Kate had natural childbirth!
Kate had natural childbirth!
Kate had natural childbirth!
I’m not sure how reliable the reporting on Access Hollywood is, but I flipped on the TV last night to get the latest royal baby update and heard that Kate had natural childbirth.
After a Google search I quickly learned that Princess Kate was taking steps to prepare herself for a drug-free experience; and if Mario Lopez’s man on the scene is correct, doulas, midwives, and natural childbirth advocates around the United States are jumping for joy.
Here in the US, we boast the world’s highest rates of epidural use and Cesarian section. It’s hard to decipher exact numbers as some hospitals report childbirth stats and some don’t, but on average well over 60% of vaginal births in America employ an epidural. Some hospitals report 95% epidural use for vaginal births. 32% of births overall are Cesarian, many of which are scheduled and elective.
We Americans tend to learn lessons the hard way. We think we can create answers to life’s problems and pains by outdoing Mother Nature. (Ahem, GMOs, ahem.) And then we spend generations trying to figure out how to dig ourselves out of the holes we’ve trenched. I place childbirth in this category.
We’ve created a “new normal” in America. Over the past several decades, there’s been a shift from using chemical pain relief only when labor is not progressing to using chemical pain relief before active labor has even started. This is not the case in the rest of the world. This the numbing of America. How deep will we get before having to dig out from this one?
I’m a mom of three naturally born babies. I get it completely. Birth is painful, it’s challenging, it pushes us to our limits – the perfect introduction to motherhood. From a spiritual perspective natural childbirth is an incredible opportunity to awaken. From a confidence perspective, it’s downright empowering.
After I had my first baby, there was a procession of nurses stopping by my recovery room to congratulate me on nixing the epi. I was like a celebrity that evening. One nurse even stopped in and told me she heard me growling and screaming down the hall and felt a thrill.
Really? Just for having a baby like billions of women have before me? Really really?
I can’t count how many birth stories I’ve heard over the past 10 years. The number of natural stories are far and few, but a surprisingly high number of friends have opted for the epidural and not benefited from its effects, still feeling the intensity of labor and the pain of delivery. The epidural is not always a ticket out of the torment.
That said, I encourage OBs to encourage patients to at least try a drug-free experience. The anesthesiologist will be lingering nearby in case she needs to needle up. What I always suggest to pregnant ladies who ask for advice is this – Keep the pain in perspective. It won’t last forever. Focus on the breaks between the contractions. And just when you think you can’t take another minute of pain, have the nurse check you. You’re probably fully dilated and ready to push. Pushing will hurt, but it will be way faster without the epi.
But don’t take my word for it. There are a gazillion moms out there who have forgone that big fat needle in the spine and lived to tell about it. We need more high profile examples like Kate Middleton to let women know that natural is the normworldwide and to inspire American women to look at the anesthesiologist and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
In the end, the most important part of childbirth is healthy baby, healthy Momma. Modern medicine is a blessing. And we are doubly blessed here in America to have top notch services to provide new mothers and infants with excellent care.
A woman needs to do what is best for her and her baby and take advantage of the resources available to her during this intense time.
That might include chemical pain relief, emergency C-section, or it might include a drug-free-screaming-banshee-spiritually-uplifting-celebrity-in-the-maternity-wing delivery. No matter how that baby comes out, he’s a miracle nonetheless. As is his Momma.
From mine to yours,
This is a script that I loosely followed while teaching the children in my town’s public elementary school to meditate. I thought it might be helpful for other parents who’d like to do it with their own children, with scouting troops, with church youth groups, with summer campers, with classrooms. My best advice in doing this is to be animated. Don’t be afraid to ad-lib or get silly. The kids will respond beautifully.
For children grades 2-5
Hi, my name is ________________. I’m here to teach you a way to be happy. Not haha happy. Not that-was-a-funny-movie happy. Or I-love-ice-cream happy. Not even I-just-got-a-new-puppy happy. I mean heart happy. We’re going to use a tool to help us learn how to do that. Can anyone imagine what our special happiness tool could be?
The thing I’m thinking of is very close by. It’s free, it’s super easy to find and it does not require assembly or a special carrying case. It’s as close as your breath…. In fact, it IS your breath.
Just by breathing we can help ourselves find happiness. And we can use special breathing tricks to help us. But to be good at anything, what do we need to do? Practice! Right. Just like soccer or piano or drawing. If you want to be good at something, you need to practice.
But before we start practicing our breath work, I want you to help me with a check list. You don’t need to raise your hand, just check a little box in your head if you’ve ever experienced the following things:
I’ve felt all of those things. And I bet you have, too. And if you haven’t yet, you will. No one is exempt from this. We all feel bad sometimes. We all mess things up. We all feel insecure. You, me, the most popular kid in school, the bully down the hall, the star on the basketball court. Everyone. And it’s okay to feel these things. These feelings are important parts of being a person. The bad stuff lets us know when something’s wrong so we can work to ease those feelings when they’re no longer useful. Once we acknowledge the bad stuff and send it packing, we can create more open space for the good stuff that reminds us how wonderful it feels to be alive. Each and every one of us deserves to know happiness and success, acceptance and love. And we can achieve these beneficial feelings when we activate our superpowers. We are all born with super strength. No one is exempt from that either. We’ll talk more on how to use your superpowers later but I don’t want you to forget you have them, so let’s pull on our super suits, tie on our super capes and adjust our flashy masks. Check to make sure our tool belts are on tight.
Okay, good. So when we can find a comfortable balance amongst all these feelings, we can feel peaceful. Composed.
What does composure mean? Let me try to help you understand. Listen to this.
(Play a bit of Mozart.)
Can you hear how everything is in harmony? All of the pieces of the orchestra are very different. Some are deep, some are light, some sound a little sad, some sound cheerful or even silly. But when they work together they create something balanced, productive and beautiful – something composed. In order to maintain this composure, the musicians need to practice. They need to dedicate time. They need to focus.
We are like that. In our lives, we juggle lots of different feelings. They’re all important. But when we can make all those diverse feelings work together and still feel balanced, we can maintain composure. When we can engage that composure throughout the day, our frequency begins to rise.
Frequency is a big word. It’s like the radio station our lives are tuned into. You can tune into frustration and negativity or you can tune into love and empowerment. Which one would you like to tune into?
Yes, me, too. So think of frequency like energy – and get those super suits ready. When it’s on the rise, we’re getting happier and happier. We can use our super powers to feel good and think clearly. And when our frequency rises, the people around us can feel it and believe it or not, our awesomely fast frequency helps others. Just by being fast. Superhero fast.
Understanding that we are all very much the same may help in relieving some of the confusion we feel when we’re angry or sad or anxious. And we can team up that understanding with meditation to cool our own jets and ease the stressful feelings we’re carrying around.
Who has heard the word meditation before?
Meditation is a quiet time to connect with our breath, to be still, to remember that right here, right now, we are alive and safe and okay. When we meditate, we remember to treat our bodies well, to use kind words with others and think before we speak, to think clear, useful thoughts. When our thoughts are good, our lives will be good.
For some people, this comes naturally. But most of us need to practice to achieve that state of peace and harmony, which we can find by taking a moment to TUNE IN.
Times to use meditation:
There are many ways to meditate. But we always begin by breathing. So let’s sit straight in our seats, feet on the floor, spine long, chin tucked in, head reaching to the ceiling. Place your hands in your lap, palms up and close your eyes completely. Now think of yourself as breathing “on purpose”. Start with a deep inhale, filling your lungs as much as you can and releasing the breath, completely emptying your lungs. Try it two more times with me. Now breathe in and out through your nose naturally and notice the way your body feels from the inside. The chair supporting your weight, your hands relaxed on your legs, the air touching your skin, your soft belly rising and falling with every breath. If your thoughts get lost and you forget that you’re breathing, just gently bring yourself back to this place. Let’s breathe for one more minute and when the time is up, I’ll invite the bell as a signal to end this meditation.
(Wait one minute. Invite bell.)
A great tool to help us is this bell. You can think of the bell as a peaceful voice, inviting you to take a breath. You can accept this invitation each time you hear any bell. Keep your ears open for school bells, church bells, door bells – and use their sound as an opportunity to stop what you’re doing and breathe. Tell the people around you what you’re doing and invite them to stop and breathe, too. Use it as a reminder to think about your breath and about being connected to the earth and about being a perfectly imperfect human being. Listen to the way the bell resonates and stay still and quiet until you can no longer hear its sound.
The Pebble Meditation is visual type of meditation that we can use to relax. I learned it from a book called Planting Seeds, written by a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. He worked with Martin Luther King Jr. to bring peace to America and to his own country Vietnam during a tough time in our countries’ histories. And he’s continued to help us find peace since. He especially loves to help children like you. So here we go. Each of you can close your eyes. Imagine that there’s a black movie screen behind your forehead and you are a film director. You choose all of the pictures in the movie. Let me guide you the first time.
Imagine a flower. Any color. See its petals, its center, its softness, its beauty.
Imagine a mountain. The weather around it is stormy, but deep inside the center of the mountian, it’s solid and still and quiet.
Imagine a clear, still, placid lake. See the way the water reflects the sky above and the trees around like a mirror.
Imagine the sky. See the clouds and the sun. See a bird wheeling through the air, turning and twisting, happy and free.
Now, I’m going to share Thich Nhat Hanh’s Pebble Meditation. As I share this meditation, I want you to imagine yourself as really being the things I say.
Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.
Breathing out, I feel fresh.
Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.
Breathing out, I feel solid.
Breathing in, I see myself as still water.
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.
Breathing in, I see myself as space.
Breathing out, I feel free.
Flower, in, Fresh, out (3X)
Mountain, in, Solid, out (3X)
Still water, in, Reflecting, out (3X)
Space, in, Free, out (3X)
How do you feel? Do you have any questions? There are lots of ways to meditate and you can learn more about a mindfulness practice at the library or online.
In order to enjoy the benefits of meditation, we need to practice. Try to find a few minutes every day to sit and be quiet. Maybe for a minute or two after your alarm clock rings. Maybe when you get home from school. Maybe in bed at night when your mind is racing or before you start your homework. As you work on your practice, you will find that you’ll notice your breathing all day long. And that’s when you’ll know you’re getting really good at it.
Grades K-1 (Have kids sit on a line in a circle.)
Hi I’m ________________. I’m here to teach you a way to get happy. Not haha happy. I mean heart happy. But to be really good at something, what do we have to do? Practice! We’re going to practice something called meditation today. Does anyone know what this is?
(While you say the following sentence, use your fists to demonstrate the way these feelings look – ball up your hands and squeeze then hold them to your mouth as if you’re terrified, punch the air like you’re fighting, pump them in the air as if you’re excited, squeeze the seat bottom and bounce like you can’t sit still, pretend to hug something as if you can’t squeeze it tight enough. Give yourself over to the acting – the kids won’t judge and it’ll help them understand.)
Have you ever felt squeezey? We ball up our fists so tight like this. We feel Scared. Angry. Excited. Overwhelmed by love. (This puppy is so cuuuuutte!) Fidgety. Meditation helps us to control our minds so that when these challenging feelings pop up, we can let them go and make our hearts happy and peaceful. We can relax our bodies and our squeezey hands. It starts with breathing deeply. When I ring this bell, I’d like everyone to take three beautiful breaths. Then we’ll stand up and start moving our bodies mindfully. Stand in a circle and be sure not to touch anyone else’s body.
Invite the bell. Walking meditation…
Imagine walking through very deep snow, leaving deep footprints.
Imagine walking on thin ice, careful not to break it.
Walk like a business person.
like a big hairy beast.
like a robot.
like a burglar.
like a soldier.
like you are wearing a big crown.
like you are sad.
like you are happy.
like you are scared.
on a tight rope.
like a cat.
on hot coals.
like a toddler baby.
skipping across stones.
Now walk really slow. Notice how the heel of your foot touches the floor. Lift and move your other foot slowly. Can you feel how your body keeps its balance? Let your body relax in each step and put all of your weight on the floor. Breathe deeply. Now breathe in whenever you lift your foot and breathe out whenever you place it down. Walk this way for one minute.
When I invite the bell, I want you to stop walking and sit down where you are. Then close your eyes. Walking is a fun way to calm down, but we can also calm down by breathing deeply. And no one even has to know we’re doing it. Let’s try that now. We’re going to do some square breathing. As you breathe in count to 4. When you reach the top of the breath hold it there and count to 4. Then release the breath to the count of 4. Then wait at the bottom of the breath for the count of 4. I’ll snap my fingers 4 times while we breathe and help you keep track.
(Do 3 square breaths together.)
Now take 3 deep breaths. Feel the way your body connects to the floor underneath you. Relax your jaw, your hands, your belly. If your thoughts get lost and you forget that you’re breathing, just gently bring yourself back to this place. Reach your head high to the ceiling and draw your shoulders back. Let your body feel heavy and loose. We’re going to do one more meditation. It’s called The Pebble Meditation.
(Use same meditation written above.)
Invite the bell. Anytime you hear a bell ring, I want you to stop what you’re doing and take three breaths. Church bells, school bells, door bells, cow bells… any bells.
Try to do this at home. Teach your family and friends.
Have a peaceful day.
From mine to yours,
please join us on facebook to participate in this three-week long meditation challenge: www.facebook.com/everythingoldisnewageagain
from mine to yours,
I have a question for my sisters around the world today. Since when is it not cool to be your age?
I played tennis this afternoon for my team at home in Winchester. Coming off the court, my partner and I shared a friendly handshake with our opponents and chit-chatted for a minute or so. As we walked off the court, one of the away ladies told me that before the match, her entire team was calling me a bitch b/c they thought I was young. Ummmm… huh??? I think she wanted to stuff the words back into her mouth right after they tumbled out, but it was too late. I told her I’d be 37 next month and she blurted out, “Oh, well you just look young then. When I was your age I looked young, too. It goes downhill fast.” Ummm…. again, huh??? I tried to escape from the awkward conversation by laughing through it with her, though honestly I didn’t think it was so funny.
Why do women do this to each other?
Women who are just a few years older than their peers can often be heard saying things like, “Oh, you’re still young,” with a tone especially reserved for the underclassmen of life. As if those few extra years has significance in the relationship or provides them with an insightful edge. Listen. This type of chatter doesn’t come across as maturity or experience. It comes across as what I call “the yuck.” I’m feeling insecure so I am going to dig you to give myself an excuse for being older.
If I am to be considered one of the “young ones”, which is so flattering at 36 and 11/12, let me offer some well-intended, lovingly-delivered insight from my perspective. I do not look at you and think, “Oh, she’s old. I don’t want to hang out with her.” I look at you and think, “Hi!” That’s all.
So. Here’s my very favorite You Tube video. It serves as a gentle reminder for us anytime we’re digging a pity ditch for ourselves:
Okay, maybe not so gentle. But we could all use a little dose of Cher once in awhile. And with utmost compassion and respect for the extraordinary woman you’ve become, I beg you, please please please, stop talking about your age. Stop unmindfully belittling yourself and offending the women who are a riding the life train just a few miles behind you. The younger ones don’t likes to hear it. To be lovingly honest, we think it’s really annoying.
You don’t want to be that person. And I’d venture to guess that complaining about your age doesn’t make you feel good either; the words just tumble out of your mouth, like they tumbled out of my tennis opponent’s mouth this afternoon. Try to use mindful speech to set a better example. Think before you talk. (Did I mention I’m sharing this with love?)
No one cares how old you are. Seriously. No one cares. People love you because you are you. So let’s accentuate the positive, shall we? Why not be grateful that your life didn’t provide you with the alternative to aging: an early grave.
You really wanna know what’s sexy? Confidence.
You really wanna know what’s beautiful? Grace.
You really wanna know what’s inspiring? Acceptance.
Try to be *that* woman… you remember *that* woman, don’t you? She walked past you on the sidewalk when you were 19. She looked older, put-together, confident, happy. And you said, “I want to be like her when I grow up.” Wrap yourself up in love of life and appreciation for all of the enriching experiences that the years have given you. Be *that* woman who treats women as equals, regardless of age. And show the younger ones how to live it up, love yourself and embrace your age. After all, it’s just a number, and life at any age is a blessing.
From mine to yours,
p.s. Don’t forget to like, share, pin, tumble and tweet! 🙂
the blog title and pic above are of shel silverstein’s famous jimmy jet. the following quote by robert thurman is in ed and deb shapiro’s book BE THE CHANGE, how meditation can transform you and the world.
“Meditation is a neutral and very powerful tool. The choice is what are we going to meditate on? Most people let themselves be guided by a culture that this trying to make them buy things or make them afraid through the news. When we watch television and we see a commercial, it is like a guided meditation on dissatisfaction. We have to guide our meditation in a positive direction. We do this when we meditate on freedom, on penetrating to the deep nature of reality. In other words, if we meditate on being egotistical, we will become more egotistical, but if we meditate on being selfless, we will become more caring and altruistic. When we experience ourselves as totally integrated with everyone, we are naturally going to be compassionate and kind to them.”
i never really thought of tube time as meditation, but after reading these words i can see how this is so true. so often, we sit in front of the television and vegetate. vegetating is meditating, right? so whatever is streaming into our consciousness is going to marinate for as long as we sit on the couch with the tube on. and then it becomes a part of us. this could be scary. powerful. advertisers are changing who we are on a cellular level through commercials. seriously. this is true. and this is CRAZY. it’s like brainwashing. no wonder why every kid i see has a friggin pillow pet. that commercial must run a hundred times a day. they almost have no choice but to put the thing on their christmas lists.
i just had a conversation with my daughter’s montessori teacher yesterday about how different children are these days – how much bolder they are with adults. how quick they are to inflict an abrasive comment on their teachers. there is little doubt, for me, that the kids learn this snarky behavior from TV. the way children act on “family” sitcoms is atrocious. the characters are rude to their parents, they are rude to their neighbors, they are rude to other children’s parents. (i’m thinking of shows specifically on disney and nick – “icarly” and “good luck charlie” such.) whether we choose to believe it or not, the fact is, our children are modeling their own behavior after these characters. they think that these actors are cool. and they think that the behavior of these characters is… wait for it… NORMAL. yes, that’s right. scary.
and then, of course, is the programming that is pouring into that wide open channel in our adult brains while meditating in front of the TV. through most news media and dramatic programming we are being programmed to fear. notice how the tense of the verb changes. we are no longer actively making a decision about how our brains are functioning; the television producers are making decisions for us. we ARE BEING programmed. not to get all big brother on you, but, well, it’s sort of like big brother. right?
early last year, i banned all real housewives and most news programming from my house. this was a big decision for me. i reaaaallllllyyyyy loved my housewives. BUT. while watching the new york housewives reunion on bravo, my husband walked into the room and sat down on the couch. the women on TV were verbally slaying each other and hubby goes, “oh, v, my jaw is getting tight just listening to this.” and then i scanned my own body. my chest was tight and i had a big lump in my throat. i turned it off and walked away for good. and then i noticed the physical reactions i had while watching other programming, specifically local news. i’d get tight and squeeze-y. i encourage readers to do a physical scan while you watch TV. it’s madness. so now i limit my TV intake to programming that lifts me up or educates me.
my kids love TV. i usually let them watch PBS, animal planet (they love “river monsters”) and some nick jr. but as of today i’m pulling in the reins. (oh, god, please give me the strength to do this.) if they are going to do something as powerful as meditate on an idea for 30 minutes, it’s sure as shit not going to be what some money-focused CEO at disney wants for my kids.
meditation is a powerful tool. maybe THE MOST powerful tool. make a mindful decision about how you use it. start by turning the channel.
from mine to yours,
(this entry is reposted with edits from my blog “everything old is new age again“, may 18, 2012.)