Palm Sunday

Today we celebrate Jesus entering Jerusalem in preparation of becoming our Savior.

In church it is common to wave palm branches as the people did when Jesus rode into the city on a donkey.

I’m not at church today.  Five days ago I gave birth naturally (which I will write about soon and it was great) to a beautiful baby girl, Willow Christine Eisbacher, at 12:36 am on March 24th.  She was 6 lbs. 4 oz. and 20 1/4 in. long.

As I experience motherhood, I do a lot of face palming.  On Palm Sunday, I already started my day around 2 am (with a glorious nap from 6 am-9:30 am) with face palms.  At 3 in the morning when she’s wailing, I feed her, change her, cuddle her and sometimes wonder what on earth could be wrong.  I have to trust my Savior to get me through those times.  I have to open passage to my heart and let him equip me to mother Willow.  It doesn’t help that breastfeeding is really challenging.  She won’t latch well for me.  I have an oversupply (so when people said I might not be able to, I definitely CAN do it).  This will take time and patience, but I’m not giving into the money marketing schemes of formula companies!  When I have assistance, she’ll latch.  Also PPD makes this transition even harder.  Thankfully, I’m not alone and have had several messages of encouragement and shared experiences to let me know that I am not alone.  We are a community.  Women gather together to assure others that they do have support.

So I’m tired, life is a blur, and I still have some food to eat.  Bye for now and perhaps I’ll write better posts when I’m not a walking zombie…

Can I eat your brain to gain my sanity?  (Awful zombie joke made on Palm Sunday…yeah, bad I know…)

The Milking Community

Last night, as we meditated what being grafted in community by the Holy Spirit meant, at the Lenten series, a poem came to mind.  This is what I wrote:

Drink the love in eternity’s goblet.

Christ’s table prepared for the repentant heart and that which is bathed in purified grace.

Thus in this feast may we become one for the glory of God.

God’s justice is unifying.  He calls people to community.

This month is women’s history month.  As a woman, I belong to a special sisterhood.  Women are strong.  We have a tendency to be more empathetic and responsive to emotional plights then men.  We are tender beings, but fierce when the need to protect that which we love arises.  May our deepest desire be to serve and love the Lord and in extension, his people.  In doing so, we can change the world, one heart at a time.  We can be instruments of peace and empowerment, if we, rather than peddle in jealousy, let the Holy Spirit’s unifying grace move us to seek another individual’s greater good and care for them as God has gifted us to do so.

I am grateful for the sisters who have been gifted with hospitality and service lately.  Some people try to frighten me with stories of insufficient milk and the inadequacy of my body, since it be little, to provide the ability to deliver my child, let alone provide nourishment for my baby.  I need not fear though.  If the need arises, I have a friend who has offered up assistance.  She will nurse my baby if need be.  We are a sisterhood of mothers.  There isn’t anything grotesque or sexual about her meeting the food demands of my infant should I not be able to fulfill them.  It was a practice of ancient times, discarded in recent days due to money mongrels in the marketing schemes of formula companies.  Breast milk is not the same as formula.  Formula falls short of providing the same nutrients as breast milk.  However, little by little, in assisting a sister in need, we can fight for justice of how women’s bodies are portrayed in this society—as strong, able, and incredible rather than weak and feeble.  If we stand united as the Spirit leads, we will be promoting justice as God intended—unity by standing together in community all for his glory.

An Intentional Creation

At last night’s Lenten series at Christ Episcopal Church in Budd Lake, NJ, we studied the Psalm 139 Scripture passage.  Each week it is part of the curriculum to read the Bible passage, journal about what we read—questions, historical observations, cultural observations, and how it is applicable to ourselves, read a reflection from monks or other historical church figures, and then meditate.

As I sat there, I knew many other women in the room were reflecting on their own pregnancies (most of the women attending the series are older with children).  My girth and the occasional kick from within helped me to digest this passage even deeper than I have before.  God’s timing is perfect.  We waited so long and when I had resolved to hopelessness, that we’d never conceive a child of our own, God stitched this new life inside me.  I laughed like Sarah.  (If it flowed together better perhaps we’d name a kid Isaac.)

That long time waiting made me feel inadequate.  I felt like my body couldn’t do something as basic as conceive a child.  I thought Frank and I would have to utilize science to have a child of our own.  As I read this passage over, I am reminded that God didn’t make a mistake when he made me.  Even if I never conceived he would not consider me a failure. He has a purpose for each being in his creation.  For some that entails parenthood, others marriage without kids, and others singleness.  Each individual is part of the body and has a role to play.  It isn’t always clear what God’s will is, but one thing that is certain in his will is that we are to praise him through all the mountains and valleys of life.

As an opinionated extrovert, I often feel like I’m a burden to friends and family.  I feel as if I’m too much.  So yes, God wants me transformed into his image, but this doesn’t mean that in order to be the woman God has made me to be that I must be docile and keep to my home.  In Christ, I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am a strong woman and when I yield that to Christ, I can do incredible things for the kingdom of God.  I, too, can play a part in ministry, and not just to women in my own demographic.

There are other women who can do amazing things for the kingdom as well.  Ellen, the pastor at the church, leads with compassion and confidence.  As she read the passage of Scripture, and some of the other women did too, the words came alive.  Scripture was illuminated, which I find it is often stale and stumbled over in evangelical circles today.  Ellen is a great leader because she consults the congregation and doesn’t appear to assert a unilateral authority.  She is also sincere in her prayers.  Last night she led the group in a time of communal prayer.  As we held hands and her voice reverberated praise and petition, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in prayer the way I haven’t felt him before.  We were a community in prayer (something about holding hands made it feel more communal), not just individuals gathered in a room praying, and being guided by a humble, strong woman.

God created woman too.  She is Adam’s helper, but Adam is hers too.  Women are not inferior.  God made woman and felt that she is a creation, fearfully and wonderfully made.  He intentionally breathed life into us so that we might give our brothers company, stripping loneliness, and making man better by our presence.

God searches us and knows us.  He has designed us with purpose.  In ways where we need correction, to be molded more in Christ’s image, he disciplines (as he does similarly with men).  He sees our unformed bodies and knits us together in our mother’s womb.  A woman carries a child in her womb, not a man.

May our child always understand the power a woman has and her ability to excel and strengthen society when she is yielded to God.  May our child always know that each being is made intentionally.  God made every person and has a journey for them, and that definitely includes extroverted, strong-willed women too.

Empower the Laboring Woman

The US has roughly a 30% Caesarean rate.  (I’m writing this because people think I might have a big baby and will need a C-section.  You don’t know if you suffer from CPD until you being pushing.  Also, most women can birth the child inside them, regardless of the baby’s weight.)  This is a ridiculously high number.  There are many TV shows populating American media in which a woman in labor lays on a stretcher (on her back which we know to be the worst, most painful position as it compresses nerve endings, blood flow, and lung function) screaming in pain.  I’ve had some women tell me how it was the worst pain they’ve ever experienced.

Then I ask, most of the time to myself rather than the “pained” woman out of courtesy or respect, what classes they took which might have taught them about pain management in labor.  When I probe a little, I find these women didn’t have any education and merely trusted their doctors.  They didn’t research birth, labor, postpartum.  Too often, especially in our society, we don’t research.  We trust “experts”.  This is a problem.

Hospitals offer childcare classes which instruct parents how to care for a newborn.  Doesn’t it make sense to learn about labor and how to cope through that?  However, very few women know about childbirth classes and if they do, many think it unnecessary because they have an OB that knows how to help in an emergency.  If only more individuals in the US understood that the frequent interventions implemented by well-intentioned but uninformed health professionals can lead to a greater emergency than without interventions.

Pitocin makes labor worse.  Epidurals can slow labor.  If you observe babies without any drugs given to the mother during labor compared with mothers who had drugs in labor, the mothers administered drugs will have babies that are less active and observant.  These spaced out babies will take longer to latch during nursing which makes mothers and nurses think formula supplementation is necessary.

Now I’m not saying a woman who has a caesarean or formula-feeds is a bad mother.  She might actually be the best mother around.  However, I think education is important.  We shouldn’t make a major surgical decision without being informed.  Also, a vaginal birth releases a mix of hormones into the mother that often leaves her feeling elated.  A woman just pushed another human being out of her body.  Trust me, that woman feels, and rightly should, empowered.

We need to reorient our thinking here in the States and other first-world countries.  Third-world countries got something right—empowering women in birth.  Women have given birth to babies for centuries, long before modern medicine came to the “rescue” of laboring women (or more appropriately, detriment of birth and in turn, humanity).

May we seek to empower women, especially mothers, by educating them about the benefits of vaginal birth and breastfeeding.  Pray that the business of birth will stop being about funding corporate formula companies or paying absurd doctor fees for a process meant to occur naturally within the support of friends, family, and perhaps a well-trained midwife.

Marching for Justice

It is March already.  This is the month we expect to meet Peanut.  I’m filled with excitement, joy, and anxiety.  Since we are expecting a child this month, Frank and I decided to focus our theme of justice on women, birth, and children.

It turns out that this month is also women’s history month.  (I found this out while reading my Book of Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne.)

Just a few notes regarding some current injustices in regards to women:

In India many bathrooms are outside and are not in homes.  As such, women of lower castes are frequently raped by higher caste men.

Baby girls in India and China are often deserted or aborted because parents prefer boys.  Watch the documentary It’s A Girl.

Scotland recently outlawed public breastfeeding.  (Seriously, boobs are a healthy, primary food source for infants more than they are meant for sexuality.)

There are no birth centers in NJ.

Often, even in churches, women are viewed as needing a male in her life to achieve lofty goals.

Women are paid less than men in most companies.

The USA’s constant focus on beauty and weight has resulted in an absurd rise of eating disorders—anorexia, bulimia, and obesity.

In many areas a woman is forced to have a hospital birth.  Several women are told daily by OB-GYNs that they are insufficient.  They need to rely on doctors and medicine in order to cope with labor.  Women are told they can’t push out a baby.

These are just a few items that have broken my heart lately.  I’m looking for organizations that raise awareness of these issues.  I’ve been praying for these issues and want to be extremely focused on them during this season.

May we strive to empower women today and for future generations.