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birth

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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The Spring and Its Newness

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The Spring and Its Newness

In welcoming spring, I welcome a new perspective. A new way of doing things. A new way of living. A new way of nurturing the lives I've created. I am also dutifully preparing myself, mind and body, for the births that I will be attending and the families I will be serving postpartum in the coming months. 

One of the ways I am going about doing all of the above is reading book after book after book, and almost completely ditching social media. In so doing I have found that I am learning more about birth and motherhood through reading books about nature, community and mindfulness than I have through reading books, articles and posts solely written for the purpose of teaching us how to give birth and raise children. 

Making these changes has enhanced my knowledge of self and my knowledge of our collective purpose as fellow humans. It has been made clear to me that we don't need to binge on research nearly as much as we need to simply be present and allow our natural instincts to guide us on our personal journeys. 

One of the best ways to practice staying present is to speak to others and get to know them better. Pay close attention. Allow yourself to feel what they felt. Learn from their stories and develop relationships that nurture your need to be generous. Make phone calls. Initiate time spent in each other's company. Be thoughtful about the conversations you have and treat no moment as less important than the others. Every moment is of importance. Every moment has a past, present and future state within your mind. Every moment is worthwhile.

I encourage you to read The Red TentBraiding Sweetgrass and A New Earth. I encourage you to read them while you take a break from social media. I encourage you to read them with a glass of wine. I encourage you to read them while your children watch a movie or play in the yard. I encourage you to read them while your baby sleeps at your breast. I encourage you to read them while you wait in waiting rooms and pump at your workplace. 

I encourage you.

I urge you to listen to The Birth Hour podcast. I urge you to listen to this while you do the dishes. I urge you to listen to this while you fold the laundry. I urge you to listen to this while you drive in traffic. I urge you to listen to this while you organize the play area.

I urge you.

I urge you, and I send you love. I too feel the weight on our shoulders.

The current state of society is unfortunate for parents, especially mothers. We are expected to do as everyone else does and choose ways of caring for our children that have official names and definitions. We are always attempting to categorize the way we nurture, and we are always feeling that something is lacking - and that we are isolated in our weariness. But we are not.

Reading these books and listening to this podcast has reminded me that I am not alone. There are women within me, women that surround me, women that love me and women that guide me. There are women that struggle, women that inspire, women that succeed, women that fail and women that empower. And together as women we will save this world, just as soon as we recall where we come from, become our truest selves and reunite with nature and its incredible components. 

Read. Listen. Breathe. Smile. Be.

carpinteria spring new beginnings motherhood doula
carpinteria spring new beginnings motherhood doula
carpinteria spring new beginnings motherhood doula
carpinteria spring new beginnings motherhood doula
carpinteria spring new beginnings motherhood doula

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Double

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Double

One year ago, I wrote about one of the most intense weeks of my life. When I was three months pregnant with Isla, I witnessed a birth, grieved a death and cared for Lorelei while she endured Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (which I then caught myself). We traveled to Orange County before the illness and were able to spend some much-needed quality time with Ryan's side of the family. It was my mother-in-law's father who had died, and we were blessed with the opportunity to say goodbye to him hours before he passed. 

This year, Ryan's family gathered at his mother's home to honor her father's life. Because Ryan was coincidentally given an extra two days off of work that same weekend, we decided to take advantage of the four-day weekend and have a mini vacation with our two girls. Isla would be meeting many family members for the first time, so the trip was meaningful on a variety of levels. 

I wish I could say it was an incredible trip and everything was super awesome and perfect, but it had THE worst beginning - worse than any bad vacation I've ever had before. We decided last minute to leave a day earlier than originally planned, but, due to bad timing, we ended up leaving right before rush hour. This caused our travel time to double, and we didn't arrive at our destination until 8:30 p.m., which brings us to a total of five hours in the car with a potty-training toddler and a baby. Word to the wise - never drive through Los Angeles on a Thursday, and bring lollipops if cry-worthy traffic is unavoidable. I also wouldn't recommend leaving during a full moon, let alone a Blue Moon, because you're basically asking for shit to get weird.

The Blue Moon taunting us toward the end of our incredibly long drive.

The Blue Moon taunting us toward the end of our incredibly long drive.

After a bad first day of travel, things improved immensely. Lorelei became besties with a Chihuahua named Dolce and, later on in the day, a cat named Simba; we got to sleep in a fluffy king-sized bed; and I woke up to enjoy a delicious home-cooked breakfast that was made by someone other than myself.

The girls and I spent the rest of the day with Auntie Taylor (Ryan's sister), and we checked out sea lions and tide pools (or "party water" as Lorelei decided to call them; photos of this excursion are at the end of this post) while our husbands surfed for hours upon hours. After reconvening, we drove to my mother-in-law's together for the gathering, and we enjoyed the company of family we wish we could see much more often than we are currently able. 

The day as a whole was slow, deliberate and fulfilling - despite the fact that it took almost three hours to get Lorelei to fall asleep come bedtime. She was so amped on life after spending the entire night re-telling stories of mine as though the events had happened to her. It was highly entertaining, and I couldn't help but let her stay up way too late just to hear her sweet voice compose all kinds of fiction for her loving, kind audience.

After the majority of the extended family went home, my mother- and sister-in-law joined me to view the Blue Moon that was hanging over us that night (so-called because it was the second full moon in one month). It was beautiful, powerful, huge and probably the main reason things had been so "off" for us the day before. I embraced it, came up with a few thoughts about things I'd like to release to the powers that be and went back inside to finish my wine and pass the fuck out. 

My crap photo of the Blue Moon that I insist on publishing to prove to myself that I'm not scared of future full moons. 

My crap photo of the Blue Moon that I insist on publishing to prove to myself that I'm not scared of future full moons. 

We spent our final day in Orange County slowly, yet again, enjoying coffee and breakfast in the backyard with my in-laws, watching Lorelei play, relaxing while Isla napped next to a beautiful succulent arrangement, avoiding an overly friendly bee, holding an ice pack to Lorelei's head after she ran into a closed sliding glass door and trying to decide if we should leave early, or if we should go to the beach and leave at bedtime so the girls could sleep on the way home.

Obviously, because we're not dumb, we chose the latter, and it was awesome/the only thing that really went completely right all weekend. 

Enjoying the warmth of a wind-free beach day is so, so good for my soul. I was able to sit and relax with a margarita while two extra pairs of hands helped Ryan and I take care of our babies. Lorelei bonded with her aunt and uncle, she figured out how to have fun without any beach toys, she got her hair wet in the ocean and went deeper into it than ever before. Isla napped peacefully in her own beach chair to the sounds of waves crashing and people living happily outdoors. We stayed as long as we could before having to return to the responsibilities of real life, and one last long drive home.

We returned to the beach bungalow from whence we came, and I took a bath with the girls before we dressed them in jammies and fed them as much as possible in preparation for our final adventure. Had it not been for an unexpected detour, they would have slept the entire way home. Instead, both girls woke up, resulting in a mini cry-it-out session for Isla and all of us listening to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on repeat for Lorelei until she fell asleep again.

Thankfully, we made it home safely at a decent hour; both girls transferred to their beds easily without waking; and Ryan and I were able to binge-watch some Seinfeld before finally going to sleep in our own bed once again. 

Normal life resumed the next day, and I felt much like I did when Isla was four months old and thoughts of a third baby entered my mind before quickly receding in fear - I knew I would travel with my children again one day, but it definitely won't be anytime soon. That being said, we love our Orange County (and beyond) family so much. You're all welcome at our home anytime! 

Side note: the number two won't be a chosen number on any future Lottery tickets. 

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