Monthly Archives: September 2012

Gratitude Letter

Gratitude Letter

Thank you, baby.

In a window of time in which my family has been grieving and tending to the details that gracefully hem the ending of one life, thank you for choosing perfect timing to allow me to show up fully present and eager for your birth. I told your mother that I had been talking to you for several days – believing that the angels could stand in “the spaces between us” to allow for this perfect moment. Thank you for your participation.

Thank you for the opportunity to once again celebrate the newness of life with tears of joy.

Thank you for choosing a beautiful family to welcome you with so much love, and the opportunity for this doula to know, once again, all the way down to her bones, that every night a child is born is a holy night. Thank you for the opportunity, once again in this lifetime, to know what it is to stand on holy ground.

Thank you for reminding me with absolute clarity why I wake every day and give my whole-hearted YES to walking this path.

Thank you for your part in the the affirmation from the Universe, yet again, that Things Work Out. They always do. When our yes is absolute, and we trust in the process, the way becomes open for the steps to happen with grace, and peace, and ease. Thank you for reminding me that I Know That I Know.

Your life is already a blessing to so many. May you be richly blessed in abundance in return.

With love,

Jodi

 

 

To Judge or To Love

To Judge or To Love

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are powerful, we are strong, we are able. We see the need for change, and it’s up to us to make it happen – in our lives, in our homes, in our world. We are the women who step up in our mothering. We are the daughters, the lovers, the sisters and friends who show up in our lives with integrity, authenticity, truth and strength. We stand up for the right to speak and be heard – the right for women to birth as we wish, to live as we wish, to teach our children as we wish. We take personally the responsibility to send our children forth as living arrows into the world, to create the change we wish to see – to create new paradigms of power in a good way, with love for all, with respect for all, with integrity for all. It is no small task, and we choose our every step wisely.

This is not an easy path – to forge a world of mindfulness,  loving kindness, and compassion, when those who have gone before us have left no template behind.  We struggle. We mess up. We grieve, we mourn. We feel small – so, so small – and  vulnerable. We question, and we falter.  We face the critics – those on the outside, and sometimes far worse – those inner critics that tell us that it will never happen. You can’t do it. You don’t know how. You won’t do it right. Give up now before you make a fool of yourself. People will think you’re crazy.

This is why we have to be in it together. Life is messy. The beginning of life – birth from a woman – is messy. It’s bloody, and raw, and vulnerable, and tear-filled. We cry out, we call on strength greater than we’ve ever known, we doubt our ability to do it at all. And yet – there’s love – so much love, and unimaginable joy. Even in the pain, the struggle, the challenge, there are moments of  bursting open with love unlike we’ve ever known. Love is our greatest strength. Love is always more than enough. Love needs no reason. Love doesn’t need to make sense, or have all of the answers.  It just IS, within us, around us, connecting us, and covering us.

We are in it together so that when you are at the end of your rope, I can be beside you to say “I have a little rope left today. Hand it to me.”  We are in it together to be a rock for one another to stand on, and a soft place for each other to land. We are in it together so that when I reach the place of facing my own shadows and wondering if it’s worth it, there are sisters to bear witness and offer comfort. We are in it together so that when one mama says, “I can’t do it!”, there are three more to say “You can do this. You already are doing this. It’s ok to be scared. I believe in you.”

Women, we need each other.  We need each other strong, and healthy, and nourished, and nurtured. Some steps on this journey will be hard. We will meet with pain and resistance – some from within, some from others. Our choices may differ, but the questions we ask are the same. Can I do this? Am I doing it right? Do you see me?  Do you hear me? We have the choice, always, to judge or to love. We have the choice, always, to believe that we are all doing our best, even in moments when our best may not look very good to anyone else. We have the choice, always, to say “I did that better than you” or to choose to see with brilliant honesty that, “Yes, I’ve been there too. I’ve felt that way. It gets better, and here is my hand until it does.”

Not one of us alone can be strong enough for all. Together, each giving what she can and asking for what she needs, we are strong. Together, we are always more than enough. Together, we are powerful. Together, we are souls filled to overflowing.  Together, we can change the world. We can do it. We already are. I believe in you. I believe in us. And so may it be.

Make the Best Choice in the Moment

Make the Best Choice in the Moment

Sometimes, no matter how much preparation a person has done, things happen differently than expected. Someone can choose a great medical team, take informative classes, educate herself on her options, hire a doula, and still face interventions or difficult decisions. Feelings can come up of guilt, or shame, or betrayal. She may have doubts, or may even lose faith in herself – that if she had just done it right, her birth would have happened a different way.  An unrealistic belief system sometimes seems to exist in birth circles, that if a mama just “trusts” enough, she’ll have the “right” kind of birth.

As a doula,the perspective I share may be shocking. Here’s a truth:  Sometimes, birth needs help.

Not every time. Perhaps not even most of the time. Certainly not with the “36% cesarean rate” frequency that is currently our cultural norm. But, it does happen. Babies engage in positions that they can’t get themselves out of. Birthing people develop medical concerns that place health at risk. Infections happen. Distress happens. Life happens, and  it’s unpredictable.

There is no routine intervention – internal exams, iv fluids, fetal monitoring, medications, epidurals, forceps, surgery – that is categorically, inexcusably wrong 100% of the time. There are valid reasons that each of them came into being. There remain valid causes for each to still be in use. There is a time, place, and circumstance in which each one can and has been health- and even  life-saving for a mother and baby. A birth activist’s opposition is not to the existence of these interventions, but to the routine overuse of each of them, as though every mother and baby pair is the one in imminent danger.

So, what is a laboring person to do?

Education, information, and strong continuous labor support all go a long way in avoiding the steps that can lead one down a path of unnecessary or premature intervention. Choosing a medical support team that tends to offer low-intervention birth essential. Asking good questions throughout pregnancy, learning more about the options that exist, and saying “no, thank you” to the ones that are unnecessary is a key component. And then, the time comes to let go.

So much of the birth process revolves around the power to surrender – not the surrender of one’s voice or the right to speak and be heard, but surrender to the process that is birth.  

Sometimes,”trusting in the process” includes trusting her own intuition in knowing that something isn’t right, and that it’s appropriate to ask for and accept help. When and if the unexpected circumstance should arise, which they sometimes do,  then and only then comes the time to make each decision as it comes.

Know your wishes and priorities, discover your options that are available in the clear and present reality, and with that in mind, make the best choice for you in that moment. It is this, and not the mental checklist of do’s and do-not’s, that is the hallmark of a truly empowered birth. In the end, it’s not about whether your birth measures up to  anyone else’s judgement of  picture-perfect and ideal.  It is by being an active and informed participant in your own experience that you can know that you created the right experience for your own birth and your own baby.  You can be at peace with knowing that you made the decision, unique to your individual birth, that your judgement indicated was wisest in that moment. That’s the very best birth experience that anyone has the power to create.

 

How’s Your Oxygen Mask, Mama?

How’s Your Oxygen Mask, Mama?

Anyone who has ever been on an airplane has heard it… the announcement over the speaker that says “In the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop down. If you are traveling with small children or someone who needs help, please put your own mask on first, before you assist them.”

Make sure that you are breathing, so that you have what you need to assist someone else. It’s a basic need, one that we know and commonly accept as necessary for our survival in an emergency. And yet, how often in our parenting, our working, our loving, and our daily living do we forget to put our own masks on first?

Self-care can stir up a lot of negative mind chatter. Just the question, “How’s your self care?” is enough to make some feel anxious and edgy. It’s wrong. It’s selfish. It’s indulgent. For some, it’s even guilt provoking. We are told, and accept, that a “good enough” parent, or spouse, or friend, or lover, or community member will give their all and then some, with no complaining. Then, reality bites back  – sometimes very hard – with anger, resentment, fatigue.  We get burned out. We feel hollow, with nothing else to give.

Self-care is not the indulgence of the negligent parent, but the responsibility of any loving and caring adult. It’s ok to make sure that your needs for nurturing, comfort, and care are met. It’s good to feel nourished, sustained, and fulfilled. It’s ok to love yourself enough that your “cup runneth over”, giving you enough resource to assist those who are traveling with you in this life journey.

Healthy self-care begins with checking in, with love and kindness, to see if you are meeting your own basic needs, and then working to fulfill them. Jennifer Louden**, in her book The Woman’s Comfort Book, shares a basic needs checklist that is an excellent starting point for taking a snapshot of your own lifestyle, and considering where some new self-care baby steps might be beneficial. Please hold in mind that the intention here is not to guilt or shame, or make you “feel bad”, but to take a good, honest look at how you are loving yourself.

So, with a deep breath, let’s begin:

Which needs are you meeting regularly?

Do you usually get six to eight hours of sleep?

Do you eat something fresh and unprocessed every day?

Do you allow time in your week to touch nature, no matter how briefly?

Do you get enough sunlight, especially in the wintertime?

Do you drink enough water?

Do you see your gynecologist (or the equivalent) at least once a year?

Do you see a dentist every six months?

Do you know enough about your body and health needs?

Do you get regular sexual thrills?

Do you feel you get enough fun exercise?

Are you hugged and touched amply?

Do you make time for friendship? Do you nurture your friendships?

Do you have friends you can call when you are down, friends who really listen?

Can you honestly ask for help when you need it?

Do you regularly release your negative emotions?

Do you forgive yourself when you make a mistake?

Do you do things that give you a sense of fulfillment, joy, and purpose?

Is there abundant beauty in your life? Do you allow yourself to see beauty and to bring it into your home and office?

Do you make time for solitude?

Are you getting daily or weekly spiritual nourishment?

Can you remember the last time you laughed until you cried?

Do you accept yourself for who you are?

 

How does that feel, to look at where your basic needs are? Would you be willing to choose one need, just one, where you can take a baby step today towards taking excellent care of yourself? The people you love need you nourished. The people you love need you vibrant and fulfilled so that you have enough to give. Today, give yourself permission to put your own mask on first, Mama, and take a deep breath.

Blessings on the journey.

**Special thanks to Jennifer Louden for letting me share her work. I don’t think she knows that I’m her biggest fan. You can find Jen online at http://jenniferlouden.com/blognews/ where you can sign up for her list to get her wonderful freebies about self care. The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book was just released in e-book format, too. Well worth a read. Go find it on amazon.com!