Words from the Creative Director ~SarahKate Butterworth~ Motherhood is a call that many of us hear, but not all of us answer. Some of us are surprised and thrown into motherhood, some of us hear the call and “try” for years - some couples are blessed with pregnancy, some are not. In our youth, some of us reject the idea of motherhood for whatever reason, and then something happens that warms our heart up again, and we decide to embrace the unknown. Some children come to us in different ways other than by birth; we look out the window, see a hawk, and know our daughter is coming. We are hopeful she will arrive soon. In this issue: Alana’s Birth Stories - The full circle of births, from c-section to water birth. Jackie’s Journey of Success and Love - A mother’s 2nd passage through breastfeeding with her family as a team to support her. Kelly’s 4th Trimester - The challenges of miscarriage, seeking and finding deep support, and birthing her rainbow baby boy. Reinventing How We Look at Birth - Local artist Amy Haderer shares her latest project and her artistic journey into honoring pregnancy with art. Celebrating the Surrogate Pregnancy - One mama tells her story of how she offered the ultimate “pay it forward.” Creatively Grieving Miscarriage - How do women support each other through a mother’s darkest time? By listening, offering childcare and meal preparations. By sewing pillows, knitting stuffed animals, placing a Jizo statue in their garden, or creating art out of the sling for the baby that was never born; by talking about their babies and remembering them. Athena’s Adoptions - Hearing the call to motherhood and finding it through adoption; a non-traditional birth-of-a-mother story. The Mother’s Blessing - Instead of a baby shower, let us honor the Mama! This new kind of ceremony is actually not new, every culture has practiced honoring women during this time, though many original traditions have been lost. A blend of traditions comes together in a Mother’s Blessing. This modern women’s gathering is finding its way into many circles of friends, who put them on for their dear sisters, even if they have never been to one themselves. It has been an amazing journey to create this magazine, Artfull Mother. I am devoted to the interests of mothers and the art that empowers them! I have learned so much being the creative director for over 3 years. However, after 13 issues, it is time for Artfull Mother to end. Thirteen feels like a powerful number to end on, because it is such a feminine number - there are 13 full moons each year and in the past, women’s cycles came with the timing of the moon. I know I will carry on this work in yet another way that will be revealed to me in time. Let’s stay in touch, sisters. I wanted to acknowledge all the people that have made this magazine possible: First and foremost my cheerful husband, Rob, who encouraged me throughout, built the website and helped with a lot of the writing and all the technical aspects. A huge wave of gratitude for our lighthearted editor, Stacey [pictured here on this page with her daughter, Lina], whose insights are invaluable. Thank you so much for all the contributing writers, especially Samantha Jessup and Monet Nichole. I deeply appreciate all the women who’ve shared their stories and shared the magazine! Thank you!
When I asked Alana if she had any design ideas for her henna, perhaps a spirit animal, she had a unique reply! After her first 3 pregnancies, she knew she wanted to do things differently. A desire for her baby to come in, “just as pure and healed as he could be,” drew her to a local shaman-of-sorts in the Boulder area, Rachel Weitz. “We did this really beautiful ceremony, She connected with the baby, who communicated with her and showed her where he was from, how he came into his body. She said he pointed to stars explaining, I’m from there, and then to the ocean, and then he swam with the whales for a while before he went into mama’s belly.” “When you asked is there anything I want to do [for the henna design], I thought well, maybe we should explore how he was born! That’s why you did the ocean and whale, galaxy in the whale and that’s his story and here he is!”
Alana’s Birth Stories We see a lot of birth on social media that looks graceful and pain free, but the reality for most women is different. Alana felt like she had the full circle of birth experiences: elective c-section, followed by a vaginal birth with epidural, followed by a loss, and finally, the unmedicated water birth. With her first 2 births, she didn’t know “what she didn’t know” and only later realized that she had options other than the traditional medi-
cal route. With her last baby she dove into educating herself and set out to make up for her previous births.
herself during the pregnancy, but after the birth she was surprised by how much she wasn’t prepared for.
Sofia’s birth: At the time, Alana was working in surgical device sales and felt very comfortable in the surgical setting. The thought of giving birth naturally was actually scarier than the idea of c-section, so she elected for that. She felt she did a wonderful job caring for
“I had to go back to work at 8 weeks, and I was not healed or ready at all. We spent so much time preparing for our new baby, bought all the neat things, painted the nursery, daydreamed about what she would look like and how it was going to feel to be parents. What we did not think about 2
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or plan for were the extreme changes that take place after child birth physically, emotionally and psychologically. I was completely unaware of the physical aftermath of birth; blood, milk, exhaustion, night sweats and the crazy ups and downs of hormones. My doctor told me literally nothing about this. These changes require support and care for a mama, but when a couple goes through this unaware of these things, a sacred time can become one of the most difficult. My husband did a fantastic job caring for our newborn, even helping with night time feedings so I could get a stretch of sleep. I appreciated this so much, but was feeling so alone and isolated because of what I was going through. I’m pretty sure my husband thought I was going crazy, and honestly, I thought the same thing. What I realized later on was that I was experiencing postpartum depression which so many women go through. Unfortunately, what should have been a very special time for myself and new baby to bond ended up being a real struggle. I had a lot of pain healing from the surgery and that took me away from being present with my baby and really affected breastfeeding as well. Nursing hurt, and the hormones made me feel crazy. I remember feeling so torn and telling my husband that it was either nursing or my sanity so I gave up nursing at 11 weeks. I still feel sad about this missed opportunity and deeply regret the c-section. In addition, the surgery ended up taking a good year to heal before I could get back to my normal activity which was also very difficult.”
who had a miscarriage (or didn’t know they knew anyone), so that possibility never crossed their minds. When they finally got pregnant 6 months later they were ecstatic!
1st Loss: Alana and her husband decided to have another baby when Sofia was about 2 ½. It was very easy for them to get pregnant the first time, so they expected the same to happen the second round. They had not known anyone
Regan’s birth: Alana became pregnant again 2 years after the miscarriage and knew she wanted a vaginal birth. At this point, she’s a career woman, “I am focused on my job, my husband and baby, therefore I didn’t take the time to educate
They went into their first OBGYN appointment at about 8 weeks expecting to see their new baby growing like normal and had a shocking surprise. There was no heartbeat. “We worked with a great OBGYN that educated us on the types of miscarriages and how common they really are. It was so surprising to me that miscarriages are not spoken about more often considering 1 in 5 (or 15-20%) of pregnancies will end up in a miscarriage, but no one had ever told us that. I feel this is a real gap in our system of birthing and area of educational opportunity. We should be talking about miscarriage more so we can become more educated and supported when it happens.” “One thing I did right this time was that I talked about the miscarriage with my family and friends. Although I don’t wish this on anyone, I did find comfort in hearing other women’s stories and this did help my healing process knowing I wasn’t alone by any means.” “After the miscarriage, we both mourned the loss of our baby. I learned from my spiritual teacher, Maggi Quinlan, that some women will mourn through what would have been the term of the pregnancy. I worked with Maggi on the grief and came to peace with it after several months.”
myself on a VBAC and the decisions I would be forced to make in the hospital. I was planning an epidural so didn’t think I needed to know much more about the labor and delivery. I knew what to expect postpartum with my body, knew I needed more time off work and knew I needed to ask for support during the first few months so I thought I was good to go!” “Boy, did I have an ugly awakening. It’s amazing in hindsight what my OBGYN did not tell me. Really, in my experience, the OBGYN is there to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy and birth, but that is such a small part of the big picture. Like our first birth, we learned going through the process how much we didn’t know! Once again we were completely unprepared for what happens after the epidural and especially in those few critical moments, hours and days in the hospital after the baby is born. I had a vision of walking into my birthing suite- smile on my face, hopping on the bed receiving the epidural and having a pain-free, wonderful birth.” “In reality, I unexpectedly went into full-blown painful and scary labor contractions and had to weather that storm for several hours until I was dilated enough to receive the epidural. I must have missed that note at my last OBGYN appointment! I didn’t know what to do when labor hit. I was scared and therefore tensing up which works against your body’s natural response to labor. I begged for the epidural and did not want to feel any pain at all. I did not understand at the time how fear produces adrenaline which works against the oxytocin your body produces during each contraction. So I numbed it all out and became a bystander to my birth. I went completely numb and had no control over my body. I didn’t know the epidural often times delays labor which it did in my case,
so then I needed pitocin, and when labor didn’t pick up they kept pumping me full of more and more pitocin. Once labor very unnaturally kicked in, I couldn’t feel the contractions so I couldn’t work with my body to effectively push my baby out. The nurse had to tell me when I was having a contraction and when to push. I was so numb I couldn’t feel myself pushing so she kept saying push like you’re going number 2!! When I couldn’t do that because I was so numb, the baby’s heartbeat started to drop and the OBGYN said he may have to vacuum the baby out if I couldn’t push. It took all my will and finally pushed the baby out and couldn’t feel any of it. I had no idea at the time what I had missed out on…”
mothering our newborn. Unfortunately, he ended up having GERD (similar to colic) which made him cry for 6 months straight, but we got through it with lots of bouncing and rocking and holding and love. The silver lining is this difficult time definitely strengthened our bond because he really needed his mama and I was able to be there for him.”
The 2nd Loss: When her baby boy is about 9 months old, Alana’s IUD is making her bleed like crazy & hurt terribly. She asks to have it removed with the intentions of taking a break for a week before switching to the Mirena IUD. “So I came back week later, and she says, have you had intercouse? ‘Well yeah, but we used protection.’ The Her son is born, the cord is cut impregnancy test is negative, so the new mediately, and after a rough bath she IUD is put in. “It was month later and has her baby boy. They stay in the hos- I started feeling really off, really pregpital due to her baby having a fever, nant and crazy… I thought there is no and after a couple of days the nurse way I’m pregnant, so it must be a reacasks, “Are you ready for the circumci- tion to the hormones in the new IUD. sion?” I waited another month or so and “I think, okay, let’s just get it done... when I didn’t feel any better, I called I cannot believe what they do in a my doctor to have the IUD removed.” circumcision! They do not medicate When she goes in to have the IUD the baby at all, and they cut off the tip removed, they can’t find it. Using a of his penis with a knife! It’s bleeding vaginal ultrasound they are able to see everywhere and the baby is screamthat it migrated to the top of her utering bloody murder and I thought: My us. The nurse turns the screen towards God! That was not what I thought Alana, “No wonder why you’ve been was supposed to be happening here! feeling so crazy, she says, you are 9 1/2 I was traumatized for a year after that weeks pregnant!” And there was a sujust thinking about the circumcision. per active 9 ½ week old fetus kicking I just thought, oh my God, I can’t around, moving arms and legs.” She’s believe I did that to my baby. Why told they can take the IUD out, “but didn’t my doctor talk to me about if they do, the entire pregnancy will that, why didn’t I know to look into come out. There’s a baby, arms and this! If I ever have another baby I will legs, and you’re telling me this is an do things so differently!” option! I was in shock and needed to process what I was seeing and call my On a better note, the postpartum husband, but knew for a fact that basitime was magical with her new baby cally an abortion was not an option. boy. “I took lots of time off work and I leave, I tell my husband, and he’s in my husband was so helpful in takshock. Our son Regan had a serious ing care of me and our 4 year old so case of GERD and had been crying I could focus on bonding with and almost around the clock since he was 4
born. We couldn’t imagine having a third, but we knew this baby was practically a miracle considering he managed to come to fruition with an IUD in place which is extremely rare. So moving forward with the pregnancy we are told there is a 20% of late miscarriage with an IUD. This is a high-risk case so we are transferred to the Stanford High Risk OBGYN’s. We have weekly visits with them and get to see our baby on 3D monitors each week. We learn we are having a boy and name him Finley. We are still scared and aware of the fact that this may turn into a late miscarriage, but we say our prayers and start getting prepared and excited for Baby #3.” “When I went back for my 14 week ultrasound, everything had been great up until this point. The OBGYN is conducting the ultrasound and I recognize the familiar look on her face. She is moving the scope around on my belly pressing harder and harder. She calls in a second doc and I know at this point what is happening… we had lost the baby. We were devastated. The emotional roller coaster of the shock and then fear and then excitement had all come to a crashing halt. We had lost our miracle baby. This loss was especially hard to recover from and we had to work through a lot of grief which took a long time. We decided after this that I would not get on any more birth control and if Baby #3 was meant to be then he will come back to us.”
ceived in Hawaii, his middle name will be Kai which means “of the sea.” We have no family or friends here, but I had all those crazy birth experiences prior and I decide I’m having a home birth. I don’t want doctors, I don’t want interventions. I need to read some books, I need to get myself educated this time and make sure I’m in complete control of my birth - as much as I can be - and that the decisions I make are educated decisions. I don’t want any stone left unturned …I don’t want any surprises that I could have thought about ahead of time. That’s when the deep dive into birth happened.” Alana and her husband knew that if she was going to have a completely natural birth they both needed to be educated on labor and how to work with it effectively. They did lots of research and decided to go with the Hypnobirthing method. A local doula, Dia Ingalls, taught the 6 week course which they attended and also read the associated Hypnobirthing book.
“The biggest thing we learned is that fear is what causes the most amount of pain. When you are scared, the body creates a hormone [adrenaline] that’s been scientifically proven to make your body do the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to do! The oxytocin is what you need for your body to relax. What I learned about hypnosis is the more hypnotized you can make yourself, the more oxytocin your body produces. Then hypnoFinley Kai’s birth story: birthing trains you whenever you 2 years pass and the family moves to have any fear or negative thoughts, Boulder, Colorado. During a family you just get it out of your mind as vacation in Hawaii, magic happens. soon as you can. Don’t let it sit, push “It’s a great place, love is in the air in it out of your mind, avoid negative Hawaii, and 3 weeks later I take preg- birth stories and keep a protective nancy test and it’s positive! Now we bubble around you to hold positive are pregnant again and we are excitenergy for you and your baby. I was ed! We knew that if it’s a boy we will about 34 weeks pregnant after the call him Finley, and since he was con- last Hypnobirthing class and had
finished the book. At that point, I immersed myself into learning how to hypnotize, relax and meditate my way through the process by listening to positive affirmation and meditation MP3’s daily, and sometimes more than once per day. I remember the Hypnobirthing book explained preparation for natural unmedicated labor like training for a marathon. Something you need to train daily for, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Being an athlete, I could really relate to this analogy and dove into the “training” period. I would plug into my headset each evening, usually in the bath, and practice relaxing my body, relaxing my cervix, and visualizing the birth I wished for. I learned my body holds an immense amount of wisdom; I could trust my body to deliver my baby in a calm and relaxed way and that I had nothing to be afraid of. My water broke very early the morning on December 9, 2017, and I knew I was ready for the marathon. I’m not going to lie, I was still a little scared, but I was prepared for what was coming and ready to meet my baby!” Alana called the midwife and was advised to stay home until the contractions were consistent. “I then plugged in my headphones and started my process of hypnosis, listened to the positive affirmations and meditations. I stayed home until about 7:30am and by then had been in hypnosis for a couple hours. Contractions were strong and regular. My husband gathered the older kids up, packed snacks, called our birthing doula Sierra Brashear and off to the birth center we went.” “I stayed in hypnosis with my eyes closed all the way to the birth center, in fact, I almost didn’t open my eyes until the baby was being born. As soon as we arrived, my husband walked me to our birthing room. I
laid on the bed, hands on my belly, in my zone. Our doula showed up at about 8:30am. She and my husband made a great team as my birth partners. We had made a birth plan with our doula prior that my husband would take the lead as my partner with support, massage and love and Sierra would hold space for us and participate as second in line. She set the mood in the room with candles and played Enya in the background. She had essential oils diffusing and also used essential oils for massage; rose, lavender and frankincense. It was really beautiful. Sierra would be massaging my feet while my husband massaged my head. She made sure I kept changing positions so as not to stall labor.” “At this point it’s about 10am and I hadn’t said a word or opened my eyes. I just silently witnessed the contractions and stayed “limp” just as I had trained for. I was not in pain and in fact was quite comfortable. By this time, the tub was filled and my contractions were definitely getting stronger. I got into the tub and things started progressing extremely fast. Fear started creeping in, but I did my best to push it away and keep my mind focused on releasing any tension. I have to admit there were times when I started getting really scared. I remembered at that time one of the nurses from the birth center telling me that whenever a mama says, “I can’t do it any longer.” she knows the baby is coming soon. I was at that point…I thought, I don’t know how much longer I can do this, but I remembered what that nurse said and had faith that this must be what she was talking about and did my best to stay calm.” “My cervix was checked at 10:30am and I was only 5cm.” Because Alana is the first VBAC at a birth center in Colorado, the midwives took
extra precautions and were checking in with an OBGYN at the hospital, who requested her cervix is checked. This is not something they usually do at the birth center, but Alana was checked and was only at 5cm - though the midwife did not tell her this at the time. Suddenly the contractions feel 10 times stronger, and she feels like the baby is coming. The midwife can’t quite believe this, the baby couldn’t be coming, it’s only been 10 minutes since she was at 5cm.” “I was in transition and I could feel the baby descending through the birth canal. It was the most overwhelming feeling; no words can describe or explain what a woman is going through when her baby is coming down and out of that canal. I leaned over the tub and grabbed onto my husband, he was holding me and telling me I can do it and the loudest moaning sound was coming out of my body, all I could do was surrender to the process. At this moment I remembered what a girlfriend of mine who had 4 natural births told me: she said, “When the baby is crowning you’ll feel an unbelievable burning and stretching, you may even throw up, and just know your baby is going to be in your arms within minutes.” I was so grateful to have these words of wisdom to help me through the process. The transition period felt like hours, but really it was only 5-10 minutes. Before I knew it, his head was out and then after one more push, his body felt like it flew out into the water.” “As Doris Day said, “If I had written the greatest book, composed the greatest symphony, painted the most beautiful painting or carved the most exquisite figure I could not have felt the more exalted creator than I did when they placed my child in my arms.””
“This is exactly the way I felt. I’m in shock, complete shock, I can’t believe what just happened and when you’re not medicated, you can feel everything, every moment is experienced. Be relaxed and be part of your own birth. It’s an amazing, overwhelming, historic moment - the baby is in my arms!” After the midwives made sure the bleeding was normal and the placenta was delivered, Alana, her husband and baby (still connected to the placenta) were encouraged to take a nap. “For 3 hours we take a nap, and then the baby nurse comes in and asks, ‘OK are you ready to cut the cord?’ Sure! She cuts the cord and brings me warm ayurvedic porridge they make from scratch. Then they fill the bathtub back up and offer a mama-baby soak. At the birth center they do not bathe the baby, and in fact hardly handled him at all which I was so grateful for. Circumcisions are not even an option there. If you opt for one that is done later through your pediatrician. I so appreciate the care and respect that the birth center has for the newborn, the complete opposite of my 2 hospital experiences. An hour after our nap, we gather ourselves up and head home.” “The next day the baby nurse came to the house to check in on both of us and our postpartum doula, Jessica Bates, went to the birth center to collect the placenta to encapsulate. Before this pregnancy, I didn’t even know postpartum doulas existed. Every woman should have one of these earthly angels to care for them postpartum. It is a true gift! For this birth I wanted to have everything; 42 days of laying in, Doula, midwife support and love. I will accept it, take it all in, and I did!” By now Alana’s husband is an expert
at knowing how to support his wife after birth, and he does a wonderful job cooking for the family and caring for the kids while Alana took 42 days of rest with her baby boy. Her postpartum doula, Jessica Bates, “... came over and brought hot Ayurvedic food, did belly binds, hot oil massages on my belly, made me floral sitz baths and medicated frozen pads (this is a must!) along with all of her homeopathic herbal medicines to assist with postpartum healing. She encapsulated the placenta which I took orally to help with hormones and overall recovery. She also did a watermark print and a cord keepsake. I wanted to make sure those 42 days were really sacred and special and contained. I feel like everything that I didn’t get with these two, I was able to make up for it sort of, with him. He’s the best baby.” “One of the most impactful parts of Finley’s birth was the fact that my husband was such a huge part of it. He was not a bystander, he was an active participant in birthing our son. This experience brought he and I so much closer and created a bond between him and the baby from Finley’s first breath which is so beautiful. Due to this I believe it helped him care better for baby and I postpartum because he was right there with us and knew exactly what it took to birth Fin. My husband believes that if more men had an active role in the birthing process, it would make families stronger. He and I both believe that the birth process is so powerful that if all families took more responsibility over their birthing process it could literally make the world a better place by adding strength to the fabric of the family.” Reflecting on her birth experiences, Alana feels it is, “really important to understand the history of birth, trust your body and the wisdom it holds to birth graciously. The more you know, the less fearful you have to be which in
turn will make the process so much easier. Be an active participant in your birthing experience. Don’t expect your OBGYN to tell you what you need to know. In fact, expect the opposite. Educate yourself, know what you want and what you don’t want, and then stand firm. Make sure you have a birth team that support your wishes and if you don’t, make changes. I feel sad that I missed out on my first two births; I wasn’t an active participant, I was a bystander, and this is so typical and it doesn’t have to be this way. We as women have choices and rights and we need to exercise this. It’s so important for us and our babies. I regret that I was not more aware of what was going to happen with my baby in a hospital setting and since I didn’t know, I couldn’t protect my baby in the way that I would have
had I known better. On the other hand, if my story can encourage even one woman to think about alternative ways of giving birth, ways to be more present and in control not only of her birth, but also how baby is handled, then it was all worth it.” “I want to encourage women to share their birth stories and pregnant women to seek information from others. There’s not a book or a class to take, that’s what we’ve lost in our culture, that tribal knowledge of information passed down from our grandmothers and ancestors that’s all been lost, but we can start fresh with this generation. The shift is so important, it’s trying to come back and I’m confident we can shift the Western cultures’ dynamic one birth at a time.”
Jackieâ€™s Journey of Success and Love by Samantha Jessup
photo by Samantha Jessup Jackieâ€™s journey breastfeeding began when she was 17 years old as a single mama. While she had to work through several parts of her past and her circumstances, she was able to nurse her first beautiful daughter until she was two years old! She wanted to break the cycle her family came from and so when she found out she was pregnant she started doing a lot of research on being a great mother. The staff at Planned Parenthood, where she received her prenatal care, were exceptional when it came to helping her with so many things. Giving her excellent support and even books and resources to help her learn about breastfeeding among
other pieces of being a good mother. Fast forward to today, her beautiful first daughter is nearly 18, she is married to a wonderfully supportive husband and they have a new sweet daughter to add to their family. Just the same as before, Jackie knew she wanted to breastfeed. Everything is different now. Nursing is very different when you are no longer a single mother of one. She now has other important family who want love and attention, but in the same breath, she also has even more support. Her husband and her daughter support her and want them to succeed.
Her husband helps her with daily tasks and making sure she keeps up with things like her own nutrition. Plus, her older daughter loves the calm, sweet moments being with her mother and sister for late night nursing sessions. They are all a team. It is truly beautiful to witness. Even with having more love and support in her life, there are still struggles. Like many moms, she had a hard time with latch in the beginning. Her biggest struggle so far was a severely cracked nipple. By the time they found a good groove with latching, she had a chunk of her nipple missing. 8
9photography by Saramantha Jessup of MiracleKisses.com
She used MotherLove nipple cream and doTERRAâ€™s lavender to help with the pain and healing. It still took several weeks for it to heal and not be painful when her daughter would latch or nurse. She now deems this to be a success. Making it through this rough time and then on to the successful journey with a healthy, growing, super-happy little girl. Her advice is to just not give up if this is what you really want. It can be so hard in those first weeks and months, but you can make it though it all.
By Samantha Jessup, a local mama living in
Arvada with her family. She loves to document familiesâ€™ lives: pregnancy, newborn and breastfeeding. www.miraclekisses.com 720-541-0775
The 4th Trimester
Kelly moved to Colorado 8 months pregnant with her first daughter, Della. She didn’t know anyone here, and began building her village by going to lots of mom groups. “I started out going to the one at Boulder Community Hospital because that’s where I delivered. I made some first connections with all of them there, and at the breastfeeding group there as well. I went to the Louisville moms group that Kerry Stokes runs too.” Kelly discovered Hikeitbaby.com and invited her new mama friends to join her in getting out in the Colorado foothills & mountains. “Honestly, the relationships all really deepened hiking. Once we all
became friends we started Hike It Baby a lot, and hikes on our own together, we pretty much spent the first year of our babies’ lives in the mountains with our babies on our fronts or backs. Truer friendship couldn’t have come out of that.” Being immersed in nature did wonders for all the mama’s mental health. “Just being outside gave us so much energy and helped us feel more connected to community, to the earth, everything; I couldn’t recommend something more. It was wonderful because some of us had pretty fussy babies and this would be one of the only times that they would easily nap. Out in nature, combined with the rhythm of your body movement, babies
would finally sleep and then you could just have Mom Conversation and it was just awesome. Now all of our kids are such sweet friends with one another because they have known each other since they were weeks old.” Kelly was 8 weeks into her 2nd pregnancy when she started showing signs of miscarriage. Boulder Nurse Midwives (who had delivered Della) had closed, and finding care this early in her pregnancy was rocky until she got a last minute appointment at Boulder Women’s Care. “We had the very, very fortunate circumstance of being put with Dr. Shay. That day she was on call, and boy, talk about another light in my life - and all of my losses - that would be her! She helped us through it. We were able to find out that day that my pregnancy was not viable, but that it was twins. To just know a little bit more about it, we did testing to find out reasons for it, but they could never find any.” Then a year passed, when Kelly had miscarriage after miscarriage.
birth. Every person who came into her room complimented her on the art, and the nurse asked if SarahKate was the artist - because she had been adorned by SarahKate for her pregnancy too! “I couldn’t imagine trusting and loving a medical practitioner more than I love Dr. Shay, she was just that incredible with me. I met the midwife she worked with, Paige, and she said right away after talking to Dr. Shay, that she would be my backup which none of these women had to do, it’s not how they function. This Doctor and Midwife just embraced me and did everything they could for me to feel safe as I went through the whole process.” “We got to a place where we thought it’s not in the cards for us to have another child. We were really working to make peace with that and just being happy to be fortunate to have Della. Right when I thought things aren’t going to happen, I said to my husband, ‘I want to try one more time, because I just need to know that there’s a problem, this isn’t going to work, so I don’t wonder.’” And then Kelly got pregnant with Rowan. “The Doctors were saying everything looked good, and we were optimistic.” Later on Facebook, Kelly saw Shelly King’s post about a Pregnancy After Loss group, which would start when Kelly was 9 weeks pregnant. After the first meeting, she came home and shared with her husband, telling him, “I felt just such a sense of peace and comfort that I didn’t have to do this alone. That I had other moms to go through it with me, to know what that felt like, the uncertainty of, “Well I’m pregnant, but
will this baby join our family?” Can I allow myself to become connected to him? We are fooling ourselves if we think we can keep a connection from forming… there is a level of allowing it to progress .. we’re scared to do it in the beginning because you just feel so uncertain to let your heart dive that deep with another person. Eventually it’s just out of your control and it happens. It was so wonderful and to go through pregnancy with these women and with Shelly, knowing that we had this type of support and with Dr. Shay, I love those women so deeply. I talked about the community I had with my friends before all of this, but these women that joined my life in one of my darkest times will always be incredibly special to me.”
Kelly had built her tribe over the past 3 years, and they showed up in full force after Rowan’s birth.
Kelly had a healthy pregnancy and came to see me for henna at the very end, sharing with me how hard it was to celebrate this baby, because he wasn’t earthside yet. When we discussed the henna design it was important to Kelly to honor her losses in the art. The henna was still on her belly when she went in for her
Even though she had two healthy children, Kelly’s losses are still present for her. We reflected on how women don’t share about their miscarriages and Kelly said, “People can have shame around it for no reason, because there are so many emotions that come with 12
“Everyone just rallied around, we have all done it for one another, when the babies have started coming. It’s really lovely, I can’t imagine more love coming out of friends than came out of them. It was really, really wonderful.” Her friends did a meal train and would send her notes like, “I just dropped a bag of groceries and some of my favorite postpartum snacks and a smoothie on your doorstep. Get it when it’s a good time.” which was so helpful, instead of the usual requests to see the new baby.”
it, or it didn’t feel “real” enough. For me it’s just so real and those babies were a part of me even early on and I don’t want them to be forgotten. I want our living children to know that they have guides on the other side looking out for them, however they want to view it and believe it, I don’t want to lose that.”
put little hats, scarves, on these small statues. The Jizo is what protects the babies and gives them safe passage to the other side, the spirit world… so we are going to get a Jizo at our house too, to have something more tangible to represent them, to remember them. It was so beautiful, and I thought, that is what is missing here, because it’s a silent forgotten thing. If families were able to remember their loved ones in that way, have something that makes you feel safe, and they were real and they are okay. I just think it’s so beautiful.”
Kelly had recently read an article in the NY Times about the Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage (https:// www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/well/ family/the-japanese-art-of-grievinga-miscarriage.html). “They have these statue figures called Jizos and they put When Kelly was going through her them in cemeteries or in their yards or ordeal of miscarriages she didn’t feel gardens and it’s a way to commemocomfortable sharing about it on social rate their loss of the baby. They will media. But now in the moms groups
19photography by Saramantha Jessup of MiracleKisses.com
she’s part of on Facebook, more women bring it up. Other women reply, “I had one at 20 weeks” or “I had one at 8 weeks” and share anything that helped them. “I have since been a voice in all of these conversations, that’s where the strength lies. It’s been really beautiful to see how many people help another mama in a similar spot with love and support in a dark time.” “I know there are other places that have that, but Boulder’s Mom Community here is pretty special and I don’t know if I would’ve had that anywhere I’ve lived.”
Reinventing How We Look at Birth
â€œIt all started with art stuff, I just knew I wanted to be an artist and that it would filter into whatever I was interested in... Becoming a mother, the art integrated into that obviously, being an artist is who I am at my core.â€? Amy showed me the art she created for her pregnancies - the first pregnancy was captured as a self portrait that she drew from, creating a gorgeous work of art that hangs in her home. Her 2nd pregnancy was honored with a sculpture of her pregnant self, and as for her 3rd pregnancy, the whole mandala series spiraled out inspired by
her youngest daughter, Seren. The Mandala Journey started as a way to meditate and prepare emotionally for her daughter. She had already begun assisting at births and has since been to over 200 births in her time as a doula, nearly a decade! Amy has been very active in the Denver area birth community, leading breastfeeding and postpartum support groups, as well as celebrating pregnancy with belly casts and henna body art. I first found out about Amyâ€™s art
through a pregnant client of mine, who gifted me one of her pendants with the turtle mandala. Bianca shared with me how much this art
meant to her and I’ve kept the little jewel of art hanging at my desk now for years. These mandalas have been made into calendars, prints, and all kinds of pendants, stickers, etc. “I go to conferences to sell my artwork and people come up to me like from Brazil in tears, I haven’t wrapped my mind around this ... it’s just me and I make these things in my head come out... they say, “Oh, you’ve been such an important part of my healing, or my birth, or my midwife was wearing your pendant when she caught my baby...” all of these little tendrils. I’m present at all of these births that I’m not physically present at which is really amazing!” Amy’s daughters have grown and her eldest has transitioned from child to maiden. To celebrate her rite of passage, Amy held a Menarche Blessing for her daughter [Menarche is the first occurrence of menstruation]. She incorporated many concepts into this work of art she made for her daughter for the special occasion, “pomegranate, lunar cycles, ocean tides, like a pendulum, listening to her inner knowing.” I loved listening to her process for creating art: listing ideas, doing research, asking other people, and letting these sink into the ether and allowing the composition to arise. After marrying the man of her dreams and now mothering a total of 6 children, Amy’s life has changed a little bit. For the past 4 years she has been working on a huge project - a parent education platform
called Motherboard. “I’ve written 150 pages of content surrounding 38 topics including pregnancy, labor, postpartum, cesarean. With a short answer, longer answer, and risks and benefits of everything. They can research and pick can icon that corresponds to their choice so it helps to create a graphic birth plan, like a Motherboard.” “My biggest hope for this project is to have parents that are actively participating in their birth, improving the birth outcomes. Getting everyone [involved in the birth] to communicate with each other, get everyone on the same page. There is so much separation between these factions and it’s All these amazing works of art are by Amy Haderer
resulting in care that is sub par. Outcomes really show that if we can come out with more bonded families, fewer c-sections, that’s really my whole motivation for it, beyond hospital politics, keeping costs down, improving families, and getting families off to a good start.” Amy has been busy creating medical illustrations for this project that are beautiful and racially diverse. Her goal is to reinvent how we look at birth. She pulls out the drawings she’s done to show each week of life in the womb and I am awestruck at their beauty. These drawings will be part of a color-
ing book that she plans to offer.
a real human being, so I wanted to make sure the babies look like At her desk here she is working they will engage and work along on the illustrations for labor. She’s with the birth process because been working with Gail Tully they are a very active part.” from Spinning Babies to make sure all the angles are right. “I’ve I am so inspired by Amy’s dedihad to draw and redraw them cation to the local birthing comseveral times because they are munity! Follow Amy’s progress just not right! It’s also very com- and see her latest art by checkplicated to envision, I’ll send her ing out her website, TheMandaphotos and she’ll say you need to laJourney.com. If you sign up for bring this down and the bladder is her newsletter, you can be one right here. I took a lot of reference of the first to find out when new shots of my clients’ babies so I can works are published & of course, have babies that look like they are details about her project, real and alive. For a lot of medical [M]otherboard. illustrations it does not look like
Celebrating the Surrogate Pregnancy
What is the best feeling you’ve ever had? It may have been when you gave someone the biggest gift they ever received! This was true for Kim, who says the best part was seeing how happy the Intended Mom was when her son was born. “It was the best thing I could ever feel.” Kim had a daughter of her own, and had realized that she wanted to give back to the world in some way. She really felt like she was shown a lot of love during her adventures in Africa in her youth and felt a deep desire to “pay it forward.” Some women really enjoy being pregnant, and this was true for Kim, making surrogacy an easy decision. During this pregnancy, her daughter (age 2) would rub her growing belly and kiss it, and as the birth got closer, Kayley would encourage the baby to be born already. Kim is a high school teacher and her students got really excited and followed along as well. A big misconception people have comes up whenever she explains she was a surrogate. They say, “Oh, I could never do that, give a baby away,” but Kim says it’s different when it’s not of your own flesh and 18
blood. “It’s not the same emotions when you are pregnant with your own child, it’s completely different.” Kim worked with a surrogacy agency based on the east coast. “You have to be patient, it’s a lot of hurry up and wait, because you have to get all your medical stuff done and then you have to wait until they get back to you... so you wait to get matched, then wait while you do your cycle stuff. You have to be okay with needles! For a month I had to do injections in my stomach, hip injections after that.” Her birth began with, “... contractions that would come and go over about a four week period of time. They would always pick up when I was driving.” One night the contractions just kept on coming… “but they weren’t particularly painful. They did keep me up at night, so at 3:30am I called my doula to see if I should come in. She didn’t think I was in active labor and my
induction was scheduled for 6:30am anyway, so I just left it and finished doing laundry and the dishes, and cleaning my apartment. When I went in for my induction, I was already 7 ½ cm dilated! So then he basically just flew out! … I only pushed for 20 minutes.” Monet Nicole was present and photographed the birth the Intended Mom has a book of these photos from his birth. Kim pumped milk for this dear baby for 3 days until he left Colorado with his Intended Mom, and then she donated her extra milk through a facebook group called Badass Breastfeeders of Colorado. Seriously, this is one of the best gifts a person can give! Go Kim!
Photo by Monet Nicole
Creating Art to Honor Miscarriage “One of the hardest things about miscarriage is that your arms actually ache for that weight, so to have something that weighs the same weight of your baby helps your physical as well as your emotional recovery.” Shannon’s friend had this heart pillow made for her, through an organization called A Heart to Hold, which sadly no longer exists. This gift meant a lot to her and Shannon has made 8 other pillows for friends or even friend’s friends who have had losses. One woman wrote back to say it had helped her so tremendously and she couldn’t believe what a gift it was from a complete stranger. “Oh my God, I’m crying, I’m so sorry you had to experience that ... but I’m happy to give you some kind of comfort. That’s what I try to do, so many people helped me out, I couldn’t imagine going through it alone. I had friends supporting me through it, bringing me meals afterward, offering to take my son Nathaniel for the day... I can’t imagine doing that all alone without anyone giving me support. Anything to help out somebody, I am willing to do it.”
Shannon’s first loss happened when her son was just 3 years old. “I went out the next day and I found this box, and then we ordered this metal plate online to have our daughter’s name put on it. I’m running out of space, but this box holds different things to honor our baby, like when we’ve gone to remembrance events, like Walk of Remembrance, and there are cards that I’ve gotten, welcoming when I was pregnant, then more cards about how they were so sorry for my loss, a different ribbon that we usually wear on her anniversary date and a friend of mine made this for her... These are her remains in here.”
Certain family members were not very understanding of Shannon’s losses (2 living babies, 5 losses) and even said that they were not really REAL because she lost them so early (about 5 weeks). “They were real enough to give me a positive baby test, still very real, still my children, that always bothered me, they are still very real! Especially with my daughter, I was able to see her gestational sac and that was real!” “No one wants to talk about death, but it is fundamental part of life. I was so open with it with our children, Nathaniel and Sophia… why wouldn’t I be? I ex-
emergency surgery. “It’s a process, if at first you try to get through every minute, then every hour, then every day, just take your time, feel it. Don’t stuff it away because it will pop up when you don’t want it to. I wrote out the first birth story of my first miscarriage, my last miscarriage, poems, I’ve had friends plant trees for their losses, I... they say 1 in 4, I feel like it’s more like 1 in 3, it’s just crazy how many people are out there who have had a loss. Every single day I struggle with it.”
plain that to them, unfortunately they have experienced a lot of loss, but it shapes them, they can understand and process their feelings, and know it’s okay to have feelings about it one way or another. Like pets, no one wants to tell kids that their pets died, but it gives them closure to explain it to them, why and how this happened and how it’s not anything they did wrong or anything.” Shannon’s living children were 9 & 4 when she found out she was pregnant with Max. At this point, she had lost 5 babies and knew this would be her last pregnancy - no matter what it’s outcome. “In my pregnancy with Max we made it further along [than all my other losses], and I thought, this might actually happen, me we might get our rainbow baby. He would be our rainbow baby, but also a unicorn, because I didn’t think it could happen. I saw this picture online [of a stuffed unicorn] and I thought it was the cutest thing ever. My friend’s mom knitted this for me in a day and a half and sent it to me for Max; it was supposed to be his stuffed animal.” By 12 weeks, Shannon was already showing with Max when she went into labor. This miscarriage was the scariest and hardest - she was rushed to the hospital and underwent
“Everyone will tell you to get back to normal, but you will never be able to get back to the way you were before you are completely changed; when you allow yourself to grieve the way you need to grieve you will find your new normal. If they have a partner, to still keep the lines of communication open with them. Unfortunately, the rate of divorce among loss families is pretty high, as high at 75%, because the woman grieves one way, the man grieves another way and they don’t understand each other’s ways of grieving. It doesn’t have to be the same, keep on communicating, because if you stop talking that will be the end. Our relationship has gotten stronger through 6 losses. We are really all we have, we really know how it feels, no one else can know how it feels for us, to lean on your partner. It’s okay to ask for help, to talk about your losses, talk about your children. What I do for my grieving will not be what someone else does, don’t judge it, we are all doing what we need to do to get through the day, be gentle with yourself. In 8 years since my first loss, I will break down sometimes.” Shannon has found peace in sharing her story with other women who bring up their miscarriages in mom groups. She has a special shelf in her library to display all the things she’s collected to honor her babies. A box for Kelsey, her first loss, includes many items of remembrance. On the 2nd anniversary of Max’s passing, her husband gave her a Jizo statue - it’s a way that people in Japan honor their lost babies. And she turned the wrap for Max into a beautiful purse so she could still carry him around. “I didn’t want it to be put away and not seen, so I made a bag to use it; I made this bag using that wrap fabric so I can have him nearby. I use it because it’s one of my bigger bags that is sturdy; I was using it as my purse when my kids were little.” Shannon lives in Brighton with her family.
Adopting Children into Your H eart Some children come to us in different ways other than by birth; we look out the window, see a hawk, and know our daughter is coming. We are hopeful she will arrive soon. Athena never planned on having children, her family of origin was a ‘train wreck’. Then she met her future husband Steve, who had friends who were stay at home Dads, and he wanted to be Daddy too. He was persistent in commiting to do it together. After seeing a therapist, Athena was able to work through whether or not she wanted children, and her heart opened up to the idea. After “trying” they discovered they both had issues with fertility and could not get pregnant together. The doctor said they had a 60% chance of having a baby if they continued after 2 rounds of IVF, but adoption gives them a 100% chance. So they started down the path of adoption, picked an agency and got on the waitlist. “Before she was born, this hawk was sitting in the tree outside my bedroom window everyday and I just felt like it was her. That was the first time I felt a connection to her; people will
say that when you’re pregnant you know. That was the first time I could feel that she was coming. I was hopeful.” Finally, a couple in college here in Denver picked them to adopt their daughter, and the process went really smoothly. Athena and her husband picked up their daughter 24 hours after her birth. “This is the day you dreamt of, that you get your child; you want it to be as happy as possible, but the reality was she was losing her mother and her father. And at the time I could not acknowledge that. You think someone will put the baby in your arms and happy music will begin, but it takes time to get to know someone and learn to love someone, it’s not instantaneous. When women give birth, and they feel this rush of love... well they’ve been loving their baby for 9 months, talking to it, etc. So I found I wasn’t prepared for that. I wish I had talked to someone about that. Maybe someone told me and I didn’t want to hear it.”
After giving it some thought they decided to open it up, and were told of an African American mother in jail who would give birth in a few weeks. Those next few weeks would be an emotional rollercoaster, finding out about all the drugs taken - including meth and cocaine. There’s a placenta issue and the mother is rushed to the hospital, shackled. Athena is trying to get medical records released to find out the condition of the baby, but keeps getting blocked, and is sacred and tearful. Sobbing into her soup at Breadworks, she spontaneously runs into Michelle Kolakowski, a friend who she had hired as her doula to help her navigate this situation. “I know this baby is ours, but these circumstances are not ideal. What am I going to do? I don’t know if I can do this!” Athena says, and her doula replies with love, “You’re going through transition!”
“The next day we get the call- he has been born!” Athena has been getting ready for this moment and sets up the supplemental nursing system. “I get to the hospital and I pick him up and I breastfeed him With adoption there is a moment in time when birth and start to take care of him. He’s just a wreck, he parents relinquish their rights as parents, and for looks so squashed and so miserable and just doesn’t Athena this day came when her baby girl was a week stop crying. I can’t get anyone to tell me what’s going old. Finally, she felt like she could open the gates and on with him. I keep asking to speak with the Doclet go of any reservations. This dear one was hers! tor to find the status. We are there staying the night, In the end, they look so much alike that people are sleeping with him, caring for him, it was so awful, often surprised when told of their adoption. it was so hard. Finally we got to see the Doctor and he admits they were wrong, it was something much “So about 2 years into parenting Erin, being a mom milder, it wasn’t so serious, the mother wasn’t HIV makes me so happy, seems all good and right, so positive, he was healthy as far as they could tell, then I thought I should adopt another child. I could totally healthy.” feel this being, a grown up male being; I could feel it. He said, “I can come if you want or not, it’s okay, Michelle Kolakowski had told Athena that she either way.” I am not a psychic or intuitive person, needed 4 hours of continuous sleep, so she started and this kind of thing had never happened before!” going to bed at 8pm and waking at midnight to take the crying baby from her husband. Because of the The process of adopting her son was much different, drug withdrawal, he couldn’t sleep, he couldn’t be beginning with the agency they chose. She was oftouched, and finding something that he would eat fered a child, but somehow she knew this wasn’t the was very challenging. Athena had been searching being that had spoken to her and established that “heaven and earth” to keep this little guy alive, and connection. After being on the waitlist for over 2 after 3 months the birth mother calls and asks for years, Athena (then age 47) felt her window for add- the baby back. “And then somehow out of the blue, ing another child was closing. The agency suggested we get a call that the court has relinquished her she broaden her restraints on the type of child she parental rights. I don’t know how that happened, it’s had wanted - one with a similar skin color and with- so out of the blue, so I’m not even sure I believe it! I out exposure to drugs or alcohol. can’t relax, because I’ve been so geared up.”
Athena has received henna from SarahKate several times, and feels that her work is so transformative and healing. She says she had viewed her
“..feminine bits as barren, a wasteland, because they couldn’t give me children. But doing the henna with you - the beehive and flowers and bees that represented my children - was a reclaiming, a celebrating, a reinhabiting, and enriching of my body.”
“So I’m sobbing again feeling so guilty because I’m keeping him from her, and she’s so bereft, but I just can’t do anything more, it’s not safe, so then I break up the connection with her. The woman that we worked with initially comes back to the agency and everything gets wrapped up and we have an official adoption day,
but it doesn’t feel real. We are all traumatized, but he’s ours! We throw a big party, and after that he starts to get better.” “He is totally and completely my son, we are supposed to be together. Dillion is forcing me to grow in the ways that I might not have. Like, exponentially!
So I mean, they talk about what it’s like to be a mother - I would kill for him - no questions. If a mountain lion was coming towards him… I would die for that kid no question, he’s clearly at the deepest level my kid. Is the relationship different than if he had come out of my womb? Who knows.”
The Motherâ€™s Blessing Julie had never seen or been given a Blessing for pregnancy, but by the time I arrived to adorn her friend, she had created an amazing space for the gathering. Before any of the other guests showed up, I began adorning Mercy, who was pregnant with her 3rd son. The Hamsa symbolizes the hand of God, and wearing the symbol is believed to bring success, harmony and protection. As women began to arrive the room filled with laughter, and eventually everyone had arrived and we sat in a circle. Each woman had been instructed to bring encouraging words for the mama, and as we went around the circle, stringing special beads for a necklace for the mama, each woman shared how she knew Mercy and her words of wisdom/encouragement/humor. One by one, the necklace was passed and each woman had a moment to say to Mercy how much she meant to them. Here is a sampling of what was shared:
To support mother and father To cherish wife and children, and To be engaged in peaceful occupation This is the greatest blessing. ~ Buddha No one will ever understand the love I have for you. After all, you’re the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from inside.
The power and intensity of your connection can not be stronger than you because it is you. A mother is one who can take the place of all, but none can take the place of her. You will know your baby better than anyone. Trust your instincts.
From Steve Covey’s book on Families, the Chinese Bamboo Parable, “You work and you invest time and effort, and you do everything you can possbily do to nuture gowth, and sometimes you don’t see anything for weeks, months, or even years. But if you’re patient and keep working and nurturing, that ‘fifth year” will come, and you will be astonished at the growth and change you see taking place. Patience is faith in action. Patience is emotional diligence. It’s the willingness to suffer inside so that others can grow. It reveals love. It gives birth to understanding.”
From Tammy Knox - Radiant - “You hand me your sleeping newborn and his warm weight thumps against my heart Flying me back to when I held my own tiny son (I hold him still, my lap overflowing with legs and arms and words). Your boy works the indescribable magic That brings motherhood and my family and friendship to a sparkling point of light that smells like new skin and feels like truth. Your trust helps me remember that your child and my child breathe the same air gaze at the same sky reach out in the same emptieness to nestle in a safe place And love from me is love from you in an endless circle of women holding each other’s hands and babies.”
“It is said that women in labor leave their bodies, travel to the stars, collect the souls of their babies and return to earth together.” ~ Anonymous
“Childbirth is more admireable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one.” Gloria Steinem
Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers! Strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. “ ~ Barbara Katz Rothman
The most hillarious thing was a woman reading from Jeanne’s blog: Renegade Mothering “My friend is 38 weeks pregnant and I sense she feels a little guilty about not enjoying these final weeks of pregnancy at all. And so, for her and all the other mothers out there in their last few weeks of pregnancy wondering if it actually sucks as bad as you think it does, I offer this compilation of the 14 biggest bullshit moments of my four pregnancies, all of which occurred in the last few weeks of said gestational periods. Now, before I continue, I need to warn you: This is for sure beyond “too-much-information” and possibly falls into the Do-You-Have-No-Dignity-LeftAt-All category, but I’m posting it anyway because, you know what? The last month of pregnancy is TMI. The whole fucking thing is too much information. Women go through some shit – often literally – to have these babies. We endure a physical discomfort and bodily weirdness that defies all reason and decency, and yet we continue. We go on. We go on to birth these babies and mother them through it all, because we are badasses. Period. So I’m going to talk about the real things because they are the, um, real things. Plus, I love you all more than I love my dignity.” Read the rest on her blog! link below https://www.renegademothering.com/2018/02/02/theendofpregnancysucks/
Motherhood is a call that many of us hear, but not all of us answer. Some of us are surprised and thrown into motherhood, some of us hear th...
Published on Apr 23, 2018
Motherhood is a call that many of us hear, but not all of us answer. Some of us are surprised and thrown into motherhood, some of us hear th...