Giving birth to my first son changed my life. The simple fact of my son and my huge love for his tiny self shaped every waking (and sleeping) minute of my existence, but I was different too.
I had given birth. It felt as though I had traveled to the fiery core of life itself and returned with a strong, centered piece of myself I hadn’t known was missing. I still feel it in my bones to this day.
Fast forward: me, parenting my one-year-old, pregnant with my second baby and running a moms’ talk group. We were telling birth stories when a woman in the group turned to me and announced, “You MUST become a childbirth educator!” It was one of life’s lightening bolt moments. She was right. I was fascinated by birth. Birth is physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and profoundly transformative. And I knew I had something to offer.
I’d heard many new parents complain about their lecture-style birth classes and how they couldn’t remember anything from class on the big day. Up to this point, my career had been shaped by my passion for progressive, participatory education in the fields of the arts and language acquisition. I had a long track record of and love for creating engaged, participatory learning environments for adults and children. I knew I could help expectant parents prepare in such a way that they could really bring what we explored in class into their experiences giving birth.
(As an aside, I will add that it continues to be a pleasure to receive emails from new parents who’ve taken my classes with comment like the following just-in note: “We were told numerous times by the nurses and doctors that they were really impressed by how well prepared we were for everything from the birth itself to breastfeeding, etc. THANK YOU, M.E.!”—Serge
I went on to have a similarly powerful birth with my second (10 lb 3 oz!) son. Again, I’d had to marshal reserves from I knew not where to meet contraction after contraction with softness, surrendering to the force of this child’s birth. I came away from this birth awed by the magnificence of our minds. Our bodies know how to birth these babies, and how we use our minds very much shapes how we experience and allow birth.
In my wild ride of a year parenting two babies, I began what has become my life’s work: offering Bradley childbirth classes, rich in practical hands-on experiences, that help new parents use their minds in powerful ways to work WITH their labors.
At this time, I leapt into the trenches of birth as a doula and soldiered alongside many a birthing family, learning much about birth, babies and life. I eventually expanded my New Moms Talk Groups to offer support to many more new mothers as they parent their children, nurture their relationships and build community with other new mothers and babies.
I called my company Mindful Birth for the profound tools of mindfulness that have anchored me through challenging life moments, given me a sense of presence at one of life’s most raw, challenging and beautiful experiences (birth), and helped me offer my babies what they have needed as much as anything: me.
The years have been busy since founding Mindful Birth: I had a third child in 2010, a little girl who arrived via another lesson-filled birth. I’ve now worked with many many couples in my classes over the years and have attended the births of over 400 babies in the homes, birth centers and hospitals of New York. I have kept sane by way of 15 years of moms talk groups. Since 2007, I have served on Choices in Childbirth’s education committee where I have facilitated the following events for expectant New Yorkers: “Men and Birth,” “Choosing your Care Provider,” “Breastfeeding,” “How to have a Great Hospital Birth,” “Choosing Homebirth,” “Working with Risk,” “Inspiring Birth Stories,” “VBAC and Cesarean,” among others. I’ve also been publishing some of what I’ve learned along the way. You can find my articles in Midwifery Today, the Journal of Perinatal Education, The Journal of Perinatal Psychology, Pathways to Family Wellness as well as on many blogs. I’ve had the honor to learn from Pam England, Karen Strange, Debra Pascalli-Bonaro, Nils and Jill Bergman, the good folks at Bradley and many others along the way.
With gratitude to the many people (big and very small) I have had the pleasure to know through this work.
present, aware, accepting, connected…