Saturday, December 3, 2011

New Beginnings

Becoming a mom is a life-changing event in innumerable ways. Through giving birth and raising a child, often a woman rediscovers who she is and what matters to her!

 With new beginnings come new opportunities. I am grateful that my daughter’s birth started me on the path of becoming a childbirth educator, which I absolutely love and am passionate about. However, before my pregnancy, I never would have considered it!

This week, I met a remarkable lady who had a somewhat similar discovery. Michelle Hoyles was living near Portland when her first son was born. A friend gave her a gift certificate, as a shower gift, for a custom artwork of her baby’s handprint and footprint. After her son was born, Michelle had the artwork made and it become a cherished piece of their family history.

Fast forward a few years. Michelle, now living in the Salt Lake area, had a second son. She wanted to have another piece of artwork made, this time with her second baby’s prints, so she could display them together. Michelle began looking for an artist to do the impression for her. However, she was frustrated in her search and couldn’t find anyone who offered the product she was looking for.

As a former elementary school teacher with an art minor, Michelle saw this void as an opportunity. She decided to go back to Portland to train in this art method. When she came back, she continued to develop her technique and has since opened her own business, Impressions Clay Prints.

I was fortunate enough to visit Michelle’s home and studio and see her in action. Her work is beautiful. She explained a bit about the process. First, she rolls out clay. This clay, she informed me, is totally safe and non-toxic, meaning that even preemie babies can have their impressions done. (What a keepsake that would be for those parents!)

Then, she masterfully takes the child’s prints (and if she could get a good print off my squirmy one-year-old, you know she has skill!). That’s all that’s required of you- just a few minutes.

The impression then gets placed in the kiln. After that, it is hand-painted and glazed.

The process of hand-painting just the actual handprint or footprint (or paw-print) is what really makes the piece special. It highlights every line and really makes the piece attractive. Some other businesses (or do-it-yourself kits) will do a handprint or footprint, but they glaze the entire thing, so the print isn’t visible from far away. Also, the process Michelle uses will create a lasting keepsake, instead of a piece that will crumble away over time, like plaster does.

To finish it off, Michelle paints the child’s (or animal’s) name and age, and adds a beautiful ribbon.

I love the idea of clay impressions, because it is a unique keepsake that both you and the child will treasure as time goes on. (And, unlike pictures, you don’t have to stress about your baby’s hairstyle or expression…or your remaining baby weight!).

Some of the options in creating your artwork- size, color, etc.
Cute little one-of-a-kind ornament!

Visiting with Michelle was such a good reminder to me that motherhood is something to be treasured. We should treasure these moments, because before we know it, the little tiny baby we adored is a toddler…or teenager! Hopefully, in the midst of fully appreciating our children, motherhood will allow each of us the opportunity to do a bit of rediscovery and appreciate our passions and talents!

How do you capture memories with your children? Photos, Artwork, Videos?

What have you discovered about yourself since becoming a mother? 

P.S. To find out more about Michelle's work, visit her website at You can schedule an appointment for you or plan a group event (parties, preschools, etc.). She also offers gift certificates!

***GIVEAWAY! Michelle is giving away a $45 gift certificate to one lucky reader (use for yourself or give to someone as a wonderful gift!)

To enter, you must do these three simple things:

1) "Like" Birth Utah on Facebook (if you haven't already!)
2) "Like" Impressions Clay Prints on Facebook (if you haven't already)
3) Comment on this post, here on the blog, answering one (or both) of these questions above (in bold).
-Make sure you put your name, as it is on Facebook, when you comment on the blog.
-To comment, click at the bottom of the entry where it says "# comments" and it will open a comment box for you.

One entry per person! Enter now. Winner will be chosen on Wed, Dec. 21 (in time for Christmas!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Due in 2012? Sign up today!

2012 seems far away when we haven't even reached Halloween yet, but it's just around the corner! I am now taking registrations for women with due dates in Feb 2012 or later....(click on the "childbirth classes" tab above for more info about classes). Sign up today!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Surround Yourself

Have you ever gotten really excited about something, then shared it with the wrong person, only to have your idea shot down? There's nothing like the feeling of going from totally pumped up to completely deflated.

On the other side of the coin, have you ever been excited to try something, then found a friend (or a group) who was very supportive of you? Maybe they were even a bit further down that path and could give you advice and cheer you on? It can make the biggest difference in your success.

The same is true in pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood. It is crucial to surround yourself with support for success.

In pregnancy, women must search out and find a supportive care provider who shares their view of an ideal birth, whether that person is a midwife, and ob-gyn, or a family practice physician. 

Also, couples should attend childbirth education classes, where they are given support in making decisions for their new family, and are surrounded by other couples in the same situation. This support is especially essential for those who are planning a natural birth and need to have support from people who understand the value of that experience (instead of the doubting comments from that coworker who says, "Just wait until you are in labor. Then you'll be begging for the epidural." Or, "a home birth? Are you crazy?!?"). Childbirth education helps to inform, prepare, and empower couples to achieve the best birth experience possible. 

Note, however, that no one can completely predict or control their birth experience- but by having support and education, that birth can be a positive experience, no matter how it turns out. In pregnancy, surrounding yourself with support can help you to be healthier, more positive about your birth experience, and better prepared for birth.

In childbirth, having a support person (or people), such as a supportive husband, partner, doula, or friend, can actually increase the likelihood of a satisfying vaginal birth experience and decrease the likelihood of necessary interventions. According to a study published by the World Health Organization

"The review demonstrates that women who receive continuous, one-to-one support are less likely to have regional analgesia/anaesthesia, operative vaginal birth, caesarean section.....In addition, women were more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth and less likely to report dissatisfaction with the childbirth experience" 

Check out this page from Childbirth Connection for more evidence about the importance of labor support.
Surrounding yourself with support during labor can make a difference by increasing your satisfaction with the birth experience, which will help you to have a better start as a new family.

In parenthood, it can be easy to get confused and frustrated by all of the different parenting philosophies and challenges. I encourage you, first, to surround yourself with support for breastfeeding, perhaps by attending  La Leche League meetings and activities. You may come to realize that the challenges you face today are totally normal and temporary. :) Or you may be given great ideas on how to overcome the challenges you are currently facing and enjoy your breastfeeding relationship even more.

Beyond breastfeeding, I encourage you to find a group (in person, online, even in books) that supports a parenting lifestyle you feel is best for your family. An example of virtual support is Progressive Parenting (a blog and online talk radio program). In some areas, there are meetings of Attachment Parenting International. Most places have some type of Mommy & Me group. If you can't find a group you feel comfortable with, maybe you can start one!

This past weekend I was able to gather for a few hours with some other natural childbirth teachers in the Salt Lake area, and it was such a great experience to discuss topics and share our enthusiasm with each other. I left feeling energized and excited. 

I encourage you to find people who lift you up in whatever situation you may be in. It doesn't mean you have to stop being friends with those who don't understand your birth or parenting goals. It just means that you set aside time to surround yourself with support! It will make the journey a bit easier; I promise. And, as you are being lifted by those around're probably lifting them too!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School Time- Learning to be an advocate

While I may not have posted lately, I have been very active in the birth/breastfeeding community over the past month. I had a fabulous time participating in the Latch On America event, the Breastfeeding Cafe, the Big Latch, the babywearing flash mob (all at the downtown library), and also at the Mother's Corner at the Davis County Fair. I'm now almost halfway through my series of childbirth education classes and absolutely loving it. I look forward to my class all week. I have awesome couples and I love sharing the important information with them as they prepare for the arrival of their little ones!

With the end of summer comes the beginning of school. Watching the back-to-school sales and hearing stories from my teacher friends makes me a bit nostalgic for the job I enjoyed for almost five years- that of an elementary school teacher. There are few jobs like it- no day is the same...and almost every day gives you a story to tell!

I am SO humbly grateful for the opportunity I have now to be a stay-at-home mom and be fully involved in my baby daughter's life. I hope I will continue to have that privilege for many years to come. I am also very grateful for the chance to teach childbirth education classes to expecting couples (usually just one night a week). It allows me to feel the joy of teaching, especially about a subject that I am so passionate about.

Remembering my years as a 5th and 6th grade teacher reminds me why I became a childbirth educator. I definitely preferred the "upper grades" of elementary school as a teacher- I loved working with students who could (basically) take care of their own needs, listen and follow directions (well, most of the time), and have a good conversation about a topic. However, there are some downsides to teaching older students. One of the downsides is the *drama* that comes with pre-teenagers (the note-passing, eye-catching, rumor-spreading age...).

The other difficulty is trying to help students at this age who are SO far behind in their academic progress. I worked in a very high-needs, high-poverty school. In my sixth grade class, each year I had students whose reading levels varied from above grade level to the BEGINNING reader level (like first grade level). The reasons for the deficiency were varied, and this post isn't intended to get into the politics of public education, but whatever the reason, the frustration and despair were real. Some students made impressive gains in their abilities, while it felt like others got farther and farther behind as the skills expected of a sixth grader were so far above their heads.

The parents, most of whom were facing huge pressures of trying to provide for a family in tough economic times with little education themselves, loved their children. I have so much respect for so many of the humble, loving families that I interacted with. I met parents who had sacrificed more for their children than I could even begin to imagine. They wanted their children to have a better life.

Many, however were not sure how to be advocates for their children. They did the best with what they knew how to do (and what they could handle at the moment). In those quiet moments, especially after meeting with parents at conferences, I really wished I could give them more. I wished I could pause the school year and sit individually with their child and help him/her to learn the necessary skills until he/she mastered them.

Even more than that, though, I wish I could have reversed the clock and helped these families have a better start. I wish I could have helped the parents advocate for their children long before they had a child in the sixth grade who was reading on a second grade level. I wished I could empower parents to learn the skills they need to help their children and advocate for their child's best interest.

In this midst of this teaching experience, my husband and I learned we were expecting our first baby. We took childbirth education classes, determined to give our baby the best start in life. In October of 2010, our little Molly joined our family in a beautiful birth-center birth. I don't profess that the decisions I made for my family are right for each person, but I do plead with parents to know their options and learn to be advocates for their child, even before he/she is born!

Did you know that many doctors/midwifes still routinely clamp and cut the umbilical cord immediately after birth even though repeated studies show that your baby benefits by waiting to cut the cord until it stops pulsing? These benefits can be shown immediately and even months after birth. By being informed of this practice, you can be an advocate for your baby and request that your baby's cord is not clamped or cut until it stops pulsing. Read more here.

Did you know that many school districts, including the Salt Lake City School District, have open school choice, which means that you can choose a school or program that is best for your child?

These are just two examples of how being informed can help you make the best decisions for your family and advocate for your children.

Dr. Sarah Buckley's book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering discusses informed decision-making using the "BRAN" model. Dr. Buckley discusses procedures related to prenatal care and labor & delivery.

For each procedure, she outlines the:
Benefits to the proposed procedure
Risks (physical, mental, emotional)
Alternatives to the procedure
....and what happens if you do
Once parents understand these four components, they are able to make an educated decision.

Obviously, this model could be used by all of us, whether we are making a medical decision during pregnancy or making a decision regarding our child's education. Wouldn't it be great if we were all this informed before we made decisions? With this type of information, we could truly be advocates for our kids (and ourselves!).

So, I became a childbirth educator because I'm passionate about birth and I believe it can and should be a sacred, significant, positive experience. Beyond that event, though, I hope to empower parents to become advocates for themselves and their children...starting now.

This post is a mix of my former (schoolteacher) and current (childbirth educator) opportunities--but I hope you will see how they are connected. Begin at birth to be informed and advocate for your children!

If you, or anyone you know, is expecting a baby, please check out my childbirth education classes!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guest Post on SLC Breastfeeding Cafe Page

I'm proud to be the guest poster on Breastfeeding Cafe SLC's blog today--check it out and read other blogs on the topic of breastfeeding. Also, check out their events coming up soon!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

LLL visit and LOTS of exciting events!

"My Visit to LLL"
First of all, if you have never been to a La Leche League meeting (LLL), you definitely should. It is a great idea for expecting moms as well as currently nursing moms. At each meeting, trained leaders (and other moms who may be in similar situations) are available to offer free advice and support.

Links to the various LLL groups in the area are available on my "Links" page (click above).
This week, I visited the LLL of Murray group. They meet on the first Tuesday of the month at noon at the Murray Park Church of Christ (494 East 5300 South Murray, UT 84107). This group has SO much going on. In addition to their monthly daytime meetings, they are also having summer evening family meetings (usually picnics or potlucks) as a chance for breastfeeding families to gather. Check out their website at to keep track of all they have going on. 

At the meeting, I was able to get more information about some of the EXCITING events happening in SLC this summer to support breastfeeding and babywearing. These are some "can't miss" events! Read below for more details:

Upcoming Events:

Babywearing FlashMob- It's not too late to be part of a babywearing flash mob...coming somewhere near you, sometime soon. The event is sponsored by BobaCarriers and SleepyWrap (which means that you could have a chance to win a free baby carrier by participating!) in the Salt Lake Area, and is organized by Timbra Wiist and Claire Lindstrom. If you are interested in particpating, the two remaining practices are Fri 7/15 and Fri 7/29 at 4pm at the Murray Park Church of Christ (494 E 5300 S Murray).

Latch On America- A big pink bus sponsored by is coming to visit Salt Lake as part of their nationwide tour! It will be on the SE area of the downtown SLC Main Library Square from 4-7pm on July 22nd. Come on down! This is a great opportunity to connect with some of the local breastfeeding resources and supporters in our area. *pending permit approval-I'll post if anything changes*

The Annual Breastfeeding Cafe will be running for two weeks at the SLC downtown Main Library from August 1-14th. Everyone is invited to come down to chat, nurse, learn, and socialize. There will be classes offered as well as informal chat sessions. Volunteers are still needed. More info at

The Big Latch On is a national event for nursing mothers and babies--counting the number of breastfeeding moms gathered--will they set a record?? SLC's event will be on Saturday, August 6, starting with registration at 9:30 am on the NE lawn of SLC Main Library Square.  The Big Latch On will count how many nursing moms are there from 10:30-10:31 am. Show the world that breastfeeding is normal and best for babies! They also need help from NON nursing persons, for official counting and are still looking for 5 or 6 people to help with that. Contact Timbra at lllofmurray @ for more info about this event or to volunteer.

To keep up with all that's going on, you can follow the Breastfeeding Cafe or La Leche League of Murray on Facebook.

I am proud to say that I (Hailey @ Birth Utah) will be attending most of these events too! See you there!

Friday, June 17, 2011

New class starting August 2nd!

I'm thrilled to announce I will be teaching a twelve week series of childbirth education classes starting August 2nd and ending October 18. This series, which will be on Tuesday nights from 7-9pm, is perfect for women and couples with due dates in November, December, or January. I'm renting a space at Salt Lake Prenatal Massage, so the location is super easy to get to (28 E 2100 S, just off I-15). Click on "Childbirth Education" to learn more about the classes. Contact me today to reserve your space. Spread the word! This is the best gift you could give to a pregnant family member, friend, coworker, etc (or to yourself!)--the opportunity for a prepared and empowering birth experience!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why I Breastfeed...from A to Z

NOTE: This post is NOT intended as an attack on anyone who does not breastfeed. Its purpose is to encourage those who do breastfeed already, and encourage expectant mothers to decide to breastfeed.

I am SO grateful that I am able to breastfeed my daughter! It's a special gift that only I can give her, and some days it feels like a super-power.

Well, I'll admit that I'm grateful 95% of the time...sometimes I have *those* days when I need a little reminder of how wonderful it is!

So, I sat down to make a list for that other 5% of the time when I need encouragement. My daughter is now 7 months old and I feel like we are at a "happy" stage of breastfeeding--past the painful struggles to get it right in the beginning. If you are enjoying it less than I, maybe this list will help you! Or, maybe you should make your own list to encourage yourself to keep going (something to do while nursing at 2 am...).

I know I'm not the first person to make an A to Z list of reasons to breastfeed, but this is my own personal list. It was difficult to choose which reasons to use, because there are so many reasons why breastfeeding rocks! There are many more reasons, but here is my to each reason is a link to articles, blogs, documents, etc. that give more information on the topic.

Antibodies "Breastmilk contains lymphocytes and macrophages that produce antibodies and other immune factors."
Brain Development & Bonding Research shows that breastfeeding leads to optimal brain development, which equates to a higher IQ level, especially for infants born prematurely. Breastfeeding also promotes a stronger bond between mother and child helping to develop a higher level of trust.
Cancer, reduced risk (for mom & baby!) Prolonged breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer and this protective effect was supported by a dose-response relationship.
Diabetes, less likely Women who breastfeed even one month reduce their diabetes risk
Ear infections, less likely Your breastfed child will not only have fewer ear infections, but protection against other infections. 
Flavorful "Babies who are breast-fed tend to have a more adventurous palate when they start eating solids" (okay, this one is just kinda anecdotal, but cool!)
Just the right balance of nutrients The perfect nutrition only you can provide
Kangaroo Care Breastfeeding facilitates skin-to-skin contact, which has  proven successful in improving survival rates of premature and low birth weight newborns.
Quick- no need to mix, heat,'s ready to go!
Takes practice but it gets easier!  If breastfeeding is new for you, be patient.
Weight loss for mom- Breastfeeding helps by burning about 500 calories a day.
X-factor: It can't be duplicated. Not all the properties of breast milk are understood
You can 'wear' your baby and breastfeed at the same time  Imagine the possibilities!

Remember, if you are having struggles, GET HELP! There are awesome resources out there! (see "Breastfeeding" on my "links" page above. There is even a 24 hour helpline staffed by LaLecheLeague volunteers!)

Is it easy? Not always. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Share your reasons for breastfeeding! (Comment below)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Influence of Women

Yesterday, I went to visit a friend who I hadn't seen in years. We were missionary companions in Arizona a few years ago, and while I always felt close to her and enjoyed her company, after our missions our paths took us to different locations for a few years. Now she has two kids and I have one (we both had babies last October!) and she is living just a few minutes from me.

We had an absolutely lovely day, catching up while changing diapers and feeding babies. She gave birth to both of her children at home, and she talked about how incredible those experiences were. We talked about our desires for women to understand their incredible abilities and be supported in the choices they have in their many roles in life, particularly in marriage, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting.

When I was with her, the time just flew by. I wasn't afraid to talk to her about anything, because she is so supportive and understanding. She is so genuine. Her attitude, her intelligent children, her beautiful home; being with her makes me a better person. Every woman needs friends like that.

And I am very blessed in that department--almost every day this week I have been/will be in the company of amazing women- my mom, my sister, some of the other amazing childbirth educators in Utah, close friends from church, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-laws. How lucky am I!

On the contrary, though, I have seen how the influence of women can not be as positive. I follow an online forum that is mostly comprised of women and have seen how bitterness and hurt can breed ugliness. I am hopeful, though, and have seen already, that many women with grace and love can meet that bitterness and anger, allow it it's moment, and move forward with compassion and optimism.

I have also seen (and experienced) women who tend to isolate themselves from other incredible women, for fear of being judged, or feeling like they don't "measure up." How sad it is to miss out on these experiences!

Days after my daughter was born, I was sitting at home in the middle of the day one day, in sweats, with no makeup and messy hair (and probably assorted baby fluids on my clothes). Someone knocked at the door. My house was a mess. I was tempted not to answer it, but I did. There stood a woman from church who I've always looked up to. She came over with a simple gift of diapers and wipes. She walked over with her dog and had not done her hair or makeup, and was also wearing sweats. I was grateful for the diapers and wipes, but even more grateful for her messy hair, lack of makeup, and the incredible wisdom she shared in just the few minutes we talked at the door. She spoke of her time as a new mom and totally validated my feelings (without me sharing anything!). I was so grateful I'd answered the door, despite my appearance.

All of these experiences and observations have led me to ask myself: what influence do I have as a woman? Do I lift others? Am I sharing my experiences in a nonjudgmental way that promotes choice and empowers women?

It is my belief that we do our best work at lifting others when we aren't afraid to share our real selves. I hope that I wouldn't turn away from helping a friend because of my insecurities.

These women help me define the woman I want to become. I hope that, with their influence and the support of my ever-loving husband, I will be able to become that woman.

As a childbirth educator, the question is often posed: who should I invite to be present at my birth? That question is a very personal one, and between a couple to decide for themselves. When my baby was born, the only people in the room were myself, my husband, and our midwife. It was perfect in the moment. However, I would encourage you to consider the strength that women give each other. I felt that strength from our midwife and from the women who I knew were offering their love and support and experience to me, even if not in the room.

I would encourage you, always, but especially while pregnant and as a new mom, to find women who lift you, and surround yourself with them. Hopefully, by doing so, we can all be a little bit better.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Better Late Than Never

Recently I took a field trip to a place I wish I'd known about when I was pregnant! Do you ever have moments like that when you say, "I wish I'd known about this when ________"?  It can be frustrating to find something later than you wish, but in this case, it's better late than never!

Where is this wonderous place, you ask? My visit was to Salt Lake Prenatal Massage, where I had a great conversation with the owner, Rebecca de Azevedo Overson, LMT.

My conclusion? If you are pregnant and in Utah, you should know about this place. Let me tell you why:

-First of all, their slogan is "pregnancy made comfortable." Umm....yes, please. You mean that's possible?? :-)

-While other providers may offer prenatal massage, Salt Lake Prenatal Massage is the only massage therapy clinic in Utah that focuses solely on childbearing women. Rebecca has received extra training and has tons of experience to know exactly how to help women in every stage-- those trying to conceive, those currently expecting, those recovering from birth, and those who are new(er) moms.

-According to Rebecca, women can receive massages in all stages of pregnancy. I was impressed how conscientious they are in this clinic--they will even work with your doctor to get the "okay" if there are concerns.

-There are NINE massage therapists who work at Salt Lake Prenatal Massage, and Rebecca has worked with each of them individually to make sure they know the best techniques and can provide you with an amazing experience.

-Since the focus is on pregnant women, the massage tables are well-equipped with cushions and pillows to accommodate blossoming bellies. That means you can safely lay on your belly to get a massage--that alone feels incredible for your body that is used to carrying the extra weight (see a pic of the table below).

-This clinic is gorgeous, from its home-like waiting area to the relaxing massage rooms, adorned with incredible artwork geared towards childbearing women (keep reading for the pictures...).

-When you come to Salt Lake Prenatal Massage, you are getting so much more than a massage--Rebecca and her other therapists can help you to understand the changes that are taking place in your body and assist you in making those changes as comfortable as possible.

-Not only does this location offer expert massage, but it is also becoming a hub for all things related to pregnancy wellness. There is an in-house chiropractor and a variety of childbirth classes are held in her beautiful location (hopefully Brio Birth classes will be held there soon!).

-Finally, I believe that when you are pregnant it is important to surround yourself with people who are positive and who believe in the power of women's bodies to give birth...and that is what I felt at Salt Lake Prenatal Massage. I was energized by my conversation with Rebecca, and I feel confident that you will feel better after a visit, too.

Good news! You don't have to be pregnant to go there- but childbearing women are their specialty!

So, wondering how to get there? It's just east of I-15 at 2100 S in Salt Lake--you'll see a building on the south side of the road that says "Skin Science" on the side--it is in that building!

The entrance is on the side of the building NOT facing 2100 S--go in the door marked main entrance.
 If you go down the hall, turn to the right, and keep'll find it! Salt Lake Prenatal Massage.
This is the lovely waiting room...and classroom for childbirth education classes.
 This is a massage table that is not covered in sheets yet to demonstrate some of the amazing cushions they have to fit every woman's body comfortably--and check out the incredible artwork on the wall.

So, there you go...better late than never, right? I can't wait to get a massage next time I'm pregnant...or not pregnant. Either way, I'm sure it will be great!

Are you wishing you could visit? Well, definitely visit their website for more information. It has a great directory of providers who offer various services for expecting women--take time to look around this website. You can also read more about Rebecca and her journey to natural birth. If you are really lucky, you may even be able to hire her as your doula...wouldn't that be amazing!

Maybe you could hint to someone that a massage would be a wonderful mother's day present! Also, if you "like" Salt Lake Prenatal Massage on Facebook, you'll receive awesome updates about specials...and informative blogposts.

You can enter to receive a certificate worth $35 towards a 60 minute prenatal or postpartum massage! To enter, write a comment on this post about what you have done (or plan to do) to "make pregnancy comfortable."

Friday, April 8, 2011

More Than Enough

So, I will admit that I'm lazy when it comes to socks (well, not only socks, but that's all I'm admitting to at the moment). Often, when I'm trying to quickly get a load of laundry put away, I'll end up with socks at the bottom of the basket who don't have their partner. This caused me to start a pile for those unmatched socks.

Fast forward, that happens many times, until I have a huge pile of unmatched socks and no sock pairs in my sock drawer. Rushing out the door, I will admit to grabbing two unmatched socks that are "close enough" (i.e. both roughly the same color) to wear for the day. This, of course, only continues the problem because these unmatched socks are then washed in the same load and end right back up in the pile.

Today, while my baby was taking a much-needed nap (obviously needed, if the nap was long enough for me to get to this task!), my husband and I finally attacked the sock pile. Amazingly, after all those miscellaneous loads of laundry contributed their single socks, many pairs were found.

There is a point to this story...and here it is:

If you'd asked me yesterday if I needed new socks, I would have answered, "Yes! I never have enough socks. It's so frustrating every time I get dressed."

And now, after just a small effort, my sock drawer contains more than enough.

How many times does this happen in life? (and not just with other types of laundry...or maybe silverware...)

How often do we tell ourselves that we don't have enough ________ (fill in the blank: courage, strength, energy, time, etc.) when we just aren't looking in the right places? It didn't take that much work for us to match up those pairs and find out how many we really had.

I think this applies to expecting women--particularly those desiring a natural birth. Have you ever heard, "Natural birth is great, but I'm just not _________ enough." Or, "I think that's neat that some women do that, but I could never because I'm ____________."

For most of those women, they absolutely have everything they need. Women's bodies were made to grow and birth babies! Our bodies are incredible! They have the ability, the strength, the courage, the endurance, the love, etc. Sometimes, a woman just might not realize that she has what she needs. It might take a little work to help her realize that she has more than enough.

The challenge is to figure out what are we missing, and what work will it require to get us to where we want to be. I see this transformation happening as women (and couples) gain knowledge about birth and their bodies as they attend Brio Birth classes- they realize that they do have more than enough to give birth in a way they desire.

My mind is geared towards birth at the moment, but I know this situation could apply in so many other ways. I hope the next time I try to limit myself by saying that I'm not _________enough, I'll be willing to put in the work to find out that I do have what it takes.

At the end of our sock-matching party, were all the socks matched? Nope! There was still a small pile, but that's okay. We are better for the work we put in, and our drawers are full! Sometimes life is like that, too--we put in all this work to plan our "perfect birth" and afterwards, there are a few things we'd do differently. And that's okay.

What are you willing to find out about yourself? What work will it take? If you've already tried, what will you improve for next time?

I'm optimistic. I'm going to keep those unmatched socks a while longer...maybe they'll make it into the drawer next time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Mom Up"

A few months ago, I read a blog post where the author coined the phrase "Mom Up." She defined the phrase, "To 'mom up' means to do the right thing for your kid no matter how hard it is." I haven't been able to get that idea out of my head since then.

I almost feel guilty even using that phrase when I think about the circumstances in which is was created. The author of the blog is Brandi, Scarlett's mom.  Scarlett is a beautiful little baby who was born 9 days before I gave birth to Molly. When Scarlett was two months old, it was discovered that she had a brain tumor. Her mom has chronicled their journey of hope in their blog ( In this honest chronicle, she admits that she has often had "mom up" moments, when she had to do excruciatingly difficult things because it was best for her daughter.

I don't know them personally (I heard about Scarlett on the "October 2010 Babies" message board at and I'll admit I haven't read most of the posts or followed all of her journey. It hurts my heart to think of all they have had to go through, but everytime I do take a peek to check their progress, I rejoice to see pictures of Scarlett growing.

My role, however, is not to tell Scarlett's story. That is done very beautifully on their blog. I wanted to write about the idea of sacrificing for your children- to "Mom Up."

If I could take the liberty of exploring her concept, I might expand her definition a bit, "To 'mom up' means to do the right thing for your kid no matter how hard, inconvenient, or exhausting it is." (my addition in bold).

I am blessed with an incredibly good baby. She slows me down running errands because she smiles huge, whole-face smiles at everyone and they have to stop me to talk to her and tell me how adorable she is. Her demeanor is so happy and patient (for the most part, and patience is relative for a 5 month old).

However, today, for whatever reason, she had more of a rough day. At times screamed and screeched at high decibels in pitches I don't know how to imitate. Her nap schedule was definitely off--maybe she was just overtired? Maybe she wasn't feeling well or teething? Not sure. At one point as she was screeching, my husband said to her, "That sound is endearing because it is coming from you. If it were coming from anyone else, it would be downright annoying." It was a good reminder to me.

Anyway, having this slightly frustrating day helped me to reflect on the (familiar?) less-than-ideal moments as a mom:

--the middle-of-the-night times when I groan slightly as I slowly open my eyes to care for her, remembering how I never knew how good I had it to sleep uninterrupted

--the times when I'm trying to get something accomplished on the computer and she wants to "help" (which means grab anything in sight especially the keyboard and mouse)

--the times when I have been trying to accomplish a simple task, something that used to take me 15 minutes that can now take seemingly all day

--the times when I'm worn out and really wish I could just hand her over to someone else so I can have a moment, but that usually ends up being the time when she's starving, and I'm the one who can fill that need

--the times I remember how I used to feel successful by completing an important task work, when now sometimes success seems to be defined by the size of my laundry pile

Yep, I can be selfish sometimes! Wow, these sound so petty, and I hope no one takes this the wrong way. I feel so blessed (especially considering what some families go through) that I never want to complain. Most parents (or even prospective parents), however, hopefully see where I'm going with this---having a child means putting someone else's needs in front of your own--even when it is hard or inconvenient.

Being a mother is a job that comes with no off-time, no sick days, and no retirement. Some days will be easier than others. Some times she'll be babysat and I'll have a relaxing dinner with my husband or do something for myself--but even then, I'll be her mother--and she'll be my greatest concern.

And it is a privilege.

Those moments to "mom up" lead to some of the greatest blessings:

--the moment when she first arrived, and I held her little body in my arms, knowing my life had changed forever

--being rewarded with one of her incredible smiles

--listening to her giggle as we play

--watching her sleep peacefully, and knowing a huge portion of my heart belongs to her

--to hold her close, be able to fill her tummy with incredible nutrition, and watch her find contentment

While I look forward to so many more of these incredible moments in the future, I know it will also require sacrifices, some small and others larger. I look forward to that opportunity.

This opportunity to sacrifice starts even before birth-- pregnant women can "mom up" by having the courage to create the best possible environment for their baby to be born into (which can include anything from getting out of a dangerous relationship to eating well for baby's development!).

I believe becoming educated in each stage of parenthood, and being an advocate for yourself and your child, is an important way to "mom up." It might start with taking a Childbirth Class :-D when you're pregnant, but it doesn't end there. Being a mom means choosing to make decisions for your family based on what you think is best--that's incredible, and also an intimidating responsibility. Yet, we embrace that responsibility to do our best for the ones we love the most. That's what it means to be a mom.

Everyday, around the world, millions of women "Mom up" in small, ordinary, repetitive ways...and sometimes in very dramatic and poignant ways.

The next time you have an opportunity to "mom up," I hope you will recognize it as a point of growth- and a step towards those incredible, rewarding mommy moments. It is so worth it.

P.S. And yes, there are awesome men who "Dad up" as well--like my amazing husband!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My journey to Teaching Childbirth Education

I knew the childbirth would be a defining moment of my life. We dreamed and hoped for our baby long before we actually held her. One of the most important parts in planning my birth was that I would be able to hold my baby immediately and not have her taken away. This desire, among others, led me to pursue natural birth with a midwife in a birth center.

Having made that choice, I felt a responsibility to be prepared for that birth. My husband and I took natural childbirth classes, which helped me have a healthy pregnancy and helped us feel prepared for birth. Our educator did a wonderful job of helping us to be informed of the many decisions we would need to make during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and newborn care. With this preparation, we had a wonderful birth experience (see previous post).

After the birth of our daughter, I found that I couldn't stop talking about birth and how amazing that experience could be. I wanted everyone to know how amazing their bodies are! I was (and still am) in awe of the process of pregnancy and birth.

Every pregnant woman deserves an empowering birth experience, whether it is her first or last pregnancy (or somewhere in between). Click on Childbirth Classes above to get more information about classes offered through Birth Utah.

Not close enough? Send me a message and I can help you find a wonderful childbirth educator near you!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Molly's Birth Story

What better way to start my Birth Utah blog than with the birth story of my daughter, Molly? I apologize that it is pretty lengthy, detail-oriented, and honest. Molly's birth was a defining experience of my life (and our life as a family!). I hope sharing my experience will help you to look forward to your next birth!

Molly’s Birth Story

Molly’s due date was Monday, October 18, 2010, but I didn’t have regular, lasting contractions until Sunday, October 24, 2010. The contractions started Sunday morning, but were not very intense. I went to church, where I helped to take care of 22 kids in the nursery, and we were so busy I didn’t really notice how often the contractions were occurring. When I finally sat down, I noticed that the contractions were about 15-20 minutes apart. After church, my husband and I ate lunch and tried to nap, but the contractions were enough to make napping difficult. We relaxed and got our things together just in case it ended up being the “real thing.” I baked some cookies and we made a frozen pizza for dinner, all the while timing the contractions, which were happening about 5 minutes apart and lasting for just under a minute.

Around 6pm, we called our midwife to let her know that we might be coming in to the birth center later on. She was very supportive and told us to keep her updated. After we ate, we watched the movie Madagascar while I bounced on the exercise ball, packed our birth bags, chatted on facebook, and wrote an email to work. Around 9:30, I decided I didn’t want to be at home anymore. I was concerned that if I waited too long the drive to the birth center might be stressful and miserable.

We arrived at the birth center at 10pm. It was beautiful, calm, and exciting. The contractions seemed to calm down after we got there. Our midwife checked me and said I was only 2 cm dilated (but 75% effaced) and not in active labor. I was disappointed and felt a little silly for showing up too soon! She offered to let me try to sleep (which I knew wasn’t going to happen) or to give me cohosh to try to get the contractions into a more regular, productive pattern. We decided to try the cohosh.

The cohosh seemed to make the contractions come closer together and be a bit more intense. I was laying on the comfy bed with my husband, trying to relax and read our books. It felt better to lean over on the bed and have him put LOTS of pressure on my tailbone area. I listened to an affirmations CD on the background, which was a little bit helpful to remind me of what was happening (each of these contractions was totally normal and getting me closer to my baby!). The mood was still pretty light and chatty.

About an hour later, our midwife said the cohosh would have worn off, but the contractions continued steadily. We watched part of the movie Bugs Life until about 2am, when she checked me again. It had been 4 hours since she checked the first time and I had only dilated 1 cm more—3 cm total! Disappointing again, but I tried to remind myself not to do “labor math” and let my body do what it needed to do. We tried to watch the rest of the movie, but at that point the contractions were too intense for me to watch the movie.
My husband and I went back into the bedroom, and then I decided to sit on the toilet for a bit. At this point, it seemed like everything picked up quite a bit. I threw up all my dinner, which made me feel a lot better. (Pizza probably wasn’t the best choice!). It felt like my body was trying to get rid of everything else so it could focus on helping the baby could come out!

At 4am, she checked again since my labor seemed more intense. Only 4 cm dilated! I couldn’t believe it; although I was so distracted by the contractions to really be upset. They were intense and I began to moan through them, which helped. It felt best to squat (over the toilet) and I got sick 2 more times that hour.
The midwife told me I could get into the waterbirth tub at 5am and it couldn’t come fast enough! I knew that if she was telling me I could get into the tub she must be thinking I was making some progress. A minute or two before 5, she told me I could get in. The feeling of slipping into that warm water was incredible! It felt so good and helped me relax quite a bit.

For the next two hours, I went back and forth between the tub and the toilet (which were right next to each other). In the tub, it felt best to be on all fours and have someone pour warm water over my back.
Around 6:30 (?) I was involuntarily pushing at the top of each contraction. Later on I was trying to push with the contractions. At one point I was in the tub and our midwife had me reach down and touch the top of her head. It was exciting to know that we were getting close, but it also felt like she was never going to come! I remember telling my husband, “I want to be done. I don’t want to do this anymore.” and telling the baby, “Come on, baby…come out for me.”

My water had not broken and it was making the pushing so difficult. The midwife offered to try to break my water. We waited for a while, but eventually I decided that I wanted her to try to break my water. She tried to hook the bag to break it, but said that the bag was so tough she couldn’t break it without hurting Molly’s head. She thought she’d snagged it and hoped that might be enough for it to break as I pushed- or we thought Molly might be born in the sac! I got back in the tub and kept pushing. They (my husband and midwife, the only people in the birth center with me) kept trying to remind me to use low moaning sounds, which helped me try to maintain control. It was hard to feel like I was staying under control and not panicking, but they did a great job of keeping me focused.
I was given more hope when our midwife went to put orange rolls in the oven so they’d be ready for us to eat after Molly appeared; I knew we must be relatively close at that point!
I continued to push and could feel the burning as she began to crown. It was difficult to know how much to push and when to breathe to try to prevent tearing. Finally I just kept pushing and pushing because I knew that I wanted her to come out! I remember feeling more pressure as her head crowned and hearing the midwife say “okay, good, now slow down” and I responded, “I’m not doing anything!” as Molly came out in one movement (her shoulders were smaller than her head).  I didn’t see her come out (I was on all fours), but the midwife had me reach down and pick her up. She reached over and pulled Molly’s cord off her neck and shoulders, then I was able to hold Molly close to my body and the midwife put a towel around her. It was so incredible to hold my baby and my husband was right behind me, holding my shoulders and looking at our baby. She looked up at us and cried just a bit. We talked to her and told her how excited we were to meet her and how much we love her. That was the moment I had wanted and planned for- that I was the first to hold my baby and no one took her away from us! I was in awe of what my body had accomplished--without need for drugs or substantial interventions! How empowering! Molly was born on October 25, 2010 at 7:48 a.m.

We sat in the tub waiting for her cord to stop pulsing, then the midwife clamped it and my husband cut it. I handed Molly to my husband when I was feeling the pressure of the placenta. Our midwife could see part of the placenta and when I stood up to change positions, all of the placenta was quickly delivered in one piece. She rinsed me off a bit and we went to the bed, where I was able to hold Molly to my breast as I was checked out. I had a few small abrasions, but didn’t need any stitches. We just loved holding her and looking at all her beautiful features. We were in love with her instantly.

After a while of holding her, my husband took her over to the midwife to weigh (7lb 13 oz) and measure (20 ½ inches) her. We sent text and picture messages to everyone to let them know that she’d arrived.  My husband fed me some orange rolls and juice when I took ibuprofen. Then we tried to rest, but Molly wasn’t having that- she hated that her hands were in the swaddle. Her daddy took her and held and enjoyed her while I closed my eyes for a few minutes.

Our midwife made us a wonderful breakfast (huckleberry pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns, etc.). Our families came to visit around 1pm, then the midwife checked out Molly and we went home at 4pm. We had the best 2 hour nap of our lives, and enjoyed our time at home as a new family.