Dear “Lost-Decade” Me

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candles-71089_1280Dear Lost-Decade Me,

That’s what they call it, you know. That span of time when you placed yourself on hold because you had children whose diapers and organic food and boo-boo’s weren’t going to fix themselves.

Those years when your name was MOMMOMMMMOMMM and sticky little fingers would slide under the bathroom door as you rested or cried or snarfed down some chocolate. And then you brought yet another human into the world all over again and somehow kept TWO of them alive.

You stayed in the trenches with them despite the tactile overload and postpartum depression and knowledge that your husband rather missed the old, carefree you. You successfully taught them how to not eat buttons or rocks, but more importantly, also how to love.

I am proud of you.

That whole-hearted commitment you put out there was really good stuff. I mean, like WOW. Since nobody ever really told you that, I am here to say it: Good job. You will not regret it.

There are few more things I would like you to know, too. Not about you-the-mom, but about you-the-you.

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 years since Eden’s Promise was “born.”

I remember when I was first getting started, a lone doula with no mentor.

A friend asked me, “So what’s the promise?”

I confessed that I didn’t really know yet.

Today, as I look back on that time, I see that something secret had already been placed on my heart. I didn’t understand how to explain “the promise” and I definitely didn’t know how it would unfold. I still had years of “heart work” ahead of me in which I would be simultaneously kneeling before God’s throne to untangle my own story, and helping other women to step into motherhood with strength and dignity.

I guess God knows that’s how I learn: hand me a scrambled, messy picture and I’ll make a game of connecting the dots.

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Mommy, Don’t Cry

A Glimpse Into the Emotional Lives of Mothers

By Jennifer DeBrito, Founder of Eden’s Promise, LLC

In the time since having my first child, I have personally faced the possibility of divorce more than once. I have lost a brother to alcoholism. I have *almost* lost a child.

I remember the first time my son caught me crying. He was maybe 2. I don’t know why I said it this way, but I remember explaining to him that my tears were “sad bubbles” coming out. He put his chubby little hand on my shoulder, and stood quietly with me until I regained my composure. It was sweet. And awful. I remember thinking, “Never again.”

Fast-forward nearly a decade, to today. Talking about life, a therapist friend of mine asks me, “Don’t you ever just cry and let it all out?” I respond, “When am I supposed to cry? My kids are with me all the time.”

She is quiet.

The way that the enemy uses our convictions against us is astounding. Prowling near me during that “never again” moment, I imagine him adding a whispered, “no matter what.” And I see that from that point on, instead of processing my emotions normally, my children witnessed me stuffing them away.

The point is, we are not wrong to shelter our children from our hardships. They are our children, not our friends—at least not yet. And they are most certainly not our therapists. But it is our responsibility to teach them to recognize and honor their emotions, and handle them in normal and healthy ways. This begins with how they observe us.

Moms, you don’t have to be facing divorce, loss, or illness to be suffering. (Although, statistically, many of you are.) Lack of sleep, tactile overload, and a never-ending laundry pile are enough for most of us to break once in a while, too. The question is, how are you going to handle it?

If we want our children to grow into adults who process emotions well, it might mean that we need to ask for help. For me, that has translated into doing things like taking on a mentor who runs a household like clockwork. And yes, it has even meant saddling up and heading to therapy. Don’t be ashamed to to do whatever is needed for your children to be happy and healthy.

 

 

 

Not sure where to turn? Contact Eden’s Promise for assistance in finding the right resources for you.

Photo courtesy Danielle Victoria Photography

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner and  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator. She is the owner of Eden’s Promise, LLC and the founder of the Eden’s Promise Initiative. She authored Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and is the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

 

 

5 Things You Won’t Tell Your OB

Subconscious and Spiritual Themes in Childbirth

By Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE

Founder of the Eden’s Promise Holistic Christian Birth Community

 

Let’s be honest, ladies. Becoming a mother is one of the most beautiful events you will experience in your  lifetime. It is also one of the most challenging. Your beliefs, identity, relationships, personal hardships, and health are all challenged as part of the undercurrent in this life-changing event–and these are topics you won’t be able to obtain much guidance from your OB about. To learn more about the conscious (and not-so-conscious) themes present in childbirth, I have created this handy B.I.R.T.H. acronym for professionals and parents alike:

 

B is for….BELIEFS & FEARS

By the time a couple is married and having a family, they are returning to the church. While there are numerous articles out about why Millennials are leaving the church, according to Scot McKnight, the answer is simple. They are just young. “Statistics show that young adults have always been less affiliated; when they get married and have children they return to their faith. Part of the life cycle is reflected in this.”

Which brings us to the B in our acronym. If you are about to start a family, you are probably looking to finally identify your beliefs. You are aware that you will soon be explaining the mysteries of the universe to your own child, and you are deciding where you stand regarding the very core of your existence.

Even if you (or your spouse) weren’t churched during your youth, this deep search for belief is a part of being human–and it emerges during these important years in a more pressing way than ever before.

What if you don’t know what you believe about your own existence, or the presence or goodness of God? This isn’t something you are going to ask your OB about at a prenatal appointment; it’s something happening beneath the surface.  Not knowing your own beliefs or where to turn to find them can lead to anxiety and depression, as well as a feeling of loneliness or isolation. From a Christian perspective, it is also a highly vulnerable time, spiritually-speaking. We know that the enemy prowls around like a lion, waiting for someone to devour.  Parents who will soon have the power to influence an entire bloodline, who are looking for something to believe in, probably prove to be an extra delectable target.

 

I- IDENTITY, WORTH, AND PERFORMANCE

 In addition to seeking answers on their beliefs of human existence is a perhaps even more pressing concern that expectant parents have no choice but to also ask themselves: Who am I?

As you think about what kinds of parents you want to be, you are forced to somehow reconcile who you were with who you now are. For some, there is a mourning process involved. For others, it is a welcome new beginning. Either way would be reason enough for all parents to seek some form of counsel.

On top of that struggle is an entirely new and unexpected challenge to your identity that you probably won’t be expecting. In Suzanne Hadley Gosselin’s book, Expectant Parents, she discusses “Postpartum Oppression” and how tricky it is to navigate the various opinions and competitions set forth within the birth culture. The question of “Who Am I” quickly turns into “Which parenting camp do I agree with?”.  Your decisions about  birth planning, vaccinations, working, diapers, strollers (and the list goes on and on…) will also become a big part of your identity if you let them. To which parenting camp will you belong? It’s like starting at a new school all over again.

The enemy’s mouth waters.

 

R- RELATIONSHIPS

Multiple studies have provided evidence of the positive influences that mothers experience when receiving labor support from a companion present during birth¹. While who the supporter should be isn’t specifically covered in these studies (making a strong case for doulas like me!), the relationship between the father and mother of the child cannot be overlooked.  In fact, 3 of the 6 risk factors listed by the March of Dimes for premature birth include relational problems between parents.

As both parents are working through the questions of what they believe about their own existence and who they are as individuals, they are also working on who they will be together. Based on a 50% divorce rate revealed by the American Psychological Association back when we were children, it seems many of us didn’t have healthy marital models to learn from in the first place. Perhaps this is why CDC reports that 40% of children in the U.S. were born to unwed mothers last year.

Relationships are complicated whether parents are married or not. Even in the marital relationship there are communication barriers and other problems (many covered in my devotional, Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional). But except in the face of blatant abuse, most women won’t be mentioning their difficulties to their OB. Most will navigate relational issues in stoic silence, perhaps complaining to an occasional friend, while their heart searches for that deep and endless question: “Am I Loved?”

The enemy drools a little.

 

T-TRAUMA & TRIGGERS

 In the Psychology world, there is “trauma,” and then there is “Trauma.” Everyone experiences trauma as they experience day-to-day life. (Perhaps you got lost in the grocery store as a child, for example, or accidentally made a mistake at school.) But a surprisingly high number of people also experience “Trauma,” and are therefore living with some form of PTSD. 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18.² 1 in 3 women have experienced an abortion by age 45³, and up to 34% of women feel traumatized by the birth experience⁴.

If you add all of these statistics together, that means that 99% of the female population has experienced at least one of these events. These statistics do not even account for other issues such as domestic violence, traumatic loss of a loved one, or substance abuse–and they don’t need to for us to see that Trauma is not the anomaly. It is the norm. Most of us simply fail to address the issues we are dealing with, minimizing them to “little t” status and locking them away. But to be honest, even those “little t” traumas can add up in a big way.

Either way the enemy threatens: “Be afraid.”

 

H- HEALTH & WELL-BEING

 

Also in the undercurrent of the birth experience is the concern for mother and baby’s health. There is the obvious trend toward a more natural birth, in relation to evidence-based care. There is also the vaccination debate. The list goes on and these are real, true, honest concerns. They are conscious concerns and, outside of the identity issue formally described above, they are legitimate.

There are also other health issues and deeper fears that could be related to any of the above topics. Even in a perfect birth experience, there could be heavy, emotionally-rooted health problems. Eating disorders. Allergies. Cancer.

Continuing to ignore the undermining thoughts, fears, and spiritual issues at the root of these physical problems is like covering a splinter with a band-aid. Eventually, it’s going to resurface.

The enemy lies: “I’ll keep you safe…this won’t hurt a bit.”

 

B.I.R.T.H. Support

Birth is a highly complicated life event that includes body, mind, and spirit. While you can easily prepare yourself with knowledge about the basic mechanisms of childbirth and hire someone to coach you through the process, it is important to recognize that the mental, subconscious, and spiritual aspects of birth play just as big of a role in the childbirth experience. Mothers (and fathers) are vulnerable, and subject to the teaching and moral standing of the doulas and other professionals they seek to learn from.

Subconscious and spiritual themes don’t have to have a negative effect on your birth experience. Numerous studies are finding alternative therapies such as EMDR and EFT to be highly effective in treating PTSD and other fear-based symptoms.  In addition, prayer therapy can be added to these techniques for ultimate healing from God of beliefs, identity, relationships, trauma, and health. To learn more about navigating the subconscious and spiritual aspects of birth, Splankna Therapy, or any of the Approved Birth Professionals with the Eden’s Promise Initiative, Click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner and  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator..She is the owner of Eden’s Promise, LLC and the founder of the Eden’s Promise Initiative. She authored Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and is the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy in Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

 

 

 

References

¹(Campero et al., 1998Sosa, Kennell, Klaus, Robertson, & Urrutia, 1980Zhang, Bernasko, Leybovich, Fahs, & Hatch, 1996).

 

² Hopper, J. (1998). Child Sexual Abuse: Statistics, Research, Resources. Boston, MA Boston University School of Medicine. Child Sexual Abuse: A Mental Health Issue. Kentucky Division of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence.

 

³ https://www.guttmacher.org/media/presskits/abortion-US/statsandfacts.html

The Eden’s Promise Initiative is BORN!

It’s been over a year since I started feeling the pressure on my heart. That question asking, “Would you put this down if I asked you to?”

I’ve struggled with the idea, and I’ve written about it. “But look at all I’ve done for you, Lord!” Hearing the words in my mouth, I understood. I gave it back to Him. I’ve written about that, too.

He had a plan I couldn’t see.

He was already stirring the hearts of those who would join me: a pregnant mama who wanted me for a doula. Another doula with a heart for philanthropy, for giving to the truly needy, just like my dreams for my business had shown me. And a third with the ability to discern my struggle and speak into where God was moving me.

And now, here we are. There is much more to announce, in its time. But first, here is who we are – and WHY we are here!

What is the Eden’s Promise Initiative? Click here to find out!

 

 

 

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator.She is the owner of Eden’s Promise, LLC and the founder of the Eden’s Promise Initiative. She authored Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

Be a Doula / Here is Your King

 

Do you remember 5 or 10 years ago, when it seemed like everyone was a photographer? Opening their own business, buying fancy cameras, photographing their friends’ children? Today, it seems to me like everyone is becoming a doula. It’s the new thing.

Becoming a doula, for me, was a little bit like the people in 1 Samuel who thought they needed a king. Except that for me, what I needed was a thing. 

I remember sitting at my kitchen table over 5 years ago, and asking God, “Should I do it? Is this my thing that I am called to do and be?”

As I proceeded to seek out some kind of mentor, I quickly came up short on options. The doulas I reached out to for guidance either didn’t respond to my emails, or had left the practice altogether. That was when God led me to Psalm 32:8:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Next to this verse in my Bible, I wrote,  “Be a doula.”

And so it began: the path of a becoming a Christian doula with God as my mentor laid itself before me, right smack in the middle of a surprisingly secular field. In a culture where people question or even disdain the patriarchal values of Christianity and elevate the woman, instead, as creator. Where they post pictures on Facebook of their nursing breasts or birthing vaginas and are appalled if anyone complains. (Sorry about the “V word”; doula here). Where they do henna art and belly binding and placenta encapsulation; yoga and babywearing and organic everything. (Here’s the disclaimer: Not that all of these things are bad, per-se, but let’s face it: the birthing community can be a little bit out there.)

It’s been a lonely walk sometimes, but as a true non-conformist – not the kind with tattoos, although I have them, but as the kind who has been blessed/cursed with the kind of personality that squirms with annoyance at the idea of trying to “fit in”- I have been able to walk my path with dignity, and have enjoyed it immensely.

I know the non-Christian or left-wing believers out there probably imagine me to be one of those jerks who applauded the Planned Parenthood shooter last week. (Nope.) But what they don’t know is…well…first of all, they don’t know me…but what they also don’t know is what it’s like for a Christian doula like me to attend births.  The way I nestle into God’s shoulder and just wait for Him to show Himself to me, teaching me about His character and His true self, while we support a new mother and usually her husband, through birth.

I’ll never forget the time my faith-filled friend threw back her head in gratitude and called out in thanks to God for her unborn child, while in the deepest possible throes of labor. It felt as if the clouds pulled back and the sky laid bare as God said to me, “Remember this.” Or the time God spoke scripture to a laboring woman through her own mouth, using a verse she didn’t even know she knew. Or when a new mother wept uncontrollably with JOY after a beautiful delivery that followed a previous birthing trauma. Just to name a few…these are the kinds of miracles I witness. The ways God shows up.

And then there are the ways God has challenged me.

The way He gently requested that maybe I could share my testimony in my class, with all of its vulnerability and shame, ultimately ending in a song of praise for everything He is to me. Or the times He has shown me that my idolatry of this thing was getting in the way… The ego battle of self-advertisement (ugh–it’s the worst!)…and lastly, laying His hand heavy on my heart as I observed other doulas begin to align, while Christian doulas continued to duke it out. There has been a lot I have had no control over and a lot that has been extremely self-powered. Humbling to say the least.

What I have come to see is that in telling me “Be a doula,” God was saying just what he was saying to the Israelites who were so sure they needed a king. He gave them what they asked for: a flawed, unprepared, disappointing human leader.  “Here is your king.” Because what they failed to understand in the first place was, they already had a King.

In my seeking for calling and place in His kingdom, He had something similar for me. Giving me what I was so sure I needed, “Here is your thing.” Yes, He has blessed and used it in some really amazing ways. But the truth is, I was already His. My identity, my fate, my contribution, were already sealed in His book. I could have done nothing at all, and my name would still be written there.

This adventure has grown me and tried me and on some days, almost ruined me. But through it all, what God was really showing me is this. A lesson I would not trade for the world, and one that even in my striving God has been able to use for good. Through all of these things, good and bad and fun and difficult, I have learned to stop and rest my head on his shoulder and just wait for his word. I have learned about pushing forward when he says stop (and how fruitless and frustrating that is) and how thoroughly things move when he says it is time.

What I have learned is that I don’t need a thing.

What I need is my King.

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator.She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

Perfect Birth, Part 2: It’s Personal

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my heart about an issue that I know plagues expectant mothers everywhere: what does it take to have a perfect birth?

I touched on the fact that while childbirth education is imperative, and support during labor is helpful, we still don’t know how any woman will react to the labor process until she is already in the moment. I made the point that all births, no matter what they look like, are victories to be celebrated. And I mean that. All births are their own brand of perfect. But sometimes, for some women, the truth is this:

Even perfect birth can be traumatic.

I would be foolish not to acknowledge that some women have frightening or even life-threatening births and are forced to come to terms with their experience. For one reason or another, the process simply doesn’t “work” in some situations. For some of these women, my testimony about my disappointing birth experience and my injured feelings of self-worth might be exactly what they need. But for others, well… maybe not so much.

Beyond our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies, we are each also composed of our own complicated list of experiences. We have a mind, which we discuss in class, but we also have a subconscious mind, which we couldn’t even begin to cover: immature in its ability to make sense of our experiences, and endlessly vulnerable to the hoaxes of the enemy (again: see the Devotional). Working quietly behind the scenes, beneath our cool, collected exterior, it shapes our reactions to every one of our life experiences.

It’s personal.

In the five years since starting my childbirth services company, I have had no choice but to grow as an individual. I have been brought to my knees by some of my own life experiences. Shaken to the core of my beliefs. The shaping of my character as an adult has been arduous, and I have fought hard to find—and hold on to—what is true. In the process, I have also come to see some of that which is not.

I have learned something very important: We are each fighting our own battles. Maybe that sounds cliché, but this is relevant in all areas of life – including the quest for a great birth. For me to come alongside a woman and preach “worth,” when her own personal life experiences have shaped her to need a message of “safety” (for example), would mean that I have missed her altogether.

But how can I help? How do I know what someone needs, when it is beyond their own understanding? How do I discern the tune of their song, unless they themselves can sing it to me?

It’s possible.

The message I offer in my classes about worth and birth idolatry and relationship problems is—in all humility—good. It is quality stuff, and I will continue to teach it. But if I am to partner with God in caring for souls, then I must work from the heart with all of the skill allotted to me. There is more I can offer on an individual basis, seeking hearts and re-adjoining them to God’s in a way that is so much bigger, so much more personal, than the quest for the perfect birth.

It’s time to integrate more. Eden’s Promise is ready to offer you – each mother, father, and child- more than I ever dreamed possible. Click here to find out more!

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator.She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.