What’s Your Unicorn?

Why am I writing about unicorns? I think the correct question is why would I not write about unicorns. 😉 However, I’m not going to write about actual unicorns. I’ve been reading fashion blogs lately with the intent of both streamlining my “look” (read: not look so frumpy in clothes that are bigger than I want to be wearing) as well as my closet. If you haven’t heard of the capsule wardrobe movement or project 333 but you’re craving some simplicity I urge you to look into these ideas further! Finding a unicorn is fashion lingo for when you’ve found an item of clothing that feels and looks so good on you that it seems too good to be true. A true rarity- a precious gem…like a unicorn. Mine is my 6 year old Gap chambray shirt. I smile just thinking about it. Well I happen to think that we also have a unicorn in mothering.

I remember when my daughter was right around 9 months old and the weather officially turned wintry here in the Pacific Northwest. Gone were the evenings of long walks to kill the dead space between the afternoon nap and dinnertime…aka daddy getting home. I was working at the time but only 4 days a week so I spent a good number of those days with her at home all day. And if you’ve ever had a willful, teething 9 month old you know that those days are loooooong. I had a couple of go-to solutions that I’m not necessarily proud of but they worked. One of them was popping her in her high chair with cheerios facing the tv and turning on a Baby Einstein DVD. That always bought me an hour to cook dinner. One. Whole. Hour. For that brief season (because though they feel long they really are all so fleeting) the high chair and Baby Einstein DVDs were my unicorn.

I have had a few unicorns in my parenting career. The Ergobaby carrier. I’ll cry when it’s finally time to part with it. So many memories of both of my babies…sigh. The BOB Revolution jogging stroller. I was just telling my daughter tonight about the handful of months when every Friday morning I would go on an hour long walk so she could nap in that stroller. Well this afternoon I welcomed what I hope and pray will be this season’s unicorn…a double jogging stroller. I feel like angels should be singing and trumpets playing! This stroller is monumental for me. My husband travels a lot and I love to run. It’s been on my wishlist since my little mister was born and today I got the go-ahead to get it! I didn’t think I would need a double stroller with my kiddos being 4 years apart but my daughter is right at that age where she doesn’t need to be in a stroller for short walks but trips to the zoo are a bit much. And when it comes to runs and walks she’s not proficient enough on her bike to ride alongside while I run. So double jogger it is and I could not be more thrilled to know that I have the freedom to just head out the door whenever I want…within reason of course. 😉  This particular symbol of sanity also signifies something else. It’s a double. I have two little people that fill my heart up to near bursting. Two when for a short time I thought there might only be one. And please don’t hear me wrong in this. More kids does not necessarily mean more love, and having one child does not mean that you have “less”. I just know that my heart didn’t feel complete until the birth of my son. After we had our daughter, my husband and I knew that we wanted her to have a sibling. And tonight she climbed into her seat in the stroller and I sat my son next to her. And my heart. It ached with goodness. If that is the only time they are happy sitting side by side in that silly stroller and I never even get the awesome runs that I am currently dreaming about, it will be alright. Just to see them sitting there, side by side my two blonde babies that are mirror images of their daddy was worth every penny.

So I’ll ask it again: what is your unicorn? Do you toss your kids in the bath to ride out the witching hour? Do you pack them in to the car and drive with the windows down? Whatever it is, run it to the ground. Do it. Every day if you need to. Because those are the things that memories are made of. In our house growing up we went to the farm. A lot. We went to Chuck E Cheese’s. A lot. We went and got a box full of doughnut holes….a lot. And I don’t ever remembering those things getting “old” or “boring”. Unicorns are magic. I guarantee yours is too. Because that is what we are mamas…magic.

Identity Crisis

Like most things in life, there is a rhetoric for introductions. Names are exchanged, hands shaken, and then usually there is a repetition of names for those of us that need to say a name out loud for it to be committed to memory.  And then the question usually gets asked, “what do you do”. What do you do? This is a uniquely North American way to get to know someone.  I didn’t give it a thought until I started staying home with our daughter when she was 18 months old. And then I became highly aware of that question. See, we assume that living in North America means that we have manifested our deepest desires so that the “thing” we wanted to be when we grew up became reality. We think that by asking someone what they do, we will get a full and complete picture of who they are and what they love.  And that is simply not the case. Because if I tell you that I am a stay at home mother who sometimes gets to lead people in spiritual direction, all you can determine from that is that I love my kids and I love talking with people about their connection to God. What you don’t find out from that question is that I have a bleeding heart for animals and orphans, adore thrifting, write poetry, sing, research every little thing to a fault, and that I am a sucker for a good hike in the trees. In fact, as I am still getting comfortable as me in this new skin that became mine when I became a mother, you might not even discover those things about me if we have had multiple conversations. Because all of us, every one of us, has fallen into the mindset that what we do defines who we are.

Today I woke up at 7am with my son attached to my breast. He is my happy co-sleeper so I am his happy co-sleeping mother. 😉 Whatever gives me the most sleep. I dozen in and out while he squealed happily and cooed and played with my hands and face until 7:45 when my daughter waltzed in requesting breakfast. I figured out breakfast for the two of us ladies while the babe teethed in his highchair. Breakfast was followed by a nap for Baby Bro and laundry for me, followed by a dance party for all of us which actually just consisted of Big Sister dancing and me recording a video. We somehow made it to the pool for lunch and swimming and then came home for naps, dinner prep, kitchen tidying, more laundry and a quick shower.  My husband came home from work and quickly mowed the lawn before dinner. And then. THEN…I got to go to the gym! I go one evening a week and it’s bliss. So in a full, long day filled with activities and happenings, there was one hour that represented me and my heart.  And do you want to know something crazy? I don’t feel like I have lost myself. I don’t. But I used to. I remember one night crying to my husband before going to a dinner for one of his golf events that I felt boring and completely inadequate to carry on a conversation with people who traveled and played golf and had jobs outside of their homes. At that time I was so consumed in my high needs 1-year old that I couldn’t have even pretended to discuss a political current event, a recent film, or an important designer. I was fully immersed in the world of cloth diapers, attachment parenting theory, organic baby food and babywearing. But time has a way of softening things and slowly, since that night, God has been showing me that the enigma that is each one of us does not exist simply in actions. Because today as I did the work of homemaking and mothering I was contemplating the ways that my deep and true self still lives in this season of sacrifice. While I nursed my son I dreamed about getting a double jogging stroller so I can get out the door and run whenever I need to. While I recorded my daughter rocking out to oldies I told her the names of the dance moves she was performing and remembered what it felt like the last time my own body created those same moves. And perhaps that is the greatest gift- being able to share my passions with the people I am most passionate about.

I think practically, that is what I am learning. I am discovering how to share who I am with my kids. Don’t think for a second that they don’t care. They do. My daughter can tell you my top three favorite colors without skipping a beat, can pick out clothes in the store that I would like to wear and knows when a song comes on the radio if it’s one that I love.  She knows my favorite flowers and animals. And when I see her reaction to a beautiful poem and how she feels when an animal is hurt or neglected…I see myself. My mom has probably felt like all of us have, that she lost a part of herself when she became a mother. But by the time I was 8-years old I lost count of how many times I heard the words, “you are so much like your mother”. Had she simply been a shell of a woman there would have been nothing to pass on. Mamas, we do not lose ourselves to motherhood. Even if you haven’t taken a shower in three days, read a single word of something you care about, or had one moment to yourself since your babies were born, you exist. You exist in the way you carry your body and all that it has known and accomplished. The experiences that made you the woman you are boast forth in the way you sing lullabies to your baby and tell stories to your preschooler. The way you kiss away boo-boos and laugh at silliness. If you’re a mom who is prone to story hour at the library or frozen yogurt and the park. Those things, those motherhood nuances are you. Still you and always you. And someday you will get to walk up and down rows of a tiny used bookstore for hours, peeking curiously at covers and breathing in the musty scent of 40-year old leather bindings. Someday you will grab your yoga mat and head to a 90-minute class that makes you drip sweat and feel completely at peace. Someday I will wake up, lace up my running shoes and head out the door to hit pavement for 45 minutes without having to push an extra 45 pounds in the jogging stroller. That day will probably not be tomorrow. But in the meantime I can keep telling my children about the things I love. I can take them hiking even if my daughter starts to whine about half a mile in and by powering through I can teach her about her own strength and resilience. What can you do to let You shine through? Read them books you loved as a child. Play your favorite songs in your home. Have a movie night with your favorite childhood movie. Show them who their mommy is besides the woman who plays with them, makes sure their clothes are clean and makes them take three more bites of green beans. And on the really hard days, finish it by drinking a big old glass of your favorite wine.

Cheers, my dears.

Letting Dad “Dad”

A quick thought from my heart in honor of Father’s Day. 🙂

There are a few things that have softened my heart since becoming a mother of two, but this one doesn’t have anything to do with my son or his birth. This is just a piece of wisdom that I picked up right after he was born from a fellow mother’s Instagram post…and it hit me hard in the best way possible. I am learning to let my husband “Dad” while I “Mom”.

Practically speaking, this means that I have stopped expecting the house to be picked up if I come home from my husband being alone with the kids. They will both be happy, cared for and nourished but the house in the process will have probably gotten torn apart. This used to drive me crazy and simply put, it doesn’t anymore. This also means that dressed means dressed, not necessarily “outfitted” when it comes most specifically to our 4-year old daughter. Pajamas with a skirt might be completely acceptable. 😉 And on weekends if he has any say so, we will not be cramming our day full of errands or gatherings in order to please someone outside of our immediate family or check off something on the to-do list. Period. Our kiddos needs come first in my husband’s eyes, and he values their needs for space and down time very highly.

Emotionally speaking, what this creates in our family is balance. Ahhh, that word just makes me breathe more easily. And if you know me, you know that I am a people-pleasing perfectionist in recovery. When my husband gets home from work I expect the house to be relatively clean because that is a standard I set for myself. I expect that when we leave the house that our daughter will be in clothes that “kinda” match with her hair brushed because that’s a standard that I’ve set for myself. (Are you noticing a trend?) My husband doesn’t “father” the way I “mother”. When he’s solo with our kids he focuses his attention more directly on them instead of multitasking. And he would rather not try to cram too much into a weekend and overstimulate our already sensitive daughter where as I might be more prone to let that boundary slide.

Simply put, our kids need us both to parent through our instincts and gifts in order to receive a greater kind of love and in order to learn more about life than they would if one of us made all of the parenting rules. If we always had lazy weekends then they might not learn the lesson of sacrificing personal time for others. And if they grew up in a house that always had to be clean then they might not learn to give themselves grace.

What would it look like to let Dad “Dad” a little more in your house? Personally, it has given me more grace for my husband and much healthier expectations. It has also given me eyes to see his strengths more clearly than I did before.

I hope your Father’s Day was light, joyous, and meaningful. 🙂

Becoming Mom

One of the more incredible and mysterious things about becoming a mother is when exactly it happens. When is it official? There is no formal ceremony that initiates you into the club complete with a donning of cap and gown. There are ceremonies to be had, sure, and most of our births will include some sort of sheer, drafty hospital gown, but I don’t think the becoming of a mother happens with a turn of the tassel. It seems to me that it’s a process that starts with peeing on a stick, or perhaps getting the call that stops your heart with so much joy that it takes a beat to catch up, “you’re getting a baby. You’ve been chosen”. I think that the second we know that a chosen soul is to be ours that miraculous shift takes place. Any woman with a child in Heaven knows that motherhood doesn’t only start with birth- it happens before that. It happens with hesitancy and doubt at first. Am I truly pregnant? Am I really getting a baby? For some it is a shock. For others, years prayed for. Tears will be shed, both in fear and in joy. And slowly that realization starts to settle over our forever changed hearts. I am going to be a mother. I am a mother.

That is when the ceremonies begin. The baby showers, the purchasing of baby furniture and car seats. We start reading everything we can get our hands on (at least I did!) about pregnancy, birth, raising an infant, breastfeeding, attachment with adoption, making your own baby food, and how to get a baby to sleep. We form opinions about diapering, feeding, parenting, sleep, how long to rear-face in the car seat, pacifiers, day care, and babywearing. And somewhere in this process we fall head-over-heels in love with the precious baby that is ours, whether we are carrying that baby in our bellies or in the womb of another. The mom jeans have been donned as bellies grow and the anticipated day draws nearer.

And yet…and yet I think most of us will also argue that something indeed does change the second that chosen soul is earthside. Birth is twofold, in that when a baby is born, so is a mother. The entrance of a baby into the world is the culmination of what was begun 40-some weeks prior, but I think the distinction is that for the first time the two people of baby and mother are truly separate. Forever joined, but still separate. And THIS, this separateness is what I think is the most defining and challenging things about becoming a mother. Birth is a gain and a loss. It is the birth of a unique individual, crafted by the hands of an awesome Creator to fulfill a beautiful purpose in life. The gain is that as mothers we get to witness that life and steward it with gracious, patient love. The loss is that we don’t get to control it. There is so much that we get to decide for our children. All that research we do about purees verses solids and cloth diapers verses disposables is important, but it cajoles us into a sense of control that we relinquish with birth. The sudden realization is jolting. We don’t have ultimate control. We never did. The precious life that we carried in our bodies and hearts for 9, some of us 10 months is not just ours to carry any longer. It is achingly beautiful to touch our infant’s gorgeous little nose and kiss that bow mouth in the way that we have dreamed of for so long. And at the same time we acknowledge that the courtship and the anticipation have ended. It’s risky to love something so fiercely.

What we do with that tension defines how we mother. It is the knowledge of that give and take that fuels our patience and our stamina when the days and nights seem unbearable. It is the powerful understanding that our baby is a gift that at one time we did not have that becomes our center in the midst of tantrums and night terrors. And when we push the feathery hair off the foreheads of children that have lost that baby softness to sinewy muscles and long legs, it is the quiet recollection to a day long ago that anchors us. I chose motherhood. I chose this child and this child chose me.

I didn’t become a mother at 5:34am when I saw the faintest red “+” on a plastic stick. I didn’t become a mother when the last pull of the surgeon’s hand wrenched her pink roundness from my belly and announced, “it’s a girl”. I became a mother the first time I said yes. Yes to sacrifice and love and the greatest vulnerability I have ever known. Yes to fear and joy and to living with my soul forever changed because it has been uniquely tied to two others in a way that nothing could ever compare to. Today, tomorrow, and every day that I get the privilege of being called “Mom”. Yes.

How Mama Got Her Groove Back and Became a Runner

When my daughter was 2 years old I was sick of being in a funk. I was about 20 pounds heavier than I wanted to be and nothing in my life felt like mine. I had recently become a full time mom after leaving my job as a children’s pastor and though I loved it and in some ways felt more freedom than I ever had (until then I had worked at least part time since I was 16) I also felt stifled. It’s really easy to feel trapped as a stay at home mom, whether you live in an apartment or a big old farmhouse with land! So I registered for a 5k running race. It wouldn’t be my first but it would be my first since becoming a mom. I was excited and glad to have something to train for and look forward to. I had no idea what it would become.

Something turned off in my brain after giving birth to my daughter. I had always been pretty driven, and at the very least busy. There had never been a season in my life where I was just doing one thing. When I was in high school I was also working and also volunteering and also in extra-curricular activities. Ditto with college. When Joel and I got married I was working and going to grad school and volunteering…yadda yadda yadda. Postpartum depression took away my ability to be a people-pleaser, which might have been a tremendous gift in the long run but that’s a topic for another day. It also took away my ability to fill my plate to overflowing. I pared. it. down. I had to. The anxiety of too many people depending on me was overwhelming, let alone the life of a tiny infant. So I had my family and I had my job, and that was good. And then I even said goodbye to my job, and that was good too. And then one day I realized that I was really starting to heal and could probably add something to my life again without insomnia and panic attacks. I am so glad that something was running.

It was this time two years ago that I ran that 5k. Helvetia. A lot of my friends were there too, running the 10k or the half marathon, and that’s when I felt it. That resurgence of the competitive me. The one whose inner voice says “I can do that, too” and actually goes for it. That me had been dormant for quite some time and I knew I NEEDED to grab hold before the fear sneaked back in. I went home from that race and registered for an August 10k and a last week of September half marathon. Now I don’t know if you’re a perfectionist like me, but if you are then you know that signing yourself up for a race means YOU HAVE TO TRAIN because YOU WILL NOT FAIL! 😉 I joke, but I’m actually serious. One of my biggest fears (character flaw alert) is looking dumb, so I knew that if I signed up for a race that I would be expecting myself to A) run the whole thing B) look and feel like a runner doing it C) enjoy the damn thing and D) not finish last. Were those reasonable expectations? Maybe a tad lofty but those were my goals nonetheless and they shaped the next 4 months in a big big way.

I planned out a training plan for the 10k and from there a second training plan for the half marathon. Training for the half marathon actually required my mileage to be greater than 6.5 miles by the date of my August race so I ran my first 10k under my training time by 4 minutes, didn’t slow on the uphills, and literally smiled the whole time. On the first day of my period. Heck-freaking-yes! And that was it. That high, that feeling of success and accomplishment was pivotal for my healing. Because I was broken after my daughter’s birth. Broken and sad and jealous and shamed. I felt disconnected from my body and was angry that it had failed me. Finishing that race strong in the same body that had undergone major surgery to deliver my daughter 2 years prior was the first step in physical redemption. And it felt amazing. This running this was a game changer and I was hooked.

By September, I knew that my body could do the work and run the 13 miles and change when the day came. But my mind…could I actually believe in myself enough to push through fatigue and pain? Could I run those miles alone with nobody there to cheer me on and still push it? It turns out, the answer to all of my questions was yes. When training meant that I missed my daughter’s bedtime or had to rise at the crack of dawn to get the miles in, I did it. When it meant having to take her along in the jogging stroller, I did it. When it was 90 degrees and my only option was an afternoon run, I did it. And when race day came with a misty rain falling the whole time and a nasty headwind from miles 7-10, I finished. I walked some. That didn’t really matter so much by that point. The work had been done and the result had already shaped and changed my heart. I had set a goal for myself and followed through. I was capable. I was strong. I was motivated and could take the steps necessary to see success. And that, dear friend, was a big deal.

For a lot of people, running is a fun group thing. You might train every weekend with friends and sign up for races together which is what I am starting to search for in this season of life. But I have discovered that despite my attempts to make that particular season of my running life a social one, it is quite pivotal that it wasn’t. The healing that took place that summer needed to be an individual and personal healing. I needed to be alone on those trails and on that track and on that treadmill. I needed those solo drives to the race site. God moved and worked and displayed grace upon grace in those hours and I think I would have missed it had I been wrapped up in chatter.

Running is one of the dearest things to me, even though I don’t go nearly as often as I would like. When I walk out the door and push the “start” button on my running app I become my best self. I become the me that knows both my weaknesses and strengths and accepts them lovingly. I become the me that is patient with myself and with others. The me who recognizes her need to space and decides that’s OK. And in the long months waiting to conceive my son, running reminded me that God made me strong and whole…talk about humbling. It is a friend that has seen me through and meets me right where I’m at.

What about you? What was or is or will be your conduit to healing? What is your escape from a life that doesn’t currently feel like your own? If you don’t have the answer to that then I urge you to find it. We weren’t designed to tread water. No. No, there is so much more to be had. So much more.

 

The Sisterhood of Motherhood

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The first time that I realized the healing power behind telling my story was on an afternoon a few months after my daughter was born. I left Joel with pumped milk and a tiny, demanding baby girl and cautiously hopped in the car with two of my girlfriends headed for Papa Hayden’s. Somehow over lunch and dessert the story came out. Her birth story. And I cried. At first it felt a tad selfish. There I was suddenly taking over our wonderful conversation with my boohoo story. But guys, I needed to do that. And they were happy to let me. And this is why sisterhood is so important in motherhood.

It is really easy to get home from the hospital or birth center with your baby (or stay at home because you had a home birth, in which case Booya Grandma! Fist bump!) and snuggle in to your micro universe of home and stay there. Or at least that’s what feels easy. Because babies eat often and poop often and cry often and staying home and trying to break in the motherhood shoes is much more comfortable in your kitchen than the grocery store…or even a friend’s living room. But can I let you in on a secret? At some point you’re going to want to, scratch that, NEED to do what might be more work in order to reap incredible emotional benefits.

Until very recently I have shied away from play dates and friend lunches with kids because it always seemed like a lot of work. My four-year old girl has never been all that fabulous at sharing. She’s dramatic, exists in a firm bubble and easily gets annoyed by younger kiddos because she made it through four years of life without having a tiny sibling mess up her dollhouse. So play dates always meant having to do some positive discipline magic and deep-breath-taking and three hundred reminders about how to take turns. It felt like too much energy to expend in an already exhausting day. So here’s the thing. Sometimes you wake up and look at your grumpy kiddo and say “heck no, I am not taking you into public today for everyone’s sanity and well-being”. And that’s ok! But sometimes a second glance will reveal that it’s Mom who needs the attitude check. In that case, I want to lovingly insist that you go. Go to a girlfriend, a sister, your own mom…a fellow female who also woke up exhausted and strained who you can juggle the insane day with until naptime and at least commiserate with as your kids do more naughty things together than they would have done on their own. It’s worth it. Every once in a awhile the plants and stars align and it’s a blue moon AND your husband or mom or babysitter or some other miracle person is able to watch your kids. And you know what I’m going to say. GO! Run away and actually enjoy conversation. Laugh and be honest and cry if you need to and just please please please understand that you need it.

This can be easier said than done. We don’t all have mom friends nearby. If that is your story, then what can you do? Do you have mom friends that live far away but you can have occasional “drink wine and skype” dates with? Do you know someone who you can count on for good text banter throughout the day? Cause I’ll tell you what, there is nothing like waking up to a text from a fellow mama friend that reads something along the lines of “it’s 7:02am and I’ve already said the phrase ‘no you may not pee on your brother!'” to make you feel a little more normal. And if you’re still shaking your head “no” at me then it’s time you go cultivate yourself a little plot of sisterhood land! Chat up the moms you see every Sunday in the crying room at church, or the mom who is also wrangling her active 2-year old during storytime at the library. Be bold and ask if they would want to exchange numbers for a play date. We weren’t designed to go at this game of life alone.

I will never forget sitting in the bathtub at 1:00pm about 12 days after my daugher was born trying not to cry for the 10th time that day while contemplating giving up on breastfeeding so my hormones could settle down a bit. I didn’t yet know that crying and panic attacks were postpartum depression, but I did know that I felt crazy and guilty for being sad when I had a healthy, gorgeous baby girl. And I really didn’t want to talk to anyone. But my cell phone sat on the edge of the tub and it started to ring. One of my oldest and dearest friends checking in on me from a whole state southward. (You know who you are, Babe.) I answered. And I cried to her about how horrible I felt and then listened while she told me her own story about crying and feeling anxious and scared and sad after her son was born. That. That right there is what makes this whole motherhood thing just a little more beautiful. Just a little easier to wake up and don with the start of a new day. We need each other, my friends. We need our sisters. And to all of mine, thank you.

Breathing Life into Dry Bones

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When I was about 7 months pregnant with my son, my second child, the wild woman in me started to rise up. I hope you know her. We don’t talk about her much in Western culture and she certainly doesn’t get ladylike points. But you have felt her, and she’s there within even if she has been smooshed down so far that she’s only taking up residence in your toes. She’s the fierce mother hen that rises up within when you see someone being mistreated. She’s the fire you feel in your belly when you’ve been aroused. The wistful longing that takes over when you look out over a field and get the urge to run- the choking kind of need, of want for more. Clarissa Pinkola Estes gave me a name for her when I first picked up Women Who Run With the Wolves in graduate school. (Please, please if you are a woman read this book. And if you’re not, buy a copy and give it to a woman… and then you may as well read it too.) So when I started to prepare for Baby Boy’s birth it was my wildish self that I felt awakening more every day.

When I gave birth to my daughter I was a different woman. For one, I wasn’t a mother yet. I hadn’t experienced cut off my right arm for you love or stared at 10 round piggy toes like they were the key to my very existence. I certainly wasn’t bold. That’s an attribute that I’m still learning and a role I’m practicing. Hers was not an uninformed birth by any means, but it was not an empowered one. I was induced at 10 days past my estimated due date because I truly didn’t think I had the option of saying “no”. But I knew she wasn’t ready yet. An early manual rupture of membranes (water breaking) with a long labor lead to infection and a fever. Add back labor and pitocin and I made the decision to get an epidural. Somehow I knew all along that an induction would eventually lead to a c-section and 28 hours later that is exactly what happened. Her birth story is only beautiful because it gave me her. Isn’t that sad? Shouldn’t it have other redeeming qualities? Yes, it should. And it does. I got to see my family come through and support me in the most sacrificial way possible. While I labored down and then pushed for hours and hours my mom, husband and sister took turns holding my legs and feeding me ice chips…until 4am people. 4am. Now that’s love. But her birth? Her actual birth? Well it was surgery and I hadn’t wanted that. Not because a c-section isn’t birth but because I hadn’t prepared for it to be, and I didn’t know how to make it a beautiful, spiritual experience. It left me feeling empty- like a mere vessel whose existence was importance but feelings were not.

The story of my healing from birth trauma and postpartum depression is one for another day. The story of the Wild Woman? Let’s get back to her. So there I was, 7 months pregnant and suddenly faced with Her. I don’t know how far down I had pushed my wild woman. She wasn’t all the way down into my toes, but I certainly hadn’t been living with her living and breathing through me. When I picked up Women Who Run With the Wolves the words struck a chord like they hadn’t in their first reading. In particular, I resonated with the story of La Loba: Wolf Woman. The story of La Loba can be found in various forms from Eastern Europe all the way to Mexico. Always, she is an old woman, crawling and creeping through dry river beds and canyons, mountains and forests in search of old bones- wolf bones in particular. And when she has collected enough bones to create an entire animal she sings over the bones and breathes life into them. Slowly the skeleton begin to flesh out until it is alive, strong and covered with fur. It is her job to awaken the animal and give it vitality once more. At the time, reading this story I had no idea why it resonated with me. But it did and even all through my labor with my son the story kept coming back to me.

I know why now. I know why and it chokes me with tears of deep deep gratitude. You see my birth with Baby Boy was almost identical to my birth with Little Miss. I was induced with her at midnight and went into spontaneous labor with my son also at midnight. Both babies were posterior facing and gave me excruciating back labor. I had a fever for both of their deliveries. Both labors were 28 hours, ending at 4am. They were born weighing an ounce apart. At first I didn’t understand why Baby Boy’s birth had to be so similar to his sister’s. Why couldn’t my body figure out how to deliver a baby in less than 28 hours? Why, through all of my exercises and attempts to get him facing the right way did he still insist on being posterior, making labor and delivery incredibly difficult and painful? Why couldn’t I get through labor without an epidural? And to all of these questions, I finally have the answer. “Because”, God says, “don’t you see? I was gathering the bones. The bones of your first delivery- the bones that were left dried out and scattered when your dream of a natural birth died. I gathered every little piece that told the story of your daughter’s birth and I redeemed them.” See my birth with my son was hard, but the ending? Oh the ending. The vaginal birth that healed me. The act that brought me back to myself and showed me courage that I did not know I had. The reason it had to resemble my daughter’s was so that I could see that the pieces didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I chose an epidural or that I didn’t have a 6 hour labor. The life behind the birth is what matters. The breath. The existence. The love.

It matters that we are heard and honored in birth. It matters that we feel respected and valued. It matters that we have options and the knowledge to make healthy decisions. I have known both sides of this coin and the flip side? It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful regardless of the outcome. When God woke up those old bones He woke me up with them. And I am thankful. So very very thankful.

 

Welcome!

This is a project that was birthed with my daughter, 4 years ago on a cold February morning when 28 hours of labor ended in a cesarean section and the most unfathomable love for a tiny, pink-skinned baby girl. It is the culmination of prescription drugs for postpartum depression, the choice to be a stay-at-home mom, difficulty conceiving our son, multiple home changes, a beautiful VBAC, and a short stay in the NICU. Nothing has changed me like motherhood at yet at the same time nothing has made me more myself.

See, I have this feeling, this deep in my gut hunch that if we gave the postpartum period its proper credence we would be a completely different people- a healthier and happier society. What if women were truly prepared to become mothers and equally cared for in the months after birth? What if we treated postpartum depression differently than we do other kinds of depression and anxiety? What if we cared for the soul of a woman as she become mother and not just the growing child within? I think a lot would happen. A lot of good.

I want to discuss these questions. I want to hear your stories and share them with this beautiful community of mothers and mothers-to-be. I want to offer space for healing and a place to look at the spiritual side of mothering. And maybe something will grow from this. Maybe something will take hold and revolutionize maternity care, or maybe this meager site will touch just one person. Whichever becomes the case, I will rejoice and offer myself, my heart and my words.

Here’s to you! Here’s to your stories and your families and your hearts. And here’s to us.