Category Archives: childbirth

The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies

First of all, I need to make a disclaimer. A portion of this post heading is taken from a wonderful and well-respected book by La Leche League I read over 38 years ago, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” I read it during a time when I was preparing for my first child and preparing for childbirth and beyond. This was my first lesson in learning to listen to my body.

This morning, some 38 years later and a lifetime of listening, I was awakened by this thought, “The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies” and how even though the time may not be the best to write this, because I have scholarships to apply for and work to do to prepare for the next semester of grad school, I cannot help but listen to this message and put it out there.

The message is: Our thoughts and feelings (or emotions) are inextricably linked to our bodies! Once we recognize this, the knowledge is immensely powerful. I have been so fortunate to attract mentors and educational opportunities in my life from the days I was a pregnant teen at 15 to my life today, a mother of 3 and grandmother of 8; now the age of 54.

I learned from natural childbirth that “attitude IS everything!” If you think it is pain, it is painful! If you think of it as the process that brings you your angel, then it is manageable.

I learned from 7 years in La Leche League that if you always remember in the back of your mind that breastfeeding is a normal, natural process that mammals have been doing successfully for millenia and trusting this natural process, your milk will come and challenges are only bumps in the road, not roadblocks.

I learned from reading Adelle Davis’ “Let’s Have Healthy Children” that our foods are full of everything we need if we learn to trust the foods that have been provided by nature. We do not have to buy expensive food to nourish our bodies properly. By being more efficient with our food choices, we can bring health to our families within any budget.

I learned from my 10 years working in the field of biofeedback, that the mind and our inner emotions are incredibly powerful and that our body speaks to us continually. Whether we listen or not is the real challenge! When we listen, we reduce suffering and illness and increase our quality of life. When we ignore the signs, we suffer from a variety of ills, including accidents and injuries.

So much more to share and no time to do it right now, but I want to leave you with this thought, please take the time to just be quiet without any outside electronic or other interference at least once every day. Listen and acknowledge and make the little adjustments you know deep down that you will benefit from. Little by little, you will find that the simple adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” will improve your daily quality of life, your health and your future!

Until next time,
Granny Pants
(Oh yeah, this photo was taken of me in 2002. I just found it and had to use it to brighten my day. The Yuba River is in the background. Love that place!)

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January 20, 2013 · 6:48 pm

My Life is Like a Pearl Necklace

bnm(of Itty Bitty Miracles All Strung Together.)    by Christina Ivazes

This story is dedicated to the parents of Joanna Newsom, who nurtured an angel!

 

Although it was obvious there wasn’t much living going on in our living room, I never thought of it as being empty until the morning after that magical night.

The temporary territories we called “home” only contained necessities and usually didn’t include things like couches or coffee tables, and definitely did not include anything decorative hanging on walls. Our family necessities were mattresses, cooking and eating utensils, a few pieces of clothing each and a kitchen table with chairs. As a child, I never questioned the need for more furniture to create the warmth of a home. Our view of what was normal was designed by what we saw and experienced, not by what we did not.

In between homes, my father must have scavenged assorted pieces of furniture quickly to provide us with the basics until we moved onto the next house or apartment. We only carried what we could fit into the trunk of our car and a few toys, though there were still the instinctive and repetitious fights with my siblings over who got the ‘baby spoon’ or ‘baby fork.’ It mattered that whatever it was stood out from the others because in a family of five children, standing out was the ultimate goal and a complete set of matching silverware and dishware was something only Grandmas were made of.

Or perhaps baby spoons and those other coveted objects disguised the fact that there were much deeper terrors in my life. This may also explain why I have guarded a few precious and seemingly insignificant memories, elevating them to the prodigious events of my otherwise tragic childhood recollections.

Something else I should mention is that even though we didn’t have living room furniture in that short-lived Mountain View home in California, we were blessed with two new sets of second-hand bunk beds while we were living there! It felt to me like we had hit the lottery when my parents carried them into our house. I don’t know how they did it. These beds were the first real bedroom furniture for us older kids. One set was made of wood and the other set was metal, which I distinctly remember being painted a pale green. They were each put in a separate bedroom. I remember the thin, green metal railings. I slept on the top bunk because I was the oldest. I must have been about six or seven years old.

Though the arrival of bunk-beds was monumental, it doesn’t compare to the unexpected event that highlights this home like a blazing light in my childhood. And forgive me while I explain a bit more about my father because he was the conductor of this particular event. Daddy was a house painter by trade in those days before he became a chimney sweep. But foremost, he was a musician.

Daddy played the horns. He played trombone, baritone horn, and the trumpet (which he played in the military service). He must have been quite good because when I was older Daddy told stories of two famous brothers who had big bands in the 40’s who were fighting over who would have him in their band. He decided against their offers. He also boasted that Martha Graham had offered him to be her lead musician when she went out on tour, but he turned her down too. Even back then, Daddy’s brilliance was overshadowed by his eccentricities that became the theme of my childhood. Eccentricities that made poverty pale in comparison. Like when Daddy eventually added giant gongs to his instrumentation, but those gongs are yet another story.

Yes, Daddy’s passions lied in his life as a musician. Ironically this same lifestyle, the lifestyle that attracted Mommy to him the night he played at Nepenthe in Big Sur (with Henry Miller in the audience), was where many of their marital problems erupted. As the eldest, I observed and experienced the tensions between Daddy and Mommy more directly than my siblings as Mommy spilled her anger and frustrations onto me in the form of yelling and beatings. All of this going on while Daddy dedicated his evenings to music after a hard day of work.

Though my story takes place in the late 1960’s, Daddy was known as one of the first people to perform during a ‘light show’ for the other counter-cultural Beatniks in San Francisco from the 1940’s. (A light show is a moving picture of swirling food coloring and oil on a projector that is displayed on a screen while spontaneous instrumentation is played in the background, most closely related to the ‘acid jazz’ of our modern era.) Daddy was way ahead of his time with the ‘in crowd,’ so he said, although I never understood any of this stuff until I became an adult. I was just a kid.  I didn’t really understand what he did late at night in the garage with other people that never came into our house, with the exception of this one night.

I recall Daddy asking Mommy for permission to store an item for one of his friends, only overnight. Like a dutiful wife, she complied. Later that afternoon I walked into our stark, white walled living room and saw it. The most beautiful thing I had ever seen illuminated in the far left corner of the room as if it had its own stage lighting. It was a giant, magnificent golden harp as exquisite and curvaceous as a mermaid, as golden as an award’s statue, and as finely strung as if by a hundred angels. I am quite sure I lost my breath. As I moved in to get a closer look, Daddy blurted out in his firm, no messing around manner, “Don’t you dare touch it Christie!” Daddy’s wrath was my biggest fear. He was always the bad guy in every nightmare I had about Mommy and him fighting. The last thing I wanted was for one of those nightmares to become real.

bnj   So, to state the obvious, there was no way I was getting anywhere near that gorgeous instrument; even though I wanted to so bad I could feel it resonating throughout my entire being. I just planted myself on the bare wooden floor in the opposite corner of the room and studied it.

A child’s active imagination is an amazing pool of creative wealth and mine was extremely active in those days. My school report cards were speckled with comments about too much ‘daydreaming in class.’ In this particular moment, my eyes glued to the harp, I was liberated to daydream without teacher retribution. Familiar cartoon images of angels playing harps started racing through my mind. I envisioned full-sized and feather light angels dressed in gossamer fabric playing sweet melodies that drifted off in never ending sonorous threads. The imagined sounds and physical dimensions of this instrument seemed larger than life and much grander than I had ever realized the influence of a harp could be. It sounded luscious. It glowed profusely, filling the entire room with its beauty. It became my refuge, offering me a perfect and tiny, yet infinitesimal moment of peace through my eyes and imagination.

Today, I can only speculate that that was one night where I truly had sweet dreams, instead of the ritual nightmares of Mommy and Daddy fighting. Nightmares that always left me in a urine soaked sweat by morning. But on that following morning I wasn’t wet. Without hesitation, I jumped up and raced into the living room to greet my wonderful new friend.

My heart sank.  It was gone, taking my dreams away with it; taking its golden light from my otherwise dark reality. The living room was no longer a stage. It was just a barren, cold living room again, like the dozens of other barren, cold living rooms throughout my childhood. How I wished I had secretly snuck up to touch and strum those magical strings just once, to leave the room with its real, everlasting echoes of angels. Why didn’t I? I knew why.

But the feeling of its soothing sound and its golden glow beaming from the corner of our gallery stark living room will always sit inside me, illuminating a corner of my mind with magic and surprise. I had been very lucky and I knew it. I had been graced with the potential of the ever appearing surprises life offers when you least expect them. To this day, whenever I see a golden harp, I am transported. That warm glow becomes the present and I thank the harp for offering refuge to the little girl in me and for the proof in the miracles of possibility.

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Filed under childbirth, creativity, culture, Families, Fathers, Grandparents, Granny Pants, mother, music, Writing

Number 8 is Just as Great!

I have to announce the latest wondrous occasion in our family: the birth of Dayton Simone, who came to us on July 30, 2010. She has the longest, most delicate fingers I have ever seen on a newborn and she uses them frequently to express herself. She smiles at everyone and NO, it is not just gas bubbles! 

Dayton Simone

Dayton Simone- Grandchild No. 8

Now this may seem like an ordinary story, but it is not. Yes, babies are born every day and have been since the dawn of time, yet I am always flabbergasted as to how miraculous birth is, no matter how commonly it occurs. 

This last birth of my 8th grandchild, was an at-home water birth in the true and gentle Leboyer style. It was about the smoothest and most beautiful birth I have ever witnessed in person or otherwise. I had my last 2 children at home in the care of experienced  midwives, though I always learn something new from each midwife I observe. Our last baby in the family needed to be transferred to the hospital during labor due to some risky signs because the midwife was being responsible. There IS a time for the hospital and RESPONSIBLE HOMEBIRTH means ensuring that there is a hospital close by (about 20 minutes) if it is necessary to transfer during labor and that there is a qualified and experienced birth professional there to monitor mother during labor & assist during delivery and post-partum.

This last midwife had delivered 750 births and had never lost a mother or a baby, which is probably a better record than most any OB/GYN could say. She knows that birth is a normal process, yet there is a time when medical back-up is necessary. THIS is RESPONSIBLE HOMEBIRTH. No responsible person would insist on birthing at home if there were risk factors or signs of fetal or maternal distress during pregnancy and/or labor. 

Yet, remembering that ANY medical intervention itself, especially unnecessary medical intervention, increases the risks to both mother and baby, is also a key to any RESPONSIBLE BIRTH, whether the birth is in the hospital or at home. Responsible choices increase safety by minimizing risks.

THE FOCUS OF CHILDBIRTH SHOULD ALWAYS BE “WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO OR NOT TO DO? ” NOT “WHAT IS THE MOST CONVENIENT THING TO DO?” Convenience is where we have made most of our mistakes with childbirth today. There are thousands of studies and articles to support this point so I will not belabor it. 

For THIS latest birth in our family, there were 2 midwives who worked as a team. They were absolutely wonderful, wise, and warm to everyone; especially in caring for our little angel, during and after her birth. What I loved most was that they encouraged Mom (my daughter) to breastfeed for almost an hour at the outset, as soon as the baby was able. This expelled the placenta naturally and created the stimulus Mom needed for milk production, while cleaning out Baby’s intestines & nourishing & protecting her with nature’s perfect newborn meal: colostrum. They were also very careful to ensure baby was latched on appropriately to prevent sore nipples. The correct help and advice makes all of the difference!

Hery family

The Morning After

You can read the whole birth story on my daughter’s blog: MamaHery.BlogSpot.com 

However, there is one thing you won’t read in my daughter’s birth story: What an absolutely blessed experience it is for a mother to watch her own daughter give birth, becoming a mother herself. There really are no words for being allowed to participate in this blessed event of bringing a new life into the world. Even though I have been lucky enough to witness this event 7 other times with my 3 amazing daughters and am so honored by each of their maternal bravery and instincts, and this was Sara’s 2nd. baby, it was much faster than any others in our family. It was practically effortless compared to all the others, including my own. It was a smooth and graceful water birth. The midwives were attentive, skilled & adept, working together like two experienced dancers. Sara was poised, receiving guidance from us all, resting on Dad’s body throughout the birth and cherishing the time with her new daughter on her chest afterwards, the natural location for any newborn.  My 15 year-old granddaughter, Tayler video-taped the entire event & witnessed this most humane form of childbirth. It really made an impression upon her because she has also witnessed the hospital births of her 3 younger siblings & commented on how easy this was in comparison.

One of the biggest benefits of homebirth, as I also experienced with my own, was to be able to naturally include big brother when he awoke the next morning. No mother-child separation. Our family was around, offering all of the peripheral support needed such as meals, care of big brother, laundry, etc. 

Yes, this is the 21st. Century. We have many many advances to make life easier. These advances are best served in our family, not with medical intervention to take the inconvenience out of childbirth, but to share these stories and photos of a natural normal process that is not necessarily better served with interference.

This was my 8th grandchild, my 12th birth experience, and my 3rd. homebirth experience. It was the most natural and smoothest birth experience of them all as we put technology in its place and refused to let technology take the place of the best humanity has to offer.

I take my hat off to my daughter Sara, her amazingly supportive husband Andrew, and Marlene and Kaleem, the two midwives from One Heart Midwifery. I trusted them implicitly and am so grateful they were there to make this birth of my 8th grandchild so perfect. I am also so grateful and impressed with their follow-up care of both my granddaughter, Dayton Simone, and my daughter, Sara. I have had no worries about incorrect advice because I know they are in good hands with qualified professionals that understand the true needs of  both Mother & Baby. They allowed Dayton Simone to enter the world nurtured & loved, not traumatized with unnecessary medical intervention or separation. 

This Grandmother is grateful, happy & blessed once again!  

me

My 3 daughters, newest granddaughter & myself: Granny Pants

You can follow my Granny Pants’ Daily Parenting Tips on Facebook or find out more about my services at ChameleaProductions.com

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