Monday, April 23, 2012

A year in review

One year ago I gave birth to my third child. She she shares the same birthday as her big brother, Sage. She was born via C-section at 32 weeks due to severe IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). She lived for 53 minutes and died in my arms despite all that modern medicine could do.

This year has been a less in healing and balance, physcial, mental and spiritual. I am still not entirely healed. I'm not certain one ever can be.

Physically, I followed a fairly ordinary course of healing. The hardest pieces of this were the initial loss of core strength (which wasn't so hot to begin with), the adhesions around my scars which formed as I healed (and which were broken down through the, sometimes painful, massages by my friend, Kristin) and the persistent lack of weight loss, despite working on eating clean and moving more (turns out breastfeeding really does help shed baby weight!).

Mentally, healing is an ongoing process. I have never felt so much anger in my entire life. I still work on acceptance. Grief work is debilitating and having to go back to work as a labor nurse just six weeks after my daughter died was impossible. I left after two months and haven't gone back. For much of the last year I've felt completely divorced from my passion for birth. I'm only now just beginning to touch on it again, and I'm scheduled to take an instructor training for Dancing for Birth this coming weekend. I don't think I'm done with birthwork, but the birth and death of my daughter Ivy will always impact how I relate to birth, on some level, from here on out.

Spiritually, I'm in a state of flux. I don't have a faith tradition on which I can fall back. I've been working with Spirit in a wide variety of ways. Sex/sexuality has been a huge part of it. I've also been going somewhat regularly to a women's ritual group and that connection, as much as the rituals themselves, have been very nourishing to me. Sitting meditation continues to elude me, but I find meditative states in art and sometimes even in housework.

This entire experience is not something that can be translated into one brief blog post, Ivy's death colors and shadows my entire world now. It is woven into the fiber of our family, and though I am not at a point where I can say I am grateful for the lesson, I can say that I have already learned so much from her, and that I am grateful to call her my daughter, even though she could not stay.

Dedicated to Ivy Antrim Upekkha Jones born and returned to starlight on April 13, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Uncool Girl

Last night I was browsing facebook and came upon a bunch of pictures from a premier of sorts at a local and very popular yoga studio. Many of my acquaintances were there looking really darn gorgeous. I felt like such a loser for not having been there. Here were women who had worked in the birth community for not half the time I had! Why shouldn't I be there? Why shouldn't I be in the "in" crowd?

This morning I was listening to the radio and Tori Amos came on, I've always loved Tori Amos. Just listening to her makes me feel like a teen again. When I came home I pulled up a video of "Cornflake Girl" and posted it to my site. Some sent this link to me from Bitch magazine:

Huh. Uncool? Tori Amos was uncool?

And then came one of those lovely moments when the skies part and I realized I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I'm not living any life but my own. And by god I've always done things a little different, swum against the stream, carved a different path. I'm out of my comfort zone right now because I have no clear idea of what I'm supposed to do next, where I'm supposed to go or how I'm supposed to get there, but how much worse would it be if I tried to conform to what I thought I "should" be doing.

So I'm okay. I'm cool, in my own quirky way, and if that means being uncool, I'm alright with that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meditation for Beginners

Silent meditation has many benefits, if you think that only yoginis and serious buddhists can or should meditate then this post is for you.

I could write endlessly about the benefits of meditation alone, as they are innumerable but I'm going to focus on a few that seem to be universal issues. The first is stress relief; I don't know many people who claim they are totally without stress. Again, without judgment, it doesn't have to be the weight of the world you're carrying on your back (although some burdens may feel more stressful to people than other burdens) whether it's a geometry test on Friday, a looming deadline at work or the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, we all experience stress. There are a ton studies out there linking meditation to the reduction of stress, however we're experiencing it. If anyone is interested I'd be happy to post some links, however it's pretty easy to just google "meditation stress reduction studies". I'd point you to John Kabat-Zinn as he is a leader in this area.

Another benefit is pain relief; and again, whether it is the pain of menstrual cramps or chronic pain associated with a serious illness meditation and mindfulness can help! I personally can attest to the power of mindfulness during childbirth and experiencing a labor and birth free of pain medication.

Meditation can certainly be daunting, I remember trying to meditate in my past and getting nowhere. It was boring! It wasn't doing anything! It was pointless! After taking a course in meditation I found a very gentle way to begin meditating: the guided body scan. The body scan is a way of isolating an paying attention to each part of your body, in sequence and then allowing your attention to move to a different part of the body. What fabulous about the body scan is that instead of making yourself pay attention to, for example, your breath or a mantra, a guided body scan simply and slowly directs your attention to the body, to what's going on know, in the present moment.

There are guided online body scans for meditation available free, all over the internet. I encourage you to check out one or two of the links provided below and try on out!

This one is very short, so good for folks who want to give this a try but don't want to do a full half-hour body scan:

Lots of different meditations on this website:

Monday, March 14, 2011

finding joy in times of trouble

There is so much sadness and struggle in the world right now. Earthquakes and tsunamis, uprisings and a constant question of stability. Personal pain, personal struggle seems to be everywhere as well.

It's incredibly easy to want to give up, to give in to hopelessness. To go further and feel that small things such as worries about the way we look, or other theoretically "shallow" concerns mean that we are at heart, pitiful and ultimately shallow beings.

As I sit here, I am waiting for my baby to die. A month ago, at twenty-four weeks of pregnancy the baby was diagnosed with severe growth restriction. I was given no hope by the perinatologist that the baby would ever grow to a size that, even should I choose every heroic measure available to us in Western medicine, would never survive labor.

A month of waiting is very hard.

Even so, even in the midst of this sadness, this terrible experience, I have love. And I work to find beauty and inspiration in the actions of those around me. And above all my heart opens with compassion to the daily hurts and struggles of those around me. I don't find the pain that others experience shallow. Instead, I try to hold them in my heart, as I hold my baby in my heart, as I hold the whole of Japan in my heart. I wish for healing and beauty and joy in this world. For me and everyone else.

Friday, March 11, 2011

movement vs. exercise

I think about the time in my life when I was most "fit" or at least in my best physical shape. It seemed so easy back then!

During the winter of 2005 after dating a bunch of jerks and breaking my heart of one British boy (twice!) in particular. I started running. Whatchoosay!? That's right. I ran. Within six weeks (and this is shocking to me now) I went from no exercise to running a 5k in around thirty minutes, lifting weights and going to yoga at least weekly.

I felt great.

I looked even better!

In that time I lost over fifteen pounds and was the smallest I'd been in years * sidenote: certainly since I'd started nursing school. Letmetellya, there is NOTHING like nursing school to mess with your health! While in nursing school I started smoking (again!) I gained, like, twenty pounds, and never worked out ONCE. end sidenote* I felt like a million dollars, was sleeping like a baby and constantly had a spring in my step. All of this despite the fact that I was working a day/night rotation at the county hospital and was the single mama of a six year old boy!

Then. I fell in love.


The dinners out! The wine! The ice cream! And I replaced my runs with...uh...other activities. I have yet to believe that sex, even acrobatic sex, burns anywhere near as many calories as a good kettlebell workout. Hmmm. So. The pounds piled back on and here I sit, six years later, and unable to run a 5k in anything less than, say, 50 minutes.


What was most striking to me was that, when I actually got to the point that I could run a whole mile at a time I loved that feeling. It was like I could feel the endorphins kick in right at that mile, and oh how I loved that feeling. Glorious! Freeing!

So it's time to get back to that, to get back to finding movement that makes me feel glorious, makes me feel free. The saying is "no pain, no gain" and it's true that growth might be painful, but when you hit your stride.....the payback is incredible.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

try try again

Well I certainly did not succeed in my post-a-day pursuit, but I'm back at it and wanting to continue, regardless. Here's a blog I'd like you to look at today if you have a chance. I sometimes feel like a snake, ready to shed her skin and embark on her next "life". This woman's experience really resonates with me:

I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did. Off to think about who I am not!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


What the heck? It's National Blog Posting Month! I'm going to do my best to post one blog post everyday this month. Hmmm wish me luck!

It's been a hard February and some things have recently happened in my life that are pretty hard to talk about right now, but rest assured, I'm still pursuing balance in my life.

Today I did something that seems to make a lot of women happy. I bought underwear. Now, I'm not a big fan of underwear, sorry if that's tmi, but at best I'm a no muss no fuss kind of underwear uh....wearer. But I decided today, that I don't have to wait until my body is tiny and perfect to wear pretty underthings, and so, I decided to get myself some pretty undies! Cacique was having a store-wide sale and so in I went. Three fancy unmentionables later I walked back out. Now I can wear butterflies on my tush. Yay!

When I got home I tidied up a corner of my bedroom. Someone recently gave me flowers and I'm enjoying every minute of them. Like everything, they are impermanent. The flowers will die, my new undies will wear out and get ratty, but right now, this moment, I'm enjoying them tremendously.