Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Maybe you don't need a natural childbirth to feel like a real woman, but I do.

I've started back to the gym after a long and much-needed break. I've struggled this postpartum taking on too much, too soon, and exercise is no exception. I need to just accept the fact that I need an ENTIRE YEAR, and maybe even more, to fully recover from childbirth. I've definitely bitten off more than I can chew this time around. I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, that having two kids wasn't going to slow me down, like slowing down is a bad thing or something.

Aren't they cute together? 
I'm trying not to bite off more than I can chew in the exercise department, especially after I threw my back out at the beginning of the month for the first time in about 6 or 7 years. I'm trying to be gentle with myself, so I am just walking. I'm just trying to get back in the habit of getting up early and doing something to take care of myself. I have very low expectations right now. Actually, I have no expectations that walking will do anything for me except get me moving in the morning. That's okay. I'm starting to learn that I should probably never have any expectations about anything ever.

I'm not sure the last time you did it, but 30 minutes walking on a treadmill feels like a really. REALLY. long. time. I'd forgotten that that was what was harder about walking than running. Running wears me out, but it doesn't drag on forever like walking does. The last time I walked regularly was when I was pregnant with Lily. I did it some when I was pregnant with Kimberly, but I had Lily in the stroller and there was stuff to look at and some of the best company to keep me entertained. Today, I just had my brain. After I got over the hump of just thinking about how bored I was, I started thinking about birth. My mind usually turns to birth when I am on the treadmill. Don't ask my why. It seems to turn to birth when I am in the shower too. Or fixing my hair. Or driving in the car. Or sitting around doing nothing. Or when I am seeking it out on the internet. Or when I'm not seeking it out on the internet. I guess I like it.
Here's that same baby 1 year later

I started to think about when I first had Lily. There were two people in the world who believed in my ability to have a natural childbirth. My husband and my childbirth educator. Then I did it. I couldn't believe it. Imagine my shock! No sooner had I uttered the words, "I did it," than the naysayers started coming out to try to discount my experience. "Well, you must have had an easy birth." "Well, you just got lucky." "Well, I don't need a natural birth to feel like more of a woman." You know, all those lovely comments that people hear when they accomplish something awesome. It's very similar to that time I was in high school and made a 30 on the ACT the first and only time I ever took it, and after having absolutely no prep classes on it, a kid says, "It must have been easy this year." Oh wow. Thanks, jerk. I guess because *I* managed to do it, it must have been easy.

There were several reasons that I wanted a natural childbirth. The biggest one was my fear of the epidural. As I started to learn more about it, I wanted one, well, just because. I JUST wanted that kind of birth. Is that so wrong? Maybe I romanticized it a little. Maybe I thought a natural birth just seemed so AMAZING. Kind of like I just wanted to play the flute because I wanted to. It's funny how no one has really asked me to justify my desire to play the flute. No one gets mad at me when I say I succeeded at auditions. It's just...being excited about natural childbirth is not allowed for some reason.

But I started to think about how there are many people who think that women want to have natural childbirths so that they can feel like more of a woman. Or that we think we are a better mother because we had a natural childbirth. Or that we think we are a better mother than someone else who didn't have a natural childbirth. Or something like that. I don't know anymore. I've sort of given up trying to figure out what people think.

My two little cuties that keep me humble
When I first started this journey, it never crossed my mind that having a natural childbirth would make me a better mother. I never thought that I would be a better mother than someone else who didn't have a natural childbirth. I never thought that I would be more of a woman if I had a natural childbirth either. It just wasn't part of the equation. However, after the fact, I started to feel like I was a better mother for having had a natural childbirth. Not a better mother than anyone else, but a better mother than I would have been had I not had a natural childbirth. Because I know myself. I would have grieved my birth experience. I would have struggled with that for a very long time. If I could struggle with not getting into LSU as long as I did (and still do sometimes; there are things that trigger an episode of major upset), I'm sure I would struggle with not getting the type of birth that I was hoping for. It would take me a long time to feel at peace with it. Postpartum life is difficult enough for me with two satisfying birth experiences that I am terrified to think of what it might be like for me if I had to come to terms with an unsatisfying birth experience on top of it all. Motherhood is hard for me. I knew it would be. So much of it has taken me by surprise, and it changes every day. My children keep me on my toes and really make me earn my keep around here. Every time I think I am finally starting to get the hang of things, when I have finally figured it all out, they change it on me. One of my favorite quotes is "Motherhood is savory humble pie, served hot fresh daily." (paraphrased from Let the Baby Drive by Lu Hanessian) Motherhood keeps me humble. Or maybe, motherhood is trying to teach me how to be humble. I bet there's some pridefulness in there somewhere.

I admire those woman who are not bothered by what others might perceive as a traumatic or otherwise unsatisfying birth experience. I really do. I'm just not that awesome. Or that strong. I really do need my two deeply satisfying birth experiences to draw strength from when motherhood gets hard. Nothing else in my life has left me feeling like, "I did that? I can do anything!" like those two births have. Nothing. And I really do need those experiences to be the best mother and woman I can be. I didn't do it on my own. Goodness knows I didn't do it on my own. No. I had so much support and help along the way, and I give thanks to my Heavenly Father every day for placing those amazing people in my life that helped me to have such beautiful birth memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Your success is not a threat to me

This past weekend I had the honor terror opportunity to play with the Lake Charles Symphony as it provided the music for a production of Prokofiev's Cinderella performed by the Lake Charles Civic Ballet. It has been about 8 years since I've performed in the pit, and the last time was also with the Lake Charles Symphony when I was a student at McNeese.

Me playing flute but totally not from this weekend
For several reasons that I won't go into, I was feeling a little uncomfortable about being there. Okay. I will go into it. Well, just one reason. One of the reasons was because I was feeling unprepared. I didn't have my music for very long, and my fingers just weren't working the way they used to. I don't get to practice the way I did when I was a student. It's hard for me to try to squeeze in practice time with two little cuties running around wanting to touch everything and strew my music everywhere. I did the best that I could, but I didn't want to look at anyone while I was over there struggling to sound halfway decent.

Through all of my self-consciousness, I noticed that the piccoloist was doing a fabulous job. She had a gorgeous tone. I wanted to tell her the entire time, but I was feeling really shy. We've played together before, so we just sort of smiled at each other when we would pass by each other. Finally, right before we were supposed to perform, I worked up the courage to tell her that I thought she sounded great. It completely changed the dynamic of our interactions after that. We talked and laughed after that, when before we were both being kind of shy and quiet around each other. I'm not sure if she was feeling shy. Maybe she just thought I was being a snob. Sometimes shy people get mistaken for being snobby. I was actually just feeling really self-conscious about just about everything this weekend. Oh well. I'm glad it's over.

I realized something about complimenting her, though. I realized that I do that a lot. I notice something nice about people and I just HAVE to tell them. And they love it! Who doesn't love it? Who doesn't love to hear good things about themselves? But I really mean it. I won't say it if I don't mean it. I never tell someone that they sound good when they don't really sound good. I'm not good at giving out false compliments. People really have to earn them. But once they earn them, I just can't contain my excitement for how awesome I think they are.

I also realized that my telling someone that they are awesome, and my recognition that they are doing something well, doesn't diminish me in any way. I don't become less because someone else is excelling. I remember when I was a younger flutist at the beginning of my journey, I would worry that someone else doing well meant that I was failing. I wasn't so forthcoming with my positive encouragement. As I have grown, I have no problem telling someone that they sound amazing. I even go so far as to tell trumpet players when I like how they sound. Can you believe that? Trumpet players!!! Of course, I am no trumpet expert, but I can tell when I like it. That's about it.

It really is okay when others do well. I can still do well when others are successful. I can still be successful when someone else, dare I say it, is even more successful than I am. Just because someone else is playing in more concerts, or playing in a better orchestra, or has more degrees than I do from better schools doesn't mean I am a failure. It doesn't make me less of a flutist. It doesn't mean that I can't feel successful or that I am not successful too just because someone else may be more so. Someone else's success doesn't threaten me or my ability to succeed as well.

*In case this wasn't obvious, this totally can translate to doula work. <wink wink>

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Birth Boot Camp Instructor Training-Houston, TX

Professional head shot for the BBC website
I've been waiting to write this post for a long time. I am so excited to share that I am now a Certified Birth Boot Camp Instructor. I never thought this day would come.

Almost two years ago, I read Donna Ryan's Banned From Baby Showers blog and learned about Birth Boot Camp. I knew IMMEDIATELY that this was THE ONE. I am partial to the military theme because it reminds me of my family members who served or are serving in the military, the most important one being my mother. I am so proud of her, and I am so proud of my family members who have served or are currently serving. This is about as close to being involved with anything military as my soft little self can get. I can't do a push-up, but I sure can birth babies!

One thing after another happened to delay taking a training, but finally one was scheduled to come to Houston. I couldn't let ANYTHING stop me from attending that training. Our family suffered some incredibly difficult times for most of 2013. To say it was a tough year is an understatement. I was so discouraged, and I worried that I wouldn't be able to reach my goal. I feared that every set-back I experienced was just another hurtle that would keep me from attending the Houston Birth Boot Camp Instructor Training. I HAD to attend that one. I just HAD to!

Star struck! L to R: Sarah Clark, me, Donna Ryan
My little Kimberly wasn't quite 5 months old when I started attending births again. The first birth I attended after my maternity leave helped me pay for my deposit for the training. Finally! I secured my spot! I kept attending birth after birth after birth to pay for my training and it was so hard on my little Kimberly and my husband. My poor husband. He has a disadvantage when it comes to caring for an exclusively breastfed infant. I'm sure you can imagine what that disadvantage is.

I read all 11 books, and watched both DVDs. I completed the HUGE study guide. I was so stressed out for the 8 months it took me to complete everything. It felt like the same amount of work and stress as my final semester in graduate school when I was pregnant with Lily, going through my first trimester, preparing for my comprehensive exams at the end of the semester, and preparing for my Master's Recital. I have no idea how I survived that semester. I have no idea how our family managed to survive my preparations for Birth Boot Camp Training. It was TOUGH, but I loved it. I loved learning so much. I feel so thoroughly prepared to teach. I'm ready. I'm excited. I can't wait for my first series to begin on March 23rd!

Happy Mail: My certificate and teaching materials
I arrived on Wednesday night and immediately became star-struck. Oh my word! There they were! Sarah Clark, author of Mama Birth and Donna Ryan, author of Banned From Baby Showers, blogger I have been stalking reading for years, and owner/founder of Birth Boot Camp. I just hope that I didn't have a booger in my nose, and that's all they remember about me. They didn't say anything if I did.

Training was spectacular. I soaked it in just like I soaked in every minute of my music classes during my first semester of college. I waited for TWO YEARS to be there, and you know how sometimes when you wait for something so long and it ends up being sort of a let down? This was NOT it. I am still on my Birth Boot Camp high. And you know when you experience something incredible like a vacation or a wedding or a birth and then you have to go back to real life? Yeah, the first few days after my training were haaaaaaaard.

I could go on and on about how awesome the training was, how incredible the women were who attended the training, and how excited I am to start teaching soon, but I'll stop. It's so fun to look back here and here to see how far I've come with this. I'm so happy to be a Birth Boot Camp Instructor. So happy.

My incredible training class
 Sounds amazing doesn't it? Email me at to start training for YOUR amazing birth!!!!