Have you ever sat with someone, words tumbling and spinning through your mind - trying to find a way out of your brain and into the vast space between you? The tension builds inside of you to the point that you're sure they must feel the electricity in the air. So many phrases begging to be uttered, yet not a single word you can think of speaking out loud. So you muddle through - awkwardly talking about the weather or some other mundane topic. Anything but the existential, philosophical, murmurings of your soul. Because you know in your heart they don't want to hear those. Or silence falls heavy - not the comfortable kind either, but the thick, stifling, "Someone say something!" kind.
You can feel that they have avoided bringing certain topics up around you precisely so they will not have to hear what you have to say about it. So you struggle - do I say something? Or so I respect that they don't want to talk about it? It's like you are holding onto a beautiful gift that you are afraid to offer and even if you did would not be accepted.
I've felt this way.
And then I heard this Sara Bareilles song today:
(You can see the original video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwTr_CRw3GY - I'm not able to show it here on weebly - it's very inspiring!)
Whoa, if that's not powerful inspiration to speak our truths, I don't know what is. "LET YOUR WORDS FALL OUT!" I love that - makes it sound so easy. That's what I do here. I still believe knowing when our words are welcome and helpful is important. When they are not it may be more respectful to wait - till a better time and place. But I think it's so important for us to let out our truths. Bottling them up is not good for us! I dream of people feeling confident enough express their dreams, desires, needs, and truths in a compassionate way - and for more of us to become open, receptive listeners. Because it takes two to have a meaningful exchange.
What about you? Do you struggle with sharing your deepest desires, goals, and values? Or is it easy for you to share?
The other night I read an article on Positively Positive, called "5 Rules for Life-Altering Dreaming". The only thing I didn't like about it was the word "rules" (me and rules don't mix so well anymore ;-)
I thought it was actually really relevant to my last post about telling kids you "can't always get what you want". I have lots of thoughts on the word "realistic" too, but that is for another day.
Anyways, the "rules" are actually outlining steps to a really powerful process for clarifying and declaring your dreams. So I did it right away.
The first time I wrote it in my journal this is what I said:
I dream of living in a vibrant, supportive community filled with loving people who share my values. I dream of working together, growing food, raising children, playing together, cooking and eating together, laughing and crying.
As I read through the 5 steps outlined I realized that I was missing a very powerful part of the process. Writing my dream in the present tense. So I rewrote my paragraph to this:
I live in a vibrant, supportive, growing community. We value peace, the earth, and compassion. We work and play together, cook and eat together, laugh and cry together. We grow together.
Whoa. Just reading that makes me feel so good. When I was looking for a picture to add this to I found this one of my kids raking leaves with our best neighborhood friends last fall. It felt like the perfect image to add the words too. Writing my dream in the present tense was so powerful. Remembering that I already DO have many of these things is even better. I am a powerful creator in my own life. I can create the community I crave wherever I am. Yes I dream of even more - more community, more togetherness, more support, but appreciating what I already have while creating "more" feels even better.
I highly recommend trying this! It's fun and powerful. And letting others know what your dreams are is an essential step towards actually achieving your dreams. If you don't let people know then not only are you stopping yourself from taking steps towards your dream, but you may also be keeping away people and opportunities that you haven't even imagined yet.
So go big! Declare your dreams. It feels good, I promise.
The phrase "Me Time" irritates me.
It seems like such a selfish term: "Me Time". In my opinion this mentality pits you against anyone getting in the way of you getting your "Me Time". Usually the people "competing" with your "Me Time" are your closest loved ones - for moms, most often their children.
I'm not suggesting that we don't take care of ourselves. And goodness knows many women and mothers have reputations for putting others' needs ahead of their own far too often. But if I've learned anything as a mother, it is that the more I can be creative, flexible, and kind, the more likely everyone's needs will get met. In my personal experience, "Me Time" mentality makes me rigid - as in: I have this idea in my head about how I'm going to get some time and space to myself and gosh-darn-it, I want my "Me Time" now, and if I don't get it then NONE of us are going to be happy! (hmmm, I wonder where that phrase, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, came from?! Guess we kinda created that doozy ourselves!)
This "Me Time" idea is so common now that everyone knows what it means. To me it is a "band-aid" solution to a deeper problem in our culture. For example when we get "Me Time" we often end up just wanting more. I have two theories about why this happens: 1) We didn't really respect others' needs while trying to get our "Me Time" and so when we are back to "Not-Me-Time" everyone is out of sorts. This leads us to feel like we need to get away... AGAIN. AND NOW! And/Or 2) Because we've put our own needs off for so long waiting for special "Me-Time" when we get it, it isn't nearly enough!
So I propose a new paradigm (I like new paradigms). We need to start cultivating a true, deep, and constant Self-Love for ourselves. When we do this we will start to have better Self-Care. Self-care means taking care of your needs all the time, or at least as soon as you can. It means taking loving care of your body by taking the time to spruce up, feeding yourself nourishing foods, and moving (If this sounds like a fancier version of New Year's resolutions, I promise you it's not. When true Self-Love is nourished, you will start doing these things automatically). Self-care is getting enough rest and slowing down -when you are feeling tired, before you get sick. Self-care is connecting with your loved ones every day in ways that are meaningful to each individual, and thriving on the energy this creates. It means if you need time and space to yourself, you work to create it in ways that respects others' needs for you to be around - because they love you and depend on you for comfort and security.
This may sound the same as what you think of as "Me Time" - but in my experience they are not. They are vastly different philosophies. I know some people are impressed with my ability to go without "Me Time" (are you annoyed with that phrase yet?!) - but it's really not that remarkable and I know others, like me, who spend almost all their time with their kids. I've learned to adapt and meet my needs in ways that don't usually require separation.
And, as my kids get older I am getting more time to myself. It's actually one of my things on my list of 12 - a date with myself (got that from the book The Artist's Way). So please, do take care of yourself. But do it in a way that not only nourishes you, but those around you - it's way more fulfilling and instead of your energy getting quickly zapped to nothing again, you will be revitalized to the point of having your energy overflow. LOVE YOURSELF, it's good for you and everyone around you.
ps If you like or use the phrase "Me Time" I still like you. I just don't like the phrase. :-)
pps I'm not REALLY irritated... because that wouldn't be very ZEN of me, would it? It's more like the phrase causes slight ripples on the smooth as glass water surface of my mind (is anyone else laughing yet?!), and then I look at the ripples with interest and curiosity.
Do you have a story about when you tried to get some "Me Time" and it didn't work out the way you were envisioning? Or how about a time when you were creative about meeting your needs and felt great about how you handled things?
This morning I read an article, "Jealousy, Judgment, and Motherhood," and I got all worked up about it, and even got permission from an old friend to write about her, and now here it is 11 pm and I'm having a hard time getting the flow going. I even started once and lost what I had written, which may be a blessing because I didn't really like it. So as I lay in bed helping kid #2 fall asleep, I thought about what I wanted to say, and how I could get my point across in the kindest and most interesting way. And I realized that I really just needed to tell my experience and what I've learned. I don't need to get preachy or philosophical because I believe the message will shine through the story.
My story begins in the 6th grade. Actually it may begin even earlier than that, but I have a really crappy memory, so we'll begin there. I have one very vivid memory from that year. I was in the girl's bathroom washing my hands and one of my teachers was beside me also washing her hands. And she said to me, "Susan, I just know that you are going to be something really wonderful someday, like a Doctor or a Lawyer." That's it. That's all I remember. I don't remember what I said back, but I'm sure I nodded or smiled because I've always been pretty agreeable and polite.
But even then something about it struck me wrong. And I remembered it for many years.
Fade out. Fade in to middle school study hall with my best friend since kindergarten. We're giggling and passing notes. The main topic of said notes are, "I want a boyfriend SO. BAD!"
Cut to my Senior year of college. I'm crying on my bed and my boyfriend (Mike!) is trying to comfort me. I'm so confused and anxious because even though I'm am closing in on graduating I still don't know what I want to "do". I cry to him, "I just want to get married and have kids!" He reassures me that it will be ok and things will work out, but I know he thinks I'm a little bit crazy. (haha)
In college I started out as a math major but quickly switched to Brain and Cognitive Science when I couldn't get all "A's" in my math courses. I was an intern for a researcher at the hospital one semester, and also in a couple of labs on campus. I considered research and going on the medical school. But none of that felt right.
I was so incredibly lucky my senior year to have an amazing Professor who encouraged me. I told him how "everyone" thought that since I was "smart" I should be a "doctor" or something like that. This wonderful man advised me to follow my heart and told me that we need "smart people in all professions". So after school I pursued my teaching degree. (I have to also give major props to my mom here. She has always supported me in whatever I decided to do. And deep down she really just wanted me to get married and have kids too. ha.)
Teaching was an incredible learning experience for me. But I'm forever indebted to my daughter for coming along and giving me a reason to leave - almost entirely guilt-free. I was good at teaching and my students and I had great relationships, but it was not "my (final) calling".
After Marisol was born, I just looked at her and thought, "All I have to do for a long time is take care of you!" I felt an incredible sense of freedom. I couldn't believe how lucky I was.
And so began the most life-changing, life-affirming journey of my life. It's still going, and I imagine it will until my time here is up.
But this is not the end of my story. Since Marisol was born a little over 6 1/2 years ago I have learned a lot. There has only been one stretch of time, from the time Gerry was born until he was about 9 months old, where I was not "working" in some form even though I would classify myself as a full-time stay-at-home-mom. When Marisol was just 6 weeks old I started babysitting a little girl. Why? Because Mike had big plans to go to business school, and I wanted to build up my reputation as a good caregiver so I could nanny while he was in school. I think I knew before Marisol was born that I was not going back to the classroom, but once she was here I was sure. I wanted to be with her for as long as possible.
And it worked! When we moved to Washington DC I found an amazing family whose little boy was almost exactly the same age as Marisol. And they lived about one mile from where we lived. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect work situation.
They quickly became like family to me as I adjusted to living in a new city and being away from my own family for the first time. The mom, Ida (pronounced: "Ee-da"), and I were (and are!) about as different as you can imagine. Ida is a Doctor and went back to work soon after the births of both her boys. What was amazing to me that year, as I helped take care of her son, was how well she handled working and being a mother. She never showed insecurity or jealousy about my relationship with Nils. She never agonized over whether she should be working or not. And when she came home she was joyful to see him and jumped right in to playing with him. I still remember them laughing together.
Ida and I talked a little bit about this modern "motherhood/work" phenomenon, and how so many women struggled with it. It seemed that we were in the minority of women who really embraced our choices. Even though Ida and I were very different in our parenting and lifestyle choices, we had a great relationship. I have always admired how she embraced her life and her choices instead of constantly second-guessing herself or letting feelings of doubt or guilt into her life.
And my own journey was still barely beginning. I continued to care for two other children through Mike's second year of school and while I was pregnant. After Gerry was born I was happy to "just" be home with the kids for a while.
In the spring of 2010 I tried tutoring for a company called "Tutored-by-a- Teacher" but never really got too into it. Then that summer I decided to look into becoming a childbirth educator and that is when Hypnobabies came into the picture. Since becoming certified and starting to teach I really feel like I've hit my stride. Not just as a "mom" or as a "teacher" but really as a human being.
That's my story, my history... So what do *I* think is the main take-away from all of this?
1) There is no such thing as "just" a "teacher," or "mother," or "housewife," or any other job, vocation, or calling.
2) Sometimes we know what we really want (as I clearly did from the time I was a young girl) but our inner voices are completely drowned out by the messages that we are receiving outside of us.
3) Women (and men!) need to get clear on what they want. And not just what they want, but how they want to feel.
Talking about wanting to "have it all" is just a catch phrase that we've adopted since having more choices available to us. But the truth is NO ONE can have it ALL. Luckily for us it isn't necessary to have it all to live happy, fulfilled lives.
We are fortunate to live in a time when many women have more choices than their grandmothers could even dream about. But more choice is also confusing and even paralyzing sometimes - heck, I can't even pick out what toothpaste I want at the grocery store these days. It's not surprising that figuring out what you want your life to look like, when the possibilities are even longer than aisle 15, and the choices much harder than baking soda or fluoride, has more than one woman awake at night worrying over whether they're making the right choices.
It's a wonderful time, but it's also a little chaotic and messy - like we are reorganizing our whole house in one day.
I am so grateful that I was able to process and clear my confusion up at relatively young ages. I hope more women are able to work through their own so they can stop feeling judged, judgmental, and jealous. Then they will be free to feel supported and supportive, loved and loving. In this way, maybe our daughters and granddaughters will have even more freedom and less confusion than we have today.
I do know that it has to begin with loving yourself. It sounds so cheesy, but I cannot begin to tell you how transformative this truth has been for me this year. Love yourself and be kind to yourself whatever it is you choose. When you do this you will be able to offer more to everyone else in your life. Stop telling yourself that your life is so hard. And if it feels that way, start taking steps to make it feel less so. Stop letting others decide for you what's important to do. Decide how you want to feel, identify things that make you feel that way, then start doing them.
Make your life awesome. You only get this one and you're the only one who can do it.
Parenting is hard. It's the most difficult job you'll ever do. Parenting is challenging but rewarding.
The message is everywhere and it is beat into our heads almost constantly. PARENTING IS HARD. Not only that, we reinforce it to one another often.
But what if parenting *isn't* intrinsically difficult, we are just making it so? How many times have you seen a mama cat complain about motherhood - all those kittens suckling! And later she has to teach them to hunt - and they never even say thank you! Or a bird - does she ever complain that the babies are hungry *again*? Why do we as humans seem to believe that we have such a hard gig? Is it because we're smarter or more aware?
I was mulling over this question a few months ago after reading some comments on one of my favorite blogs. Everyone was chiming in with their own stories and feelings about how difficult motherhood is. Some women admitted that they didn't even like babies; others said they couldn't wait until their kids were out of the house.
And it just got my wheels turning. One thing that I've learned from teaching Hypnobabies is how powerful our minds are and that we create what we dwell upon. If the constant refrain in our lives is how difficult things are then we are likely to get a lot more choruses of... hard, Hard, HARD!
I'm not saying that I can't relate to the stories all these mamas share. I can. I know sleepless nights and crying for almost no reason other then exhaustion. I know losing my patience and feeling guilty for it later. I know feeling extreme anxiety as my child gets more upset about something seemingly insignificant. I know feeling uncomfortable as I worry about what others think. I get all that.
But that doesn't mean that these things become my focal point. And it doesn't mean that I accept that this is just the way things are and there is nothing I can do about it. Not at all. I know now that it's possible to shift almost all of those things into a more positive state.
A very common theme in our culture is that the teenage years are often years of rebellion, less connection between children and parents, emotional, and just generally trying. But I've found a small subset in our culture who says that it doesn't have to be that way. (Just like birth doesn't *have to* be an excruciating experience that a woman just has to get through.) Maybe this is true of many accepted ("difficult") aspects of parenting.
Anyways, back to my churning mind. I wondered if all of this "positive thinking" wasn't just a little too much. I mean parenting can be hard, right?! Even I, Sunshine Susie, admit to having difficult days. I wrote to my Tribe and asked them what they thought. I got some amazing, inspiring responses. Here is a line from one of my favorites, "Forging awesome, respectful, nurturing relationships takes time and effort and intention." Yes! There's a perspective shift that resonates with me. Don't we put effort into our adult relationships? Why shouldn't we expect to with our children?
But still not satisfied, I examined the problem from another angle. One of my favorites - The Evolutionary perspective. Did parents of the Hunting and Gathering era get together and grumble around the campfire (did they even have a campfire??)
I went to the most direct source I have, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Old Way, who was kind enough to let me interview her on the phone last spring.
Here is what I wrote to her:
It's amazing to read the comments and just how HARD parenting/mothering is for so many women. And I'm not disagreeing with them exactly - I mean I've had plenty of challenges and less than proud moments with my kids. But overall I just LOVE my life and them so it kind of makes me sad how many mom's are actually saying, "I don't like babies" or "I can't wait till they are out of the house" or any number of other things. And always the refrain, "it's hard, Hard, HARD!"
And here is what this incredible, generous woman wrote back to me:
I think you’re right by saying that the Ju/wasi just took parenting in stride—they wanted children, enjoyed children, and anyway, they didn’t have a choice about having children. Then too, all the people in an encampment looked after children in general—if an adult or an older kid saw a little kid in some kind of trouble that person would help immediately as a matter of course. Also, the Ju/wa kids could self-amuse. They played all the time, the boys playing hunting games or some rather formal games with rules, and the girls making patterns with their footprints or dancing. I don’t think I ever saw a kid wheedling at an adult about anything. Good social behavior was simply expected of children.
And it was so wonderful to hear from her and her perspective. And it definitely affirmed for me many ideas I have about parenting, our modern culture, children, and whether it necessarily needs to be so HARD. You may recall that Elizabeth also told me that children were not punished in the Ju/wa culture.
Some of you may be thinking but she says the children "self-amused - my kid doesn't do that!" This is another area where I think the tribal culture is very difficult to compare to our isolated, modern culture. Yes, they "self-amused" -- with all the other children in the tribe. And with plenty of adults around too. Not the same as expecting a kid to play alone or with one (or even a few) other sibling(s).
Really it's quite ironic. Back in the day when we had to travel miles and miles to dig up roots, then carry back heavy loads (again miles and miles), and hunt animals down - all just to survive - then we weren't complaining about raising our young. Now, we have refrigerators full of food (and a grocery store just down the road), we have dishwashers and washing machines, we have TVs and computers, we have light with the flick of a switch, we have roofs to keep the rain off of us, and heat to warm the chilly nights... but now parenting is so hard. What if the culture we've created is actually really difficult for our children? If we could shift our perspective then our parenting difficulties might diminish greatly, or even disappear.
I'd love to hear thoughts on this from other parents. What feels better - thinking that parenting is terribly difficult, or thinking that we are made to parent and can rise to the challenges, forming beautiful relationships with our kids as we go? The last thing I want to do is make more people feel guilty. This is not about feeling bad for finding parenting difficult. This is about creating a new paradigm (and from that a new culture!) so more of us can see that it doesn't have to be difficult.
There's lots of talk about "Random Acts of Kindness" (RAOFK) lately. I think that more kindness in the world is a wonderful thing. But I've been thinking about that word, "Random". Here was one of my Facebook updates last week:
Random Ramblings: I've been thinking about "Random Acts of Kindness" (as many people are talking about and doing them to do more GOOD) Anyways, does doing thing for friends, family, and neighbors count as a "RAOFK" - for example, I've taken to making my lasagna for friends and neighbors that have a new baby - already made 3 in the past 6 months and 2 more are "in line" (it's a baby boom in our neighborhood!)...
So while I love the spirit behind the idea of RAOFK I'd like to concentrate more on Everyday kindness. Kindness to our neighbors and loved ones. And yes, kindness to strangers we see in our everyday lives (should we even classify this as "random"? I mean, I hope we all strive to be kind to people whose paths we cross every day).
Of course a topic that especially important to me is being as kind as we can to the children in our lives. What does it mean to be kind to our children? Some people think it *is* "kind" to punish a child if it is out of "love". Some argue this is the (only?) way that children learn important life lessons.
I do not agree with this assessment. A great barometer to use if you are unsure if an act is kind: would you say or do this same thing to your best friend/sister/partner/mother? If the answer is no, you probably shouldn't do it to your child either!
I'm not a fan of guilt, judgment, and finger-pointing either. No one is perfect. This is not about being perfectly kind 100% of the time. It *is* about recognizing how we can be kinder in our everyday lives. Patience, listening, putting ourselves in others' positions, taking deep breaths when we struggle - these are all ways we can demonstrate kindness in situations that don't bring out our best selves.
This is why you must start with yourself. If you aren't being kind to yourself it will be difficult, if not impossible, to be kind to others.
Up the kindness factor in your life starting with yourself. Love yourself, give yourself compliments and affirmations. Do kind things for yourself. The ripples will extend outwards to your family and community. Just think, if we all started doing this kindness would become so common the term "Random Act of Kindness" might become obsolete! Or even if it doesn't become obsolete maybe they will feel less urgent and necessary. Kindness anywhere is awesome. Kindness that changes the world will come from being kind close to home.
Today was such a nice day. It looked quite boring from the outside, but it was calm and relaxing. We didn't even step outside (the kids and I anyways). But I was thinking tonight how it was a good example of "Loving What Is" and not letting any expectations get in the way of embracing life fully. We didn't have any big plans for celebrating New Year's Eve and we didn't try to make any. But I'm not disappointed at all. It was so wonderful to reflect on the past year the past few weeks. I also began thinking about 2013 a while ago, so I really feel ready to start another year - I didn't need any big bash to affirm that.
I have several sources of inspiration for the New Year. At the beginning of December I had an exchange with a friend on Facebook who is starting a project to make 2013 extra amazing. She and her sister are calling it Counting By 12's (check out the website or their Facebook page!) Anyways after she told me their idea I was all hyped up and immediately started thinking of my own 12 things that I wanted to do every month in 2013. Seriously, I couldn't sleep that night (this is how my brain is... I really need an off switch!)
I made this poster within the week:
The coolest part was that December was kind of like a "warm-up" month. I probably did 6-8 of the things on my list this past month - so I feel like it's totally do-able and I'm so psyched about it!
Then I watched Danielle LaPorte's free video when she launched her Desire Map and that was AWESOME too. I recently read her book The Fire Starter Sessions and loved it (so much I think I'll buy a copy of it since I had checked it out from the library and had to eventually return it). She is so amazingly inspiring. Anyways, her idea of identifying how you want to FEEL resonates so strongly with me. I've never been much for goals, resolutions (or anything that feels like rules or obligation really) and this just feels so right. I didn't buy her product, but between reading her book and devouring all the stuff she has for free on her site I have a good grasp on the Desire map. At first it was hard for me to identify how I wanted to feel... so I started with how I DON'T want to feel then worked on the opposites. The first 3 came pretty easily - I want to feel Connected (to myself, my loved ones, to nature etc), ON FIRE (inspired, energized, passionate), Peaceful (kind of my thing... and it balances the fire out) but I struggled to pin down a fourth and final desired core feeling. So I googled some words (how did people get in touch with their feelings before the internet and google?!) and finally settled on Valuable. So here is my Desire Map:
On the outside I put other words and feelings I associate with my four core desired feelings (like "subfeelings" haha). Then inside in black I wrote concrete actions and things I can do to feel this way. (I like that I wrote PLAY twice... this was not intentional, but maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something! More play for 2013 it is then!)
I can't even begin to tell you how powerful this is. For one, my first identified feeling, "Connected" is so huge for me. I'm realizing that when I'm not feeling good it's because I'm not feeling connected - usually with my kids or husband. When I *am* feeling connected everything else flows. Once you know how you want to feel you begin to make positive, practical choices - it's amazing! If I'm not sure exactly what I want to do in a given moment I've begun to ask myself, "How do I want to feel?" Then I think of my core desired feelings and make my decision from there.
Finally, my beloved Tara Wager, akaThe Organic Sister, inspired me to choose the word "Embrace" last year. This year my word is "Listen". I can't tell you exactly how I got to this word. Only that it feels right. It feels like slowing down, and loving more, and dropping out of my busy mind and into my heart, and really being with my family. Oh yeah, and the other day the kids were watching a show and Marisol missed something and wanted me to clarify and since I was on the computer I didn't know what was said. She said, "You're never listening", and my inner voice said, "aha! I told you LISTEN is the right word for the next year." So Listen it is.
There is just SO much inspiration out that! I invite you to check out any of these three sources to see if they spark something for you. I love that they all overlap for me - if you look at the words on my posters they both include "LISTEN" and many other words and actions are the same on both posters.
I'm ready to dive in to 2013!
What are your intentions and desires for the upcoming year?
For those of you wondering, "who's that?!" Gerard Walker is Gerry's full name. As I did with Marisol's birth story last spring, I'm using my journal to write his birth story now - over 3 years after he was born! I'm sure glad I took the time after his birth to write some things down. I've also added a couple of "Hypnobabies notes" to give you my perspective now as an instructor.
Make sure you scroll ALL the way down to the end of this post, past all the cute pictures, to see what this week's give-away book is!
Here is some "stream of consciousness" about Gerry's birth - things I want to remember - in no particular order:
Thunder + lightning - here at home - more storms there (birth center) - a rainbow over the birth center (I didn't see it, but my parents got it on camera) - made me think that Gerry's birth was like the storm, and he was my rainbow at the end :)
The cable guy coming to our apartment that morning! I spent that hour or so in the shower while he did his thing... I remember Marisol poking her cute little 3 year old head into the room to reassure me, "he's almost done mama!"
Holly's (my doula) bike having a flat tire - she was still here within an hour and a half... Also I only knew Holly for less then 1 week before giving birth!
My water breaking in the tub - crazy feeling! Like something shooting out of me! And then it got CRAZY... I think he came out within 15 minutes or so after that. It was so intense.
Marisol in the room with Mike while I pushed Gerry out! Pushing him out on all fours - Gerry being passed to me through my legs and me getting to see him and proclaim, "It's a boy!"
More random thoughts:
"TIMING IS EVERYTHING"
I said this in the car on the way to the birth center... in between intense waves - in reference to Marisol sleeping - she had a solid 2 hour nap in the car - First Mike and she went to get my parents a parking pass, while Hollly was with me at home and she fell asleep. (Hypnobabies note: One of my anxieties/fears during the pregnancy was how Marisol would be taken care of during my birthing time. Two things were very helpful - the Visualization script - I imagined the time of day my birthing would start, how long it would last, who would be there, the help of my doula, and my parents arriving - it all happened almost exactly as I visualized! The second is the Fear Clearing track - it is an amazing way to let go of any worries and embrace whatever your birthing time brings.)
While they were gone Holly and I talked - I listened to the Hypnobabies a little - walked the hall with my phone tucked into my gym shorts waist band (My hypnosis tracks were on my phone)... I also lay on my side while Holly pushed/massaged my back. She did my upper legs a little too while I sat on the birth ball. I didn't use the birth ball nearly as much this time - I actually did lie down on my side a lot this time. Maybe because it was faster, maybe because of all my practice relaxing with Hypnobabies while I went to sleep.
While Holly and I worked together... this was when there was a storm... Holly mentioned that it made her think of good luck and I said I liked it too...
Holly thought we should call the midwives again to check in. I talked to Ebony... she said, "sounds like those contractions are kickin' your butt" or something like that (Hypnobabies Note: This is the kind of thing that we hope care providers avoid saying to mamas! The more your careprovider knows about hypnosis, expectations, the power of our minds etc. the better! Inform them so they know suggesting what a mother is experiencing is very powerful - so make sure to make those suggestions POSITIVE! But for the record, I LOVED Ebony and the other midwives, just noting this probably wasn't the best thing for me to hear at that moment!)
I replied something to the extent that, "nah, I'm tough..." I still wasn't sure if we should go in yet - it didn't seem like the waves were getting longer - they had been ~ 3 minutes apart for a while - but I still felt like I was "doing ok" through them.
This was key - Ebony asked if I felt any rectal pressure and I said no. She said if I was still working through them ok we could/should stay home a little longer/as long as possible.
I'm not sure how much longer it was, but it didn't seem like much longer... I told Holly I thought we should get the car packed up. I asked if they were closer or longer - and she didn't think so. I told her they felt different and she said I seemed more focused and they "sounded" different (I was feeling rectal pressure! I just decided not to tell Holly or Mike right then. I trusted my instincts, and as you will see it's a good thing we left when we did!)
I called Mike and he brought the car to the neighbor's driveway... He and Holly packed up and kept snoozin' Marisol company. Mike put Holly's bike on the car and we gathered some last minute things - we were prepared in every way except food, but grabbed some small snacks and O.J. that got us through until my parents arrived.
I knelt in the back next to Marisol - she stirred so I thought we should put a movie in. Mike wisely said she didn't need one. She proceeded to sleep the whole way to the birth center while I moaned through many waves next to her - not quietly I might add! Holly continued to massage my back as best as she could from the front seat - she was awesome (it was a packed car - we had a Prius then!)
I remember when we were almost there - on H st. - peeking out the window from my kneeling position. It was an interesting perspective - the world at an angle, the sidewalk and storefronts at eye-level and seeing lots of lights in the gray day. The images have stayed with me very clearly as part of my birthing time memories.
I shuffled into the birth center with the help of Holly, I think Mike carried Marisol. You could tell that people were happy and excited to see us... Ebony and Kandace took me to an exam room. Kandace was finishing her midwifery training and she did everything pretty much - she was great - calm and reassuring. She checked me and said she thought I was 7 cm, fully effaced (100%) and the baby was at zero station. I said something like "Thank the Lordy!" I was so happy.
I also mentioned that it doesn't necessarily "mean anything" because I was 7 cm when I arrived at the hospital with Marisol and still had hours before she came. Ebony said she didn't think so this time and I agreed. (Hypnobabies note: My two births demonstrate very well that WE DON'T GIVE BIRTH BY NUMBERS! In other words, the numbers/measurements never tell us exactly when baby will make their appearance. Also, I really did look forward to giving birth a second time because Marisol's birth was so beautiful and empowering. That being said, I did focus a lot on the affirmation that I deserved a fast, easy, comfortable birth - and it really was a lot faster the second time around! I'm sure there were many reasons for this - baby position and being my second-time too. But I know my relaxation and use of Hypnosis were also very helpful!)
Oh, also before they checked me I had a wave in the hall near the family room - I remember bending my legs a little - Ebony watched me closely and asked me after, "Are you pushing?" I answered with a definitive "No." but still hadn't mentioned the rectal pressure (I think it was more a subconscious thing at this point, I hadn't really recognized it consciously).
The time in the birth center went quickly - we were hardly there 45 minutes and Gerry was born (so I'm told!) They started a bath for me almost immediately... The bath took a while to fill up. Then it was too hot - so I sat by it naked for a few waves. Mike and Marisol were in the next room. I got in the tub and it did feel good at first. They even turned on the jets and Kandace and Ebony left.
Next thing I know my water broke during a wave - it was wild! And one of the most memorable moments. I heard it and it felt like a shot gun coming out of me... I was so surprised and told Holly right away and she went to tell Kandace and Ebony.
Within moments I was I was pushing and the midwives were there. "Can I stay in the tub? I'm pushing! Do you need to check me??" I think they laughed a little - No, if you're pushing it's ok! So I just realized, I only got "checked" one time!
Pushing Gerry out was fast and intense - completely opposite of my experience with Marisol. "Urge to push" does not even describe it - my body just took over. And the noises coming out of me - wow! I couldn't replicate it if I wanted to (although I try to in my Hypnobabies classes! haha) Marisol and Mike had to leave for a few minutes because it was too loud for her little 3 year old ears (I remember hearing her say, "it's too loud!") but they were back in the room to see Gerry make his grand entrance. I wanted to get out of the tub (I would have had him in the water if I wanted), so I made it to the bed and flopped on my side - pushed that way until the midwives suggested going on all fours - I also remember putting my hand down to feel Gerry's head.
Once on all fours I was pushing so hard they all were like, "whoa, slow down!" a couple of times and I was able to pant and slow down (afterwards they remarked how in control I was. It was a nice compliment, but I wouldn't say "in control" was exactly how I felt! I was just riding the birth super speed highway!) I could feel his head coming out but at one point asked, "What's going on?!" and Ebony was like, "you're delivering your baby!:
When he came out they passed him through my legs to me - "Take your baby!" - and I was the one who got to exclaim, "It's a boy!"
My parents arrived within an hour or so of Gerry being born which was good because we didn't have much to eat and I was STARVING. One of my favorite memories is eating a very soggy sub - they had left the sunroof on their van open during the storm (remember the rainbow?) Well, that was the best sandwich I ever had, rainwater and all!
We stayed at the birth center just about exactly four hours. Enough time for me to get cleaned up, for Gerry to get looked over, and to start nursing. We were in our own bed (ha! that's right, family of four - ONE bed!) that night by 9 pm.
The next day two midwives came to check up on Gerry and me at home. What a luxury!
And from there on out it was just us - settling into life as a family of four! Life is good.
There you have it! The birth of our little man, Gerry.
This week I'm giving away the book Journey Into Motherhood. It is an awesome book filled with inspirational stories of natural child birth. This was on our required reading list for becoming a Hypnobabies instructor, and is also on the recommended reading list that we give to our students. I highly recommend it to ALL expecting mamas (and papas!) whether you are planning a natural birth or not, because the stories are so beautiful and powerful. If you've never read or seen natural, empowered birth this can totally re-frame your perspective on birth. Changing your ideas and the images in your mind about birth is a huge first step towards having your *own* beautiful, empowered birth.
So please, leave a comment below if you'd like your name put in the drawing for my copy of this book! Also if you want to increase your odds - like my Facebook Page, share the link on Facebook, and share on your blog and I will put your name in 1 more time for each way you share (just make sure you let me know in the comment)! I will pick a winner in one week when I put my next give-away up!
I began the week with a heavy weight sitting in my chest. Like a dense, flat stone wrapped in achy despair, I could physically feel Depression getting comfortable inside of me, making breathing difficult, much less any other activity. You know the feeling - when you have zero motivation or desire to DO anything, and the voice in your head (the critic, censor, gremlin - whatever you call it) gets louder and harsher every minute - especially because you didn't *do* anything all day (more accurately, you feel like you didn't do anything even if you did a lot). "You are a terrible mother", "Every choice you've ever made is questionable..." and let's not forget, "What's your problem - your life is amazing and you have nothing to complain about!" and on and on and on...
What triggered this emotional despair? Why did I have this unwelcome guest living inside of me?
The house felt small, confining... and very messy. Of course I had my period (again?? really? didn't I just have it last month?!) - so maybe it was hormones? My parents visited the prior week - a very, very fun day, but also too, too short - was it the normal sadness I almost always feel after seeing them? Of course the house was a disaster. The weather was cool and gray, so maybe it was a seasonal thing. Or was it the less than supportive exchange between me and my husband the other night? The sadness I felt soon amplified by my own thoughts, even after he apologized. And - did I mention my house was (I mean is! it's kind of it's normal state) a MESS?!
But I decided it mattered little why I was feeling this way. And being no stranger to the feeling, I took matters in to my own hands the best I could. Monday night I was slouched low on the couch surrounded by chaos, toys littering the floor, and no dinner to be found when Mike got home from work (this is often the case when he gets home, it was only my *internal* environment that had changed). I could not think of one thing that I wanted to do even though I knew there were plenty of things I "should" do. I looked up at him and said, "I'm going on a jog." He didn't argue, only asked, "Can we come too?" And so we all went on a family jog/bike ride, bike trailer and sneakers ready to go in a few minutes.
I don't know why I was so inspired (as exercise is still not even a weekly habit yet, much less a daily one), only that I was thinking of the runner's high I've gotten before and how amazing that feels. And I thought afterwards I will be motivated to do other things. And it was just as I expected! After that short jog and some fresh air I returned home re-energized and ready to tackle the dishes in the sink.
Depression wasn't quite ready to give up so quickly though, and Tuesday morning the dull, heavy ache returned, as did the dark thoughts of how my life could be better if only this or that were true. (Oh and did I mention that my dear son stayed up till after 1 am the "night" before?) Again that evening we laced up our sneakers and temporarily I shook the big "D" off my trail. That night I reflected on the last time he wasn't so easily shaken and stayed for several months. I remembered how I finally got him to take a long hike - it was a good conversation with my husband. I made a mental "note-to-self".
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday brought beautiful fall weather, time with good friends, and a new, inspiring book. I'm feeling like I may have evicted Depression from his comfortable bed in my chest so I distilled my experience from this week into a list: 10 Things to Do When Depression Tries to Settle in For a Stay:
Take Care of Your Basic Needs:
1) Move! Exercise is always important, but never so much as when you are feeling down. The natural feel-good hormones released and rush of adrenaline you get are enough to expel bad feelings for at least a little while. Lethargy is "no more", and you often have enough pep afterwards to tackle a few other things you didn't even want to look at before. And even if you don't want to do "other things" you can feel good, because, hey - you exercised!
2) Rest - This is really important if you haven't had enough sleep. Make time to rest. Of course this does NOT mean lie around on the couch watching soaps or in bed under the covers all day. It means if you are drained to take care of yourself and not run yourself further into the ground.
3) Eat well - take the time to prepare healthy foods for yourself even when you don't feel like it. The act of cooking alone helped make me feel more accomplished this week.
Beyond the Basics
4) Don't think - This is especially true if you are tired - and often sleep evades us when we are depressed. Tired thinking is NEVER helpful (and I NEVER use the word NEVER!) Our thoughts often become cyclical and more negative with time when we are down so we spiral farther and farther down into sadness. Best to just recognize we are tired, sad, or whatever else and that now is NOT THE TIME TO BE THINKING!
5) Breathe, Meditate and Mantras - this is especially helpful if you are having a difficult time with numbers 2 or 4. Deep breathing is very relaxing for our whole selves. Meditating is a powerful way to rest your mind, body, and spirit and get to a calmer, lighter place. Another way to evade those negative self-defeating thoughts is to have a few handy mantras to repeat with your inhale and exhale - "Breathe in Peace, Breathe out Love", "Rest my mind, calm my heart", and "Be here, Be now" are a few of my current favorites. And of course don't forget Affirmations! If you're having a hard time stopping the flow of thoughts at least you can redirect your mind with some kind, loving thoughts towards yourself.
6) Vent - Let those closest to you know how you are feeling. Get the feelings OUT of you. Of course you don't want to constantly be talking about your woes either, but it doesn't do you good to bottle them up. Find a couple (or in my case a few more than that!) of trusted loved ones who you know will listen and honor you.
7) Connect - similar to number 6 yet different. If you're a parent with young kids - plan a play date with friends that you all love and feel comfortable with. Call your mom or best friend. We are SOCIAL beings and being alone with dark thoughts and feelings only exacerbates loneliness. Of course when we are feeling depressed it is often the hardest time to reach out - and this is why it is imperative that we do.
8) Get out! Get outside or at least out of your house. If the weather is nice go for a walk. If you have kids get to the playground. Fresh air and a change in scene is so crucial to the health of our spirit.
9) Listen to music - For someone who was pretty heavily involved in music in the past I've really gotten away from it since having children. But this past year I've begun to have music be more a part of my daily life again and it is such a powerful mood-booster. I love me some Pandora!
10) Plan a party! I'm not kidding. Tuesday Marisol started planning a party, and all I could think was, "Really?! I do NOT want to plan a party right now." But by Wednesday I had embraced the idea and we are in full on preparations now. There is literally no time for me to wallow because I have to get ready! If not a party, plan something in the near future that you have to work on.
Usually when we are feeling sad, lonely, or depressed we don't "feel" like doing many or any of these things. Sometimes we just have to make ourselves pick one and just go for it. I know for me it made a huge difference to try all of these things this week.
What things do you do to turn things around when you are feeling blue?
"peace" I whisper. Peace, I smile. I breathe PEACE in when I feel myself losing my balance.
I look around me. People hurting - parents, children, adults and teens - and I say a little more loudly, "Peace!"
Be kind to each other AND yourself.
Respect others AND yourself.
Love others AND yourself.
Forgive others AND yourself.
Know others AND yourself.
PEACE. I proclaim it loud.
If what you're doing or saying hurts someone else, if it creates separation between you, or if it causes you to harden your heart - then it's not the way.
Others don't want to hear it. And I'm confused. How is kindness controversial? Why is love radical? When did respect become something to be earned?
My own internal peace begins to falter. So I breathe. Breathe in peace... Breathe out love.
I remember my own ROAR.
We are all one... we all desire the same basic things, we are just on different paths.
Breathe in... Peace. The fierce, menacing ROAR of the "Peace Nazi" settles down to a gentle, content purr.
It is ok to disagree. It. Is. Ok.
I don't have to be right for everyone.
I am right for me.
And with that Peace, I can spread more to the world.
This post was inspired by the Wild Sister website and the September issue of the Wild Sister e-magazine. It was so worth the money - filled with amazing women, their inspiring messages, and how they are each changing the world for the better in their own way. Check it out!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.