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doula

The Deep Dive

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The Deep Dive

When the women I support venture deep into labor, I go with them.

My inner knowing becomes attuned to their thought pattern. I sense their doubts, fears and misgivings about their capabilities. I can tell when old patterns of self criticism and hatred begin to reappear, telling them they can't possibly do what is being asked of them.

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But I know those sentiments are wrong. And so I come close to the faces of these beautiful, laboring mothers so they can look into my eyes, and I have them repeat after me...

I love my body.

I love my baby.

I trust my baby.

I am a good mother.

I am strong.

I am open.

I am ready.

I love my body.

I love my body.

I love my body.

Negative self talk, especially toward our sacred bodies, can be our worst enemy in labor. Our conscious ego doesn't realize that our old selves must die, or that our bodies must experience the sensations of opening and releasing in order to bring our babies forth from our wombs into our arms, thus facilitating our rebirth as a mother.

The resistance that begs for relief is something that must be broken through. We must turn our resistance into resilience by allowing our minds to trust the unconscious part of ourselves, and allowing our bodies to be uncomfortable and willfully feel the physical and existential physical pains of birth, death and rebirth all at once.

Why?

We are creatures, wildlings, one with nature, nature itself. We are meant to take part in physical processes we can't fully explain. We are meant to feel and work hard, to create and dream and move. We are meant to feel what it's like to create a body for a soul, and to journey alongside these new beings as we guide them along our inner pathways toward the bones that have opened, welcoming them through the most desirable, dark portal into a whole new way of existing in the light.

In experiencing what we have been called to experience without remaining fearful of potential emotions or outcomes, we feed our souls, strengthen our bodies, build our confidence and our trust in ourselves and our Great Mother Earth.

In times when birth requires life-saving interventions, perhaps one or two we hoped to avoid, the same acceptance is required. We must accept that we have no control over immediate circumstances; that our fearful, naive selves must die; and that this new human being's journey is a story unfolding before our eyes - not a story we get to write. We must continue to love our bodies even when they don't do as we ask, for in hating our bodies, we hate ourselves, and a self shrouded in hate cannot grow and evolve.

All ways of birthing babies require release, surrender, discomfort and a rebirth of the birthing person. All babies and all mothers need to know that the way they are being born is okay, and that they are loved and welcomed to the world no matter what their portal for entry looks like. This is why the words that come to me in labor are universal. They apply to all ways of birthing because all birth requires love, trust, opening, release, strength and readiness, as do all ways of parenting thereafter. So, if you'd like, repeat after me...

I love my body.

I love my baby.

I am a good mother.

I am strong.

I am open.

I am ready.

I love my body.

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Strength and Sacrifice

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Strength and Sacrifice

Last week I traveled by boat to Santa Barbara, past the many missing people buried in the Montecito mudslide, up and over a big and endless swell, vomiting repeatedly and shaking and shaking and shaking. It was a gnarly two hours. And then I soaked in my sister's tub in a bath of various salts to warm my body and ground myself. After all, the reason I made the trip was to support a client in labor, and she was deep in its throes by the time I arrived.  

The first thing I witnessed upon entering the birth space was my client, Lilly, being so lovingly supported by her fiance. He exuded excitement and awe toward what he was witnessing. It was beautiful. Because of his confidence, I sat on the sidelines until I was needed. They were a perfect team, so excited to meet their baby and so fully connected in that moment. 

After a drawn out transition due to a bag of waters that never broke, Lilly birthed her beautiful baby en caul, and dad announced that it was a girl - Baby Cleo. I totally cried. 

Baby Cleo's mama is an amazing photographer. View her work at  lillyrosenthal.com .

Baby Cleo's mama is an amazing photographer. View her work at lillyrosenthal.com.

The strength I've seen within my clients (some of whom nearly lost their homes in the fire), our community and the many care providers that keep us safe in an area that has experienced so much devastation is oddly in endless supply. I personally am working the hardest I've ever worked. I've pushed past almost all of my comfort zones and I'm still here, thriving and serving and learning and doing my best. And still, I feel so small.

Mother Nature is a force that no one could ever compare themselves to. She will always be the one whose mercy we are at. But it is my belief that the more we care for and respect her, the more she will care for and respect us back. She too has endless strength, but we cannot control how she chooses to use it, especially when triggered by the misgivings of manmade creations

All of this said, don't doubt yourself. Don't doubt what you're capable of, whether it is an unmedicated birth or making it through the coming days as you grieve all you have lost. You are surrounded by support and love and the undeniable determination of many to guide you through these times in life that seem to be the most impossible to get through. 

Though I made it to this Santa Barbara birth, I missed another birth in Ventura and had to reschedule with many people over the following days. Some understood, others didn't. Nothing is ever perfect or easy. Going above and beyond in one area means sacrifices in another. This season has taught me this repeatedly, as has motherhood. It seems to be a never-ending lesson. I embrace the fact that "perfect" doesn't exist, but so long as I do what feels right in my bones, all will be well in the long run. 

For now, I pray for my community, for all the lives lost and all those yet to come Earth side during such a tumultuous time. It isn't a perfect world to become a part of. No. It is very, very far from it. These little babies being born right now have a heavy weight on their shoulders, and it is up to us to draw on our endless strength to guide them through this new unknown. We must teach them how to care for the Earth, how to care for their neighbors, how to care for themselves and how to be a helper in times of duress. We must teach them by example - and that's the hardest part. 

I also wish the best of luck to us all as we take on the role of parent, mentor, teacher and guide. These babies deserve all of the goodness we could possibly help them find. Cheers to a better tomorrow, which is a fitting way to end this post since the 20th was my 29th birthday, a special day I share with my own mother. Even more fitting was the fact that I was blessed to attend the birth of my neighbor and friend's son, Fisher, that night. It was one of the best birthdays I've ever had, gluten-free cake and all.


I have been given an incredible opportunity to train with a woman I admire, the author and founder of Birthing From Within, Pam England, in New Mexico. To help me attend this training and business planning meeting (I am a member of her Board of Dreamers that are re-envisioning the BFW business model), please consider donating funds here. I am not in a financial place to cover all of the required costs for this trip, but it is a trip I must take in order to accomplish my career goals and serve many more families during their childbearing year. Consider it an investment in all of our collective future - BFW has a very powerful message for mothers and all women, regardless of whether or not they have any children, and we need such empowerment now more than ever.

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I Should Be Sleeping

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I Should Be Sleeping

Song to Match: "Lately" by Memoryhouse

I should be sleeping, because I’m so tired. The day has been hot and long. I had many important conversations about things that change lives. My daughters used up every ounce of patience I had left in my thirsting body, the one that deals with a chronic pain illness every day, the one that grew them and birthed them and fed them. The one that is passionate and purposeful, gentle and full of all kinds of mystery. The one that’s for sure PMSing.

I should be sleeping, because I’m touched out. The same body mentioned above is aching to lay down with no more than a sheet covering my skin, for comfort reasons more than anything else. Certainly not for warmth. My room is 85 degrees and doesn’t seem to be cooling. When the bodies of my children touched mine today, I inched away because everything intensified. Energies intensified, body temperatures intensified and my perception of the progress of the day intensified. So I told Lorelei to move her small feet away from my legs. I was simply burning. But I felt bad doing this. I should treasure every moment, right?

I should be sleeping, because I’m a badass boss mom who works hard to accomplish her goals and make life better for others. My blog posts are sometimes really long and my work ethic is sometimes unreal, meaning I am undeniably persistent and focused. But this is all good I am told. This will make money. Sleep will not. Sleep is for the weak, right? But I know that I’m strong no matter what, and sleep only makes me stronger, better, funnier, kinder and more efficient. If only my children understood. If only I understood, myself. Then they, and I, would provide my body with rest as soon as it became an option.

I would go to bed at 8:30 p.m.

I would be a morning person.

I would get more done and the mornings would be much smoother.

My body wouldn’t hurt so much.

We’d always be on time to preschool.

I would be patient.

But I, like every woman, have a dark side. A shadow side, if you will. It’s a side of me that prefers the evening and the alone time it brings. It is self destructive in such a way that requires me to persevere against my own desire to defy authority, me being the authority in this situation.

For so long I have guarded myself from all that tries to limit me and apply frivolous rules to all that I do. In giving myself an evening routine, no matter how much I will benefit from it, I feel that I am punishing myself. I should be sleeping, but I should also do whatever I feel like doing. I’m a mother. I’m allowed this time in the evening, when my children are asleep and I am at peace to explore my innermost thoughts and cave in to the slothy couch lover that I sometimes crave to be.

So rather than go to bed at a decent hour that would have an amazingly positive impact on my mood overall, I stay up late reading, taking notes, watching HBO (currently Insecure), watching the news, scheduling various business tasks, responding to emails, responding to texts, sharing uplifting shit with my mom and husband, reminiscing about what I used to do at 10 p.m. on Saturdays, making outlines for my first novel, writing children’s books, eating lots of pistachios, fighting baby fever, shaking my head at another traumatic birth story that’s made the news, or at a Facebook post where hundreds of moms are talking shit to each other.

Sometimes I just do yoga and dance by myself to what Lorelei calls “Buddha Music” (Paul Avgerinos is my fave Pandora station to soothe my fascia to).

Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I call a friend. Sometimes, if it’s a significant moon phase, I set intentions or release that which holds me back.

Then, my husband gets home from his late evening at work (which is the only reason I have this kind of indulgent alone time in the first place), and we crawl into bed, wishing we both could have done so earlier.

But, I suppose I could have. The issue is that I don’t let myself.

I can’t decide if this is something I need to change. It’s a battle I’ve fought and lost for years, and it’s also a character trait of mine that doesn’t always seem to serve me well. But does it only seem that way because I am fighting my shadow side, a part of me that I need to nurture in order to fully function as my truest self? Probably. I hope so, because if that’s the case, even if I should be sleeping, it’s totally okay that I’m not. Who doesn’t love an excuse to keep things just the way they are?

But at the same time, I really, really like challenges and coming up with creative ways to get what I want while also doing what’s best from a logical standpoint.

And so, I intend to learn how to satisfy my shadow side during the dark hours of the morning instead of the dark hours of the night. In going to bed earlier and waking up before the sun rises, I will allow myself the darkness my soul needs in order to feel whole. I will use the extra morning hours to welcome the day and set intentions for all that will be accomplished, with love and understanding at the forefront of all I do.

Instead of allowing hungry children to be my incessant morning alarm noise, a digital chime will stir me up and out of my dreams, which I always remember, by the way. I can ease into my wakeful state slowly and purposefully, and then I can read, take notes, watch HBO, watch the news, schedule various business tasks, respond to emails, etc. All will be the same, yet my mind and body will feel heard, respected, loved and cared for.

I also believe that my shadow side will feel inspired and invigorated by this change because, for me, the early hours of the morning remind me of Disneyland. They remind me of waking up early for road trips and weekend plans. They remind me of excitement and happiness. They inspire me in a way that my Self is afraid of.

But really, I should be sleeping, and so I will. At this point, it seems like the rebellious and clever thing to do, and my shadow side never could turn down an adventure. Yes, for me, flipping my routine will be an adventure of the most intimate kind - an adventure of will power, self care and lifestyle changes.

What morning routines make you feel empowered and on task? Any and all advice is welcome. It makes no sense to journey without a map.

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Thoughts on the Feminine

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Thoughts on the Feminine

I attended a Birthing From Within workshop for doulas and mentors last weekend and, my word, was it glorious. The energy in a room filled with women passionate about motherhood and helping other women is so healing that I started this week with a renewed sense of self and capability. I am so grateful for this.

On the first day of the workshop we practiced an art exercise after discussing some of the issues we see with modern birth. The directions were to use pastels to draw an image, or images, that would tell someone from the future what the essence of birth was in 2017. It didn't have to be literal, nor did it have to look pretty. It simply had to come straight from our minds right onto the large piece of paper in front of us. Tasks like this are exactly what recovering perfectionists like myself need. I felt free to truly create, and it was invigorating. Plus there weren't any tiny hands around to "contribute" to my drawing. This was a first in a very long time!

My image was of a huge, beautiful flower in the middle of towering, crashing waves. In the corner was a golden crescent moon controlling the tide. I used my fingers to purposefully make the pastels spread all over the paper, leaving lines of imperfect color in their wake. To me, my image invoked a scene of the beauty of the feminine being threatened by the waves. The moon, too, was actually being threatened by the waves, and the wind created by the events at hand was dangerously close to ripping the flower apart.

As I created this piece of art, I could hear myself writing a passage in my mind. When I finished with the pastels, I moved a new medium - my pen. I wrote what I heard in my head, word for word, on my paper, and I loved it. I loved that I conveyed a message in two different ways at the same time. I loved that I had the time and space to do it. I loved that I was alone with my thoughts, furthuring my knowledge of working with women during the childbearing year. I loved every aspect of that moment and what I had created.

Below is the passage I wrote. It comes from a place of recent struggle, a struggle I will write about soon when I'm ready, and it reflects some of the darker aspects of my mindset as a woman. Yet, in spite of this, it maintains the sense of hope I hold for my children and their future as women, possibly mothers, but most definitely sisters. Maybe it rings true for you as well during this strange time in history that is greatly affecting the present.


Everything passes so quickly. A constant influx and overload that overpowers our deepest desires to connect to our center and epitomize goodness. Motherhood, and womanhood essentially, is an existence so tied to nature it is nearly unbearable. And yet, the more rooted we attempt to become, the stronger the tidal pull of all outside forces. Though the moon controls our being as much as it controls the vast and powerful ocean, it often appears to be no match for the speed and control of our daily physical life. It feels as though we are slowly being washed away, but within us remains a strength literally unknown to man, and it will always drive us to continue forward, and to one day overcome.

In remembering the sweetness of my daughters, and the abundance of tiny and beautiful moments they bring to me throughout the day, I stay grounded.

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