Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Gift of Giving Life

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Five years ago I wrote an essay called The Hour Glass Theory for Segullah. It's a piece about miscarriage, death, time and birth--the heavy things we feel. I wrote it to piece together the definitive answer we search for--when does life begin and when does it end?

Gift of Giving Life Book ButtonI was honored when some of my fellow LDS sisters and birthers asked if they could publish my essay in their anthology The Gift of Giving Life--Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth. It's a book about birth and spirituality in all of its shades from--infertility, c-sections, adoption miracles and unassisted homebirths to name a few. As a bonus to me, my essay appears right next to Nat Holbrook in the book. Nat and I have plunged into infertility together where we became sisters in the trenches. (I also have an essay called To My Sisters Who Still Hope that appears in the infertility chapter.)

When the book came out I gave it to my sister Lucy. The Hour Glass Theory is about her miscarriage and I thought it was fitting for her to have the book. But even better, she's now pregnant with her third baby (a boy, due in June) and is currently in nesting glory. She devoured the book (it's a hefty compilation, full of brilliant ideas and essays) and I asked for a short book review. Here's what she said:

 photo 31e92f14-6009-4724-b6db-3e034442159a_zps99559589.jpgI read "The Gift of Giving Life" at the perfect time in my life. I was 6 months pregnant with my third child. I had my 2 other children at my home with very beautiful births. Like most wonderful experiences, I started to doubt, to fear having another baby at home. Could I do it again? Is my body not as strong? Will there be a complication? Those thoughts came in my mind over bearing the beautiful thoughts I had about my previous births. Reading this 500+ page book in less than a week proved I needed to read it. It brought such calm and assurance to who I was and what The Lord wants me to do. Fear is not faith, we are in the Lord's care and so are our children. I was able to learn about how child birth is so very much like the atonement of Jesus Christ. I will have my third baby at home and I feel much more calmer, faithful, trusting in myself and God. This book brought new thoughts about women, labor, birth, my Heavenly Mother and my strong women ancestors. It's a very strong book.

 Mother's day is coming up (as you many know) and I am recommending this book as a gift to any mother (buy it here). It's intensely spiritual--transcending a lot of topics we don't touch as a culture. It will enlighten you and teach you and give you better ideas about how to celebrate motherhood. (Like for instance, replacing the traditional baby shower with a mother's blessing--something a bit more profound and memorable.)

You can read more about it here.






27 comments:

Sarah said...

CJane I've been reading this book throughout my pregnancy and it has changed my life.

After 8 years baby #2 is finally coming, but I found myself financially unprepared for it. Between jobs and no insurance. I started seeing a midwife, and this book has made me feel confident and happy with my choice for natural childbirth. Your contributions to the book are fabulous.

Thank you for your positive voice in natural childbirth.

Briana said...

I'm in the middle of this book right now and it is FANTASTIC! I can't rave enough about it. I'm pregnant with child #3 and thought I knew what birth was about. But it has opened my eyes and got me thinking about so many new aspects of birth. I love, love, love all of the thoughts about the spiritual nature of birthing, the Atonement and birthing and mothering as part of women's divine, eternal role. Beautiful, empowering stuff.

I was excited to see your essays in there. Loved your thoughts, as always. I have really enjoyed all the different perspectives and topics touched on in the books - from infertility to birthing at home.

Sheesh - it's just such a great book! :) It's exactly what I was looking for as I prepare for this next birth.

Lani said...

Thank you for sharing TGOGL with your readers, Courtney. We're thrilled that it was helpful to Lucy in overcoming her doubts and fears. That's what this book is all about. And I'm loving the comments on your post so far. :-)

-Lani Axman

Living the Scream said...

I love when your sister said "Fear is Not Faith" So true! O now want this book!

Dorcas said...

I really appreciate your post today, linking to The Hourglass Theory, because I am 6 weeks post miscarriage. When I saw the remains of the baby's body I had a deep sense that the baby wasn't there ... that little soul wasn't "gone" and we'd have our time together again in this world. It's comforting to know that others have experienced the same, along with the follow-through like your mother's story of your birth. Thank you!

Bri!!! said...

Love this book! Every woman could benefit from reading it in preparation for a beautiful birth. Birth is life changing!

Delee said...

I can't wait to read this book. I have recently experienced a miscarriage and I have been thinking a lot about miscarriage, death, time, and birth. Your essay was beautifully written. Thank-you for sharing it. I am not a writer, but I have had many amazing and spiritual experiences since sharing my story on my blog.

http://www.deleeblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/miscarriage-my-story-of-brokenheart.html

Thank-you for sharing your thoughts and experiences in such a open and loving way.

kenna said...

i admit as a sterile lds woman (who, before my hysterectomy, has only had a still birth and miscarriages, no lives births), i wonder if this book is for me.

thoughts?

Hayde said...

My Blessing Way/Mothers Blessing was one of the most profound and spiritual experiences I have ever had with a gathering of the most important women in my life. I had it with my 3rd and last baby, which after 2 cherubic boys, was a girl. It was incredibly moving to have her there with us as gifts, wishes, and blessings were bestowed upon her and me with such thoughtfulness .

C. Jane Kendrick said...

Thanks everyone for these comments! It is a great book.

@Kenna, I understand your question, thanks for asking it. I think it's possible you'd find some insights and truth that would encourage you in your spot. Also, you might find joy in knowing YOUR birth was miraculous. Bless you!

BMarie82 said...

Just curious if Lucy had to think about whether to write, 'third child'. Having gone through miscarriages myself, I struggle with annoucing how many children I have. 4 or 2?

Lani said...

BMarie82- I think a lot of women who've had miscarriages struggle with that question. You might enjoy this post from our book's blog: http://thegiftofgivinglife.com/miscarriage-what-friends-can-do/ The author spoke about her own struggle with figuring out how many children to tell people she had. Much love to you.

Scott Emett said...

CJane- do you see how the quote below could lead women to believe that hospital births make them less strong, less able, less spiritual, or less appreciative of the atonement? In the spirit of transcending topics we don't touch as a culture, I hope you'll acknowledge that all births are a gift from God--and that it's dangerous to imply that some birthing methods are "better" than others. Some women choose to give birth in hospitals because they feel that this gives them the best chance to achieve the end goal of safety and happiness for their child and themselves.

"Could I do it again? Is my body not as strong?... It brought such calm and assurance to who I was and what The Lord wants me to do...I was able to learn about how child birth is so very much like the atonement of Jesus Christ. I will have my third baby at home and I feel much more calmer, faithful, trusting in myself and God."

C. Jane Kendrick said...

No Scott I don't. It's offensive to me that every time a woman talks about birth someone has to make it controversial. Completely not necessary and horribly unhealthy. The intention to hurt anyone simply is not there--please don't make this an issue where there is not one.

Not only that but this book is about the spirituality of all births. I mentioned that in this post.

Cheryl said...

Scott, I though Courtney was very clear that this book is open to every kind of birth. The quote doesn't offend me at all (I am a hospital birther by choice and because I literally would have died had I not been in a hospital), but I think the quote is beautiful because every woman has a choice and every woman has the ability to choose for herself and find what the Lord wants for her. Keep it up Courtney!

C. Jane Kendrick said...

Thanks for the validation Cheryl!

Cheryl said...

anytime :)

Bri!!! said...

Scott, that was HER experience. For her not to share HER experience in an effort to not offend would be ridiculous. And like the book says, ALL births are spiritual! I had a hard long hospital birth for our first, and a quick, beautiful, and perfect homebirth for our daughter. Both were incredibly spiritual. My homebirth was better just because that was the desire of my heart, but it wasn't more spiritual. People who get offended clearly have their own insecurities. Can't we just rejoice in the miracle of birth and life whether it be a homebirth, medicated hospital birth, csection, whatever? I say we stop criticizing each others birth experiences because they are sacred, and that is just not cool!

Briana said...

Bri: I loved how you said: "My homebirth was better just because that was the desire of my heart, but it wasn't more spiritual."

You hit the nail on the head! That is exactly how I feel and what I've been learning. I had two incredibly medicalized (lots of interventions) births in a hospital - which I thoroughly enjoyed as a whole and which were deeply spiritual. They were beautiful and I'll never forget the spirit that was present as my children came into the world. But I want to do things quite differently this time because of ways I've changed, different desires I have now, things I've learned, experiences I've had in the last few years, etc. That new type of birth experience has now become a dear, dear desire of my heart. I feel like it is exactly right for me and this particular baby, but I don't think one bit that it is right for everybody. It just happens to be a darling wish of mine and what I think will be best in this particular case. Not because I felt like my previous births weren't spiritual.

I also agree, as one who's read the book, that it does a really great job of sharing experiences from and validating all different types of births and experiences related to childbearing. I was impressed.

Scott Emett said...

These are all great comments and responses. I completely echo what Cheryl said: "every woman has a choice and every woman has the ability to choose for herself and find what the Lord wants for her" and what Bri said "Can't we just rejoice in the miracle of birth and life whether it be a homebirth, medicated hospital birth, csection, whatever?"

I'm sorry for offending you Courtney. I wasn't trying to stir up controversy. You're probably right that I read too much into the quote--I speak from the perspective of someone whose heart still aches from the loss of a loved one from a planned homebirth, so I hope you'll forgive my (over)sensitivity.

I did a poor job of it, but I was trying to communicate that no woman (especially those facing higher delivery risks) should feel that a hospital delivery is any less empowering, special, or spiritual than a home birth. It seems that most of you agree with me on that, so let's agree to agree. :)

Martha said...

yeah! great book! my cousins and i are in it, too! it's chalk full of wonderment. loved yours and natalie's contributions big time!!!

C. Jane Kendrick said...

Thanks Scott.

I think it's important to note beautiful birthing experiences come in all forms as does tragedy. We've seen it in hospitals and at home. The decision how and where to birth is critical and important, and perhaps most of all, something every woman can make with the help of education and God.

mintifresh said...

That essay was one of the first things I read of yours. I thought it was brilliant and have never forgotten it.

Robyn Allgood said...

Scott, I'm so sorry for the loss within your family. As a mother that has buried one of her children, it is heartbreaking. No matter how it happens there is a lot to process. You may benefit from reading the Healing From Sorrow essay or Healing From Traumatic Birth essay within the book. May you be blessed with the power of the Atonement as you grieve and heal.

kenna said...

@c. jane thank you for your thoughts. i really want to read it, but wondered if it would be a good idea. i think i'll pick it up. :)

Brittons of Provo said...

@kenna - I can see how a book about pregnancy and childbirth could seem painful and difficult to read in your situation, but as I have read it I felt like more than anything it focused on our divine roles as Daughters of our Heavenly Father. I learned a lot about my relationship with Him, with my Heavenly Mother, and my divine nature as a woman, separate from my role as a mother. I hope that if you read it that it will be a positive and uplifting experience. I know it has been for me.

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