Thursday, January 31, 2013

On Your Way

Note: This letter was written early in labor, around 2 am on January 23rd. I never imagined it would be two more days before I finally met my beautiful son! His complete birth story can be found here: The Home Birth Cesarean of Canon Patrick 

Dear Canon,

Your birthing time has come! You are on your way. My water broke about five and a half hours ago, shortly after your big sister went to sleep, and it was entirely surreal. Your father called the midwife, and she reminded of us of some precautions to take since my water had broken, and told us to eat something and go to bed. A couple hours later, we made it to bed, but I couldn't sleep. Contractions started shortly after I laid down, naturally, and though they are still sporadic, they are definitely real, and they are definitely more challenging to manage laying down.

While the rest of the house is sleeping, it's just you and me. Just you in me, in these last moments where we are alone as one. In a matter of hours, your father will be awake (sooner if I need him), the midwives will be here, your sister will be awaking and off to Grandma's house until your arrival, and together, we will complete your journey into this world.

I'm excited to see how it will all unfold. Will your birthday be today, January 23rd, or will you hold out for the 24th? I'll know soon enough. As I sit here in this chair, pausing to sway through pressure waves, as Hypnobabies would have me call them (3 since I started writing), I can almost see your face in my mind.

While we have the support your father and our midwives, it is ultimately up to us, to you and me, to guide you into this world smoothly and gently. Let's work together to make your birth as peaceful as possible, for both of us.

I can't wait to meet you, my dear sweet son.



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Labor

About 2 hours after my water broke
My water broke at 8:11 pm on Tuesday, January 22nd. Canon was ultimately born by Cesarean at 6:28 a.m. on Friday, January 25th after hospital transfer. I hope to write his complete birth story this weekend, but in the mean time, here are some photos taken by one of my midwives during labor!

Many, many contractions looked like this.

My husband was an incredible support through
a very long labor and eventual hospital transfer

One of my midwives providing back labor relief

Laboring in the water

Last photo of Canon on the inside!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Birth Art

When I read (and re-read) Birthing From Within, I was fascinated by the examples of birth art decorating the pages, but not enough to be inspired to create my own birth art. I am decidedly not an artist, and figured it would be an exercise in frustration more than a meaningful preparation for birth. The other day, this Sacred Passage Coloring Packet crossed my radar, and it inspired me to go ahead and give birth art a try.

They certainly aren't masterpieces, but Delilah declared them "byooful" and demanded they both be displayed on the fridge. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Considerably Pregnant

The other day, upon waking, my husband was looking at my admiring my very round and robust shape and said with a smile "You are considerably pregnant."

38 Weeks
Indeed, I am! And in my state of considerable pregnant-ness, I am actively preparing for my upcoming birth in a number of ways!

The Birth Blessing Flags from my Mama Blessing
adorn the window in the "Labor/Postpartum Suite" :)

The Birth Blessing Flags from my fellow Natural Parents Network Volunteers
adorn my front window, where I will be able to see them from the birth pool!

Dilation Visualization
One of my friends brought these tulips to my Mama Blessing. I am using them for visualization and imagining that my body is gradually opening for birth as the flowers open!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Simple Life: A Work in Progress

Welcome to the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Continue your reading read on at the bottom of this post by clicking the links to the other participants' posts.

When I ponder what "Simple Living" means to me, it's easy to come up with a list of ways in which I fail at truly embracing a simple life. When I think of the word "simple" the primary meaning that comes to mind is "without complication," and man, is life ever and always complicated!

I have a vision of my ideal simple life, and a lot of doubt that I'll ever fully realize that vision. It includes things like plenty of space for chickens to roam free and provide our eggs, a huge garden and fruit trees to provide all of our produce, a space devoted to canning and food preservation, goats to provide milk for making cheese and soap, plenty of time to sew our own clothing, to bake every loaf of bread from scratch, and to fully engage and teach my children.

Hey, I dream big, okay?

Back here on earth, I have a career that I value and that I'm not looking to give up. I have a house on modest lot in the city. I need permission from my neighbors (who I can often wave to in their kitchen when I am in mine) to have a few chickens. I have a small garden and a fear of canning. So while I'm a long way off from my idealized "simple life," I recognize the steps I've already taken, and those that I can continue to take, to make simplifying a journey rather than a destination.

First, I strive to maintain mindfulness with the values I embrace, many of which have led me to live more simply. In particular, my commitment to conservation and environmental responsibility have resulted in numerous changes that make life more simple, from breast feeding, to composting, to working to eliminate paper products from our daily life.

Second, I have made an effort to focus my time on energy on people and commitments that bring joy and passion to my life. I have learned to say "no" to avoid spreading myself too thin and to ensure that I have more time for the things in life that are most important to me.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, I have begun to truly build my "village," and have learned to reach out and ask for help when I need it. Seeking out and embracing like-minded friends and growing my relationships with my family has been invaluable in living more simply. I have friends I can count on to lend me a sewing machine, family I can count on to babysit (for free!) on short notice, friends who will trade me their canning knowledge for some baked goods, and so on.

Every year, I get a little bit closer to living as simply as I'd like to. There are setbacks and obstacles that pop up unexpectedly, but overall, I think I'm headed in the right direction!
Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Continue your reading by clicking the links of this month's posts on what simple living means to our participants. We hope you will join us next month, as we discuss new beginnings!

  • The Moments In Between - Amber from Heart Wanderings takes her yoga practice off the mat to focus on the ordinary moments which make mothering magical.
  • Simple living - what it looks like to me - Does simple living mean we have to be selfish? And what does selfish mean anyway? Mrs Green from Little Green Blog ponders in search of a more simple life...
  • A Simple Life is a Peaceful Life, For Me - Destany at They Are All of Me writes how simplicity is a very necessary part of her daily function and crucial for coping with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.
  • Getting Back to the Basics - Minimalism was the first step toward living simply for Momma Jorje. Now she's got big plans on getting back to the basics of living in order to live a simple, healthy, family-focused lifestyle.
  • Simplicity - What living simply means to sustainablemum and how it is woven into the fabric of daily life.
  • Simply Living - Sophelia of Sophelia's Adventures in Japan writes about her reluctance to tighten her budget after years of living in poverty, but also her anticipation of the pleasures of simplifying her daily life as she and her husband prepare to adopt a child in Japan. 
  • The Simple Life: A Work in Progress - Joella at Fine and Fair ponders her idealized vision of simple living and discusses the steps she's taking to get closer to it. 
  • Simple Living is Simply Living - At Living Peacefully with Children, Bart and Mandy hope to help their children focus on what is truly important by simply living.
  • Happiness, not Greatness - Lauren at Hobo Mama discovered that ambitions got in the way of simply being.
  • Shifting to Simplicity - At Authentic Parenting, Laura shares a couple of ways in which she tries to simplify her life.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mama Blessing: A Celebration of Birth and Motherhood

My belly full of henna, a collaborative effort!
When I was pregnant with Delilah, my sister and mother threw me a beautiful baby shower. People came from near and far to shower my baby with love. There were lovely decorations, tons of food, silly games, and oodles and oodles of very generous gifts. The generosity my little family was shown that day was such that when we found out we were expecting again, there was very little in the way of "stuff" that we needed! (Especially after several friends with sons passed along many bags, boxes, and bins full of hand-me-downs!)

While I didn't want or need a "shower" this time around, I still longed for a celebration of some sort. Preparing for a HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean), I also longed to surround myself with positive, supportive energy, both for my upcoming birth, and for my transition to a mother of two.

Enter the Mama Blessing (also known as Mother Blessing, Birth Blessing, Belly Blessing, or Blessingway).

A Mama Blessing is a celebration based loosely on the Navajo Blessingway, a ritual used to mark various rites of passage, including the transition to motherhood. While unlike the traditional Navajo Blessingway, a modern Mama Blessing celebration will not take days to complete, the spirit of the ritual remains the same:

“The essence of this sacred ceremony is to promote spiritual, psychological, physical, and emotional harmony.Quote Source

A friend prepares henna while
my mama pampers me with a pedi!

While a Baby Shower is focused on celebrating the new baby, a Mama Blessing is focused on celebrating and supporting the mother as she prepares for her birth and her transition to motherhood. This was a time for my community of women to bond together in a circle of support for me and the journey I am embarking on, not only in giving birth to my son, but in my transition to a mother of two.

My daughter, sister, and mother making flags
While I was insistent that no one bring gifts, no one came empty-handed. My mother and sister brought most of the food and beverages and helped me get everything set up. Several other friends brought treats to share. My sister brought some meals for my freezer. One friend brought flowers. Another brought henna. Yet another brought some art supplies.

When everyone was settled, comfortable, and had something to eat or drink, I welcomed everyone. I wanted them to know that their presence there was very intentional on my part, that they were invited because I shared a special bond with them, and because I trusted them to bring only positive wishes and supportive thoughts for my birth. Each woman introduced herself to the group and shared how they had met me.

After introductions, everyone filled out Wishes for Baby cards and then read them out loud. Once we were all feeling nice and sentimental, my mom set to work pampering my tired feet with a pedicure while a friend prepared henna, and several other guests set to work creating blessing flags to hang in my birth space.  

Receiving positive wishes
during the string ceremony
We did a string ceremony, in which a string was wound around each woman's left wrist by the woman to her left. As each was tied into the circle, she shared a positive wish or words of support for me. When the circle was complete, we cut the strings between us and each tied our strings onto our wrists as a bracelet. This ritual is symbolic of the connection that all women share and will help keep each woman tuned into me as I lead up to birth and reminds them to send me positive, loving energy until the baby is born. Once each guest has gotten news that I have gone into labor or have given birth, she will cut the string to release the supportive energy and can light a candle, say a prayer, or perform another brief ritual of support.

When Delilah and her daddy got home from their play date, about half the guests  were still there working on blessing flags and decorating my belly with henna. They jumped right into the festivities, with Delilah creating blessing flags, and my husband enthusiastic to write on my belly with henna. 

Daddy gets in on the belly henna

As my Mama blessing drew to a close, I truly felt blessed, honored, supported, and celebrated. I am fortunate to have such a loving and open- minded circle of women surrounding me, several of whom were stepping a bit out of their comfort zone to participate in this celebration. I will carry their love and support with me until I give birth and beyond.

For more ideas for Mama Blessing celebrations, check out this post from Code Name: Mama - 30 Ideas for Mother Blessings

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Giveaway: I Love Me! (3 copies) & Pen From Nourishing Souls - $25 ARV {2.2; Worldwide}

This is a joint giveaway with Fine and Fair and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked "Win it!" for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.
Nourishing Souls is offering our readers a giveaway of 3 copies of the children's book I Love Me! and a pen, a value of $25.

  I Love Me! is a children’s book of affirmations to strengthen, nourish, and build self confidence in children of all ages.  

From our reviewer, Joella at Fine and Fair: I Love Me book I Love Me! by Summer Joy of Nourishing Souls is a children’s book inspired by the author’s realization that the power of affirmations can be transformative for children. Summer Joy set out to create a book filled with simple but powerful phrases to help children build confidence in themselves. The author’s passion for holistic health and nutrition extend beyond her debut book; she also offers Health Coaching Services to help others achieve and maintain healthy lifestyle balance.

 The first thing that struck me about I Love Me! is its simplicity. While brief in length, its 10 pages pack a lot of power! On each page, one short but meaningful phrase provides a positive affirmation and includes messages of love, safety, health, confidence, creativity, and peace. Rather than distracting illustrations that might detract from the focus on affirmations, each page is decorated with colorful handprints, painted by the author’s children, images that all children can relate to! The final page, with the affirmation “I Love Me!” leaves space for your child to draw or paint his or her own handprint, allowing them to personalize the book and truly make it their own.

I Love Me book

As someone who uses positive affirmations both for my own personal wellbeing and with the clients I counsel, I love that this book provides an early introduction to the practice of positive affirmations. The short, simple phrases are easy for young children to repeat and memorize. On the first reading, my three year old enthusiastically repeated each phrase when I paused after reading it. When we finished the book, she sighed happily, turned to me and said “That’s a nice book, Mama!” She regularly pulls the book out and requests to read it, and I am starting to hear her say the affirmations to herself as she goes about her day. There’s nothing quite like hearing your preschooler state matter-of-factly “I am Healthy!” or “I am Strong!”

While the short length of the book makes it easy for young children to stay interested, my only complaint about this book is that is isn’t just a little bit longer. It’s a very quick read, and including just a few more simple affirmations would have been perfect. The book is of high quality and is professionally printed, making it an excellent value for the price. I plan to purchase a supply of copies to have on hand to give as gifts to all of the children in my life, from babies through school age!  


You can purchase your own copy of I Love Me! at Nourishing Souls for $7.95 plus applicable shipping charges. And just for Natural Parents Network and Fine and Fair readers, Nourishing Souls is giving a 20% discount on all orders from now through the duration of the giveaway. Order using this special link to receive this discount. Nourishing Souls also offers Health Coaching services to bring physical health, diet, spirituality, relationships, and lifestyle into balance. The first session is free and includes an initial health history!  


For your own chance to win 3 copies of I Love Me! from Nourishing Souls, and a pen, enter by leaving a comment and using our Rafflecopter system below. The winner will receive three copies of the I Love Me! children’s book, and a pen. Contest is open Worldwide.  

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit Nourishing Souls and tell us one thing you have learned about the company! You must enter your name and email address in the Rafflecopter entry system for your entry to count, after leaving a comment on this blog post.
Leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses in Rafflecopter are not made publicly visible. Please leave the same valid email address in your mandatory comment so we can verify entries. This is a joint giveaway with Fine and Fair and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only, and we'll be recording IP addresses to ensure that there are no duplicate entries. That said, please do visit and enjoy both sites!   BONUS ENTRIES: See the Rafflecopter entry system for bonus entries to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry. All bonus entries are entered directly into Rafflecopter. Give it a try, and email or leave a comment if you have any questions!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Belly Cast-Before

Last night, we made Canon's belly cast!

Don't hold your breath for the "After" shots, it took nearly a year to finish Delilah's cast! You can read the story behind the creation of her cast and see the finished cast here: The Tale of a Token of Pregnancy

Both casts were created using the ProudBody Belly Cast Kit, which I highly recommend! :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Simply Living Blog Carnival: January Call for Submissions

Welcome to the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. We hope that you will join us on the third Tuesday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the second Tuesday of each month.

Simple Living means different things to each person and each family. What we all have in common is that we are all trying to concentrate on what is important to us while eliminating those things which clutter our lives and take away from living. This January, we want to know how you, personally, define simple living for yourself and what that looks like in your life.

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at} livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com and delilahfineandfair{at}gmail{dot}com, and fill out the webform by January 8. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on January 15.

We want you to use creativity and to express yourself as you see fit. To that end, you are welcome to post at your discretion with a few guidelines in mind. Please be respectful in your posts. Avoid excessive profanity and poor grammar or spelling. As the co-hosts of the carnival are all advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Simply Living through Simple Living! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways we simplify our lives.

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