Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fumbling Toward Fatherhood

One of the most lovely birth stories I've ever heard from a father's perspective. We simply don't hear often enough about men's real experiences with childbirth.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Joy, Grief, Coveting, Laughter

Life is good. I really believe this, from the very core of who I am. Life is good. Even in the most difficult times we are meant to have joy.

Now, I'm not trying to say that I'm going through one of my most difficult times. Difficult yes, but also joyous.

And it's interesting to be where I am right now. I feel like I am skirting the edges of so many different experiences as I dance my dance along the different roads of life.

First, there's my sister. She's amazing. Have I ever told you how amazingly wonderful my sister is and how very much I love her? Well she is. And I do. I could (and probably will) write a whole post about how fantabulous my sister is.

And guess what? The most exciting thing has happened. Someone else has seen in her all of the beauty and wonder and joy that I have always seen in her. And so he asked her to marry him.


Yep, that's right. My little sister and long-time best friend will be getting married at the end of July. I am so excited for her that I could burst.

And then...

It's also bittersweet. Already I miss her. She is busy getting ready for her wedding and moving and finding an apartment and, and, and... And she just doesn't need me anymore the way she did. My kids and I are not used to sharing her. Not used to having her talk to someone else when she's sad, excited or just feeling talkative. So, it's an adjustment, as some of the best things are. After all, I've prayed for this. I have prayed for her to find someone who would adore her for the amazing woman she is and who would love and care for her the way she loves and cares for everyone else.

Her fiance is wonderful. Deserving. Like I said, I'm thrilled to bursting -- 99.9% of the time.

And then there's hurting. Someone else I love very dearly is struggling with depression and dependency.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I loathe with a fury inexpressible in cold, dry words the twin dragons of mental illness and addiction. What other infirmities attack us to the very core of who we are, eat at our souls and then make us feel that we are to blame for the damage?

This dear friend of mine is working out of a long cycle of depression and self-medicative addiction. It's a jolting, uneven and difficult process. This person's marriage is suffering, which means that two people I love are hurting.

I'm surprised by how much it has affected me, especially because I usually hear the details after the fact and haven't really been in the middle of any of it. But, actually, I think that's worse. I feel so helpless in a situation with which I want so badly to help. I'm doing what I can. But, really, prayers and support are probably the only real help most of us can offer at this point. They are working with doctors, counselors and ecclesiastical leaders. I am just praying that all those helping them will be discerning, sensitive and capable. I have faith that they can make it through this. I have faith in the greatness of their spirits and their ability to overcome.

Now, on a completely different note...

I saw a cute little scooter driving past me the other day on my way to pick kids up from school. It has been a long time since I've seen something and just really coveted it. But, boy. I coveted that scooter. I wasn't sure why I longed to trade that guy for my mini-van. I wanted rather desperately (embarassingly so) to hop on that scooter, feel the wind through my hair and just zoom. Just go.

Then I thought about it for a little while. It wasn't the scooter that I wanted so much as the freedom. Ah, the freedom to get on a little scooter, by myself. To go where I want to go without having at least two little appendages to get in and out of the car. Ahhhhhh....

Trust me. This is heady stuff for me. I crave and am so fed by, filled by quiet, alone time. I had a very difficult time when I was first married. It was hard for me to adjust to having someone always there, always having someone to talk to. And, unlike roommates or siblings, I didn't feel like I could just make some excuse to get away from him. Not that I really wanted to. But, I remember feeling deeply shaken by the lack of alone time I had after we got married. Sometimes I just need the freedom to go wherever I want to go and be completely alone.

Now, um... I have four children. Quiet, alone time is in drastically short supply around here. Add to that the fact that I have a five month baby who needs me a great deal. So, I think that's where the frenzied, scooter-lusting feelings came from.

Some days I feel like William Wallace.


Okay, so maybe that's a bit over-dramatic. But, hey. Indulge me. This blog is as close as I get to a good, long afternoon alone at the library.

Now, on to the funnies. Which means Mashuga.

This kid cracks me up like nothing else. He likes to pretend to be a super hero. A new one every day. And we're not talking Batman or Superman or Spiderman. He does use those standbys occasionally. But, he'd rather be creative. He's super-punch, or fast-man, or strong-kick or captain kick-punch man. The other day he was super Ted.

Um, super Ted?

Well, my favorite is when he tells me this:

"Mom. Heavenly Father told me that he's going to turn me silver. He's going give me super strength and turn me into a super hero to fight off sin."

There you go folks. Temptation getting to you? Just call Mashuga. He's here to fight off sin.

Then, the other day we were driving by a smokestack.

"Mom," he said. "Is that where they make the clouds?"

Then, there's this:

Rusty the super dog. Yes, that's underwear on her head.

Well, I think I'm done rambling for the day. Sorry it's been a while.

Scud and I are working on a book about volcanoes for his class. So, I'd better get back to it.

Volcanoes are openings in the earth's crust.

Life is good.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Open Letter to Childbirth Professionals Of All Persuasions

We birth professionals seem to be settling for the easy answers. The causes. The propaganda. The comfortable absolutes.

I think, though, that absolutes in something as uncertain as birth are worth about as much as dental floss at a Willie Nelson concert. If I indulge in any during this post, consider them for what they're worth -- about as much as any other absolutes (not very much).

But principles, ah... I think principles (which admit a multitude of "right" answers) can be worth a great deal. Principles such as validation, empowerment, personal sovereignty, respect...

I keep thinking that one very important thing in birth and birth preparation is to always validate the woman's experience, whether in past, present or future tense. For this reason, I am uncomfortable with both the "Pain is good! Embrace it!" and the "Birth can be easy and comfortable." mentalities. Because, like so many dichotomies, it feels false. Neither one is right. Neither one is wrong. And most women's experiences with birth lie somewhere in the middle.

In an effort to acknowledge the full range of women's experiences, I try to be careful in my classes. Though I call the skills we learn "pain-coping techniques", I am careful to make it clear that a woman may experience the sensations of birth as pain or stretching or pressure or fullness. Or she may experience them as none of these or all of them at different times or many of them at the same time or as any other sensation or group of sensations.

For those of you who are thinking "Wait, but by using the word pain, you introduced into her subconscious mind the idea that birth might be painful." I invite you to take a step back and think for a minute.

Did I really?

First of all, how many women are there in our society who have not (in arguably a much less balanced presentation than the above) been exposed to the idea that "childbirth equals pain" before their sixteenth birthday? I admit that there may be some. But truly, how many? By using the word pain, I have actually acknowledged what has probably already been in her self-conscious for quite some time. And by acknowledging this and then introducing the idea that she MAY experience birth as pain, but she may also experience it in many other ways, I have actually expanded her possibilities in birth. And at the same time, have I not validated and brought to light an unacknowledged idea that may be controlling her preparations for birth? (And when a woman seeks out a childbirth method that promises "easy, comfortable birthing", isn't it possible that she does so because she has already heard that birth is painful and she doesn't want it to be that way for her?) I feel that by validating what she believes is true (that childbirth can be painful), she is much more likely to accept that other things can also be true (childbirth can be comfortable).

Feel it out in your own body (yes, I'm highly kinesthetic. For you visual types "Look at it this way." For the auditory folks, "How does this sound to you?").

I tell you that something you believe is true AND that there are other things that can be true.
I tell you that your truth is wrong and that other things (usually my ideas) are right.

Which are you more likely to believe?

Second, who am I to tell a woman what she will or will not feel when she doesn't even know it yet? Even worse, who am I to invalidate what she actually DOES feel and her OWN WORDS for describing it?

It goes both ways.

Yes, if I tell her that it is going to be hard work, then I may very well sabotage her out of a belief (and the manifestation of that belief) that her birthing will be easy and comfortable. But what if I tell her that it can be easy and comfortable if only she prepares well enough and that birth should be this way, if it weren't for all those pesky problems. Then, when SHE experiences her birth as difficult or painful, she is either a failure (because she did it wrong or didn't prepare) or she is a victim (hypnosis failed her or her doula failed her or her care provider failed her or nature failed her). How crappy is that?

You see, birth is not about us as birth professionals. It is about HER, the birthing woman. HER EXPERIENCE. HER WORDS. HER POWER. By making it about us or our "birth philosophy of choice" are we not robbing her? I agree that in setting forth the idea that birth is always painful, we are robbing her of possibilities. But what of setting up a goal of "easy and comfortable" in a setting over which one has little to no control?

I think hypnosis is a fabulous tool for birth. I have seen it work first-hand many times. In fact, the "sensation-management skills" ;) taught in Birthing From Within (which is my "birth philosophy of choice") are deeply based in self-hypnosis, and many other of its processes are also hypnosis based. I even think that introducing the idea that easy, comfortable birthing is possible (even likely, given ideal circumstances) is great.

What feels wrong to me is the setting up of "shoulds" instead of "cans". "Shoulds" limit. "Birth should be this way, but sometimes things go wrong." "Cans" empower. "No matter what happens, you can do it." If easy, comfortable birthing is the way it "should be", then when it is not achieved something must have gone WRONG.

Why does anything have to be wrong? Why can't we just see things as being the way they were meant to be? Or even better, why can't the happenings of birth just BE. What is. What was. What will be. No attaching labels of good or bad, wrong or right, failure or triumph.

If a woman enters the path of birth and comes out the other side, is that not enough? Does it really matter what happened in the middle so long as she was allowed sovereignty over her body and her inner experience of birth?

Many "natural-birth" promoting women often harp on about how the obstetrical system "breaks" birth by intervening in a natural process, through words, attitudes and actions. We complain about how medical people view women and their bodies and the birth process as "broken", something needing active management and fixing.

Are not we guilty of the exact same thing when we say that "something went wrong" because a woman had a c-section or felt pain (even excruciating pain) or decided that she wanted an epidural? Are we not labeling that birth, that woman, as broken? When we say "trust birth" or "trust the birthing woman" do we really mean it? Or do we just mean "trust birth when it is easy, comfortable, vaginal and natural" or "trust the woman when she makes the choices that are based on our idea of evidence-based, well-prepared, idyllic birthing"? Wouldn't trusting birth mean trusting it no matter what? Trusting that the birth of a woman who births a baby by c-section after many hours of valiant pushing is no more broken than the birth of a woman who pushes a baby out her vagina in the water at home. Why does it have to be that, if birth doesn't fit our picture of ideal, something must be fouled up? Why not just let it be, celebrate what worked. What was.

If hypnosis worked for five minutes or five hours, hypnosis WORKED. If moaning worked for three contractions, moaning WORKED. If screaming "Oh, God, I'm going to die!" worked for the last ten minutes of pushing, it WORKED for the last ten minutes of pushing. Who are we, as birth professionals, to take that away from a woman, to invalidate her experience. It was, it is. She did what she did. Nature did what it did. What benefit is there in placing blame -- anywhere?

Sure, we can acknowledge that we all have preferences. Most of us wish that all births would go smoothly, be easy, be painless or at least easily manageable. We probably all WANT every woman to be able to birth easily, for her care provider to not overstep his or her realm of authority into the birthing woman's authority over her own body, for every baby to be healthy and breastfeed easily.

I don't twiddle my thumbs in my classes thinking, "YOU can have an easy birth, but YOU are going to have the 95 hour labor from hell followed by an emergency c-section just to prove my point that you CAN do anything." Of course not. But I feel that I must look a woman in the eye, listen to her words, her experience, her fears, her wishes and help her discover and expand her resources, her strengths, her knowledge and self-confidence until SHE feels ready to face that 95-hour labor from hell followed by an emergency c-section. Then, if she is faced with that experience, she can do it.

And if she has an easy, comfortable birth then she is doubly blessed. First, by the strength she gained in her preparation and second, by the easy birth. And perhaps the easy birth is the lesser gift, because an easy birth only happens once (or maybe even a few times). But the things she learned about herself, the skills she gained, will probably never leave her and can be there for her to access if she has the "postpartum from hell" or the "illness from hell" or even, simply the "Monday at work from hell."

Now, please don't think that I think that I have all the answers or that "my way is right" or that I even think I know what I'm doing or can be sure that everything I just said is true.

What I do feel very strongly is that birth is NOT about me. It is not about hypnosis. It is not about Birthing From Within or Bradley or Lamaze or evidence-based-care.

Birth is about women and babies.

What I want most to do in my work (and what I feel women need most) is to assist each woman in finding whatever it is that will allow her to feel prepared to face ANY experience that comes her way, to strengthen her through any means SHE feels will work and then, to embrace and welcome her to the other side without judgment and to acknowledge her strength in having made it.

I imagine that most of us want the same thing, but we (myself included) get distracted so often by the peripheral details.

Lets all try to do better, okay?

With Love and Respect,

Friday, May 18, 2007

Black Market

I love my work. I love my friends even more. I mean, who else gets to have conversations like this?

I called my friend Edge this morning on the way to pick my kids up from school.

"Hi Edge! It's Heather. I'm going to see my parents today and thought I'd stop by your house on the way to pay you for your uterus. Would that be okay?"

"Yeah, that would be great. I'll be here."

"Now, how much do I owe you for that?"

"Um, let me look it up. Let's see... Thirty five. No, wait. I told you fifteen for the uterus and baby."

"Okay. I'll be there between 1:30 and 2:00."

Hint: It's knitted. Like this one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Shane Bernier looks to break world record for most birthday cards

A new website has been launched to aid Shane Bernier in his quest for 350 million birthday cards. is devoted to his quest. News, updates, countdowns, etc.Take a minute to send him a card.Check it out...

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day to Real Moms

The media seems to think there is such a thing as, "mommy wars". So many entities try to get us disagreeing and arguing with one another about who is a "real mom", who is doing it right. But, the truth is, we're all doing our very best, so we're all doing it right.

So, here's a tribute to real moms. The funny thing is, no matter how disparate any of these sentiments are, I actually relate to most of them and have done things so very differently from year to year of this parenting adventure.

My love to all of you wonderful mothers.


Real moms breastfeed their children. Real moms spend an hour each day pumping breastmilk for the babysitter to give their children during the day. Real moms struggle to breastfeed and, for whatever reason, end up lovingly bottle feeding their children. Real moms never even consider breastfeeding and are happy to bottle feed their children, because that's what works best for them.

Real moms carry their children around in a sling all day. Real moms give their children plenty of alone time in their crib. Real moms feed on demand. Real moms try to get their babies on a schedule. Real moms struggle enough with the chaos of their own minds and lives and have no hope of ever getting their children into a routine. Real moms watch supernanny religiously, read parenting books and magazines and work very hard to do everything just right. Real moms laugh cynically each time they see an episode of supernanny, burn most parenting magazines and talk back (LOUDLY) to anyone that tells them that they know better than they do about raising their kids.

Real moms use cloth diapers because they are less expensive, better for the planet and more comfortable for babies. Real moms use disposable diapers because they are more convenient, more effective and just plain easier. Some feel guilty about the effect on the planet, some don't give it a second thought.

Real moms speak in soft voices, always try to get behind their children's eyes and help fulfill their needs. Real moms lose it and scream at their children at the top of their lungs.

Real moms proudly co-sleep with their babies and revel in their closeness and the ability to respond so quickly to them. Real moms put their babies to sleep in a crib, right on schedule and sing to them as they drift to sleep. Real moms let their babies cry it out, hoping to help them learn to sleep on their own and cry themselves to sleep in the next room.

Real moms kiss their kids as they go to their rooms for sleep, then wake up with many children of assorted ages and sizes in her bed.

Real moms stay at home with their children because they can't imagine missing a single moment. Real moms stay home with their children because they would feel guilty about going to work. Real moms run businesses and work at home. Real moms go to work because their families survival depends on their income. Real moms work because they need an identity outside of "mommy" and time away from their children. Real moms feel that making themselves better as individuals makes them better mothers. Real moms work three part-time jobs and go to school full-time, just trying to get by.

Real moms volunteer in their children's classrooms three times a week and know all the names of their children's classmates. Real moms help their kids with their homework, but often forget the name of their children's teachers. Real moms trust that their children's teachers are doing a good job and are glad to send them to school to get a good education. Real moms can't help their children with their homework, because they don't understand it.

Real moms homeschool their children. Real moms kiss their children just before they climb onto the bus to go to public school. Real moms drive for hours each day to send their children to an excellent charter school. Real moms scrimp and save to send their children to private school.

Real moms are always glad to see their children and are happy to always be able to see them. Real moms race to day care because they are so excited to see their children after a hard day's work. Real moms sit in their car outside the day care doors taking deep breaths and building up the courage to go through another night alone. Real moms shudder at the thought of picking their children up from school, knowing they are going to fight the WHOLE WAY HOME.

Real moms LOVE playing with their children, making crafts with their children and filling their children's lives with magic. Real moms sometimes like to do that stuff, and sometimes would rather just send them out to jump on the trampoline.

Real moms are organized, consistent and truly "on top of" things. Real moms spend all day, every day in crisis-management-mode, flying by the seat of their pants and hoping it all works out.

Real moms love thier children fiercely, devotedly, desperately and would do ANYTHING for them, even if sometimes they would like to lock them in a closet.

Real moms do the very best they can.

Real moms know that real moms come in many different shapes and sizes. And we cheer each other on as each mom does the very best she can.

Embrace the Chaos

I've been repeating these words to myself over and over lately -- like a mantra.

Wow, life is busy. And nuts. I'm not sure which part of my brain is still holding on to the idea that having a big family can be serene and peaceful. Um, no. It's nuts. If you've ever watched Cheaper By the Dozen, yeah, our family is starting to look a bit like that.

Embrace the chaos, embrace the chaos, embrace the chaos...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Muse Is In!

And I have finished 2 new poems just today. Started a new one yesterday and got a great deal more done on one I've been playing with for a couple of months.

It always amazes me when the poetry just flows. I can work at something for months and then, one day, boom! It all comes at once. Lovely.

So, watch my poetry blog over the next couple of days for new stuff. If you're not a subscriber to my poetry blog and would like to be, email me and I'll send you an invite.

Oh no!

I think my world has just come crashing in around me.

I hopped on my computer to buy groceries today and found this.

Now I'm going to have to GO TO THE STORE. I'm going to have to put my children in the cart and buy groceries the old fashioned way. The very thought makes me feel like I'm in the middle of a horror flick.

My family just might starve to death

Saturday, May 05, 2007


So, I've not had much original thought on here lately. That's mostly because the things that have been rolling through my mind lately have not passed my onboard critic as "fit for public consumption". It's been an interesting last couple of weeks. Good and bad mixed together.

First, can I just say how much I HATE, LOATHE, DETEST mental illness. Honestly. I'm tired of it. Tired of how it has affected me, has affected my family members.

Now that that's out of the way, I can (try to) be my usual, chatty self.

Among other things, soccer season is over. What a fun team we had this year. And Mashuga actually almost played by the end of the season. He spent more and more time on the field and less and less time tackling people while he was on the field. I have hope and must remember that my older two had their butterly-chasing-dandelion-picking seasons as well. Of course, with Mashuga, I'd be overjoyed if picking dandelions were the worst of what he did. He just does things BIGGER and LOUDER than everyone and found much fun in kicking the ball away from the other team as they were setting up for a corner kick, or tackling anyone who came near him, or laying down in the goal, or losing his britches during the game (well, that was involuntary, but very, VERY funny).

Kaitybean had her first track meet, ran her first race AND WON! Hooray! It was terribly cold, though, and we left before she completed all of her events.

Scud played in his first tee-ball game. It was fun to watch him. He has a good arm! Mashuga, Coco and I shivered through it while Kaitybean hung out in the car.

I took a trip to the ER last week for strange, severe chest and shoulder pain. They didn't find anything wrong and the Dr. suspected that it might be musculo-skeletal. So, I need to pay a visit to my brother the chiropractor. I'm thinking it might have something to do with carrying a little guy around in a sling for hours at a time.

The week before that we took a vacation to Salt Lake City and visited the zoo, Clark Planetarium, Discovery Gateway and other fun places. I turned 29 while we were up there.

So, it's been busy. I won't regale you with every detail. Let's just say I am overwhelmed. And sad. And feeling a bit time-poor. But I'm certain it will all look better soon. And until then, I'll just laugh at the post below. I suggest you do the same.

Go Donny!

My sister posted this on our myfamily site and I just couldn't resist sharing it. Scares me how close to home this hits!