

Best wishes for a beautiful birth!

July 2015 116Sign up for the Brigid’s Grove Newsletter for resources, monthly freebies, and art announcements.