Saturday, July 26, 2008

Quick update

A post to say that I'm not really going to be posting today (LOL!). I've been in St. Louis all day at a cool training workshop and then tomorrow is computer-off day at our house, so no catch up then.

Yesterday was our tenth wedding anniversary. We had a really nice little ceremony that I hope to post about at some point soon.

Yesterday I also finished reading the e-book version of The Power of Pleasurable Childbirth. It was a good, short book about unassisted birth. I'm not sure if is the same as the print version, so now I'm curious to look at a copy of that too!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Uh oh!

From my Zen calendar this week...

"Those who have strong passions are never able to perceive the Way. It is like stirring up clear water with your hands; you may come wishing to find a reflection of your face, but you'll never see clearly in disturbed waters. A mind troubled and vexed with passions is never able to see the Way."

--Sutra of Forty-two Chapters

If this is true, my chances of enlightenment are slim to none, LOL! I have many passions and many fires burning.

I have always been very passionate about my "causes." M said to me a couple of weeks ago that he didn't know what it was like to be so very into something for so long (birth, for me). I told him that perhaps it is a personality style to be really committed to causes, because I've had a "cause" that I've felt devoted to since 1997, when I started working at the first battered women's shelter I worked in. That was the first time I felt that fire, that passion, that aliveness, that sense of "rightness," the attachment to the cause--the thing that is bigger than myself. I've had other work settings where I felt it and others where I haven't and I use that feeling as my guidepost to gauge whether I'm in the right place--if I'm working somewhere that does not make me feel "alive," I've GOT to get out of there or it feels like my spirit will be crushed. I have a physical sense of being squelched, when in a non-passion workplace.

I have more to say on this, but our chicken pen has just been finished and I'm being called to the grand unveiling and "release" of the chickens into their little yard for the first time!

Husband-Coached Childbirth

With my renewed library enthusiasm, I checked out and read Husband-Coached Childbirth this week. I was interested in the book for "historical value" primarily, because Dr. Bradley made so many contributions to the natural childbirth movement and was really a pioneer in natural childbirth and birth education. I didn't particularly like his paternalistic attitude throughout the book and there was something offputting about his tone as well as many of the things he said (the whole "properly trained women" who know how to "conduct themselves" during labor and referring to women as "she was a good obstetrical athlete," as well as a weird section about the "chapped and brittle" vaginas of American women being the cause of tears and episiotomies...). Most of the book is written towards the husband and preparing him to be a good "coach." I recognize that this approach works well for some families. However, as I've referenced in this blog before when mentioning Bradley, it seems that this approach to birth has a very rigid set of "correct" birth behaviors and techniques (very specific side-lying position to labor in, etc.) and my own philosophy centers much more around trusting your inner wisdom, doing what feels good, and listening to your instincts (not your "training" and your "coach.")

There were a couple of things I really liked in this book though too. One was his recurrent use of the word "motherlike." He'd say, "XYZ might not be ladylike, but it IS motherlike...." Another was his reference to the "birth climax." We've been discussing the new birth film Orgasmic Birth on several email lists recently and I have reservations about the choice of title for the film (especially because apparently only one birth in the film is actually "orgasmic" the others are more like "ecstatic" or "joyful," not literally orgasmic). In this Bradley book he references "Helen Wessel's new [1974] term 'birth climax'...subjectively comparing the feeling of birth with the emotional climax in lovemaking." On the email list I'm on, I wrote: Personally, I think birth is such an encompassing and tremendous experience in and of itself, it doesn’t really need orgasm mixed in with it to be powerful and exhilarating (though, its not like I’m opposed to orgasm. It just seems like separate types of happenings, though still on the sexual lifecycle continuum). I think the closest I could come (no pun intended, LOL!) is to “pleasurable” birth, but even though it involves the same body parts, it is a completely different type of experience to me than sex/orgasm.

Then another CBE who had seen the film wrote about it (and the appropriateness of the title) as follows: "If you are not literal but figurative certainly orgasmic could be applied to each of these births....Orgasmic should be applied to something ultimately enjoyable, physiologically intimate and rewarding and I think these births fall in that category. Doesn't a wonderful orgasm make you feel good about yourself? Your body? The mom who says there aren't many times in your life when you can say you are proud of yourself ... and her eyes are welling up .... and enjoying birth isn't something we talk about just like orgasms aren't talked about in public .... that's an orgasmic birth."

So, after pondering these thoughts and then reading the term "birth climax" and thinking about the powerful wave of emotions and euphoria after giving birth, I'm starting to "get" the Orgasmic Birth title. Heck, I guess my "powerful and exhilarating" might actually be talking about "orgasmic birth" after all!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Childbirth Kit

Yesterday, I read The Childbirth Kit. This had been on my wishlist at Amazon for literally years, so I finally went ahead and bought it for myself (my husband bought a mini-amp for his guitar at the same time and we decided they were sort of like anniversary presents. Our tenth wedding anniversary is coming up in less than two weeks!) Anyway, The Childbirth Kit consists of a short book (interesting and concise. Some pieces felt "outdated" because it was written in 1994) and a set of 17 image cards. The cards are the reason I wanted the set. Each one has a colorful image on the front designed for a particular stage of labor (so like water drops on a leaf for early labor or a bright red-orange piece of intricate glass for pushing) and the back has a short visualization exercise to do, ideas of things for the woman to try during labor, ideas for the birth partner to help her, and a series of inspiring/contemplative words that are related to the image on the front. So, for example, one card has the words "Pathways. Mother. Growth. Fertile. Powerful" printed along the bottom (the image on the front is titled "Earth," but it looks more like a woven rug/tapestry). There is even a card titled "Knit." My mom would approve! It is a pretty cool set. The idea is that you practice with the cards, images, visualizations prior to labor and then continue using them IN labor as well (so, pinning on the on the wall to look at, or holding them, or whatever).

This week I also read The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood. This was actually the third time I've read it. I didn't really set out to read it again, I was looking up some stats for an article I was writing and got lured back in to reading the whole thing. It is a good book. We have it in our LLL library (the first time I read it, it was the previous edition and I got it from the LLL Group I used to go to when L was a baby).

Friday, July 11, 2008


I spent many years of my life loving the library and making good use of all it had to offer. When I was in graduate school, I lost touch with the joy of the library and only set foot in the University library TWICE (funny that that is possible, but such is the miracle of the internet and University computer access to all kinds of journal article online, instead of dusty stack-searching for them). While an undergrad, I practically lived at the library--either the college one or the public one, I spent a lot of time in both. Not necessarily checking out books or doing research, but as my "base" between classes, to study, write papers etc. After graduate school, I rediscovered the joy of reading for pleasure. I had library cards at the two cities we lived in prior to where we live now. I went to the library at least once a week and had a fabulous time. Then, we moved back to our hometown, and since we're out of the city limits a library card costs $20. I didn't get one. I've lived here for three years now and have only set foot in the library a handful of times, mostly to give them updated LLL posters for their windows. I haven't consciously missed it, because I get so many books from book sales, yard sales, friends, Bookins, and Amazon (who needs the library, I began to feel!)

Then, I went to a special children's program at the library about an hour away from us a couple of weeks ago, and was suddenly struck by how fabulous libraries are and how much I love them. It didn't hurt that this little library had some rockin' cool books for sale for only 25 cents each! (Excuse me while I swoon, but they had multiple copies of the brand new Our Bodies, Ourselves Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth. Hardback, library bound copies. A QUARTER! I almost collapsed with joy).

So, this week, I decided that I should shell out the $20 for a library card at my local public library. I actually planned to do so only so my kids could check out books, videos, and participate in the summer reading program (side note: I asked L if he'd like to do the summer reading program and I told him that they had prizes for it. He, like most kids, love prizes and surprises, but he gave me a really funny look and said, "Why would I need to win prizes for reading books?! That doesn't make any sense." Aww. That's my guy. Reading books is its own reward! ;-) However, as soon as I stepped into the stacks I was in LOVE again. OMG. Libraries are fabulous. I found two books on my Amazon wish list as well as an interesting book-on-CD to listen to while I fold laundry. I've been twice this week alone and see many more trips in my future. The kids love it too and I feel guilty that I've been depriving them for so long (especially because I KNOW how much I loved the library when I was a kid. I literally had read every single book in the teenager section of the libraries in both towns near me. Every single one. I used to check out 20 "young adult" books at a time and read two each day. That was my mom's limit for me, because otherwise I'd be all weird-acting from having been buried in a book all day long).

Okay, so I already finished reading one of the books I checked out (not one that was on my wish list, but one that caught my eye). It was The Busy Mom's Guide to Simple Living. It was extremely religious. More so than I anticipated from my initial glance at it. While I didn't really get much out of it specifically, I did start to ponder all of the simple living/homesteading things I've lost touch with in recent months as the busy-ness of life has started to get away from me.