Saturday, January 31, 2009

Still more birth books...

Continuing my birth book extravaganza, this week I finished reading Childbirth without Fear. I posted quotes from it already here. I did want to share one more though:

"Is it surprising that, at a moment of such stupendous significance, the woman...should be rewarded by a sense of exaltation? A new life...should logically be heralded with pride and joy. In every newborn child there is new hope-—to every mother the people should give thanks." (emphasis mine)

I also finished evaluating Pushed, which I've read once before. I'm going to get to hear the author, Jennifer Block, speak in person on Feb. 10, which is super exciting to me!

Finally, I finished reading Creating a Joyful Birth Experience. I really hoped to find some new birth art ideas for birth classes in this, but I didn't get as much out of it as I had hoped. There was a lot of emphasis on "inner child" work, which is not something that I connect with and also seemed to have been a fad that has since passed (this book was written in 1994).

Out of time for blogging!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Birthing From Within

This week I finished re-reading Birthing From Within. I started re-reading it quite some time ago, but became re-engrossed this week and finished it up (this was the third time I've read it). Words cannot express how much I enjoy this book. It is my favorite, and most personally meaningful, birth book of all time. It is powerful. It is rich. It is innovative. It is timeless. It is inspiring. It is authentic. It is deep. It "goes beyond." I do not know where I first learned of it, but I read it during my first pregnancy and it was my best, most helpful, and most relevant birth preparation I did (better than the in person classes I took--which were not based on BFW). I know that not everyone does, but I connected with it deeply. It spoke to me and meant something and it was relevant during my birthing as well. So, I'm very attached to it because of my association with my first, transformative pregnancy and birth. I read it this time with more of an eye towards my birth classes and I truly think this book provides more REAL preparation for giving birth than any other (though, I'm not convinced that anything can *truly* prepare you--it is an experience to be lived, rather than described). Reading again raised my desire to train as a BFW Mentor. I hope to do it someday.

(I do have two sections I don't like--there is a really poor breastfeeding section and then there is a quote from another midwife about how if the woman is laboring by candlelight with soft music playing, she blows out the candles and turns off the music and tells her to "get to work.")

I also finished reading In Labor: Women & Power in the Birthplace, which I've wanted to read for ages. I finally went ahead and bought it for myself after Christmas. I was reading it concurrently with re-reading Pushed and it was funny how very similar in content they are. Both sociopolitical looks at maternity care and the culture of giving birth in the U.S. I marked a number of good quotes that I will eventually share on CfM, I think. I did notice that it got less good in the final third of the book and actually seemed to itself contradict some of the points she had made earlier (i.e. in the final third, she starts referring to "deliveries" and "being delivered" when earlier in the book she had examined the use of the word "delivery" as inappropriate and how birth is something women do, an active thing, etc...)

I also read a really lightweight and trashy book about a woman married to a man who is perpetually cheating on her--To Have and to Hold. Basically instantly forgettable, but kind of fun to read anyway.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More Zen

My mom has an online Zen calendar this year and I wanted to share a quote from it:

"Without staring death in the eye, as the perpetually reverse side of life, we cannot live fully and completely."

--soko morinaga

And edited to add another one:

"Life without zazen is like winding your clock without setting it. It runs perfectly well, but it doesn’t tell time."
--shunryu suzuKi

Christmas books

Finished reading two of my Christmas gifts:

Womanspirit: A Guide to Women's Wisdom--this is another example of an older book with gifts to offer. It was pretty good and I collected several ideas from it to use for future blessingways. It also had several good guided visualization exercises.

Zen Parenting: The Art of Learning What You Already Know--This is snarky of me, but I guess I DO already know it all, because I didn't really learn anything new from this book. I did like this daily Zen practice they suggested:

*Stay with the moment.
*Stay with your attention on your inner awareness.
*Pay attention. Remember, emotions pass. Bodily needs pass.
*What stays is the essence of you and the pure spirit of your child.

Time to get off the computer, because I have piles of more important things to be doing!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Birth Books

I've read a lot of birth books in the last two weeks.

First, I read through Pam England's Inanna's Descent Journal. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but interesting, as her work always is to me.

I also finished reading Pregnant Feelings, another 80's birth book with some interesting content and ideas. The subtitle is "developing trust in birth," which I think is such an important piece. It has a nice emphasis on birth being unique to each individual, so not to base your experience or expectations on anyone else (or on specific coping "techniques"). It is by Rahima Baldwin, who wrote Special Delivery--another 80's birth book that I enjoy a great deal. I have a special interest in postpartum care and I found it particularly interesting to read that postpartum hemorrhage is most common between days 10 and 17 postpartum!

Speaking of postpartum, I marked a section in another birth book I finished recently--Fathers at Birth. In it, the author says there is an old saying in the East: "The way a woman takes care of herself after a baby is born determines how long she will live." While not meant literally, I find it a very powerful quote and I will incorporate both things into my "planning for postpartum" session that I give periodically. I really enjoyed this book and have blogged about it at CfM (twice) and ICEA (twice) already, so you can read more of my thoughts there!

Then, I finished reading one of my holiday gifts from my dear husband--The Labor Progress Handbook, by Penny Simkin. It had been on my wishlist for absolute AGES, so it was fun to finally get and read. Picked up some ideas about coping with long labors/back labor/fetal malpositioning to incorporate into my classes. I also posted some thoughts from it at Talk Birth.

My copy of the new film Pregnant in America arrived today and I'm eager to watch it!

I also read Twilight (teenage book about vampires--not birth related at all!), which was my guilty pleasure of the month--I read it WAY too fast and am casting about for the other books in the series.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Book Year in Review --2008

At the end of 2007, I really wanted to post a year-end review and never got around to it. Now, as 2008 has closed out, I find myself wanting to do the same (and also finding it a chore that gets put off...So...whatever that means.)

So, in 2008 I read 94 books. I believe that is roughly 50 less than 2007. I suspect this is because several of my 2008 reads were pretty heavy/time-consuming. I also read countless journals/magazines/newsletters. I get a lot of subscriptions!

I'm realizing that perhaps my balk at writing this post is because I was going to do it in "Top 10" format, but can't pick/decide/figure it out. So, I think I will just give "special awards" instead of Top Tenning it. :-) Not all of my awards go to books that I actually read this year--some are actually from last year, but still leaving their legacy. So, I guess in a way this is a recap of 2007 & 2008.

First, some true favorites from 2008:

Ten Zen Seconds
The Life Organizer
Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart
The Mother's Guide to Self Renewal
Mothering the New Mother
Fathers at Birth
Birth: The Surprising History of How We are Born
Childbirth Education: Research, Practice, & Theory
The Politics of Breastfeeding

What do you know? There ARE 10 after all!

Runners up:

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy & Birth

Just Six Numbers

Not a book, but a favorite DVD of 2008:

Yoga for Your Pregnancy

And favorite DVD series:

Smallville: Seasons 1-7. We had so much fun watching 7 seasons worth of these between Sept. and Dec. of 2008 (yes, that is like 200 hours worth or something. Kind of embarrassing and/or horrifying! Hmm. Maybe that is the true reason why I didn't end up reading 100 books this year!)

Special Awards:

Most Influential/Life Changing/Inspirational:

Ten Zen Seconds

The Life Organizer (Since this one features so prominently in my awards, you'd think I would have blogged about it, but I never did! Weird, huh? I think because I keep it out to use/refer back to and so it doesn't make it into my to-blog-about-pile by my desk).

The Mother's Guide to Self Renewal

Most Challenging:

Buddhism for Mothers
Nothing Special: Living Zen

Most Fun/Entertaining:

Books by the Yarn Harlot

Most Quoted:

My $1 Shop Zen calendar!

Books by Wayne Dyer

Most Quoted in Other Writing:


Most Referred Back to/Flipped Back Through:

Your Sacred Self
The Life Organizer

Most Consciousness Expanding:

Life After Death
Just Six Numbers


Childbirth Education: Research, Practice, & Theory (also "wins" as Most Educational)

Most Given as Gift:

Mother Nurture

Most Often Recommended to Others:

Mother Nurture
What Mothers Do
The Life Organizer

Should Have Recommended More Often/Given as a Gift:

Ten Zen Seconds

Most Lent Out to Others:

Diaper Free
Brain, Child issues
Emergency Childbirth
Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart

Here's to at least 100 good reads in 2009! ;-)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Last Child in the Woods

On New Year's Eve, I finished reading Last Child in the Woods. This was the first book for the new book club I'm participating in (Yay! I've always wanted to be in a book club.) The book is about "nature deficit disorder"--basically, that people, especially kids, don't spend enough time outdoors and in nature. It made me think that, even though I live in the country and in the woods, I should go outside more and appreciate being there, as opposed to just heading for the car and town. I also noticed that I think I spent more time outside as a child than my children do now. We had a nice routine going where we spent about two hours outside together every afternoon and then we developed a terrible mosquito problem that changed our routine and drove us to spend more time indoors. Then, even when the weather cooled down again and the mosquitoes died, we were out of the habit of our daily outside time.

Here are some quotes I copied down for our book club discussion:

"What if, instead of sailing to the Galapagos Islands and getting his hands dirty and his feet wet, Charles Darwin had spent his days cooped up in some office cubicle staring at a computer screen? What if a tree fell in the forest and no one knew its biological name? Did it exist?" [I think, yes :)]

"'Reality is the final authority; reality is what’s going on out there, not what’s in your mind or on your computer screen,' says Paul Dayton."

I found this quote refreshing because I read so much Zennish stuff that says reality is a construct and "you create your own reality" and "there is no reality." LOL!

Page 198 quotes from Robert Kennedy Jr.:

"'We’re part of nature, and ultimately we’re predatory animals and we have a role in nature...and if we separate ourselves from that, we’re separating ourselves from our history, from the things that tie use together. We don’t want to live in a world where there are not recreational fishermen, where we’ve lost touch with the seasons, the tides, the things that connect us—-to ten thousand generations of human beings that were here before there were laptops and ultimately connect us to God.' We shouldn’t be worshipping nature as God, he said, but nature is the way that God communicates to us most forcefully. 'God communicates to us through each other and through organized religion, through wise people and the great books, through music and art,' but nowhere 'with such texture and forcefulness in detail and grace and joy, as through creation...And when we destroy large resources, or when we cut off our access by putting railroads along river banks, by polluting so that people can’t fish, or by making so many rules that people can’t get out on the water, it’s the moral equivalent of tearing the last pages out of the last Bible on Earth[emphasis mine]...Our children ought to be out there on the water...This is what connects us, this is what connects humanity, this is what we have in common. It’s not the Internet, it’s the oceans."

From page 285 quoting one of his sons at age four: "Are God and Mother Nature married, or just good friends?" (I LOVE this!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I plan to post a "book year in review" sometime soon, but for now I wanted to simply share two Zen calendar quotes:

"Not to have flexibility to change is a tragedy in itself, and to have too much flexibility not to stand for anything is a tragedy in itself."

--Yogi Bhajan

"In this world hate never dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. this is the law, ancient and inexhaustible. You too shall pass away. Knowing this, how can you quarrel?"


Happy New Year!