my labor beads

My favorite part of my shower for FJ was when my friends and family each selected a bead, wrote me a wish for my upcoming, unmedicated labor, and strung it on a necklace for me to hold or wear during labor.  During the time those wishes were shared I laughed and cried, and knew something very special and sacred had been created for my birth.

Birth blessings

During my short labor, I held my necklace almost the entire time, focusing largely on the strength of women who have come before me and who will come after me, as well as those who directly offered me the wishes and hopes for my labor. I remembered my friends’ and family’s words of wisdom, encouragement, and love — and was comforted.  I took this idea from the ideas of mother blessings or blessingways, and I think for our next child I’ll focus even more heavily on the idea of a mother/father/baby blessing, rather than on traditional gifts.

After my shower, I put the cards the wishes were written on into a scrapbook, and looked at them in the days leading up to FJ’s birth. Now I’m looking over them again and sharing them with you:

I wish for peace to surround you and to enter your heart as you bring Miss ___ into the world

I hope that you can remember your strength during labor and that you feel empowered and loved as you give birth to your baby girl. Wishing you a very memorable and magical moment.

I hope for you and Baby ____ a peaceful, healthy delivery. At the end of your labor will be the most amazing miracle and moment of your life. You will be amazing and strong. Lots of love!

I hope you have a fast and smooth delivery of baby ___. I wish you the best…and a healthy baby.

I wish for you that your birthing plan can be fulfilled and that things progress smoothly and peacefully. I also wish for you that [Hubby] doesn’t pass out…haha…just kidding!

My wish for you is strength and focus.

My wish for you is to have a safe and healthy birth. I hope it comes easy for you with the least stress possible.

My prayer is that your delivery will be quick.

My wish for you and the baby is health. Lots of love!

My wish for you is bravery. [*Note: This one was from my nine-year-old niece — how AMAZING and insightful is she!!?!?]

My wish for you is to remember that the pain has a purpose. As soon as your eyes meet hers — it’s a magical moment and you realize all good things in life take hard work.

I wish you a calm and speedy delivery. Let go of stress and just breathe (and push, push, push!) I picked a textured bead that will help distract you from any pain. [*Note: I remembered that this friend did this, and it did help!]

This may (or may not) sound strange, but I found labor to be very empowering. It’s pretty amazing what our bodies are capable of doing in order to bring a new life into the world. We are women, hear us roar!!!

I pray that you will have the strength of all the women who have gone before you, the courage of a thousand warriors, and the peace that comes from knowing the love to come will be greater than any before. Love you!

I love you sweetheart and know everything will go well during your labor and birth.

I love you so much and am very proud of all you’ve done with your life. Cherish all the memories of your preganncy, labor, and birth because when they hand you that beautiful life you’ve created, it will have been worth it!!

I am so happy to say all these prayers and wishes did come true.


24 weeks, and i am in love

I am in love with this baby and I am in love with my husband! He is so sweet and supportive. I can’t imagine being with anyone else…I am so glad I found him. Today was our 24-week appointment with the midwife group. I had to take my one-hour glucose test (really not that bad) and the midwife felt the baby’s position for the first time. It was amazing that she could feel limbs and her head through my stomach! Wild! She seems to be kind of to the side right now, with her head up near my right upper torso. It’s still early, though…plenty of time to move that baby down into position!

Here’s my 24-week photo. I know I had been cutting my head off my photos before posting, but really you all can link to my YouTube videos and see my face there, so why bother?

24 weeks

This weekend hubby and I are celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary! I can’t believe it has been a year since our wedding…we are going on a mini vacation to the mountains to celebrate! Can’t wait!

meet the crow

Yesterday hubby and I had two crows flying around our balcony. One kept landing for really long periods of time on our balcony ledge, really close where we (and the happy cats) could clearly see his shiny black feathers. One of them even returned today.

I always used to think of the crow as a bad omen, so to dispel that myth from my head I looked them up in our Animal Speak book and saw some info on the crow in relation to the magic of creation. I then remembered that at our last spiritual retreat, my husband had been given the crow as his “totem” animal for the next six months, and I the (related) magpie. My curiosity piqued by the appearance of one of our totems, I decided to talk to one of our spiritual advisors about the crow to see if he had any additional insight into the appearance of the mysterious and surprisingly lovely bird.

My Dear Sister,

The Crow is an awesome totem to have when preparing the path for a spirit to enter this realm (having a baby).

Meet the Crow

The Crow is about life, death and rebirth. It is also about integrity and doing unto others as we would like them to do to us.   Crow teaches us to know ourselves beyond the limitations of one-dimensional thinking and laws.  It is about bringing magic into our lives.   This animal teaches to us to appreciate the many dimensions both of reality and our selves, and to learn to trust our intuition and personal integrity.  There is magic wherever crows are.  They give us the message that there is magic alive in our life, in our world and this magic is ours to use and create a new world for ourselves.

I send you and [hubby’s name] lots of love, light and Crow energy.

Now I don’t put as much stock into the metaphysical properties of animals and natural objects as some, but obviously I am interested enough that I asked our advisor’s opinion in the first place (and to go to the type of spiritual retreat in which we pick totems for ourselves!). Mostly, I just believe we create our own symbolism and meaning for the things that happen in our lives, but that in many cases archetypal images and themes of interpretation have evolved over the centuries in a way that makes sense and imparts meaning. To me that means not necessarily that the crow has actual inherent spiritual qualities, but that I (and many others before and after me) can interpret the crow in a way that just seems to make sense. I know many people would disagree with reading meaning into a bird on a balcony, but I hope you can respect this way that I may be different from you. Thank you for doing that.

Another interesting tidbit I learned: a white crow was said to have watched over Apollo’s pregnant wife Coronis. Maybe I have a guardian?

when i say i believe in unconditional love

My spiritual path is based on unconditional love and acceptance for myself and others. This path is just that — a path, not a destination I’ve reached, when it comes to myself or others, although I’m working on it — and I’ve realized lately that when I say I believe in unconditional love I should apply it to myself, hubby, and our journey of conception.

I’ve been hard on myself lately. I can be a perfectionist to a fault, and when it comes to baby making my mind had it made up that perfection means conceiving during the first cycle of trying. Well, the first real cycle of trying has officially come and gone, my friends. Today, on day 29, I’ve started my period.

A very wise man I know and respect once told me (and other students of his) that “unconditional love and acceptance pulls the loose ends of discord back into harmony by relaxing our self-centeredness.” I love the image this gives me of almost palpably relaxing my self centeredness, easing it out of myself — as if self centeredness were a tightly wound ball of yarn I hold tightly against my belly — a ball of yarn that winds up and holds tightly onto feelings of discontent, anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, and judgment. When I unconditionally love and accept others and myself, I feel my hand around the ball begin to loosen, and I let it drop ever so softly to the floor. I begin to walk, and the ball trails behind me, the end of the thread still in my hand, but the ball becoming smaller and smaller, looser and looser, with each step.

The bad feelings begin to go away. Because I love myself and you despite anything that may happen in a given day and regardless of outcome, I release my feelings of anger, judgment, and guilt. I accept my body and my husband’s body’s path to conception, no matter the length or route it chooses, and thus I feel the anxiety lessen. My feelings of condemnation and hurt are replaced by contentment, peace, and joy.

I say:

“Body, I love you. Husband, I love you. Future baby, I love you, no matter if you grow in my womb one day or join our family through another means. I unconditionally love and accept myself, you, and the path we take to find you.”

And the ball continues to unravel as I




toward love that knows no condition.

as promised, sex as art

House of the Epigrams, Reign of Nero

House of the Epigrams, Reign of Nero

Sex as art is something I read about in Mark Olsen and Samuel Avital’s The Conception Mandala, which has definitely been my favorite read during our conception journey thus far. I talked about it a couple weeks ago in relation to our decision to pursue a conscious conception and write a statement of intent and invitation to our unformed child.

The authors of this book devote a whole chapter to sex as art. While they do admit that “clearly, there is no scientific proof to verify or deny this concept,” they say:

This highly charged vibrational event [sex] could be metaphorically described in sound: It is the haunting cry of the Hebrew shofar, the joyful ring of a church bell, the pulsing ring of the Tibetan singing bowl; it is the great song of creation resonating and calling forth. Perhaps sex is indeed a kind of signal, an electromagnetic event, similar to the release of sound waves, that creates a vibrational ripple on the subatomic level and contacts another vibrational field — one destined to become a human being, a being that was inexorably attracted by the vibrational tone, so to speak, of the call.

I don’t know if I buy it, but without evidence I’m not the type that could ever really buy anything completely. I am, however, intrigued by the romantic, almost haunting idea. The authors propose this means of pursuing sex (seeking conception, although I’m sure this could really apply to sex in general) as art:

  1. Step 1: Prepare the External: Honor your individual needs and those of your partner. Begin by participating in a ritual cleansing of the bedchamber. Try new linens, the removal of clutter, and docoration. Next, create a mood with candles, incense, whatever you like. We’ve used two candles (our miracle candles we lit when reading our invitation.)
  2. Step 2: Prepare the Internal: Consider the internal mood and focus on a relaxed sense of communion and fun. This was a key concept for me in helping to keep this from becoming something akin to a chore or homework. While this is mainly a reminder to me to watch my internal state, this step also suggests a ritual bath, massage, dancing, or meditating together. Create your own personal rhythm and melody.
  3. Step 3: Inner Alignment and Lovemaking: The authors suggest several methods for this, and I’d recommend reading their book for detailed information if you are interested. Most of their suggestions involve being completely attuned to each other, your intent, and your love. Some involve different visualizations of light and use of breath.

I found this chapter of the book to be particularly interesting in that it reminded me that what we are doing is an art and that while we don’t have to be serious or staid about it, we can view it that way. In that way I think it’s helped make the journey so far even more magical. No matter how you pursue conception or your intimate time with your partner, I think it’s most important to have fun, love, and respect each other.

my steps to a minimalist, spiritual conception

  1. Cry and celebrate your decision to try to make a baby.
  2. Buy a bunch of spiritual books on conception because although you are growing increasingly minimalist, you love a good book and you and your partner want to approach conception from a conscious point of view.
  3. Get off birth control and ask a nurse/shaman you  trust what you should do in the weeks and/or months you are trying to conceive. Her answer: “Be healthy.”
  4. Start taking an all-natural prenatal vitamin.
  5. See your OBGYN, who also gives you the green light. (And begin to wonder if you should consider a midwife and/our doula, but realize you and hubby can decide that much later.)
  6. Start writing a journal with hubby to give to future baby one day, inviting the child into your lives.
  7. Together with hubby make a mandala, a spiritual art project representing baby and all your hopes and dreams for him or her. (This step is still in progress.)
  8. Stress as your homones are attempting to regulate themselves and you don’t get your period for 41 days after going off birth control.
  9. Decide you will not worry about the details and you will embrace your inner flower child and pursue a minimalist, spiritual conception.
  10. Love and make love. No charts, no mucus analyses, no temperatures.

Have any of you pursued conception in a minimalist or spiritual way, or are any of you currently pregnant and are planning on having a minimalist “baby world?” What thoughts or advice do you have on how to have that kind of pregnancy/conception — or why it wouldn’t work for you? I respect that too.

It’s interesting…I love a good novelty (marketer’s dream, anyone?), am entranced by Times Square, and adore a traditional baby shower as much as the next girl, but the more hubby and I think about it, the more we want to take a different approach for ourselves. I am excited to explore these ideas of minimalism and spirituality in the months to come as we hopefully become pregnant and begin to plan our future as a family of three. I would love to get your perspective as I begin to explore those ideas!

anything but a gemini baby?

I don’t really believe in astrology, but when I occasion to read about the classic qualities of a Virgo, the description always seems to fit me pretty well. Fits hubby (another Virgo) well too, I think. I’ve also met many other people who appear to fit the descriptions of their signs extremely well. In particular I think of my mother, who I love dearly and who (in the good and bad ways) might be seen as the quintessential Taurus, and an ex-boyfriend who encapsulated (when I knew him at least) the very worst qualities of a Gemini.

So although I always say I don’t believe in horoscopes, I recently announced to hubby that I will be happy having a baby under any zodiac sign other than Gemini or Taurus. (Hubby thinks that’s silly, but he’s much more level headed than I am…another Virgo trait! Whaddya know?) Even I know that’s completely silly, deep down. I was glad to be reminded of how silly it really is today while reading a friend’s blog.

My friend’s latest post mentioned that she is a Gemini. Hmm, I didn’t know that. Well, this woman is friendly, creative, bright, loving, and cares very deeply about her family and friends. I would be happy to have a daughter like her someday. In fact, according to this astrology website, some of Gemini’s best traits are that they are adaptable and versatile, communicative and witty, intellectual and eloquent, and youthful and lively. The site says a Taurus’s best traits include being patient and reliable, warmhearted and loving, persistent and determined, and placid and security-loving.  My friend is all those things described of the Gemini, and my wonderful mother is all the things described of the Taurus.

So the truth is, hubby and I will be lucky and blessed to have a baby under any sign.

Besides, horoscope is all poppycock anyway. [wink]