Sunday, February 9, 2014

solo parenting, revolutionaries, preparing for birth: randoms from the past few weeks

I made it through two weeks of solo parenting while Chris was away on a film trip in Fiji.  For those of you who solo parent often (or all the time) I'm sure it doesn't seem like that big of a deal but we had literally not spent even a night apart in over two years.  Granted, I had his parents (who had been visiting us for two months over the holidays) stay with me and the kids for the first week and another friend for the second, so I had a lot of support, especially in keeping the house tidy and entertaining the children.  But still.  I'd been most intimidated by the nights - of having one wakeful two year old and a 3 1/2 year old who often would wake once a night as well (expecting his dad to cuddle him back to sleep).  It turns out that I was the one to struggle with sleep with Chris away, but the kids did really well and Saf even did a streak of no nighttime wake-ups which was so nice.  [For those who are interested: We recently moved him to his special 'bed corner' which is a single mattress on the floor in our room.  He loves it, surrounded by his favorite stuffed animals and a soft, new blanket.  In the same room we also have a double bed and a queen bed pushed together which now sleeps Chris, myself and our daughter in different arrangements.  It's a pretty nice set-up at the moment if you're into family bedrooms.]

It was good to spend those days and nights apart, to remember why I want to live side by side with this Canadian friendboy, and to feel capable again.  It was one of those things I didn't think I could do, and for a time it would have been very stressful on our son, but the timing was right.  Still hard, but it was good.  

I wanted to share a few things that have been inspiring me lately.  Here ya go:

I am in the middle of two books right now:  Jesus Feminist - by Sarah Bessey and "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth".

Jesus Feminist Cover

Jesus Feminist has been highly recommended by a few of the blogs I read and for great reason.  Sarah draws you in deeply and quickly with her ability to address sticky theological issues that often divide us with welcome, subversive thought and poetic voice.  I've connected with her personal story shared in the book even more so than I have through her blog (which says a lot!).  She has walked with her whole heart, slowly, through the murkiness of grief and loss and huge questions, grappled with vocation, mothering and women in the church and chosen HOPE over cynicism.  If you'd like to re-imagine what it means to be a woman or re-inspired to delight in yourself as a woman I would say definitely get your hands on a copy.  If you live near me you are welcome to borrow my copy as soon as I'm done!

I'm reading Ina May Gaskin's book to prepare for giving birth again.  I've not had the kind of birth's I would have hoped for and while all the variables will never be in my control, I'd like have some new ideas in my head as labour draws nearer.  Ina May believes very strongly in the role of a woman's psyche during labour to encourage or discourage the natural processes that bring forth a baby.  This is in no way about blaming myself for how my births have gone, but I do want to examine any experiences/fears/doubts that are in my heart and mind that could hinder my ability to be as relaxed and confident as possible.  I feel now that the trauma from my first birth may have definitely played a role in the slow progress (and therefore augmentation under hospital time constraints) of my second birth.  I don't think for a second that reading a book or praying a prayer or any other activity will guarantee the birth I hope for, but I just want to do what I can, in hope.


Krista Tippett's podcast "On Being" is my go-to when the kids are out with their dad and I'm home, likely washing the mountain of dirty dishes that seems to always, always be around.  I especially enjoyed recently her conversation with Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite scholars whose work I first read in college over a decade ago.  He's such a lovely, intelligent, humble man - the interview here is about an hour, but I especially loved the way he talks about the word mercy from minutes 35 to 38 1/2.  Check out Krista's archives and you will likely eavesdrop on some incredible conversations.


Chris and I watched two fairly intense movies lately.  The first was a documentary on the Egyptian Revolution called The Square.  It really, REALLY helped me to understand what has been happening ( in a city that I LOVE) much more cohesively than I have been able to keep up with reading articles on the BBC website.  And I can't handle how deeply courageous these people are and how well-articulated their passions.  I feel like they put my own understanding of my nation's political situation to shame.  And did I mention they are brave and are willing to be killed for what they know is a process that is much longer than they may even be around to see?  You can watch the trailer here.

And last night we watched Captain Phillips - the story of an American cargo vessel that is attacked by four young Somali men while en route to Kenya.  It's intense (an understatement) and brings up sooooo many questions in my heart about 'redemptive violence' and structural injustice that leads to terrorism and my own primal desire to stay alive no matter the cost.  It's sad to think this is probably most viewers only exposure to Somali people and the complexity of what is happening in that nation. 


Otherwise I've been enjoying my two live-wire kiddos on the outside and well-behaved kiddo on the inside.  This pregnancy (25 weeks) is smooth, minus some back pain here and there, and while I long to meet this little one face to face I'm also very happy we have a few months to go before he or she arrives and turns our world upside down.

We're still doing our best to be good neighbours to the people around us; it's gotten messier and more complicated than a few months ago but I have to believe this is how Kingdom things slowly grow, that our meager attempts at love are better than nothing at all.  We showed our son a dirty needle that was left outside our gate yesterday and explained to him how important it is never to touch something like that.  We disposed of it, the fourth in the past couple of months within 20 metres of our apartment.  The little playground a few steps from our back gate is a great place for our kids to play (always wearing shoes) but it's also a place where people buy and sell and escape.  We want to be present in the neighbourhood and enjoy the goodness here while still keeping our kids as innocent and safe as possible.


I'm curious if you've seen either of the movies I mentioned or have read any of the books?  Or have you ever prepared for a birth in light of previous disappointments and found something especially helpful in the process?  I'd love to hear.  xx

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  1. Rachel van RookhuijzenFebruary 9, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    I've been reading Ina May's Guide recently too. I have so many thoughts and dreams and hopes for this birth - and all of them look very different from how Ezra's birth went. In my head I'm prepared to be a fierce advocate for what I know is best for me and the baby but is definitely against hospital policy - but in my heart I know I'm going to need a lot of help to be successful.
    Reading that book was a step in the right direction but I want/need to think/pray/process much more before the time comes.
    Love you. Thanks for sharing.
    I'm excited to hear what you think of Jesus Feminist - I've been thinking about getting my hands on a copy.

  2. Ugh, I need to read Jesus Feminist. It sounds fantastic. I just can't bring myself to spend any more money on books right now, when there are so many I can read for free from the library. You've totally convinced me, though, that I need to get a hold of it.

    I read Ina May's book when I was pregnant and loved it. It's the book that convinced me to have a home birth. My birth went smashingly well, and I attributed it in part to the mental and emotional preparedness that this book (and others) provided. But there are just SO MANY factors involved, so many out of your control. Hoping this birth goes better for you!!

    I'm scared to watch Captain Phillips. I'm such a sensitive movie watcher, I feel like I wouldn't be able to handle it. But I'm sure there are powerful lessons in it. I'm just such a chicken!

  3. Heh -- I actually find that a very compelling reason to buy books; but no one else in my community really reads, so that doesn't work for me. When I'm the only one reading a book (and I usually only read a book once). it's not very cost-effective. BUT, interestingly, I did buy a bunch of pregnancy/birth books which have gotten a lot of use, so that makes it more worthwhile!

  4. I love that you're reading Ina May's book!! Have you seen the documentary "business of being born"? Totally rocked my world and prepared me for natural birth. I think I watched it about five times before birth (sobbing) and a couple times after (sobbing harder)

  5. I just found your blog today and caught up with your most recent posts, so I don't know your full history. BUT I had homebirths with both my girls (now 5.5 and 20 mo) - they looked completely different from one another, the 2nd almost landed me in a hospital w/a c-section - but I want to encourage you as you read Ina May (the best!) and prepare for your coming birth experience. I truly believe that THE most important factor in having a positive birth - no matter what that looks like - is surrounding yourself with people you trust in an environment in which you're comfortable.

    I had back labor w/my 2nd child - something I hadn't experienced the first time - AND I was in transition for almost 6 hrs. I kept telling my 2 homebirth midwives, and my 'doula' (a dear, praying, gentle friend) "If I was in the hospital right now, I would totally ask for drugs! I can't do this. I don't feel strong - tell me I can do this!" I was more afraid during that birth than with my first, and I realized how acutely I needed those women around me, how powerful their calm, wise, encouragement was, and how thankful I was that I was in my home, where I could walk, rock, sit, stand, whatever I needed.

    Don't take this to mean that I think only a natural homebirth is the way to go - I simply mean to say that the choices I had made BEFORE I went into labor re: the place and the people I wanted around me made all the difference in the world to my heart and mind during the actual labor. At one point we discussed going to the hospital, and I felt really safe doing that because of the PEOPLE who were helping me make that decision.

    I pray that you are released from any fears or trepidation and that you are encouraged by the choices that you do have. God has been bringing forth children for centuries, and it is only by his help we live to do it at all.

  6. Leah! Chris and I watched the business of being born recently -I think it really affected he way he sees birth in hospitals as opposed to the alternatives. So good, very encouraging. Thanks for the re commendation! What was your birth experience like?

  7. Thanks so much for reading and commenting Nicole! I really love hearing your experiences! I love hearing about empowering births (even if they are super hard in the process). We are headed towards a homebirth this time although I still have a few more small hoops to jump through as it's a program through our local hospital. But I'm very hopeful. Im 34 weeks now and having some Braxton hicks that are occasionally reminding me of labour and I feel myself get excited! I think having a safe atmosphere like you said is so key - a big reason I'd like to avoid the hospital if I can and stay at home. I appreciate your prayers as the time draws nearer!!