#9: “My Joy Is Always Tainted” (part 2 of 2)
In episode 8, Misty told us about how when she was 18, she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that made it a really bad idea for her to have biological children, and about the first few disappointments she and her husband went through as they pursued growing their family through adoption. In this episode Misty shares each of her children’s adoption stories—from the strength she witnessed in the birth mothers, to the harrowing moments when it looked like things might not work out, and the sad and joyful and confusing moments in between. And for those of us who are unfamiliar with adoption and don’t always know how to support adopting families, Misty points the way.
4 Jan 2016
#17: The Midwives
When you are pregnant and on your way to becoming a mother there can be so many worries and wonders you have about what is going to happen to you—what is happening to you—and your family. Some of those worries are physical, but they can be mental, emotional, and spiritual as well. And who can you turn to to help you explore all those things you are facing as you enter this new chapter in your life? It often seems like in our society, we are all anticipation of the baby and its health that we forget the impact the experience is having on the mother, the father, and even siblings and grandparents. In my experience, midwives can step into the breech. We talked to Barri Malek and Kristen Leonard, the home birth midwives who helped Lizzie through her pregnancies with her 3rd and 4th babies about why maternity care matters for everyone—in hospitals, at home, for mothers and fathers, and for our society as a whole.
27 Apr 2017
#22: Helen (part 2 of 2)
It wasn’t too long after her mother died that Meg began to feel . . . tired. Maybe a little under the weather. Possibly depressed. But it was winter—cold and gray. She was grieving. And her life was hectic with house renovations. And then a more familiar nausea set in . . . . For months Meg struggled to process this unexpected development in her life. But eventually, through moments big and small, the light started to shine through the fog she had been stuck in. The “shining light” was Helen.
2 May 2018
#21: The Greatest Gift My Mother Gave Me (part 1 of 2)
The relationship we have with our moms can be fraught and complicated. We must differentiate ourselves from our moms, but no matter what we do or who we become, they are always guides or shadows on our paths. We can never fully disentangle ourselves from their influence—and in the best case scenario, we probably would not want to. Meg is her mother’s only daughter, her only child. She says she feels privileged to hold that position. But she also wondered if she did her duty as her only child, especially after Meg’s mom was diagnosed with cancer just a few months after Meg and her young family moved to a different state. Meg and her mom have a strong and deep relationship that they maintained and even strengthened throughout the years that Meg’s mom was battling cancer and Meg was growing her family. And while there were many places along their path where their relationship could have diverged, they managed to stay close to each other—separate, but together.
11 Apr 2018
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#14: “In The End, Wasn’t It Worth It?”
Before Nicole even had a chance to take a pregnancy test, her body was reacting strongly to the baby that had just begun to develop. She had a severe case of pregnancy sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum—which is definitely NOT morning sickness—that left her feeling like a shell of a person for virtually her entire pregnancy. Actually, both of her pregnancies. Why some women get so severely sick during pregnancy is a mystery. Another mystery: why our society is so slow to recognize that someone as sick as Nicole was—no matter the cause—needs help and support. Nicole says she felt that because her sickness was caused by pregnancy, people were less sympathetic than they would have been for other types of incapacitating illness. In fact, in some ways it seems important to separate the illness from the pregnancy, and the pregnancy from the motherhood, because hyperemesis definitely messes with society’s ideals and expectations of what pregnancy should be. And those, like Nicole, who fall on the outside of those ideals are left out in the cold when it comes to talking about the joys of becoming a mom. Not only that, they are often unfairly asked to compare the hell of their sickness with the joy of having a child: “Wasn’t it worth it?” is a common question that really doesn’t have an answer. Although Nicole felt isolated and unsure of what was happening to her throughout her pregnancy, she did find helpful information through the website pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk. She urges anyone who experiences severe illness while pregnant to check it out to find resources and support.
9 Nov 2016
#4: Incompatible With Life
You’re 20 weeks pregnant and it looks like something is wrong with the baby. How do you spend the rest of the pregnancy? Jodie and Adrian tell us how they handled a worst case scenario and came out of it feeling strengthened, loved, and grateful.
7 Oct 2015
#16: “This is What I Am Meant To Do”
Bente kept a journal when she was growing up in which she wrote that she would have 12 kids: 2 boys, then 2 girls, then 2 boys, and on and on. A couple of decades later we meet up with her and find that things went surprisingly well for her. Not only did she surpass her childhood expectations as far as number of children, she nailed her calling in life. Motherhood is where she feels most real, most fulfilled, and most whole. We talk with Bente about how she came to this decision, what the hardest parts have been, and what she expects from her children.
6 Mar 2017
Mini Episode #1: Love the One You’re With
Today’s episode is an essay written and read by Lizzie Heiselt. It takes on the “all that matters is that you have a healthy baby” idea. For anyone who’s been told this, you know there’s not really a response to that. On some level, it’s true. Having a baby—let alone a healthy one—is something to be grateful for. But it doesn’t mean that sometimes there isn’t something to mourn, that there isn’t a sense of loss. And it doesn’t mean that we’re not entitled to feel those feelings. Lizzie takes one angle on that—gender, specifically—and, in conversation mentioned that it’s not exactly a “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” kind of situation . . . more like a “love the one you’re with” sort of deal. And of course you will love the one you’re with. Even as you mourn what might have been.
30 Sep 2016
#25: Are We Done Yet?
Andrea Weaver’s family We all know that in family planning there is no “one size fits all,” there is no, “take this quiz and find out how many kids you should have!” There is not necessarily a magic number or a magic feeling. We knew that for many women the decision is just as much of an emotional decision as it is a rational one, that often spirituality and religion enter the picture, and that to even be having this conversation is a serious privilege—and at times a very weighty privilege. Stephanie Robertson’s crew So we talked to three women—one who is done have kids, one who undecided, and one who is open to having all the babies—about their experiences in childbearing. We talk about finances, spirituality, the culture of large families (and the culture as a whole), and all the things (silly and serious) that may weigh on our minds when thinking about babies. Alanna Smith and her family. We share these conversations with the hope that others (maybe even you!) can hear and discern what aspects of the decision are important to you and which are not. Maybe you’ll recognize some of your own hopes and thoughts and fears. But we also hope that you will make space for these women to have their own ideas and values and lives and that you wish them well on their own personal journeys.
27 Feb 2019
#8: “I Don’t Want You To Bear Children” (part 1 of 2)
When she was 18 years old Misty Brough went from being a vibrant college freshman to being told that she was on the verge of death within a few hours. A year or so and many scans, surgeries, and treatments later, she was back at school, defying expectations and getting her life back on track. Then her doctor told her, “I don’t want you to bear children.” The risks and uncertainties—and the effects of the intense treatment she’d been through—made pregnancy a really, really bad idea. Adoption was her only option, so instead of going off birth control or having pelvic exams and hormone checks Misty’s path to motherhood started with paperwork, home studies, and background checks. And then the real work began. This is part 1 in a 2-part series on Misty and Jordan Brough and how they adopted their children. Misty and Jordan are also the owners of Adoption Arts, where they partner with artists to create and sell adoption themed art.
8 Dec 2015
#23: “You Just Live Life As Best You Can”
When Kristy went into labor at 33 weeks gestation and had her baby via emergency c-section, it seemed like a series of small miracles took place. She and the baby would have the healthiest outcome in a scary, unpredictable situation. End of story. But week after week, as Kristy and her family learned more about what had possibly caused her pre-term labor, it became clear how truly dire the situation was. Over the course of the next year and a half, Kristy endured a physically and emotionally painful roller coaster ride that left her with scars and bruises—but also with some of the most beautiful perspectives and relationships that life has to offer. Click here for Kristy’s GoFundMe account.
17 Jul 2018
#5: Not My Mother’s Story
Two years ago, Suvi had a baby. He was her first and he was (and is) a beautiful, healthy boy, born from a healthy—but haunted—pregnancy. Many women experience fear during pregnancy: fear of pain, fear that something is wrong with the baby, even fear of death—their own or the baby’s. But not many women have actual first-hand experience with the realities of aternal mortality. Suvi does. And that experience brought her to a place where the cultural expectation of a glowing, happy, exclusively positive pregnancy just didn’t fit. She tells us about her fears, how she handled them, and what her experience has both cost her and given her.
21 Oct 2015
#19: “I Could Bring Him to His Family”
Jill is, and was, a productive, contributing member of society. She has a master’s degree, she’s worked for several companies, and as a teacher she’s seen her students flourish. In 2012, she had friends, a community, a great apartment, and a pretty solid social circle of support—and she also had a mental illness. Jill suffers from fairly serious depression at times, but had always managed it well enough. That year, however, the bottom fell out. In a few short months, she lost just about everything she’d worked so hard for and just as she was getting back on her feet she found herself pregnant—but in no position to be a mother. Jill tells us how she went from lonely, depressed, and somewhat bitter, to having experienced the greatest love she’d ever felt in her life—and how she brought a little boy to a family that couldn’t get him on their own. *In the episode we said that the legal agreement between Jill and the adoptive family is for her to see him twice a year. The agreement actually says she can see him 4 times a year.
19 Oct 2017
#12: “But Honestly, How Are You Feeling?”
“Winter Fear” by Kay Ryan Is it just Winter or is this worse. Is this the year when outer damp obscures a deeper curse that spring can’t fix, when gears that turn the earth won’t shift the view when clouds won’t lift though all the skies go blue. There is an expectation with pregnancy that growing a life leads to glowing. The question, “How are you feeling?” is supposed to elicit maybe some talk about morning sickness, followed quickly by, “But we’re so excited.” The words “prenatal depression” are rarely heard, even in the rare case they are acknowledged by the expectant mom. Because if you don’t feel excited, well, then who are you? You’re could be one of the many, many women whose pregnancy experience—whose symptoms—include antenatal or prenatal depression, post-partum depression’s lesser known sister. It can be incredibly isolating to feel so sad at a time when you are expected to feel joy, to feel like the bleak midwinter has descended when everyone else is basking in sunny spring. It can feel like there is no space, no place for you and for your feelings. So when someone asks, “But honestly, how are you feeling?” be open to sharing, and hearing, an honest answer. In this episode we talk to a woman who, though excited about becoming a mom and enduring a difficult road to a healthy pregnancy, nonetheless found herself feeling that maybe every decision she had made to get this point was the wrong one. She walks us through her experience realizing that what she was feeling was serious, how she decided to get help, and how she—and Valerie—realized that maybe the best thing to do in this kind of situation is to tell people the truth when they ask how you are feeling. You may find yourself in good company.
18 Jul 2016
#24: A Hand to Hold
Eighteen years ago, when Kelli was 24 weeks pregnant, she left work wondering if she had pushed herself too hard. She was feeling sick—something was wrong. By the end of the evening she would be rushed to the hospital and her baby would be delivered. At 24 weeks and 1 day, he was a micro-premie just barely on the living side of viability. For the next 4 months, Kelli’s life revolved around the isolated and tenuous world of the NICU, where parents whose hopes and dreams had been brought up short watched and waited to see how their tiny babies would fare. It was a lonely, scary time for Kelli. So much uncertainty, so few opportunities for connection. After Kelli and her baby emerged from the NICU, Kelli continued to grapple with the effects of that stressful time. As the years passed she built a program to help other parents of premies get the help and the support—mental, physical, emotional, social—that they need to get through the harrowing experience of preterm birth. From the depth of her experience, Kelli offers others a hand to hold. Learn more about Kelli’s organization A Hand to Hold at handtohold.org.
26 Nov 2018