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birth blog

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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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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I Am Needed

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I Am Needed

Song to Match: "Passing Afternoon" by Iron & Wine 

I am needed today.

I am needed so much that my thoughts disappeared. There wasn’t any room for them. I focused on what each of my dependents needed from me and nothing more. They needed a lot.

I am needed in a variety of ways.

The baby is teething and always hungry. I think she is also constipated. She needs me physically and emotionally.

The toddler is convinced she is more independent than she truly is. She needs me to do as she says, not the other way around. She also needs me to feed her and help her use the bathroom.

The cat has puncture wounds from the teeth of another animal at the base of her tail. She needs comfort, antibiotics and pain medicine. I am her caretaker more so than usual. It exhausts me.

The house is a flurry of remnants from past days. It needs to be pruned and cleaned and reminded that it is still cared about. I hope it knows that we need it as much as it needs us.

I am needed all at once.

The diaper needs changing. The litter box needs scooping. The toddler bottom needs wiping before I help her off of the toilet. All at once.

The cat bowl needs food. The baby needs to nurse. The toddler doesn’t like what I’ve served her for lunch. All at once.

The phone is dying. The iPad is dead. The laptop is charging. All at once.

The floors need vacuuming. The counters need sanitzing. The fridge is unspeakable. All at once (and most of the time).

The laundry needs folding. The closet needs organizing. The dresser drawers keep getting stuck. All at once (and most of the time).

My stomach is growling. My upper back is aching so much that it burns. I’m wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday because I slept in them the night before and decided upon waking that I wasn’t going to waste time changing them today. I stand by that decision.

All of this, and yet.

The baby was laughing. The toddler was snuggled into my stomach saying, “I love you, mama.” The cat was able to fall asleep on her designated towel in her quiet sanctuary (the upstairs bathroom).

The dinner was cooked (and eaten).

The bedtime routine resulted in sleeping children.

A beautiful song that makes me cry began to play on my favorite Pandora station. I let the tears fall with no need to hide them, for I was alone and had a quiet moment of reflection.

I wrote a complete piece for the first time in months.

I feel capable of doing all that I’ve been called to do (and I am able to hear quite clearly that little voice located toward the bottom of my right ear that’s saying, “You don’t FEEL capable. You ARE capable.”).

I welcome tomorrow.

I am able. I am loved. I am supported.

I am needed. But I need them, and all of this, just the same.

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