Tag Archives: fertility

New Moon and Kidney Energy (Yogapuncture for Fertility)

Seed

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Have you ever held a seed in your hand before placing it in the dirt and marveled at its size? How can something so tiny possibly hold everything it needs to create a whole other plant that will bear roots, leaves, flowers and fruit? It almost seems inconceivable. This is the energetics of the water element, of the kidney/urinary bladder system. For ease I will simply refer to all of this as Kidney energy but all of the associations are included. (to be clear we are talking about the energetics of the kidneys as is related to Chinese Medicine not your physical organs) Just like a seed the kidneys are often referred to as “the root of life”. This is where our essence or Jing is stored. Think of essence like a seed- everything is there to create life. The essence we hold in our bodies comes from 2 places: our parents’ energy at conception (genetics) and energy of our lifestyle (food and movement). The energy of our lifestyle is considered most important because it is constantly being replenished whereas the energy from our parents is set and finite.

What this basically means is that the Kidney system is the foundation of the rest of the organ systems. The function of the kidneys is to store the essence as well as govern birth, growth, reproduction and development, produce marrow, fill up the brain, and control the bones. The energy of the kidney’s open into the ears, manifest in the hair and house the will power (perhaps that’s why we feel compelled to start New Year’s resolutions in the winter months).

In the fall the plants have given the last energy to the last harvest and as the coldness sets in the leaves and fruit dry out, shrivel up and shrink. Any seeds remaining from this fruit might be lucky to settle into the earth and sleep during winter. Because summer is the winter’s opposition we might think of the summer time as the place to fill up our energetic savings account to hold us through the winter. Being that the kidneys are our body’s foundation for every other activity our body needs to function and thrive it is especially important to be kind to our kidneys. And just like seeds, our bodies need periods of rest in order to thrive. The tulip is a great example, as bulbs must be planted at the right time in fall and then need so much time to settle in coldness in order to emerge again in the spring.

When we think of the kidney energy and how it relates to fertility it can be seen as the foundation. By nourishing the kidneys we are building our reserves for high egg quality, a smooth pregnancy and post partum.

Associations for Kidney System

Element: Water                                                          Organs: Kidney/Urinary Bladder

Emotion: Fear                                                             Color: Black/Blue

Sound: Groaning                                                        Taste: Salt

Function: Storing                                                         Direction: North

Manifests in Hair                                                        Controls the Low back Bones and Marrow

Balance/Opposition: Summer/Heart/Joy/Fire           Time: Urinary Bladder 3-5pm Kidney 5-7pm

Drawing with Skeleton, Acupuncture Point KI17 Shangqu, 3D Illust

The kidney channel starts on the sole of the foot and works its way up the inner thigh, torso and ends just under the collar bones. The kidney channel is the yin organ and the urinary bladder channel the yang organ.

The urinary bladder channel starts at the inside corner of the eye and goes up the skull down the back to the back of the knee then up the back to the calf and ends at the outside edge of the pinky toe on each side. This channel has the most points of any channel 67 in all and is the most grounding in nature. The energy is so grounding in fact that burning an herb called Moxa over the last point on this channel is quite effective in bringing a breech or malposition baby into a more favorable position. The urinary bladder channel also has what are called “Shu points” along the back about 1.5 inches lateral of the spine. Each Shu point correlates to an organ and when these points are stimulated it nourishes the corresponding organ.

Because the bulk of our essence comes from food let’s start here. The kidneys are nourished by slow cooked foods, think crock pots, roasted meats and veggies etc. Red meat and meat with the bone in are especially strengthening to the kidneys. Don’t throw the bones away but rather make a nourishing stock for soups or even when cooking rice to give it more flavor. Foods that are kidney shaped also nourish the kidneys; kidney beans are an easy example. Foods that are rich deep colors are also especially nourishing to the kidneys, bonus points if they are black or blue as this is the color of the kidneys. Black beans, kidney beans, eggplant, dark leafy green veggies like spinach, kale, chard and dates. Foods with a natural salty flavor are also helpful such as seaweed and seafood. Walnuts are also said to lubricate the joints and strengthen the lower back (where the kidneys reside). A common herbal prescription to strengthen the lower back is to eat one walnut a day. Incorporating bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, kiwi, citrus foods helps with the absorbtion of iron from beans, whole grains and meat.

The Kidney energy can also be associated with the beginning of your cycle or menstruation. Day 1 is the first day of your period.

The kidneys are damaged by coldness so it is especially important to stay away from cold foods. Energetically speaking raw food is cold in nature so save salads for the summer months or later in your cycle when it is more appropriate. Avoid eating foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer. Stay away from ice in your drinks and ice cream. Dairy should be omitted completely with PCOS and avoid soy (read labels as most packaged foods contain soy) due to the phytoestrogens soy can deregulate a cycle. Keep the belly and low back warm especially in the winter months and start of your cycle. You might place your hand on your abdomen and notice the quality of the temperature of your skin, does it feel cool to the touch or warm? If you notice your belly is cool you might enjoy warm baths or hot water bottle over the abdomen especially in the first half of your cycle. Cold foods inhibit circulation and can contribute to cramping and clots in your menses.

New Moon

The new moon is when the moon is completely hidden from view. It is a time of turning inward and is why the Kidney energy of Chinese Medicine is relevant. The new moon is also the time of renewal and setting intentions. If we didn’t have schedules to live by we would also sleep slightly longer during the new moon as the sky is darker and invites us to rest more. This is a restorative time.

Homework Pose for the Week: Constructive Rest Pose

Constructive Rest Pose is said to be the equivalent to 2 hours of sleep when held for 10 minutes. If you notice midafternoon fatigue use 5-10 minutes of your lunch break to practice constructive rest pose, this is also a nice way to end the day before bed and you could even practice in bed and drift right off to sleep.

How to do it:

Lay on a flat surface with your knees bent. Bring your feet out about shoulder width apart. Turn your toes in (slightly pigeon toed) If there is any discomfort in your lower back walk your feet either further away from your body or closer to your body depending on what feels better to you. Slide your shoulders down away from your ears and rest with your arms at your sides just far enough away from your body so that your palms can comfortably rest racing up. Slide your chin slightly towards your chest to lengthen the back of the neck. Close your eyes and practice deep breathing for 5-10 minutes.

To come out of the pose:

Take a stretch if you feel its needed. Protect your back and roll onto your side. Rest for a moment on your side if you aren’t fully alert and when ready press yourself back to a seated posture.

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Acupressure for the Week: KD6

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This point is located on what is known as the conception vessel in Chinese Medicine. What better point to stimulate when preparing the body for pregnancy? This point has many benefits, opening the body to conception is one and can also be used to combat nausea during pregnancy as well as for insomnia, prolapse of the uterus, constipation, frequency of urination and sore throat. It is a safe acu-point to use through out your cycle and during pregnancy.

Located in the hollow just under the inner ankle bone. Sitting with the soles of feet together and legs in a diamond is an ideal position to access this point. Hold this point for 1-3 minutes as well.

Located in the hollow just under the inner ankle bone. Sitting with the soles of feet together and legs in a diamond is an ideal position to access this point. Hold this point for 1-3 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy After Loss

Here is part 5 in the series. You can start from the beginning here, A birth story. Thanks again for reading.

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When we returned home from vacation all I wanted was my body back. I was determined to lose the 15 pounds I had gained in pregnancy. We agreed I would get healthy and then see about “trying” again. I couldn’t fathom being pregnant again. I didn’t think I could do it. I knew I couldn’t handle another loss and neither could my husband. I found a class at the gym called Body Combat that made me sweat and laugh and feel really good when it was over. It complimented my yoga practice nicely. I had read a study about using acupuncture for weight loss and decided to use myself as a guinea pig to try it out.

After a month or so my efforts seemed in vain. Nothing seemed to be working. I thought my hormones must really be off. I went to a body combat class and looked in the mirror, my arms looked toned, my legs looked strong but my belly still looked pregnant. I had to leave that class midway through from feeling dizzy. Maybe I was dehydrated. I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes open when putting Lia down for a nap and would snooze the whole 2 hours with her. I started feeling a little queasy after dinner, maybe I was taking too many probiotics. My brother was chosen (hooray!) for adoption and I overheard my mom telling a friend she was going to be a grandma again. Her friend said, “Was I right? Is Sarah pregnant?” My jaw dropped. Did I really look that bad!? It dawned on me that it had been 2 months since the miscarriage and no return of a cycle. I thought my body was taking a break. It didn’t seem possible. I confided in a friend, feeling mostly like I was going nuts. Christian and I talked about the possibility as more and more pregnancy symptoms popped up. We were scared to take a test. Finally several days later I bought a test and there was that double line again, only I didn’t know how to feel about it. Christian said, “Don’t. tell. anyone.” I called the midwife to schedule an appointment. When we got there they were slightly skeptical that I was indeed pregnant when we recounted the story. I was just over 9 weeks. “Its a little early to hear a heartbeat, we can wait if you want so it doesn’t freak you out if we don’t hear it.” I said let’s give it a try and as soon as they put the doppler on my belly there it was thundering loud, “here I AM.”

35 weeks

It was the perfect anniversary present for both of us. We told my mom but felt shy about sharing the news and even now haven’t shared the news with everyone we know. (its almost become like infant sleep, don’t talk about it when its going well so you don’t jinx it) We planned to share the news at thanksgiving in a few weeks to give us some more time to let it all sink in and move past the “danger zone.” Instead all 3 of us got a nasty virus and spent the day in bed fighting fevers and achey bones. It seemed all too familiar. I waited for the next midwife appointment and the sound of the heartbeat before we shared the news with family and some friends since we could no longer deny my growing belly. Getting dresssed one day at the gym a sweet lady asked me when I was due. I looked at her like she had 3 heads completely confused. What was she talking about? How did she know? “Oh, I replied lamely, middle of June.”

After the 15 week mark I thought I would relax- but I couldn’t. I hoped at the 20 week ultrasound I’d be able to relax. Everything looked great, except a tip of the placenta was low lying. I would need another scan but no one seemed concerned that it wouldn’t move- except me. All of a sudden I was approaching the 3rd trimester. I started at the midwife in disbelief when she went over my appointment timeline. Wait, what? How did that happen? I had my second scan at 28 weeks but the tech quickly stopped and said, “I hate to tell you this but you’re going to need another scan, the placenta hasn’t moved.” I waited until he was gone and completely lost my shit. I felt so broken, so betrayed by my body. It was time to get serious. I scheduled some time with an acupuncturist that wasn’t me. I started reading Birthing From Within and contacted someone to help facilitate my processing this through music and art. I did some energy work also. All this time I hadn’t admitted to myself that I didn’t believe I would ever get to meet this child, that I was still holding onto the pain of the children I would never know. I was just holding my breath. I was so scared and angry. Its hard to live in a body I didn’t trust and was still mad at especially when I was ignoring it and here was this beautiful soul, my next teacher dancing around so close to the surface saying over and over, “I am here.” I was finally able to feel just how tensely I had been carrying myself, my belly like a rigid cage. I was able to accept it was going to be ok.

Three weeks later after another scan the placenta had completely moved out of the way. Finally I stopped holding my breath.

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I realize I’m still in the middle of this story, its still being written. At 35 weeks I still can’t believe the end is almost here. The birth kit is here. The home visit is scheduled. For the first time I’m able to have a clear mind about how this birth will go, in that I don’t have any clue how it will go but I know it won’t be Lia’s birth, or my little turkey’s birth or the other miscarriage. There’s one last milestone to pass and that is the day we lost our little turkey on June 9th. We may or may not be pregnant when we pass it. But I think I’ve found some peace with all of it. It no longer feels like “my” story, it was just something to feel and I don’t need to feel it so strongly anymore. I don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other if it is a boy or a girl. I will be equally surprised either way. I do feel like I’ve been pregnant for a very long time which I have: all of this year and pretty much all of last year. I’m trying my best to honor my body as I have needed to slow down quite a bit the last week or so. I feel slightly at a loss on how to prepare for what’s next and maybe that is best. We’ve nested quite a bit, our whole house pretty much has had a makeover which feels fitting to have a fresh space for our whole family. I just cleaned out my closet, the baby has some freshly washed jammies to wear when the time is right. I have not been diligent this time slathering my belly with coconut oil and some faint stretch marks have appeared on my belly. I really like them, like a tattoo, marking my passage to motherhood. A reminder of all who dwelled and grew here.

A few weeks ago I noticed a bird would fly from the bush by our garage to the tree. I finally peaked in and found a well hidden nest with 3 baby birds, beaks peaking to the sky.

I plan to share my birth story when the time comes. I want to thank you for reading as writing this all has definitely helped me to prepare, to heal, to accept and let go. In the interest in continuing to rebuild my trust in my body I will be doing (hopefully) a 40 week series about post partum recovery as well.

Again

This is part 4 and is about miscarriage, skip if you need to. You can start at the beginning here:

A Birth Story Part 1

After Birth Part 2

A Miscarriage Story Part 3

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I was a little surprised when the midwife told me we didn’t have to wait if we didn’t want to, to try again. “Have a normal cycle and if you feel up to it, you can try again.” In the moment staring out the window trying to make sense of what had just happened it seemed so odd. I thought of my sister in law’s text message when I was trying to save the broken robin’s eggs. “It’s just part of nature, mama will start again.”

I rested as if I had just given birth because I had and loaded up on nourishing foods, belly binding and motherwarming and went back to the business of living life. It was not our intention to “try” so quickly but after just one cycle I found myself pregnant again. Because I was charting I had a feeling very early on that I could be pregnant again. The first few tests were negative until a faint double line appeared and a few days later it was stronger. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t really know how I felt about it and neither did my husband. I reminded him that we could be happy about this baby too.

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Nature it seemed was giving me a peace offering: a sunflower from the farmers market with 2 flowers on one stem, a fish tank full of baby hermit crabs, a twin squash from the garden. I thought it meant twins, I just didn’t think it meant twin miscarriages. Week 6 I called the midwife to tell the news and set up our first appointment. I mentioned some spotting but mostly when going to the bathroom and no cramps. Nothing I had read on the internet seemed to match my symptoms or give cause for too much worry. My sister asked if I was terrified but I wasn’t too concerned, the chance of a second miscarriage especially before 6 months after a loss was pretty slim, thanks google. The midwife suggested an early ultrasound to put my mind at ease if I didn’t want to wait for my first appointment. It seemed an unnecessary expense, I could wait for my appointment, until I couldn’t wait. Several days later the spotting was still there and we decided to take a ride to the free mobile ultrasound bus. When we got there the end was already here. I was actively bleeding although not much and while still technically pregnant they couldn’t do an ultrasound and instead recommended I go to the ER.

I was still hopeful. I just wanted to see/hear a heartbeat and take a nap. We decided to spare Lia a day in the hospital and Christian dropped me off at the ER. I promised I would call with news. A few hours later I walked away with no more answers then I had had in the morning. There was nothing to see on the ultrasound screen, my HCG levels were too low. Either my dates were off or I had a threatened miscarriage that they couldn’t confirm without a second HCG test 72 hours later. I laid in bed pouring over my chart trying to make it seem I was a week earlier than I thought until the pain and bleeding started. Then I gave up, I didn’t want to feel any of it. I took Advil to stay ahead of the pain and did acupuncture for relief and to move things along. I felt restless, alone, sad, and confused. Nothing made any sense.

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It actually took longer to recover this time. I was starting to get nervous about the possibility of a D&C when my levels finally evened out. We had planned a trip to Colorado and Yellowstone and I was concerned about not being able to hike. Thankfully just the right amount of time had passed and we had a beautiful time. It was nice to get away and spend hours a day in nature carrying my not so little one on my back. It was quite the adventure at just the right time.

A Miscarriage Story

Trigger warning, this post is about miscarriage. Skip if you need to. You can read part one here and part two here.

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Once upon a time the word miscarriage seemed like a minor blip in the world. A semi sad, longer than normal period. I think it’s portrayed that way because it’s too awful to understand the magnitude of what it is and how deeply it hurts. It has always left me in awe to think of all the things that have to go right in order for a new life to be conceived. Even all that awe doesn’t make it easier when somewhere along the way something doesn’t go right and the body decides to hit the erase button.

There are loads of birth stories to read about on line and people are very often happy to share in person as well but it is rare to hear a miscarriage story unless you have crossed over into the abyss of “being in the club”. It’s more common than I had ever imagined. It’s not just a blip in life, a longer than average period.

I don’t know exactly when the madness started but that’s what it felt like. My period didn’t return until 21 months post partum (thanks full term breastfeeding) Maybe it was a hormonal surge, biology; the urgency in my body to be pregnant almost felt manic. I was charting my cycle as a science experiment and even though it only took 3 months to conceive each day seemed much too long until the double line on the pregnancy test appeared. I was over the moon excited. It seemed everyone I knew was pregnant and I felt like a girl in puberty waiting for her period to begin when all her friends had already started.

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We had told family and close friends about Lia’s pregnancy early out of necessity to plan our wedding in Guatemala and this time I saw no reason to wait either. I couldn’t wait to share this experience with Lia, as a family. Everything started out fine, the nausea and fatigue. I got a bad virus early on and my midwife assured me that baby was well protected and to just take care of myself. I couldn’t eat enough meat. I quested for the perfect chicken fingers and unsweetened iced tea with lemon tasted absolutely divine. I had the urge to spit especially in the shower and at night. I held my breath for an instant at our first prenatal appointment until I heard the sound of the heartbeat and felt instantly it was a boy. I’d never been so certain of something even though we weren’t planning on finding out. Everything seemed as normal as could be and I was sure we’d be meeting our son on thanksgiving. My belly started to swell. I was past the “danger zone” and settling into pregnancy.

I walked out the garage one morning to find a robin’s nest that had fallen out of the bush next to our house. I searched the eggs to see if any had made it to put back into the nest but they had all cracked. I felt a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach but pushed it to the back of my mind, surely it meant nothing. I had quick a bit of anxiety this pregnancy and a feeling I couldn’t shake that this baby would not be born at home despite not being able to explain why.

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My next appointment with the midwife said I was measuring 2 days ahead. There was a little trouble finding the heartbeat with the doppler but it was explained away with tight pants. An ultrasound was done to put my mind at ease and there was baby swimming laps, wiggling so much it took several seconds to get a view of the heart beating. All looked just fine.

A few days later while eating pizza at my sister’s I felt the baby kick. I didn’t know he was saying goodbye. When we got home that night I went to the bathroom before bed and my underwear was lined with a streak of brown blood. Something didn’t feel quite right about the sight even though nothing else had changed. I called the midwife and she reassured me that it was probably nothing, take it easy and rest and call if anything changed. I spent the next day resting and not much changed. We decided to take a short walk to the park in the evening and when we got home to get ready for our bedtime routine I noticed the blood was more and brighter. I called again and the midwife was still reassuring that it was probably nothing. She offered an appointment the next day to check the heartbeat so I could relax. I scheduled an appointment and even then knew I wouldn’t make it.

I laid in bed that night trying to figure out if I felt cramping or if my mind was making it up. I fell asleep counting 20 second contractions that were mild and ignorable. Forty minutes later another woke me up and I got out of bed and called the midwife again who suggested some Epsom salts and to go back to bed. The chances of a miscarriage at 15 weeks were rare and the fact that we had seen the baby moving was an even better “good sign”. I tried to relax but my body had other plans. I pleaded with the baby in my head, “just kick baby, give me a sign you are ok.” It was complete silence and stillness.

I soon found myself unable to get comfortable and the mild cramps became stronger and all of a sudden I found myself breathing deeply on all fours about every other minute. It dawned on me that I had done this before- when I was in labor with my daughter. I went upstairs terrified and told my husband we had to go to the hospital something was not right. My daughter was up looking for a 2am snuggle and we loaded into the car. Thankfully my friend and doula (and more than part angel) heard my text and offered to meet us at the hospital to look after my daughter.

The 15 minute ride was excruciating. I walked into the ER in the middle of a contraction and leaned against the front desk, “I’m 15 weeks pregnant and am having contractions.” They got me a wheel chair but I had to wait for a room. The nurse came out to take my vitals as I felt a gush. All hope escaped out of me as my water broke and I said, “oh no. Something just came out.” My friend demanded a room for me as I cried and asked for my mom. (it was in that moment that I realized I would never stop needing my mom)

Shortly after that we were wheeled into a room. A nurse ask what my health history was which seemed like the dumbest question on earth and I replied, “uh, boring. What do you want to know.” The doctor came in and gave us a game plan that never came to fruition as the doppler remained silent on my abdomen. Instead he did a pelvic exam while the ultrasound tech banged on the door, him yelling not now as he extracted my baby and placenta with forceps. I have no idea how long it took but it felt excruciating and like it would never end. His eyes were genuinely sad and compassionate as he said he was sorry and that we had lost the baby. They left us alone to cry as we waited for lab tests results and the ok to go home which was the only place I desperately wanted to be.

A short while later the nurse came back to let us know we had the legal right to take the baby with us but if we choose not to the hospital would take care of things most likely by way of cremation. It was such a shock, it was all just such a shock. I didn’t even know what we would do with this tiny soul that we would never get to meet. Part of me wanted to ask if they knew the gender, part of me wanted to see the baby and part of me didn’t. Christian said he didn’t want the image in his head and we decided it was best to leave things the way they were. The nurse dropped off brochures for grief and loss and we waited awhile longer to make sure I was stable before  I was discharged. They gave me a pair of paper scrub pants to go home in since the pants I came in were completely ruined. We walked to the waiting room to get Lia and my mom and her husband.

It was the oddest, most unnatural feeling to be leaving the hospital without my second child. I couldn’t help but wonder where he was. I felt like I was abandoning him. I felt so completely empty. I texted my sister as we drove home, “I lost the baby.” My mom cooked us breakfast and I took a shower and was so surprised to see my belly so flat, that might have been most shocking of all. I went to sleep as the sun was coming up.

It was a quiet day at home. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and my mom let my family know. I texted my close friends just so that they knew and took down my pregnancy announcement on facebook. A dear friend who had her own share of loss had a basket of goodies delivered which was so kind. Another friend had a book mailed to me about loss with a kind note. Another went to the farmers market and dropped all the goodies I needed to make a post partum recovery soup. My sister and brother in law came to cry with us. My brother brought us dinner. A friend dropped off extra plants for our garden since I hadn’t had a chance to get anything started. We stood in the driveway her car running. She gave me a hug as I cried and said to me, “This is just something to feel right now, don’t get lost here. We all have our shit to deal with. Just feel this right now.” Wiser words have never been spoken. The ER doctor even called the next day to offer his condolences again and make sure I was doing ok. There was so much kindness and compassion. I don’t know what I would have done without all the gentleness surrounding us.

I felt at such a loss because for whatever reason it had never occurred to me how painful a miscarriage could be. How very nieve indeed. It felt like a violent violation. It felt like my body was pushing completely against what I thought it was supposed to be doing, as in growing my healthy baby. It was like being completely hollowed out physically and emotionally. All of a sudden the entire summer and fall we thought we had planning in preparing to grow our family was wiped clean as if it had never even happened.

 

Then later I couldn’t believe how many people remembered I had been pregnant. It seemed I got notes or ran into people who would casually ask how I was feeling and then there was the awkward part of the conversation. “Actually, we lost the baby.” I hated that part most because I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. Slowly it got better. What struck me most was how many people shared they had had a miscarriage as well. It made me sad. All this silence except when to welcome someone to the club. It was still raw for many women who would share their memories and it didn’t matter how much time had passed whether it had been a few months, or years or decades, whether they had had other children or not. I listened in hopes that by sharing their story would be a healing salve for both of us.

A few days later I had a dream I was above a forest where a wooden eagle was at the top of a totum pole. The eagle slowly floated me to the ground where my father and my son were standing. My dad was so sad and was crying. He kept saying over and over I’m so sorry. The baby just kept getting sick. He would get better and then get sick again. He just couldn’t get better and he had to leave. It was comforting at least to know my dad was taking care of the son I was unable to care for.

A Birth Story

I wasn’t exactly sure where to start this story or why. Sometimes I wonder if our greatest fears fill us with such strong emotion because in some way we know they are exactly what we came here to learn from the most. Reading other people’s stories has always been helpful as I process my own. I have gone back and forth over sharing all of this. I have decided to write it all down in hopes that it can be of some help or hope to others. At first it felt self-indulgent and maybe even irrelevant. But I’ve been thinking that this is what isn’t shared enough, it doesn’t even matter if its good or bad, it’s just not talked about enough. It really hit me this weekend when I was waiting for an elevator and a woman made an attempt at being funny by telling me from the opening of a full elevator that she didn’t think all of me would fit, all 8 months pregnant me. Funny, haha. Except that pregnancy isn’t funny. It’s truly a miracle. All the things that have to go just right for a new life to grow from virtually nothing almost seems impossible, it’s delicate. It’s not easy to grow someone from scratch, to share your body so completely. It can be hard mentally, physically, emotionally, exciting, empowering, scary and just about every other range of emotion possible, sometimes all at once or all in the span of a few minutes and most of it especially the unpleasant, sad or inconvenient feelings we endure silently on our own. I would like to stop being the strong silent type and in the process empower more women to do the same. I would love to hear your story if you would like to share it as well. Nothing about this is meant as any kind of advice, it’s just simply a piece of my journey to motherhood of 4 babies, one made it earth side and thriving, one I knew only a way a mother knows her child, one was barely here and one I’m currently preparing to meet in June. I will break this into segments and offer trigger warnings for the pieces that involve loss.  If you are looking for a positive birth story, this section is relevant.

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Early on in my career as an acupuncturist I started teaching a yoga for fertility class and had an influx in patients seeking pregnancy. I always felt conflicted and heartbroken for these women. It was the one thing that I “treated” that was so absolute: either they were pregnant or not. The urgency, the devastation. I often felt ill equipt to help. Deep down I was terrified that some day it would be me.

My cycle had never been regular especially since grad school and I wasn’t being consistent in the pro-active department ironically enough. A few years went by and I decided to get serious about taking care of myself. I wasn’t ready to think about kids but I wanted my body to be healthy when that time came. I wanted to be practicing what I was preaching and I was tired of running at half speed all the time and the frustration of not understanding what was going on with my body. I took my own advice and started doing acupuncture 2-3 times a week and taking herbs for about 3 months and finally after years of cysts, annovulatory cycles, breakthrough bleeding, insomnia, fatigue, etc etc my body healed itself and I felt healthy, rested and strong.

Shortly after, we conceived our first child in celebration of our engagement quite by surprise. My pregnancy was fairly uneventful, even if my life was not. Growing a thriving practice from scratch, planning an international wedding, teaching. I felt strong, empowered, focused like I could do anything. I loved my growing belly. I read everything I could get my hands on related to natural child-birth, making informed, evidence based decisions regarding all things labor and read so so many positive birth stories. A few years before I had seen the Business of Being Born and even then I knew I wanted to birth my babies at home. I was fortunate to have several friends who had already had low intervention, drug free home, hospital and birth center births. They were my inspiration. I never had a doubt that I would not rock a natural birth at home and all stars aligned for just that to happen.

I was in no particular hurry for pregnancy to be over. At my 40 week appointment I was 3 cm dilated and stopped working. Nothing changed that week except my patience. I did some acupuncture to help ready my body and not even a snow storm threw me a contraction. 8 days later I was 5 cm with a bulging bag. My midwife assured me baby was coming but I still felt doubtful even though looking back I was most likely in early labor I just didn’t realize it.

My husband and I had what would be our last dinner out as a couple and I started to feel slightly crampy. Driving home my back contracted fairly regularly and my husband missed our exit forcing us the long way home. Once home, I did some acupuncture that immediately relieved my discomfort. I watched my favorite show and then told baby to give me 2 hours of sleep and if they were ready to get started I would be too. I told my husband we better blow up the tub before we went to bed, just in case.

Two hours later I woke up to pee and when I laid back down my water broke. I leapt from the bed and said “Christian, my water broke!” as I ran to the bathroom. “Call the doula!” Christian sprang from the bed and before I had even made it to the bathroom I yelled again, “Call the midwife!” as my first real contraction hit, active labor was here. I gave Christian a job to do (laying down plastic and filling the tub as I settled into labor) I was kneeling over my birth ball breathing deeply through each contraction and playing a game of bejeweled blitz in my head. When our doula arrived I asked, “how did you do this more than once?” and was taken completely into laborland. Each contraction seemed manageable if I could breath louder than the intensity of it, which probably only makes sense if in labor.

It all sounds so romantic now to say I was swept up with each contraction, giving my whole attention to it. Nothing else mattered but breathing. I remember my arms starting to shake on the ball, it was no longer comfortable but I also didn’t know if I could move either, at least this position I knew. Our doula suggested laboring on the toilet and I did, hating the intensity of every moment and again I didn’t know if I could move from this position. Even though I was uncomfortable the idea of drugs never crossed my mind. My body was doing a job and each contraction felt like I was working towards something, it all felt necessary to the process. Finally the tub was full and I was complete and could go in the water. It felt so soothing. I clung to the side and was surprised how difficult and awkward it felt to push. It also felt like I would be in this state of in between forever. It was just my new normal. My eyes were closed pretty much all of labor and the voices around me seemed so far away and the conversation so bizarre. I felt like I was on another planet all together and would moan loudly as I felt the baby descending just so everyone in the room knew this was hard work. “Oooohhhhh!” I would say and they would respond back, “Good! Deeper, lower.” I smiled even in the moment remembering my bradley teacher and yoga classes when we would talk about vocalizing deep, low tones to open the cervix.

After an hour of pushing the midwife checked again and said a 2nd water bag needed to be broken so baby could come down. I wasn’t too excited about that but after, baby and I made progress and after a position change and several pushes I felt the ring of fire. It felt like a welcome focal point, something to push past. The head crowned just after 5am and just like that shoulders and body slide right out. All of a sudden this other worldly creature with a plume of red hair was laid on my chest. I was in disbelief this whole person had been inside of me, had grown from basically nothing. Such a humbling experience. These little eyes peered out so alert and aware and quiet. We locked eyes and just stared and stared.

nb lia

Eventually the assistant asked, “So, did you have a boy or a girl?” We were so in awe it never occurred to us to check. I lifted the baby up and said, “Oh, it’s a girl.”

The cord was cut and Lia was handed to Daddy for the first time as I got out of the tub and delievered the cool, smooth placenta. We were reunited in bed while I got a few stitches and baby was measured and weighed. We tried breastfeeding, feeling so strange and awkward, a threshold crossing of what breasts had always been to being used as they were intended. Before leaving the midwife gave me some homeopathy assuring me that tomorrow I would feel like a bus ran over me. I was sore but so well attended that I felt pretty great the next day as I ventured to the first floor and we began our life as a family.

family

Checking In

Hi there,

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. It’s been a relatively quiet period of my life with quite a lot of changes. For the first time in my life I’m moving at the slowest pace I’ve ever known. Who knew a 3 year old had so much to teach about the concept of slow?!

I’ve traded mostly acupuncture needles for embroidery needles, knitting needles, paper and tape, glue, felt, crayons, paint etc. 





I’ve toyed with telling this story for quite some time. It feels only right in the spirit of empowering women and preparing for the next length of this journey to share it now it hopes of acting like a balm for broken pieces and helping others walking a similar isolated path. 

So hello again, I hope you’ve been enjoying the beautiful sunshine, flowers, greenery and are keeping your neck covered in the wind! This will most likely come in a series so stay tune for the next post.