Friday, February 27, 2009

Funny things my daughter says....

So I am making dinner and she is exhausting me with questions....

me: "You know you are asking me a lot of questions..."

her: "I know! That's because I am a kid, and kids do not know so much about the world, so they have to ask their mommies and daddies questions. Mommies and daddies know about the world, but noooot kiIIIddsss...."


Also, another one from yesterday which just surprised me because of her concept of time. At breakfast she asked if we can save her movies, so when she has kids, they can watch them. I said sure, and asked "Which ones?" She said, with a wave of her hand "all of them, because I do not know which ones they will like". This would surprise me less if I had saved a bunch of stuff to share with her, but that is not anything I have done. So the idea of saving stuff for HER kids someday is not copying me, but her own idea. I thought it was pretty clever of her to think up on her own, rather forward thinking for a 4 year old!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Late Pregnancy Preparations...
The Body

What is pregnancy about? Soul and body.
The baby inside is "a melody softly soaring through my atmosphere....Where soul meets body..."
(A quote from this song by the band Death Cab for Cutie) ~~~
So I have talked a bit about the spiritual preparations I have going on.

For the body, well...let me talk about what I am doing, so as to eclipse the glaring lack of exercise I am getting. Yep, unless it works by osmosis, my prenatal yoga videos are not doing me much good. They have stayed pretty lonely on the shelf.

Didn't I say I was going to talk about what I AM DOING?

Anyway, here is a little sample of the extras I like to add to my life for late pregnancy.

Sleep. Yep, as much as life will allow. I believe whole heartily in SARK's instruction/ affirmation that "You Can Change your Life Without Getting Out of Bed". She talks about the fact that it takes a lot of energy to become your true self. Well, it also takes a lot of energy to build another's entire being! Pregnancy involves heavy work, both physical and psychic, and I believe laying still in slumber allows this work to unfold.

From her book:
"Changing your life can happen when you're not trying so hard, or when you're asleep!

I think that change often slips in when we're relaxed inside of ourselves.

The process of truly becoming yourself takes a lot of energy, and this energy can be replenished during naps.

This book can be tacked under your pillow and it will induce naps. Inside are: Nap permission slips, great nap places, nap clothes, nap exercises, ways to make more money while napping, napping without guilt, special naps for parents, suggestions and games for making changes in your life and more...

My first and best job was as the wake up fairy in kindergarten.

I had a magic wand and touched each sleeping child on the head with it. They awoke from their nap to have little cups of juice and a cookie. Sometimes you could get extra.

As adults, we still need these nap-times. We need tender places in which to repair our souls and put special glue on the broken places.We replenish and repair during naps. Even if you don't actually sleep, setting up for a nap provides an atmosphere of safety and kindness for the interior.

Napping softens all the edges and smoothes the shredded places. Naps are the adult version of a child's fort. A love of privacy and place for make-believe. I believe I can do it now.

Rest adds strength to our souls." - Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK)

Walking: I could do better here, but I get at least two decent walks a week in right now. I walked quite while today, and my toes are suddenly like little sausages, so I think the window for upping the number of long walks in my regimen may be over. But hey, what else do I have to do? And I finally have a functional stroller my older daughter will go in, so that makes neighborhood walking an option when she is home, which is nice.

Pelvic Tilts and Squats: I am doing is squats, especially in my nice deep bath tub. I wish I could get into my old AquaNatal routine here, but the pools are just too cold. It cost about $10 a pop to go to the pool, and it is 72 degrees. When I was in Florida and had a pool, I realized my comfort level for water is about 80 F. Now they won't even let me in the hot tub here since I am visibly pregnant, so my bathtub works ok for the "golden goddess" yoga pose/ squat.

And I do the occasional pelvic rocking...especially good with some circling/ rocking on the birth ball.

Healthy Food: I am eating just normally, as I have through pregnancy. I am not much of a stickler for following a special diet regimen, I tend to trust that the body tells you what it needs. And when it says chocolate, I know that means protein and maybe some magnesium, so I listen to my body's food messages with the same caution I would a when listening to a three year old, which means I am listening for the subtext behind the actual request... I was sick for a pretty extended time in the winter, and had a much lower veggie and protein intake at that time. I think the baby is going to be smaller than my daughter because of it.

Red Raspberry Leaf or Nourishment Tea: I have been consuming a french press pot of either red raspberry leaf tea, or the nourishment tea I posted in this old post.
Red Raspberry leaf is rich in vitamin C complex, thiamine, niacin, carotenes, calcium, magnesium and trace minerals. it is used in folk herbalism to tone the uterus, and is used to nourish the muscles, make labor contractions more efficient, reduce bleeding after birth, and help the uterus return to it's not pregnant state easily, as well as to enrich the quality of the breast milk. I was out of nettles for quite a while (not anymore, thanks Erica) and so I was drinking straight red raspberry for most of the early third trimester. Since i went very over due with my daughter I thought it wouldn't hurt to ingest large amounts of an herb that is purported to help babies not be overdue!

Now I have my nettles I am back to using the exact recipe for nourishment tea mix in Aviva Jill Romm's 'The Natural Pregnancy Book':

2 parts red raspberry

2 part nettles

1 part oatstraw

1/2 part alfalfa

1/2 part rose hips

1/4 part red clover

1/4 part spearmint

Floradix Herbal Iron: even though I do eat red meat these days, and a fair amount of leafy greens, cook in cast iron, and am drinking sooo much iron rich tea I was still lagging a bit in my iron stores which are important for pregnancy. being low in iron is known as anemia, and makes the mom more tired than she needs to be. The baby also will have a low iron diet in it's early life, and relies on the stores of iron it gets from the mother in late pregnancy to carry it through it's first few months. So I have been adding the old midwife standby Floradix. Here is Sweden it is known as "Blut Saft" or blood juice and is widely available. It is the standard, recommended iron source for pregnancy, which is unusual to me because overall the Swedes use fewer herbs and natural remedies than I would have thought. This is largely due to the very regulated state run pharmacy system, which I will post about in another post about 'Only in Sweden' I think.

Super Nutrition Vitamins: My favorite brand of Vitamins is Super Nutrition. I get them in the USA. I found the regular vitamins contain almost the exact same things as the prenatal, and come in a one a day formula. I tend to forget dose 2 and 3 if required to take more than one a day, so I just do two of these once a day, and it has about the same stuff as the prenatal formula.
Nordic Natural Omega- 3's: I also take the Nordic Natural brand Omega -3's, which are good for baby's brain development, keep depression at bay, and help provide the building blocks for the hormones you need. I buy expensive good quality fish oil, because you want to make sure it has been micro filtered so you do not inadvertently consume a bunch of brain cell killing toxic mercury when you are working to boost your baby's smarts. These come in a variety of forms and flavors, and are good to give to little kids with growing brains, or to take when nursing.

Kelp: Yep seaweed. There are lots of creative ways to get seaweed in your diet- in soup, etc.. and I like to snack on straight dulse. But I am out of that right now, so I am munching on a bit of kelp daily. It actually is tasting good to me right now. It is a great addtion for anyone pregnant, but especially valuable in the third trimester. But WHHHhhhhy? You may ask? Well, all seaweeds are super rich in minerals, help the nervous system, and are specific helpers to keep the placenta chug, chug, chugging along in optimum condition until baby is ready to be born. Which is important for people like me, who went way overdue last time. When the placenta starts putzing out, it results in low amniotic fluid, less exchange in general with baby, and can mean more fetal distress in labor. I ate lots of seaweed last pregnancy, and had a *lovely* placenta 17 days after my due date. When eating it is not in the plan for me, I pop a few kelp pills. These are also rich in iodine and help people with low thyroid, which is a family issue, so that is good for me too.

Antacids: These are not actually good for you, they have calcium but the wrong mineral mix to be absorbed properly. but I could not talk about late pregnancy with out mentioning these, my life line, which i do not leave the house with out. Having a balanced ph would help, but I am already so acidic I can not manage lemon water often, so alas, I default to the not very great practice of neutralizing the acid. But guess what, it means I sleep, and see #1 here, that's my favorite thing so I will do what I gotta do.
Dandelion Tea: This really is my latest addition, just added today! But the last two days, I have found that after walking my toes are rather plump and my sock line visible. So dandelion root tea has been added to the tea mix. It is a liver toner and natural safe diuretic in pregnancy. I am hoping it will give me my normal ankles back. I long to go get in the deep end of a pool and recover my ankles via hydrostatic pressure, but the pools, as I mentioned are too costly and too cold for my comfort. So dandelion it is. 1 tsp per cup of boiling water, steeped 15 mintues.

Coffee: I also drink coffee, 1-2 cups a day. This contributes to the acid issue, and overrides some of the benefit of the kelp for the nervous system, but I do it and love it and thought I oughta come clean about that. Starbucks sumatra in a french press with cream and sugar. I really do it up. I am no saint, and no purist. So there. But things that are good for the soul are good for the body, so perhaps its a good habit after all.

Visualizations: So, the "Journeying Through Pregnancy" is getting a good listen to, tuned to track two, the birth visualization. You can click here to read about it, my absoltue favorite pregnancy visualization. but I really wish Sunni Karll would do one, to go with Sacred Birthing, as this is good but does not reach as deep as her work does.

MAP sessions: This makes up for the lack of deepth in the visualization CD- MAP sessions are a personalized energy work program. This where I come clean as a woo-woo, energy worky type. I have been greatly helped by a variety of energy work, craniosacral therapy, and other energy clearing techniques done by healers. I found some great people to work with in my home town, and even did some work with some Mexican shamanic midwives I hosted for a conference a ways back. I got familiar through their work on me of what it feels like to release blockages in the body, and this is ultimately the work that helped me get over the three years of pain I had from two ruptured disks in my back after my daughter's birth. MAP sessions are taught in the "Sacred Birthing" book, and are brief 30 minutes session where you lay still and call in your 'team' of guides, and the healing energies of the natural world, and ask to release things that are not helpful. It's like a prayer you do with your body. The instructions for how to work with this in pregnancy are in Sacred Birthing. I find it really helpful to be able to do this type of work on myself. I can get really stuck in my brain about things or problems, and this is a technique where you basically just ask for things to be released, and never have to know what it was that had you stuck, by passing the brainy brain part of things. I find it works, and feel the shifts happen in many ways after doing the work.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Late Pregnancy Preparations....
The Mind

I am 38 weeks pregnant now!!! 2 weeks until the due date, but the baby really could come anytime now.

As my attention turns to nesting and getting everything ready for the birth, I thought I would share what I am doing here to get ready. There are spiritual, prenatal-body, and logistical labor preparations to be made.

First, there is the intention of the birth. The best preparation is made in the mind. When I was working as a volunteer midwife in a Jamaican hospital, I stayed in this little magical cottage attached to a Montessori school/hostel/bar/ restaurant/ general center of activity for this little village. The woman who ran it, Dominica, was sweet and mystical, and had painted murals through out the rooms. In my room there was a large goddess-y warrior on the wall, her arm raised high with a crystal of some kind in hand, and the words

"Your thoughts are powerful.

They create your reality.

Choose wisely."

These words have always stuck, as in the latitudes of Jamaica, in the intensity of birth, it felt then that the time between having a thought and it becoming a reality was freakishly short. It was as though whatever went through my mind was soon manifest in front of me, almost before the thought was fully formed. This can be a real bad thing when you have people that can bleed out and you are far from advanced medical care. You learn to be pretty careful with your thoughts....

It made me appreciate the cultures rich with spells and protective talismans, because whether it was the latitude, the heat, or the distance from decent plumbing and infrastructure, there was something a bit spooky about how true it was that thoughts and reality were intermixed in Jamaica. It was in one of those birth rooms a midwife named Funkee pronounced "You are NOW A MIDWIFE" as though I had just married my own future. It was there I had to master my power to hold a positive space for birth, or to give into fear, and deal with the fall out.

For this upcoming birth, I first have to acknowledge I am standing on a foundation that comes from years of helping others birth, and my own experience of giving birth to my daughter, which was traumatic and crappy. Overall, I received little authentic support, was subject to lots of misguided judgment, and had a really horrible hospital transfer that ended in a c-section for no medical reason. I have done lots of work on many levels to clear that experience, and on most days, I am sure I am standing strong and clear ready for a new experience of birth. I am looking forward to doing it this time, stronger in myself, clearer about what I need, more able to find the support I find really nurturing.

I hate to even mention that time, as part of visioning this birth. But part of this birth really is about healing that birth, so I think I can mention it with out conjuring the negativity too much. I think I can refer to it, in terms of how much different I feel this time. But just these last few days, haunted by negative dreams, I was getting a bit worried that some how I would 'mess up' this birth. So I really want to use this post to share the positive visions of birth I have been cultivating.

My main mantra for this birth is summed up here

After the home visit from the midwife, I had an unsettled feeling I could not name, an uncertainty. I laid down for a nap to integrate, and when I woke, my husband had reassembled this gift tile my best friend made for me as a going away present when I moved to Sweden. When I first went to unpack it after moving this summer, it crashed to the floor and broke in a million pieces before I could even unwrap it. It was too painful to look at, and I forgot about it. It was great to find it alive and well after our birth team meeting. All the uncertainties I have about this birth are washed away with this simple phrase....It reminds me, that as long as I am centered, I will know what to do. It is also the same words that hang over the toilet in my old birth center, so it connects me to that energy.

Each step of the way in our move to Sweden, in the creation of this baby, in so much that has gone on in my life and in this last year in particular has been an unexpected unfolding of events, that all was very different than I planned. But in each moment, I seemed to have the information I needed to proceed. Not the information to make the big picture make sense exactly, but enough to ask me to trust the process, even though I can not see around the next bend. I am trusting that I will have all the information I will need to birth this baby. And all will be well.

My work is to stay clear and focused on the good.

I was sick last night with pregnancy related indigestion and got really crabby. I was dreaming bad dreams of family relationship struggles. I was relating to my body discomfort as pain. I could feel my overall vibration was low, and I got a sense that to go into labor in that state would be really, really bad. It was a good reminder to keep it all on the up and up, to remember the good, breathe the good, live the good. That my state of mind effects my body experience dramatically.

At this stage in pregnancy, my main two books are "Sacred Birth: Birthing a New Humanity" by Sunni Karll, and "Ideal Birth" by Sondra Ray. They both are full of wonderful uplifting thoughts, and visions of gentle births that are transformative and sacred.

I keep referring to birth as "transformative" and "sacred" and in order to clarify what I am mean by this, let me take an excerpt from the Sacred Birthing book (you can also click on the cover and link to the first whole chapter).

"The act of giving birth is the culmination of the act creation. Creation is matter, tissue and skin wrapped around consciousness, the energy of love. Giving birth anoints the parents by increasing their vibration, and invites them into a level of awareness to which they have rarely been privy. To enter fully into this sacred space, recover the love as you felt it as you ignited your seed with your love at the time of conception. Add to it the respect you have for each other and the desire to travel more deeply into your relationship. This brings you to the heart of birthing. It is here you start when labor begins.

To birth with love is to lubricate the heart. Surrounded in love, mother feels safe, her heart opens, and her cervix follows. A cervix does not open easily without the heart feeling safety and love in the immediate environment and leading the way. Love creates a high vibration at birth to support the synchronization of body and soul. This synchronization orders the body's energy field to enable divine rapport with in and offer the baby a life of coherence. When we offer our highest, nature and spirit respond and match our action, and the baby starts it's life at his highest scenario. "

"Every birth has a field of birth, even if it is unconsciously created. Knowing that the field of birth exists gives us a choice in it's creation. What has previously been unknown and therefore unconscious process, can become a conscious process and a great opportunity in order to support the birth you want and your baby needs. This energetic field is made of either trust or fear. Whatever vibration is predominant attracts more of the same to it, and so develops that path toward birth. "

"To create the kind of birth you wish, the field needs to be made of a higher vibration. Love, kindness, and caring create a higher vibration and an environment for more trust. Then, the mother and father's energies vibrate a at higher level and they create their field at this level. "

"Peacefulness and sanctity are the qualities that most parents say they want at birth. Mothers wish to know they are safe and can trust and relax into the hands that are present. They need to have the freedom to do whatever supports their process of giving birth. Eliminating many typical occurrences in birth helps birth be held at a purer vibration. Imagine simply taking away haste, strangers, and chatter and interruptions. Then after reducing birth to it's purest elements, see what you can add to it to raise it to the highest vibration of love.

The ultimate field of birth is to be full of love, and empty of interruption. With each member of the birth circle, the midwife, the invited guests as well as the parents enter the birth as many spiritual practices say 'in the fullness of emptiness' then nothing distracts from love itself. When each offers themselves to the place of birth with no ego, no interference, no personal agenda, then we are awake to the uniqueness of this baby. Without preconceived ideas or our own limiting beliefs, we receive what is happening now, without interfering with this baby's script."

"Welcome labor, not as a test for endurance, but as your most treasured opportunity and you will have the courage to go to a state where you have never gone before. This transformation is about turning all that you hold to be true inside out, and seeing that truth is different at each vibration. Go where pain is naught. Find the state where pain is the breath of god moving through you. Open to it and allow yourself to be breathed. It is simply the energy of a different vibration. Discover this vibration. Check SpellingFeel it's deliciousness as it sweeps through you. Keep asking to raise your vibration and release all that stands in your way. In this work of birth, you can release far more than your baby. A lifetime of clearing can happen as you give birth. Dive into the early rushes by going into and through the pain in order to be where pain is not. Don't pull away from the pain, but welcome them and dive into each one. You are bigger than the pain. Watch as your attention and your request for help melts the constriction. With your next rush, use the point of most intensity as your focal point. At each place of most intensity, there is a constriction from emotional holding patterns of belief systems you worked with in pregnancy. Whatever comes up forgive, forgive, forgive and let it go. Move into the next rush. Whatever thought comes, release it with your forgiveness of self and other. One rush at a time is all you are given. Stay in the present moment, without clocks or thought about time. By working with each rush in this way and melting each old thought and outdated belief, allow your consciousness to go where pain is simply energy. "

Sondra Ray's book 'Ideal Birth' is another one that appeals to me because it comes from the same place of asking for the parents to hold a clear field of birth, so that the baby can have a sweet passage the easiest entry into life. Sondra Ray is a rebirther, someone who uses breathe to clear old patterns. My husband is also a rebirther, and he went to India with Sondra Ray some years ago. This book reflects her version, and his background, of how to clear the path to birth. She was also a student of "The Course in Miracles" at the time she was writing it, which is another source my husband and I both draw from and relate well to.

She has few really simple positive affirmations for birth..

-I am completely safe

-I am completely safe in childbirth

-Childbirth is a safe, natural happening

-The more I give up my fear, the more relaxed I am and the less pain I have

-Everything is happening quickly, which lets me let go of my fear

-I am safe in God

-I am safe and immortal right now

-I can easily allow these symptoms to be absorbed by the energy that makes my body feel good

-I can feel good through all of labor and delivery

-I let god manage all of the pregnancy, labor, and birth

-I surrender completely to God

-I allow this to be pleasurable because I am free of guilt and do not need to punish myself

-I am innocent and my baby is Innocent

-My contractions are pleasant as long as I do not resit

-I no longer resist

-I do not resist God

-I breathe fully and let go

-I am strong enough for this

-I can transmute everything into love and pleasure

-Childbirth brings more aliveness to me

And one used by a woman who relays her story of one of the first waterbirths in the book, that is drawn from the Course in Miracles: "My mind is God's mind, my body is God's body, my spirit is God's spirit."

Sometimes when I read the extensive preparation recommended in these books, it catapults me into insecurity that I have not done enough, am not pure enough. Soooo catholic of me. I got into fear this week over fetal postions, as well, wondering if my bay was positerior and if i should be doing a million special excercise a day to insure 'optimal fetal positioning' and feeling bad for slacking off on my preanatal yoga and perineal massage. But then I remember all the babies I have helped come out, come out, come out....Babies come out. And each moment is new, each moment offers new chance for a miracle, a new moment of freedom.

It brings me back to the mantra I had over my desk for years, still hanging up at my old birth center. It was culled from a SARK calendar:

I am enough, I do enough, I have enough.

So again, from Sacred Birthing......

May I unsheathe my essence from the veils I choose to experience.

My crown is ever open to receive the holy impulse.
I remember.

My throat opens to lead me to my primal strength.
I use birth to remember.

May the love of my husband fill my heart and open me to birth in the tradition of all loved ones.

My heart is flooded with joy every time I think of giving birth.

My eyes see kindness in all things.
I use birth to remember.

My womb remembers birthing as my own expansion into who I am.
May I remember.

My thighs are the store house of accumulated wisdom.
May I use birth to remember.

My feet connect to the earth and pull her love into me.
May I use birth to remember.
New Playful Things to Try in the Winter Wonderland: Sledding, Ice Skating, and Snow Man Building!

When we got back to Sweden and had a nice heavy snow, we headed right out to sled. You never know how long the snow will last around here, and we did not want to miss it! We went to the hill we identified in September as a good sledding hill, and it was indeed a good spot.

Neighborhood Sledding

My daughter has also been very anxious to try Ice Skating. I am not sure where she really learned about it, but when ever she sees a frozen lake she begs to go ice skating. When we would explain we have no skates, she would make a very thoughtful plan about how to acquire some. So this week, we were able to find some skates for her and took her to Malmo Folkets Park Ice Skating rink to give them a try.

Folkets Park in the Winter: The rides maybe closed, but it is a haven for Ice Skating and Sledding!

Here she is first getting on the ice, awkward like a newborn long legged mammal:

In just an hour, she improved greatly, motivated by the 5 1/2 year old that was skating in circles around her. She was pining to move so freely and gracefully, so she got better really quick in hopes of keeping up with the new friend!

She also got to do a bit of sledding in the park, and made a little friend named Igor who welcomed her aboard his double sled. The hill was alive with lots of kids and parents having snowy fun.

When the snow first fell, we thought it would be fun to try making a snow man. I am SOOooo from Florida. Little did I realize powdery fresh snow makes for a poor snowman. I could not get it to stick into snow balls, but I thought it was my lack of skill and the half-hearted awkward pregnant stoop I was doing to get at the snow.... No, now the snow is getting slushy. it is great snow man material. SwedeGirl made a great snow man over the weekend with her dad. Ever time he gets a bit warmer, he looks like he is in need of a chiropractor, leaning oh a bit more here or there....

With a little help from My Friends...

So a good part of my desire to return to Florida was about connecting to my birth community. As a midwife who helped about 350 or so babies be born in my former home town, the momma-baby network for me there is pretty good! Specifically, there are a few moms who gave birth around the same time I did, who really made their way into my heart and became my inner circle of friends. I knew I would miss them when my birthing time drew near, but did not expect to be able to connect in person. However, the closer I got to my due date, the sadder I was at the prospect of not tapping into the friendship and support for my vision of a sacred birth that these women could offer me. I decided it was worth it to go back.

We cultivated our friendship first as baby buddies, sharing the times, trials, and joys of just entering motherhood together. The next level of connection came when we began doing "New Moon Circles" together. I have a post brewing in the back of my mind about how the new moon circle came to be, but it is something I have done with various groups and women since about the year 2000. In 2005, this group became a cohesive circle. We started as an open group, whoever we thought would be into could come, but as time went on it became a more intimate group who shared a history together, and so it just naturally evolved into a closed circle of just us regulars. Our first circle was October or November of 2005, and we have met almost every moon since then. We get together after child bedtimes, about 8pm usually, and do it by whatever day the moon is new. The time is sacred, the purpose to share and envision. We are ceremonial, opening a sacred circle, sinking into our deepest selves with a mediation, and then speaking in turn about the events of the moon that just passed, and speaking to our intentions for the coming moon. It is a time we get caught up on the events of one another's daily life, and clarify and share the hopes and dreams for the time to come. It is a welcome peaceful chance to speak and listen with out having to elevate voices over the sounds of many little children that originally brought us together.

Having sat together in this ceremonial energy together so many times now, calling in the sacred vibe comes ever more naturally to us. This is a great strength for us when we conduct our Mother Blessings. I was the first of my group to have a mother blessing- I actually put in on for myself when pregnant with my daughter. I had helped host one for another client, who came from New Mexico and was in a birth community where Pam England, the midwife who wrote "Birthing from Within" had worked on creating a birth community based on processing through birth art and honoring the sacred journey of pregnancy. I had been hosting new moon circles for a while, and longed to tap into the support of my friends and family in a more meaningful way than what a baby shower offers. American baby showers often involve games and strained chit chat amongst near strangers, and well, its an environment I loathe, really. So I put together my own Mother Blessing (what we refered to as a Blessingway, then, but that is a Navajo cermenoy and they asked that their terminology not be adopted by non-tribe members, so Mother Blessing it is now...) The Mother Blessing asks each participant to offer their heart felt good wishes to the mother, and new family, and is set up to honor the birthing woman for the sacred rite of passage she is embarking on- the birth of her child. I am drawn to the work I do as a midwife because birth offers the opportunity for real, deep, and transformative work. It is my joy to be able to bring that aspect to the forefront of our awareness, as we do in a mother blessing.

From my Mother Blessing for my Daughter's Birth in 2005

Here is the material I used for the MotherBlessing invitation from when my daughter was born. A quote and painting, a brief explanation of the purpose of the blessing with a painting, and another quote a picture from the back of the card. All the artwork is by Mara Friedman, an artist from Oregon USA who has a studio named of NewMoon Visions.

Every act of birth requires the courage to let go of something, to let go of the breast, to let go of the lap, to let go of the hand, to let go of eventually all certainties, and to rely on one thing: one’s own power to be aware and respond; that is one’s creativity. To be creative means to consider the whole process of life as a process of birth, and not to take any stage of life as a final stage. -Erich Fromm

A MotherBlessing is not a baby shower. It is a time to celebrate the rite of passage of the woman into motherhood, to acknowledge the shift in her role. It is also a time for her be welcomed into the circle of mothers in the community, while honoring the generations of mothers that passed before her, and welcoming the new generation we are preparing to meet. It is more a sacred women’s circle than just a party. You will be invited to share a blessing for the new mother, symbolized by a simple bead, which you will give to her to add to a necklace she can wear in labor to remember those that loan her strength for the journey to meet her baby’s soul. We will sit in circle together, share blessings, then celebrate with food afterwards. The purpose is to shower the family with blessings not gifts.

The Act of Opening Yourself Up

So That Another Being Can

Pass Down the Channel

And Out of You

Takes a Woman All the Way

Down To the

Very Deep of Living

-Judy Grahn

We have since that time had many more Mother Blessings to welcome new babies, and to hold the space for one another as we enter the very personal space of giving birth. And so, as new moon circles, birth circles, and Mother Blessing circles have a way of all came full circle.
I was able to return to Florida and have my friends put together a Mother Blessing for me this time. I want to say "pulled off a Mother Blessing" because they really did pull something off here! The circle was just two weeks after I announced I was coming, and in that time they cleared their schedules, created a ritual and space of beauty, and even made a homemade community quilt decorated with each of their hand prints, so they could each hold me and my babe when I went back far from their helping hands and support.

It is with the deep love and support of my friends that I embark on the journey ahead, of having another baby, of welcoming another person into my home, my family, my tribe. I am so grateful for soul sisters who know me, and can feed me, on such deep levels. Now I am far away back home, it is strength and connection that is more meaningful than I can say. Here is a photo album of the day.... Snapfish:Photo:Shared .

(I was not able to get to figure out how to post these photos, so thanks to my friends over at Snip and Snail and Natural Nester who also blogged about the day, I ripped off pictures from your posts :) What good friends!!!)

Happy 4th Birthday SwedeGirl!

So the celebrations for the 4th birthday a went on and on....First we had a "Family Party" where she invited her best Florida birthday bud (her little buddy who is a year and a day younger) over at her grandma and grandpa's. She wanted the kids to dress up, so they donned princess outfits and super hero costumes after going for a swim...She got to enjoy her birthday with her Florida family one week early.
Then, on her Birthday proper, Valentine's Day, we fulfilled her 6 month long dream of having a bowling party, which she conceived of after attending our buddy's bowling party in the USA in June. She invited her two best friends from Dagis/ preschool (her best buddy here is also exactly a year and a day younger! Born the exact same day as her Florida friend! ), and her cousin, and we enjoyed some family bowling and decorating cupcakes.
When you bowl with kids they put up bumpers to prevent gutter balls and give them a ramp to launch the ball with. It makes it fun for even small, small bowlers!

My Tummy LOOKS like a bowling ball! The Bowling Trophy Room/ Birthday Room!!!
The Do-it-Yourself Cupcake Decorating
It lends itself to extremes!
She loved having the left over cupcake stuff at home, it made for a good craft/ dessert!! We used India Tree brand natural food coloring from Whole Foods in Florida, and colored frosting and pearl sugar to make naturally colored sprinkles and frosting. It was a real treat since we usually avoid food coloring, as food coloring generally makes the Swedegirl cuck-o-lookoo in BAD way.....these colors helped us enjoy a nice healthy alternative!

And finally, because her big kid cousins could not make the bowling party, we celebrated Valentine's Day/ Swede Girl's birthday a THIRD time, by having a 'Swedish family dinner', complete with another birthday cake.

I think we got this birthday covered!!!
To Florida and Back in
late January/ early February.
A study in contrasts!

We really enjoyed our Florida trip home, with the doses of sunshine, friendship, and love (and baby gear!) coming at just the right time. Late January is when dreary set in for me, the excitement of Christmas was over and the decorations were down, and the promise of green still not expected until April. So we jumped when we got the chance to go on a Florida trip, and soak up some sun.
The contrast in climates was made all the more dramatic by the fact that the day we returned, an unusual heavy snow fell on our region of Sweden. When departing Florida, after all the sun and bright colors of green and vibrance, I was wishing for snow. Thinking if we have to return to the cold, let it be beautiful, and not just gray and dreary. My wish came true, this snow is still here almost two weeks later- just getting slushy now!
Florida Sunset- Happy 9 years/ 6 Year Wedding Anniversary SwedeDaddy!
The sun over the woods near home the day we returned

Outdoor Play in Florida

Outdoor Play front yard, day we returned to Sweden

Swinging in Florida
Swinging in Sweden day we returned!
Florida Playground fun!
Sweden Playground Fun!

Backyard Wild Life in Florida
Backyard Wild Life Sweden

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Only in the USA, and Speaking of Obama and the US economic-political climate...

My favorite 'Only in the USA' moment of our trip came when rushing through the Atlanta airport, the SwedeGirl spied a news stand magazine rack, and of course Obama was everywhere on every cover- so she pointed and yelled -"OBAMA!". The southern black clerk working at the stand heard her, and she was just the type of woman you see working at the Atlanta airport, distinctly American- black, a few gold teeth, gregarious- and she caught the words from the Swedegirl and let out a knee slapping howl of laughter. We shared this funny moment and I called out "See, everyone is excited!"

Being in Atlanta, the many black southern workers are a notable subculture around the airport. There was a black woman with the most fantastic outfit- gold belt, done-up hair, and long ornate finger nails- and she was sweeping the floor in the food court. She was dressed like she was going out dancing in a club, but I watched her as we dined as and she gracefully moved around cleaning trays and floors. I kept thinking she was the manager just down to help out for a minute, but it seemed this was her work, and this was how she had come dressed for it.

Otherwise, as The SwedeGirl and I enjoyed an ice cream cone from Ben and Jerry's, we sat and watched the crowds go by. Its fun to go to the USA after being in Europe and have new eyes for the Americans style. First- the biggest thing that strikes me always, is how FAT Americans are. We were doing nothing to remedy this, sitting with our ice cream, but watching people go by, there is no question Americans are more likely to have paunchy bellies and chub going on than the Swedes. Especially the men, there are way more 'fat' men in America than there are in Sweden. The business traveling set is a bit plump in America, and here in Sweden they are more streamlined in their figures, and more likely to be wearing glasses with hip looking frames than golf shirts in XXL.

It was also interesting to note how in the airport and in grocery stores, I could identify subcultures easier in the USA. In the USA, I can tell farmer/ trailer park retiree/ red neck that hardly ever comes into town/ business traveler/ southern belle/ student from the North East/ back packer/ musician/ baby carrying new mother from one another. In Sweden, people more or less just look 'Swedish' to me.

We also had a funny 'my kid looks like she's a genius' moment in the airport. After eating the ice cream, we returned to the gate to find our departure location had been changed. We had to run-run-run and get to another terminal QUICK. When we arrived to catch our connecting flight to Florida, I handed SwedeGirl the tickets and asked her to give them to the lady at the gate while I wrangled our carry on luggage into something I could manage down an airplane aisle. My girl looked at the tickets and said "This is not mine, it does not have my name on it...oh wait- There it is!!! " and handed them over. The ticket checker responded by saying "You can READ? How old are you, 5?" She said, no, three and a half. The lady asked what her name was, and my girl replied by finger spelling it in sign language, and saying it out loud. This really got the lady, and we boarded the plane with all the people at the gate thinking she was a reading, spelling, signing, certifiable three year old genius ....if only she had said good bye in swedish we could have really had 'em!

It was great to be back in the USA under the new presidency and feel out how it is going. I have found that even if I read the news in Sweden, there is a collective national mood that is palpable when you are actually in the USA that is impossible to sense from afar. I found this when I was in Florida in October, and got to watch the Palin-Biden debate and read the papers the day afterwards, and see the Obama- McCain debate. It was also the same week the bailout was being planned, so the economic anxiety was peeking. It was a very different thing to BE THERE, and sense it, than hear about it from abroad.

This time, the general sense of economic anxiety was running high. When discussing going to a shop or restaurant, I was often told "call first to make sure they are still open!" due to the large numbers of store closings going on. Similarly, most of my friends made at least one mention of tight times, less income, and fewer clients in all their varied professions. And the housing values in our region of Florida are down 30-75% in some cases, and still falling... The sense of hard times is much more prevalent in the USA than in Sweden. Here in Sweden it is almost theoretical- like do you think this will reach you? In the USA, there is no doubt it has reached everyone.

It was also the first week Obama was naming cabinet members and seeking to set policy priorities. It was interesting to note how the Republicans were blocking his efforts, despite attempts and calls for partisanship. While there, there was much hulla ba loo made over Tom Daschle, who was set to over see the health care imitative, for not paying all his taxes. He subsequently stepped down from his nomination, and Obama apologized for nominating someone who was not of highest integrity and standards. To me this was just stupid. Tom Daschle is the right guy to overhaul the US healthcare system, it has been his focus and priority- he is the expert in the system. The unpaid taxes were just that he had borrowed a friend's car/ limo/ shuttle car while in DC many times, and he failed to report the use of the car as income and pay taxes on it. I think that speaks more to the complexity and stupidity of the American tax code than of Tom Daschle's lack of integrity. Hopefully his stepping down will not doom the efforts to improve American health care.

Overall, the sense I got about the Obama adminsitration was a bit 'back to reality' that politics as usual will resume, but that the aim and goals will be more aligned with what Americans want to see happen. There is a still a relief and ease that comes from knowing the priorties are less about torture/ authoritarian war monging that came from the Cheney set, and more focused on overall integrity/ domestic crisis solving from the Obama crew. The news the Gitmo will be closed came as a very welcome relief....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'll be back someday.

Where to start when I left off the story for 4 whole weeks?

I spent one week prepping to travel, two traveling, one recovering from jet lag.

Now I am feeling good.

I will be back! Gotta upload those photos first, you know.

I have some stories to tell.