Thursday, February 28

three deep breaths: interview with erin goodman (and giveaway!)

The internet is such a wonderful place, don't you think? So many of the encounters I've had on the web have enriched my life in deep and meaningful ways. (I did meet my husband of 7 years online!) These days, what I find most exciting is stumbling upon people who do beautiful work that echoes my own, and who inspire me to keep going and keep creating. One such lovely soul is Erin Goodman.

I cannot remember now how I stumbled upon Erin's blog, or when I first subscribed to her newsletter or listened to her podcast. But each of her offerings has brought me joy, inspiration and solace. Today, I am truly blessed to welcome her here on my little corner of the net to talk about her CD project, Three Deep Breaths. From Erin's website: "Softly-spoken and artfully-crafted. Gentle guided movements and breathing exercises to help you relax and move through your day with mindfulness and ease." 

Ah. To move through our days with mindfulness and ease. Isn't that what us mamas are after? I know that it is my own dearest wish, the reason I have a mindfulness practice, and the raison d'etre of this here blog. Not only does Erin's mission for her CD resonate so deeply with me, but I find she has chosen a format and content that are most effective for us mamas, that best serves the tone and rhythm of our days. Most of the CD's 8 track are only a few minutes long, but they are terrifically efficient at delivering on their promise: to help us relax, re-connnect to our center, and move through our days with an increased measure of peace. 

I've had the CD downloaded onto my phone for a couple of months now, and have listened and breathed and relaxed with the practices it offers in a variety of places and times: in my bed, either first thing in the morning or last thing before lights out; in my car before daycare pick-up; in the middle of my messy kitchen. I'm here to tell you: this stuff works. Erin's voice is so soft and soothing that it in and of itself might help get you into a state of relaxation. But what I love most about the CD and its practices is that you get the sense that these were developed slowly and mindfully, over time, and they resonate as deeply genuine, as tools that Erin has crafted and used in her own days as a mom.

I'm so thrilled that she has agreed to answer a few of my questions. I'm sure you'll appreciate and enjoy her answers as much as I have.

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What inspired you to create Three Deep Breaths? Specifically, how did you settle on the format of short audio practices?
I think this format most accurately represents my own yoga / mindfulness practice. Although I do my best to get into the studio for a weekly yoga class (and more than one if I can!), it is really the small moments of mindfulness and breathing that are integrated into my daily life that are the bedrock of my practice.
By creating short audio practices, I am able to offer a product that is affordable, accessible and easy to use, which is especially important for yogis and aspiring yogis, who have major responsibilities in their lives such as parenting and working.

Can you give us the origin story of one of the practices in Three Deep Breaths? How did it evolve into its present iteration?
Absolutely. I would love to tell you about the origins of Snooze Button Stretches, the second track in my collection.
I have always considered myself a “morning person.” I generally wake up cheery and full of energy and find morning to be my most productive time of day. All this changed when my children entered school full time and I returned to working outside of our home (part time). Suddenly my mornings felt like a sprint from the moment my eyes opened until the moment we were all out the door.
After many years of waking up naturally (usually around 7 a.m.), I was now in need of using an alarm clock and often waking up in the dark - before my body and mind were ready. Needless to say, my cheery, full of energy attitude began to disappear and in its place were frustration, overwhelm and a general sense of the morning blahs.
To shift my attitude and meet my day in a better frame of mind, I started using the snooze button on my alarm to stretch and breathe and consciously focus on all that is good and wonderful in my life. It was very powerful and is something I continue to do to this day.
When I recorded the track I closed my eyes and spoke from my heart. I have never written out any of these practices and they vary a little each time I speak them or practice them myself. So what appears on my CD is the iteration that came to me on the day I recorded.

Can you paint a picture for us of when and how some of these practices serve you in your daily life as a mama, blogger, yoga teacher, interfaith minister?
These practices absolutely work into every aspect of my professional life. When I am guiding a couple as they prepare to be married, or welcome a child, or renew their commitment to each other, it is essential for me to be centered and present to their needs. The same is true when I am in the yoga studio teaching a class or leading a retreat, or even when I sit down to write.
But the place where these practices really become a guiding beacon for me is in my daily life with my family and interacting with the world. Conscious breathing, chanting, listing all I am grateful for… this is where I go when I face challenges and need to ‘dig deep’ and stay focused on my choice to live a life that is guided by peace, compassion and love.
It’s the little moments – when we are running late, when we are stuck in traffic, when my children are fighting about everything (and nothing), when my husband and I are moving too fast and are not connecting. This is where my practice serves me most deeply.

What I love best about the practices is having someone hold space for me for those few minutes. Who has held space for you? Who are your teachers, your sources of inspiration and guidance?
I have had a number of different teachers and guides over the years who have touched my heart in a very deep way. It’s funny though, when I stop and think about all the teachers who have deeply impacted me, there are very few names that would be widely recognized. I have had some of my most profound healing and learning experiences in quiet, tucked away yoga studios, in private homes, around camp fires and in community centers.
I do not have a Guru or master teacher, which at various times in my life has been something I long for and at other times has felt like a tremendous freedom and blessing as I meander my way through life, eyes always open for inspiration and guidance everywhere I look.
I do have a healer / energy coach that I have worked very closely with for a number of years who holds sacred space for me to process my spiritual journey. She understands me and my creative process more than anyone else (perhaps more than me, at times) and holds space in a beautiful, supportive, non-judgmental way.
(Julianna’s website:

Do you use some of these practices with or around your children? How do you think they benefit from this work?
I definitely use these practices with my children but over the years I have (finally) realized that they learn so much more based on what I do rather than what I say.
I used to sit us all down for “yoga time” and try to offer a lesson like I do in the yoga studio and this just did not work. My children resisted and rolled their eyes. They simply did not want to have this type of “instruction” from their mother.
These days I focus much more on myself and truly living my yoga. When I am struggling, I use the tools I have learned to refocus my energy, and I intentionally do this in the presence of my children (when it is appropriate to do so). For example, when I am angry I might stomp around the house, grump, and growl – but I do so in a conscious way and I tell them why I am doing it. Or when I am facing a challenge with a friend or a colleague, I often talk about it with my children (filtering the details and translating to a language they can understand).
So I’m doing a lot less direct teaching and “this is what you should do” and much more intentional practice for myself, which allows my children to witness the yoga of everyday life in action.
(And of course, I still lose it from time to time. Sometimes I slam doors and scream and act like a two-year-old when I am frustrated. And then I look to my practice to bring me back to center, to meet myself with compassion and love, and to model the sacred act of saying “I’m sorry” to those I’ve hurt.)

Can you tell us a little bit about what it's been like to create Three Deep Breaths and send it out into the world? What elements have been surprising?
I think the most beautiful and satisfying thing about this project is that I absolutely, fully lived my practice while I was creating it. I set clear intentions, I showed up each day to work on it, but if it just wasn’t flowing for some reason, I honored that and didn’t try to push through. When it came time for a cover shot for the album, I had the exact image I wanted in my mind, but when I went to the beach to shoot the photos, I had a few technical challenges and it was the very tools highlighted in this audio collection that helped to guide me through with some measure of grace and ease.

(I actually wrote a blog post about the photo shoot, if you are interested:
So, I can’t say that was surprising to me that these practices actually work. I know that in my heart. But to use them during the process of creating the album and to really live what I was creating was a beautiful and very affirming process.

What are you working on right now? Any future projects or offerings we can get excited about?
Right now I am in a bit of a dormant period, creatively speaking. I put a lot of energy out into the world last year in creating my first two e-courses, recording my podcast and creating this CD. Since the start of this year I have been pulling my energy back in and focusing more on daily life with my family and the work I do with my private clients, which has been really lovely and nourishing.
I’m really not quite sure what’s coming next for me in terms of projects and offerings, but I trust that this much-needed down time is nourishing the soil in which those future offerings will be planted.

:: :: ::

Isn't she great? But don't take my word for it: do check out her many lovely offerings. And buy her CD, and have a lovely and effective resource for calm and ease at your fingertips at all times. One lucky reader will win a copy of Three Deep Breaths! Just leave a comment below before midnight, Central time, on March 6th, and I will announce the winner in this post on March 7th. Good luck to all, and thanks for Erin for sharing her time and insights! The contest is now closed. Congrats to the winner, Missy K, and to all who stopped by, read, and commented!

(All images in this post are from Erin's website.)

Thursday, February 21

what I carried: a story of motherhood told in bags

You can track my evolution as a mother based on what bag I have carried with me at what stage of my son's life. I believe there is an inverse relationship between how confident I have felt as a mother and how big a bag I've felt the need to carry. Not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between size of bag and age of child; ergo, between mother confidence and age of child. This is all very scientific.

While I was pregnant with Silas, among the many things I fussed and stressed over was the diaper bag. The diaper bag. I was obsessed with the idea of finding the perfect diaper bag. As someone who has a bit of a bag fetish (ahem), finding the perfect bag was of the utmost importance, as if finding the right bag to handle all of the baby gear would magically mean that I could handle the actual baby.

I closely inspected all of my friends' diaper bags, made countless painful trips to Buy Buy Baby to hold and open and sniff and test out all of the bags on the daunting diaper bag wall. I bought and returned at least one, maybe more, bags from Target, before settling on the winner: the Skip Hop Duo in the Wave Dot pattern.

I was happy with this bag. I crammed it full of cloth diapers and wipes and ointment and toys and Aden & Anais blankets and my Moby wrap, and all the extra gear that I felt stood to protect me and my little bundle against calamity. More stuff = heightened sense of safety. Now, who exactly is the security blanket for?

Enter exhibit two: a sweet and roomy bucket bag, snagged on sale at Fossil. I got this one when Silas was about 6 or 7 months old, and definitely sitting up. I was now leaving the house more often and with less stuff, fewer diapers and more rice crackers. I was desperately trying to emerge from the fog of tiny babyhood and to reclaim a little bit of a sense of self--though whose self, I wasn't entirely sure--so it's no wonder I could relate to the pattern of caged birds.

Fast-forward 6 more months or so, and behold the Holy Grail of mamas-of-toddler bags: the Haiku Hobo 2 bag, bought at Whole Earth with tax refund money. A bag so wonderful and efficient and cute that my equally bag-obsessed friend Kathryn took one look at it when I brought it to the coffeeshop for the first time, and promptly went out and bought herself the very same bag, in a different color, the next day. You can tell I'm now the mama of a walker because I need a cross-body shoulder strap (not shown) to carry the bag while I chase my wobbling toddler. (Silas is fearless and would always run as far away from me as he could get in any public place.) This bag also serves a toddler mama well as it is made entirely of recycled bottles, and is thus wipeable and waterproof, which comes in handy while you make that long and frought search for a spill-proof sippy cup. By now the bag is filled almost entirely with boy stuff. I have my phone, wallet, lip balm in there, and ever hopefully, a small Moleskine, but mostly it holds cars and trucks and eleven different kinds of snacks.

Nearly a year later, circa now. I am six months pregnant with my second child, and the era of diaper bags is staring at me in the face again. It's with a mixture of equal parts dread and excitement that I am considering purchasing another diaper bag, one that will better accommodate the needs of two boys of completely different ages. Though I expect to carry WAY less baby stuff this time around (here's a tip: keep lots of spare clothes and extra dipes and wipes in a plastic bin in your car), still three humans' worth of gear is sure to take up some space. I've got my eye on this one.

But that's a few months away still. For now, I am delighting in carrying the smallest possible bag, with the least amount of stuff I can get away with. I've downsized my Moleskine to a slimmer size, use the smallest wallet I have, and seek out tiny snacks for the bear. I keep 2-3 wipes in a small ziplock bag. I take an outsized amount of pleasure in reducing my necessities to the barest minimum. I still have room for a Hot Wheels car and a tiny book in there. I allow space for my pocket Pema book because having it with me makes me feel safe and sane, and that's worth a lot of purse real estate. Silas usually carries his own water bottle around. I rarely have to change him on most trips out, and for when I do, I keep a changing wallet in the car (again: treat your car as if it were one very big purse.) It's so freeing to need so little.

(What I carry: wallet, Moleskine, Post-Its, Muji pen, The Pocket Pema Chodron, hand sanitizer, tiny tube of hand lotion, caramel Hershey's kisses, gum, tiny Cars book, Hot Wheels car, box of raisins, fruit twists. Not shown: wipes in baggy and, and most important, iPhone 4 in Otterbox case.)

Given this set of data, and my current small choice of purse, you might wonder whether I'm feeling confident as a mother these days. I do. While there are definitely challenges big and small each day, I no longer doubt my ability to handle what's thrown at me (literally and figuratively), nor do I doubt my suitability to the task of being Silas' mother. And it may be blind, reckless optimism, but I'm feeling pretty good about adding another little being to the herd. I feel broken in, as it were, as a mother, and better able to expand and embrace more love and more responsibilities.

I don't know. Ask me again in a few months when I'm lugging around an enormous diaper bag.

Tuesday, February 19

a quiet retreat

The Mr and I spent the weekend alone together in a lovely little cabin in the Texas Hill Country. There was no cell phone or Internet service at the cabin. But there were three full patio doors opening onto a large deck overlooking pastures and trees and hills, and letting in floods of sunlight. And it was quiet. Oh, the quiet.

We drove there Friday by way of Comfort, Texas, so I could visit my favorite yarn shop. I bought two exquisite skeins of yarn, we had lunch at a sweet little cafe, and hit the road towards our ultimate destination, Foxfire Cabins near Lost Maples State Park.

We'd been looking forward to this for months. Our home and our days have been busier and more stressful than usual of late. My parents are visiting from Montreal and have been with us since late January. My mother-in-law came to stay with us just before Christmas, and there have been lots of doctors' visits and major surgery and lots more health concerns and lifestyle questions. Also, I am six months pregnant. Let's just say we feel we have earned this little escape.

One of my favorite aspects of a trip like this is packing, then setting up our temporary home. I love choosing all of the books and foods and mugs and clothes that we'll need and that will nourish and enliven our days. Weeks, even months prior to a trip I start making daydreamy packing lists, imagining what I'll read, what I'll knit, which favorite mug I'll want to drink from.
The unpacking is equally as lovely to me. As a through-and-through nester I love making up little corners and spaces, setting out the French press and salt and pepper shakers, making the bed (I usually bring my own sheets--I'm particular that way.) I set out and happily stack and pat my journal, poetry books in anticipation of all the time I'll get to spend with them. These days the preparation ritual also involves loading up the Kindle with lots of good stuff--especially when we won't have Internet access! Don't want to risk running out of reading material now, do we? (On this trip I read this, and this, and brought these two poetry books.)

Its lack of connection to the outside world was a big selling point for this cabin. And while I enjoyed being unplugged for two whole days, I have to admit it made me a little bit twitchy at first. To tell the truth I missed Instagram most of all, as I wanted to share the lovely images of our cabin as I was shooting them! But we both settled into the rhythm of it quite quickly, forgetting where our phones were and letting them run out of charge. When we popped in to the little general store nearby offering free wi-fi, I was pleasantly surprised how little time I needed to spend on my phone. Just a quick blog browse, and a phone call home to make sure all was well with the bear and grandparents. It was.

The Mr slept way in on Saturday morning, which gave me a nice long morning all to myself--the one thing in the world I relish the most. I made coffee and rosemary sourdough pan-fried toast with strawberry jam. I wrote in my journal. I read. And read. And read. I did a lovely long yoga practice. I do admit to feeling slightly sad, upon first waking up, not to be lifting a little tousled-haired PJ'd little boy out of bed to watch him stomp his little feet gaily into a fresh new day full of cars and trucks. It was a little weird to wonder, is this what our lives were like, all the time, before we had him? It feels so distant as to not even be a memory anymore--more like a faint dream from a previous life. But I settled in happily into two days of not being mama? mama? In truth, it was awesome. I missed him just enough.

Just enough to feel a little lost and sad when, on Sunday afternoon, we arrived home right at the beginning of an epic 3.5 hour nap. I peeked in at my sleeping boy several times before finally waking him up, needing so much to snuggle and love him up. As deeply good and restorative as it was to be away, it was equally sweet to be back home.

Can't wait to do this again in, oh, another two years or so?

Friday, February 15


read :: the tiger's wife // mindful birthing
taste :: perfect sandwich at Walton's: bacon, frisee, avocado, tomato, toasted sourdough // fresh grapefruit juice
see :: the hours, again // first bluebonnet of the spring
touch :: sun on my skin while doing yoga in PJs on the back porch
hear ::  lots of George Michael and Simple Minds on my 80s mix
think ::i am so ready to hit the road with the mr. for a baby-free getaway this weekend // about all i still need to pack
feel :: like i'm handling this s**t

Monday, February 11

a question of feeling: guest post at Kind Over Matter

print by AlignArts on Etsy

I have a guest post up today at Kind Over Matter. This piece means a lot to me: sharing insights by Vivienne McMaster and Danielle Laporte and the profound impact that they've had on my relationship with my own body. Isn't the image that Amanda chose to illustrate the post so very beautiful and moving? It brought tears to my eyes. I'm off to buy the print right now.

From the post:

I want to feel healthy, alive, energetic, whole, beautiful, sexy. I want to feel vibrant. And I feel that one of the lessons of this pregnancy is to let the inner clarity of that desired feeling inform and motivate my choices when it comes to nourishment, movement, rest, and self-care, instead of being influenced by the elusive goal of a sleeker outward appearance.

I'm keen to know your thoughts on this subject. Mamas, how did pregnancy and motherhood change the way you view your body, and how you choose to care for it?

I first wrote for Kind Over Matter back in the fall. Perhaps you missed it? Read that post here.

:: :: ::

For Kind Over Matter readers visiting for the first time, welcome! Here are a few favorite posts for you to check out:

the yoga mutt theory of parenting philosophy

margin breath practice

the best parenting advice I have to give

what is mindfulness, part 2: the kitchen sink

be the empty cup

Friday, February 8


read :: rules of civility // tiny beautiful things
taste :: raw carrots, snap peas, grapes
see :: downton abbey. what else?
touch :: holding a sleeping little bear for a rare late nap in my lap
hear :: the culture gabfest podcast, always such a bright highlight of my week
think :: i can create an island of calm and sanity with my writing instead of waiting for such moments in order to write
feel :: sharing the grief of a friend who lost her baby boy this week

senses shared

Tuesday, February 5

To feel engaged

Recently, while grazing around some of my favorite blogs, I have noticed a theme emerging: women wanting to write truer, deeper posts, more rooted in their real lives. Terms like slow blogging, wholehearted blogging show up. This idea of wanting to write more about the taste and feel and quality of our days, and less about 12 ways to practice self-care using only 3 ingredients 5 days a week. You get my meaning.

This resonates with me. My relationship to this space has been somewhat uneasy of late. I have a deep passion for this world of blogs and podcasts and workshops and e-books. It has enriched my life so very much, and I feel I have a lot to contribute, that this is the work I am meant to be doing right now. But. I struggle with showing up, with using the time I have wisely and consistently.

It's true that our lives are somewhat crowded these days. There is the baby folded in my belly, his delightful kicks saying hello--but his growing within my body makes me oh so tired. There is my mother-in-law who has been living with us since December, and the mystery health issues that have brought her here, and the long process of looking for answers as to what her life will be from now on. There are my parents, recently arrived from the Canadian cold, to snowbird in our early Texas spring for a month. All of these people are loved and lovely, and yet there are a lot of bodies moving around our space. It makes me crave stillness and quiet. It makes it hard for me to write.

There is also the larger issue of what to write. My purpose for this blog is to write about the ways in which mindfulness practices like mediation and yoga can help mamas (this one included) to live their lives with ease, meaning and intention. As a yoga teacher, it's easy for me to write from the teacher's seat, as it were. To write in ways that are more directive, less reflective of who and where I am. Now, I love me a good list post of ways to be more this-and-that, so this isn't a dig on that particular sort of writing. But rather, just an observation that I may have gotten myself tied up in the expectation that I need to be writing such posts, and that this expectation has been limiting, sometimes paralyzing, my writing.

There is a question that started tugging at my sleeve at the end of last year. It came up in conversation with Erin Goodman (I cannot find the blog post--in her newsletter, maybe?), and then exploded big time when I started reading The Fire Starter Sessions. That question is, How do you want to feel?

I began to work with this question a lot. To ask it of myself, of my students. Guided by Danielle Laporte, I distilled my answers to my three core desired feelings. One of these is engaged. Engaged is a quality of relationship: to the people close to me, to my surroundings, to my work. When I think of being engaged with my writing, it has a feeling quality of being deep in the thick and muck and joy of it, of carrying threads of thought with me as I move through my days, of stealing moments here and there to scribble down some of those words before they escape. As though writing were a delicious body of water that I could dip into and out of, again and again. Something I can feel on my skin, that could envelop me whole. Like that.

And so it occurs to me that the only way to really feel engaged with the writing on this here space is to shift to a deeper, truer, grittier, more beautiful place. I have written so little about this pregnancy, how it has felt, what I've been thinking about, planning for, enjoying, eating. There is so much to say about these here days, these precious few remaining as a family of three, as our yard greens over and the birds return with their brand-new, same-old songs, and I want to tell it. All of it. Wholeheartedly.

How do you want to feel?

PS: Karen's beautiful answer from today.

Sunday, February 3

Silas' birth story, part two

Hi there! It's been a weird week around these parts, with three out of four grandparents staying with us, a birthday party, a well-child visit at the doctor's, and me recovering from an ear infection and dealing with a lingering cough... so, yeah. Learning to manage these days with softness and intention sure is a process. But, as promised if belated, here is the rest of Silas' birth story.

:: :: ::

Before going to the hospital, we went to my midwife's house, where we filled out the admission papers, and where she gave me an extra dose of antibiotics. I also ate a little, some yogurt and a banana, the last food I'd have for over half a day. I was feeling so sad and defeated and tired.

Once we got to the hospital, around midnight, we were quickly set up in a labor & delivery room. We met with the doctor to go over our plan, and I got an epidural and Pitocin, which together would allow me to rest while labor got started and dilation began. (I was at maybe 1 or 2cm at that point.)

The next few hours are a blur.I know Illysa, our midwife, went home. I know Daniel slept. I remember the dim room, the intermittent beeping of machines, the blood pressure cuff squeezing into my arm periodically. The epidural didn't completely obliterate sensations in my lower body. I was laying on my side, and the anesthetic pooled into my lower hip and leg, so that I could feel moderately strong contractions on the higher side of my body. I remember that they hurt some, but that they were manageable. I had a little clicking device on hand that could up the amount of anesthetic in my body but I went for a long while just keeping sensations as they were because as I breathed through each contraction, I could feel that it was working. All my yoga training, all the stuff I`d been teaching in my Prenatal classes about staying with the breath and staying in the present moment and dealing with strong sensation, all of it was working, and that was deeply gratifying. I remember hours in bluish light of the L&D room, just me and my baby and sensations in half of my lower body, working our way toward birth.

Around 6am or so I was checked again, and I`d progressed to maybe 6cm, which was great, and very encouraging. The plan was working! We'd made the right call, coming to the hospital. Though I hadn't slept much I felt well-rested and ready to take on the rest of labor, encouraged by my work in the night and the great progress I'd made. But, despite a great start, my labor petered out. My contractions became irregular in timing, duration and strength, and my progress ground to a halt. I labored another 6 or so hours with little to show for it. Around noon, our doctor came in with this news: it was time to call it a day and proceed with a C-section. He didn't see how this baby was coming out on his own. He agreed to give us time, Daniel and Illysa and I, to discuss it.

Illysa cut right to the chase, telling us that she knew from the moment my water broke that my chances for a natural delivery were slim. She told us that each hour I spent in labor increased the chance of infection for me and for the baby (by that time my waters had ruptured nearly 69 hours previous), and that if the baby developed an infection, they would put him in the NICU for 7 days. That was it for me. Having a C-section was the scariest, worst-case scenario for me, and the main reason for that is that I knew how the procedure could interfere with getting the breastfeeding relationship established. I knew in my bones, completely and immediately, that the potential benefits of a vaginal birth (unlikely at that point) were well outweighed by the huge cost of having my baby in the NICU. The most important thing was that he be delivered safely and onto my breast as soon as possible. Making the call to have a C-section at that point was hardly a decision at all--it was a no-brainer. We asked for a little bit of time so I could process what was about to happen, though by that time I had little mental faculties available to prepare for what was coming. I remember asking Daniel to hand me my copy of Birthing from Within, because I recalled a chapter on C-sections, but though I glanced at the pages, I couldn't take in any of the information.

Daniel and Illysa went to take our stuff to a storage space and I was left alone to be wheeled into the OR. I vividly remember that ride: hairnet on me head, gazing up at the glaringly bright lights, with this deep dreadful sadness welling up within me. This was it. The worst thing I could have imagined was happening. My baby was going to be born via C-section. Though I didn't then--nor have I for a single moment since--regret the decision to go along with the operation, in that moment my nightmare became all-too real. I think that making that journey into the OR alone, without my husband or midwife, made things slightly worse, and that is one of the things about that day that I would change if I could. I would want one of them to hold my hand.

Our Silas. Finally here.

The OR was as bright and cold as winter. Nurses busied themselves around me, chatting blithely about matters relating to their lives, calling me honey in cheery voices that had nothing to do the the gravity I felt the situation called for, that had nothing to do with the sadness and panic that were rising in me with the unstoppable force of ocean's tides.

From here on out, what I remember is flashes--images, sensations. My sense of time gone entirely out the window. I know Daniel and Illysa joined me in the OR. The next thing I remember is hearing Silas' voice, his first meow-like cry, and saying. "That's my baby!", though really it was more of a question. Is this really what's happening? Then they showed him to me. I saw his squishy face, dimple, and little cleft chin. I though, with relief, "Oh, he's cute!" That fact felt, even then, like a balm, a prize, for what I was enduring. I know he was held close to my and Daniel's face (by whom?) because we have those amazing pictures of our first moments as a family, but I don't remember how I felt then, how long that lasted. Pretty soon he was whisked away to be washed and examined, and they began the work of sewing me back up. That's when I remember things getting really bad.

Hello baby! I'm your mama.

I have since then learned that it is common for women to experience shaking during a C-section, but I had no context then for what was happening to me. For what felt like an eternity but can't have been more than 10-20 minutes, I experienced convulsions, panic and despair unlike anything I'd ever felt before. Due to the epidural, the lower half of my body was now completely numb. I could feel my limbs, but no sensation, as though they were encased in cement. The upper half of my body felt like it was trying to hurl itself off the table. I was frozen deep to the core, my arms and mouth shaking wildly. I was parched with thirst and my lips were so, so dry. I remember they tried to warm me up with a contraption that blew hot air on my arms (which may or may not have been tied down) but to little effect. And furthermore, I had nothing left. No energy, no inner resources, nothing with which to cope. I remember my midwife talking into my ear, guiding me to breathe, and me saying "I can't. I can't." Soon she called Daniel, who had been with Silas, over to be with me, because I was freaking out so much. Even his calm voice did nothing to soothe me. I don't know when or how my agony tapered off. The next thing I remember, I was holding my baby in the recovery room, still shaking, and he latched on and nursed like a champ.

And baby makes three.
Though I have no regrets about the course that was taken, and the decisions that were made, leading up to Silas' birth by C-section--truly, we did everything we could--still it will remain my greatest sadness that the first moments of my son's life were the absolute worse of mine. In the next set of pictures, taken by Illysa in the recovery room, you see Daniel beaming with pride and joy, holding his brand-new son in his arms, and I look worn and swollen, like I've been hit by a truck, which is pretty much how I felt. We were lucky that we were able to be with him the entire time, from the moment of his birth, and got to hold him as soon as possible. He never left our side while we were in the hospital. We were both groggy from the operation and drugs, but with lots of help from angelic lactation consultants and nurses, got nursing off to a great start, which continued problem-free until he was 20 months. There is so much to be grateful for.

But it was so far from the birth I wanted and had planned for, it was such a deeply traumatic experience, that I will carry the scars--physical and emotional--with me always. I've been processing a lot of those emotions in the last few weeks, with Silas' birthday around the corner, and this new baby's birth approaching. My son's birth made me both stronger and weaker in deeply fundamental ways. I have learned so much from this experience: about myself, about birth, about hospitals, about motherhood, about babyhood. The most important thing for me to learn now is to leave this story in the past, and to walk towards a new birth experience with confidence and strength. One thing I know for sure: this time, it will be different. Not necessarily worse or better, but different. You can't step into the same river twice. This one is firmly behind me, in the past.

Proud daddy. Home at last.

:: :: ::

My doula, a beloved close friend, suggested that I write down my birth story, which I hadn't done fully until today, and that I burn it, to release the hold it's had on me. That is what this post is: a bright flame, a wisp of smoke, ashes in the wind. A release. Thank you kindly for reading.