5 Yoga Poses to Harness the Full Moon’s Feminine Energy

If you know anything about me, you know about my borderline obsession with the moon.

Recently I heard about the importance of aligning our feminine cycle with the lunar cycle. If we think about it, both are one month long and travel 4 different phases- it makes perfect sense. As I try to get my life on some sort of schedule approaching my 4th month of motherhood, I decided to share a few of my favorite ways to honor the lunar cycle (with the help of Miss Avery Rion).  Incorporate these yoga postures into your full moon ritual-and if you don’t have a ritual, here is a great place to start!

1. Low Lunge Crescent Variation –   Anjaneyasana  

Tips for this pose:

  • Stack your front knee directly above your ankle
  • Tuck your tailbone and be careful not to over-arch your lower back
  • Drop your shoulders away from your ears
  • Lift your gaze and your chest for an extra heart-opening affect

Why this pose?

Low lunge stretches the groin and activates your Sacral Chakra (second chakra), located in your pelvic area. Naturally, this chakra is associated with the sex organs as well as creativity, and passion. The Sacral Chakra allows you to let go and accept transformation and is also associated with the Moon and all of her feminine glory.

2.  Warrior II – Virabhadransana II

Tips for this pose:

  • Bring front knee bend to a 90° angle
  • Keep your hips facing forward, while your gaze turns to follow your front hand
  • Drop your shoulders and lengthen your neck
  • Tuck your tailbone, careful not to over-arch your lower back
  • Sit deeper into the lunge for a greater stretch

Why this pose?

Again, the lunging of this pose opens your feminine Sacral Chakra. The lifted chest and open arms activates the Heart Chakra, welcoming self love. As your healing center, activation of your Heart Chakra is important during a full moon to release what no longer serves you and make room for what the Universe is offering.

3. Bent Knee Triangle Pose – Trikonasana

Tips for this pose:

  • Keep the front leg knee at a right-angle
  • Release your shoulders from your ears and extend through your fingertips
  • Lift your gaze toward the sky

Why this pose?

Triangle pose is wonderful for the first 3 chakras: Root, Sacral, and Solar Plexus. By taking this pose in a bent knee variation, we are deepening our pelvic stretch and focusing on the Sacral Chakra once again.

4. Garland Pose – Malasana 

Tips for this pose:

  • Keep heels on the floor, or support them with a folded mat
  • Place your hands in Prayer Pose at your heart
  • Resist the insides of the knees to your elbows
  • Drop the shoulders from the ears and tuck your tailbone
  • Imagine a straight line from your tailbone, to your head, and extending upwards, lifting the crown of your head

Why this pose?

Garland Pose is a beautiful hip opening stretch, which by now we know awakens our Sacral Chakra. Hands placed in Anjali Mudra (Prayer Pose) at our Heart Center signifies gratitude and unification. By drawing our hands together at our center, we are signifying respect for ourself as well as for other.

5. Pigeon Pose – Kapotasana

Tips for this pose:

  • Try to keep your front leg as parallel to the front of the mat as possible -the more parallel the more intense the stretch
  • Keep your front foot flexed to protect your knee (if you feel intense sensation in your knee, slowly release from the pose)
  • Drape your torso over your front shin and reach arms forward
  • Place a folded blanket under the hip of your front leg if your hips are too tight

Why this pose?

This modified pose is another hip opener to activate the second chakra. While the backbend variation of this pose opens our heart, this approach is more restorative and an important step to master before trying any other modifications of the pose.

BONUS! Mountain Pose – Tadasana

Tips for this pose:

  • Lift your big toes to ensure your weight is being pressed through the balls and outside of the feet
  • Drop your shoulders from the ears, slightly pulling the shoulder blades towards each other
  • Open your palms

This is one of my favorite poses, in all of its simplicity. Tadasana is a grounding pose that gives us a moment of reflection and gratitude. By opening the palms, we are receiving all that is offered to us. Ideal for a Full Moon to release what no longer serves us, and open up to the Universe.
In addition to these yoga postures, here are a few more practices to add to your Full Moon Ritual and harness the divine power of it’s cycles:

  1. Meditate – Release negativity and open your heart to the new offerings. Utilize this clear mind to journal your intentions.  Write down what is no serving you and light the paper on fire to burn under the Full Moon.
  2. Smudge sage -Burning, or smudging, sage bundles or leaves help energetically cleanse your space – ideal for releasing negative energies and opening to what the Full Moon offers
  3. Cleanse crystals – leave your healing crystals under a Full Moon when they need cleansing. And if you are looking to add to your collection, these Chakra Crystal Sets are for sale and include cleansing Palo Santo.
  4. Detox bath– take a detoxifying bath by adding Epsom Salts, Himalayan Pink Salt, baking soda, and lavender buds to a warm bath.

I release the negativity that no longer serves me, and open up to receive positive influences from the Moon 

Namaste.

Empowering Women’s Birth Choices- It Takes a Village 

Sometimes, you get ideas that just make you tingle. 

I’ve talked to quite a few people over the last few months about natural birth. I am so absolutely honored to have inspired so many women to take a second look at their birth options, and even more so that they feel comfortable enough to confide in me on the topic. 

In these conversations I have helped a few mamas-to-be with books, classes, and other support to have a beautiful natural birth that they are looking for. 

So I decided to start a Go Fund Me

And it felt so good. 

I’m raising money to help purchase books and classes, hire doulas, and hopefully, one day even help to pay for out-of-hospital births when mamas prefer. 

I feel so honored-lucky even-that I had the birth that was everything I dreamed of. It was not easy to stay motivated in this society that is filled with so many stigmas around natural birthing. In the early stages of my journey, I lacked support and I don’t want those doubts to hold back any woman who wants to welcome their new baby naturally. 

The other day I wrote down some of my passions and my skills to try and find my purpose, and when I started that Go Fund Me account, I found my purpose. 

Here is the link to the account. Any little bit helps- even just a share on Facebook. 

And if you are looking for some words of encouragement, positive stories or other help on this divine journey, please email me at f3malien@gmail.com

Thank you all for your support. 

Love + light.. 💕

Dear Mean Moms..

I have quite a bit of experience when it comes to bullying. Girls can be mean, but where does it start? It is a learned behavior, and now I can see where it comes from . 

Honestly, I was scared when I found out I was having a baby girl. I feel like there are so many stigmas that we are subjected to as women, and more boundaries that need to be pushed. And then there are the inevitable “mean girls.” I grew up with them-everyone did- and I even was one for a while, but why is this normal? Why are girls taught so young, that we are in competition with one another? I could probably rant about that in another blog post, but for now I wanted to share my feelings on a recent event. 
I have joined a few Facebook groups about natural parenting, mom connections, breastfeeding conversations, pregnancy etc. And these groups have helped me so much. Many have provided me with educational pieces, words of encouragement, and positivity during my journey so far. And here I have discovered some beautiful women I even refer to as “sisters.” But now I have already seen the ugly side of being a mother in this competitive world of women. The “Mean Girls” of the mom world. The “Mean Moms”.

Yoga Girl Rachel Brathen recently shared a post about her 12 week old daughter’s vaccinations. I saw the post myself on her Instagram story, but soon after it appeared again on one of my Facebook “mom” groups. The horrible responses this post acquired really struck an emotional chord in me, as a fellow mother and human.

Someone on Facebook shared a screenshot of Yoga Girl’s post to the group, saying how “sad” it was, and a string of distasteful comments followed. These women were going on and on, making fun of her and her decision, questioning her integrity- just straight up shit talking. I didn’t even want to go look at the comments on her Instagram-and I really didn’t even need to-because I could see what these women were saying and it truly came from a place of hate.

Right now, I am going through a similar phase in my motherhood. My fiancé and I are struggling with the decision whether or not we will vaccinate our 2 month old daughter. So far I have chosen not to follow the CDC’s recommendation for vaccinations. 

And at first, I’ll admit that I posed judgement on her decision. Then I remembered my personal wellness practice to obstain from judgement. But these comments I read were so much more than judgement. They were fueled by hate. I mean, we are all adults here. Theses people posting their opinions probably have children in order for them to feel so strongly about vaccinations, which blows my mind even more. Parents, of all people, should understand how much goes into a decision made for the health of your child. We all want what’s best for our children

So, my baby girl is not currently vaccinated, unlike Lea Luna. BUT guess what– I’m not sitting here attacking anyone via social media for a choice they have already made. Why? Because it’s not my decision, and nothing will be accomplished by it. Rachel Brathen, like many parents, took action that she believed to be best for her family, and nothing anyone is going to say now can change that. The decision has already been made. This is not her asking for advice before she made a decision (you know, where opinions could have some impact). The only thing people are doing with these spiteful remarks is spreading hate. I feel like people get so caught up in their own opinions, that they feel they always need to argue, and worse, hurt anyone who doesn’t agree. 

I am all for meaningful, productive conversation. Our words do have huge impact and we need to take advantage that. And I can see where some may argue that this is exactly what the intentions were, but the idea here is the timing. That opportunity has fled, and now you are merely ridiculing someone with ill intentions.

On a personal note, Rachel has really motivated me to pursue my passions. All of the vulnerable, raw moments she has shared with her followers is inspiring. She is a social media personality who reminds us that she is still human. That we all have struggles, and feats, but accomplishments as well. It is so great to know that someone who is seen as successful has still experienced similar struggles as little ol’ me. And this is probably the FIRST post I’ve seen of hers that I do not agree with, but it still does not change how grateful I am for her positive impacts on this world. 

Whether or not you agree with the decision, Rachel obviously means no harm by her decision. She didn’t vaccinate her daughter and try to convince everyone else to do the same. Or state that vaccines are necessary for everyone. She acted purely out of love for her daughter, and to question that is in no way constructive. And even still, nobody deserves to be talked to do terribly. 

We are so quick to judge each other-especially online- that we hardly ever stop and consider the effect of our words. We forget to think about how our words will affect our peers, or worse, we aim to hurt them. We want to seem superior and smarter. Like we did more research and we know more so we have to let you know that we feel we are a better person than you. It is just purely hurtful. 

Yoga Girl is a public figure, so I’m sure she expected a controversial response. I’m not telling people to hide how they feel, I would simply like to remind people to be mindful of their words. Share your words with intention. Use them to better this world and better lives of the people we share this planet with, and aim not to inflict emotional pain onto others. It is the one of the most elementary lessons we are taught- be kind to others. And now as adults, with the knowledge, experience, and opinions we’ve gained, we have lost sight of kindness.

There are so many public figures in this world who put no meaning behind their words . They send messages to our youth culture encouraging violence and drugs. Or teaching young girls that their physical appearance is their most important trait, and presenting unreachable standards. And here is someone who uses social media to welcome you into her personal life. Her flaws. Her strengths. She makes it easy to see that she too is human. And she uses her following to promote positive change in our world. She has founded a dog rescue, a humanitarian organization, and she shares yoga in a way that strengthens characters and minds, not just bodies. Rachel Brathen has reminded me personally about how individuals can make positive changes to this world. I followed her for yoga, but I have gained so much more. And for that I am thankful. 

So here I am, sticking up for someone I only follow on social media, in a ranting blog post. I am personally offended by the complete disregard for human emotions that I have seen. Maybe because it’s Yoga Girl, or maybe I’d feel this way for anyone – but please, just remember the impact that your words have and share them with intention. You may believe that you are simply being an activist, but are your comments making a positive impact, or are you reacting from a much darker place?

My journey with Endometriosis

I wrote this after I was inspired by Katie Lemons (@twist_of_lemons on IG) to share my journey with Endometriosis. She compiled stories from 5 ladies and their struggles with hormone issues, infertility, miscarriage, etc. to create a space of community, love and empowerment. Check out FEMpowerment Fridays on her blog. Nobody wants to feel alone in their struggle ❤️

As I sit here on my couch tonight, nursing my 7 week old daughter, I have a beautiful moment of realization. Of how the world works in mysterious, meaningful ways, and how I truly have the diagnosis of an “incurable” disease to thank for this whole divine experience. 

Recently I wrote about my decision to start tracking my monthly cycle, and I briefly touched on my journey with Endometriosis. I saw this as an opportunity to share my personal history with others. I hope women find comfort in relating to my experience and encourage themselves to research health options. I also hope to challenge medical professionals to stop the habitual “treatment” and instead explore the power of nutrition. 
My junior year of college I lived in a house with three of my girlfriends. I remember waking up one night with excruciating pain in my abdomen. I wasn’t sure if I was had to vomit or if my insides were exploding- then, I woke up on the cold tile. I had passed out on the bathroom floor from the pain. I was so confused and slightly concerned, but decided to go back to bed. The next day my abdominal aches reminded me this was something I needed to get checked out. I was nearly 5 hours away from my primary doctor, so I went to a local urgent care facility. I explained what happened and the woman seemed confused. She tapped my abdomen, asked me some questions, then told me to get some laxatives because I was probably “backed up.” 🙄 Personally, I had never passed out from constipation before, nor have I heard of others doing so, but, sure thing lady.
Weeks later, as I had almost forgot about this freak incident, it happened again. I ran to the bathroom again with nauseating pain, but this time I threw up. It was miserable. My lower abdomen ached horribly for two days and I knew something was wrong, something much more than “constipation.”
After a bit of internet research (yeah, I’m THAT girl), I realized my symptoms were similar to a ruptured cyst. I mean, the signs were pretty obvious, so how the medical PROFESSIONAL couldn’t figure it out is still beyond me. I immediately contacted my gynecologist back home and set up an appointment. 
My OBGYN ordered an ultrasound to look at what could potentially be an ovarian cyst. What they did find was a mass on my ovary, but unlike ordinary cysts (which can be common) this one seemed abnormal. The mass appeared to either be an endometrial cyst, or a tumor. Off to a great start, obviously..
After monitoring the mass for months and noticing its’ growth, we decided surgery was the best way to go. One of two things would be discovered: a tumor which would be sent for a biopsy, or an Endometriosis diagnosis. 
I was terrified. I had never experienced anything that required surgery. Although this was an outpatient procedure, it was still scary. It all seemed to happen so fast. Unexpected AND under-explained.
This timing was terrible; my senior year had just begun, and I had to schedule my surgery within a few weeks. This meant traveling back to school and starting the semester with a heavily distracted mind, just to travel back home and take time off for surgery.
The day came and I went into surgery with such unclear expectations. I could wake up and be diagnosed with cancer, I could have a total hysterectomy, or “best” case scenario, Endometriosis. This uncertainty paired with my anxiety disorder – quite the cocktail.
When I woke up, I was reassured my reproductive organs still called the inside of my body home. My gynecologist then confirmed the diagnosis, Endometriosis. During the laparoscopic procedure, they found a cyst attached to my ovary that was larger than a lime. The cyst was then ruptured, and removed by laser along with the scar tissue that was wrapped around my pelvic organs. These lesions are notably what causes the pain associated with this disease. 
Prior to my follow-up appointment, I obviously did diligent research on the disease- my disease. What I found was little to no answers. A whole lot of possibilities, but no real answers. And I didn’t get much more from the doctor. 

Basically, it’s like this:

What causes it? Don’t know. 
How do we cure it? Can’t. 
What are the side affects? Possibly infertility, possibly cancer, possibility of reoccurrence, and probably surgery again. 

Promising. 

The purpose of the surgery is more diagnosis and maintenance, than a cure. The Endometriosis can only technically be diagnosed through surgery, where the endometrial cell growth can be seen outside of the uterus. And any “treatment” for Endometriosis is only treating the symptoms, not the disease itself. 

Now at the time I was 22, and a full-time college student with no plans for children in the near future- but I was devastated. I’ve always had an innate desire to be a mother. It just felt like it’s what I was meant to do. And now I felt hopeless. Hopeless and useless. I felt that I, as a woman, was put on this earth with ovaries, a uterus and a natural obligation to bear children. And I was told that my reality might not include that opportunity.
I had a really, really hard time with this. It was difficult to talk about because it involved my lady parts, and that made people uncomfortable. And because everything was still so unclear. I mean, I went into surgery not knowing if I would have ovaries when I woke up. Seriously?! 

Following surgery, I was put back on birth control pills and told that we would do follow up ultrasounds to monitor the cysts. When I asked if I’d be able to ever get pregnant, he said we won’t know until it’s time to try. The fact that there was essentially no way for me to prevent or treat this disease drove me nuts.
Understandably, I wasn’t content with hormone therapy and a waiting game. So, I got back online (seeing a pattern yet?) and searched everything I could about endometriosis, hormones, and how I could manage this. So began my journey for a healthier diet. I started with anti-inflammatory foods, avoided endocrine disrupting foods, adopted a vegetarian diet, then vegan, but eventually I began to give up. It just felt like a struggle with too much uncertainty. I couldn’t find a perfect fit for what I was dealing with. 

Soon after, I also experienced a series of irregular blood work. I was pushed back and forth between labs and CT scans that were just useless. I was suspected to have a thyroid issues because my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) would spike, but then appear normal in the next test. It was such a damn headache. After the thyroid seemed to be a bust, next up was the pituitary gland. They suspected I may have a tumor that was messing with my hormones. Wrong again. Looking back, those symptoms (along with my irregular cycles, extreme Premenstural Syndrome, heavy clotting menses, and terrible back pain) were all such CLEAR signs of hormone imbalance. Something that I now believe could absolutely be managed with diet. 

So after years of just dealing, I made the decision to find another way to manage my symptoms that didn’t involve artificial hormones. Since the diagnosis, I had modified my diet to avoid dairy and meat from cows pumped with hormones as well as soy products. I also cut out toxic cosmetic products that disrupt the endocrine system, but I was still taking this little pill every single day. It seemed so backwards. I had been on hormonal birth control for 9 years, and if endometriosis wasn’t going to hinder my fertility, I believed that these pills sure would do it. So about a year ago I quit oral contraceptives . I decided after those pills ran out I’d let my body do its’ natural thing. It was time to find another way to prevent pregnancy and manage my symptoms of Endometriosis. 

Those birth control worries were soon halted when I found out I was pregnant. This pregnancy was a surprise, but a very welcomed one. I believe that if I would’ve been complacent, and taken hormone pills every day until I wanted to try to get pregnant, it would’ve been too late. I think even another year of those pills could very well have hindered the function of my reproductive organs. I’m not certain of the long term affects of hormonal contraceptives, but this is purely the way I felt. I am grateful in every way for my chain of events. 

My pregnancy was very special to me. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but Endometriosis was the reason I chose a natural birth. I got a lot of questions throughout pregnancy like “what’s the point?” in denying an epidural or labor induction. I didn’t know my answer at the time (pregnancy brain?) but it was because of my diagnosis. What if this was my ONLY chance to experience birth? What if I never got this opportunity again? I felt lucky to be pregnant and I wasn’t going to take it for granted. 

During this pregnancy I tried my very hardest to keep eating healthy and avoid those hormone-hating foods. My body was responsible for developing the fragile reproductive organs that would serve my daughter for her lifetime, and I was conscious of that. 

Then on April 2nd, I delivered a healthy baby girl out of a hospital, without the use of medication, into a pool of water. Exactly the birth I DREAMED about (and you can read about it here 😉). 

Now that my body has been “reset” by this natural birth, I will continue the trend. I plan to practice the Fertility Awareness Method, and track my cycle, avoiding hormonal contraceptives. Fertility gurus like Alisa Vitter and Toni Weschler have inspired my newfound appreciation for the female body, and I look forward to learning about what goes on in there. I will continue to adjust my diet to work in sync with the phases of my cycle, and support my natural hormone production.  

During one of the most stressful years for an undergraduate, I was given a lifelong diagnosis, little hope and almost no support.  This created a lot of stress that I battled alone. I realize now that I’ve suppressed these emotions associated with my disease. I’ve pushed these memories deep down and tried to move on. But I want women who are struggling with similar issues to find support and know their options. To know that they can talk openly about what they are experiencing, and it not be an uncomfortable conversation. Sharing my story has been a part of an emotional healing long overdue. But my strength was found in the stories of women courageous enough to make their voices heard, and I hope to pass that on. 
Girl power.  

The birth of Avery Rion..

My fiancé and I did something amazing.

We made a decision months ago to bring our baby girl into this world in a way that is seen as “unconventional” in our modern society. I know the decision was much easier for me than it was for Greg, but he was a damn trooper. He trusted me and my dream for a peaceful, natural birth. I know he was scared much more than he allowed me to see.. I was scared at first too. How can’t you be? The first thing we almost always heard when telling people about my goal for an all-natural, unmedicated, out-of-hospital birth was horror stories. That’s all people know. They know a friend of a friend’s sister who would have “died” had she not given birth in a hospital. Or a baby who they knew would have never made it, if not for medical intervention.
Now let me get this straight, I do believe there is occasional need for medical intervention during birth. And I believe EVERY birth is beautiful. There are special circumstances, or personal preference that should take advantage of our medical advances. But I also believe that a lot of the time, for women with low-risk pregnancies, this is all unnecessary. I believe birth is a natural event. I believe that nature made a woman’s body with all of the right parts and functions to grow another human being, and bring that human being into our world safely. I firmly believe that not enough women are given that encouragement. 

So no wonder 99% of the people who were told about our birth plan had negative words. “What’s the point?” “The hospital is safer” “What if (insert scare tactics here)?”

My first reaction was fear.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe they know something I don’t. So I researched even more. I found the support I neeed and I became confident in my decision.


My second reaction was anger.

How dare people assume I am putting myself and my baby in danger? How dare you sweep away a woman’s choice- a family’s choice- for the birth of their dreams. Or neglect to educate people about their choices for birth.  

My third reaction was avoidance
.
I tried not to tell people. I didn’t need their negative words clouding my dream for something more spiritual and empowering and NATURAL. Something that I felt was right for my family. 


And now- communication
.
I am sharing my experience to let people know their options. To let people know they can have control of how and where they bring their child into the world- a once in an life time event for you. 

One thing I am highly disappointed in is how common it is for a women to be told “You’re pregnant. Go to an Obstetrician.” It took my own extensive research to learn I have options in care providers. And I felt cheated. I felt like the medical system coaxed me in the direction that was convenient for them. I felt that information was withheld from me. Do you know almost everyone I spoke to didn’t even know what a Midwife is? Hell, I didn’t know what a Midwife was! I knew an OB was THE medical professional who delivers babies. Wrong. An Obstetrician is trained in childbirth surgery. Obviously they know how to deliver a baby without surgery, but so often they end up calling the shots and forgetting to trust the mother. We are so often bullied into what is convenient for the OB, because he/she has a degree, and can scare us with simple “what ifs”, especially in the middle of labor- such a vulnerable state for a woman and her partner. And this is just such standard practice at this point. 

 The hospital staff tells you that your uterine contractions need to be sped up, assuming your body and your baby do not know what they are doing. Then the pain intensifies with this unnatural labor augmentation, so now almost always an epidural is requested (or more often suggested). And now you have to be told when to push, because you probably can’t feel your body’s natural urge to push. But often pushes from a numb lower body are ineffective, and assistance is needed in the form of forceps or vacuum extraction (likely an episiotomy too for ease of delivery).

They do not provide full truth, and they all make it difficult to have a choice (health insurance companies included). And THAT is the problem.

My statements are obviously very general, and not the only outcome of a hospital birth.  But this chain of events is normalized. All of these interventions. And yes, we have developed them, and we can take advantage of them at our will. If this is your choice, I support that. What I support is a woman’s voice in her birth. What I don’t support is being misinformed and bullied into a birth experience that is on someone else’s terms than your own. I support choice, and presenting pregnant women with their options. And listening to their wishes for their unique birth experience.

I did not feel confident that my birth wishes would be accepted in a hospital, so Greg and I visited a birthing center and made the decision to bring our daughter into the world there. Surrounded by educated (people forget this) midwifes who have assisted in the delivery of healthy babies for years. Midwives who we became close with over the months and felt comfortable with, knowing they would be the ones supporting us at this intimate event. They respected our wishes, they educated us, and they cared.

And now, after it all, I am SO grateful that they listened to my body and let my body and my baby tell us what the game plan was. Not the clock or the next shift change.

Our Birth Story…

I woke up Sunday morning a little before 7am with some cramping. I wasn’t really able to sleep through it, so I walked around. I made breakfast. I did some yoga and I meditated. The surges were not subsiding and I started thinking this may be labor. I wasn’t sure, but I had been dealing with some consistent back pain for two days in a row. My contractions weren’t lasting very long though so I text my Doula to update her, and continued my day.

Soon I realized I wasn’t able to focus on tasks around the house, so I woke up Greg and got in the shower to help my body relax. After, we laid down in bed and he helped with pressure points and back rubs as the contractions got stronger. Then I decided to try a bath. After a little while I couldn’t even sit still, so I stop up and took a shower again, but when the water started to turn cold, I realized I couldn’t manage this alone anymore. I asked Greg to call the Midwives and our Doula. I was sure our baby girl was coming today. 

Our Doula decided to come to head over to our house since it seemed labor was progressing. I believe this was around 12pm.

Roughly 10 minutes later, after Greg decided to shower and pack up, my water broke, standing next to my bed. The contractions now quickly intensified. I think I scared Greg out of the shower, and we decided it was time to head to the birthing center.

This was quite a ride…. We needed to drive about 30 miles to the center. It was obviously impossible to get comfortable while I was in active labor in the car. But I turned inward. I focused on my breathing, and I breathed through each contraction. I reminded myself of the purpose of these contractions-my body knows what it needs to do, to safely deliver this baby girl– and that is what it was doing.

We arrived at the birthing center and I remember stepping out of the car, holding on to Greg, and looking down to my bare feet. We left the house in such a hurry, I honestly had no idea what I was dressed like. We were greeted at the side door by our midwife. Our Doula also arrived at the same time. She helped me immensely with massage and essential oils to counter the pressure from my contractions, while the tub filled up. My midwife checked me to make sure everything was okay, and apparently, I was already 9cm dilated. This she did not tell me until I left later that day, and I am so grateful. The absence of clocks and numbers allowed me to listen to my body in the progression, and not put any expectations on what should be happening next. 

Finally, I got into the warm water and tried to relax. At this point in labor I was in such a state of focus, my surroundings were blurred. I didn’t know exactly who was present l, but I knew my midwife, my Doula, and Greg all surrounded me. They encouraged me, loved me, empowered me- telling me I was doing great. Reminding me to breathe. Relax. Stay hydrated. The support brings me to tears. I could not have asked for anything more.

I was never told when it was time to push, but I think at some point my midwife mentioned that if I feel the urge to push, then I should. “Listen to your body,” I was told over and over again. This was the best advice I could have ever received.

I finally began pushing as I felt my baby girl descending, and after I figured out what was effective and what was not, Avery Rion Carstensen joined us Earth side at 2:18pm. She was immediately placed on my chest, and I just looked at her in amazement. The first cry was the greatest sound I had ever heard. I had felt this baby girl for 9 months, and maybe seen her a few times, but I finally heard her. She was here.

They moved us from the tub, to the bed. Greg laid with us as the birth team checked Avery and I. Everything was perfect. We laid and cuddled and tried to process the whole event which seemed impossible. What had just happened? We thought we had a few more weeks! 

They brought us food and warm tea and talked about how amazing everything went; how great we did together, and how grateful we all were to share this experience. Then later that evening when Avery and I were checked and stable, we went home to spend our first night together as a family.

I had my dream birth. And I don’t think enough people can say that, which is why I wanted to share our birth story. I literally imagined this birth, in the tub, in the exact suite we were in. And to go through your first labor in 7 hours? It’s almost unheard of. Everything just fell into place. Women can only deliver at a birthing center between 38-42 weeks, I was 38 weeks exactly. My water broke at home, no need to rupture membranes, and I didn’t tear. We were both healthy, and it was absolutely perfect. 

I was so very fortunate to have the support of an amazing Doula Gila. My midwives Belinda and Diane were absolutely wonderful as well. And my family in Chicago was so kindly supportive from across the country. And Greg. He really impressed me. He was so gentle and encouraging, whispering into my ear through the most intense moments of labor. I will never forget those moments, for as long as we live. Such pure love and compassion- it is so appreciated. 
I want women to know they have birth options. You are in charge of where you will deliver your baby, and who will be present. Exercise your choice to the fullest extent, and have the birth of your dreams. 

Why I’m going to start tracking my cycle..

I’ve been struggling with my diet for about 4 years now. It’s travelled from anti-inflammatory, to vegetarian, to vegan, to “I give up” quite a few times, and it all started with a diagnosis. 
I experienced two extremely painful ovarian cysts rupture when I was 22. The first doctor I saw misdiagnosed me (which very much contributes to my distrust in the medical system 🙃) and the second finally found a diagnosis after much lab work, ultrasounds, hormone therapy, and surgery. 

Endometriosis. 

What is it? I’m not even entirely sure. How do you fix it? “Impossible,” according to the doctors I saw. 

I was extremely disheartened. Not only because I didn’t have answers, but because I was told of the possibility of infertility and cancer. These vague “answers” left me in a whirlwind of emotions (not to mention the side effects of The Pill). I was not ready to start a family, but I knew that I wanted to be a mother. And not only be a mother, but experience pregnancy and birth. It just felt like it was what I was put on this earth to do. 

So on went my hormone therapy for years while I made the decision to try to adjust my diet based on my own research. Admittedly, I gave up after nothing seemed to help and I never fully understood what I was up against. 

But pregnancy put me back on this path, and I don’t think I really realized it. Finding out I was pregnant, I quickly decided I would do everything in my power to make this birth special. I was given the opportunity to carry a child and I wasn’t going to take it for granted. I was going to really EXPERIENCE labor and birth by trusting that my body was perfectly designed for this. I was going to deny medical intervention and medication, and the injection of unnecessary(in my opinion) vaccines. 

And I did. I had my dream water birth. Out of a hospital, free of medication, anesthesia, surgery, etc. Just the pure strength of my physical body and my mind. MY ideal birth (not the birth for every woman). 

And here I am, 49 days postpartum, and one of the first things that has been brought up is birth control. Now in my mind, my reproductive body has just been detoxed. No artificial hormones for nearly a year, a healthy pregnancy, and a natural birth- why would I go right back to these terrible little pills that hate my skin and make me an emotional wreck for half of the month?! 

No thanks. 

So on my search for non-hormonal birth control I discovered the Fertility Awareness Method, and then coincidentally heard about cycle syncing. Both of these methods teach you to tune into your female body. They urge you to really understand what is going on in your cycle, not just the dreaded menstruation phase. 

Cycle syncing was introduced to me when I heard a mention of a book called Womancode on Instagram (and then heard about it again in a Podcast I follow-the Universe loves to give me signs). This book explains the different phases of our monthly cycles and how to tune into each phase for optimal living.  The author Alisa Vitter describes how our interests in physical and social activity vary with each cycle, AND what foods we need for optimal health each week.

 Absolutely GENIUS. 

COULD IT BE that there is more to my “unexplained” chocolate cravings and social isolation?! That I’m not just a loose cannon because I have ovaries, but I just don’t know how to listen to my body?!

Ah-hah!

It’s seriously like a light bulb just went off. I knew there was a way to adjust our diet to support our reproductive health, I was just looking in the wrong places. 

What inspires me about these methods is they empower you. They teach you how to live in sync with your cycle, not try to control it (which seems to result in self sabatoge by hormones). As women we are told to deal with the symptoms of our cycle without really ever understanding what they are. And the idea of a cycle?! I only knew about two phases of this cycle, and the only one I understood was menstruation. 

So now I eagerly continue my health journey, wishing girls everywhere knew there was more to being female than cramps, tampons, and unexplained emotions. I’m off to the book store.. (just kidding I have a newborn. Thanks Amazon Prime.)