Friday, June 26, 2009

a sea of possibilities

I've said it already, but this past trip to California was such a healing experience. June has been a REALLY hard month. Don't you ever find that when things go sour, they seem to make a trend of it? As though one rotten experience isn't enough, the universe needs to give you a few opportunities to really feel what it is to be in the ditch? I call this time being in the darkness.

We all go there at some point in our lives. Women in labour often go there, it is that place where they don't want to go on anymore, they want a way out or they think they may die. It is a dark place that we must go alone (even though those we love are all around us). But after that dark place, comes the light. The new emerging of the self, transformed. In terms of labour and birth, it is the emerging mother, a transformed woman.

June was my dark month. But while I was in California, I could feel a new emergence within myself. And as I was sitting at the Mother's Plunge Retreat listening to Karen, I knew that I was coming into the light, that a new possibility was waiting for me and all I had to do was say yes to it. It's funny, I was saying to my friend, that if this past month hadn't been so hard, so dark and ugly, then I wouldn't have been so raw and open to something new. Because when things are going really well, there is no need to create space for change, why would we? But when things are hard and we are wide open, then the magic can happen.

So, if you are in that dark place right now, open and raw, know that it is really a gift. Because this experience is preparing you for something even better than you could have imagined. There is a sea of possibility out there for all of us who are willing to say yes.

There is something wonderful on its way, something new I am creating and I can't wait to share it with you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

birth centre

In the U.S. women have an option that we don't have here in B.C, the Birth Centre. This is a wonderful option for women who would like a home birth type setting without being in their home. All of the women in the care of this midwife have their exams and meetings at the centre. The intention behind this is when a woman goes into labour, this is a familiar, safe place to be for them, allowing them to let go and birth with less anxiety. My good friend works in this birth centre in Ventura California, offering classes as well as taking care of the bookkeeping. I had the privilege of taking some photos of this amazing space, one of them with my friend standing next to the bed where she gave birth to both of her children. The midwife who runs this centre also offers well-woman care here, right on this bed. No stirrups in sight!

Sunrise Birth Centre

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I know my last post was pretty heavy. It was a heavy time. Since then I have gone and returned from the land of the avocados. If you have been reading for a while you will know that I have the best husband EVER! For mother's day he bought me a ticket to see my dearest friend Laurel in Ventura California so that we could both go to the Mother's Plunge retreat with Karen Mazen Miller.

I have traveled many times before, but this time was something else. It was not only an amazing place and unbelievably beautiful, it was also a healing place to be. I was given the privilege to step out of my life for a few days and really nurture myself. We talked about everything as good friends do and went to lots of great places. But the best thing about this trip, what made it so amazing, so healing, was to be with someone who is truly phenomenal, someone who inspires me to the core. Coming home from California I feel like a new person, I have a new clarity for my life and a new peace. Thank you Stefan for sending me on this journey and thank you Laurel for being brave to just be you.

There is so much to tell from this trip, I'll post more tomorrow.

P.S. This is a picture of an avocado from Laurel's tree in her back yard, it was dripping with them. I can't believe I am paying $2.00 each for them here! They were amazing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

what is there to say?

What do you say when there is nothing to say? How do you find words when nothing in our language can express how you feel? How do you process the experience of holding a mother as her child goes with the angels right in front of you? How do you witness your partner go through the stages of grief as he wonders if there was anything else he could have done, knowing that he did everything he could? How do you take a breath as you tell you child that his friend has gone with the angels as he responds, "I want my friend to come back."

There is no making sense of the insane. That moment when you know that nothing is in our control and that being present is all we can do. It is in this moment as we experience our own grief and trauma and witness and support those who have lost a son, that we know there really is nothing to say, except, I love you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

a midwife's window

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that my great grandmother was a midwife in the 30's and had a birth house in Ladner BC. I'm not sure what it is beyond the obvious that is compelling me to dig deeper into her life, but for whatever reason, I am consumed by her story.

So, this past weekend I went to Vancouver and my mum and I went to her home. It is still standing and is now a health food store. Through my mother's stories and my knowledge of midwifery at that time, we both began to put some of the pieces of my great grandmother's life together. There is so much to tell that I can't do it all in one post. So, as I unearth more and more of her life, I'm going to share her story, one post at a time. I have photos of her on my desk here that I will scan in so you can see what the face of a woman looks like in 1912 as she is about to immigrate to Canada with six children all on her own. I have photos of her pregnant standing outside of the log home that she helped to build in the Crows Nest Pass and more photos of her later in life as she stands outside her birth house smelling her roses that are still growing today.

But for now, this is a photo that I took of her home, of the window in the front room where women came on their own or under the advice their doctor to give birth in my great grandmother's house. There was no universal health care at that time and no tunnel to Vancouver. It was a long journey for women to get to the hospital, even if they could afford it. So my great grandmother, along with three other women in the community had birth houses where they would not only have their babies, but also stay on for the next 7-10 days in their early postpartum time. Breastfeeding was still the norm (although it began to change for privileged women later in the 1930's) and women like my great grandmother, after having 8 children of her own, would have been an expert in the subject.

Our stories as women are a part of history, a part of how we have shaped our world. Unfortunately those stories often get lost or forgotten and our children, our grandchildren never learn about how important we were to the fabric of the community of women and families. My great grandmother's stories are a part of who I am, they are a part of the lives of so many. And as I stood in her house, I knew that my work was just beginning as I looked through the window of a birth house.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

hamster wheel no more

I hit a wall last night. The kids wouldn't sleep, it was too hot. I had been with them all day and was really looking forward to sitting down on the couch and watching a movie. It took until 10:00pm to get the kids down, normally they go to bed at 7:00 and I really look forward to that time. As I was struggling to wait for the sleeping faeries to come for our little ones I began feeling resentful. I work all day long and once the kids are in bed, I work into the night as well. I wasn't getting a break and I knew in a few short hours that the little one would be up in the night...back at it again.

My day often consists of: dishes, laundry, groceries, emails, snacks, phone calls, picking up and dropping off at school, errands, emails, preparing for classes, following up on how families are doing, making meals, refereeing childhood squabbles, cleaning the house, writing on my blog or reading others, paying bills, did I mention emails? I am constantly juggling so many things in one given day and with my work, I don't set any limits. This is the challenge of the work at home mother, especially when your office is in the house, just off the kitchen. It is all too tempting to escape to my computer any chance I get. Often it is because I want to make sure that I am always available and sometimes it is just to escape to some kind of adult conversation or thought.

So as I was sitting on the couch last night, feeling like a truck ran over me, I had a moment of clarity. I need to set office hours. That's right. I'm going to be making a sign for my door so that I can see for myself, a reminder of when I should and should not be at the computer. A reminder that it is OK to just let the emails go for the rest of the day, a reminder to be present with my children, with the meals, with myself. If I don't do this, I think I will keep running on this hamster wheel of exhaustion which doesn't leave me the energy to do anything whole heartedly and I am going to return to that place of burn out that I am all too familiar with. It's hard for me to set boundaries like this, it will mean that I will have to sit with my children while they eat snack instead of using it as an excuse to run to the computer. This is my first step to finding balance as a stay at home/work at home mother. I'm starting to think an open/closed sign for the kitchen would be great too....

How do you create balance?