Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Much Respect

I went out to dinner the other night with my two kids. A three and a half year old and a one year old waiting to be fed, in a pent-up environment where they are allowed to touch exactly nothing, is not a stress-free affair. Especially if you happen to be the waitstaff.

Why put yourself and other diners through it then, you ask? Ah, my friend, I've got a secret weapon, affectionately known as boobies, in my house. They rapidly bring peace to nearly any explosive situation.

The wee ones were getting antsy, copious amounts of water, sugar and salt had been spilled, and the youngest was crying. He needed his milky. Almost four years into my breastfeeding career, I don't give a second thought to breastfeeding in public.

I've breastfed nearly everywhere I've ever been (I wrote about my first time breastfeeding in public here).

A number of mama websites and blogs I frequent often talk about the need to normalize breastfeeding by doing it in public. I'm not talking about being showy, just feeding the babes when and where they are hungry. Everyday, across the country, women are harassed, shamed, ridiculed and ostracized for feeding their babies in the most natural and healthy way known to humans.

This has never happened to me. I don't usually worry about it. In fact, I've had several instances where strangers have actually supported my breastfeeding in public (my favorite instance is described here).

Every once in a while though, especially if I'm in a new place, and there aren't many kids and by extension parents, around, it crosses my mind that someone might say something to me about breastfeeding in public.

Well, it happened the other night at dinner. As the baby fussed, I began to feed him. The couple sitting at the next table, who were obviously on a date, glanced in my direction. Their faces told me something was up. I thought, "Great, here it comes." The man then reached out and lightly touched my arm. He said, and I quote, "Much respect." He went on to say that in his country women breastfeed in public all the time, but he doesn't see women doing it here in the US. "Why?" he asked, "Is it because there are so many hangups with women's bodies?" He might be on to something.

This was too good not to share. Thank you to everyone out there supporting all mothers feeding their babies. And, to all the mamas who nourish their babies' bodies and souls everyday, however they feed them: Much respect.

Has a stranger ever made a comment to you as you fed your baby?

Photo credit: author

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Don't cry!

Will you do some guided imagery with me for a moment? Come on, just play along. Please? Okay, close your eyes and imagine you just had an awful day at work {insert some relevant scenario here}. You go out to your car and it doesn't start! You left some minuscule interior light on and the battery is dead. To top it all off, you left your cell phone God knows where, so you can't call anyone for help. A stranger appears who offers to give you a jump start, so you make it home, albeit an hour late. Now, dinner must be made, while the kids fuss and ask umpteen times for some ridiculous thing.

You may open your eyes now. How are you feeling? Can we all agree that you might just be on the verge of a meltdown, which may or may not involve crying? Now imagine, your spouse/loved one/best friend/family member, or even the helpful stranger from the parking lot walks in the door and finds you in a heap. You begin to feel hopeful that this living nightmare is about to end and that you will get the love and support you need. But, nope. His/her response is to bark, "Don't cry!"in a most unhelpful tone.

Now, you feel better, right? And, you stop crying immediately, cuz ya feel so dang good!

My son started preschool last week. It's a public elementary school in which instruction takes place in two languages. There are over four hundred children in the building. Many of the preschoolers only understand one of the languages being spoken. For some, it is their first time away from their parents and/or caregivers.

During the first week of school, some of the children were having a kid-version of the bad day we imagined above. Many had no idea what was going on, in whose care they were being left and when the hellishness would end. Some were crying. While it didn't surprise me, it did disappoint me, that almost every adult's reaction to the crying was to loudly order each and every child to "STOP CRYING!"

I'm not holier than thou. I have uttered these words. In this situation it was just so strikingly obvious and heart breaking how this is not the reaction a child needs when they are in distress.

I mean, think about it. Leaving out empathy, meeting a child's needs and the like as reasons not to respond in this fashion, what is the success rate of this strategy? I offer that unless the child who is crying is very scared of the adult who issues the order to stop (which is fodder for another post), the success rate hovers close to nadir.

Why do we do it, then? I believe there are a number of reasons. One, is that is is painful and stressful for adults to hear children in distress, so we want it to stop. Now. Two, is that it can become annoying and get in the way of our agenda/time table. And three, we live in a culture where most adults expect instant compliance with their orders, no matter how unfeasible.

The same logic applies to a child who is crying because he is hurt. Can you imagine if you were in pain from an injury and someone said to you, "That didn't hurt. You're alright. You don't need to cry."  Just because we don't think something SHOULD hurt, doesn't mean it doesn't hurt the child, or that she doesn't feel the need for some love and attention. I would seriously dislike anyone who tried to tell me I was alright, when I didn't feel alright, or what did or did not hurt my body or my soul.

Next time you (or I) have the urge to say, "Don't cry!" or "Stop crying!" or "You're alright!" I suggest we think about what might actually be helpful to the child (such as asking if he is alright, a hug, giving information about what is happening, just spending time with and staying close to the child). Although these things may take a bit longer, I think we'll find they have a much higher success rate for making the crying stop. In addition, they will help her feel loved, safe and able to tackle more challenges that lay ahead.

How do you help a crying child?

Photo credit: Binu Kumar

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sick of cleaning the bathroom

I have been cleaning bathrooms for a long time. As a kid, it used to be one of my weekly chores. I hated it. As an adult, well, if I wanted a clean bathroom (which I desperately did), I needed to clean it. Still, I hated it. 

I live in a small house with a bath and a half. They're tiny. It literally takes me 15 minutes total to clean both. So, what was the big wup? One day as I sat around for the zillionth time analyzing why I hated cleaning the bathroom so much, I had a revelation. 

It wasn't that I didn't like the physical act of cleaning, but cleaning the bathroom made me sick. Truly, ill. I'm not talking about sick in the head, either. I realized that I held my breath the whole time I cleaned the bathroom, and I always opened the window, regardless of the temperature outside. And, even with those accommodations I felt light-headed and dizzy when the deed was done.

It was the cleaning products!

Right around this time is when I started to become interested in living more simply and more naturally. Somehow, praise be, I stumbled upon a book called Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck. It changed my life and may even prolong it.

Ms. Sandbeck explains in simple and succinct terms that the toxic cleaning products that most of us use everyday were making me sick. She goes on to suggest natural and efficient ways to clean the whole house. She describes using natural, ordinary household products - vinegar and baking soda are chief among them- to clean everything. She also lists the basic, multi-purpose tools she uses to get every job done.

I can't say that I now love cleaning the bathroom, but I no longer deplore it, and it definitely doesn't make me sick. 

Here's what I do:
  • Vanity top - spray white vinegar and wipe down with a clean rag
  • Sink bowl - sprinkle with Bon Ami cleanser or baking soda and scrub with a clean rag
  • Toilet surfaces - spray with white vinegar and wipe down with a clean rag
  • Toilet bowl - pour vinegar in the toilet bowl before I start cleaning the bathroom, let it sit for about ten minutes while I clean the rest of the bathroom , and use a toilet brush to clean
  • Bathtub - sprinkle with Bon Ami cleanser or baking soda and scrub with a clean rag
  • Floor - sweep with broom or vacuum, spray with white vinegar and wipe down with clean rag
  • Mirror - spray white vinegar and wipe down with newspaper or a clean rag (if the mirror was previously cleaned with commercial glass cleaner, there will be a build-up that vinegar alone won't remove, so for the first cleaning you must add a little castile soap to your rag, after that vinegar alone will do the trick)
  • Put all the rags in the dirty laundry to be washed and used for next week's bathroom cleaning
Another pearl of wisdom in the book is what I think of as cleaning prevention. Basically, she suggests keeping your house clean and tidy as a rule, and then when cleaning day arrives, it's a breeze.  In essence, if you keep things tidy and clean up spills, etc. as they happen, your house doesn't have a chance to get really dirty.

Why not give natural cleaning a try? It's good for your health, good for the environment and it keeps a little more jingle in your pocket.

Do you have any tips for cleaning naturally?

Photo credits: Backdoor Survival, Elycefeliz

Monday, July 1, 2013

Blogging unleashes creative potential

When I started blogging, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I'm not known for my tech savvy. I had never written much, outside of school and work assignments.

For ages, though, I'd have ideas floating around in my head that I wanted to write about. I wanted to get them out, or sometimes it felt like they wanted to get out of me. I possess not an iota of talent when it comes to drawing, painting, singing, sewing, or the like. So, it seems writing is my creative outlet.

Off and on over the years, I tried journaling. For whatever reason, it just never took. A notion would strike me, but by the time I got the physical pen to paper, the idea had evaporated, or I had lost my drive to get it down. I would often feel like I had let an opportunity pass me by.

With blogging, it's different. I can't say why. When an idea pops up in my head, I rarely forget it and can't wait to get to the ol' keyboard and start pounding away. I get excited about the writing process, setting up the layout, finding photos, and editing.

I don't have a massive readership - mostly just my mother. What's tremendous is, it makes no difference to me. Even though I put stuff out there in a public forum and I enjoy getting comments and having a dialogue on the things I write about, I blog for myself.

I don't have to conform to rules, or make sure that my writing is the latest, greatest thing to enter the blogosphere. I write what feels good to me, and I love it.

I'm probably a better writer than the average Joe/Josie on the street, but, let's be realistic, Toni Morrison, I am not. I doubt I'll ever get a paycheck for my writing. I'm just happy that I finally found a way to be creative, a space in which to do it, and in a medium that works for me. 

Who knows what opening the creative flood gates will lead to? As yoga has taught me, human potential in general, and mine in specific is boundless.

What is your creative outlet?

Photo credits: Mike Litch, Salendron

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Have you read the children's book, Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Poor Alexander, everything imaginable goes wrong, nobody will listen to him, and nobody wants to help him. Yeah, well, last Saturday, we had one of those on Oakdale Place.

During the week, I'm home alone with Shiloh. Since I quit my job a few weeks ago, Josias has continued to go to daycare, before we are off on our summer holiday. So, I still haven't quite mastered the art of making the weekend run smoothly with two kids under three in the house.  I mean, truly, IS there a way for one woman to manage the naps of an infant when there is also a rambunctious preschooler in the house? 

The morning started at 5am when the baby woke and wouldn't go back to sleep. Although his squeals were of delight, they woke Josias. The day beginning an hour and a half before Mama would like can only lead to heartache.

Lately these early wakings, which vacillate in cause between Josias and Shiloh, have been making for a sleep deprived and VERY cranky Josias. Some mornings are nothing but crying. Crying to get his way, and when said way is given, crying because it was. Um, okay? That's the illogical thought process and emotional roller coaster that is a three year old.

Right, so breakfast didn't go terribly well. Next, we hop in the car, and as Josias says, "drive around in circles (accompanied by corresponding circular motion of the hand)," so Shiloh has a prayer at some semblance of a morning nap. It actually worked. Josias read his Curious George tome and Shiloh slept for forty-five minutes. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. I was feeling pretty skilled in the mothering department.

But then, perhaps due to cockiness, it all went to H-E-double hockey sticks in a hand basket. It just fell apart. Josias wailed about everything; did everything I expressly asked him not to do; and pooped without a diaper on, which not only involves cleaning him, throwing away clothes and cleaning the floor and shoes, it also involves a lot of - you guessed it - crying.

In essence, Josias was doing everything a three year old is supposed to do. Especially in light of the fact that Mama was not paying him enough attention because little brother was teething and needed to breastfeed a lot.

It probably goes without saying that afternoon naps where a disaster. By this point, Mama was at the end of her little rope and was racking up charges of conduct not becoming an Attached Parent.

We were miserable. I knew I had to do something. If I only knew what. What to do, what to do? 

Going back to the book, Alexander is not much help. His day just keeps getting worse, and when he asks friends for help, they ignore him or make fun of him. I had pretty much used up those strategies already. 

By the end of the book, Alexander goes to his mother for comfort. She tells him that some days are just like that and hopefully, tomorrow will be better. Truer words were never said, but I am nothing if not tenacious, so I wasn't ready to give up.

What to do, what to do? By George, I've got it! GO OUTSIDE!

Although the getting ready process took at least five times longer than it should have, with Mama barking out demands in a disrespectful manner that were summarily ignored by Josias, we got there.

We arrived at the park with water sprinklers and Josias blossomed into the curious, funny and awesome guy that he is. Shiloh was as sweet as ever. Mama even displayed a few of her finer moments.
We did it!  We flipped the script on our terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad day.  Alexander and his mama could learn a thing or two from us!

Next time I see us going down this path, I will employ the back to nature strategy before 4pm.  Who knows if it will work, but we're gonna give it a shot.

Postscript: As I reread this post, I realized that the strategy was far less important than the fact that I didn't give up, no matter how late in the day. And what I also know, is that I have my mom and dad to thank for that.

What do you do to turn around a bad day?

Photo credit:s Jessica Wilson and author

Monday, June 24, 2013

Transitioning to a natural lifestyle

Earth Mama Yoga is excited to introduce guest blogger, Katie Moore.  You can find her over at Moore from Katie. Please check out her post and let us know what you think.

There is nothing as awe-inspiring as creating new life. At least, that’s how I felt when carrying my first child. So I really felt like I needed to take special care of my baby and myself during my pregnancy. Transitioning to natural living seemed like the best thing I could do and so my journey began. From diet and exercise to cleaners and clothing, everything slowly changed.

We live in a world that is bombarded by information. Weeding through all of the information to find what is best for you may seem daunting, but let me tell you what has worked for my growing family. It did not mean changing everything at once, nor did it mean throwing out everything I had and buying new, expensive natural products. I started at my doctor’s office. My doctor was my greatest resource during my pregnancy; every option from cloth diapers to my baby’s cord blood was covered and allowed me to decide what’s best for my family.

Natural living does not need to be expensive. Organic produce and other natural products are more widely available today. The prices are coming down and good sales are more frequent now than ever before, as demand rises. There are many co-ops for natural products including food, clothing and other baby essentials. Homemade cleaning solutions are almost always less expensive than their commercial counterparts.

Transitioning to a Better Diet

I began by incorporating more natural foods into my diet. By natural foods I mean fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and natural sugars. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain higher levels of nutrients than their canned, processed counter parts. They also help to alleviate some of the common side effects of pregnancy, such as constipation. As finances allowed, I purchased organic produce, local cheese, honey and free-range eggs. Carrying a copy of the clean 15 and the dirty dozen will help you organize your produce list to avoid the most contaminants. These contaminants are harmful enough to our bodies, let alone our growing babies.

Buying fresh produce and organic products is good, but you have to use them too! I rearranged my pantry to reflect how I wanted to eat by placing processed foods on the lowest shelf and natural ingredients at eye level.  Tight grocery budgets may make you cringe at the thought of wasting food, so don’t. Use your processed foods up a bit at a time, donate them to a food pantry or use them to serve an ailing friend or neighbor. Creating a meal plan based around the family’s schedule helped me incorporate natural foods into our diet while cutting out the stress of what’s for dinner after a full day of activities.

Preparing a Clean Environment for Baby

Your surrounding environment plays a huge role in how you feel and your overall health. There are many factors to consider when evaluating your surrounding environment. What you wear, personal hygiene products, cleaners, even scented candles in your home could affect your health. Fortunately there are many safe, natural alternatives to all of the above.

Organic clothing is widely available now. I choose organic clothing for those pieces worn closest to the skin. Bedding and blankets are also a wise purchase for those looking to reduce their exposure to the chemicals found in clothing. How we clean our clothes matters, too. Sure commercial detergents smell good, but all we really smell are the chemicals that we are then putting next to our skin. Finding an alternative to laundry detergent was high on my priority list.

Many manufacturers are offering natural versions of their most popular products, like household cleaners and beauty products. Oftentimes a homemade solution is just as effective and 100 percent natural. From all-purpose cleaners, to facial cleansers and deodorants, recipes abound for those interested in all-natural household products made at home from common ingredients. Sometimes it is a single ingredient, such as vinegar, that can replace several commercially prepared cleaners. I have found vinegar to be just as effective as my previously purchased cleaners and less expensive too.

With these easy adjustments to your lifestyle, you will be doing your baby and yourself a huge favor by feeling better and growing your baby in a great environment. Even after my pregnancy, my husband and I kept our new natural habits up to raise our daughter in the best environment possible.

Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26

Photo credit: Ossi Petruska


Monday, June 17, 2013

Serenity Prayer

I was talking with a friend the other day, and she told me that she is struggling to get certain parts of her life under control. She has just joined a support group that employs the twelve steps. She went on to say that while she knows she needs the help and support of the group, the Serenity Prayer, which opens the meetings, is a stumbling block for her. The wording just doesn't feel right.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Her sentiments resonated with me. Last year was one of the most stressful of my life. In addition to the joy of having a baby, I was going through some intensely painful personal issues. One thing that I found helpful was the Serenity Prayer. Not just saying it, which I did over and over, but really understanding its meaning and trying to live it.

I, too, struggled with the wording of the prayer. It's not that I don't believe in God, although by my way of thinking, It's the Divine, or the Universe. The part of the prayer I take issue with, is asking a higher power to grant me a favor, if you will. I believe the power is already within me, and with this prayer, I am both acknowledging that and asking the Universe to help me muster the strength to use it.

The concept of the prayer really helped. So, I decided on this, albeit cumbersome, personal wording:
I ask the Universe to support me in calling forth my own power for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Now, some might think: that's a lot of new-age mumbo jumbo, or, that my wording is just semantics. That's okay. What I think, is that it genuinely means something to me, and that is:
#1 I can only do me. I have the power to decide to be the best me I can. That is not easy, nor it is necessarily going to get me everything I want. It is a heck of a lot, though. 
#2 No matter how much I want something to happen, or someone to change, it is not within my power to make it so. I have no control over what other people do, nor can I control the actions and beliefs of others.
#3 is the kicker: whenever I feel stressed, angry, disappointed, sad, etc. it helps to think about the points above and reassess how I approach any given situation and what I hope to get out of it.
It serves me well to remember all of this. It helped me through a very difficult time. The prayer didn't make the situation better, nor did it take away the pain and sadness. What it did, is help me understand who I am, who I want to be, and that in the end, that is what is in my control. It gave me perspective.

Even though things did not turn out the way I had hoped, I am steadfast in my faith that things will turn out as they should.

If you're searching for some Yogic wisdom on this topic, these two Yoga Journal articles are a good place to start: Spiritual Surrender and The Practice of Surrender.

No matter what you call it - Serenity Prayer or Ishvara Pranidhana, it's all Yoga to me.

How has prayer helped you?

Photo credit: Robert Kiss

Monday, June 10, 2013

Today the adventure begins

The Lotus flower symbolizes new beginnings
Today marks a new beginning for me, and my family. I've just quit my full-time job of almost ten years. It's margaritas by the pool for me from here on out.

Well, no, not really. I'll be with my sweet babies. I have a three year old, Josias, and a seven month old, Shiloh. And, to be completely forthright, at times I find it a bit challenging to meet the physical needs of the baby, while simultaneously meeting the intellectual and emotional wishes of the preschooler.

So, that is how I have decided to frame this adventure. An exciting challenge! I've been gearing up by reflecting on all my own beliefs about motherhood as well as the advice and strategies of those who I think have a lot to offer on the subject. Each day, I'd like to make it my job, my challenge to put all of that into practice as best I can.

You see, I have a stubborn streak, so it can be a huge challenge for me to let go of my own agenda (the arbitrary parts, anyway) and be there for my kids in the ways that they need and want; to guide them and support them in a manner that will help them become the awesome human beings that we all have the potential to be. Oh yeah, and I'd like to enjoy the journey too. Pretty ambitious, hey?

Yoga has helped me get to this place. I've made a fundamental, somewhat scary, life-change in order to more fully be the person I want to be. So, now that I'm on my way, I'm relying on yoga to guide me along.

For starters, we'll spend a good part of the summer with friends and family in the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Then, in the Fall, Josias will start his own adventure as he's off to preschool.

Actually, if the adventure begins today, Josias, Shiloh and I are off to the dentist for Josias' first visit. Challenge numero uno awaits! I hope you'll join me as (time permitting) I write about our journey on Earth Mama Yoga.

What guided you through a life-changing event or experience?

Photo credit:lezumbalaberenjena

Monday, June 3, 2013

My home water birth and the Divine

Time to have this baby
I was due on Monday. The Friday before, I decided I wouldn't be returning to work. I was HUGE and had fallen twice in one day. I took that as a sign that I wasn't meant to be out in the world any longer.

I left work a little early and when I got home, I started feeling a bit weird. I dunno, something was just off. I also felt something going on "down there." Could I feel myself dilating?
I got in bed for awhile and once Josias, my two and half year old, got home, I forgot about the feelings as I set about making dinner and whatnot. As we drifted off to sleep that night, some of the feelings were coming back and I started to think that tomorrow would be the day.  I slept well and awoke at 4 am with the same sensations, only this time they were coming and going in a pronounced manner. I knew labor was starting. Josias awoke at 5 am, as he is wont to do. Instead of being annoyed, which I sometimes get with his early risings, we snuggled and I savored the last morning I would have alone in bed with my big boy. We had such a beautiful time together in that hour. I will cherish the memory of that morning for the rest of my life.

Early labor
At 6 am I let Danny know that I was in labor, and we made a plan to keep Josias busy outside of the house. We had previously decided that Josias wouldn't do well with me in labor and that I needed space to do what I needed to do. Danny's brother happened to be around that day and Josias loves hanging out with him: the stars had aligned. A baby would be coming into the world and into our lives.

After Danny and Josias left, I started timing my contractions, which felt quite mild at that point.  They were lasting about 30 seconds and were one to two minutes apart. I made myself a hardy breakfast of toast, OJ and a feta cheese omelet and then I walked the dog. It was mid-November, but the day was sunny and warm. The contractions were increasing in intensity, but still what I would call mild.

Call the Midwife
At 7:30 am I called Mairi, my midwife, to let her know that I was in labor, but that nothing seemed imminent. She was at another birth and her midwife- partner, Erin, was at a conference. She said I should call her when things started picking up.

At that point, I began to fill the birth tub, which was set up in the extra bedroom. I was anxious to see how it would feel. I spent the next hour filling the tub and trying to watch "Saving Grace" on netflix.  As with the birth of Josias, I couldn't really do anything like watch a TV program or read a book while I was having contractions, so I gave up on any kind of diversion and just paced around the house.

I got in the birth tub and it felt like heaven on earth. I couldn't imagine ever getting out. I could still feel the pains of labor, but it all somehow felt dreamy.

By 9:30 am, the contractions were getting stronger, though I could still talk through them. I was also getting hot, so I detubbed to open a window and called Mairi to tell her she needed to start thinking about coming.

The instant I hung up, my water broke. In the  blink of an eye I had moved through transition into the second stage of  labor (aka pushing the baby out).  I cannonballed (not really!) back into the tub, and frantically dialed Mairi, which took at least five attempts to get right. I told her she needed to come immediately. I also called Danny and told him to come.

I was alone in the house, in the tub and all of the sudden the baby was coming NOW. With Josias this part of labor had lasted for hour upon endless hour, so I never imagined the baby would start coming so quickly.

How did I feel? I wasn't worried. I wasn't scared. I was just there. I was experiencing the labor and knowing that it was all going to unfold as it should. Very zen, very yogic of me, no? Well, yes, in fact it was. 

There are only two times in my life when I have felt like this - like there is nothing else to do, nothing else to think about, and I could just be. I could just be there in the moment, I could experience everything as it was happening, and I didn't have a lick of control over how things would progress, nor how they would end. And, I was okay with that. Those two times were called child birth.

Mairi told me to stay on the phone with her. Fortunately, the other birth she was at was not far from my house. She jumped in her Smart Car and like a bizarro-world police detective in one of those 70's cop shows, she was rushing to the scene of the crime. I can still visualize her barrel-assing through the streets of DC like a bat out of hell. 

On the phone I told her I had to push. I had no choice. Mother Nature was in control. Mairi told me not to push, but to breathe like I was blowing out birthday candles. She told me she was worried about me having a water birth unassisted and that I should get out of the tub. I let her know, in no uncertain terms, there was no way on God's green earth I was getting out the tub. 

The urge to push was so strong, that I didn't think I'd be able to do the, "pretend you're blowing out a birthday candle" bit any longer. Danny arrived and was now on the phone with Mairi. Finally, finally, Mairi arrived and gave me the all clear to push. I started to protest that pain was agonizing, and I recall Mairi saying,"push a few times and you will have instantaneous relief."

Although everything was happening at lightening speed, I could feel all the things the baby was doing. He was in a perfect position. With the first push, I felt him peep out and then retreat back in.  The ring of fire had been ignited and the pain was intense. But as each contraction faded, so did the pain. I would rest for a minute and then with a vice-grip on Danny's hand, I would scream that the contraction was coming. Danny had been rendered mute. He appeared more than a little stunned at the speed with which the festivities were progressing.

With the second contraction, his head came out and I could feel each distinct, perfect body part emerge - the head, and the neck. Another reprieve and then Mairi told me one more push and we'd make short work of it.

The final hurrah. I felt the shoulders, the torso, and then, as Danny said, the rest came out like butter.  As he emerged, Erin had arrived. I caught the baby with my own two hands, and Mairi placed him on my chest. He started to squawk as soon as he came out of the water. From the time the first midwife arrived to the time he rocketed out was approximately four minutes.

I am unable to find words to describe the elation I experienced. I felt the Divine alive within me and around me. It felt electric.

My first words were, "Hi Sweetheart, oh, baby, you came out soooo fast." Then, "He looks just like Josias," and "Oh, you're soooo small." (Point of fact, at nearly ten pounds, he was not SO small.)

I remember each moment as though I am still in the midst of it. After Shiloh was born, we all set about the tasks at hand: get Mama out of the tub, make Mama and Shiloh comfortable, get the afterbirth out, etc. Within the hour, Shiloh began to breastfeed like a champ, Josias came to meet his brother, Danny and Josias cut the cord and they emptied the birth tub.

That, my friends, is the long version of what happened that day. 

The Cliff Notes version is: my home water birth was DIVINE.

Have you experienced the Divine?

Photo credits: author