Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. --John Milton

Monday, February 29, 2016

My Baby Loves to Play (four months pregnant)

Neurons light up in your legs, your arms, and you think kick - and you do! How fun to want to stretch arms, and then do.

Wow - your umbilical cord does so many amazing things for you. To think, it's even your first toy. You're fingers gain strength and control as you grip and play with the cord.

You don't even know you're practicing - you're just enjoying life.

Here you are about the size of an avocado (though not so green) and you're playing soccer.

Your strengthened backbone flexes, and there's a kick, punch, and an elbow this way, that. Is there a football in there?

Thumb in, thumb out, thumb in. Do your fingers explore your cute little nose? Touch delicate eye lashes?





More beautiful facts? Check out "Fetal Development: Baby's Nervous System and Brain."

Monday, February 22, 2016

My Extraordinary Marathon PART 2

She's back! Kristin continues her insights from her two beautiful births. If you missed PART 1 click here.

With my first child, I was naïve and stubborn in that I felt very decided in the ‘right’ way to give birth.  Probably attributed to watching ‘Business of Being Born’ one too many times.  However, while that thinking was close-minded, I do strongly believe that we need to recognize the birth process for women as equally important as the final outcome of holding that baby in your arms. 

Our bodies are designed to do crazy, amazing things and childbirth is easily one of the most remarkable.  The birth process, whether euphoric or frightening, will have a lasting effect on the mother.

Last year, my husband, Aaron did a marathon- all 26.2 miles.  He trained for months on end.  A twenty mile training run?  No, thank you!  BUT runners know that they need to prepare their bodies through exercise, proper diet, and sleep.  They hire trainers or join fitness groups.  They prepare their minds through visualization and motivating verses or sayings.  And on race day, runners work through physical pain as they push their body to keep going.  They overcome mental obstacles and fight through.  On the day of my husband’s marathon, I drove from viewing station to viewing station to cheer him on through the process.  When he crossed that finish line, there were tears and rejoicing in knowing everything that he triumphed over to complete the race.

Why do the majority of women NOT prepare for birth in a similar manner?  There is often so much fear surrounding birth - whether it’s anticipating the birth of a first child or the mother had a traumatizing birth experience with another child.  There is fear of pain, fear of the outcome (‘can I do this?’).  Women need to prepare their bodies and mind throughout pregnancy.  They need a trainer- usually a husband- to coach and cheer them, especially on ‘race day.’

Aaron and I were introduced to the Bradley Method approach to natural childbirth at the beginning of my first pregnancy.  This approach was attractive, especially to Aaron, because it included him as ‘Coach’ throughout the entire pregnancy and birth.  The book we learned from has practice exercises and encourages visualization for contractions and labor.  It instructs both the mother and coach in what to do on both physical and mental levels. Training.  Preparation.  Not only did it allow me to become knowledgeable but it also gave me confidence in my body, my baby and the birthing process that God created.

Given that our bodies are created for such a phenomenon, I do advocate the natural birth experience.  I understand that it’s painful and grueling.  But so is running a marathon.  With practice and preparation, ‘race day’ becomes less of a surprise for both mom and coach.  Even if a ‘detour’ is medically necessary, it is important that the mother (and coach) have educated themselves and have a voice.

Both of my births have been in a hospital, where choosing a natural birth was an uncommon occurrence to many of my nurses.  It was necessary to advocate for myself more than I would have had to do at a birth center.  While not everything went according to ‘my plan’ it was so important that I had a voice and also felt like I had a choice.  Aaron was an incredible coach for both births and I do not think that I would have been able to do it without him.  The birth experiences of our children reach a depth of emotion that neither of us had ever known was possible.  And crossing the finish line justified all the toil and pain.  An exhilarating accomplishment that is so personal…and so universal.




Monday, February 15, 2016

My Extraordinary Marathon PART 1

Kristin, thank you for celebrating birth with us here opening your beautiful heart. Ladies, join in on this two part conversation about universal connection, the marvelous process, and painful marathons.

The other morning, I was standing with a group of moms talking, we were all either pregnant or had had a baby within the last year.  One thing I’ve observed since becoming a mom is that you usually cannot escape a conversation with other new moms without hearing the words: natural, epidural, midwife, Pitocin, dilated, and so forth mentioned at least once.

There seems to be such a freedom in talking about the ‘logistics’ of birth.  Even towards the end of my second pregnancy I was struck by the oddity of the question “Are you dilated yet?”- Especially when coming from an acquaintance or, even more uncanny, a stranger.  Do they realize the true meaning of what they just asked me?  Why is it socially acceptable to ask a late-term pregnant woman: “How far open is your cervix?”  Plus how many American mothers can truly visualize what ‘3cm’ looks like anyway?  We just know that we want that number to get to 10 as quickly as possible.  I digress.

In these conversations, it has become apparent to me how birth is profoundly personal yet universal. It is a shared experience among mothers but each journey leading up to conception; each pregnancy; each birth is completely different.  It’s beautiful.  It’s scary.  It’s exhilarating.  It’s natural.

With my first child, I was naïve and stubborn in that I felt very decided in the ‘right’ way to give birth.  Probably attributed to watching ‘Business of Being Born’ one too many times.  However, while that thinking was close-minded, I do strongly believe that we need to recognize the birth process for women as equally important as the final outcome of holding that baby in your arms.

Our bodies are designed to do crazy, amazing things and childbirth is easily one of the most remarkable.  The birth process, whether euphoric or frightening, will have a lasting effect on the mother.

...

I look forward to sharing the rest of Kristin's insights next Monday. Please give your insights in the comments too. As mentioned, it's freeing to talk about pregnancy with each other.





Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Wonder (three months pregnant)

I know you're there. I feel my body embracing you. Welcome home.

Soon your home will expand with my arms. But this, my body, is your home.

God could have made you with a word. But He takes His time. I get to enjoy your shaping.

It's like He's so proud, He slows down the moment for me to join in the wonder.

You enjoy opening and closing fingered fists. You are thinking thoughts! Here you are like a two inch plum, and you're thinking mysterious thoughts. I bet you're thinking how delightful your new fingers are.

You get to experience yourself form. Safe from indifference, you are purely tickled with the making of you.





More? Here a beautiful video of Baby when Mama is three months.