Monthly Archive for March, 2012

Spring Classes: Sexy Mommy Stories and The Poetry of Fatherhood

I’m proud to say we are nearing the final week of Mother, Writer, Mentor’s first ever on-line writing workshop, To the Cradle and Beyond, Excavating the Poetry of Motherhood. We will be offering this course again throughout the year (please check the website for our latest classes). Our next two on-line writing workshops include:

Sexy Mommy Stories: Writing Romance Back Into Motherhood

Instructor: Jessica Powers

Dates: April 9-April 30

Who says romance is over just because of baby spit up, dirty diapers, sleepless nights, and breastfeeding? This workshop is for writers who want to write romance and love stories about and for mothers. We will cover the basics of fiction-plot, characters, and theme-for beginning writers and probe deeper for writers with more experience. We will consider the necessary elements for a good romance story and reclaim motherhood as an arena for romance, sex, and, yes!, eroticism. Sign up here.

Excavating and Writing The Poetry of Fatherhood

Instructor: Tania Pryputniewicz

Dates: April 30- May 25

You’ve watched the wife’s body transform before your eyes, witnessed first-hand her incremental emotional, psychological and spiritual migration to places you may or may not be able, though willing, to follow. Your own metamorphosis, while less physically apparent, is in actuality no less arduous or multi-layered. Or you and your partner have gone through longer gestations: reams of applications, false leads, interviews and further scrutiny while attempting to adopt. Or you’ve chosen not to father, but find the words of your own father coursing through your mind. Join this on-line poetry class for a chance to mine poetry of the past as well as contemporary poems (including those we’ve published at The Fertile Source) for structural and thematic inspiration towards the writing of a new crop of poems reflecting the continuum of experiences that comprise fatherhood. Sign up here.

Baby Fever

fictional excerpt by John Rachel

 

It was the first time in their marriage that they had been apart.  Natalie had gone with her best friend from high school days and beyond, to Ibiza Spain.

When Natalie came back, she looked great.  Really great.  She had a fantastic tan.

But no tan lines.

“Don’t even think about it, Billy.  There were no men there.  We found this really private beach and went for it.”

“Does Pam have tan lines?”

“I can have her come over and you can look for yourself.”

“Let me think about that.”

“Better yet, check this out.”

She went over to her computer, plugged her camera in, and pulled up some photos of a magnificent shore, lapped by foamy whitecaps emerging gracefully from a turquoise sea.  Sure enough, there were no men.  There was one amazing shot of Natalie and Pam laying side by side on a beach blanket wearing only sunglasses and tanning lotion.  His imagination had fallen far short of how beautiful Pam’s body was. 

Natalie caught him staring, mouth agape, eyebrows arched in wonder.

“The sand is so white.”

“Right.  Like you were looking at the sand.  Hey!  I just got an excellent idea.”

She stood him up, got around behind him and playfully pushed him into the bedroom, not that he offered much resistance.

She proved for the next several days to be insatiable. 

“Good grief, Natalie.  What did they feed you there on Ibiza?”

“Dreams, Billy.  Dreams.”

Of course, they both had their work schedules.  But it seemed at least for those first few days after her return, Natalie managed to avoid any professional commitments in the evening and was there for him, ready and able to make love as often as was physically possible.

She had to catch up at work Saturday during the day but they had a phenomenal evening.  Sunday they actually had slept in a bit, the consequence of being up half of the previous night pursuing carnal bliss. 

Natalie woke first and looked at him.  Eventually his eyes opened and she cuddled up to him, placing her lips teasingly against his ear and whispered.

“Happy Valentines Day.”

“Hmm.  That’s right.  I forgot.  You got back on Valentines Day.”

“There’s something else, Billy.”

“What’s that?”

“I want a baby.”

“I think the stores are open today.  We can go after breakfast.”

“I’m not kidding.”

She wasn’t. 

They talked about it over brunch at Anna’s, as they then walked through town afterwards, during the drive through along the Hudson River and Hudson Highlands State Park, and finally that evening at home over dinner.  Billy did the cooking and proudly served a blackened dish he claimed was genuine Livorno-style lasagna, and a circular cardboard-like object which was supposed to be Sicilian pizza.

There was no doubt that they both wanted to have children.  The whole question was timing.  That they didn’t seem to agree on.

“I’m too young to be a father, Natalie.”

“No you’re not.”

“I’m only twenty two.”

“A perfect age.  You’re young, energetic, yet mature, established.”

“Like I’m going to be some burnt out shell of a human being at 25 or 28, a moneyless bum sleeping in a dumpster behind Home Depot.”

“If it’s a boy, you can name him.  If it’s a girl, I want to call her Lilith.”

That had a familiar ring.  Wasn’t Lilith some Amazon queen his mom was telling him about?  Or was she a biblical terrorist that had all of the kings in a tizzy?

“Lilith.  Lovely name.  If it’s a boy, I want to call him Chairman Mao.”

Natalie laughed and jumped on top of him and proceeded to nearly cause heart failure by tickling him so relentlessly.  It was obvious she was not going to stop without a commitment.

“So are we on, papa Billy?  Are we going to make a baby?  Are we?  Are we?”

“Ha ha ha ha . . . if you don’t stop tickling me . . . ha ha ha . . . I’ll be dead . . . ha ha ha . . . and that’ll be . . . ha ha ha ha . . . please . . . ha ha ha . . . I’ll do anything . . . ha ha ha . . . just stop . . . ha ha ha . . .”

“So that’s a yes?”

“Yes . . . ha ha ha . . . yes, Natalie.”

And they went to work.

At making a baby from scratch, that is.

Should have been simple.  But it eventually turned out to be hard work.   Very hard work.

It has confounded some of the best medical minds of the 21st Century, why fertility rates have been gradually declining over the past fifty years.  Those from three generations back claim ___ obviously exaggerating, of course ___ that back in those days, post-World War II, and on into the featureless 50s, getting pregnant was supposedly easier than catching a head cold.  Teens seemed especially at risk.  Schoolgirls were cautioned about sitting too close to boys for fear that sperm would somehow leap forth, magically pass through clothing and skin, and home in on the cowering uterus like some precision-guided weapon, resulting in unwanted pregnancies.

Then came the 60s.  A measurable decrease in fertility rates among both males and females started around the same time that the Beatles and the British invasion of pop musicians took over the radio airwaves, and has continued to this day.  Egg production in women is still off, miscarriages continue to increase, sperm counts are down.

No connection could be established between the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits and the other British bands, and the inability of couples to make babies back then or now.

So what precipitated the subtle but steady decline in fertility rates?  Was it the cancelation of the Ed Sullivan Show?  The unrequited romancing of the apparently still virginal Annette Funicello by any number of viable suitors on the Mickey Mouse Club?  Chubby Checker and the twist?  Lingering physiological effects from the hoola-hoop craze of the 50s?  Radiation from the spaceships landing in Nebraska and Indiana abducting illiterate corn farmers and road-weary truck drivers?

The plausible connection turned out to be the enormous numbers of chemicals, artificial substances, plastics, and man-made pollutants which were slowly introduced starting in the 50s but were dramatically increased in both quantity and variety during the 60s, and are being increasingly used today.  These include food additives and preservatives, pesticides and herbicides, fertilizers, cosmetic chemicals, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, household cleaners, detergents and dry cleaning fluids, auto exhaust and industry pollution, industrial solvents such as acetone and trichlorethylene, the new generation of paints and varnishes, carpet and furniture fire and stain retardants, synthetic fabrics and clothing treatments, dioxyn, PVCs, plastic food and beverage containers, even monosodium glutamate, on and on the list goes. 

This man-made inhibition of the natural reproductive process has spawned a fertility industry ___ both specialists within the ranks of the conventional AMA-approved health service providers and those working in naturopathic and other alternative treatment environments ___ raking in far in excess of a billion dollars a year.

Of course, Billy and Natalie weren’t aware of any of this when the decided they would try to get her pregnant.  They just did what they normally did, with a little more focused effort the five or six days that were midway between her periods.

Away they went doing what came naturally for three months or so.  Understandably they were both rather surprised when their energetic efforts produced no results in the embryo manufacturing department.

At first, their lack of success was taken with a lightheartedness, both of them assuming it was an anomaly which would soon pass.

“Maybe you’re firing blanks, Billy.”

“I’m definitely firing something.”

“You are definitely hitting the target.”

“Practice makes perfect.”

As the weeks and months passed, however, the whole subject became charged, more and more the trigger for arguments or tears. 

“You don’t want a baby.  That’s it, isn’t it Billy?”

“Natalie.  Of course I do.  I said I did.  But whether I do or not, it’s not like I’m holding back.  You can see for yourself that I’m doing my job.”

“Then how come I’m not pregnant?”

“How should I know?  Maybe you fried your uterus in Ibiza.  Maybe you got sand in the works.  Don’t point the finger at me.”

“Billy.  Please stop bringing up my trip like it was some negative thing.  It wasn’t.  It was a very good thing.  It got me to a good place.  It got me to where I am now.”

“Frustrated.  Angry with me.  Yeh, that’s just great.”

Natalie’s eyes turned red and started to pool, as her lower lip quivered slightly.

“Billy.  I’m sorry.  I’m not mad at you.  I know it’s not your fault.”

Actually, it didn’t appear to be either of their faults.  The doctors couldn’t find anything awry.  None of the five fertility specialists they had consulted, stretching from the Hudson Valley to New York City. 

Billy’s sperm count appeared normal, in fact, better than normal.  The quality of the sperm appeared fine.  No two-headed mutants, none with tails missing, none suffering from lethargy or lack of swimming skills, no union organizers urging a sperm walkout or sitdown strike. 

Likewise, Natalie checked out.  She was ovulating like clockwork, producing the approved and recommended number of eggs, there were no blocked Fallopian tubes, no cross winds, no feminist demonstrations or marches going on in there.

The experts were stumped.

Of course, they had a solution.  A very expensive solution.  With no guarantees.

This was a multi-phased program of hormone doping, fertility drugs, taking his sperm and concentrating it to increase its statistical effectiveness, and further closing the statistical hit-miss gap by either inserting the sperm into her fallopian tubes or removing one of her eggs and performing in vitro insemination then replanting the fertilized egg in her uterus.

It was all so scientific and calculating but unscientifically unpredictable.  They could end up with twins, octuplets, or a swaddling bundle of air.  Who was to say.  The doctors couldn’t.

Billy and Natalie could see the five-figure bill for services coming from miles away.

Monetary issues aside, they couldn’t imagine turning over what should be the natural unfolding of the miracle of life, to a bunch of lab coats surrounded by stainless steel tables, test tubes, oscilliscopes, pipettes, ultrasound scans, Petri dishes, electronic imaging equipment, electrophoresis separators, and whatever else the medicine men would drag out of their expensive bag of tricks.  It was about as romantic as changing the motherboard or putting more RAM in a computer.

 

They decided at least for now, to continue their reproductive Olympiad, which despite the growing anxiety and tension introduced by their absorption and obsession with getting her pregnant, they both still thoroughly enjoyed.  At the same time, they would try to increase the prospects of babymaking in their lovemaking by introducing some less-expensive, hopefully effective alternative assistance.

Their bedroom stand now included a vaginal thermometer, homeopathic medicine, and a small glass dish of opaque pink fertility stones.  Both Billy and Natalie were taking specially formulated vitamin/mineral/herb supplements, respectively designed to fortify the male and female reproductive systems ___ his was called Inseminator Rejuvenator and hers Motherhood In A Bottle.   

One day Billy pulled up on their computer a page from a website which was trumpeting the efficacy of various crystals, and showed it to Natalie.

The Shiva Lingham Stone is from the sacred Narmada River in Onkar Mandhata, one of India’s seven holy sites. Villagers gather this unique Crypto-crystalline quartz from shallow river beds.  In Tantra, the shape embodies masculine energy, dynamic expression and knowledge. The markings named Yoni (sacred sanskrit word for vulva), depicts the feminine energy, wisdom and intuition. Together, the female energy arouses the masculine urge to create. As such, the Tantric Lingham unifies the dualistic (male female) world into harmonious balance.  Place a Shiva Lingham in the Relationships/Marriage area of your home to increase fertility and to bring you closer to your partner.

 

“Well, there’s the solution to our problem if I ever saw it.”

Though they laughed about it, the true extent of their desperation was evident when they immediately ordered one.  When it arrived Air Express, it was given a guest-of-honor place in the center of the headboard shelf of their bed, next to a faux-ancient scroll containing a Sanscrit fertility mantra they obtained from a local store, with a name printed in gold leaf on the front window, which only a few months ago they used to make fun of . . .

Things New Age:  Your One-Stop Enlightenment Shop

They also went out of their way to eat healthy.  More salads.  Less fat.  More fish.  Less meat.  They eliminated wine with their meals and never ordered cocktails when they went out with their friends.  Five times a day, Natalie was drinking an unpleasant-tasting herbal tea consisting of Chasteberry, Red Raspberry Leaf, and Nettle.  Billy had virtually eliminated coffee from his diet since he read that there were studies suggesting that coffee had deleterious effects on sperm production.  He switched to vitamin C-enhanced peppermint tea.

Unfortunately, none of this seemed to work.  The only ones who seemed to benefit were the manufacturers and outlets who pocketed seemingly exorbitant profits for a lot of worthless crap, which they used to generate and hawk new, promising, pricier, but at the end of the day, equally worthless crap.

By August, they were exhausted.  It wasn’t the sex but rather the anticipation, disappointment, the regiment and monotony of the “fertility rites” they had created, the evident futility, and last but not least, the heat.  Whether it was global warming or just a anomalous seasonal shift, the end of the summer was turning out to be a scorcher.

They lay in bed, sweating and sweltering, panting like dogs in the desert, after a pleasurable but nonetheless draining session of lovemaking, during which they often thought more about whether his sperm and her egg were going to end their Cold War standoff and finally get together, than to abandoning themselves to the carnal ecstasy of their union.

When the end of Natalie’s most recent menstrual cycle again declared that she was not pregnant, an announcement signed in blood, Billy tried to make light of it.

“Maybe we should just get a dog.”

“I’m not having sex with a dog.”

“I meant for me.”

“You want to have sex with a dog?  I feel a little threatened.”

“Dogs are man’s best friend.  No one ever said that about babies.”

“Wait!  We’ll get two dogs.  A male and a female.  And watch them.  Maybe we’re doing something wrong.”

“I don’t think my ego could handle it.  What if they got it right the first time?”

“Ohmigod!  You’re right.  I’d have to kill the bitch.”

“I’d have the vet remove his balls.  That’d show him!”

They laughed but their laughter was hollow.  Hollow to the point of melancholy.

And though neither of them said anything, each invisibly was waving the tearful white flag of resignation.  An impregnable sense of hopelessness had slowly but surely sunk in.  This was the first failure of their relationship, the first tangible setback of any importance.

They never officially gave up.  Thus, they never discussed a next step, either adoption or designing their lives together around childlessness.  They never acknowledged they might be entering a next phase.  A phase without a baby of their own making.

They clung to some thin, frail thread of optimism.  After all, there were countless stories of couples trying and trying again over years, even decades, then finally producing the long-desired child.  Billy and Natalie had many years ahead of them.  The waiting and trying and trying again theoretically could define them as a couple, as it had many other couples.

But they both somehow knew this wasn’t going to happen.

Something had changed.  They both sensed it.

The baby thing was over and done.

And what about them?

Was it over?

No.

Practice makes perfect.

In all things.

“Baby Fever”, an excerpt from the full length novel The Man Who Loved Too Much, originally appeared in the American online and print magazine Down In The Dirt in July 2010.
 
John Rachel has a B. A. in Philosophy, has traveled extensively, is a songwriter and music producer, and a left-of-left liberal.  Prompted by the trauma of graduating high school and having to leave his beloved city of Detroit to attend university, the development his social skills and world view were arrested at about age 18.  This affliction figures prominently in all of his creative work.  He is author of four full-length novels, From Thailand With Love, The Man Who Loved Too Much, 11-11-11 and recently 12-12-12.  He considers his home to be Japan but has been traveling in Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan as he completed his latest novel, 12-12-12.  He is now working on a non-fiction book about his travels over the past six years called Leaving On A Jet Plane.

 

Excerpts from Birth Mandala: The Power of Visioning For Childbirth with Nancy Burns

Birth Mandala Book Cover by Nancy BurnsEditor’s Note: Nine years ago, pregnant with my second child, I followed a set of handwritten directions that took me through the curves of the backroads of Sonoma County, and eventually, after a number of wrong turns, lead me to my much coveted destination: a Birth Mandala workshop at the home of host Nancy Burns. On the heels of a first birth fraught with hospital interventions, I took Nancy’s workshop in the hopes of envisioning a more empowered kind of birth experience.

Back then, Nancy told me she envisioned putting her mandala work into book format. I’m so thrilled to be able to host some of Nancy’s words on the mandala process itself, as well as a sample of some of the images that appear in her book, “Birth Mandala: The Power of Visioning for Childbirth,” mingled with the words of the women who created the mandalas. I should also disclose that while I lost my original mandala in our last move, an early version of it appears in Nancy’s book. So lovely to see the fruits of your labor, Nancy, and to share them here. –Tania Pryputniewicz

Nancy Describes the Birth Mandala Method:

 

Headshot for Nancy Burns

Nancy Burns

“Birth Mandala: The Power Of Visioning For Childbirth” is a unique and creative method to prepare for childbirth. The subtitle of the Birth Mandala book is truly the essence of this method of preparing for childbirth and should not be overlooked. The Power of Visioning is the ability to reveal personal strengths and weaknesses that influence the outcome of birth.

Just as the body knows how to breathe, digest and excrete food and perform all of its functions without the conscious mind directing it, the same is true for birthing. The body is naturally programmed to release the hormones necessary to begin labor and to produce milk to feed the baby, it does not need the conscious mind to tell it what to do. Then what gets in the way of the body doing what it knows how to do?

One of the greatest influences is a woman’s perception of labor and birth. Beliefs about childbirth formed by what we have seen, read or heard produce feelings of either fear or trust in oneself and in the process of birth. Beliefs affect emotions, and emotions trigger the body to release chemicals that support either a state of relaxation, or stimulation and constriction.

There is a chapter in the book entitled I’ll Believe It When I See It, I’ll See It When I Believe It. In this chapter there are exercises to identify limiting beliefs that could interfere with the birth you want and to change them to supportive beliefs. To envision the best birth possible, some questions to explore are: What do I need to release? What strengths do I need to embrace? What do I need to shed to allow myself to be fully empowered? What am I needing to allow myself to be fully empowered? What does it mean to be empowered? This is a very personal and important question to contemplate. The purpose and intention of the book is for all women to be able to experience a deep connection with themselves, where trust and faith replace doubt and fear.

So, what is visioning and how does it support birth? Visioning is a process that allows clarification for what you are wanting. We generally focus on what we don’t want to happen or when we focus on what we do want it is too abstract a concept to produce the desired effects. Imagine walking into a restaurant and telling the waitperson all the foods you don’t want to eat? It is impossible for the server to get you what you do want to eat.

Or, imagine being in a restaurant that has a list of soups and you really want to eat some soup. If you say I want soup they are still unable to get you what you want. In the same way, being as specific and clear as possible helps you to get the desired results. To say I want to be relaxed is going in the right direction, however, relaxed is very abstract. For the body consciousness to know what relaxed means to you, it is important to describe the concept of relaxation in concrete terms by using your five senses: what would you be seeing if you are relaxed, what would you be saying to yourself or hearing from others; what sensations would you be feeling in your body?

I offer an example in the book from a client that was concerned about her mother being present during the birth of her baby. She said she regresses to a child around her mother. I asked her what she wanted? “To feel strong and in my power”, she responded. I then guided her to envision what that would look like, what she would be seeing that is different from what she is fearing. And guess what, that’s exactly what she was able to deliver (no pun intended!).

The process of visualization is then used to support the new beliefs and vision for childbirth. Visualization is like mentally role playing. Visualizing what you are wanting further imprints the vision into the subconscious mind and keeps the vision alive. There is a chapter in the book that guides a visualization of labor and birth. I also created a CD that is a visualization of birth that can be ordered. This is where the mandala for birth comes in. The process of creating a mandala for birth draws from both the conscious mind (goals and desires) and the unconscious mind (information that may not be available to the conscious mind). A mandala for birth is a visual representation of the positive birth experience you envision. It further clarifies what you want and acts as a reminder to help stay focused on your desired outcome.

Interview with Nancy Burns:

What was the seed or prompting for your work using mandalas to support women’s experience of birth?

At the time, I was co-facilitating a Sacred Wisdom Support Group for Mamas-To- Be with a midwife friend. We incorporated her knowledge of midwifery and birth with my knowledge from counseling psychology for birth. We were using art as a medium for their expression of various topics about birth. The idea for making a mandala for birth came when I was meditating. The idea of making a birth mandala began by having a visual image of a 10 centimeter circle to support 1st stage of labor. The mandala expanded to include a woman’s vision for birth through the use of images, shapes, words, colors.

How have you seen images in the mandalas of the women you work with translating into, or empowering, their experience of giving birth or how they view themselves?

This question would best be answered by the women themselves. The following are some birth mandalas and quotes from the women:

APRIL’S MANDALA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Birth unfolds as a butterfly signifying metamorphosis, flowers opening up towards the light, owls wise and all knowing , signifying the relationship of the internal and external worlds/heavenly and earthly worlds. The inner goddess spirit that is in all women can soar and I draw upon her endless energy to bring new life into the world. The dancer of flamenco is there to remind me that birthing is a dance, as is all of life, and to remember my passion and flirtation for and with life.”

STACY’S MANDALA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STACY’S REFLECTIONS ON HER MANDALA

“The relationship between creating life and creating art really manifested for me during the mandala project. Both take intention, mindfulness, love and patience. Verbalizing my intention helped me tofocus my creative energy and thoughts. Nature, especially water, represents the flow of life in me and around me and through me. The shell represents the sacred spiral and the path the baby will take to leave my womb. Purple is a powerful feminine energy color and the nesting flowers give birth to a perfect moon-like orb, representing my baby. The moon cycle on the bottom mirrors the opening of my cervix during labor and birth. Two spirit guides, the dove and the Virgin Mary surround me, reminding me that my higher power is always present, loving and supporting me. A golden halo-like semi-circle encircles where my head should be. It symbolizes the holiness of living in the present, which can happen when I remove my head as the barrier to surrender.

The gift was working through my mental barriers and fears to create the reality I desire for my birth experience. I intend to use my mandala to focus on what I do want: balance, centeredness, confi dence, peace, rather than what I don’t want to happen.

STACY’S REFLECTIONS AFTER BIRTH

“The birth mandala has a special place in my heart and birth story. It is such a beautiful journey. The birth mandala has been very grounding. Upon completing it, the mandala was hung in my bedroom with a beautiful scarf around it. I really wanted to create a sacred place to honor my intentions for the birth of my child. The theme of my mandala was surrender, and it was in full alignment with this pregnancy. ….The mandala was a constant source of gentle and loving reminders that I was not in control of this birth and to surrender to the moment…

…Throughout the labor I used it to ground myself in the rhythmic waves of tension and release. I envisioned my baby spiraling out of my body and into the water, just as I depicted in the mandala. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as life was being brought forth from my body and the warm maternal love of the Creator – symbols of which I had included in my mandala. A little past midnight on July 25, 2009, my daughter slid out of my womb, up through the water and onto my belly. Hazel stared at us with wide eyes and amazement and I knew I had just been part of a miracle.”

AMY’S MANDALA

Amy's Mandala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“When I was creating this birth mandala, I felt like I was giving myself courage and strength I never knew possible. I am more confident after this experience. I feel peace and a connection with my baby that is so deep and beautiful. I am now ready for an amazing, healthy and safe birth experience.

AMY’S REFELCTIONS AFTER THE BIRTH:
The mandala helped me go into my center and set intentions around the type of birth I wanted. I looked at it during my labor. I felt powerful and strong, just like I did when I was creating the mandala at the workshop.”

Nancy, in your role as a counselor in the birthing field for many years, what would you say are the primary concerns you’ve witnessed women wrestling with?

This is an interesting and important question and has taught me not to make assumptions. I thought for sure the issue of pain would be predominant, but women were expressing other issues of concern like: fears around single parenting, the addition of a baby interfering in the couple relationship, and financial issues. All of these concerns are so personal and important to be addressed, accepted and come to terms with. I included a chapter on Reframing Pain because my own personal experiences and the feedback from women who used self-hypnosis and other tools to have a non-medicated birth was very empowering and satisfying.

What has been the most surprising, rewarding aspect of running these workshops and writing the book?

The workshops begin by creating a sacred space; women sitting together in a circle; lighting a candle and expressing their intentions. I suggest they spend the day creating their birth mandala in silence, which allows them to stay focused and dive deep within themselves. This in itself is a wonderful preparation for childbirth and is very rewarding. I trusted in my own inner guidance to offer this work. When I received positive feedback from women about how the process helped with their birth, I was not so much surprised as delighted. It was at that time that I felt inclined to put the work in a book form to reach more people than I was able. I am offering workshops for childbirth professionals to be able to offer this work to their clients in a deep and meaningful way.

Any mentors or other resources in the field of birth and female empowerment you wish to share with us?

My greatest mentor lies within myself. That is what inspired me to co-create with Constance Miles, the CD; A Pregnant Pause. In this CD women are guided to find their ‘inner midwife’ that guides them and supports them in birth. It is my belief that we all have the wisdom within, we just need to unveil societies and programming from the media to get in touch with our own inner guidance. Writing the Birth Mandala book brought a very important lesson to me that is equally important to birthing a baby, or anything we are pregnant with. Another childbirth author cited my work in her book and people were contacting me to buy my book. I became anxious about completing the book quickly. Like birth, you cannot force anything. It ends up with complications. The book taught me to have patience and trust the natural unfoldment of its birth. When I felt stuck that is when I did the Mother Nature Mandala Collage to take my time and honor the process of birthing the book:

MOTHER NATURE MANDALA COLLAGE

Nancy's Mother Nature Mandala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as resources, there are many books and DVD’s available to empower a positive birthing. They can be found at the end of the book.

Nancy Burns is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Northern California, specializing in pre and perinatal concerns. For over 30 years, she has supported pregnant and postpartum women in various capacities. She has been a doula, childbirth educator and prenatal yoga instructor. She has also been a presenter at the California Association of Midwives annual conferences.

Nancy invites you to join her for “a FREE unique evening that promises to stimulate a fresh vision of childbirth” on Friday, March 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm at Soul Shine Chiropractic – 440 So.E St., Santa Rosa, CA, and a Birth Mandala Workshop on April 20 and April 21, 2012 at the same location. For more information,  e-mail Nancy: BirthMandalas@gmail.com.




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