Friday, June 26, 2015

Feature Friday: The Empty Womb

Today's guest post is written by a dear childhood friend of mine, Jamie McWhorter. I reached out to her earlier this week and asked her to compose her thoughts on the subject of infant miscarriage and loss. I am at a loss for words to describe the beauty with which she responded to such an intimate request. Be forewarned, the subject matter is not light and although it is painful, it is important to give a voice to such loss.


When you look up the word miscarriage, one of the definitions is "an unsuccessful outcome of something planned."

I planned you, and although my plans for you were unsuccessful, God's were not. He gave you to me and let me carry you, for however brief....but why?
I've asked myself this one worded question over and over. I have asked the doctor, my husband, and God. 

You needed me in those few short weeks and months, to create a small body. A heartbeat, so that you could return to heaven for a greater work than you were meant to do down here. That does not mean you didn't have a purpose or matter though.

You changed me.

"The Empty Womb" is a photography project I put together of 6 images for a class project on depth. I remember talking to my sister Amanda about it and my ideas, but having doubt in myself that I could ever put how I felt into words. I've always loved making images that told a story--that moved my clients and myself. Although this has been one image that moved me more than anything, and I hope it has you as well. 

This last year was not the first time I have lost a child. When we first got married in 2009, we had thought that I was pregnant, only to go in and learn that there was no longer a fetus.

I hate that word, fetus.

It IS a least, it was. I picked myself up and pretended that it did not happen. We had two beautiful girls later on, who we love so dearly. Two years after our last, we hit a long patch of let downs. 

I was 8 weeks.......

........6 weeks........

.......11 weeks pregnant

and then I'd lose them.

The last set we got to 11 weeks and no longer had a heartbeat. Given no other explanation at the time but that the babies had passed.

Your body is fighting against you. I hated my body. I felt it had betrayed me. I hated myself and I hated God. I felt women were meant to have babies and to give birth to them. I could no longer do the one thing my body was meant to do naturally. No one talked about them, it was like they did not exist.

They were just another unsuccessful outcome of something planned.

With the love and support of an amazing friend and doctor, I talked more about them. I opened up more. I was able to turn back to my Heavenly Father for help--instead of turning my back on Him. 

More women lose a child before 20 weeks than we care to know. But it's every 1 in 4. Those are real numbers, real women. That means your mothers, your sisters, and your friends. They are suffering alone. 
Talking about your babies brings a light on the painful subject. It lets other women and men know they are not alone, and it's ok to grieve.

I remember a funeral of a dear friend's mother when I was young. The speaker said, "We do not ever grieve for the lost. We grieve for ourselves. They have no worries and are no longer in pain or suffering. How can they see cause to grieve being engulfed in our Heavenly Father's peace and love? We grieve on Earth for ourselves, so that we may come to terms with our loss. When you do not allow yourself to grieve and put your burdens on the Lord, it only adds to you own sorrows." 

These words have stayed with me, but I do not ever thing I truly felt their meaning until the day I embraced our family's loss.


Thank you Jamie for sharing your heart with us. I truly believe that the fires we pass through in this life sear a lasting reminder so that we can guide others through that same path. 

I have never experienced this kind of loss, but my heart knows pain. It's an empathy that I've often feared to dive too deeply into for fear of losing myself. 

Recently I have learned that being afraid of the things that make us beautiful keep us from experiencing the most painfully wonderful things in this life. With that in mind, I have decided to add another layer to my doula work.

I have taken the leap of faith and signed up to begin certifying as a birth and bereavement doula with Still Birth Day. My stomach is in knots and my heart is pounding, but the tears in my eyes have the names of the women I have not yet met etched into them. 

 Here we go.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Not Your Gym Teacher's Guide to Menstruation

I'm gonna have to save my media rant for another day, but I'll let you in on a secret: things are only as horrible as you imagine them to be.

It's true.
Attitude makes all the difference.

So my question then is, why have we bought into this idea that a woman's menstrual cycle should be the equivalent to damnation on earth?

Don't believe me?
Walk up to someone right now and say "menstruation". Or "cramps". Or "period blood."

Depending on who you're talking to, the reactions will range from mild curiosity to abject horror.

Words are important.
Women who use hypnosis to manage childbirth pain have this figured out like pros. They talk about waves, power, rushes, sensations, etc.

Does that mean that contractions don't hurt? Absolutely not. It just means they're putting their focus on something besides the pain.

So bear with me for a second use your imagination.

Imagine that when you were 12(ish) and you started your period, that your parents pulled you aside and told you how happy they were for you.
That they said, "Your body is powerful and amazing. You're at the threshold of womanhood and you have this incredibly important sign that all is working just as it should be."
Imagine that you dad said, "I don't ever want you to be embarrassed to talk about it. Almost every woman I have ever respected has experienced this moment. You are special to me, and your body is something to be honored."
Imagine that your mom said, "welcome to the club darling! It's true, there are parts of it that can hurt and even make you wanna swear. But this gift of life we have, it's not anything to be ashamed of. It's part of why we're here. Hold your head high. You are precious. The hormones are a wild ride. Give yourself grace. The blood can be difficult to manage at times. Teach yourself to laugh. And if cramps have you curled up in bed, know that your body is working just as it should and that your mama will always be there with a cup of hot cocoa and our favorite chick flick. Honor yourself as we honor you."


Every interaction with our daughters is a chance for growth and connection. What will you choose?

There is power in knowing yourself. 
There is power in knowing your body. 
It is important that we raise a generation of women who are not afraid to look in the mirror. 

That begins with education. Don't be afraid to talk about these things with each other. Empower yourselves with the knowledge that is out there. 

Most teenage girls don't truly understand what the menstrual cycle is. Heck, most women don't know or care until they are trying to get pregnant. That needs to stop. If we want the world to take our body seriously, then that must start with us.

So here it is.

The average cycle lasts 28 days. 
The Day 1 is the first day of your period. 
Through the next 28 days, your body will prepare for pregnancy and then shed the weeks of preparation when no baby making happens. 

If this is not happening, you should talk to your care provider.

If you are experiencing extreme discomfort, you should talk to your care provider.

If you are bleeding too much, then you should talk to your care provider.

Take control. Track your cycles. Keep a record. Talk to your care provider if you notice anything is off. It is YOUR body. The power of creation is YOU. Honor it, celebrate it, and protect it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Feature Friday: Kim Lane with Home Birth Midwifery Service

I am so excited to feature our first midwife on the blog today! Kim is an incredibly skilled midwife who recently moved to Utah. She blew in like a breath of fresh air and leaves a little magic in her step. I can't wait for you to get to know her. I know you'll fall in love!

Meet Kim

Q: Welcome Kim! Please tell us a
little bit about yourself.

A:I am a NARM Certified Professional Midwife with 22 years of out-of- hospital birth, midwifery training and experience. My practice is called, "Home Birth Midwifery
Service" which serves both SL & Utah Counties.

I recently have begun a collaboration with Angie Blackett and Maria Cranford to open a birth suite in Draper. We will be making an official announcement about that venture VERY

I am the mother of four grown children and just recently became a first time Grandmother. I had the privilege and blessing of catching my own Granddaughter on May 20th!
I am 53 years old (yes, really). Aquarius and born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger. I am an Army Brat, born in California and raised across the U.S. from coast to coast. I have lived in, visited, or traveled to 36 of the 50 states and have vacationed in Canada and the Bahamas as well.

I am a true "Girlie Girl" and a consummate Diva (if you cut me, I bleed red glitter). I have a pretty awesome collection of stiletto heels. I love EVERYTHING glitzy and glamorous.
I love Italian food, chocolate (which is its own food group), computer and smartphone technology, Lady Gaga (she is a genius!), and fashion. As a Midwife, I am an equal balance of holistic and evidence-based care provider. I am "crunchy" on the inside while conveying a professional approach on the outside.

Q: What are the benefits of a midwifery model of care?

A: By definition, The Midwives Model of Care™ is a fundamentally different approach to pregnancy and childbirth than contemporary obstetrics. Midwifery care is uniquely nurturing,
hands-on care before, during, and after birth.

Midwives are health care professionals specializing in pregnancy and childbirth, who develop a trusting relationship with their clients, which results in confident, supported labor and birth. While there are different types of midwives practicing in various settings, all midwives are trained to provide comprehensive prenatal care and education, guide labor and birth, address complications, and care for newborns.
The Midwives Model of Care™ is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events. The Midwives Model of Care includes:

* monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle,

*providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support,

*minimizing technological interventions, and

*identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.
The application of this model has been proven to reduce to incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.

Q:  What would you tell a newly pregnant mom who is searching for a care provider?

A: I would encourage her to do loads of research first on the type of care she desires and the modality of birth she wants. These two points will help her decide which model of care she should consider. Her risk factors, if any, also are key points in her consideration. If she desires a natural birth with a very personalized mode of care, wherein she and her partner play key roles in decision-making, then working with a midwife or group of midwives is in her best interest. Her desired PLACE of birth then factors in to WHICH midwife(ves) to hire.
I would explain to any woman thinking about a out-of-hospital birth, realize that home and birth suite/center birth are basically the SAME thing. There is no higher level of safety between the two places, except when considering WHERE your home or birth suite/center is in relation to the hospital in regards to a transfer due to complication or emergency. Women should ask and confirm that the midwife can legally carry and administer medications, is CPR and NRP (Neonatal resuscitation) certified (check to be sure her renewals are current), and brings a qualified (CPR & NPR certified) assistant or second midwife to the birth.
Training and experience are a key factor for women planning to have a baby, especially first time mothers who obviously don't have any of their own experience to turn to. Having the care and attendance of an experienced birth attendant is a valuable asset, particularly with out-of-hospital birth. Ask for both client and professional references and then actually check them out.  Find out if she is licensed and if so, is her license current/expired/suspended/revoked? Check as to whether there are any complaints or judgments on her record. If she is not licensed (legal to practice without a license in Utah), check her out on the internet, "GOOGLE" her and investigate her practice. What kinds of reviews does she/her practice have on Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yellow/Super Pages, etc...

And finally, consider VERY carefully how MONEY factors into your decision. Too many people are choosing their care provider solely based on "the bottom line" because finances are tight or the family is under or uninsured. I have never understood this rationale in relation to maternity/newborn care. Today, people spend much more time and decision-making effort on their cell phone plan or on the purchase of a car than they do on the selection of their midwife and the QUALITY of the health care for both mother and baby! While out-of-hospital midwifery care is relatively inexpensive compared to paying out-of-pocket for physician/hospital care, comparing midwife to midwife services can be like comparing Apples to Oranges. Women should be SURE to understand ALL the services, products, inclusions, and exclusions that each midwife is offering. Just because her fee is "cheaper" does NOT mean its the BEST offer. Remember that "You Get What You PAY For" so if you choose CHEAP, that
is exactly what you are getting. Be careful and do your own diligent search and investigation of each midwife your interview.

Q: Many people do not know that midwives are prepared for emergency situations. Would you please elaborate on the training, tools, and expertise that goes into managing those rare occasions?

A: While it is true that midwives are basically and generally "prepared for emergency situations" it is still important to understand that education, training, skills, and experience are key factors that come into play when having discussions about emergencies and safety. This is why women need to ASK questions about a midwife's training & skills! Being able to manage a hemorrhage or resuscitate a baby are essential skills. And her merely answering "Yes I can" to your question ISN'T an adequate answer! The midwife should be able to comprehensively answer the questions related to her training, skills, and experience with the management of obstetrical emergencies. She should carry the requisite equipment to monitor the mother and baby while in labor, to manage a hemorrhage, and to resuscitate a baby. Women need to KNOW that Unlicensed midwives are NOT ALLOWED to carry or administer emergency medications (prescription drugs) except oxygen, such as Pitocin, Methergine, or Misoprostol (for postpartum hemorrhage), antibiotics (for Group B Strep treatment in labor), I.V. (for dehydration, hemorrhage, or shock), etc. Thus having a Licensed Midwife (LDEM) in attendance is a overarching safety consideration for women planning an out-of-hospital birth. Consider that postpartum hemorrhage is the #ONE cause of maternal death around world and that is primarily because of three factors:
1) lack of access to anti-hemorrhagic medications;
2) birth attendant w/out adequate education, training, skills, experience;
3) distance to medical facility capable of handling obstetrical emergency
Thus, the education, training, skill, experience AND credentials of the midwife are ALL factors that should be considered when hiring a midwife.

Q: What do you want young girls to grow up knowing about their bodies?

A: Seek out great mentors, other strong and powerful women from which to gain words and pearls of wisdom & knowledge. Be PROUD of who you are and learn EVERYTHING you can about EVERYTHING! You are capable of SO MUCH more than just your own small space in which you stand. BE BOLD... EXPLORE! GO TO COLLEGE or TECH/TRADE SCHOOL!! BE YOUR OWN PERSON BEFORE YOU CREATE OTHER PEOPLE YOURSELF!!! Being a mother is wonderful and lovely, but to be the very best mother, you must BE YOURSELF FIRST!

You are divinely created to give birth! Your body is intrinsically designed to create, grow, birth, feed and nurture your babies! There is NOTHING to fear about birth. LEARN about the biology of the human body and especially the female body! It is an amazing design of bio mechanics, chemistry, and spirituality. There is indeed a mind-body-spirit connection which each young girl should foster and nurture in her own discovery of her self and her uniqueness!

Q: Favorite way to relax after a birth?

Thank you so much Kim! I especially enjoyed your message of empowerment to young girls. I do believe that if those were the words our girls were raised on, the women of this society would revolutionize the birthing industry. I look forward to working side by side to do just that!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Feature Friday: Manda Lynn's Postpartum Doula Service

It's lovely to be back on a another Feature Friday with you! I hope you've had a chance to read our past post about postpartum mental health problems in preparation for today's feature.  It's heartfelt and eye opening ~ just like the postpartum period itself.

Manda Lynn is a postpartum doula with a mission to improve the postpartum lives of all moms in Utah.  I love her sweet nature and really look forward to hearing more from her.

Meet Manda.

Photo Credit: Tammy Jarman Photography

Hi Manda! Please, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm happy to have this opportunity! My parents named me Amanda Lynn. When I was a kid, they gave me a mandolin (get it?) --a small one made of metal. Music is my talent. I started piano lessons when I was seven and am teaching our oldest daughter who is eight and a half. I enjoy singing with our kids and other kids. I took an organ class and a guitar class in college, but I haven't (yet) learned to play the mandolin.
When I was about 12, I had a friend who dropped the A and called me Manda. All of that, and a discussion with some women who attended CAPPA postpartum doula training with me, is how I came up with my business name, Manda Lynn's Postpartum Doula Service.
I live with my husband and 3 kids, who bring us joy! Besides music, I love to spend time with family and friends, talk with women at support groups, read (mostly "birth junkie" stuff and other nonfiction), make whole foods plant based meals, exercise (I ran a half-marathon just before finding out I was pregnant with our 3rd child), and take photographs.

Photo Credit: Tammy Jarman Photography

Some of our readers may not know what a postpartum doula is. How would you describe it?

If you are wondering what a postpartum doula is, here's how I am different from birth doulas. A birth doula is with a woman during her birthing time (a.k.a. labor), and usually leaves within a couple of hours after the baby is born. In the days and weeks after that, a postpartum doula can be very helpful. Many parents of multiples hire postpartum doulas. Birth is a small window of time compared to how long you will be responsible for that child--sort of like the contrast between a wedding day and a marriage. I would love to help you adjust to changes after your baby comes out, whether it is your first or not.
I love what the CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association) website says: "The postpartum doula is a trained professional that offers physical, emotional, and spiritual support to a new mom and the rest of the family. Postpartum doulas also offer breastfeeding support, light household maintenance, family nurturing and instruction to mom and/or other family members in the care of a newborn. The postpartum doula's job is to make the transition to parenthood easier for new parents, to help mom during her recovery period and to ascertain what the family needs help with and to provide the instruction. 
The main objective of a postpartum doula's role is not to take over complete care of the newborn, but to educate and support the family so that they will feel empowered to care for their newborn themselves.
Postpartum doulas do NOT offer any medical advice or perform any medical or clinical procedures, but instead can offer parents referrals to appropriate studies and published books.
Postpartum doulas should be good with children, patient, nonjudgmental, and knowledgeable about newborn care and breastfeeding."

What drew you to postpartum doula work?

My love for my own newborns was one thing that drew me to this work. I heard in 2014 or earlier that there was a need for more postpartum doulas, like there is for more lactation educators, and I want to certify in that through CAPPA as well(I am working on the postpartum doula certification). I like being able to set my schedule. It's wonderful to be able to do something rewarding -- helping other moms -- in short shifts. 

What do you think sets you apart from other postpartum doulas?

I feel I am unique because of 2 reasons: 1st, I can relate to recovery from a cesarean and "failed" VBAC attempts. I labored unmedicated for many hours to give birth to each baby the way I wanted to, and they ended up needing to be born by c-section. Of course, I also can help you if you are recovering from a vaginal birth, and I am available as a bedrest doula as well. I feel that pregnancy and birth are amazing!
The 2nd reason is that I have experience shopping for and preparing whole foods plant based meals and I understand veganism because I am a vegan-nutritarian myself.

What is the 1 thing you think that every mother should have in the postpartum period?

Besides hiring a doula, one thing I think every mother needs in the postpartum period is to journal about what she is feeling and thinking. It doesn't need to be much, or every day, but I haven't regretted times that I have written in a journal. 

How important an issue do you think maternal mental health is?

Maternal mental health is very important. Postpartum depression, OCD, psychosis, etc. often comes suddenly. I learned at a screening of the new documentary Dark Side of the Full Moon that depression during or after pregnancy is more common than gestational diabetes. More common than breast cancer. I can sit and listen and provide resources.

Lastly, please humor us with your favorite chick flick!

My favorite chick flick is Father of the Bride starring Steve Martin.

Wow! There was a lot of information there that I actually didn't know. I can think of a few women who would have loved to have had a bedrest doula. *mind blown*.  I am so grateful that she shared her beautiful self with us. 

Be sure to click on her links and send her some love.
website: facebook: twitter:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Mother-Centered Shower

There's a new type of celebration taking the birth world by storm.

It's been referred to as a Blessingway, the Mother's Shower, or a Mother's Blessing Circle.  In an effort to respect the Native American term and to avoid cultural appropriation, we are going to avoid "blessingway" for the purposes of this blogpost. 

Honestly, part of me feels wrong to say that it's a new trend.  Honoring mothers in one way or another has been a part of most every culture. However, I believe that the difference is that somewhere along the way, American culture lost sight of the women who birthed its children

The rise of the Mother's Blessing Circle is the answering call to this missing piece.

"But wait!", you say. "Don't we already shower the expectant mother with gifts at a baby shower?"

Yes, we do. May I draw your attention to one small detail?

baby shower

It's not about the mom. Yes, we provide her with financial support in the form of gifts to help care for her child. But what about the emotional support?

The mother-centered shower covers this gap.
There is no easy way to describe what happens there. Each is as unique as the mother they cater to. But there are two elements that all of them carry.

1. Sisterhood

There is a strength that comes from knowing that you are not alone. Some mother-centered showers are filled with loved ones and longtime friends, while others are virtually strangers.  It doesn't matter though, because once a woman crosses the threshold into the room, she is there to love and support the mother. 
That support takes the shape of emotional vulnerability. Birth is a huge life-changing event in a woman's life. It can bring both joy and fear. The mother will feel supported and safe to sit in a room where other women nod knowingly and whisper a gentle "me too".  The emotional bonds that form during such brave truth sharing mean that while some attendants may arrive as strangers, they are able to leave as lifelong friends. 

2. Gifts

The gifts that are brought to a mother-centered shower are completely different than those brought to a baby shower. For starters, the hostess contacts the women(minus the mother) beforehand and tells them what to bring. 
it's never a baby blanket.
It's not even a wrapped gift for mom.
The gifts are usually free or inexpensive, and overflowing with meaning.

Here are some examples:
-a written blessing for mom's postpartum period
-a birth affirmation to string up into a banner
-a bead for a necklace
-herbs or flowers for an epsom salt bath
-a natural element to add to her birth space
-a rock with a single word written on it for inspiration during labor

There are many more gifts and activities that can be used for a mother-centered shower, but pinterest should hold you over for a more comprehensive list.

I believe in the mother-centered shower.

"Birth is a sacred space which should be honored, respected, and nurtured. Since the emotional state of a mother during pregnancy and birth carries into her mothering years, caring for her should be society's primary goal." ~Graceful Birthing mission statement

Our mother's are not alone. They should not be alone. To be human is to need connection. 

"By giving ourselves the grace to be women, we help to give birth to not just children, but to mothers as well." ~Graceful Birthing mission statement

Friday, May 22, 2015

Feature Friday: Aubrey Slabbert with Liminal Spaces

It is so good to be back blogging today! The husband was out of town for a week so I slowed things down a bit to give my family enough attention to keep them from asking "Dadda baaack?" 100 times a day. 
I think it worked. They only made it to 50. ;)

Today's feature is my dear friend Aubrey Slabbert of Liminal Spaces. I look up to her so much and have learned a lot in the short time that she's taken me under her wing. Her gentle nature and quick smile have won over the hearts of many a family.

Meet Aubrey.

I have been profoundly deaf for 31 years. I'm 32. I definitely feel like ASL is my home language even though my English is probably stronger because when I use it, it feels like coming home
I could say the same thing about birth work. I am fortunate to have had many passions in life ranging from acting (google me, Aubrey Kramer, and see what you find ;) ) to dog  grooming, poetry and writing. 
I have a teacher heart and a degree from BYU that says as much. Some of the fondest memories of my life are from teaching high school at American Fork High School in Utah. I am so proud of those kids and all that they achieved. 

I discovered my passion for birth like many birth workers do: by giving birth. The birth of my first baby was a little bit of paradox because on one end of the experience, I discovered my body's power and on the other, I had discovered another person's cruelty. I was in love with birth, but hurt by the experience. One thing I really loved about my first child's birth was the Hypnobabies program my husband and I used to prepare for it. I learned how to listen to my body, relax, and enjoy the experience. I was surprised by how comfortable I was for the majority of that birth experience enough to want to do it again.

When an instructor training came along for Hypnobabies, I got excited, and I thought about it, and I stalked their Facebook page for a while until I decided that yes, I really did want to become a childbirth educator. I was already an educator, and this just felt right to me. I certified with Hypnobabies in 2011 and I have been teaching hypnosis for childbirth in Utah and Salt Lake Counties ever since. It's been a blast. And it hasn't taken much to get me hooked on childbirth. 

Becoming a doula was like a logical progression for me, and I began attending births in 2012. To date, I have averaged 2 clients per month, give or take. I keep my practice small enough to really focus on each mama, and large enough to stay happily busy. I love to be busy and I love, love, love learning new things. If something strikes me, I have to learn about it! 

I've always been a shutterbug and adding photography was the next logical progression for me. I really wanted mothers especially to see how amazing they really are in birth because I feel like too many mothers, myself included are needlessly critical of themselves and when I can show them the photos from their birth story and see the spark in their eyes when they say "i really did that!" then my doula heart is happy. Mothers deserve to be celebrated and pampered, especially at birth, and my mission has been to design a full service birth business that caters to that. 

My favorite memory from a birth that I've attended is almost impossible to narrow down, because I have so many! Favorites include watching a second time mother deliver her baby right into her own hands after a really lovely, and peaceful birthing time. Another favorite: a vbac mama leaning over her hubby, swaying and realizing that she had to push, and her baby descending so rapidly that the nurse had to catch her baby in exactly the position that she had chosen to birth her child. Another favorite: holding the hand of a sweet first time mother during the cesarean birth of her child, and feeling the mixed cocktail of emotion as a single tear slid down her cheek. There is something beautiful in each birth, and I really do remember every single one of them. What an amazing privilege it is!

One last question before you go, what's you favorite tv show?

Whatever I am currently Netflix bingeing on hahaha. I watched all 9 available seasons of Criminal Minds while I was pregnant with my third baby because my dad is a retired police officer and it reminds me of him. 


Thank you Aubrey! I can't begin to say enough good things about this lady. She recently collaborated on a gorgeous stylized maternity shoot with our lovely Emily Brooksby of Picture Perfect Birth. I can't wait to see more of what those two are up to!
Be sure to check out her blog as well. Beware though, her expertise and way with words means you'll melt into reading it like a familiar blanket. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Last weekend I had a dear friend invite me to run the Red Rock Relay with her team in Moab. I'm gonna be honest, I am not a runner. I was shocked that she even wanted me anywhere near her team! 
I agreed to go as a favor to her, but really, she did me the favor. 

Beautiful. Powerful. Spiritual. Painful. Freeing.

Those are the best words I can come up with to describe the entire trip. 

I threw my head back and laughed aloud along the run when I realized that those words had everything to do with birth 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I was SCARED out of my mind to run that relay. I didn't even sleep the night before. It's hard to wrap your mind around the unexpected when it seems like the only guarantee is pain and a finish line. 

Unfortunately, that's how the vast majority of women in our birthing culture feel about childbirth. 

TV, books, memes, and other people love hyping up the pain and drama of the experience. 

So our mothers, our beautiful mothers, are walking into these hospitals with the expectation of life altering pain and an eventual finish line that will put a baby in their arms. They are left running--running from every bad and good thing that could happen in that room. 

So let's stop again to look at the full spectrum of birth experiences. 

Beautiful. Powerful. Spiritual. Painful. Freeing.


Dr. Steve Maraboli said, "There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty."

The human body is incredible and I am left in awe at every opportunity I have to witness a woman in her element. 


Birth comes from deep inside your bones. It is a primal and powerful wave that crashes within the core of your being. 
If you are still, you will find yourself in this place of inbetween. This place in time holds a balance between the side of you that is pulled into  the swirling tides that open your body and the crashing waves that could flood your mind. To surf this balance is to both utilize and respect the power of birth. 


There is spirit in the birthing space. It is calling forth your child from the unknown. The magic in the very creation of the universe courses through a mother's veins. Be it God by any other name--the mother links herself with the divine in a solemn sacrament that ushers forth a new soul. 


Pain is the most recognized and least understood facet of childbirth. Pain and suffering are equated as the same thing--but I can assure you that they are not. Pain is a refiner. It brings us to our limits. And then, when paired with surrender, it propels us into a state of acceptance and strength. Suffering is agony, but pain is the teacher. It teaches us of the beauty in our flaws--our very humanity. Beauty seen through the lens of accepted pain is more brighter and more brilliant than ever before imagined. 


There is freedom in the moment when you've scaled a mountain and turn to look back over the triumph you've claim for yourself. This is birth. 
It's an incredible experience to raise your child to your chest. The mother is free from pain. Her doubts are gone. Her faith in herself and her body is solidified. There is freedom in the triumph. 

Running the Red Rock Relay was one of the craziest things I have ever done. But I can't even begin to express my joy at having done it. 

I experienced beauty. The red rocks, snaking river, and vibrant green landscape now holds my heart. 

I experienced power. Who knew that my body could pull a run out of thin air?

I experienced spirit. There was no doubt in my mind that God had created this amazing world. 

I experienced pain. Oh man, did I ever. My muscles still aren't on speaking terms with me yet.

I experienced freedom. I laughed and fist pumped the air when I felt my body pushing through the pain. I was just around the bend from the next relay exchange and it was all I could do to keep from dancing along the river's side. 

But you know...there is one thing I experienced that I didn't list on here. A change of plans. 
For some moms, the birth they envision will not be the one they claim. It's disappointing and can be painful in a whole new way. But having to change plans doesn't negate everything I've just described. It's just a different way of experiencing it. And for you, and for me, that is enough. 

We are enough. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Feature Friday: Anna Trout & Postpartum Depression

Good morning dear friends! I'm excited to be back with another featured blog post for you today. 

Anna Trout is my soul sister. 
Actually, she's more than that. If I could have a patronus, it would be her.

I could go on and on forever telling you about how wonderful she is and how epic of an opportunity it is for you to read her story, but because she really is that wonderful, I'd rather you just skip over me and go right to her.

Meet Anna Trout.

I am so honored to be a guest writer here on Graceful Birthing. The founder Kasaundra is my dearest friend, and the person who has taught me the most about graceful living and that I have a story that needs to be shared and that I am the only one who can share it.

My story is unique and my own. But it is not the only one and it is hardly the exception. 
1 in 7 women will get postpartum depression (PPD) or a related illness, that’s nearly a million women a year in the US alone. 

That means that it’s more likely that you’ll get PPD than it is that you’ll get breast cancer. 

While those may seem like scary odds we can do something about it. We can educate ourselves and the public about these illnesses, we can break down stigmas about mental health, we can help reform the medical system through which we receive treatment, we can advocate for better maternal health and we can support the other mothers around us who are suffering a postpartum illness.

I share my story to help other mothers and families. I share my story to help improve maternal mental health not just for today but for generations to come, for my daughter and her daughters, and my nieces, and my sisters, and my friends, and for all women.

This is my story.

All I could see was the matted beige carpet and all I felt was paralyzing fear. I was lying on my bedroom floor, hyperventilating, hysterically crying, my arms and legs numb, unable to speak or call out for help. I banged my fists as hard as I could against the floor, desperately hoping my husband would hear it and come check on me.

I heard his footsteps running up our stairs and as I looked toward the door and saw his face, all I saw was absolute fear. Neither one of us knew what was happening. We would later learn that I had experienced a severe panic attack, and while it had been my first it was certainly not my last. For the next 6 months those debilitating panic attacks would happen daily and would be a constant companion in my dark world.

That was on July 4, 2013 just 7 weeks after the birth of my second child, my daughter Katelyn. Both my husband and I assumed it was just exhaustion. Our daughter was very colicky, never slept, and we had moved across the country to start a new job just 3 weeks after she was born. It was the perfect storm. In hindsight what scares me most is how easy it was to mistake and dismiss my postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD as normal mommy stuff or symptoms caused only from all the other stressors going on around us.

As my symptoms grew worst, into paranoia, obsessive behaviors, weight loss, intrusive thoughts, and eventually self-harming, we eagerly sought treatment with doctors, OBGYNs, and therapists. However treatment was hard to find and in my very sick mind I started to believe that no one could help me and that my real challenge now was to figure out how to function and be a good mother in the state I was in.

I could write a whole book about my experience and still not have shared it all. I don’t know if I could ever find the words to be able to describe the darkness, fear, and sheer horror of that year after my daughter was born. However there are key-points from that experience that I want and need to share.

The first is that postpartum mood disorders are real and treatable. If you feel off, even just a little, GO SEE A DOCTOR. Better safe than sorry doesn’t even cover it. Schedule that appointment and go.

If gone untreated postpartum mood disorders can and will get worst and have long term effects on the health of the mother and her children.

PPD and other postpartum illnesses don’t just affect the mother, but the whole family. It was the hardest year in my husband’s life, not just mine.

Advocate for yourself. Be honest with your doctors and your support system around you.

Even if you don’t have PPD but are struggling with your transition into motherhood, talk to a friend or see a therapist. Your children will learn about self-care through you. Treat yourself the way you would want your children to treat themselves. That idea quite possibly saved my life.

Don’t be afraid. We can fight this fight and we 

can win. I am a warrior mom. I have won my 


For more information on PPD and other related illnesses visit

Oh boy. I didn't make it through that without tearing up. Anna's story is so powerful and authentic. It's an honor to be invited into it. Her strength and resilience awe me and I'm so proud to say that this dear friend of mine is shining bright enough to stand as a beacon of hope for others.  
Anna is hosting the "Climb Out of the Darkness" climb for Postpartum Progress this year. She is drawing others to her in support and love. It is her dream that something beautiful come out of this harrowing experience. 

I believe that she is well on her way.  

Please consider donating to or joining a climb near you.  "Sunshine. Nature. Togetherness. Triumph."

Fight on warriors.