Friday, May 30, 2008

Rediscovering Birth

This past week I finally finished reading Rediscovering Birth by Sheila Kitzinger. I've had this book for some time and have flipped through it more than once because it has great pictures and some good quotes as well. It is a big hardback book (sort of coffee table style), which makes it heavy to hold up while lying on my side in bed to read. Hence, the reason it took like 2 years to make it off my to-read bookshelf.

I then treated myself to Things I Learned from Knitting , which was a birthday gift from me to my mom. It is by the Yarn Harlot and was just as funny as her others. And, yes, though this is a humor book about knitting, I still marked two sections because they had potential to develop into analogies about birth. LOL! We all have our obsessions! One was about cooking a mushroom stroganoff and the other about chance of death via legal execution....Watch and wait with baited breath for how I relate these to birth in a complicated and yet ingenious manner ;-) I won't be posted these for a while, since they aren't at the top of my to-do list, but someday, I promise...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In the Womb

I had the opportunity recently to watch the film In the Womb, by National Geographic. Overall, it was an interesting film though I thought it became repetitive and there was computer graphic footage that seemed to be repeated over and over again. It really brought home the miracle of human development. It is truly like magic how a baby develops in such complexity and perfection!

Of course, I was most interested to see the birth at the very end of the film and it was great! The mother gave birth standing, with her heads and arms leaning on the hospital bed. The voiceover made comments about how movement during labor is so important and how upright--standing, squatting, kneeling--is the best way to give birth (and thankfully this was backed up by what was actually happening on the screen instead of just the "ideal"). So, that was really cool! It is a very brief clip and not very easy to see so I wouldn't recommend the video for use as a birth video per se, it was just nice to see a normal birth portrayed smoothly (and in hospital setting). Then at the end the mother was nursing the baby and the baby was kind of mouthing the nipple and the nurse suddenly popped in and whisked the baby away from her--holding it up naked and away from her body so the poor thing was all splayed out and crying. My two year old was watching the film with me and I said, "oh no! They took the baby away from the mama!" The baby started to cry and my little guy FREAKED OUT, he clung to me crying and saying "baby. way. mama. WAAHH" and then asking to nurse. It was sad, but also cute that he cared so much and knew where the baby really should be--with its mama!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mothering the New Mother & Others

Well, after my post last week about possibly "retiring" from this blog for a while, instead I've decided to just post quick reviews of the books I've read, instead of full ones with quotes and everything and see how that goes for a while.

This week I read:

Mothering the New Mother--this book had been on my Amazon wishlist since 2004 when I took a postpartum doula training (this book is pretty much par for the course for postpartum doulas). I finally got it for my birthday this year (I guess since it had been on my trusty wishlist for so long people figured I didn't still want it, but I did!). This book brought home for me why I think it is so important to me to be available for postpartum women (not as a pp doula anymore, but with breastfeeding help and support groups). It is an excellent resource for mothers, doulas, fathers, and any other support people who work with or help new mothers.

Also a birthday gift, I read The Tao of Motherhood. For whatever reason I was not expecting this to literally be the Tao Te Ching for mothers. I was thinking it was a book about zen mothering or something. However, it is a translation of the ancient Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu, but reworked slightly so that every "chapter" is about mothering and mothering well. It has 81 one to two page "chapters" just like the regular one. It was very good, even though totally different than what I expected. I'll need to re-read it and let it soak in better. It is such a quick read, I zoomed through it rather than digesting and absorbing (i.e. a non-Zen way to read!). One quick quote from the end of the chapter on selflessness:

"You can sit and meditate while

your baby cries himself to sleep.

Or you can go to him and share

his tears, and find your Self."

I finally finished reading Just Six Numbers too. This was different than my usual reads and took me a lot longer to finish. In short, it was a physics book of sorts written by a cosmologist about the mathematics that shape the universe. It was really very mind-blowing in scope in some ways--one of those things that makes you feel very, very, very small and insignificant on one hand and on the other awed by the majesty and miracle of life.

Finally, I found Juggling at the $1 Shop and read that. It is a book about balancing career and home and it was interesting. In some ways it helped me feel better about my deep need to continue with my other "career" pursuits in addition to mothering.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Recent Publications

I haven't had a chance to post yet about the recent publications I've had. The most recent was in Compleat Mother--a short little poem about nursing Z. I wrote it in January when he was really sick and we were spending a lot of time lying down and nursing through it. It is called "How to Meditate with a Baby." I also was really proud to have my article "Planning for Postpartum" published in the spring issue of the Journal of API. This would be a good article to use in birth education classes if I do say so myself :)

In March, I had an essay in New Beginnings (LLLI's magazine). This one was primarily about nursing while reading and is called "The Rhythm of Our Lives." Hopefully it will be available online at some point. I also had an article in the CAPPA Quarterly called "Creating Needle Felted Birth Art Sculptures."

Then, finally the spring issue of CfM News (which I edit--so, I guess maybe it doesn't count as a publication since I put it in there myself!) I had my "Small Stone Birth Activism" article as a well as a book review of Birth Book and a book review of Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy & Birth.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Books that aren't going to make it...

...into my blog, that is. I've decide to just clear out my pile of "to blog about" books and get a fresh start. So, these are the books that aren't going to make it into their own entry (it doesn't meant they aren't any good, it just means I have my priorities in order!):

Kitchen Table Wisdom--This one was a really good collection of essays by a doctor turned holistic-health counselor for people with cancer. I had read quotes from this book in several of my other books and it was fun to finally read it. Some really neat stories about healing, life after death experiences, etc.

Everyday Serenity: Meditations for people who do too much--this was my most recent read-a-page-a-day-after-doing-yoga book. Reading this book is part of why I'm clarifying my priorities and figuring out ways to "stop" and "do nothing." (see below for more about this.) Some of this was really good, some felt shallow or trite. Lots of good quotes though. Each meditation opened with a quote, such as this one I've liked for quite some time: "Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while a great wind is bearing me across the sky." (Ojibwa saying)

Girls Who Grew Up Great--this one was an example of my tendency to just read *anything* that happens to cross my path. I got this in a box of yard sale donations and flipped through it, got interested, and read the whole thing while I nursed Z down for bedtime. Luckily, reading the whole book only took about 15 minutes and I learned a few things from it (like about twin sisters in ancient Vietnam who mustered up a big army of 80,000 people with mostly female generals and drove the Chinese out of Vietnam. This was like in 40 A.D.).

Mother Rising--I LOVE the picture on the cover of this cool book about planning blessingway (or "Mother Blessing") ceremonies.

What Should I Do with My Life? This book was interesting. The author interviewed a bunch of people who had answered the title question in their own lives, or were in the process of trying to. He did kind of focus a lot on himself and his personal journey and so each person's story tied back to, "well, I did this and this and thought this and this," so it seemed more like a book about himself than what the cover indicated. I feel like, personally, I have too many ideas of things to do with my life and need to weed them out, not try to discover my passions and how to follow them! Reading this book made me think about all the other things I could have done and/or could be doing, especially the stories about people who have traveled all over and worked for big companies in other countries, etc. (and are only like 32) and I did start to feel a little insecure or "small" or underachieving or *something*. Then, the day I finished the book, my Zen calendar came through with this quote:

"The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despire your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, ever place is the center of the world."
--John Burroughs

Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life--I read this on the heels of the book above. Anyone who knows me well will know why I was instantly drawn to this book. It was good. I recommend it!

So, speaking of priorities, everyday serenity, what should I do with my life, following an authentic life, and so forth, I may be taking a break from this blog in general for a while. I've been whining and complaining for months now about having "too much to do" and this would be an easy something to cut for a while (I have a problem with being black and white about things--either I do it and do it whole hog or I need to completely QUIT, not just "take a break" or "step back" or "come back to it later." Those things don't come easily to me--I am all or nothing. Things take up mental space in my head and thus continue to use up my time and energy, even if I'm theoretically "just waiting for later" unless I've actually quit them for good. However, I have fun with this blog, so I don't want to quit it for good, but I'm having trouble just taking a break either. Maybe blogging here is a good wintertime activity? There is SO MUCH TO DO in the spring. It isn't like I have tons of loyal readers here really, so I don't really know why it matters or not if I quit, take a break, or keep going! LOL!)

As I explained to M a few months ago, maybe I don't actually need to change what I'm doing, just how I think about what I am doing. It is my stressful thoughts that most often cause me problems! I also have dozens of craft projects I want to pursue, but then use up all my free time doing things online instead--some work stuff, some play stuff, all stuff that replaces working-with-my-hands stuff. I go through phases with creative work, in which I sometimes feel that making things is a waste of time or that is simply doesn't fit into this season of my life. I only have certain scraps of free time to work on things without the kids around and I like to use that time writing and also working on birth work/activism (oh, and reading email and blogging, which is what I'm having cognitive dissonance about lately), so making things doesn't make it. However, I have lots of new ideas for cool stuff lately and so it is creeping back into my brain and saying, "make time for me!" and I'm starting to wig out from my Mountain of To Dos (this comes from the Everyday Serenity book referenced above).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Holistic Moms Network

I wanted to post two quick things about HMN. One is that I was briefly interviewed for an article about alternative Mother's Day celebrations by the Washington Times. That was fun :) For the record, HMN National has written a letter to the editor clarifying that HMN is neither a "new age" or "pagan" organization!

Secondly, I wanted to note how much I LOVE the new HMN cookbook "Growing Healthy Families." I've purchased a large number of copies to give as gifts all the through the year. I had about five recipes published in the cookbook which was also fun and then my sweet little babies are both pictured on the back cover. I love it! This definitely brought the cookbook up high on my gift giving list--grandmas, etc. Not only will they get some great new recipes, but they can also gaze upon the cuteness of their descendants on the back ;-) My only complaint is that it is so pretty, I don't want to get it messed up with flour and stuff while cooking from it! It really is a high quality cookbook with a really nice, high quality cover and nice paper, etc.

My little cutie pies are the top three flower petals (starting with the profile of Z in the far left petal, followed by L twice as a baby) and then the third petal to the right on the bottom of L as a 3 year old (and, yes, I only have two kids, but they are so adorable they got four pictures ;-)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

A post on the mamaroots blog asking about "books your mother read to you" spurred me to consider my mother and books and how very many, many books she read to me in my childhood. She continued reading book series' to us for years after we were reading on our own and I was flooded with memories of favorites. So, I thought I'd share here (since it is totally in keeping with the theme of my blog):

I have a LOT of book and mama memories. My origination as a reader and lover of words and books is with my lovely mother and her love for books. As far as a read-alouder, she has a real knack for dramatic readings--no monotones here! She always created voices for all the characters and made things come alive.

The first book memory that comes to mind is of reading Bridge to Terabithia on the train on the way to California when I was like 4 years old. We both cried and cried about the girl dying (and were totally shocked by that twist in the plot).

Crying reminds me of the several times she read the Little House series to us and how she cried every time she got to the part where Jack (the dog) dies. Little House books are probably my favorite books that she read to us. Oh, and then that brought me to Little Women when Beth dies.

Reading another comment left in response to the query about books on the mamaroots blog, then reminded me of my mom reading the Milly-Molly-Mandy books to us and changing the Mandy to Mindy (my sister's name). That led me to remembering the Stairstep Farm (and related books) books and how much I liked those, which led me to think about Anne of Green Gables.

Other favorites read by my mother include the Oz books, The Black Cauldron books, The Dark is Rising books, Chronicles of Narnia, Redwall, The Wrinkle in Time and so on. Tons and tons!

Happy Mother's Day! And, thanks, Mom!

Labor Pain

This week I finished reading one of my birthday books, Labor Pain. I wasn't that thrilled with it. Not because it was bad, but because it didn't really have anything new in it for me. I wanted it primarily for additional coping ideas to share in birth classes, but there weren't any that I wasn't already familiar with. The writing style wasn't particularly engaging or inspiring, though it is possible that I'm just getting burned out on birth books and need to read something else for a while (this happens to me periodically). There was a lot of discussion of using TENS machines for pain relief, which aren't readily available in the US (the book was UK based). There were several good points made about birth politics that I will blog about in my other blogs as the time arises (the time seems to be getting smaller and smaller lately for blogging. That is okay though, real life is more important! ;-)

One of the birth stories towards the end of the book is about a woman recovering from anorexia who is so distraught by her body changes during pregnancy that her doctor agreed to do a cesarean at 28 weeks because he felt her "psychological symptoms warranted it." Whoa! However, she ended up seeing a hypnotherapist instead who taught her self-hypnosis techniques for birth and she ended up going overdue even and having a wonderful birth that she was really thrilled with. Yay!

I also read the book The Active Birth Partners Handbook that I had been waiting for. Again, nothing new for me really, but I like to read (or know about the availability of) books that are specifically for fathers, since most birth literature is directed towards women.