Category Archives: parenting

My Journey to Birth Psychology

Last month, I was encouraged to share my story with PPNE training classmates in the Classwomb Newsletter. It’s always interesting to find “key moments” in life’s complex, winding journey. And they’re ever-changing as we heal & grow. But, here’s the article I wrote from my vantage point today.

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​Years ago, I lived in a little California town where, as soon as people saw my baby bump poking out from my hippy dress, they started suggesting homebirth midwives. The most common name I heard happened to be a lovely, wise woman who insisted I read certain books and attend several sessions at BEBA.  Her tools gave me insight into my own birth patterns and shifted my paradigm around birth and society.

Another kind woman from my writers’ circle taught me about joy in pregnancy. She traveled many miles – and brought a friend – to meet me for lunch. They listened to me and shared literature about birth psychology. They smiled a lot and I could see they really cared about my child. And me. And the world.

I was invited to spend a day at the APPPAH Congress in Los Angeles. It was filled with people who spoke about my inner world. My quiet sense about our consciousness at every age (and the tenderness we deserve) was common knowledge there. I could tell… no one was afraid of birth or babies.

My daughter’s birth was beautiful. We had challenges too, that brought lessons we still practice today. She is a spirit light in the world. Fierce, compassionate, and wise.

We moved to the city. My son was born there. I was very scared to give birth in the city. Everywhere, people told awful stories. They thought I was crazy for having an un-medicated homebirth. I struggled with my own non-labor c-section history. And felt angry at society for its cruelty toward birth and children.

My son is a force of nature. He throws a fist to the sky at injustice and has done so since he was inside. His power calls me to action for the children.

When he was just a babe, I began praying for direction on how to be part of the movement for change. Remembering the women who came to see me in Ojai, I dug out the old APPPAH papers they’d given me and I signed up for the newsletter. Several months later, I learned the PPNE program would be starting soon and I began my studies at the first financial opportunity.

Weaving PPNE training into my life can be hard. Sometimes all I want is to study. Other times, it’s too much to integrate and raise my children. The patterns of life are all around me. It is my daily reality. But I think that’s why I love it most. I can be in my life and part of the movement for change. I get to visit with other families and hear their stories. I get to share bits of what I learn everywhere I go and learn something new everyday.

It seems many quiet voices have led me toward PPN as part of their own journeys. Or maybe I sought them out unconsciously… unaware that I was already on my path. Either way, birth psychology has proven to be an awesome adventure!

How Was Your First Day?

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Every indigenous culture knew this: we are fully conscious beings before conception, all along our human journey, and beyond that. I’ve got a stack of books with decades-old scientific studies that verify this ancient knowledge. And still, I see people everyday treating small humans (in utero and in the world) as objects or not-very-smart-creatures who just need managing.

Maybe the reality of such big awareness packed in a tiny body is just too much for most of us. So we deal with our own overwhelm by minimizing their experience and racing along at our adult very-important-person-in-the-world pace. We prepare for their outer world arrival with lots of stuff (kind of like getting a desk and office supplies for the newbie in the office). We think about how we’re going to fit their training into our schedule in a way that doesn’t break our brains or the bank. (The newbie doesn’t know how to use the print-copy-fax-email-collate machine, but I have 12 meetings this week!)

How many times have we seen (or been) the ‘newbie’ on the job trying fit in, learn their role and navigate social politics, all while they try to find the bathroom and time clock? Some of us have managed to avoid that experience or have been completely supported through it. Some of us were also born into families that were inspired and elated by our amazing consciousness and held us tenderly through every milestone of development. High five to those folks!

For the rest of us, who weren’t gifted with that rare experience and came in as the newbie to families (or jobs) where everyone was just trying to survive the day… everyday. We can give the next newbie a better ride on the trip of life. When we feel their presence in the room, or see their awe-filled expressions, we can stop. Smile. Breathe. Feel the space inside our own skin. Tell them we’re so grateful they came, with all their gifts to share. And let them know we’re here to help them have the most awesome life on Earth they can imagine. Because everybody deserves that.

Homeschool River Guidance

DSC_6667tonedwebOur days are full of adventure, fun projects, creative exploration, and time in nature. No reason to complain – only to celebrate. But, my own nervous system has four decades of The Forty-Hour Week training – a completely linear, controlled, externally time-managed reality where even my bladder has to answer to someone or something for permission to follow its instincts.

So, fridays often find me pacing around the kitchen waiting for my tea to warm up, plagued with the feeling of not-enoughness. The to-do list in my mind is longer than my life and I’m only now learning to burn the list whenever necessary. It’s like a weed in my monkey-mind and grows back again. Meanwhile, Kiya – undisturbed by my turbulent inner moment – is usually busy building something like her play-dough-based production set for an upcoming kids’ youtube how-to video – shooting set for some unknown time in the near future. Kiya’s goals and dreams matter deeply to her, but she isn’t burdened by the need to meet an artificial timeline. She intuitively trusts the process of her life.

Our homeschool journey can be medicine for my anxious tendencies with its gentle, forgiving pace and open-hearted inquiry into life. And… it’s usually a crazy rafting trip through the wilderness of our family’s imagination – ever-changing without collective consent!

We will be cruising along for awhile in a wonderful flow, everyone happy, getting along, ‘learning’, ‘growing’, doing our own thing together. Then some big boulder – sore throats, growing pains, bad news, staying up too late watching movies, running out of the only-good-cereal-ever made, or just not getting to do what we want right now – knocks us into the rapids. Oars fly out, bags in the water, kids screaming, parents ranting. It’s a mess.

By the time I’ve collected myself and all of our oh-so-important-gear (whatever that is), the rest of our tribe is already wandering off into the woods following the call of an owl or the smell of lavender. I’m a mess. What about our ‘plan’? Our agenda? What if someone sees us ‘off-track’? Usually I’m near tears before I catch up to Rob & the kids. What are they doing now?!

And, as usual, they’re fine. Everyone is fine. And happy. There they are – crouched together in the forest, discussing the evolution of moss, photosynthesis, the importance of loving even the mean, ugly creatures, or something little like the healing power of light as it dances off a nearby branch.

On a good day, I feel Success Is Upon Us!! It’s really happening, learning is everywhere all the time. I don’t have to worry! I can trust the process of life! If anxiety wins, this Momma won’t calm down until we’re back in ‘the boat’ heading safely and predictably down the ‘education’ river again. Whatever that means. Either way, by the time the kids are asleep and I’m sinking into my pillow, the truth of my lucky life finds me again. I can’t stop the learning. I can’t really control its direction or what passion might dictate in the hearts of my children. I can only suit up everyday and be willing to get in the boat. Try to remember my camera, notepad, some snacks for when we get hungry, enjoy the water… and get ready to swim.

Kiya’s Teachings

It’s so easy to get lost in useless details, chasing the same dishes around the kitchen day after day, wondering when I’ll ever know how to live “right”. There’s no satisfaction in my perfectionism. Then Kiya comes along and re-minds me how to be present  by the everyday things she does.

Like licking brownie drippings on New Year’s Eve…
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enjoying winter evening rays at the dog park…

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testing the outer limits of fashion…

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and embracing her  inner Artist.dsc_2527web

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Neither wind nor rain, stress or strain, the darkest night or brightest day keeps Kiya from being Kiya. This tops my list of reasons why Kiya is my greatest teacher and inspiration. Everyday, she learns and grows into more of who she already is. A bright and sensitive, complex spirit monkey. And then some.

Arriving by His Own Clock

3069117598_bcdf8ac99f1Caleb James Dalgas 825am November 29th, 2008

This dear soul, my first nephew, and his parents taught me much about the power of present moment living in the weeks we shared.

I was reminded that beginnings – and all that falls within time’s realm – are not within our control. Try as we may to manage circumstance, all things come in their own time. It is how we spend that time that matters. It is how we breathe into the unknown which determines our ‘fate’.

Watching a woman wade through pain and uncertainty, holding her core truth in the midst of exhaustion, and embracing the changes happening within her but beyond her control… I grew up a little more. I felt a little stronger in my own core. I wanted more for myself and felt just a bit more confident that I deserved those things my heart desires. Caleb and his mother gave me that. And his father showed me, once again, that Love will always be there to help me cover the distance between here and there.

Thank you, Geoff, Jennie, and Caleb James. I love you so.

Friends Make Change Easier

dsc_2295web3Sharing Kiya’s bloody lip ice pack

dsc_2297web4Kisses make booboos feel better

This last Halloween, Kiya’s friend Ruthie shared her extra fairy costume so they could both dress up for gym class. It’s a tiny tumblers for people 1.5 – 3 years old where little ones can run around and check out the gymnastic world. Ruthie loves it and sometimes Kiya does, too. They both really dig the trampoline!

These two photos remind me of how much each of them has changed in the last 10 months, and how much they’ve been through together: a dozen teeth, bumps, bruises, stolen toys and treats, endless disappointments from not getting what they want, missed naps, sun in the eyes on car rides, grumpy mommies, withheld breastfeeding moments, and so on. It’s hard being a small person, but it’s a lot easier and a lot more fun, too, with friends.

And that’s just one more gift Kiya and her friends have given me: community. We’re not alone on this human trip, even in our loneliest moments, and I’m so grateful for the loving wisdom and unexpected patience of friends.

When She’s Breathing

My sweet friend, Jennie, is resting now, breathing through contractions that come about 8-10 minutes apart. As her time to birth her child draws nearer, my own heart opens and softens to the Great Mystery that new life unfolds. Tears come, sorrow and joy fill my lungs, my nerves release excitement, fear, hope, expectation, all of these in waves of their own. Up and down. In and out. Over and over again in the part of life where there are no beginnings and nothing ever ends. It just keeps going.

We fear this open-endedness, most of us, but nowhere else is there found such abundant resolve, compassion, strength, love, and freedom. Such spaciousness. Because there’s no Where to go, no When to arrive, no How to do it correctly, and no Why to answer or explain. Everything just Is. It just is. We are just Here. Right now. Breathing. Being whatever, whomever, wherever we are. No one can solve or escape anything because nothing is wrong.

Jennie is so blessed to be in this realm, at home in the safe space she and her partner have created. She is so strong and so soft. It is Beauty beyond all that can be written. She is in the Wonder World where the midwives dwell. And I am so lucky to be here. Thank you, Jennie.

Our journeys are different, each woman and their child, and somehow, miraculously the same Universal trip. It brings my heart to gratitude for my own midwife and Midwives all. Below is a poem inspired by my own path with Kiya. I hope it gives a glimpse into the magic I’m blessed to witness now with this family.

“To My Midwife”

It’s just days away;
my baby’s first birthday.

To think, a year ago
we were on our way,
you and me and she and he,
to that magical Birthing Place

where caves of mothers-to-be
sing and laugh and cry and breathe.
And the Little Ones, pushing and turning,
make their brave way into Being.

And you and yours hold the space
for moms and dads and babes alike
as we find the rhythm and claim our place
among the Mothers, Fathers and Children of life.

Midwife, you nurture our wee ones
from belly and womb to the soft lit rooms
where you cradle their bodies with gentle hands,
bringing Ancient Mystery to our Everyday Lands.

But soon again, the Call becomes strong.
Then off you go from New Mother cove
following sounds of the next Birthing Song
and making your way down Midwifery Road.

So, now, as my Little One’s birthday arrives
I take a few moments while she sleeps
to feel again the magic of Birthing Time
still flowing through her and he and me.

I find myself grateful and a bit tearful, too.
For hello to my daughter meant goodbye to you.
But, I hold our journey in my heart – and try in my way –
to bring a little Midwifery Magic into her Everyday.