BLACK LIVES MATTER…

In the year 2000 I was a teenager in high school. If you would have told me that in the year 2020 racism would be alive and thriving I would have said, “no way.” Why? Because it’s not alive now, right? Wrong.

What I didn’t realize is that my white privilege kept me from seeing life the same way my black peers saw it. We didn’t talk about it but if we did would I have understood? At 17 years old the sad truth is no, I wouldn’t have understood at all.

All my life my privilege has let me view the world through very distorted rosy glasses. I have never had to fear going on a walk in my neighborhood or fear being labeled while walking through the mall with my friends. As an adult I have never had to fear for my life while exercising or simply writing a check at a grocery store. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I have been smiled at and praised in those very situations.

My sister-in-law is a woman of color. She owns a local business here in Birmingham, Alabama and is loved by many but has encountered racism many times since moving here. She and my brother were having dinner one night and they were so burdened by a white mans hatred of their mixed race marriage that they asked for their food to be boxed and they left. That was in 2017. I am ashamed to say that I thought this was a rare occurrence. She has since enlightened me and tells me when she encounters racism to help keep me accountable. We have also had some very real talks about the fact that if they were to have children their innocent little ones would most definitely encounter racism growing up here in Alabama. A racism that my two boys will never see unless I point it out to them.

With all the worries mothers have, worrying that my boys could be judged or harmed because of the color of their skin is not one of them. It is my job to educate them on anti-racism NOW. I will raise them to see and talk about the injustices their black friends are facing. I will raise them to stand up for their friends no matter their race, religion, sexuality, or country of origin. I will raise them to step in when they see an unjust act and use their whiteness to help their fellow black friends. I will lead by example.

31 children’s books that talk about anti-racism: https://www.embracerace.org/resources/26-childrens-books-to-support-conversations-on-race-racism-resistance


“We have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.

This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”

President Barack Obama

It is not enough to be offended by cultural slang or to be a silent ally anymore. Now is the time to scream from the rooftops that our black peers deserve to live without fear. We have even more work to do here in the Deep South. We must band together to protect our friends of color. We MUST be very loud and use our whiteness to stand up for their basic human rights.

My dear POC friends, I’m sorry it has taken me so long to see your struggles. I am here now with my eyes wide open. I see you. I hear you. I stand with you.

Say it with me now. Black lives matter.

The Yoga of Motherhood…

Parenting in today’s world is hard. I know people say this all the time but it has recently hit me pretty hard. I have an almost-3-year-old and 3-month-old baby. The hard part: living up to social-media mom standards.

Screen time? Taboo. Formula feed? Breast is best. Breastfeed in public? Judgmental stares. Elective C-section? Not the way nature intended it. Natural birth? Show off.

Y’all… we can’t win.

We as moms post pictures of our children’s achievements and happy moments. Not many moms talk about the meltdowns and moments where you cry with your child because you’re so overwhelmed. Now don’t misconstrue what I’m saying here; I am absolutely not telling you to post a picture of your child having a meltdown. Your child desperately needs you in that moment. They need you to be fully present and not looking at your phone and posting a paragraph explaining what’s happening and brainstorming clever hashtags.

I’m suggesting that we take a moment to lift each other up. Be truthful when you speak to your friends about your family. Ask for advice. Be a good listener. Start to let go of that judgement on yourself and others.

Ahimsa… the yoga of motherhood

Ahimsa in yoga is non-violence or non-harming. Non-violence towards ourselves and others helps us to clear our minds of toxic thought patterns and allow positivity to flow in.

The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa, or non-violence. Non-violence towards others and ourselves, and a consideration for all living things.

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to practice ahimsa. Meditation has been proven to assist us in ending the patterns in our lives that we keep repeating over and over. Negative self talk, blaming others for things that go wrong in our lives, and of course judging ourselves and others are all things that can become amplified as we sit in meditation. Through meditation we learn to identify and observe these thoughts then gently let them go.

I am committing myself to meditating for at least 2 minutes a day even if it means meditating with a baby strapped to me because it’s the only way he will nap (practicing ahimsa towards myself here). I’m starting with 2 minutes and working my way up to 30 minutes to 1 hour and being okay with the 2 minute days mixed in between.

Loving kindness meditation…

A loving kindness or metta meditation helps us to redirect those negative thoughts towards ourselves and others and replace them with positive thoughts.

To do this meditation first repeat these phrases towards yourself, then direct them towards someone you have a positive relationship with, then to a neutral party, next to someone with whom you have a challenging relationship, then finally to all beings everywhere.

Find a comfortable position to sit in and close your eyes. Start by noticing your breath. Don’t change it, just notice; is it deep or shallow? Slowly start to deepen your breath. Inhale: fill your belly, ribs, then chest. Exhale: chest goes down, then ribs, then belly. Take about 3 rounds of deep breaths then allow your breathing to become relaxed and easy. Move your Minds Eye from the breath to your body and perform a scan of the body, from the head to your toes, letting go of holding, effort and judgement. Repeat the following phrases in your head several times in a gentle way. Allow your mind to rest on the statements.

Loving Kindness to Yourself: May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be free from pain and suffering.

Loving Kindness Towards Someone who has had a Positive Influence in your Life, then a neural party, then towards a challenging person: May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from pain and suffering.

Loving Kindness Towards all Beings: May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be free from pain and suffering.

Notice as you perform this metta meditation over time if your natural thought patterns start to shift from negative to positive. Negativity and judgmental thoughts won’t just *poof,* go away, but you may start to see loving thoughts edging in. Also, try practicing ahimsa as you scroll through your social media pages. Non-judgment on your peers, non-judgement on yourself. When you find yourself judging or comparing simply think, “May you/I be happy, healthy and free from pain and suffering.” Changing how your mind navigates the world (and the internet) is very important to living with ahimsa.

Peace & love,

Another birth story…

Two things keep coming to mind as recall the details of my second baby boy’s birth: childbirth is empowering and love is amazing.

Women are amazing beings. We’re strong mentally and physically. No matter how or where you birth a child; with or without medication, vaginally or via cesarian, at a hospital or at home; what our bodies go through physically as well as emotionally proves how strong we are. Childbirth is possibly the most empowering experience I’ve ever had in my life. I feel humbled to have experienced it twice and I feel strong and capable knowing I just brought a human life into the world.

Love. Just when I thought it wasn’t possible to love anyone or anything more than I love my first child… In an instant my heart quadruples in size and I love another being with the same depth and intensity that I love my first. Love is so amazing.

The story…

At 39 weeks pregnant I was sure that I would go past due again and not have a baby for 2 more weeks. But on Halloween our little man had different plans. At around 3:00pm I was on my way home from my 2.5 year old, Beau’s daycare Halloween party and I thought I felt a couple contractions in the car. I was sure they were contractions when they continued for the next few hours every 10-15 minutes. I told my husband when he got home and we decided to go ahead and get dressed and go trick or treating around our neighborhood. My contractions were mild enough and far enough apart that I could continue to let my little Buzz Lightyear have his fun night. When we got home we did our nighttime routine and I tucked Beau into bed around 8:00pm. We went ahead and notified my parents that I was in early labor so they could come be with Beau.

At 9:20pm I texted my doula to notify her and tried to lay down to get some sleep. I may have slept about an hour and started timing my contractions at 11:20pm.

I labored in bed for a few hours and we left for the hospital around 3:45am. I feel like I did a better job of relaxing in between contractions this time. Last time the pain seemed to be constant because I was so tense. This time I truly relaxed in bed and early labor was a better experience.

Once we got checked into the hospital and in our room I got straight in the labor tub. My contractions seemed to be less intense in the tub and I was able to relax in the warm water. My husband, Darren turned on our music and showed me videos of Beau while I labored in the tub. It was exactly what I needed in that moment. There’s something therapeutic to smiling and laughing while you’re going through physical pain.

Did I mention earlier that when I texted my doula she was 5 hours away at the beach? She graciously left the beach at 2:30am to come coach us through the birth. Darren kept her updated as my labor progressed and got more intense. She arrived around 8:20am when I was out of the tub and starting to feel the urge to push. Darren and I both sighed a breath of relief when her loving spirit walked in the room.

Our doula, Daphne immediately started coaching me through my contractions and it definitely made the most intense part of labor easier. I felt the urge to always be moving while on my hands and knees, I rocked back and forth and tried to take deep breaths. She coached me to relax and be still after the peak of a contraction to signal to my body to relax. She and Darren squeezed my hips for counter pressure, coached me through contractions, and she gently brushed her hands over my skin and coached Darren to do the same.

Soon after Daphne arrived, my doctor checked me and said I had one small bag of water on the side and if ruptured it would speed up my labor. I agreed to let her break my water and immediately my contractions became more intense and painful. I ended up moving from my hands and knees to my left side. My baby was positioned sideways (instead of face down to my spine) as he was coming through the birth canal so that added to the intensity. Daphne coached me to relax through the pain and Darren held my hand and gave me positive affirmations.

After only three pushes in this position my doctor told me she needed one more long push from me and my baby would be out. I remember pausing, looking her in the eyes and saying, “Really?” She shook her head and said that it wasn’t going to be like last time (i.e. 3.5 hours of pushing). The next push did seem to go on forever, with Darren saying “keep going babe, I can see his head, shoulders, keep going, he’s out, one more push…” and somehow I can also remember what Daphne was saying as well, coaching me not to vocalize and push that breath inwards to help make my push more efficient.

At 9:15am he was out and on my chest. All the pain and intensity was gone but my body didn’t relax immediately like last time. I felt shaky and tried to direct my attention to my new little guy on my chest. After Darren cut his umbilical cord and he was resting on my chest I told Daphne that I couldn’t stop shaking. She assured me it was adrenaline and it would fade in the next few minutes.

The next hour was calm and full of love. Daphne took pictures and I held my new little guy skin to skin and breastfed him for the first time. Darren and I ate a snack and gazed at our new little guy.

Did I also forget to mention that Daphne wouldn’t let us pay her? She said she would only do it for love. We are blessed to have such an amazing human be such an important part of both our boys’ birthdays.

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Our amazing doula, Daphne

Once we got settled into our room and ate a meal I took a shower and got ready for Beau to come meet his new baby brother. Since I labored all night and didn’t get any sleep I was very tired but the shower helped a lot. After my family visited and Beau met his brother, Darren and I both crashed hard.

Beau meeting his brother was everything I dreamed it would be. He was excited to see him and hold him for the first time. All of my worries about going into labor and how Beau would handle everything were not even a worry. My labor intensified after he went to bed, he did great spending the night at my parents and understanding that mommy and daddy had to stay in the hospital with baby brother, and my mom said that next morning when she told him we had gone to the hospital to have baby brother his response was “yay!” Followed by “where’s my breakfast?”

Introducing… big brother Beau

The first week home was a different story. Beau woke up at 4:00am on our first morning home with a 101.4 fever and was later diagnosed with Croup. I cried the first two nights when Beau needed me at bedtime and I could hear the baby crying, also needing me (or my boobs). At one point that first night I told Darren, “Could this be any harder?” And his response was “Are you talking about your boobs or this situation?” I had a giggle and said, “Both, but I was referring to the situation.” The first few days of breastfeeding are no joke. It’s nice to have a partner that can make you laugh in the hardest of situations. Also, trying to keep Beau from getting the baby sick while trying to not exclude him or deny his attempts to be sweet was very stressful.

We’re still getting the hang of life with two but it’s slowly and steadily getting easier. We are so thankful for friends and family that continue to help and stop by just to play with Beau, bring us food, or snuggle baby brother while I shower. I never truly understood the truth and meaning behind “it takes a village” but it truly does and I’m so thankful for our village.

In the end I’m happy to report that labor was shorter the second time around. The pushing, although hours shorter, was more intense in the few pushes it took to get him out but my body bounced back in record time just like before. It felt amazing to be able to shower hours after giving birth and walk around the room. I highly recommend a solid birthing team for natural labor. Knowing you’re loved and supported during labor makes all the difference in the world. My husband rocked it (again) and we were both very thankful to have Daphne on our team again. We may be complete as a family of four but if given the opportunity I would definitely go natural for a third time.

Baby brother, 2.5 weeks old {Ann Wade Photography}

Peace & baby snuggles,