Baby Carrier Review Pt. 2


Monday, January 1, 2018

In 2015 I did a baby carrier review of every carrier I had used up until that point. Well, I'm still obsessed and have tried a few more since then so it's time for an update!

Ergobaby Performance Ventus
This is probably my favorite carrier. We have had it for about 2 years and I don't see my passing it along at any point. I love the tall panel, it allows it to be used well into toddlerhood. The mesh is of course great for summer and really anytime because let's face it, two bodies being pressed together and it gets hot any time of year! I highly recommend this one. But it's probably best once baby is a bit taller since the panel is so tall. You can, of course, use it from birth with an insert. I reach for this one the most.

Ergobaby Adapt
I borrowed this one from my local Babywearing International Group when Riah was a few months old. I really, really like this one. If you are going to get an Ergo, get this one. You can use it from birth without an insert. That makes such a difference! One less thing to carry around and much less hot. I sad to have to give that one back when my month was up. It's very similar to the Original Ergo in all other ways and I definitely recommend it.

Fidella Ring Sling
I really wanted to like this! With 3 kids, all the buckles and straps of a SSC (soft structured carrier) was getting to be a bit much, I wanted something I could put Riah in really quickly. So I borrowed a super nice one from my BWI group again and I just didn't love it. Even though she was only a few weeks old and super light, it was still achey on that one shoulder. Sad. Some people really love ring slings though. That's why it's so nice to be able to try them out before you buy!

This is a great wrap for little babies and for moms who are overwhelmed with all the wrapping needed for a Solly or Moby. My sister passed her's down to me and I use it as a back-up and love recommending it.

Fidella Fly Tai
After Riah grew out of my Solly Baby, I really wanted a pretty wrap again! I have been drooling over the Fly Tai for awhile and when they came out with this print, I snatched it up fast! Tying the ends in pretty ways was fun for a time but it's just not me. It really only made sense for me to tie it at home because I didn't want the long tails getting dirty out and about. And what's a pretty wrap if no one can see it? ;) Aaaaand I don't find it particularly comfy. I find myself unwrapping it and grabbing the Ventus. I could use some more practice with it. I think I will give it another chance. Also, the hood is really short. Bridger has to help me with it when Riah is on my back.

Tula (Standard size)
I saw this one on a local classified listing and I just bought it kind of on a whim! Everyone says if you love Ergo and try a Tula, you will never go back to Ergo. I haven't been convinced of that yet. The straps are a bit wider and puffier but I really haven't noticed a huge difference. I still switch between this one and my Ventus the most. Also, the hood is really short. Bridger has to help me with it when Riah is on my back. I'm noticing a pattern here! I think Tula's new Free to Grow has a better hood. But Ergo has the best ones!

Wish List:
The good news is I got everything I listed on my wish list last maybe that will happen again ;) Riah is old enough now that I really don't need anymore but...

It would be great to have a soft-structured carrier that is really floppy and a wrap conversion! Not sure which one yet though...

And I still think they are beautiful, but my experience with the Fly Tai has taught me that I'm not one for a woven...yet! ;) But really, I need quick ups and the wovens just seem like too much work for me! However, I am really drooling over these traditional African wraps that Ms. Wright is selling.

Okay, last one. I have no use for them since I don't like wovens or ring slings, but Kantha Bae wraps just have me drooling all the time. Maybe I'll save up for one of her quilts!

What I'm Reading: Home Education Edition 1


I don't know when I started thinking about homes eduaction, but when we made the decision last summer, I know it had been on my mind for a few years. We are excited to continue our slow mornings, learn at our own pace and have the freedom to travel, play, run wild and follow the spark!

I've read loads of books and articles, listened to lots of books and podcasts and throughout all this have slowly created our educational philosophy. This will guide our educational endeavors as we go along. Nate and I also created a family vision that will guide our choices as well. In case others are interested or are on a similar path, below I am cataloging various resources that have informed us so far.

Just like when I wanted to do something else a little off the mainstream (natural birth), I feel like I needed to immerse myself in stories of successful families and learn how others do it. I needed research and facts too. When preparing for Colden's birth, I parked myself in front of the birth/motherhood/parenting section at the library until I had all the info I needed. This process has been much similar. More stories and whole lot more books!

My favorite homeschool resources so far:

Wild + Free. This is an online community that supports families who home educate. Their recent Facebook Live was a great primer for their philosophy. I subscribed and received their monthly bundles for a year. My favorite part was getting access to their audio interviews and conference talks. I would listen at night while cleaning up and I felt like I had a kitchen full of veteran homeschool moms cheering me on! Now they post parts of their interviews on their free podcast. This past fall I found myself searching for more resources and I realized I had a giant shelf of resources from their bundles that I had not really touched! So I stopped my subscription and am going through all those resources now and finding some great treasures.

The Peaceful Preschool: We used this last year with a small preschool co-op and we liked it. And I still use some things from it. I really like the resources at the beginning for parents like how to create a family vision and more.
Exploring Nature with Children: This is a fabulous resource and we are using it loosely this year. I think it will be a cornerstone for us going forward.

These I have read and loved! I have highlighted, scribbled lots of notes and really come to find where our hearts are when it comes to home education and our lifestyle in general. Full disclosure, I haven't completed some of these because I tend to read/listen to 4-5 books at a time but I have read enough and gleaned enough from them to feel comfortable recommending them to you.

The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore
Free to Learn by Peter Gray
Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Samson
Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Grotto
Your Child's Growing Mind by Jane Healy

Up next list. I've always got a big stack of books ready to read next.
Home Education by Charlotte Mason
A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille
Awakening Children's Minds by Laura Berk
The Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik
There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk
The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori
Better Late Than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore
Bountiful Homeschooling on a Budget by Jennifer Pepito

Other articles and resources in my Homeschool and Homeschool Facts boards.

What helped you most when making the decision to homeschool?

A list of things we do not buy & why


Thursday, December 28, 2017

In the past few years, our family has tried to become more environmentally conscious. We all want to do more to make this planet livable for our children and grandchildren. And that often means doing LESS. Less driving, less travel, less meat, etc. And it also means buying less.

So many of today's goods are disposable. While I'm not so concerned about the number of products going to landfills, because I believe the U.S. has great waste programs that keep waste collected and not in water, I am concerned about items that never make it to garbage receptacles and flow into storm drains and our waterways. We've all seen the photos of beaches and ocean covered and filled with plastic pollution. What I am most concerned about is the amount of energy (fossil fuels) used in the creation and distribution of disposable items. Other consumables come with a tremendous amount of waste in their wrappers and so forth. So here is a list of items that we do not buy (or try not to!) and what we have replaced them with. I have ZERO judgments on what any of you do, everyone is on a different journey. I hope you find a few new ideas to try out from this list. Please comment on ones you do that I haven't listed! 

Items we do not buy and what we do instead
  • Bottled water--we have clean water coming through our home in several locations. Why would we buy water that was sourced irresponsibly and packaged in materials that are harmful to the Earth? (Can you tell this is a moral issue for me? ha!)
  • Napkins--cloth napkins
  • Paper towels--I still somehow have a couple rolls hanging around but I haven't bought them. I think Nate sneaks them in the house, ha! Washcloths do everything paper towels can. We use newspapers to wash windows and mirrors. 
  • Disposable cutlery--when we go on picnics, we pack our normal cutlery and bring it home. 
  • Paper plates & cups--We have a dishwasher, no need for paper plates or cups.
  • Fancy cleaning products--We clean with a water+vinegar+lavender combo for the kitchen. Ajax for the toilets and deep-cleaning the sink. We get a big jug of something strong once or twice a year that we dilute for the floors. That's pretty much it!
  • Ziploc bags--I still haven't figured out how to 100% get rid of these because I use them to store prepared chicken breasts in the freezer but we have cut down our use of them by probably 80%. I use reusable snack containers for snacks rather than plastic bags.
  • Granola bars--We make a few batches every week for snacks and quick breakfasts.
  • Fruit snacks--We eat real fruit. Packaged snacks are saved for long plane rides!
  • Applesauce--got lucky and we have an apple tree in our backyard so I canned a bunch of applesauce. We will buy it when we run out but it was nice to can so much!
  • Popsicles--we have a popsicle mold we pour juice in to.
  • Breakfast granola--We make this as well and it's soooo good!
  • Cooking spray--We use old fashioned olive oil or butter and for cookie sheets a sil-pat mat.
  • Tampons and pads--I use a menstrual cup. I'm getting the hang of it so I still use a pantiliner for back up. Learn more about menstrual cups here.
  • Fancy fragrances/lotions/soaps/shampoos--The 5 of us all the same shampoo/conditioner, bar of soap and lotion. In the last few years, body sprays have not been my friend so I avoid them now. I'd like to switch to a shampoo bar. Any suggestions?
  • Fabric softener--we have 3 wool balls in the dryer
  • Shaving cream--unnecessary for me. Nate has a can that lasts him like year because he is fully bearded :)
  • Make-up--don't wear it anymore except for mascara sometimes.

Other ways we cut down on waste:
  • Using cloth bags at the grocery store. This has got to be the easiest green choice to make. You probably already have cloth bags sitting around at home. They make grocery trips so much easier too! Ya know, they actually carry your groceries and don't rip! We use small cloth bags for produce and bulk bin foods as well as big bags at the end of our trip. A common question I've had is what do you use for small garbage liners without plastic bags? I can't say we don't have any plastic bags in our house because sometimes we forget the cloth bags when we go out so we use those.  And I also found some small "plastic" bags made from corn. 
  • Re-filling honey and maple syrup in bulk. At our Whole Foods Co-op, we can bring the same container back again and again to re-fill honey, maple syrup, olive oil, peanut butter and more.
  • Eating whole foods. Pre-packaged items aren't usually all that good for us anyway, so why would they be good for the planet?
  • Buying second-hand whenever possible.
  • Purchasing food from the farmers market or a CSA whenever possible.
Other ideas for cutting down on waste:
  • My friend Maria carries stainless steel cutlery and small travel dishes with her so she can use those instead of paper products at events with food.
  • When travelling, bring a large jug of water to re-fill your water bottles. In the summertime, we do this but freeze the big bottle first so we have cold water after hikes :)
  • Don't eat fast food. We totally eat fast food. But we definitely go less since moving here. (No Chikfila! So sad!) But cutting back even one fast food meal cuts back on so much waste!
  • And probably the best thing we can do is to stop buying cheap products like fast fashion that last only a season. Buying fewer, more quality items will make such a difference.
I challenge you to take one or more of these ideas and apply them to your family this week. You can do it! What did I miss? What is your favorite way to cut down on waste?

How we came to purchase our 1st home


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Photo by Miranda Lavender

This is not meant to be an advice article, we are complete newbies at home buying so this post is more about chronicling how we got here!

We have been toying with home ownership for about 4.5 years! After we graduated, Nate did not have a real job for a few months so we stayed with family. That was an incredible blessing and I hope to pay it forward in the future for our children or another young family. When he got his job, we got a realtor and almost bought a condo. But I just couldn't let myself buy something with no outdoor space for Bridger (he was a baby at the time). Luckily, we came across our rental and lived there for 4 years! With rent + utilities totaling $850/month, our little junky house couldn't be beat! But the catch was, the land had been re-zoned for high-density housing and could be sold at any time to developers.

Photo by Cate Johnson

So because of that, we continued to toy with the idea of buying. Sometime in 2014 we shopped around but with a budget of $150,000...the houses were so terrible that we put that idea quickly out of mind. (I'm talking about homes with 6 ft ceilings, dirt basement floors all on teeny lots.)

We even toyed with the idea of a tiny house. But like many tiny home enthusiasts have found, finding a place to park it is no easy task. The point of a tiny home is to park it on a beautiful piece of land so you can spend most of your time outside. But as much as we loved Utah, land prices were enormous! So this idea didn't last.

We continued to save and dream of a house all our own on a little property. In the meantime, we enjoyed the little rental and the big lot it sat on! We had a great neighborhood and friends close by. But with each addition to our family, that 800 sq ft got smaller and smaller! And the fact that it could sell to developers at any time hung over our heads. We never really felt settled.

Photo by Cate Johnson

As we dreamed of what we wanted in a future home, we realized how hard it would be to find in Utah. Every several months, Nate would spend a lot of time applying for jobs elsewhere. In fall 2015, he got a job offer in Maine but we ended up turning it down. Our rental was finally sold to developers and we wondered when we would need to move out.

The following fall (2016), we joined a rural housing development grant program. In Utah, it was known as Self Help Homes. Basically, you put in a bunch of sweat equity and get a new home at a smaller price. We were excited for a while but the lot was TINY and after getting a better idea of what was required (30 hours of work each week at specific times), we weren't feeling it anymore! And we realized, we don't even want to live in Utah...why would we sacrifice months and pay for this house if we don't want to really be here?! So we pulled out.

Anyway, the months went by. Nate had a job interview in Washington. Then he applied for a job in the Twin Cities. When neither of those worked out, we decided that we ought to try settling down in Utah once and for all. It felt good to make a decision on that! It helped that we were out tromping in the snow at Rock Canyon on a beautiful Utah winter day. So we got preapproved again (this time for more money, lol) and started shopping. Haley Ostler was so helpful for this! We even put an offer on a home in Provo. After we didn't get that one, nothing really felt right. A home would check all our boxes (or most of them!) but we couldn’t say yes. During this time, I found the Duluth job opening and Nate applied!

Saying yes to this job was so easy. We had been hoping for a change for years. We loved Utah and tried to appreciate each unique part of it but it never felt like home. We needed green. We needed water! We needed more space. And cheaper housing options!! (The homes we were looking at in Utah were $220-230k and the same kind of--or better--homes in Duluth were $160-190k). Some really cool things fell together for us. My midwife had spent a lot of time last year jumping through hoops for us and we were reimbursed for the majority of the cost of Riah’s birth! And we got a GIANT tax return. We were able to put that money away for a down payment. (In Utah, we had to apply for down payment assistance.)

So when Nate got to Duluth, he went to look at a home outside of Duluth in a rural area. The realtor was really pushy and it even though it was the first house he had seen, she told him to put an offer on it or there would probably be a bidding war. We had no idea what the market was like and decided to go ahead with the offer. When I saw it, I loved the land! Tons of space for letting the kids grow up wild. Wasn’t excited about the house at all. It had potential but needed some work. And with it being on a small river, the fear of a flood was very real. After the inspection, we decided to pull out. It had so many issues!! And it was at the top of our budget anyway.

Once we got a little settled in Duluth, I realized how much I liked being in town and we both liked being closer to Lake Superior. So we decided since this is our first home, trading in lots of land for being in town and close to Superior was a good deal. Getting a house way out in the country in a brand new place seemed really isolating. Anyway, we got a new realtor (we loved Liz!) and she took us to dozens of homes. We got close to offers on a couple others but weird maintenance things came up. The search was stressful but also fun! I loved going to see homes!

Photos by Miranda Lavender
We are so glad we found this home! It's super close to the Lake, in a nice neighborhood, no work is needed and it's beautiful! Despite it being on a city lot, we feel like we have a pretty good amount of space and we feel like we are still living by the majority of our values with big trails and parks are within walking distance. We can also walk to just about everything we really need (except our church is like 10 miles away). A grocery store, doctor, dentist, bakery and more are within a mile. We feel supremely lucky. In 7-10 years, we can think about a new place with land but for now, we are so excited to be settled into our first home!!

All photos minus the Utah home ones are by Miranda Lavender. We loved having her do our family photos at home!!

My Medicaid Story


Monday, July 24, 2017

When Nate and I got married in 2010, I was removed from my parents insurance. I signed up for the cheapest plan from the university (it did not cover maternity care), planning to start our family sometime after graduation. However, I become pregnant about a year later, several months before my planned graduation. I called BCBS of Florida to return to my parents insurance. This was a no-go due to me now having a “pre-existing condition,” in this case, being a sexually active woman who become pregnant. This was pre-Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), which removed the ability of insurance plans to prevent someone from receiving insurance w/ a pre-existing condition. The school’s insurance plan for pregnant students was extremely cost-prohibitive. I can't remember the exact cost but the premium was hundreds of dollars a month. Absolutely impossible for a full time student who was also working part time. So like almost half of all pregnant women in the US, I applied for Medicaid. I spent hours filling out all the forms, obtaining all the necessary documents. We qualified, to my great relief. After 2+ months of pregnancy, I was able to get prenatal care. Despite our “plan” Nate and I did not have full time employment after graduation, so Medicaid was a godsend for us since I had Bridger just a few months after we graduated.

The current Republican leaders in Congress are now voting on new healthcare laws which would decrease funding for Medicaid and skyrocket healthcare costs. I promise you they are not thinking about the college students who are choosing life. They are not thinking about newborns who need quality healthcare. They are thinking of their friends in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. They are thinking of their next elections, political gains and what praises their friends at Fox will give them.

Because of Medicaid, I was able to get high quality prenatal care. Because of Medicaid, I was able to give birth at a wonderful hospital with a caring staff. Because of Medicaid, Bridger had healthcare coverage for his entire first year.

When you think of a Medicaid patient, I hope you toss aside the uninformed stereotypes of people of color, unwilling to work who are greedy for handouts. Instead, I hope you think of a hard working college student ready and willing to bring life to earth. I hope you think of a system of healthcare that (perhaps imperfectly) facilitates the health and well-being of millions of children. I hope you think of me, I hope you think of Bridger.

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).

A few months after Bridger was born, Nate started full time work. We happily now pay into a system knowing that other families like us are getting the care they need. And we will happily pay more to see even more families receive better healthcare. To us, that's just part of being human. We take care of each other.

If you disagree with Medicaid cuts and rising healthcare costs, please call your Senators and House Representative.

The key to parenting without complete burnout


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Yesterday, Jessica Martin-Weber of the Leaky Boob and Beyond Moi shared a post on co-parenting that really hit home for me. I realized she was describing almost exactly my own experience. She really drives home what the key to parenting (and libido!) is for parents of young kids. She included a photo of her daughter sleeping next to her husband. I share my own photo, but these are her words:

This was my view when I woke up this morning. I opened my eyes and saw this scene and my heart swelled with love and gratitude. Gosh, I love this man deeply, passionately, and with so much gratitude.

Then, because I'm over half way through pregnancy, I had to pee. When I came back from the bathroom, I snapped this pic and slipped back under the sheets and scootched in close to them breathing in the love and safety of such a moment.

Confession: though the moment itself isn't sexy, seeing him like this is. Him gently and lovingly caring for our children is incredibly attractive. He has been like this with her for hours. For a moment I consider how I wish we could be alone together but I know he needs sleep (it was a late night) and I love this moment too much to wake him and draw him away for myself. But I promise myself to make sure we find time and space for that later. Frankly, over 20 years and 6 kids, a good part of why we have such an active sex life still is because of this. Him being so actively involved is not only attractive (and it is darn hot), it means I have the energy and interest because I'm not burned out/touched out/resentful.

As I write this, these two are still asleep cuddled up together. The house is quiet and I have a moment to enjoy having my own thoughts. How I love these two, this man and our child in his arms and our 5 other children. How much their love for each other means to me. How this man I've been with for over twenty years loves and cares for our children makes me fall ever deeper in love with him.

(It is worth noting, our other 5 offspring are asleep in their own beds because even if you cosleep as we have done with our babies and toddlers and preschoolers- they do eventually move on to their own sleep space. Contrary to what some say, they do learn to sleep on their own.)

She had a late night. Fireworks being set off around us until several hours past her bedtime, a busy day of swimming and playing and roasting marshmallows and eating BBQ chicken, excitement at holding showers of sparks in her hand (you could see her adrenaline rush), and distress over the hot red welts she develops when mosquitoes discover how sweet she really is, all led to an overtired and over-stimulated little girl at the end of the day. When she finally got to bed, sleep came easily.

But it didn't last. She woke scared, needing to pee, and seeking comforting cuddles in mommy and daddy's bed. We welcome this, our children deserve our attention and comfort during distress in the middle of the night just as much as in the middle of the day. Parenting never promised convenient hours. He must have heard her come in before I did because I woke up to him tenderly calling her to him and asking her to let me sleep as he tended her need for comfort. He does this often, even when I'm not growing a baby, more so when I am and my need for rest is doubled. We both do this, though we don't keep track, we take turns being the parent responding to our children's night time needs. In that moment he looked out for her and for me.

How I love him.

His capacity for love and how he demonstrates that for our children and for me wins my heart anew every time.

This was not the picture of fatherhood I once had. In fact, I didn't know men were even capable of such nurturing. These acts of responsive care were what I thought only mothers did, little did I know that not only are other parents just as capable, they can excel in it and there is much joy in such a partnership. Little did I know that seeing my partner be so engaged in actively parenting our children would have such an impact on me. Our coparenting has shifted and adjusted over the years, through different circumstances and our varied realities. But he has always been an active, equal coparent, whatever that looks like in a given moment, and has always been more involved than financial provider even when that was his primary role. He's always been more present than a paycheck.

Parenting is hard and beautiful and overwhelming all at once in even the best times. It is draining and exhausting and pushing our limits while being full of joy and connection and love.

Yet I'm often surprised at how often the hard parts of parenting aren't what stand out to me. That I'm not more tired. That I have as much interest and time and energy for my partner and yes, even for sex, that I do. But I know at least part of the reason why:

This right here.

Much of the reason that parenting hasn't left me burned out and overwhelmed and isolated is because of my partner. His equal involvement as an active co-parent has allowed me to be in a healthier place and, I know for a fact, has allowed our family to be in a healthier place. I am aware of how privileged I am in this. I am in awe of those parents that navigate parenting alone. As well as those who navigate parenting with a partner yet feel alone in parenting.

He would tell you it isn't extraordinary, that he doesn't deserve praise, and he's right about that. At the same time I know that this isn't something either of us saw, it isn't what society told us to expect and he is going off script and ad libbing this fatherhood gig.

And he's totally nailing it.

When people ask me how I handle so many kids, this is how. I saw my mom struggle with burn out constantly, partnered yet most often alone in the responsibility of caring for and nurturing my brother and sister and I. That burn out was real. I know I would be just as burned out if I didn't have an equal coparent. Equal in housework, home responsibilities, the invisible burdens of thinking through as planning for our home and family, in night time parenting, in infant and toddler care, in school work and life skills education, in supporting our teens... you name it.

I share this because moments of beauty are inspiring and I found this beautiful. I share this too to help normalize fathers as active, involved coparents. I share this to help destroy the stigma of daddies cuddling their children in bed in the middle of the night. To say to the parents doing it alone that they are amazing and have my respect and I'm cheering them on. To acknowledge that night time parenting is a thing. To express my gratitude that my partner values protecting my sleep and taking turns responding to the needs of our children. And yeah, to let some in on one of the libido secrets we've found.

I love this view. I love waking up to moments like this.

You can read her full post here.

Parenting is 24/7. Yes, they need our love all day and sometimes, many times, all night. And when you are lucky enough to have a partner that shoulders all of the burdens (and joys!) of parenting with you, you have the energy and capacity to have a full life. It's real life so it's not perfect but we love it so much. We have room for improvements of course but I just think that doing this so much together has made all the difference. I've always known marriage to be important but living it the past 6.5 years has repeatedly shown me that we have to be a team to create an enjoyable and rewarding family life. I know that I am lucky to have this partnership. For any mama that doesn't have this yet, I see you. And I know our Heavenly Parents see you too. Your rest is coming.

Where her's and my story is different is having a model for shared co-parenting and involved fatherhood. My parents were such a great example to us of sharing the load of family, parenting, outside work and housework. Both of my parents worked for most of my life. My dad made breakfast every.single.morning during the school year. He did dishes, he did laundry. I could go to him for questions, just like I could with mom. Perhaps they will argue with me, but from my point of view, everything seemed pretty egalitarian. Of course, this is real life so I'm sure it was never 50/50 all the time. That's impossible. But what they modeled in our home was what I came to expect. I expect Nate and me to shoulder the responsibilities of home and parenting TOGETHER because of what my parents modeled. So thanks, mom and dad. Every day I learn more about you and from you and I can't express my gratitude enough.

Sacred work of birth


Monday, July 3, 2017

"If a woman doesn't look like a goddess during labor, then someone isn't treating her right." 
-Ina May Gaskin.

I have often come across this quote and as much as I love Ina May, I have rolled my eyes. Yall, birth is HARD. It is WORK. You get sweaty. There are lots of smells. It hurts. My hair is crazy-looking, make-up is smeared. I'm wearing adult diapers for crying out loud! But I as was skimming through my birth photos, looking for something else for a project, this photo jumped out. It caught my breath!

In this moment, I am a goddess.
In a circle around me are women who know birth deeply.
I am being supported. Loved. Watched over.
My eyes closed, I am turning inward for strength. I find it in my breath, in my spirit, in the women before me and around me.
My hands are open, showing that I am open to receiving inspiration.
My brow is high, demonstrating the strength I am feeling.
My neck is tight, showing the intensity of the contraction.
Birth is work, sacred work. The work for a goddess.

This quiet moment means so many things to me. For one, it demonstrates why I love midwifery so much. Women, mothers, reign over the veil that enters into this life. I think midwives know this intuitively and allow the mother to reign there without unnecessary intervention. Of course, there is a need for physicians in many births, but midwives are the experts in normal birth. This connection of women between life here and life before has drawn me to birth so much lately. The possibility of midwifery school is years, perhaps decades, away. But I hope through what I say and write about birth now helps other women see it for the absolute miracle and symbol of Godliness it is.

Please know that you don't have to look like a goddess in *every* moment of birth. There are many moments I did not look like a goddess, believe me. I only post this to try and show a bit of my journey in learning more about the sacred work of birth.

This is also a good opportunity for a plug for birth photography. I am still learning new things about Riah's birth a year later because I have these photos. I am forever grateful my talented friend Cate gave us this amazing gift. They are an absolute treasure to me.

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