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Posts Tagged ‘Pregnant Pagan’

Even though I’m no longer pregnant, I have a few “Pregnant Pagan” posts floating around for tweaking and publishing.  Bear with me as I transition into “Pagan Parenting” posts and the regular reflections on Druidism that you’re used to!

One of the most magical parts of pregnancy for me was the intuition.  Finding out I was pregnant was a bit of a surprise.  We had been trying for months and I was growing more and more convinced that I just wasn’t able to conceive (an old fear of mine based on irregular cycles).  Feeling compelled by odd tingling in my breasts and a late period, I took a test, then another, and yes – I was pregnant!  Some people, including a grovie from Muin Mound, claim knowledge of pregnancy from conception.  I had no idea until my body started to give me signs and the tests confirmed it.  So my intuition was not a mystical pregnancy test!

My intuition had everything to do with the baby’s sex.  As my pregnancy progressed, I found myself having vivid dreams about my baby as a girl.  Something in me just knew I had a little girl growing in me.  Prior to my anatomy ultrasound, I decided to try out an old divination technique – I tied a bit of string to my wedding band, suspended it over my abdomen as a pendulum, and watched its movement.  Side to side meant boy and circles meant girl.  My pendulum spiraled in tight little circles so, once more, I was getting “girl vibes.”

Despite this, I maintained a dose of skepticism so that I wouldn’t be disappointed.  “I could be wrong,” I told myself.  “This could all be wishful thinking,” I decided, admitting to myself that, despite my stating either sex would be welcomed, I really wanted a girl.  The day of the ultrasound, I girded myself for a penis sighting.  My greatest priority was a healthy baby, of course, but there was that part of me that cheered “girl girl girl!”  When the ultrasound technician showed us girly bits, my husband (who also wanted a girl) and I were over the moon!  It felt amazing to know that my dreams, my dowsing, and my intuition were correct!

We weren’t out of the water yet.  Ultrasounds are still interpreted incorrectly.  We wouldn’t know for sure until birth.  When her sex was announced as “girl” during my cesarian, I felt so validated amidst all the other emotions I was experiencing.  My mother swears by her own intuition.  She often has bad feelings before negative things happened.  She is touched with “the sight” and sees close friends and family in visions or visitations before learning of their deaths.  I sometimes have dreams and feelings about such things too, but to correctly predict the gender of my own daughter before birth was empowering to me as a practitioner of the “Old Ways.”  Now of course, there’s a 50/50 chance so some would argue that the odds of my guessing correctly were quite  good.  They would say that my being correct is more of a reflection of those odds and does not prove I have any sort of intuition.  To that I say bah humbug!  I realize all of that, and yet paired with other intuitive moments I’ve experienced, this one being the most positive*, I’m convinced of what I encountered.  It has especially taught me to listen to my instincts and my body.  This often requires slowing down, keeping silent, and paying attention to patterns.  It’s often difficult to do that when we’re so often running around from one responsibility to the next, but if you can slow down and listen to your “higher self” or your “intuition,” you may also find yourself feeling empowered and validated by your self-knowledge.  Perhaps, if I become pregnant again, I will feel it right away…?

 

*Previously, like my mother, I have felt foreboding feelings about specific things before finding them to be as I saw them in my mind.  They have usually been about my love life.  I tend not to get intuitive feelings about others matters unless it is in regards to death – and that only happens some of the time.

 

 

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What is a crane bag?

The answer: not hard.

The lovely Aoife was turned into a crane and lived about the seas of Manannan Mac Lir for many hard years.  When she died, the great Sea Lord took her skin and made a magical bag that could hold his most beloved treasures.  It’s said to be bottomless.

Many Druids and Celtic Reconstructionists, especially those who are called by Manannan and the symbolism of the crane, make crane bags to wear on their person.  An individual may place his or her most sacred charms and amulets inside; objects of personal power and significance.

Although my Druidic studies have slowed lately, I’ve noted a growing connection to Manannan.  The more I work with trance and magic, the more I study, he seems to nod approvingly at me.  And of course, Brighid remains an incredibly significant part of my life.  For the last few months, I’ve felt compelled by my relationships with these deities to create a devotional object to have at my labor.  Had I the ability to attempt a home birth, rest assured I would have created an altar to motherhood, my labor, Brighid, the baby, and our spirit guides.  (For some lovely examples, look here and here!)  Although some people have made some beautiful travel-friendly birth altars, making a crane bag – something relevant to my path and my Gods that I could create with a favorite hobby – seemed like the right thing for me to do.  Everything will be secure inside the bag.  I can take one item out to hold, rub, and focus on, or I can hold the entire bag.  It’s made of very soft pink velvet and feels very comforting.  Much of my reading has suggested that women hoping for a natural birth should have some sort of focal point to assist in managing pain.  A crane bag holding many special objects to focus on is just my style!  Not only that –  it’s very discreet.

My finished motherhood crane bag. I reused fabric from an old, velvet blazer and some swirling pink for the lining (not photographed).  The pink is supposed to represent my uterus.  The drawstring method seemed best since the uterus can stretch and contract. On the front, I attached three antique buttons I purchased years ago. I knew I was saving them for something special! They fit the bag perfectly. Not only do they work with the color scheme, but symbolically an open flower is supposed to magically encourage the cervix to open.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Detail of the button I used as the clasp when the bag is tightened. A Celtic knot seemed most appropriate as it connects me to my hearth culture and gives me strength.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Although my crane bag is not bottomless, I’ve been able to fit quite a bit in there! I included the Goddess stone from my friend RavynStar, a yonic dandelion charm (the yoni is demurely facing away from the camera), the mother blessing beads from everyone at my baby shower, a sterling silver ring (now broken but still precious to me) that belonged to my mother when she was younger, a tooth from a doe, a bracelet from my late aunt, an collage of Brighid made by a fellow ADF Druid artisan, and my baby’s first photo! Everything is very significant to me symbolically. They are to remind me of the strong women in my life, my Goddess, the Earth Mother, the creative powers within me, my own strength, my spirit guide, and the ultimate goal – a healthy, happy baby. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

I also included these lovely talismans made by fellow flame keeper and Druid, Grey Wren. She completely surprised me with these beauties! The bloodstone with coral is to give me strength during and after labor. The rose quartz is to help with bonding, peace, and love. A friend taught her to associate it with motherhood. The white chalcedony with the pearl is supposed to help with lactation and sleep.  It will also be very appropriate for baby since she is supposed to be born in the sign of Cancer – a water sign! I am thinking about attaching the last to the baby’s mobile since sleep and nutrition are going to be hugely important to her, and we’ll need all the help we can get!  It could also go with some water symbolism. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

 

A birth and motherhood crane bag is very easy to make.  All you need are some special objects that bring you comfort and courage, and a bag to put them in!  As always, I encourage you to make your own bag as you’ll put your own energy into it.  Red or pink are particularly appropriate symbolically, but choose what fits your own needs.

Have you made a birth altar or crane bag?  I would love to see it!

For More Information on crane bags:

Make Your Own Crane Bag and Discover the Purpose of the Incarnation You are Currently Living” by Elen Sentier.  A good introduction.

The Crane Bag” by Dr. John Gilbert – How one Druidic tradition utilizes this tool.

The Crane Bag” – a poem about its lore and origins from Tairis Tales.  Definitely read this for an understanding of its significance within Celtic lore.

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A fun purple bonnet to protect her from the sun. See? Along with the magical protective charms on the mobile, I’m making very practical, mundane protections too!

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I finally finished the mobile I was working on for our baby!  I decided to go with a woodland theme because I definitely want to instill a love of nature in my daughter. I included some subtle Pagan hints, mostly because they are protective.  I used a combination of natural, found materials, felt, cotton thread and twine, and brightly dyed wool.  I’m very pleased with how it turned out!  I hope our Little Bee likes it!

Included are leaves, a bumble bee, a rowan charm, a white doe, an amanita formosa, an apple blossom, and a red trillium.  Everything was selected for the symbolism and the fact that they are from her surroundings.  The rowan charm is for protection and has a connection to Brighid.  The white doe is a subtle nod to Celtic mythology, as such creatures are often considered to be fairy women in disguise. The deer is my spirit guide, so there’s a protective element to it too*.

 

*The doe looks a little like a llama…  I had a difficult time making the legs slender enough…  But a friend sent her a plush, white llama so either way the little one should be happy!

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My new Hygeia breast pump! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

I have some thoughts brewing about my impending move and my garden, but I can’t help but gush!  Huzzah!  My new Hygeia breast pump is here!

With all my talk about desiring a natural birth, it probably won’t be a surprise that I also hope to breast feed.  A friend of mine actually gave me an old Medela pump, but I decided not to use it for various reasons.  There was a broken bit, for one, and it is what’s called an “open system” meaning that “the pump motor is ‘open’ to contact with the mother’s milk particles” compared to a “closed system” which is not (La Leche League).  I just couldn’t get past the giant warning on the front of the device stating that it wasn’t meant to be used by more than one person.  Now I’m sure my friend is a very healthy individual, but what if she didn’t know about something? What if?!  Another friend of mine, who is a lactation consultant, warned me that I should listen to my instincts.  Perhaps it’s a first time mother’s irrational worries, but the threat of contracting another person’s bacteria or virus (or giving them to my baby), scared the heck out of me.  Beyond that, my lactation consultant friend explained that many open system pumps are very susceptible to mold.  So the pump, while generously given*, ended up getting three strikes – a broken part, LLL and the FDA do not recommend using another’s open system pump, and mold issues.

I was lamenting what to do because breast pumps are expensive and my budget is currently quite tight.  My consultant friend suggested looking into Hygeia pumps and, maybe, I’d get enough money at my shower to purchase one.  I hadn’t heard of Hygeia before.  They’re not in major shops and I hadn’t seen them on the more popular pregnancy websites such as The Bump and Baby Center.  Turns out La Leche League endorses them!  And the more I browse more naturally-leaning parenting stores, the more I see them offered as an alternative.  Reviews looked pretty positive.

All sorts of accessories to learn about! I’m not opening the box until I know I can breast feed, though. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

The biggest selling point to me is that it’s a closed system.  Most closed system pumps are only available through hospitals.  Hygeia only utilizes a closed system because they aim to be “eco-friendly.”  They don’t want their pumps ending up in garbage dumps – the ultimate destination of many open-system breast pumps**.  It’s a purchase I can feel good about because I could lend it to friends and family without worrying about the germ issue.  I can send it back to Hygeia for recycling.  It’s reusable.  It’s recyclable.  It meets my desire to live a more sustainable life and breast feed my baby while still having to work full time.  

I’m very grateful to my mother and my husband’s uncle for the money they gave or sent for our baby shower.  So I couldn’t manage to schedule a doula for my birth.  So my hope for a natural birth may be complicated by some unforeseen health issue (I hope not!).  At least I have a breast pump I like from a company I feel I can support!  Now I just pray to Brighid that I can actually use it!

 

*Seriously, I’m VERY grateful to the friend who tried to help out by giving me her old pump.

**The irony isn’t lost on me.  Yes, I purchased a brand new pump (reusability aside) and will likely have to dispose of the old Medela.  Again, I just can’t shake the worries…  At least I may be able to recycle some of the plastic bits and the motor…

 

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After watching “The Business of Being Born” and reading Birthing From Within, I was very interested in hiring a doula to assist with my birth – particularly one trained in massage, meditation, and aromatherapy.  They are supposed to be very helpful to women who desire natural births.  I mean, come on.  The idea of some “wise healer woman” attending my birth seemed totally appropriate for a person like me!   The only thing that was preventing us from seriously searching at the beginning of my pregnancy was the cost. I was aware of at least one Doula on the river, but their website did not list cost.  When a price is unlisted I usually assume the worst… We found a doula in Watertown but her fee and payment plan would not have worked with our summer budget either.  And let’s face it…  the baby is going to be born in the summer so we’ll need every penny we can pinch!

For awhile I gave up on the idea of a doula, but we talked to a few at a recent baby expo in Syracuse.  One said she could be more flexible with a payment plan, which was reassuring, but having to count on someone two hours away would stress me out.  The point of having a doula is that she is there to help you relax.  I feel that I’d constantly look at the clock and wonder where she was.  Yet the possibility, and my husband’s encouragement to ask about flexibility, was nice.

My friend Miss Corinne is also pregnant and was able to find a doula! Corinne likes her character and willingness to provide flexible payment plans so she recommended her to me.  Not only that, but she’s local!  My husband encouraged me to look into it.  Why not?   Unfortunately, this doula can’t commit to my due date which I completely understand.  Life happens and I can’t expect the world to stop turning just for my labor!

And so, I’m letting it go.

Honestly, I’m not terribly beat up about it.  I was a bit disappointed at first because it seemed nearly possible, but in the end it feels that the universe was trying to tell me not to worry so much.  And my saying that is not to denigrate anyone hiring a doula!  I believe in doulas, support all women who want one present, and would love to try that route again if I have another child.  The biggest reason I wanted to hire a doula has been because of the reality that my midwife might not be there.  She was very honest about that; things happen, people get ill, etc.  She has made it equally clear that she doesn’t like missing her patient’s labors but that, sometimes, it happens.  Naturally, that worries me – that there won’t be another midwife on call that night and I’ll be stuck with a doctor who just wants to go home and push the drugs on me to get it over with.  It’s just that, I guess, I need to find the strength within.  I need to have faith in my own resolve and, yes, stubbornness.  I need to have faith in my body and in my Kindreds.

And the doula situation is just another reminder that, in addition, I need to be flexible and accept that things don’t always go the way I want or plan.  So it’s not that I am now over having a doula; it’s simply that the universe needs me to learn a different lesson this time and I need to be open to that.

I also need to have faith in my husband.  Weretoad might not always be the most lovey-dovey person in the world, but he is very supportive and sensitive when it counts.  When I had my wisdom teeth out, for example, he cared for me the way I thought only a parent would.  He set up timers and brought me my medicine exactly when I needed.  He spoke soft reassuring words.  He tucked me in.  He brought me water and food.  He helped me walk when I felt dizzy and nauseous.  He replaced bloody gauze for me.  He cleaned my drug-induced vomit from our patio.  Helped me to the bathroom.  You know you’ve found love when your partner helps you through the most embarrassing situations and yet loves you all the same.  Weretoad occasionally irritates me when he plays one too many video games or looks at forums for ten minutes after I ask him to rub my feet, but he always delivers, and I know that, in serious situations like childbirth, he will be by my side with those soft reassuring words and strong hands that I love so much.  My husband will be my doula, or close enough, this time around*.

And if a situation keeps my midwife away?  I’ll have Brighid, the midwife.

* And he totally took a reiki class with me (despite his skepticism) specifically to learn another technique to calm and comfort.

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My baby shower was on Saturday, and what a lovely celebration it was!  As I’m easier to fatigue lately, I decided I only wanted one big shower rather than having to travel elsewhere for other smaller ones.  I’m glad I listened to my instincts about this well in advance.  After my grandfather’s funeral the weekend before, I’ve been feeling really exhausted.  I don’t see myself traveling very far from home until after the baby is born and I’ve recuperated.  The amount of people who came in from out of town was very moving, as was the effort and generosity of everyone involved.  I received some truly wonderful gifts for the baby – clothing, bottles, cloth diapers, toys, books, play pens, toiletries, etc…  Weretoad and I (the shower was coed) also received a few things for ourselves to make the transition more comfortable such as a handmade lavender candle, handmade nipple cream, herbal supplements, a baby food cookbook, and some beer (the later as more of a gag given that hubby hardly drinks).  Some gifts were especially suited to our Irish hearth culture and love of our Irish heritage.  A friend from Northern Rivers made the baby a tummy time quilt with lovely green fabric featuring swirls, knots, and shamrocks.  Friends from Muin Mound sent us a copy of Guess How Much I Love You in Irish!  My sister and brother-in-law decorated a onesie with a lovely blue and green triquetra.

I called on some friends of mine, including my protogrove sisters, to help organize a mother blessing as part of the shower.  It was really important to me to acknowledge my passage into a new role as well as the coming birth of our little one.  The importance of honoring life’s transitions became crystal clear to me last year when the ladies of Muin Mound welcomed one of our younger members into the fold of womanhood after her first menstruation.  It was a simple rite, but powerful. My own first menstruation was marked with embarrassment due to the timing and the way some family members treated me for it.  My mother did her best to help me feel comfortable and reassured, which was wonderful of her, but it was difficult to feel the transformation was a good thing at the time due to how others were treating me.  I hope my own daughter doesn’t have to feel that way.  A mother blessing for me was very reassuring.  Just as menstruation, birth is to be a messy and painful process – only more so!  This time, I wanted the support and encouragement from fellow women in an environment that celebrated the change rather than tease and act uncomfortable.

My mother blessing necklace made from beads as diverse as my family and friends! I plan to bring it to my labor to give me strength and reassurance. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

My friends delivered wonderfully!  The rite, as requested, was simple and non-denominational so as to not make any non Pagan friends and family uncomfortable.  Guests were invited to bring a bead for a necklace to be made and to share their wishes and wisdom.  Everyone had lovely things to say, even those who are not yet mothers.  I originally thought the men would go off and do something else, but they stayed for the blessing as well.  Some even participated, sharing words of advice for Weretoad.  When it was my mother’s turn, I couldn’t help but tear up.  She had brought a tiny bracelet I made when I was little.  The fact that she saved this all these years brought up so much emotion.  As my baby grows, I’ve come to realize just how much my own parents love me.  It’s an irrational love that is unconditional and very deep.  My mother’s having saved that tiny bracelet reminded me of that love, and I hope she knows how much I love her back.  I hope my own daughter can understand that love one day.  It was never so clear until I became pregnant.

Gifts to remind me of the support and strength I have. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.

Later, after the new necklace had been assembled, my friends leading the blessing read a prayer/guided meditation to remind me that I come from a long line of mothers and that my labor will be my own.  They placed a crown of flowers upon my head, a candle blessed with everyone’s energy at my feet, bright orange flowers in my lap, and the necklace of love and wisdom around my neck.  It was very moving and I felt so touched and reassured by it all.  Motherhood is an important milestone in my life.  I’m so grateful that so many came to help me celebrate it and my little baby.

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