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Musings on Mary

Musings on Mary

By Samanda Rossi, owner, educator and doula at Naturally Prepared 4 Birth

This time of year usually focuses on the birth of Christ, but for me, I cannot help but think of Mary on her journey. I have often thought that the celebration of birthdays should not just be about the person born on that day, but the person who gave life that day. I know around each of my children’s birthdays I grow thoughtful of those days and moments that brought them into the world.

So, as we journey through Advent, I think of a young woman, full of child, anticipating, waiting, dreaming, and probably equal parts hopeful and fearful about the journey before her. Mary is an important figure in my life and work. To me, she is the embodiment of motherhood, a culmination of the Goddesses before her and the Saints that would follow. I am no expert on Mary from a theological perspective. However, I DO know that when I was laboring HARD with my second son, I told myself repeatedly, “Mary did this with Jesus” and that mantra resonated with me and helped me surrender to the power that was coursing through my body. She connects me with a realm and a strength all mothers embody – both in giving life and in tragedy and loss.

Since I love birth stories, …Read More

Family Advent 2015

I want to share what our family does for Advent, and maybe inspire some ideas for the season! You can see what we did last year here

Although we are not a religious family, we do focus on the spirit of Christmas and the life of Jesus. I love the Christmas season, and feel it gives our family opportunities to demonstrate the example Jesus set forth and focus on meaningful relationships within our family, our friends, and our community. When the boys were little, I did an Advent/countdown to Christmas calendar. This was fun, but didn’t do anything but make my kids more greedy for chocolate and gifts. One year we tried to do 24 Random Acts of Kindness instead. This was difficult because of time and general life. The past few years I have done a spin on this, and it’s worked beautifully. My kids look as forward to Advent as they do Christmas day.

Here is how I do it:

Prior to Advent, I figure out a thematic “schedule”. This is not a strict schedule, as sometimes we end up having to do two in one day or move things around because of life and other things that come up, we are pretty flexible. Here is this year’s, I’ve simplified it a bunch this year because of the baby who will arrive sometime this month so I wanted things that could be put together easily in advance, that my husband or a postpartum doula could facilitate if needed, and include meals and activities that I could feasibly still participate in with a nursling.

Weekly Events:

Tuesdays – Sweet Stuff

Wednesdays – Focus on Family

Thursdays – Make It, Bake It, Do It

Fridays – Family Holiday Movie Nights

Saturdays – Good Times, Good Trips

Sundays – Acts of Kindness and Service

Mondays – Friendship

This Year’s Calendar of Events:

Tuesday 12/1 – Trim the Tree and receive a chocolate Advent calendar to count down

Wednesday 12/2 – Decorate your Brothers Room for the Holidays

Thursday 12/3 – Make a fleece blanket for a Veteran

Friday 12/4 – Elf, plus a marshmallow game and hot chocolate

Saturday 12/5 – Cans Film Festival

Sunday 12/6 – Shop for our Adopted Family

Monday 12/7 – Gift a “Reindeer Snot” Kit to a friend (Homemade Slime Kit)

Tuesday – 12/8 – Candy Wreath for Lunch Treats (I attach candy I took out of their Halloween stashes and hang them on a wreath. Each day they can choose one to include in their lunch bags).

Wednesday 12/9 – Shop for Scout (our dog) and donate some treats to a pet rescue.

Thursday 12/10 – Make Gingerbread Houses

Friday – 12/11 – The Sound of Music with Apple Strudel

Saturday 12/12 – Nutcracker on Ice

Sunday 12/13 – Choose a neighbor and take out their trash cans for them (and return them on Monday)

Monday 12/14 – Donut Drop Off – choose a friend to drop off a dozen donuts to as a surprise dessert treat.

Tuesday, 12/15 – Bean Boozled Jelly Beans

Wednesday 12/16 – Family Candlelight Dinner

Thursday 12/17 – Make a Bird Feeder and place in our backyard

Friday 12/18 – Christmas Vacation with Aunt Edna’s Jello Mold!

Saturday 12/19 – Christmas Light Outing/Viewing

Sunday 12/20 – Have a hot cocoa stand and give funds to a charity

Monday 12/21 – Create a Lego Building Kit for a friend and give it to them!

Tuesday 12/22 – Chocolate Monopoly

Wednesday 12/23 – Read the Christmas Story and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas

Thursday 12/24 – Make a chicken treat plate for Charlotte (our chicken who is now rehomed) and her flock and deliver PLUS Christmas Eve Box (pajames, stocking to hang, platter and cup for cookies and milk)

Hope this is helpful to you and yours this season, or any time of year, you wish to focus on family, friends, and others.

To have or not to have… Siblings at Birth

by Samanda Rossi, owner, doula and educator at Naturally Prepared

One of my very first jobs as a doula was to attend a birth with a friend’s 4 year old son. She wanted him there for his sister’s birth, and I was to accompany him on the journey. I attempted to keep him busy at the hospital while his mother labored. After many hours he melted down, fell asleep, and couldn’t be roused to witness her come earth-side. That was about a dozen years ago. I learned a lot from that (and many subsequent) births, and experienced the quandary many parents find themselves in regarding siblings and birth myself.

In my Preparing for Birth Refresher class, we spend time discussing siblings and birth. As with all of my childbirth preparation, I stress the importance of being flexible. You can (and should) have plans for siblings, BUT you cannot predict or plan how it will unfold. Whether you wish them to be there or not, you may decide to change or alter course in labor. I really wanted my first son to be there for the birth of his brother. He was 2 years and 9 months. We felt we prepared him for what to expect, but my labor was long, hard, and done mostly during the day when he was awake and lively. He wanted ME, he wanted IN the tub, he wanted to run and play in the space I needed a sanctuary in. His grandmother came to the rescue and kept him occupied. He returned about 30 minutes after his brother was born that evening and we all snuggled into bed together. It wasn’t what I thought I would want, but it’s what worked for us at the time and what I needed. …Read More

Death and Dessert

by Samanda Rossi, owner, educator and doula at Naturally Prepared

I had a lovely postpartum visit yesterday. This family welcomed their third child three weeks ago, and I was so honored to accompany them. We talked about all the things you would expect at a postpartum – breastfeeding, sleep, pediatricians, family, plans for the weeks ahead. We also talked about death and dessert.

This Mama stated, “You know what’s amazing about birth? That it doesn’t kill you. Though you feel like you’re dying when you are in it”. Now, this client’s labor was intense. Her body did a lot of work VERY quickly at the end of labor. She wore an eye mask to help her feel safe (great idea!) and stood rocking through contractions while holding onto her husband. She was powerful. She WAS dying. …Read More

Every Day is a Snow Day

by Samanda Rossi, owner, educator and doula at Naturally Prepared

Ah, snow days! I am quite disappointed that the only snow day we’ve had so far this year fell on President’s Day. This is because I am a parent of elementary aged children. I know for many of you out there with little ones, every day is a snow day in the winter. Trapped inside, not wanting to bundle them up in 4 layers of clothes for fourteen (if you’re lucky) minutes of play outside until snow (or cold) gets up their nose and all the joy and wonder is gone. Here are 25 ideas that require little effort or supplies to help you survive these (seemingly) endless snow days: …Read More

The Elephant in the Room

By Samanda Rossi,

Long before I was pregnant, I was a birth activist. So, when I got pregnant, I had no issues telling people where I planned to give birth (at home) or with whom (a midwife, though I couldn’t disclose her name because midwives are illegal, and do you want to hear about how messed up Missouri is in this regard?).

At this juncture, women have MANY more options for where and with whom they birth if they are seeking a natural or midwife assisted birth (in St. Louis anyway)! However, that does not mean it is culturally normal to birth at home, in a birth center, or with a midwife. It does not mean it’s culturally normal to birth without pharmacological pain relief.

…Read More