Lisa’s Inspirational Journey

MommyTheorist:

One amazing story that many people should read!

Originally posted on Scleroderma Foundation Greater Chicago Chapter:

Helfands

Stubborn, strong, resilient, annoyingly positive and ridiculously outspoken; all adjectives people have used to describe me. Are these compliments? It depends who you ask. I do know these characteristics have helped me through my darkest and brightest days living with scleroderma.

In 1985, after two years of misdiagnosing my symptoms, I was diagnosed with scleroderma at the ripe old age of ten. This was long before you could Google anything you wanted to learn about on the Internet. Growing up, all I knew about scleroderma was what my mom had told me, which was that my skin was tighter than most people’s. She did not tell me that I would develop telangiectasias all over my body, that my limbs would become mangled and deformed, or that my fingers and elbows would leak calcium. I discovered these cool party tricks for myself.

In 1993, while home on spring vacation my freshman…

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Homebirth of Bliss

 

THE BLESSINGWAY: TO GATHER THE STARS IN A SATCHEL, TO CONNECT WITH SUPPORT BEAMS

 

My husband helped me rally support around Bliss’s planned home birth. I had asked friends to write me a note, or a quote, to unfold while labor was unfolding. I wouldn’t read them until the day of the birth, when I needed to feel the presence of friends and family with me in the birthing room. Some people hand wrote cards and others emailed my husband so I wouldn’t see, and I stored them in a pretty bag I chose specially to hold these wishes.

 

On Friday morning, October 4th, I gathered with other expectant moms at a friend’s house who is a doula. She runs a monthly meeting in Westchester County, NY called a Positive Birth Group. I had a pink show on my undies and let my midwife know. She said “bloody show” might mean birth is imminent, or it could be two weeks, after losing one’s mucus plug, before the baby comes. So, I was pretty relaxed and enjoyed the gathering.

 

DO THE LAST THING ON YOUR TO-DO LIST, AND THE BABY WILL COME.

 

The night before, I had assembled all my birth art and affirmations to tape on the wall for inspiration and visual distraction during labor. It was the last thing on my to-do list, besides perfecting my music playlist.

 

76567a77f574b75d567cbdd6ada29b7c Labyrinth Girl Children open

 

Assuming a healthy pregnancy, a woman goes into labor when she’s ready. When mamas who are overdue ask what to do to trigger labor, I tell them, “Do the last thing on your to-do list.”

 

(When our first daughter was 11 days overdue, we finally hung curtains in the guestroom, which was important to me, because we were anticipating houseguests. So, I also joke with moms who ask how to bring on labor, “Hang some curtains.”)

 

EARLY LABOR

 

Around 3:15pm on Friday, October 4, I started having mild contractions. I was excited, and felt a knowing inside. I was with our daughter, Adela, about three and a half years old. In the weeks preceding the baby’s due date, Adela and I went hiking, visited the ice cream shop, and did art projects together; I made an effort to be genuinely present with her in the final few days of our being a dynamic duo—because everything was about to shift.

 

That day, we went for a walk around the neighborhood. About six houses down the block was as far as I wanted to stray. Contractions were about 45 minutes apart, and starting to get regulara slow rhythm that allowed me to forget how much time had passed in between, but that nevertheless struck me as a rhythmand I was cued to pay closer attention to my body and say sayonara to the outside world. We chatted with our lovely neighbor, Janet. I said, “I’m in labor.”

 

She tried to hide being astonished. “You are??”

 

I said, “It’s very mild, but, I need to let you know, a contraction could come while I’m standing here, and I might need to lean on the tree.” I didn’t want her to be taken aback and me to feel awkward if I suddenly tensed up. Support during early labor coming from a TREE was the best thing I could ask for!

 

It was time to call my husband. On the phone, I said to David, “Nothing to worry about, and you probably don’t need to rush home, but. . . . I’m feeling things.”

 

“Things? Oh, I see. Things.”

 

VIDEO OF OUR DOULA, THERESA, RECOUNTING HER EXPERIENCE:

 

I was told to eat a good dinner and try to relax. I ate a home-cooked meal, and prepared my hydration elixir: fresh coconut water, straight from shaved coconuts from Andy’s Pure Food, fresh-squeezed lime juice, raw honey, and sea salt. I had a pitcher of this, and drank about two liters during labor. I also ate a little fruit.

 

Contractions progressed to about every 9 minutes, and I was told to drink a big glass of wine and try to sleep. Why? Because women who go into labor in the early evening may get fatigued and lack the stamina to labor through the night into the morning. My last labor was so long, I thought, “Why not get the show on the road? If it’s happening, why should we impede it?” I was skeptical, but it actually worked; I drank a glass of wine and contractions slowed to every half hour. I was able to sleep for two hours, just waking every half hour to breathe through a contraction. At 11pm, I let my husband know I wasn’t going back to sleep.

 

“THIS IS IT. IT’S GO TIME!”

 

Well, between 11pm and 1am, labor accelerated like a locomotive. My labor pattern followed a sharp trajectory, as contractions intensified and were more frequent.

 

I spontaneously started chanting, “I’m open, I’m breathing, I’m releasing. I’m open, I’m breathing, I’m releasing.”

 

For the most part, I wanted to be alone in our dimly lit bedroom. We had an elaborate setup in the living room, with a gorgeous birthing tub, different comfort stations with essential oils, candles, music, art, and a rope hanging from my husband’s chin-up bar, yet, I only wanted to be in the cave-like, cozy bedroom. I moved a birth ball up there so I could sit and rest my head on the bed between contractions. During contractions, I didn’t want to be touched. I’d asked my husband to stay out of sight during contractions, because I feared if he were nearby I’d break down and cry or complain to him, and I didn’t want to be plaintive. I wanted to be a woman warrior and/or goddess, or at least be graceful. Between contractions, he sweetly brought food and comfort. During contractions, I retreated into a private place.

 

The satchel of birth wishes! Labor was intensifying, and I hadn’t gotten to read everyone’s notes. David said, “Would you like me to read one out loud to you?”

 

This was the best idea he’s ever had!!! I wouldn’t have been able to hold the paper or even make simple choices…

 

I WAS IN “LABORLAND.”

 

I had agonized over my birth playlist, because, at our last birth, my playlist was too short and too sleepy/new-age/meditative. (Around hour 30 of my last birth, our midwife asked, “Do you have anything more upbeat? I think you need to be energized.” Since I was in laborland, I didn’t want anything to change. I didn’t want to fiddle with gadgets, nor did I want to hear a single note of a song that would rub me the wrong way. I admit, it was repetitive. Some 14-minute-long yoga chant kept playing on repeat, and I said, “Leave it.” Well, the upshot is, I can NEVER hear that song again! I haven’t deleted it, but if shuffle ever serves it up, I need to switch away—just like I couldn’t drink any more of the coconut cocktail later on, because I’d practically OD’d on it.)

 

In the trance of laborland, sounds filter into your ears and shape your experience. This time around, I had a wonderful playlist, that gave me a sense of rhythm and soothed me with positive lyrics and warm female voices. (Ask me, and I’ll be happy to share it.) Music played softly from my iPhone, which is ironic, because I’d made a huge effort to connect our computers so it could be played through speakers, and that never happened—one aspect of my birth plan that shiftedour baby was born 40 minutes before our midwife arrived.

 

David read me this AMAZING meditation, sent from a friend who’s had four children—so, she understands birth. I am sharing it here as an intro to our birth video, because when the video begins, I’m repeating the word “low,” trying to keep my throat open and my voice low, as Ina May Gaskin recommends.

Please read the meditation, and then, if you’d like, watch the video that opens with me in the bathroom where Bliss was born, at 1:22am October 5th, 2014, saying, “Low, low, low…”

 

 

FOR MICHELLE

 

(this is more my thoughts during labor than scripted affirmation)

 

Some people are so relaxed they feel no pain. Calm. Low voice. Lower. Lower. Every surge centers me more deeply and makes me calmer. Calm is a low voice, my voice is low, my baby is lower. Low. Lower. Bring my baby lower with my voice. Hum. Calm. Lower. So calm they feel no pain at all. I am low and relaxed, my body is soft and loose and open. I am calm. Another surge is coming, I will greet it with calm. I will allow it to carry me to deeper centeredness and calm. I am soft. I am calm. My voice is low. I hum, hum lower and lower. My voice brings the baby lower and lower. My body is loose, I am so calm I feel no pain. Everything is as it should be. There are no distractions where I am. I have let go of fear and tension. Breathed them out. Now I am deeply calm and soft and loose and low. I will greet this baby with calm.

 

Inhale PEACE, EXHALE tension. PEACE in tension OUT.

 

Tzipora Lifchitz

 

Bliss Elka Blaustein was born at home at 1:22am. Here is the last 14 minutes of labor and her peaceful and healthy arrival in our bathroom. THIS IS OUR UNEDITED BIRTH VIDEO. THE VIEW IS FROM THE SIDE, IN A CANDLELIT ROOM. IT’S AN EXAMPLE OF AN ECSTATIC, EMPOWERING, UNDISTURBED, AND NATURAL BIRTH, FREE OF ANY INTERVENTIONS. We think it is beautiful, and has some funny moments, like me saying, “Take my clothes off!” and “It’s coming, David!” and David “checking under the hood.” We realized the baby was coming fast, and we were alone until our doula arrived just in time to catch the baby. 

 

 

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DIARY OF A FACEBOOK POST-A-HOLIC IN WITHDRAWAL

 

DAY 1 (4/12/14)

Precipitous event. Reflecting on short conversation with Meredith R. about quality of life and needing to limit screen time. She has a great blog, Queen of All Wild Things.

I emailed 18 people I care most about to let them know I’d deactivated my account.

Still want to look at iPhone while nursing.

Read more books to the kids. And want to keep reading more to the kids. 

DAY 2 (4/13/14)

At 5:34am, I realize I had developed a Facebook trigger finger. My thumb looks for the Facebook app icon on my iPhone when I’m done checking email. Now I go to Words With Friends or look at some news channels. It’s taking time to eliminate the habits I’d formed around it.

Also, what will I do with all the status updates I compose in my head??

11:35am When I deleted the Facebook app, I moved the Netflix app button into its place. My trigger finger has hit the Netflix app button a few times today.

Got some news from Drudge Report. Spent more time looking into my baby’s eyes and watching her move. She’s rolling, and it’ll be no time before she’s crawling.

9:40pm

David’s asleep next to me. Note the time. I’m all ready for bed, too. This is because this week was brutal. David’s work schedule; Adela was sick for three days; Bliss hasn’t let us sleep…

I am playing Words With Friends, and emailing. What I’m missing is that thing that constantly refreshes, in an unpredictable way, that makes me feel socially connected and up-to-date. It’s the constant refreshing and updating that’s neverendingly (I know that’s not a word) addicting.

I’m hoping my concentration improves and that I can eke out even a little creative output. That would be swell.

This evening, David came home with roses.

I feel some sense the world is spinning without me. It won’t miss me. It may barely acknowledge me when I’m back.

Every relative or friend I emailed to say I’d deactivated my Facebook account said, “Great! Awesome idea! Awesome for you!”

Here are some actual samples:

“I think it’s a Damn good idea. I know where to reach you. You can run but you can’t hide, MEESH.”

“Well! Awesome. Talk to you soon!”

“Brilliant idea. You know I’ll be in touch :)”

“I’ll miss your insights!! But will be in touch definitely.”

“Wow! Impressive! Let me know how that goes!!”

“Smart!”

“I hope this means you’ll be devoting more time to creating your next writing class.”

“Yay, happy for you!”

“Good on you!”

“That’s going to be quite the detox! Hope all is well.”

“I have pretty much decided to do the same!  Though I am not going so far as to deactivate…just not checking.”

“What spurred this on? Hope you’re getting healthy and detoxing!” 

DAY 3 (4/14/14)

I miss posting photos.

DAY 4 (4/15/14)

Anyone who watches a baby sleep is a fool. They should be sleeping too. 

DAY 7 (4/19/14)

It’s been a week. A friend just wrote,

“How amazing good for u to have the insight and wherewithal to do that! We should all suspend FB sometimes!!!! U miss it?”

I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I would love to hear what friends who aren’t in touch via email and phone have been up to.

The Facebook diet is one piece of a larger attempt to simplify my life and clarify my thinking.

DAY 9 (4/21/14)

Every day I invent a great status update, or crave connection or feedback on an idea, and I think, “Is today the day I’m going to rejoin Facebook?”

But, no. I haven’t accomplished enough.

DAY 10 (4/22/14)

Today, I took a peek. Well, my husband told me he posted this:

Image 

And I wanted to see what kind of responses the post was getting.

I returned to find more than a hundred notifications. Most were people’s family photos, some were creative and enlightening links, and, of course, my husband’s Adventures in Entertainment Reporting. (He’s had some amazing actors in his studio lately. He’s on the radio in New York and across the country daily. Some TV, too. I’m proud of him.)

Image

Incidentally, when I asked him what he thought of my choice to deactivate my Facebook account, he said, “It’ll last 3 days.”

Well, it lasted 10 days, and proved to be refreshing. Clarifying. Like a spiritual neti pot. 

 

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Married, with OCD

My husband’s attempt to publicly shame me while I was not logged into Facebook actually drew some handsome compliments, in a twist of fate. Also, who knew this was a thing? THIS is what drove me out of hiding and compelled me to break my Facebook fast.

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Sweet. Only in New York!

 

Hahahahaha

 

I do the same thing. Fucking dry cleaners.

 

She has great handwriting…

 

All I could think while reading this “what perfect printing.”

 

Awesome note. I heart your wife. And, her architectural handwriting is superb.

 

I take those and put them in my wife’s bag.

 

Damn dry cleaner. Creating marital strife coast to coast.

 

OMG! My husband does the same thing! HAHAHA

 

I think I love your wife.

 

Argh… My husband does put them in my bag! I hate them!

Wallet w:dry cleaning stubs

That note is truly a work of art. Like most other artwork, it will serve no practical purpose.

 

I think Adobe should release the new “Blaustein” typeface on the market immediately. Oh, and don’t think we all didn’t notice the *ruled* post-it notes, not the silly free-form, unlined ones.

 

Best handwriting.

 

She’s giving me ideas!!

 

OMG!!!! My husband leaves those things all over the place! Drives me nuts!!!

 

Love that, stealing it.

 

Great handwriting. Is she a cartoonist?

 

Looks like interior decorator handwriting.

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I am happy with no more than a tenuous connection to reality, such as quiet music playing in the background, something only touching my ears, no vision in my eyes, shallow breath in my lungs.

 

I crave that floaty feeling, hallucination, silence, and sensory deprivation, so that my imagination may fill the empty balloon.

 Image

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I’m Back!

I’m back! While you weren’t looking, David and I had another baby, and named her Bliss. We really did it. Bliss Blaustein was born at home October 5th. She was brought earthside in a lightning bolt, and our midwife missed the birth. So, we delivered her ourselves. Birth story to come.

Now this:

I decided I spend too much energy on Facebook and resolve to write more for the blog in the coming year. Like, love, or other, please feel free to share your thoughts in comments. As a bridge from Facebook, I’ll share here what I shared over at my page the other day. I’ll deliver always original, always honest, sometimes-hopefully-possibly-entertaining content. Heart thump. Peace sign. Love to my loyal readers.

- Michelle

Ways I’ve Discovered To Occupy a Toddler

- Sink Full O’ Bubbles

- Mound of Flour on the Kitchen Counter

- Tub Full O’ Bubbles

- Bubbles on the Deck

- Bubble Wrap

- Bubbles Anywhere, in All Forms

- Skype with Unsuspecting Relative or Another Toddler

- Leaves

- Rocks

- Sticks

- Stickers

- Window Markers (Awesome!)

- A Pet Who Doesn’t Bite

- A Phone Call (Complete Torture for the Callee)

- Decorating Mail to Send to Penpals

- Tissue Paper

- Bowl of Water (On the Deck)

- Crystals that Make Rainbows When Hung in Windows

- Flashlights

- iPods (Sometimes)

- Kitchen Utensils

- Large Exercise Ball

- Pad of Post-Its

- Plants to Water and Groom

- Junk Mail to Open

- Books

- Dinosaurs

- Figurines of All Kinds

- Fruits and Vegetables to Sort and Stack, Then Eat

- A Puddle on the Floor and Some Towels to Clean It Up With

- Musical Instruments

- Removable Anything (Jelly Stickers Are Fun!)

- Cars, Trucks, Trains, Wheels

- Food to Dip into Condiments

- Indoor Picnic on a Picnic Blanket on the Floor

- Costumes

- A Microphone

- Tubes

- Send Toddler to Bug Daddy

You might notice balloons are not on this list. They’re really bad for our ecosystem. Follow Facebook page “Balloons Blow” for conscious reporting on the subject. We also try to use single-use items sparingly.

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NATURE WRITING WORKSHOP AUGUST 25TH

NATURE WRITING WORKSHOP AUGUST 25TH

Nature Writing Workshop taught in a natural setting in Westchester County, NY

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