Friday, July 30, 2010


I finally got smart and added a subscribe button to this blog (on the left). It's still not pretty yet, but if you enter your email and click subscribe then you'll get updates about the progress of the book and any other news that we might not post on the blog for some reason. So sign up and be the first to know. And don't worry. I won't overdo it. I don't have time to spam you.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


This is a picture of my mom at some unknown age. It's not the best picture but I like it. We never had animals growing up, and so I had never seen her with a cat until I found this picture.

Today is the twenty-first anniversary of my mom's death. It feels so weird to say that number. I still remember when it had been just a few months and I couldn't talk about it without crying. There was another girl on my soccer team--she told me her mom had died two years before. I still remember her telling me that, as she kicked the ball hard into paint chipped wall at school.

I couldn't imagine being in her place. I couldn't imagine two years from then. Now it has been twenty-one years.

I used to think a lot about forgetting. I used to feel bad that whole weeks would go by without thinking about her. But I don't worry about that anymore. I am just grateful for the nurturing she gave me for eleven years: for the the knowledge I have that I am a child of God; for my domestic kitchen goddess skills, which surely came down through her genes; for her openness to alternative healing; and for all the things I do remember.

I remember once she threw a temper tantrum when all four of us kids were being impossible. I don't remember what we did, but it probably involved sweat, dirt, (maybe blood) an electronic that was once in one piece and some wailing and shouting. We were out in the back yard with the dirt hill rising behind us, and she just started jumping up and down and literally throwing a tantrum. Whatever she was ranting probably had something to do with how we should just behave. We all stopped and stared at her in shock and awe. I am grateful for that memory too.

I used to have a lot of fear about dying young. Now I spend that energy thinking about how to be healthy.

It was becoming a mother that really shifted things for me in terms of accepting and feeling at peace with not having a mother. It's weird, this anniversary is sometimes very sad, but today I just feel so much joy at being a mother.

This morning in the car, my daughter asked me, "You didn't have a lot of traffic?"

I wasn't sure what she was talking about, but since it was 7 a.m. there was no traffic in our neighborhood and I said, "Nope. No traffic."

She said, "Yay! I said a prayer for you in my bed."

And then I remembered that last night I left her with a babysitter so I could go to Speechcraft class. As I ran out the door I said I had to leave early because traffic was going to be horrible. And Phoebe must have heard me and decided to say a prayer that traffic wouldn't be so bad. I remember the traffic seemed normal (which means not good) but we got there quickly, and Patrick, my carpool buddy, even commented that it was the fastest we have ever made it to class.

I don't know why but that kind of thing makes being a mom so amazing. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make my child's life wonderful, and it was so sweet to see she also wants that same ease and goodness for me. And I realize that my mother is also still involved in this. A few weeks ago, while in hypnosis, I felt her come and gently touch my hair and tell me to use hypnotherapy to help motherless mothers transition to motherhood. So I am figuring out what needs to be done here as I create this specialty.

I know this post is totally all over the place, but I guess what I want to say is that even though my mom died 21 years ago, we still have a relationship. Sometimes I feel lucky to get get actual visits from her, but often it is with and through my daughter that I feel her presence. And I love that.

I would love to hear from women who lost their mothers early (before 30) either to death, mental illness or abandonment. What has been most difficult about transitioning to motherhood? Most wonderful?

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Merry Heart

As I was working on the mind-body connection chapter of our book and this scripture just fell into my lap.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones."
-Proverbs 17: 22.

And while I was working on the meditation chapter, I thought I had read every scripture on meditation, but then I found this one.

"Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still."
-Psalms 4:4

I love it. What will I find today?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mandi's Story

This is Busca talking: As I reflected on the infertility and adoption story submitted by Mandi, I thought of this scripture:

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow . . . but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. (John 16:21)
Though Mandi did not physically give birth to her son, her story is filled with the travail of bringing him into her family. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that she endured far more travail and “sorrow” bringing her one son into her family than I have endured giving birth to all of my children. Then, when she finally had her child in her arms, her joy was beyond words. The Lord, in His tender mercy, always over-compensates us—either in this life or the next—for the trials we endure in faith.
Enjoy this condensed excerpt of Mandi’s tear-jerking, heart-warming story:

I received my patriarchal blessing when I was 15. At the time, there were two big questions in my heart: Would I marry, and would I have children? As the patriarch placed his hands upon my head I felt the spirit very strongly. And then he spoke these words that brought so much comfort to my soul: “Mandi, you will have the opportunity of dating. Be very selective in the young men you date, date only those young men who will be worthy to take you to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. For there will be children born into your home, born under the covenant, and you, along with the husband you do choose, will have a great responsibility in rearing them, and teaching them the gospel.”

After receiving that blessing at age 15, I could have told you exactly how my life was going to play out. I would graduate from high school, and go to BYU the following fall. I’d take off a couple of semesters for a mission when I turned 21, then I’d come home, graduate, and then get married. I’d have 5 or 6 kids, and, when I got older, I’d serve a mission with my husband.

Well, that was the plan. At least the first part worked out as scheduled. After my mission I did graduate from college, but I didn’t get married. At least not right away. I wouldn’t meet my husband until 5 years later, when I was almost 30. We started trying to conceive right away, but nothing happened. I started seeing a healer who helped me cleanse some allergies and get my body back on track. My headaches went away, I started having regular periods. But still no baby.

We fasted month after month. I would cry and plead with the Lord to give us a baby. We prayed and prayed and prayed. There were women in my ward that were my age--33, 34, 35. They had 15 year-old daughters. They had 3-6 kids. They were done. They looked at me and wondered why I “didn’t want children.” They thought I was wrapped up in my career or had chosen something else.

If only they knew.

We wondered if we should adopt. We wondered if the Lord would heal my body and allow me to conceive. I was so tired of waiting. I wanted a little baby to love. I wanted to change poopy diapers and get up for midnight feedings. My patriarchal blessing did say that we’d have children “born into our home, born under the covenant.” That sounded pretty straightforward, right? Should we just cling to that, with faith that it would one day come true? Or did we have to do something to get there? Is that the real test? We just didn’t know.

On New Years of 2008, Jack and I toasted the New Year with a bottle of sparkling cider and promptly crawled into bed. But I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was another year without a baby. The pillow quickly became soaked with my tears. It felt like my heart would break. I seriously considered leaving Jack so he could remarry and have a family with someone else--a real woman that could have children and make him a father. I was completely hysterical that night. I had had trials in my life before--but nothing like this. This was the hardest thing I’d ever been through.

We’re not sure when/if we ever got a concrete answer about adoption, but all of sudden we had the paperwork and were turning it in to LDS Family Services. It took several months to get all the paperwork completed, and to do the required background checks, fingerprinting, etc. It is quite a lengthy process.

Over a year and more trials later, on June 23rd 2009, were contacted by a birthmother named Melissa. She had found our profile on LDS Family Services website, and asked if we were still working with LDSFS. (We had give up on them and gone with another agency we hoped would be faster.) We felt such a connection with her. Later, we met Melissa and were so impressed by her strength and wisdom and selflessness. She was a beautiful young woman, inside and out. We loved her immediately. Then I flew out to Utah the first week of September for Melissa’s 20 week ultrasound. It was very emotional to see that precious little baby for the first time.

That Christmas, after spending time with Jack’s parents in Utah, we were supposed to fly home, but the day before our flight we got a text message from Melissa saying that she was at her midwife appointment and that she was dilated to a 4, and 70% effaced! (She wasn’t due until January 16.) We decided to stay, and just wait it out.

About a week later, on January 8, Melissa went into labor. Melissa's mom and I held her legs while she pushed for about an hour-- and there he was! I got to cut his cord. He had big brown eyes and lots of dark hair. He was perfect. Our hearts swelled with love for our new baby boy, and we felt like the luckiest people on earth. We named him Leo Joseph.

Forty-eight hours later, we waited in another room while Melissa was signing the relinquishment papers. The case worker came in and said that Melissa wanted to talk to me, so I went in.

She was crying hysterically and said to me, "Promise me he's going to be okay. Promise me. I know that I could be a single mom, I could do this. But I know that what he needs is a mom and a dad. He needs Jack. He needs a dad. I know his birthfather just can't do that for him."

We were both bawling by that point. My heart was breaking for her. I hugged her tight and told her how much we loved her, and how much we loved Leo and that we were going to be the best parents to him that we could be. We talked for a few minutes more, and she said that she was okay and was ready to sign.

A few minutes later, we signed our paperwork with the other caseworker, and then presented Melissa with a gift--a locket, so she can carry a photo of Leo with her always. We told her how much we honor her and love her. It was very emotional for all of us. Melissa and I helped dress Leo in his little outfit and got him ready to leave. She breastfed him one more time, and then she bundled him up, and handed him to me. It was time to go.

We had tearful goodbyes with everyone, and then Jack put Leo into his car seat, and we got him buckled in. This was it. He was all ours. I couldn't believe it! He was the most beautiful, precious thing I had ever seen.

Leo is now 5 months old, and we are overjoyed to have him in our family. We thank God for him every day. One month from now, Leo will be sealed to us for time and eternity, “as though he had been born under the covenant.” That will be a joyous, happy day.

I wish I were a writer or a poet, so I could find the words to convey the joy I feel when I look at my sweet boy’s face. He is an angel. A miracle. I feel so privileged to be his mom. He was worth the wait. The pain of infertility has been washed away. I am so grateful for the Lord’s tender mercies, and I wonder why I did not trust him. Once again, the Lord has proven that he knows what is best for me. He loves me. The plan and timeline he has for my life is always right, is always best.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Last week, (or was it longer?) I met Busca and Heatherlady in Utah for a little collaborator meeting. It was the first time I met Heather in person. That's wild to me--that I can collaborate for months so intimately through the internet and not actually meet a person. It was a bit like an awkward date at first, then slipped into normalcy--except that it was not normal at all because I hadn't been to Utah in 8 years and felt a little like I was checking out a long forgotten planet.

I also met Rebecca Overson. She's cool. If you are in Salt Lake and pregnant, you must go get prenatal massage from her. I remember my first and last pregnancy massage--I left so annoyed. I can rub lotion on myself, lady. But many massage therapists are afraid to touch pregnant women. Not Rebecca. Go see for yourself. You and your baby will be happy you did.

Here are the highs and lows of the trip:

We met with Lynn Callister, and had a fabulous 2 hour lunch and chatted about all things birth. We asked her if she'd write the intro to our book and she said she'd be honored. That was fantastic. Lynn is an amazing woman. She's an RN and Professor of Nursing at BYU. She recently published a study on Spirituality and Birth in the Journal of Perinatal Education, which has been getting attention in the news. She has also published hundreds of other articles and studies. In fact, her CV of publication in just the last 5 years is over 35 pages long! She also wrote this article in the August 2009 Ensign about Postpartum Depression. Go Lynn. No wonder they have a scholarship named after her.

Clockwise: Lynn, Busca, Heather, Me

Creamery Ice Cream - My baby girl was such a trooper on this trip, (she is going to get honorary collaborator) so I promised her ice cream.

Busca and Phoebe at the Creamery.

Met with Josh (a cool director/writer/producer) and talked about movies. We've been talking about making a documentary about spirituality and birth--once the book is done. But I haven't really narrowed in on what exactly aspects of spirituality and birth and so we threw out some ideas and I'm going to be writing a longer blog post on this later.

Low: After eating at one of my favorite Indian food places, my daughter, Busca, and I all got food poisoning (we all ate the same thing--Heather was smart enough to order something else.) It was really sad. For about two days I wanted to die. I was miserable. But I was watched over, and here I am, alive and blogging.

Coming up: I may be going back to Utah to meet Rixa in August. She is now the only collaborator I have not yet met. (Maybe someday I will meet all the women who have sent me their stories. That would be awesome.)

And get this--we might meet with Sister Beck in August. Sister Julie Beck is the General Relief Society President and a champion for women, motherhood, and families, and we thought that she should know about our project. So, we called the church office building and talked to her secretary and when she gets back in town, she might be able to squeeze us in. I guess it's that simple. Who knew? I'm still not sure what to say to her, but I guess I'll follow Nephi's example: "I was led by the spirit, not knowing beforehand, the things which I should do."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Updated Call For Stories

Calling all LDS women who have given birth. We have received many great stories that have made us feel even more in awe of women. We are still looking for a few more on specific topics.

Meditation - How did you meditate during your pregnancy? How did meditation prepare you for birth/motherhood? Share any growth, insights, or anything about meditation.

- What ceremonies/rituals did you participate in to prepare you for birth/motherhood/letting go of maidenhood? How did you spiritually prepare for the birth? Physically? Mentally and Emotionally? What would you write on a spiritual birth plan? We are also looking for stories about preparation and agency/consequences as they relate to pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

Healing from Sexual Abuse
- How giving birth helped you heal from sexual abuse?

Your Legacy -
How knowing your Mother's (or another person's) story affected your birth.

Constant Nourishment -
How your nourished your body, mind, or spirit during pregnancy, labor, motherhood.

The Spirit/Mind/Body Connection
- How did your mind affect your body, or your spirit effect your body?

Re-birth -
Whatever that means to you.

Unity -
We are looking for stories about unity with your partner, unity with caregivers, unity with baby, unity with God, and any other kind of unity.

The Atonement - Any stories or essays about pregnancy and birth and how it relates to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Experiences with Medicated Births
- We're short on these. We aren't sure why. We know birth can be spiritual no matter what, but for some reason, natural birthers are more excited to talk about their experiences. So if you have had spiritual Cesarean births or spiritual medicated births, please share. Birth is a miracle no matter how babies come. The point of this book is to bring that back into primary focus.

Please send us your story as a word document or in the body of an email. Try to keep them somewhat short. I know it's hard. Please don't send links. Also, this is a spiritual birthing book for LDS women, so please do not edit things of a spiritual nature. Don't worry about being a fabulous writer. We are good editors.

We can't promise we'll use them, but we can promise to get your final approval before we publish them. So sit down and writer yours today and send it to me at ldsbirthstories at gmail dot com.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Are You There God? It's Me, Felice

The date of my last period was in early April. At first I didn't notice its nonappearance. Then I started to worry. I waited, but no angels appeared to me telling me I was giving birth to a saint.

When I was younger, if I had missed a period for several months I wouldn't have cared--time off, right? I was never like Margaret, in Judy Bloom's classic book, who couldn't wait to get her period for the first time. Oh brother.

Now that I am a woman, however, and I see my period as a normal, monthly process of renewal and cleansing, I really missed it. Also, having a period is sort of essential if you want to get pregnant. Some of you who are still waiting for yours to come back after having a baby are keenly aware of this. While pregnancy is not in my foreseeable future unless I find a new man, I still didn't like the thought that I might not be physically able. This may be one of the reasons my DNA started telling me to donate my eggs.

By late May I decided to take matters into my own hands. I used a hypnotic NLP technique called "reframing" that works if an illness is indeed all in your mind, as I was sure it was. Still no blood. I did some ideomotor questioning of my subconscious mind to figure out what was wrong and what I needed to do. I kept getting vague answers. I finally decided that I was too skinny and needed to gain weight, so I ate like a woman carrying twins. My metabolism just adjusted.

Finally, at the end of June, I went to my midwife for my yearly well visit and told her what was up. She did some muscle testing and said, in that tone of voice that always gets me, "Your adrenals are blown out."

The adrenal glands are what go to work when you need your fight/flight response. They release adrenaline. Basically, any kind of low grade anxiety can keep them working a little at a time all the time. Cumulatively, this will cause adrenal exhaustion--not good, but sadly, not that uncommon in this world we live in.

My midwife said that getting more sleep and rest wouldn't help at this point. I needed to go to acupuncture and re-balance the meridians in the body. After four treatments she said I'd be good as new. I still took this news rather badly.

I like acupuncture, but for some reason I didn't make the appointment right away. Even after I got a priesthood blessing that promised me that my body would heal itself, I was still depressed. Then it seemed that everyone I ran into wanted to give me advice. One friend told me that I should try fasting. I laughed in her face. "I'm not healthy enough to fast right now," I said. "That would be stupid." Then I ran into a friend and acupuncturist at Love Feast and she told me I should eat red meat and take Chinese herbs. Her friend told me to sleep more and cut out dairy. Guh. I did start taking the herbs, because I had them, but I wasn't about to start eating red meat.

Then on Thursday, for a totally different reason, I decided to read all the scriptures in the Topical Guide on Abundance and Abundant Life. (In hypnotherapy, when women come in for fertility issues, we talk to them of abundance, because infertility is often linked to deep primal scripting about famine and war--or in other words, lack of abundance.) What I found when looking up abundance, was not one, but many scriptures on fasting. In Isaiah 58 several of the promised blessings of fasting stood out to me:

"...thine health shall spring forth speedily..."

"...the Lord shall make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be as a watered garden..."

and this one:

"And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations..."

I humbled myself and decided I could use health, fat on my bones, and good posterity. So I started fasting then and there, with a joyful heart and a prayer--because otherwise it is just starvation. I had a fabulous day and a renewed testimony of the spiritual power of fasting.

I totally forgot about my missing period till the next day, when I started spotting. Hooray! Thanks God. Today--well let's just say that healthy red blood is springing forth from me speedily.

I do need mention that fasting from all food and water is not advisable for women who are pregnant or nursing, but participating in some sort of modified fast--that is actually a sacrifice for you--can have equal power. The Lord will recognize any sacrifice you make and give you the same blessings. For example, if you are usually a meat eater, you could give up meat and dairy for a day. Or if you are a TV/internet/radio junkie, you could go on a media fast for 24 hours. If you have sweet tooth, try a sugar fast.

If you want to know all the purposes and promised blessings of fasting, I highly recommend reading all the scriptures on fasting in the Topical Guide. And share with me. If you have had any cool experiences with fasting as it relates to conception, birth, nursing, and or raising children, I'd love to hear them.


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