Viewing entries tagged
birth 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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Summer Harvest

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Summer Harvest

This summer was all about growth. Of course there was personal growth (when isn't there?) and physical growth (my kids are weeds), but there was also so much plant growth.

My mom and daughters grew a garden together. They grew corn, tomatoes and sunflowers. The corn and tomatoes were often ravaged by little creatures, but the sunflowers thrived, as did a passionfruit vine that was planted a few summers before. 

Isla loves passionfruit, as in she's obsessed. She wants to gather passionfruit every time we are at my parents' house and it has been a really sweet way for her and her papa to spend some awesome, nature-based quality time together. These photos are of her most recent harvesting adventure, which she began all on her own. In fact, she did everything on her own! It was one of the most wonderful things I've seen her do.

Lorelei loves all plants and vegetables and fruit. She enjoys gardening and getting dirty and muddy and sticky. Messes are her thing. She's fascinated, really. So feeling all of the sunflower seeds and observing the ladybugs crawling around them was a cool experience for her (and me). We all know I love nature and things that grown and bloom. That's why the photo of me holding some pups that I found on a walk is here. I got in on the harvesting action as well. Not gonna lie, I'm kinda hooked.

Alas, here are some highlights of our summer harvest. And if you've never harvested sunflower seeds before, I highly recommend it.

Click photos to enlarge.

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To Be Mother

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To Be Mother

This leaf was a gift from my youngest, and the pride with which she presented it to me made it ten times more special.

This leaf was a gift from my youngest, and the pride with which she presented it to me made it ten times more special.

Deeply thinking about what called me to this path after giving birth always fills me with an overload of words. At times I feel more poetic, more fluid and more at ease. At other times I feel angry at the world for sacrificing birth to the patriarchy, and then I instantly feel that I need to work ten times harder to try and change the direction we're headed. This is because I used to think my power lied in my ability to work incredibly hard no matter what the universe put in my path. Being powerful meant to not need breaks and to be uninfluenced by physical pains and discomforts. If I was strong and powerful, I could do anything, at any time, in spite of all limitations.

At this specific moment, however, I feel that power doesn't mean what I once thought it meant.

Personally, I find my power in writing.

I find it in being gentle with my daughters and taking the time to communicate fully with them so they can know themselves and what it means to be a mother.

I find it in the connections I make with the beautiful women I work with, and the complete lack of judgment I feel toward them. I now see these women as my sisters, and in this perspective there lies so much power. I am grateful.

I also find my power in being slow, in being feminine and in always making educated and informed choices. It is true what they say about knowledge being power. My most recent challenges wouldn't have had such positive outcomes if gaining knowledge about them wasn't at the forefront of my mind always.

But most of all, more than any of the above, I find my power hidden beneath the debris of my most destructive days. It is there, in the center, burning away what once seemed so important but now reveals itself to me as nothing more than distractions that reach no deeper than the surface of my Self. This type of revelation is so powerful that entire karmic cycles feel as though they've broken in an instant. And thus, my power is empowered by my ability to ebb and flow with the current, to know when to lean one way and to know to listen closely when something inside tells me I am correct in my inklings.

I wrote the following one night many months ago while my husband worked late and my babies slept soundly. It was around the time I first began to really understand my own power and my motivations as a mother, as a doula and as a woman overall. I find it to still be relevant, and so I share it here nearly half a year later.


I am a seeker of justice, and I see the handling of birth as one of the most consequential and important injustices of America's history to date. This can happen no longer. We as women must reclaim what nature intended us to be: powerful, authentic, confident, comfortable, nurturing and tuned in to the moon. We shall not continue to be overly timid, polite, modest, pretty and obedient. It is time to find our strength within ourselves, and to help the women around us to do the same.

Have you heard your intuition speak to you before? It has a beautiful, enticing voice that fills you with contentedness and complete assuredness. Slow your quickening thoughts for a moment. Feel your body and its heaviness. Embrace its steadiness. Allow the voice of your intuition to open the silence and fill your spirit with knowing.

Trust. Accept. Follow. Allow your problems to be provided solutions. Allow your warrior to emerge, as though she is finally returning home from battle. Allow the you that is mother {and we are all mother in our own way, whether or not we have a child}, to BE love, and BE feminine mystery.

When we see the you that is mother, we cannot take our eyes off of her, nor do we desire to. She is much too beautiful to turn away from, and we crave the comfort she provides.

To be mother is to be strong, fierce, powerful and inspired.

To be mother is to be selfless, to be a muse and to be a source of peace, ever soft, ever warm, ever beautiful.

And for those who do have children, to have you be their mother is for them to have a center and a nest; safety and comfort. They do not feel alone and they do not feel uneasy. They are yours and they hope to remain yours for so very long. Remember that you are the mother your child needs. It wouldn't have been any other way.

Let us all rise and bloom as the Earth intended, so that we may replenish it with the life-giving force of the mother.

My first muse, sweet "Floralei."

My first muse, sweet "Floralei."

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