Wednesday, January 20, 2010

cleaning my mental house

So there are these two questions that friends have asked me in comments on blog posts that I have never answered, and every time I think about it I feel like a loser. So today I am (finally) going to rid myself of the guilt and answer the questions! And instead of just answering to the people directly, I am posting the answers here because I think they may be of interest to a few more of you.

Quite some time ago my friend Lindsay (who is also a teacher) asked me if I was working. I have truthfully been meaning to post about the beautiful school that I work at for the whole year because I think everyone should know that such a place exists, but I'm only now getting around to it. So the short answer is yes, I am working. But the details are what really matter. I had never planned to go back to work after I had kids (unless I HAD to). In the summer of 2008 I talked about the Montessori training that I went to. That opportunity has blossomed, and the woman who paid for my training started an INCREDIBLE school and asked me to teach at it. The school is called the Elizabeth Academy. Click on the name and go to the website-- I love the mission of the school and believe so strongly in what we are trying to do there. Here is a little blurb about the methods and approach of the school from the website:
"The structured Montessori approach is so individualized, so adaptable and so focused on the child's need, rather than the teacher's need, or the parent's want, or the state's dollar, that the child can't help but flourish.  And yet, as the child becomes the teacher's focus, the child becomes less focused on himself and more aware and respectful of the world around him.  There is no better model, no purer way to be inspired than through a Montessori education.

Elizabeth Academy mandates legitimate inclusion-- creating a slice of the real world with a safety net of real professionals at arms length and open arms to competently and lovingly help navigate the path."

The school mimics the actual population by including a ratio of about 20% of kids that have special needs into the classrooms with their typical peers. The students have learned from each other and grown to love each other, without even really noticing the differences between them. It is really remarkable. I fit in as the "Readiness Teacher." There were a few students who weren't quite ready for the full classroom environment, kids who needed more support and structure due to their special needs. I was asked to come in and be the teacher in that small classroom. Why I said yes (other than the fact that I really loved the idea of being involved in such an incredible school)? I was able to bring my little boy along with me as a typical peer model for these kids. Little G has been able to get up and come to school with me (we are only there three mornings a week for three hours) and it has been such a blessing to have him there learning alongside me. Also amazing? The classroom is staffed with three (3!) diversely educated adults-- me (special education), Miss Maria (speech therapist), and Miss Kelly (Montessori teacher). Also amazing? The resources that we have available to us to work with these children. I am seriously constantly shocked at the materials and resources we are given. If we need something to work with a student? We can buy it. We are not limited by government funding, and the founder of the school truly wants to spare no expense to enable these children to thrive. It is really incredible. We started out with five students in my class, and have since transitioned one (who was ready) to the other classrooms, and added 4 more typical students. This was a picture of us at the beginning of the year:
Oh how I have grown to love these little people. I will miss them (all except for the cute one in the yellow shirt-- that one I am taking with me :)) when I leave in a few weeks to have my baby. I may be back next year (can you believe that they will allow me to strap my baby to my body, bring my three year old, and teach?!), but I also may not be. But I feel so grateful for the opportunity to have been affiliated with such a beautiful school. It is truly a model for how education should be, and people have begun to take notice. We have had visitors from around the nation come observe in the school, and hopefully there will be more like it popping up all around. I would feel so blessed to one day be able to send my children to a school like it.

Okay, now onto the next question. Many of you have inquired what I meant by "doing without any extra stuff" as it pertains to the birth of this baby in my belly. Yes, it is true, I am planning an unmedicated, intervention free (hopefully) birth this time around. Let me be real here-- I am not your typical hypnobirthing woman. No no, in fact, I grew up in a house with an OB/GYN as a father who spoke these words often: "Why wouldn't you want an epidural?! It's like getting your appendix taken out without any anesthesia!" So when I got pregnant the first time I didn't even think twice about getting an epidural. And honestly, I had the most incredible experience giving birth-- it truly was just about as picture perfect as I could imagine, epidural and all.

So why would I want to do things differently this time around?

Giving birth that first time made me aware of my identity as a woman, created specifically to bring babies into the world. I felt like my body had been made to give birth to babies, and I knew I could do it just like women have been doing it for thousands of years. I felt (and feel) a desire to connect with childbirth at its roots-- just me, strong and empowered, giving birth the way my body was designed to. 

I also really love the notion of controlling my body with my mind. I have been taught since I was little that I needed to use my mind to keep my natural man tendencies in check, no matter how strong the desire or appetite. And while this is a little different in that I do not in any way think that choosing an epidural makes one mentally weak, I do personally feel a strong sense of wanting to strengthen my mind and use that strength to get through something that is physically difficult.

And lastly, it really is just safer to not have an epidural. No I do not think that epidurals are typically dangerous, and yes, I would potentially consider getting one myself again one day, but still, any kind of medical intervention poses some risk. If I can give birth without submitting myself or my baby to any unnecessary risk (no matter how small), I think that is a good thing.

So I (along with my very supportive husband) am half way through a six week course in Hypnobabies training. I practice deep relaxation and positive affirmations every day. I am truly confident in my body's ability to give birth naturally, and am grateful daily for the time I am spending deep in meditation and thought as I prepare. I think about giving birth constantly and honestly, I am SO looking forward to it. I know that there is a chance that things may not go as planned, but I also know that I am doing the work that I need to now so that I can have a truly incredible experience on the day that this babe decides to come. I know some of you have used hypnobabies/birthing before and I would LOVE to hear any and all advice you have. I also know that some of you will be skeptical and doubting. That's okay, but please, don't leave comments about it because I don't want to have to put up my bubble of peace when I read them :).


Anonymous said...

Your "bubble of peace" comment is very funny. Maybe you could explain... As your mother, I am very, very excited for you and I know you can do it so don't start blowing your peace bubble at me!
Love you so much! Love Gayle's school too and I wish Rachel and Madeline could go.


Katrina said...

Yay for Hypnobabies!!! I love it. I didn't have a perfect hypnobabies birth but it was still wonderful. And I'm hoping this time around to have an even better experience because I'll be able to control my environment more since I'll (hopefully) be birthing at home. Are you taking a live course or doing the homestudy?

Katie said...

I think YOU can do anything you set your mind to. Can't wait to hear all about it.

A Place 2 Gather said...

L- i had 2 1/2 babies without an epideral. (1/2 is because after laboring for 36 hours- i ended with a welcomed epideral and a c-section)

But, may I say I support you and your decision. Heavenly Father made our bodies to have babies. And generally it can be done without intervention!

I'd have to say, having an unmedicated birth is one of the biggest most treasured accomplishments I have. It's a spiritual and amazing experience.

I will be waiting anxiously for the time that you feel comfortable to share your story!

Good luck, believe in yourself and your will have an incredible experience!

The Frogley's said...

L you are so awesome! It is so comforting to know that there are other women out there who feel the same way that I did about giving birth. We truly are designed to do this and women have been doing it without intervention since Adam and Eve. Obviously we can do it because our Father in Heaven designed us to do so. Granted, I definitely believe that medical intervention is wonderful...when necessary.

I'm proud of you for sticking to your decision even if you have gotten some flack for it (I know I sure did..especially with how things turned out for me) But honestly if I still had to do everything over I would go natural again. It really was a mental game and as far as the normal labor went it was awesome. While my birthing experience didn't turn out perfectly, I am still proud to say that I did it naturally. As long as we are prepared for it I think we as women are perfectly capable of giving birth naturally. And the words you used to express how you feel about it resonate with my own. You expressed your feelings so beautifully in this post. I wish I could explain how I feel about it as well as you did here. Best of luck with everything. I know you will do great! :)

Heather said...

I admire you! I sort of want to try natural too. I think I could do it. I know you can! My epidural didn't really work any way, so I'm trying to get up the courage to try natural some day. My labors go so fast that the only part I'm worried about is, well, the end. :) I'm so excited to hear how it goes. Maybe you can help give me the courage to try natural next time.

Jenny said...

Great post! Although I never did try natural I think it may be sort of like running a marathon (ok, so I haven't done that either but I am getting a taste of running:)). It is doing something that you know you can do but something that your mind has to completely take over in order to do it. I KNOW you can do it. And, what a great teaching experience you were able to have. You are one amazing woman:).

MomJanet said...

I'm so grateful to hear about your natural childbirth. My Mom ended up giving birth naturally to Julie and said it was by far the easiest and best, but after 6 she was experienced. I'm hoping to learn how to put up my peace bubble and keep calm they need a hypnomom class!!

Emily said...

Yay Liz! Giving birth is a beautiful thing and I loved reading your thoughts on it. As a fellow "hypnobirther" I am very excited for you. It was such a very powerful and effective tool when I birthed my babies this way.
Enjoy truly is incredible. Can't wait to see pics of your little one on the way.

Adam said...

you're pretty cool, liz.

Mandy and Roger Woodhouse said...

Awesome, awesome. I can't wait to hear how it all goes! A friend of mine went on pitocin and still managed to do it without an epidural! I'm amazed. I believe you can be strong when you need to be strong. So more power to you! I'm sure it will go great!

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Cam and Linds said...

Well thank you for answering my question. I have been wondering if you were teaching and how you liked it. That school sounds amazing, and you are right, that is the way children should be taught... with no restrictions because of state guidelines, or lack of funding. Love it. I would love to come and observe that school someday if the opprotunity ever presented itself, and if I ever move back down to good ole' SLC.

Also I think you are such a strong person and believe that you will have an excellent experience with the birth of your new baby. So excited to hear how it goes, and to find out whether this baby is a boy or girl!!

Suzanna said...

LIZ!!!! Okay - Here's my bet....your beautiful baby GIRL will be born on her due date of March 11, 2010, at around 11:45 am....PRIZE???