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love your mother

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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Rootedness//Blooms

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Rootedness//Blooms

"From rootedness, I can grow."

Have you heard this before? I hadn’t, but it completely relates to all that I experienced this past week, a week that came about after months of hardship and worry.

My summer was not what one might expect a beautiful, warm, California summer to be. I worked myself to the bone. I stressed myself to the deep end of the pool. I yelled myself to perceived insanity. I cried myself to confusion and doubt. I simply {felt like I} lost it.

When you’re a wife, mother and business owner you have to be 100% strong for your husband, 100% strong for your children and 100% strong for your business. Did you know that’s totally impossible? There is no feasible way to give everything to everyone and everything that relies on you for peace, happiness and survival, no matter how badly you want that to happen.

Thanks to the internet and its answers and remedies and checklists and e-books and free webinars and Pinterest boards full of wisdom regarding the “best” or “right” or “easiest” thing to do to be a perfect wife, mom and business owner, I began to feel like a fully-informed but incapable failure. My list of things that would improve every aspect of my life grew too long to even read in one sitting.

The ideas in my head were taking up too much room and begging to be set free, put on paper, uploaded onto my computer, edited and disseminated to anyone who cared to know of their existence. My fridge begged for healthier, more delicious homemade food. So many business tasks were put in motion, but nothing was getting completed because my time is little, and my energy is even tinier.

My heart was breaking under the unbearable weight of fear that rested heavily on my chest. Would my business fail? Would my children become depressed? Would our bodies crumble as a result of the non-organic food I’m forced to buy due to finances, or lack thereof? In other simpler terms, I was severely overwhelmed, and the only thing being set free from the confines of my mind was anger, the recipients of which were, sadly, my husband and children.

That’s not to say I was horrible all of the time, but I do take full responsibility for my insufferable mood swings that came about because of the crazy-high expectations I’ve set for myself. I was far from rooted, and I know I’m not alone. We all do this as women. Everyone tells us how to be perfect, but we can only do so much. We are human, after all, and we love to be needed by our families and loved ones. So much so that we are willing to sacrifice everything to try and do what’s best for them 100% of the time.  

I personally get a lot of joy out of being useful and helpful and creative and motivational and...you know, everything, to those that need me to be everything. But, did you notice I forgot something up there in that list of people and entities that I need to be 100% strong for. Yep, I forgot myself. I forgot myself for the last 60 days or so, and, let me tell you, doing so is simply begging for chaos. And that’s what I felt like I received as a result of the way I set myself up this summer - pure chaos.

Just the other night, I burst into tears on the couch while my husband and I were watching TV. I told him I know I could be a better mom and that I need to change things. I expressed that I can feel that I’m going about all of this all wrong, and we are running out of money as I work so, so hard to start a business to help other women on their motherhood journey. The irony of it all was palpable. I felt like a hypocrite, and suggested that I just quit and dedicate my heart and soul to just my family because they are so important, and my babies are only babies for so long. As much as I want to create a sustainable business that will bring light into the lives others, maybe my purpose is to focus on bringing light only into the lives of my children. And I can live with that if that truly is my sole life purpose. I love my daughters. I love my husband. I love the family I am a part of, and I hate feeling pressured by society and money and all of those stupid “how to be perfect” articles to fix my life on their terms. Their advice wasn’t working; rather, it was suffocating me.

As my husband began to comfort me and tell me I’m a great mom and am doing good work etcetera etcetera,  I told him to stop. I didn’t need to be comforted. I needed to dwell in this and figure out the answer on my own. I wasn’t crying because I was sad and needed a hug - I was crying because I was so fucking frustrated. I wanted to slow down, and so I opened myself up emotionally and mentally to whatever the Fates had planned for me. I went to bed with every intention to change my perspective the following day. I planned to do a little work here and there, but to focus primarily on exercising patience with my children and doing fun things with them. Simplicity was key. My mental well being depended on it, and I was prepared to postpone my business ventures if that meant my daughters would be more joyful and I could revel fully in motherhood.

The Fates heard me loud and clear.

Signs of Purpose

That following day, I decided to look for a job in a birth-related environment that would offer regular paychecks, you know, do the 9-5 thing again maybe if that is my calling as a provider for my family. My mom took Lorelei out to play during Isla’s nap so I could write a cover letter for a position I knew I wasn’t qualified for, but it was the only one nearby that was related to my passion for birth and postpartum care for local families, and I love the organization that I would be able to work for if I were to get the job. Upon finishing, my phone rang.

The call was from someone who came across my website and needs a postpartum doula this fall. This was the first call I have received from a potential client since I put myself out there this summer as a working postpartum doula. I was quite pleased, and the timing was extraordinary. I smiled a bit and felt a little more relaxed. Maybe I am meant to do this work right now after all.

Then I received another call. It was from the local business I had sent my cover letter and resume to just a few hours prior. They liked my background and, though I wasn’t qualified for that particular position, they wanted me to begin to develop a relationship with them for any future opportunities by taking sweet Isla to one of their baby classes and becoming familiar with the services they provide to local families. Wow. Timing is everything, and this timing was, again, extraordinary. Creating fundamental relationships like this is key to success as an entrepreneur, especially locally as a birth worker, and my heart was bursting with gratitude for the opportunity.

Wanna know what happened next? I scheduled two interviews with women who asked me to talk about my work on their radio shows. So cool.

As I told my husband about these uncanny occurrences, I received my first five-star review on Etsy for the wall hangings I make as a means of raising scholarship funds to provide free postpartum services to mamas in need. Seriously? Five signs in one day? But it didn’t stop there.

Over the next few days a friend asked me to contribute women’s postpartum wellness posts to the blog she manages for the company she works for, and I then received a very kind and heart-warming email from an email list subscriber thanking me for my emails and telling me how much she enjoyed them. She told me my passion shone through my website and writing. That meant a lot to me.

I also officially submitted my packet for postpartum doula certification, an accomplishment that took two years of a lot of effort to meet. I remind myself that I accomplished that goal in spite of a painful pregnancy, giving birth, raising a toddler and a baby and dealing with a chronic headache. I consider this a big deal, and I allow myself to be proud.

After all of this, I don’t think the Fates could have made their message any clearer. I am absolutely meant to do this work right now, and it is possible to do so without sacrificing the needs of my family. I simply needed to give myself space to breathe and acknowledge that I am not a failure. I am capable and motivated. I WILL accomplish my goals, but I need to allow myself to live a regular life at the same time, and give all of the seeds I sow enough time and space to grow.

As all of this excitement was going on, I discovered that my efforts to be more patient were working. I didn’t yell at my girls once. Rather, I took them out to swim lessons and playdates without feeling guilty about not working. I read books about postpartum wellness instead of articles about ways to improve myself and my business. I spoke to friends on the phone {yeah, with voices!}. I helped my mom take her dog to the vet because I was glad to help her {I owe her big time, after all}. I took the girls to surprise their dad at his work {at Lorelei’s adorable request} even though it was past their bedtime when we left, a time of day I’m usually very strict about so that I can get to work again as soon as their eyes close and their sleep breathing begins. Living in the moment in this way felt SO much better than staring at my laptop, alone and stressed, wishing my husband was at home with me instead of at work.

My takeaway from this experience is that being honest with myself about the crazy way I was living {for no good reason at that}, and giving myself space and permission to release a bit of control is what brought forth this revolutionary week, a week that soothed me, brought me joy and brought to the surface my true purpose in the birth worker world. I will never be perfect, and I will always have to work hard, but I’m allowed to be human. Most importantly, I’m capable of being a good mom if I let myself be a good mom because I am strong, and forever rooted in the love of my family.

The Rooted Tree

I now know that I am so strong that my strength is comparable to that of a tree, and my family is the foundation within which my roots thrive. Sadly, the stress and pressure of outside forces was pulling me much too hard. My roots were straining to remain where they were, where they belong, and by allowing myself to get wrapped up in a million to-dos and should-dos and will-dos and might-dos and need-to-dos, I inadvertently stopped pulling back. Doing so would have further rooted myself in the depths of the greatest source of nourishment for my soul {my family}, but the pull was so strong, and I was losing the little strength I had left as force after force pulled me into the belief-state that the amount of things I need to do to succeed in every aspect of my life was impossible, and I would fail.

As my roots began to snap one-by-one, reality grabbed a hold of me, and the pull stopped. Reality held me steady, reminding me that I don’t need to do all of those things and that I am capable of doing the things that actually are required of me, and I regained my strength. I allowed myself to take deep breaths that brought much-needed oxygen all the way down to my suffering roots. As reality helped pull me back against those forces, my roots began to embed themselves once more within their rich foundation {my family}, and as they regained their strength, I began to grow, and opportunities bloomed one by one until I could no longer deny the evidence right in front of my wild eyes.

By staying rooted and giving myself space to breathe, I would continue to grow and bloom and eventually become a source of comfort for others, providing shade and a backrest when needed. The petals of my blossoms would flutter and swirl like a spring snowstorm as they made room for the next phase of seasonal change, and passersby would revel in the enchanting moment of nature taking its course, remembering there is more to life than the never-ending expectations we have placed upon ourselves.

And so, in spite of change, I will stay rooted. In spite of outside forces attempting their strong pull once more, as I’m sure will happen in the many years to come, I will stay rooted. My family is far too sustaining to ever let my roots loose again. I vow to be always rooted, and thus be always blooming.

As I write this, I can’t help but notice that so much of what is advised when it comes to embracing life fully is closely related to the advice we give laboring mothers and new mothers going through their fourth trimester with their newborn baby. Taking deep breaths, releasing control and allowing life to unfurl as it was meant to is quite often the best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and our dreams. I personally feel that over a decade of private school turned me into a perfectionist control freak {one with a great education at least}, but these years post-school where I have been fully enveloped in the natural world of motherhood, both personally and in my chosen career path, are proving to be more and more transformative, allowing me to be the woman I’ve been suppressing for way too long.

The other night, as my husband talked and I talked, I reveled in the gratitude and peace I felt, and suddenly, an idea literally popped into my head and rolled off my tongue before I even fully knew what I was saying. It shook me and inspired me more than any idea I’ve had thus far. It’s an idea that was just waiting to be revealed, but would never have been shown to me if I had stayed in that negative place of doubt and drudgery and allowed myself to be completely uprooted. It’s an idea that I will share as soon as I have constructed its foundation and am prepared to take on clients. I truly can’t wait to transform it into a reality, but I have learned my lesson. I will maintain this slow pace. I will continue giving myself space. I will remain calm and steady and rooted, as a doula should remain. Everything will work out exactly the way it’s supposed to - and I don’t always need to be the one at the helm. The Fates quite often do just fine on their own.

 

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