On Clarity, Isolation, & Vulnerability

Don't run out of coffee beans on a Saturday in a small town with one (well-stocked but way over-priced) grocery. Which is closed on Sunday, naturally.  ::eye glare::

So this past April Monday morning, with gigantic snow flakes falling from the sky ::another eye glare:: I took a little walk over to the student refectory (we live on a boarding school campus) with my thermos in hand to fill with half-caf coffee. What's available at the refectory isn't quite comparable to what I press each morning, but it'll do (that is, it staves off the caffeine headaches). Walking from the house and into the cold, something happened: I immediately experienced overwhelming amounts of clarity and incredible energy for action. Why? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it had something to do with having a little time to myself and breathing room (when usual mornings offer little of either).  

Said clarity led to resolve. I resolved, for instance, to finally tackle my chocolate addiction (full disclosure: I can see the bottom of a Ben & Jerry's "The Tonight Dough" pint as I type this -- it will be empty before I finish). Additionally, I worked out an alternating workout schedule for myself and my husband (I haven't worked out in over four years). And I experienced this clarity on these issues merely on the way there.

On the way home, I reflected for a moment on the nature of my newfound lucidity. It made me think about how I've heard some mothers say they choose to work in part because it makes them feel like better mothers when they are with their children. It made all kinds of sense to me in that moment. Here I was, outside, without my children, taking a walk. For nine minutes. Incredibly, I accomplished/processed all of that in NINE MINUTES.

Holy clarity.

I mean, if that doesn't make one realize just how little they experience life outside of the home, without their children alongside (and on back of, or latched onto by), I don't know what will. It was truly wild. I returned home nine minutes later (I still can't get over that, can you tell?!) bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to conquer the world. 

Not two hours later I went to put my darling infant to nap. He nursed. He couldn't keep his eyes open. He also wouldn't shut them all the way. Thirty minutes of bouncing, shhhh-ing, patting, swaying, and sweating later... I had to give up.

But I didn't just give up. I felt defeated. I was frustrated. Well, I wasn't just frustrated; I was angry. I felt like I wanted to implode and explode all at once.

In the span of a morning I'd gone from wanting to take on the world to being demoralized by an eleven-month-old averse to sleep. 

But... that's how I experience this season of life. It feels very overwhelming. It feels incredibly discouraging. I feel like a failure (not all of the time by any means, but more than I'd like, that's for sure). And I feel alone in that. It's not just this one instance -- it's something small like this that happens (what seems like) daily that can bring on the feelings of defeat and despondency, even after I've experienced feelings of joy and possibility just a couple hours before. 

Now, I know other mothers struggle. I've been sharing my truth and experience on social media from day one. That's just my style. But I also see other mothers who don't seem to struggle, or at least don't seem to struggle as much as I do.

And I can't for the life of me figure out how

I've read... plenty. I try. I mean, I try really, really fucking hard. 

My first year of mothering was a beast. And by beast I mean, I had post-partum anxiety and a near mental breakdown. We didn't realize what I was dealing with until I was about six-months deep into a crippling struggle with frustration, anger, dejection, you name it. What I'd waited (what felt like) my whole life to be, to do -- to become a mother -- was crushing me.

The thing is, I realize I have it good. Really good. I choose to stay home. I have two healthy children. I live in a safe place. We have a cozy home. We have the means to pay for our simple life. Sure, there are challenges, but I'm hyper-aware just how modest those challenges are.

At the same time, however, when you put enough of those modest challenges together, it can create a pretty heavy, sometimes overwhelming environment.

I know that I'm a mindful parent; some would say exhaustingly so. I attachment parent. I'm home with my kids 24/7. We have a rhythm. We go on a daily walk, rain or shine no matter the season. We talk about everything, too much perhaps. We poop together. I mean, if it's done, it's done together -- otherwise it doesn't happen (for me, at least). And there's so much beauty in our lives.

I'm a photographer. I know how to capture beautiful images. And I'm a storyteller. I know how to share mindful reflections partnered with beautiful images. It's what I do. But oh my how it is only a fraction of my family's everyday reality. 

I'm aware of my privilege -- in so many ways we have it good. And I'm not a victim of my circumstances. But this shit is hard. And I feel like I'm doing something wrong. Are my expectations of my children or myself too high? Is it a problem of my attitude? I don't think it's that I haven't discovered the right way to solve our problems. I'm here; I'm in it; I'm committed. And there are moments where our lives are beyond magical. But in large part, it's just really, really hard.

Which brings me to the questions I ask myself constantly -- Are my struggles unique? Am I alone in what I'm experiencing? Is there anyone out there having a similarly difficult time (I'm certain there is)? 

It's hard not to feel alone in parenting struggles when said struggles are so rarely confessed in the open. I've read the "viral" blog posts that bash on the supposed fraudulent portrait of life that the various social media sites can give. I, for one, don't doubt there's a good bit of truth to that. But I also know (first hand) there's mostly just a lot of really skillful, intentional curation happening -- through pictures, through collages, through ideas put forth about other people's families. And I think many of us engaging in said curation are doing so with the knowledge and assumption that we are all doing it, and we all know that we are all doing it. And that's fine, whatever. 

So I cognitively know that everyone's life isn't entirely accurate as presented on social media. But that narrow-window of content nevertheless can be incredibly isolating when dealing with parenting struggles. Particularly when one finds themselves without sufficient local support.

It's not just social media that can be isolating when I experience parenting struggles, however. It's also the vague platitudes dished out as a gesture toward solidarity or empathy, much of which fails to really hit home, especially when it's mediated through a computer screen. You may know what I'm talking about -- someone complains or makes themselves vulnerable online, and a throng of friends comment with faint and general encouragement, a distanced attempt to sympathize. Sure, the encouragement can help at times, but it often isn't what's really and truly needed in difficult, self-doubting times. 

It's funny just how much social media plays into my experience of parental striving. We all have our preferred "styles" of social media sharing and engagement, and there's really an art to it, an art some have seemingly perfected more than others -- I'm certainly not saying I have. But what I'm advocating for, I don't see much of.

What am I advocating? Well, let me ask this -- Is there a space for mothers to be honest and vulnerable about their mothering struggles, while also maintaining a sense of dignity? A place where struggles are really heard and appreciated and not just met with one-size-fits-all responses like 'you're doing the best you can'? A place where real, meaningful conversations happen, and real, meaningful relationships and transformation follows from them? 

Maybe On Being Mom can be that space? I'd like for it to.


I'd really love to hear your thoughts, whether here in the comments, on facebook or IG (@onbeing_mom).

And when posting to IG, if you find yourself thinking, "This is really an accurate representation of what it looks like to be "mom," right now, as I know it" (whether silly, lighthearted, warm, messy, despondent or any other range of emotions that may be attached) ... I invite you to use the hashtag #onbeingmom -- I'd love to share some of those posts with the community at large.

On Being Mom, Ali Dover

Before launching On Being Mom, when I was still dreaming of sharing this space with a community of like-minded mothers, I knew that I wanted a staple feature of this blog to be the sharing of other mother's voices. I find myself wildly inspired by other mothers, artists, activists, makers, earth-lovers, and home-dwellers. I love listening to other people's stories, hearing their perspectives, what makes them feel ragged and wilty, and what fills them with peace and contentment. It's in the sharing of our stories and voices that we connect, grow, experiment, settle-in. I so very deeply desire that for myself, my daughter, my sisters near and far -- and so it must be a feature here. To share with you other mothers: their truths, struggles and triumphs.

And so with that said, I wanted to share this mother with you first. I'd been following Ali on Instagram (@ali_dover), and then discovered her woven wrap company. I was moved by the images she shared, her passion for babywearing, her courage to create and share her talents and perspective with the rest of us. It was an unwavering gut instinct pressing me to invite her to lead this interview series. And much to my delight, before I'd even launched, she agreed without hesitation! I've felt such a palpable testimony of the building up and support of other creative women and mothers from my interactions with Ali. My interactions with her alone have been a blessing, and I trust what is said below will be to you as well. Enjoy!


Introduce yourself, Ali -- you know, the general rundown. Who are you and what are you about?

My name is Ali Dover - I’m a photographer and woven wrap maker, passionate about freedom, fresh air, learning and personal growth…

What is the topography of your family? Can you give us a little bio on each member?

I live with my three children Billy, James and Lucy and their father, Jim. Billy is 18, a pretty cool guy into skateboarding and guitar. He has spent the last year immersing himself in the world of the electric guitar, learning many other things along the way, and is now quite accomplished. He has a weekend job working at a local motocross park. James is 9, mad about cars, bikes, anything with an engine really. Out of all my children, he is the most like me, both to look at, and in personality (we're both sensitive and love peace and quiet!). Lucy is 7 and constantly full of energy - like a coiled spring. She has been keeping me on my toes since the day she was born, and I’m sure she was sent to me to teach me all sorts of things! Jim is 60 - we’ve had our ups and downs over the last 21 years but I think we’ve finally found a place where we sort of just rub along together.
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I know you were a single mom for just over a decade — how did your time as a single mom inform your approach to mothering? What advice might you have for other single moms attempting the same sort of mindful, attached parenting model as you have?

None of my children were actually conceived when Jim and I were living together and in some ways, I found single motherhood quite a calm position to be in. It’s during these years that I realized how important it is to listen to our gut instinct and having three children brought me a strength I didn’t know I had. Physically it can be hard on your own and I do feel it's important to create a support network (but that goes for all of us, single or not!). I found baby slings utterly invaluable - I could carry Lucy on my back whilst bathing James, for example.

You’re talented in so many ways — photography, branding and mentoring, woven wrap design, and so on… What are you most focused on right now?

Thank you - I’m not so sure about talented, certainly multi passionate - there are so many things that I love to do and my mind jumps around a lot depending on inspiration. But right now I’m focussing on my woven wraps and babywearing photography - I have two new striped designs coming out in the next couple of weeks, and a jacquard design at the end of April/beginning of May, thanks to the fantastic folks who supported my recent Kickstarter campaign.

I know you are building a beautiful woven wrap company at present. What are you trying to convey with each wrap you create? What do you want the woman wearing your wraps to feel? Or, what might they embody? 

There’s a sort of underlying gesture with everything I do surrounding encouraging mothers to have the confidence to find out who they really are and what they're capable of as human beings, to believe that they have a right to do that. Motherhood often brings with it an identity crisis - we’re not quite sure who we are anymore - but if we’re supported and encouraged, it can also signal the beginning of something amazing, a real discovery of who we truly are. When I design my wraps, this is always something I feel very strongly about and the wraps’ names often give a sense of this. For example, the next two striped designs are called Dream and Spirit…

What role has babywearing played in your journey as a mom?

When my first son was born, I certainly felt inclined to carry him, but the only product readily available was a Baby Bjorn. It was so incredibly uncomfortable after about half an hour’s use that I put it away after my son was five months old. Several months later, I bought a framed back carrier, but quickly discovered its incompatibility with my own slight frame. The fact that I wanted to carry Billy gives me an insight into the glimmers of beginning to listen to my instinct despite the overriding fact that I spent far too much time listening to so-called ‘experts’. 
I have the internet (and an unwitting if very kind health visitor) to thank for developing my knowledge about the wonderful world of wraps and ergonomic carriers. When James was born, I bought a ring sling and a stretchy wrap. I didn’t really know how to use either, nor did I know where to find help, so I struggled on in ignorance. It wasn’t until he was 7 months old that the health visitor thought he might have ‘clicky hips’ and referred him to a consultant at the hospital. There was a four week wait however, which gave me ample time to research the condition. Through that research, I discovered the Ergo baby carrier, optimal positioning in a carrier and my babywearing journey took off at full flight. My confidence as a mother mirrored this flight - I felt like I had used my own power and authority to help my son (it transpired his hips were fine). He never again went in a pushchair/pram/stroller - that research took me on a journey I could never have imagined; from one article or book to another, I discovered not only the benefits of co-sleeping and attachment parenting in general, but the real me that had struggled so hard to emerge with the birth of my first son. 

Tell us an unexpected high and low of motherhood to-date. 

Discovering that labour and childbirth don’t have to be painful - I studied hypnobirthing ready for Lucy’s birth, and it was revolutionary.

What gets you through the low seasons when you're *IN* them? 

Even if it’s hard in practice, knowing that I have the power to choose my thoughts gets me through the tough stuff. 

What do you think of this concept of women/mothers "having it all" and finding balance in all the roles one may assume?

The saying 'it takes a village to raise a child' is as true as it ever was. I've realized that it shows strength, not weakness, to ask for help and I wish for a society where all mothers feel the same; not to ask out of desperation, but to ask before we get to that point and it be considered natural that help is forthcoming. On that basis, I honestly don't think women can expect to 'have it all' - it's unreasonable in the extreme!

What book, film, or piece of art has impacted you as a mother?

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff - revolutionary, truly.

Tell us a bit about mothering in the past, present, and future. What went well/was difficult? How do past parenting experiences inform your present and future?

In some ways, my eldest son has been the one from whom all ideas have been borne, and in that sense I do feel he has suffered in ways that my other children have not, because my parenting has naturally evolved with each child. It was because Billy’s early school experiences were so dire that I took the decision to take him out and allow him to follow a path of autonomous learning. But I have struggled with feelings of guilt that he ever went to school at all. Each of my children is so different, with very different needs on a personal level, but I have never regretted our educational decisions - it’s a constant joy, a daily adventure and I am always excited about the freedom we have to learn at our own pace in a way that suits us all - I know that travel is on the cards :)

Whether she knows it or not, have you had any mom-mentors who you've been significantly impacted by? Who? How/in what way?

I have a wonderful friend, 6 years my senior, who is the calmest, wisest person I know; she’s quite the goddess. She always knows just the right thing to say to help me on my quest for spiritual and personal growth and is a great source of support and encouragement.

What are you currently reading?

I’m fascinated by health and nutrition and how it helps not only our bodies but our souls - currently I’m reading ‘Clean’ by Alejandro Junger.

What are you currently making?

Lucy has a little sewing machine and she loves to make cushions out of wrap scraps; at the moment I’m helping her with those :)

Introduce us to one brand or product that is a part of the joyful fabric of your mom life?

There are a few, but right now it has to be the NutriBullet - it’s a fantastic way of ensuring the kids and I get a healthy dose of vitamins and nutrients and the kids love making their own concoctions.

Your go-to dinner at present?

There's one meal in particular that everyone in our house loves and it’s so simple and quick to make - brown rice with baked salmon fillet and stir fried leaks, red pepper and wilted spinach on top.

What is one word or image that centers you?

“Breathe”

You can find Ali on Instagram @ali_dover, on Facebook, or visit her website Ali Dover.

My One Dress Protest from 2011

As I recently began minimizing my wardrobe for the first time since my One Dress Protest ended, I found myself thinking a lot about my ODP (my year-long experiment wearing a single dress every day). And yet again, I found myself super sad that it no longer existed on the Internet (long story short... I let the domain lapse and it was bought up by a host and is still for sale for far more than I could/would buy it back for). So considering that neither minimalism nor activism is off-topic here on On Being Mom, I've decided to re-publish many of the posts from my ODP here, to share and for reference. 

I need to say, though, briefly, in the time since my ODP my life has changed quite a bit. Some of what I wrote feels a little... inapplicable. But I'm willing to embrace it for what it was, at a time when I still claimed to be a Christian and wasn't yet a mother, among many other perhaps less notable changes, as it was one of, if not the, most impactful years of my adult life.

I'm going to start by re-publishing some of the About and "Why?" page.


One Dress Protest

fasting from fashion

 

One Dress Protest is me, Kristy Powell, wearing one dress for one year in order to protest the ideas and motivations behind how and why I wear my clothes. Over the year I aim to challenge the ways identity is constructed through clothing, what sustainability means for consumption, how our perception of others is so often based on external presentation, and what “fashion” ultimately means for me going forward. 

I think it's hilarious now looking back that I kept all those shoes in my closet. I did need shoes for all four seasons, plus teaching Pilates, gardening, my business-dress work environment (psych hospital), and exercising... but still. I also commuted to work and life by either foot or bike regardless of season or weather so... footwear was of utmost importance. But, still.

I think it's hilarious now looking back that I kept all those shoes in my closet. I did need shoes for all four seasons, plus teaching Pilates, gardening, my business-dress work environment (psych hospital), and exercising... but still. I also commuted to work and life by either foot or bike regardless of season or weather so... footwear was of utmost importance. But, still.

WHY?

Why in the world are you doing this?

And that… is a big question. But I guess it is the question that first comes to mind for most people when they hear someone has decided to wear a single article of clothing for an entire year.

There’s a lot of ways to answer this, and you’re invited to follow me on my fashion odyssey (or, perhaps, my lack thereof) to gain a much more comprehensive answer. Yet the best response I can give here is that I have had a complicated and complex history with clothing, much like anyone else living in 21st century America. By this, not only do I mean in the ways I have identified the overcritical expectations that our society places on women and the clothes we wear, but also the perplexing friction in how those expectations make me feel about myself.

Thus, I’ve set out to explore what it looks like to openly, publicly and boldly survey what clothes and fashion mean to me, and to investigate some of the more meaningful implications the world of clothes have for our lives and hearts.

Why are you wearing just one dress?

You might be thinking, “Why can’t she simply just not buy clothes for a little while?” or, “Why can’t she just be more conscious of the ways she attends to the forces of society that tell her how to look?” or maybe even, “Why can’t she just wear the clothes she already has and learn to be content with them?” To these questions, I say, “YES”!

First off, I will not be purchasing clothes for the year. Secondly, I aim to be more than conscious of the forces of society that tell women that looking a certain way is the only way – in fact, I plan to survey them rather closely in the ways they transpire in my life. And finally, a major part of the process of this project is to learn to be happy with the clothes I have available to me. I mean, who am I kidding? I’ll have to be—I’m wearing one item for a whole year.

Ultimately, though, wearing one dress allows me to examine these issues to an extent that not wearing one dress just wouldn’t permit. Wearing a single dress for a year was the best and most radical way I could conjure up to force myself to confront the enormous amount of personal and social issues that I—a typical 21st century American woman—encounter everyday through the clothes I wear.

And in the end, this is, in fact, a protest. Which leads us to…

Why is this a protest?

The word “protest” means a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to… something. Truly, there could not be a more appropriate word for this project. One Dress Protest is meant to be both a statement and an action to express my disapproval of and objection to the ways that fashion undervalues, denigrates, objectifies and oftentimes insults women. One Dress Protest is, at its heart, a conscious attempt to stand up, openly question and explore some of the ways this happens in my own life.

The physical act of protesting, though, is itself a social phenomenon. By standing up and standing out, protests create forums through which people can encounter the problems, pains and/or injuries of others. If my project can open a few other people up to engaging the issues I’m trying to call attention to, I feel it will be worthy of being called a “protest.”

I must add, though, that protests often imply reacting against something. It’s true, there’s a lot I am reacting against in the One Dress Protest. Yet I also intend to speak up for the things that I am for—such as sustainability, free expression, and self-worth and care, amongst many other things.

Why are you putting this on the internet?

The internet, with the modern proliferation of social networking media, has become such a useful medium for reaching out to all types of people and getting a message across. I’m a pretty simple and straightforward person—my message, as I choose to portray it over the internet, will not be any different. And while reaching others through computer and cellphone screens may be a little less face-to-face than I’d ideally like for my protest to be, this doesn’t negate the fact that the One Dress Protest aims to involve others in its mission of exploration, questioning and analysis.

I will say, though, that I have vowed to keep the One Dress Protest blog ad-free. Not only would it be a bit disingenuous and hypocritical to host ads on my website (advertising, of course, is the fashion industry’s henchman), but I simply do not make money from hosting my content online. Please know that when you read, follow, or join my protest in any way, I am and will remain just a girl with a message (…and that message won’t include you needing to buy anything).

Where does your one dress come from?

My dress was designed by the women of the Uniform Project, a non-profit fashion organization focused on opening peoples’ eyes to “stylish, sustainable and socially conscious” clothing. U.P.’s mission is to revolutionize the way people perceive fashion through socially responsible consumption.

The dress itself, formally known as U.P.’s Little Black Dress (LBD), is a simple staple design – an A-line silhouette, which can be worn from the front or back. Because eco-friendly fabrics are extremely limited in the United States at this point in time, U.P. sources the fiber in India where they have developed their own proprietary fabric in an organic cotton and native silk blend. Both the dress and fabric were produced at the same ethically certified factory in Bangalore, India, which donates proceeds from each dress to provide education for local underprivileged Bangalorean children.

Why do you call the One Dress Protest a “fast from fashion”?

Fasting often refers to abstaining from food, but it also can be applied to abstaining from other things. My own fast is meant to limit my intake (i.e. purchase) of clothing.

Yet it’s obvious that a complete and thorough fast from fashion is simply not possible (at least in the way it’s possible to fast from food). There is no escaping the fact that I will always be fed by ideas of society and the larger fashion industry regardless of what I decide to wear. Even if I were somehow never to see another advertisement again, I still have millions of images and messages floating around in my head that impose upon how and why I wear my clothes.

In the end, though, the term fast is meant to communicate an abstinence from buying or wearing clothes other than my one dress.

How is your faith involved?

My faith is intimately interconnected to the One Dress Protest. I am a Christian – much of why I am motivated to “fast from fashion” is because I believe that the messages having to do with clothing in our society are a scandal to the wide and inclusive love that God has for us as bearers of God’s divine image. These harmful, unsustainable messages cloud my own ability to follow Jesus. Thus, in my protest I seek to foster a better, more radical way to live how Jesus taught, which is more alert to the destructive state of fashion as we know it today.

I cannot stress enough, though, how the One Dress Protest does not seek to judge, condemn or demonize those who work in or around the fashion industry. Doing so would not only be counterproductive, but also would not be in accord with the ways that Jesus taught us to love one another as God loves us.

Christian or not, though, the “harmful, unsustainable messages” of the fashion world are issues everyone encounters. That said, everyone will see these issues from valuable perspectives – I myself engage the issues of fashion and identity through the lens of my Christian worldview.

Is your protest political?

Politics, at its most basic level, can be understood as the circumstances or relationships between people in society, especially those relationships involving issues of authority and power. So I would say yes, One Dress Protest is absolutely political. It seeks an ongoing discussion on the state of these relationships—particularly in the ways they intersect issues of appearance and identity. Yet the One Dress Protest is not partisan, and will not speak from the standpoint of traditional party platforms.

Minimizing my Mom Wardrobe

Minimizing, decluttering, simplifying... these are sexy words in more than just a niche crowd these days. I feel like every third post I see on Facebook is about minimizing one's wardrobe. And I get it. I've spent soooooo much time working on, writing on, and living into the minimal impulse to varying degrees.

A bit of context...

A few years ago, my 27th year of life, I went radically minimal (in the wardrobe department) and wore one single dress, un-accessorized, for one year. I sought out to challenge the ways my identity was constructed through clothing, what sustainability means for consumption, how our perception of others is so often based on external presentation, and what "fashion" ultimately meant for me going forward, among other things. I blogged my way through the year (on a blog that is no longer live but I'm slowly re-publishing some of that content here). To say it was life changing would truly be an understatement. 

That year changed so, so much for me. I learned, first hand, just how much happier I was living with less. It was incredibly freeing. Honestly, it's a significant piece of the puzzle that has allowed us to adopt the necessary mindset for me to be a SAHM (with a grad student husband). Over the course of my one-dress year, my husband and I realized that we could really get by on much less than most and be truly happy. Happier than ever!

And then, on the final day of my "One Dress Protest," I finally saw those two much anticipated pink lines. 

My body QUICKLY changed. And before I'd even finished going through what all had been packed away the previous year while I wore my one dress, my wardrobe was ill-fitting. So my clothes sat for another year as my body grew, stretched, and changed shape. 

After Adiah, my daughter arrived, my body didn't return to it's pre-partum shape (not so surprisingly). A couple years later I got pregnant again, but I lost that baby. In the couple months I was pregnant, though, my body had already started the quick early weight gain I now know is just my norm. So... more weight... I didn't lose. And then I got pregnant with Walden. My body stretched and grew, again. And now I'm 11-months post-partum with a completely different (or so it feels to me) body than I had prior to having my children.

It's been 4 years and I've bought so little clothing for myself, what with all these changes in my body shape and function. I've not wanted to buy clothes for a body I felt was in constant flux, and I especially haven't been willing to spend money on clothes that might not fit a few months down the line.

Oh, and also prior to having Adiah I was a full time Pilates instructor. I taught Pilates or was in the studio running a teacher training or was at the gym working out with my personal trainer (professional trades are the best) between 40 and 60 hours a week total. Ask me how many hours I've spent exercising (outside of walking) in the past 4 years...?! Less than I did in one week pre-kids. Of course my body is different. And while I truly, deeply miss being so physically present in my body... it's just not happening right now. Goals, goals, so many goals, so little time. 

(As a side note, it's at this point that I try to remind myself that there is enough time, it's just that I've chosen a slower path for there to be "enough time." I need to establish the rhythms and rituals of my life to incorporate healthy bits of exercise, but honestly, I just can't seem to seize the opportunity at present. Some day.)

All this has meant I've lived out of probably 3% of my wardrobe for the last 4 years. And yet, it's all just sat there for... one day. The day I finally decided to go through it.

So, with the backstory details out of the way, here's what I'm working with: a closet full of clothes from my pre-kids, fittness-instructor-body, not-SAHM life; a body I accept just as it is and appreciate for all the magical things it has done and is still doing over the past four years, and a desire to rid myself of the excess, finally, to let go of what doesn't fit or support my lifestyle.

And... here's how I've done it so far and where I'm at in the process.

This picture illustrates where I started (the only things it's missing is what I keep in the drawers of my dresser: bulky sweaters, some pajamas, t-shirts, underwear/bras, socks, and Pilates attire that I don't hang).

The initial wardrobe go-through was daunting, but probably the easiest step in the process. I took garments out in sections (all the sweaters, then all the jeans, so on and so forth), because doing everything at once just doesn't happen -- that's an unrealistic project in my world.

I tried on every single item. I removed what didn't fit or wasn't close to fitting (which meant taking out most of my pants, which no longer fit my post-partum build). I removed what had a hole or a stain that I couldn't get out (this did away with a great many t-shirts dating back to college). And I kept what I liked reasonably enough (this filtering tool took out much of what I felt was "too young" for a now-mom of two).

That got me to this:

At this point I knew this wasn't what I wanted or needed to get down to, but it was a good start. So then I had a little fun. Before going on to the next step of paring I added in the sweaters from my dresser so all that isn't pictured (below) is: some pajamas, t-shirts, underwear/bras, socks, and Pilates attire that I don't hang.

So then I attempted to "KonMari" my closet. Essentially that means a certain way of going through everything and then keeping what "sparks joy." Imma be really honest here: I seriously struggled with this. And why, I think, is very important. I don't just want less. I most of all want to consume less. I also want to keep what is functional because tossing/donating things is really not a sustainable model either. 

So in essence, what "sparks joy" and what I'm willing to wear just aren't synonymous.

One of the issues I have with the KonMari method is what to do with all the discarded, perfectly fine garments. What I know for certain is that all too often the clothes one drops at a giveaway center just end up in a landfill somewhere. It's unfortunately not a responsible way to get rid of things, so every item I get rid of feels like a burden. In so many ways keeping it all all these years has been an effort to avoid that work, the work of ridding myself of what I knew would be gotten rid of. 

That said, looking at an item and asking myself whether or not it "sparks joy" just felt horribly foreign. It felt frivolous and not respectful to the garment, or our earth. It felt irresponsible. 

Honestly, if I truly and honestly KonMari'd, I'd have about 4 items left. The KonMari method would leave me with so little and have me toss out so, so much. Of course, then I'd feel justified (and would truly need to do so) in going out and purchasing more stuff. All this to say, my experience illuminated for me how KonMari is ultimately for the privileged. Consume, joy, toss, repeat. It does very little to curb one's consumption habits. Sure, I do think it encourages some to consume less. 

Isn't there a better way?

Back to my own process, though. Next, I put all my clothes (that'd I'd gotten down to after the first major go-through) back again, effectively starting over. Instead of using the KonMari method, I filtered my choices of what to keep in my wardrobe with the the filter, "What would I buy today, for what I think I paid for it?" That got me to this:

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This was by far my most minimal outcome.

I think this is what KonMari was supposed to have gotten me, but that method, as I said, left me unsatisfied. I needed a filtering system that helped me hang on to not just what sparked joy in my life, but what served a purpose and seemed to be something I'd actually wear. 

This (see photo below) is likely where my wardrobe will land, I think. Here's my closet with what I like and actually wear, plus what I'd wear if the right occasion presented itself, or what I'd be willing to wear before replacing it if my preferred items were to wear out. 

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It's more than what I'd rebuy, it's more than what "sparks joy," and it's more than I need, for sure. But for now, this feels like a reasonable end. I will say, the vast majority of this is still stuff I bought pre-children and thus, pre-breast feeding. So still, I feel like much of this won't be worn for hopefully another couple years. Even out of this I think I'll be wearing less than half until I'm no longer breastfeeding off-and-on all day every day.

So where to go from here? Well, here's what I hold myself to: wear out what you own, replace mindfully as you need. It's as simple as that. 

Would I love to toss it all, one-fell-swoop, and replace it with a handful of hyper-intentionally consumed handmade wool, cotton, linen items that exude "me"? Umm... YES! A thousand yesses. But, that's just not that responsible. I can't let myself get caught up in that fairy tale. Slow and steady, Kristy (I often tell myself). And then it makes future opportunities for intentional consumption that much more glorious (i.e., intentional). Because... I do like clothes, and I'd like to have a style, and I even like "shopping" from time to time. 

But this way I get to do it in a way I can feel really good about -- about my family, my bank account, my peace of mind, and ultimately the earth.

One Dress Protest -- "Charging Our Windmills: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day"

It's hard waking up to bad news. Many of us are feeling discouraged about the current state of American politics, but we must have courage to arise in the morning with optimism and know that, in the end, the good will have the last word. 

In light of this, I thought a blog post from the past conveyed my hopefulness. What follows was originally published on January 17, 2011 on my One Dress Protest blog, where I chronicled a year of my life wearing a single dress to explore radical minimalism and intentionality. I'll be republishing some of my ODP blogs here at On Being Mom from time to time. 

One Dress Protest

fasting from fashion

 

Today… I’m thinking about windmills.

Why, you ask? Have you ever read in Miguel de Certantes’ Don Quixote how Don Quixote, the eccentric adventurer, charges the windmills? He sees them from a distance, but in his off-center and impassioned imagination, he doesn’t just see windmills—he sees monsters. Hulking monsters with wide, swinging arms that dot the otherwise peaceful Spanish landscape.

So why am I thinking about windmills today… of all days? Today, the day set aside in America to commemorate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader and non-violent peace activist, is perhaps the best day on which to do so!

As Don Quixote readied his armor and prepared to charge, Sancho Panza, his halfwit sidekick, stood in disbelief. “Take care, sir,” he cried. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”

In other words, those windmills are not worth charging. For not only are they not monsters, but they are utterly harmless, mere objects of the normal, mundane rural countryside. Yet not only did Quixote press on, he charged with fervor, absolutely resolved in their wretchedness, convinced that their elimination would bring peace to the land.

Windmills and Martin Luther King’s birthday might seem far cries from comparability until we take a moment to ponder the windmills that King himself charged throughout his life. That is, the vicious tides of racism, the inhuman offenses of discrimination, the baseless nature of hate.

King, a non-violent protestor and prophet of love, was continually told that such social evils were merely windmills—ordinary realities of modern American culture. And while they might change in the future, it was best to let society slowly warm to the idea of equality, or to finally make good on its promises to grant civil rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens.

Yet like Quixote taking aim at the mammoth windmills anchored in the hills, King charged, and he charged ardently. In doing so, he not only took aim at the mundane racism, intolerance, and hate of his day, but also the other factors that inhibited people from attaining true change in their hearts and lives. According to King, we live in an age of “jumboism,” where society leads us to believe that “happiness consists in the size of our automobiles, the impressiveness of our houses, and the expensiveness of our clothes.”

Today, as I ponder King’s message, I want to add my small voice to the wider attempt to charge the windmills of our own day. Specifically, my protest seeks to charge the windmills of fashion and clothing consumption, which themselves seem normal in the context of our everyday lives. Those windmills secure the ordinary messages that we will be happier if we buy more clothes, that we will somehow become the better “me” by consuming the latest styles or newest trends (whatever styles those may be), that we need more or different clothes (be they expensive, free, couture, name-brand, or vintage) to be contented in this restless world.

Yet like Sancho, we, too, are apt to convince ourselves of the innocuous ordinariness of our windmills. “Those over there are not giants but windmills,” we reassure ourselves. “They are common, simple facts of life that I simply need to learn to live with.” But today—especially today!—we can channel King and not only begin to stand up to our windmills, but we can also charge them to wage the fight for our souls.

In this way, King realized just how much was on the line when we decide to take a stand, go against the grain, and charge on. So should we.

I must say that I do not mean to imply that the windmills I seek to charge this year are somehow on a level of wretchedness as those that King and the Civil Rights leaders faced down in their own day. But mine are windmills nonetheless. And today, when we are given reason to pause and contemplate the meaning and significance of King’s message of hope and love, we might also stop and think of the windmills that continually fade into normalcy in our world, prolonging his hope and love to take full effect in all of our lives.

So today, beyond merely commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr., join me in participating in his radical protest of the windmills that subdue our lives and hearts.

What do these windmills mean to you? Do you have other windmills you are setting your sights on? And perhaps most importantly, are you willing to seem ludicrous, as Don Quixote surely did, in order to charge whatever they may be?

On Having Young Siblings Present at a Home Birth

To have or not to have young siblings present at your home birth -- a wonderful question with no right answer. 

You've likely already ruminated on this a great deal, with questions streaming through your consciousness -- How young is too young? What if I lose my shit? What if he/she's a hot mess the whole time? What if he/she requires all of my partner's attention? Will I feel alone? Abandoned? Will I be too worried about him/her to focus on the task at hand? Might I traumatize him/her? What happens if we need to transfer?

Well, these are all great questions to ask. No one can necessarily answer these for you, just as with most things birth-related. And there is no right answer. Isn't that comforting? This question is yours, and yours alone, to answer. Sure, it may be helpful to hear how it has gone for others or to see what role their young children played throughout labor and birth. But ultimately, I'd encourage you to let all of the questions bubble to the surface. Acknowledge them. Sit with them. And as you do with all other birth inquiries, go with your gut.

If you sit with your questions and ultimately feel most anxious as you envision your young child in your birth space, I'd suggest you have arrangements for him/her to not be present. Ultimately, it's about creating the environment in which you feel most safe, most at peace. I mean after all, I'm assuming that's why you've chosen to give birth at home in the first place -- to have a safe, peaceful space.

Of course, there are lots of ways a child may be present. You may wish to have a close family friend take him/her as soon as labor begins, or perhaps once active labor sets in. Or maybe you have a close friend or family member present dedicated to just being with and caring for your child, able to go elsewhere when/if you or the child may need. Or maybe you've hired a "sibling doula," a doula who has gotten to know your child (just as a doula gets to know the family and their intent in the birthing process) before the birth and then comes once active labor begins to "hold space" specifically for your child. She may answer questions in developmentally/age-appropriate ways, and be present with and for your child throughout the whole experience. 

A sibling doula is really a beautiful model for those who want their young child present, don't have access to a family member or friend they'd like to have around, and would like to have someone specifically devoted to their young child that isn't one's partner. That said, though, this really only works for some children. I felt it wouldn't work for mine given my daughter had never even had a babysitter. Attempting to have someone else care for my daughter during such a unique time would have been much more stressful on us all, I am certain. 

Of course, the last option is simply to have your child attend the birth -- just there with no additional supports, rolling with it, letting things happen as they do.

If your plan is to just roll with having your child there with no real back up, I would recommend at least having someone reliable that you could call upon should you need to transfer or should things get too intense for all involved.

We had Adiah, then 2.5 years old, present at our home birth last spring. I will say, I had a home birth in large part because I didn't want to be separated from her at a time when, for me, it made the most sense to exist as a family unit, whole and complete. It's just what made sense to me. It's what felt right, deep in my person. 

With that said, at various points in my pregnancy I had various levels of back-up plans for her that I was processing in my mind. By the end I'd come to peace with having the number of a few neighbors to call in the event we needed to transfer. You know, like emergency-type situations. We'd decided that, worse case scenario, she'd transfer with us and I felt confident being alone with my midwives if absolutely necessary until someone was able to come for her. We don't live near family and I didn't have a doula so that was the extent of our "back-up plan." I felt fine about that. To another mama, that may be terrifying to consider. And thus, that might not be the right plan for you. 

I wondered how Adiah would be at the birth. As a birth photographer myself, she'd seen lots of birth images and video segments of births already. She was present at all of my own midwife appointments. She would crouch down and look up at my vagina every chance she got, attempting to see the baby. She was about as in-the-know as a 2.5 year old could be I'd say, for better or worse. 

What I was most unsure about was how she'd handle my birth noise-making. I knew from giving birth to her that I was not a quiet birth-er, at least not at the end. I huff and I puff, I roar, I moo. I'm not angry, I'm not panicked, I'm just... loud. And really all through labor (this time even more so than with Adiah) I'm vocal. It's one of my coping tools, turns out.

Rhythm is a huge part of zoning-in for many birthing mamas. For me, I make repetitive sounds, hums, moans along with rhythmic movements in my pelvis as I shift my weight from foot to foot. I'm a very somatic person having been a ballerina and a Pilates practitioner/instructor. I'm active. I'm on my feet. I'm in motion. I'm out of my head and very much in my body. And... I'm my own accompanist. I think one of the most darling parts of my birth with our son Walden was when Adiah walked in and confidently remarked, "Mama is singing a baby song... to get the baby out." I hadn't even realized until she said so that that was exactly what I was doing -- making noises that sounded like I was singing. I don't think I did that while in labor with her so I hadn't talked to her about my "singing a baby song." That's just what it was to her, without it being explained. To some, what I was doing could have been a self-conscious-inducing act... vulnerable noise making and what not. But to her, it was clear as day: I was singing a baby song. To get the baby out. Duh. Simple as that.

A few photos from my birth with Walden.  Photos copyright to Jessica Liggett Photography.

And so, turns out, I had a quick labor with our second child -- 4 hours from start to finish, all during the day. Unlike with Adiah, I didn't have a labor that went on through night and day and night again. It was short and intense. Who knows what it would have been like to have a light sleeper (as Adiah is) during a noisy night time birth (I've been at multiple home births where the children slept through soundly... I assumed that would not be the case in the close quartered apartment we lived in at the time given my sound making and her sleeping disposition). 

Adiah ate, she visited, she observed, she was respectful without being asked; she knew. She knew what was happening and she intuited what I needed... she's my little empath. It was a gift, a gift to my and my husband's relationship to have her there, and a gift to the whole birthing experience. And I think having her there was a gift to her as well. She was present in the final moments, started to cry as my sounds grew their most intense, and a moment later I pulled Walden to my chest and... wonder! Amazement! MAGIC! She witnessed birth. I did it. She did it. We did it! Our family grew, together, unified, as one.

To prepare her, here's what I did:

  • I showed her birth videos and slideshows I prescreened -- this just happened along and along due to my work. I showed her both human and animal birth. She really enjoyed watching animals give birth and I think it helped show that it's just... what "we" do.
  • We read "Hello Baby" by Jenni Overend. I've also heard "Welcome With Love" by the same author is wonderful as well. "Hello Baby" provides a beautiful, real, mindful window into home birth through the voice of the youngest sibling. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of either one!
  • I prepped Adiah for what my birth-y sounds may sound like. When she was already calm and contented, in her safest space, we would cuddle up in the chair in her room and I'd explain (towards the end of my pregnancy) that I would likely make some very loud sounds as I was having the baby. I started by making moan-y sounds and each time I sat down to dialogue (more so monologue) about this with her I intensified the noises I was making and the volume of my sounds. We did this maybe 5 or 6 times total. She's pretty sensitive to noise and I thought it was important to at least attempt to prepare her for what  she may hear and reinforce that it was normal, to be expected. (Of course, I don't expect a 2.5 year old to be able to cognitively understand this, but I thought it better to plant the seed than to not.)

Other than that, we rolled with it. 

A few photos from my birth with Walden. Photos copyright to Jessica Liggett Photography.

So again, I think it was a gift to my toddler to have her present at her brother's birth. And thus obviously I'm coming from the perspective that thinks it's a most beautiful thing to have young (and older of course!) siblings present at a birth. 

But again, if that doesn't feel right for you, then it's not, and that's okay. Because most of all, you want to create a safe, warm, contented environment for mom, siblings, partner, and baby-on-the-way.

And for an exceptionally breathtaking example of young children present and active throughout a home birth, please do yourself a favor and watch this video. Also, thank you Tiff (@namastetiff) for allowing me to share this here. You and yours are radiant light bearers!

I'd love to hear about your experience having your children present at your home birth. Or if you're heading towards your first home birth with a young sibling present, I'd love to hear what you're thinking and how you're feeling about it at present. Does any one particular facet of the situation keep you up at night or most excite you?

On Trusting Relationships in Home Birth

When I began writing posts to share here, I started by reflecting on birth-y things. Perhaps because I'd just given birth (at home), but also because it's a topic I'm pretty passionate about -- as evidenced by my being a birth photographer and doula. This post started as a home birth check list (which I'll share here soon). But after my first bullet point turned into a few paragraphs, I decided I needed to take a step back and speak to one particular facet of home birth, at least at first -- established, unwavering, trusting relationships.

Perhaps your womb is full and you're already on your way to your first home birth, or perhaps you've already had two, or maybe you're not quite to that stage in life but already know you're drawn to the idea of giving birth in your home. Whatever your situation may be, if you're anywhere between being curious and sold on giving birth at home, I'd like to encourage you to ruminate on this question for the next few minutes:

What about your partner (assuming there is one to consider, for this particular point); where is he or she most comfortable, at this point, with your giving birth? 

As I was considering images to include, my thoughts immediately went to this birth as it was a most beautiful example of both of the points I'm making here in this post.

As I was considering images to include, my thoughts immediately went to this birth as it was a most beautiful example of both of the points I'm making here in this post.

It is SO important that you include your partner in the process of deciding where you deliver -- that is, if you intend for your partner to have an active role in supporting you before and during the birth process. In my own experience, it's much smoother to go from point A (curious but unsure about home birth) to point B (MUST. HOME. BIRTH.) with your partner than it is to arrive at point B solo and then try to talk him or her over to your side.

As you go about choosing where to give birth, there's pressure on both partners in a relationship -- and that means there can be tension between you. Because the last thing you want as you approach your due date is unwarranted tension, here's some hard-won advice: allow your partner to take that journey with you. In so doing, you allow your relationship the opportunity to grow more unified, more whole, and thus stronger as a result of the process (and we haven't even gotten to the transformative power of birthing as a team!).

So nearly just as important as your feeling most safe, most comfortable, and most empowered by your chosen birth space, is your partner feeling most safe, most comfortable, and most empowered by your chosen birth space. Essentially, you want to both have an unwavering, trusting "relationship" with the place you'll give birth (whether it be home, hospital, birth center, or forest). Allow him or her the opportunity to own that with you.

Perhaps equally as important is your relationship with your midwives. CENTRAL, paramount, of principal importance to home birth is having an unwaveringly strong relationship of trust and mutual respect* with your chosen birth support providers.

I think I have a unique perspective on this after my two experiences giving birth, one being a really excellent hospital birth and one being a really excellent home birth, both with the same midwives (Louise Aucott, Pamela Rosser, and Heather Daniel of Midwifery Care Associates in Pennington, New Jersey).

Five years ago I would have been the woman reading this blog before my first pregnancy, interested and curious about home birth, with an uninterested partner, but none the less... willing to entertain the discussion. It just so happened that we needed to move from New Haven, CT, to Princeton, NJ, towards the end of my first pregnancy, thus... new midwives, new birth space, new everything. I really adored my midwives in New Haven and I was quite nervous about finding new midwives that could fill their shoes so late in the game. I did an overwhelming amount of research from multiple unique angles (a blog on that will come later down the road) to make sure I landed in the hands of the right midwives for me/us.

The midwives I chose, and were open to taking me on as a client so late into my pregnancy, were predominantly home birth midwives. I mentioned I was interested in giving birth at our new (would-still-be-in-boxes-most-likely) home, despite not having had that option available to me in New Haven. Still, I was curious to see if home birth could be an option for me with my new midwives. I was a bit disappointed they didn't feel that home birth was the best idea for me, what with being so far into the pregnancy already after the move. I was thrilled with them regardless, though, and moved forward with a plan for hospital birth in their care. It was a beautiful, as home-birth-like as you can get in the hospital, birth. I remember as soon as all was said and done my midwife exclaimed how smooth of a home birth that would have/could have been. Next time (and so it was)!

Between my two birthing experiences I became a birth photographer and doula and thus began attending births in one role or another (or both). Many of those births were home births, all of them were midwife attended (or unassisted), and a couple were with my own midwives. I can't begin to tell describe how my knowledge of birth and respect for midwives grew exponentially during this time. And so, of course, a lot of my thoughts on birth have been informed by my experience at the births into which I've been invited.

The palpable strength between them was a gift to all in attendance. 

The palpable strength between them was a gift to all in attendance. 

Fast forward a couple years to my pregnancy with Walden and we knew from the start we wanted our new baby's birth to take place at home. In the time between my pregnancies, however, I'd learned why my midwives didn't think it wise for me to leap into a home birth with them so late in my pregnancy -- despite my being a perfect candidate for it, and wanting to do so.

As much as I thought I trusted them, as much as I loved everything they were all about, my relationship with them was young. We hadn't had the usual allotted time to really grow in relationship together. Most women establish care with their provider of choice by the time they are about 12 weeks pregnant and then the typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks (give or take a few). That means that, on average, a woman and her provider have about 28 weeks to get to know each other, if they don't already. The mother has the opportunity to have all the relevant conversations with her providers necessary for her to have a really good feel for what she could expect from them through her labor and birth. 

It pains me when I hear women who don't have a great relationship with their providers for one reason or another (conflict of approach, preferences, personality, etc.) and yet still expect to have the birth experience they want. Let me first say, I believe every woman should be enabled and empowered to have the best chance at the birth experience she wants for her self and her baby. Yet I also think expecting a provider to usher the birth experience a particular mother wants when the provider has shown the mother throughout the pregnancy that the birth experience she most wants is unlikely to be the way her labor and delivery unfolds is just... foolish, and unfair to both parties (mom and the provider).

A separate scenario--but one that I also struggle with--is when I see moms desperately seeking midwives in the final days or weeks of their pregnancy to take them on as a home birth patient just because that's what they want so. badly. And I get it. I get wanting what you want and yes, you should be able to have that. I'm with you -- you should get it, in theory.

But here's why I think that's ultimately far from ideal. While yes, everything will most likely play out smoothly in your labor and delivery, if not excellently... it also may not.

I do not fear birth. I do not fear home birth. However, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the risks of any decision I make for myself and my baby (whether that be to home birth, or to get an epidural, or to get the flu shot while pregnant or breastfeeding (or ever), or to, or to, or to...). With every choice comes risk. Being well-informed of those risks is ultimately where I find the most comfort.

And so, let us acknowledge that there is risk in home birth (much like how there is risk in hospital birth, because there is risk in birth). BUT, the difference is, when something goes wrong at a home birth it is usually blamed on the fact that it occurred at home -- i.e., not at a hospital. "If she'd been in a hospital they could have, blah blah blah." And worse, "If I'd been in a hospital they could have, blah blah blah." Yes, in some rare instances medical intervention is necessary, intervention that one must be in a hospital to receive. And yes, in some even more rare instances mom or baby don't receive those interventions as speedily as is necessary and harm or death may occur. Yet harm or death may, and do, occur in hospitals as well. 

(Oh geeze, the blogs and blogs and blogs I could write as offshoots of each sentence... it's killing me.) 

This isn't about what others think of your choices and your outcomes, though. It's about your heart, how you feel at the end of the day.

This is actually me at Walden's home birth and here's what I wrote about this image soon after he arrived: "I don't think I'll soon forget this moment. It was THE ONLY moment through my short but intense labor that I enjoyed and found comfort in being touched. But it wasn't Pam that touched me; I touched her. She was near and I leaned into her. Subconsciously leaning into your midwife when you're moments from birthing your child is a pretty incredible indicator that, in her, you find safety and love. Thank you for being that, Pam."

This is actually me at Walden's home birth and here's what I wrote about this image soon after he arrived: "I don't think I'll soon forget this moment. It was THE ONLY moment through my short but intense labor that I enjoyed and found comfort in being touched. But it wasn't Pam that touched me; I touched her. She was near and I leaned into her. Subconsciously leaning into your midwife when you're moments from birthing your child is a pretty incredible indicator that, in her, you find safety and love. Thank you for being that, Pam."

I entered labor believing with full confidence that if Walden--sweet, precious baby Walden--had been harmed or died during my labor or birth, that my midwives would have done EVERYTHING within their extremely capable hands to have prevented it, and that I was in the best hands for me, regardless of what may come. Also, that I had chosen to give birth in the best location for me and that birth, at that time. 

I can remember (because it wasn't that long ago) lying in bed as my belly protruded far above me, hand resting on his bum nestled in my womb, and asking Russ, "Are you nervous about the birth at all? Do you feel at all unsure about having a home birth?" And he unwaveringly answered, simply, "No." I agreed. I felt unwaveringly confident in our choice. Not unwaveringly confident that all would go perfectly smoothly, but unwaveringly confident that we were in good hands and that we were making the right decision for our family.

I can truly say, I began labor not at all afraid of what may come, and I don't think that's in the least because I was ignorant about the possibilities.

Midwife, Dina Aurichio of New Birth Experiences, and mama in a passionate exchange post-birth. They were a beautiful example of deep, established, unwavering, mutual trust.

Midwife, Dina Aurichio of New Birth Experiences, and mama in a passionate exchange post-birth. They were a beautiful example of deep, established, unwavering, mutual trust.

So, if you're considering home birth, make sure you have a supportive, informed, engaged partner, and that you both have unwavering confidence in your chosen birth space, as well as midwives with which you have an established, unwavering, trusting relationship.

Because you can't share that many photos from one birth and not show baby (in the midwife's arms)!

Because you can't share that many photos from one birth and not show baby (in the midwife's arms)!

*Not long after writing this one of my midwives happened to share this article that discusses research that found that the bond between mother and midwife is the key to a happy birth.

WELCOME TO ON BEING MOM!

Welcome to On Being Mom! I'm going to borrow from my "About" page to both introduce myself and this blog, adding a touch more elaboration.

I'm Kristy Powell, mom to two earthside babies, Adiah (three-years-old) and Walden (six-months-old), and one angel baby, Eros, and wife to Russ, a teacher and writer. I'm a trained psychological therapist (no longer practicing), Pilates instructor and Pilates teacher trainer (not currently teaching), birth and mama-centric photographer, doula, and Waldorf-inspired homeschooling mom.

As a mom I'm a lot of things (aren't we all?!). I'm a hospital-birthing (Adiah), home-birthing (Walden), exclusively pumping (A), exclusively breastfeeding (W), cloth-diapering, wool loving, babywearing, Waldorf-inspired, attachment parenting-ish mom. I seek simplicity, though I'm excellent at overcomplicating and overthinking all the things. I'm minimalist-ish, an environmental activist, feminist-y, and aiming to raise our children to be creative and critical thinkers.

I'm a fan of the lady tribe, as well as mothers supporting and encouraging mothers. And despite having moved every three years for the last nine, I won't stop desiring, seeking, and building a tribe of like-minded and well-intentioned moms up around me. I'm interested in doing that with you. 

I'm full of thoughts, have a low "filter," and love to discourse about all things motherhood. I honor vulnerability and transparency, and I will always model that here. I love sharing my experience, but I love hearing the experiences of other moms even more. I aim to create a safe, warm, but not necessarily always comfortable environment. I believe we do the most growing when we're made to be a little uncomfortable. And though I'm a thirty-something wife and mother, I like to think I've just completed the first third of a lifetime of questioning, challenging, and growing. 

While the last few sentences do shed some light on a few of my preferences, they are hardly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to who I am as a mom. Because while it's convenient and expedient to attach such labels to a description of who I am, we all know our identities as moms are much more complicated than that.

So what are we doing here at On Being Mom? This will serve as a space for discussing all of what was mentioned above, which may take many forms. This will be a space to share stories and information spanning topics that will range from things like pelvic floor recovery after pregnancy and birth to non-hormonal birth control options you might not have otherwise considered; gender neutral and eco-conscious gift ideas for __-year-olds to my list of home and hospital birth must-haves; postural considerations while babywearing; my (and others') journey through Post Partum Anxiety and Depression; Waldorf and nature-inspired what-nots; matters of feminist thought and so on and so forth. I'll also be introducing you to the voices of other mom-artists, activists, makers, and lovers. There will also be "A Day in the Life" posts and no-holds-barred Q&As, among many other topics and discussions. 

If you care about relationships with other mothers who care about raising children in a slow, simple, mindful, close-to-nature, art-filled, holistic way... Welcome to On Being Mom. You are home.

And while my voice will be the primary one you'll read here at On Being Mom, this will be a space for others to share their voices and stories as well. If you feel so inclined, please do not hesitate to reach out -- your voice is worthy of being heard as a member of our fledgling community!

So, my always undercooked, sea-salt-dark-chocolate-olive-oil-brownies are about to come out of the oven. Hop on my couch and before you know it we'll be talking about such differing issues as labia health, threenagers, and composting leftovers (not likely in that order, or even in the same conversation, but you never know...).

Again, welcome to On Being Mom. I so look forward to the conversations we'll share. 


Wondering how you can keep up with OBM? Follow along on IG @onbeing_mom (this is the primary place you'll find me) OR on facebook (a terrible place to reliably receive content but still, I'll post there none the less). Or subscribe to receive all of our published content directly to your inbox in the space just over there to the right below the Instagram photos.  And please, SHARE this new space with like-minded-mamas!