Saturday, September 20, 2008


This week I was super excited to get my pre-ordered copy of Pam England's new booklet, "LabOrinth" in the mail ("when the labyrinth becomes a labOrinth: metaphor, map, meditations, & rituals for labor and postpartum"). It was an interesting little book. I really connect with the labyrinth as a metaphor for birthing (I've posted about this here before) and I use it as a teaching tool in my birth classes as well. Most couples seem to connect with it as well though I think on the surface it feels a little "New Agey" to some of them. Labyrinths are actually ancient (oldest found is 3500 years old!) and have been found in many cultures and places. According to the booklet, they were used by midwives in England 500 years ago as tools for healing. And, centuries ago, mosaic labyrinths inlaid in the floors of churches were walked by pilgrims on their knees (those who could not actually make pilgrimages to the Holy Land in person, would crawl through the labyrinth in the church on their knees as their pilgrimage). I use the crawling example in class to explain that in the "labyrinth" of birth, you can go at your own pace and speed and you can even crawl if you need to! Anyway, it is a cool little book and I recommend it. I love Birthing from Within's materials and ideas.

Based on reading this booklet and on the cover of the Birthing from Within book that I'm re-reading, I drew a little sketch of "kiva woman" and a womb labyrinth that I wanted to share. Though I'm crafty and creative, *drawing* is not really a talent or skill of mine, but I liked my little picture anyway, even if it isn't polished!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Life After Death

Several weeks ago I finished a library book by Deepak Chopra called Life After Death: The Burden of Proof. There were a lot of interesting ideas in this book, but I've finally accepted that I'm not going to end up having the time to do a big blog post about them. I did want to share one of the ideas from it that really stuck with me (I'm actually paraphrasing here): "Saying the mind is in the brain, is like saying the music is in the radio." (or that the footprint in the sand is the same as the foot.)

This book really explored all kinds of things about consciousness, the nature of reality, the nature of the mind/brain/soul, physics, quantum physics, cognition, neurobiology, neurology, Indian mysticism/religions, etc., etc. It was kind of heavy read and took me a while to get through it, but it was very interesting. One of the ideas was that the universe and its patterns/fields of energy could be looked at as the mind/consciousness of God. (Another effective analogy he used in the book was of someone studying a TV screen at an extreme close up (like atomic level) and how you would only see random photons firing randomly, but as you move out and out and out, you start to form a theory that perhaps the photons *aren't* firing randomly, but perhaps there is a pattern. Then, you start to discern colors, and then images, and then realize is video of people performing a story, and so on. The analogy being that perhaps as little humans we can't get far enough away from "the picture" to see the whole of reality and the patterns of the universe/God/consciousness...)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Around the Circle Gently

Last week I finished reading a neat little book called Around the Circle Gently. It is a book of quotes about birth, families, and life. I enjoyed it and found lots of food for thought therein, as well as some good quotes to use in mother blessing or "welcome new baby" cards in the future.

I'm leaving shortly for a retreat. One of my sessions is about postpartum planning (I wrote more about this on the CfM blog), and so I wanted to share a related quote from this book about it:

“In any society the way a woman gives birth and the kind of care given to her and the baby point as sharply as an arrowhead to the key values in the culture.”

--Sheila Kitzinger

I have more thoughts about this quote as it relates to birth that I hope to write up more completely someday. However, for now it is reminding me of the importance of nurturing postpartum care and "cocooning" for mother and new baby.

Last week I also read the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, which then prompted me to rent the newer Pride and Prejudice movie.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Recent Activities

I've had a nice and busy week and wanted to post a quick update about what I've been up to. My article Satisfaction with Birth, just came out in the fall issue of the International Journal of Childbirth Education (ICEA). At four pages, it is the longest professional article I've had published and I'm proud of it. :) The Journal has been redesigned and has a fresh, glossy new look for this issue and it is fun to be in the first edition with this new style! The whole publication looks really great. It also has some great content and I read the whole thing cover-to-cover right away. Particularly good was an article by Sheila Kitzinger about PTSD called "Screaming Inside: A Normal Response to Abnormal Stress" that was pretty powerful. (Also, I am excited to have my own article in the same issue with an article by such a talented woman!)

Yesterday, I finished making a mei tai baby carrier with my Mindful Mothers group. We had SO much fun!I shared a while ago about how making things for yourself is so empowering and this was another example of that--I did this myself! Yay me! :-D Of course Z is rather too big for carrier like this anymore, so now I'll have to have another baby to put in it...

Mindful Mothers originally started as a chapter of a national organization and I was a co-leader for it. As I've been faced recently with making hard choices about what to keep doing and what to let go of, I handed over the group to two wonderful and talented women who have reworked it into an independent group called Mindful Mothers. It is now going strong under its new leadership and new independence and I feel I made the right decision in stepping down. They've been doing awesome things like this mei tai party! (We all brought our sewing machines and worked together on two separate evenings making the mei tais--as well as eating delicious potluck dinner and doing lots of chatting!)

Finally, last night I finished reading an excellent book called Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart. It is a midwife's memoir and covers 13 years of devoted practice. Lots of great birth stories, as well as being an interesting personal journey and the journey of midwifery as a profession in NH. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in birth, particularly aspiring midwives. I reviewed it for the forthcoming issue of CfM News and posted a little more about it on the CfM blog.