Tuesday, April 15

Been reading . . .

I think most everyone knows we're expecting baby #5 in September. YAY! We're excited and found it's a girl last week! Morgan is excited to have a sister and the boys are cool either way. Easton's only request is that the baby be cute. "If not, it's your fault!" he stated with a big grin!

Frustrated by aspects of my previous birth experiences and my own naiveté, I have been dipping my toe into books about natural childbirth at the recommendation of trusted friends and family. A new friend here lent me a stack of books I'd heard of and I've been devouring them!

Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a modern midwife by Peggy Vincent
This was so fun! This certified nurse became a midwife after years working in a Berkeley hospital where she was intrigued by the difference in mothers who were able to give birth naturally, observing and working with their bodies in labor.

Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Natural Childbirth
The first half of the book is birth stories of women and the second half is about her philosophy and techniques to support women giving birth. Man, I wish I'd read this ten years ago!!! Ugh. This has been the refrain Ryan has heard for three weeks now between my reading of these two books.

I am glad I read Vincent's book first because it started me on familiar ground - within the typical hospital birth experience. I got to walk with the author gradually into her curiosity and education on  supporting women's work with their bodies through labor. I have a lot more to read but I'm so glad I've got time to then incorporate what I'm learning with Ryan and our health care provider here in Germany.

A book, however, that I think will hijack my current train of thought is this one that was sent to me today. Melissa Dalton-Bradford's "On Loss and Living Onward: Collected Voices for the Grieving and Those Who Would Mourn with Them" grabs you from the first chapter. I wish I had the rest of the day to hide away and absorb it! But parent teacher conferences today, a back up of laundry from our machine being broken for two weeks, and a birthday party and baptism this week are calling me out of my cave.

I've gotten to know the author in the past six months. You can read my Goodreads review of her first book "Global Mom" which I loved. While I am so glad she wrote "Global Mom," I have been anticipating this next book even more!

When Ryan's brother Eric and his family lived in Munich back in 2010ish, we'd often attend church with them when we visited. Sister Bradford was often the Sunday School teacher and her lessons were my favorite kind. Her love and understanding of many languages, the scriptures, and great works of literature from around the world facilicated great discussions and learning for me. She was polished and accomplished and yet there was something that kept her apart from the typical ward bustle of comradery. Then one Sunday, I sat among a small group of women as Melissa taught the Relief Society lesson and shared an intimate poem she'd written about Biblical Hannah's son and Melissa's own son, Parker. I had not known until that moment that the Bradfords were freshly grieving the loss of their eldest son and brother two years prior. Her poem touched me deeply and I hoped she was a writer but I didn't even know her name.

Fast forward to last September when MormonWomen.com interviewed her about her memoir, "Global Mom." I discovered her book and blog, devouring both. But I have been eagerly waiting for this next book because of that poem. I know her walk of loss and grief and her intense study of this path which she calls "avelut" will teach me profound and sacred truths that will carry great meaning for the rest of my life - either for the losses I will undoubtedly experience or to know how to walk with others in their loss.

I know I am not good at mourning with others yet and American culture in general, LDS culture too, does not have ritual ways to help mourners long term. We want them to move on and be happy again because their grief makes us uncomfortable. Some religions and cultures do have rituals of mourning for those in grief and the community who would mourn with them. I'm here to learn!