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L&D

 

L&D

Labor and Delivery.

Life and Death.

Liza and David/ Lyze and Dad

 

L&D means a lot of things to me but when I came across the wedding present pendants I gave my parents, I knew I had to listen to my friends’ suggestion to write.  I took this picture and being inspired I wrote, I deleted, I walked away and I came back to write this.

Being a doula for me has always meant honoring both sides of the gate.
When you’re sitting by the door of life entering, you’re acutely aware of the exiting and how that shift is but a thin, beautiful, divine veil.
I just didn’t realize how much this year would play out the death/life dance with me.  Five funerals, lots of serious illnesses and many births. In short, life.

The story we tell, the clock that chimes, the falling down and feeling like a puddle of helpless, the heat rising on your back with desire, the disappointment, the longing to be seen and to see, the rhythm of standing, eating, sleeping, making love, taking pills, breathing, driving, resting -it’s a practice of witnessing and participating.

I witnessed an incredible birth this summer. I watched as a mother surrendered to her wisdom, communicating with her daughter inside of her and without medication, redirecting the concept of pain into intense waves.  After the initial crowning, the little one opened her eyes even before she was all the way here, outside of her mama, and she looked at me.  In the space of that moment, I felt nothing and everything because it was life looking back at itself.  I was speechless in mouth and mind. My eyes couldn’t weep because they were just empty and humble. I saw her.  I knew her and I honored her, her family and was grateful to bear witness to her first hour of being.

Have you ever judged yourself for not being more emotional?  I used to be quite a stream of water works. It’s a funny switch when you’ve got the space to watch your feelings and make the choice or just experience being unattached to them. Moving into a more devotional space and less reactionary, I’ve felt strange in the course of this year that my eyes don’t tear as much and I feel like a watcher.  It’s like the story I’m watching isn’t mine and yet my perspective is entirely unique and mine.  To behold the birth of a being is so humbling because it’s not about you and your story, it’s about listening to what’s needed from a quieter, stronger, less heady and more rooted place. So it is with all things, birth and death serve as bookmarks, reminders, grabbers to behold your attention.

I’m witnessing now the other side of the veil as we come into autumn.  It’s gentle, it’s warm, it’s sweet, it’s a deep surrender as well.
My second mom was diagnosed with an incredibly rare brain cancer in April and in the course of these last few days her ability to talk, walk and even swallow has become limited due to the pressure of the growing tumor in the stem where her nerves live.  She has incredible courage and is just doing everything to take care of herself and not give up hope.
We agree that her state is one of healing and our little team mantra is “Liza is healing.”  Her tumor acted as a little buddy of a wake up call for her to be present for her life as the one she was “living” wasn’t fulfilling her.
My father is full time being her caretaker and she’s care taking him to remind him to be present, watch his energy and move from doing all that needs to be done but also laughing and living.  It’s a delicate balance between doing all the “stuff” to “get better” and to also just straight be here and enjoy life.  We’re in limbo between knowing if she’ll be accepted by the FDA as a clinical trial candidate for alternative therapies that have had great success.  Two weeks we’ll know. However, in this past week her functionality is in question and we’re looking for how to approach the next chapter.

My dad and Liza met sixteen years ago.  She has continuously spoiled me with love and brilliance, she’s been a great teacher and friend, sharp as a tack and a fighter for virtue.

aruba D&L

The woman ran a health care service for seniors and those in need in the Bay Area, she was on call to people all the time in addition to being a lawyer, a web designer, award winning tennis semi pro, wife, dog lover and speed racer who arguably has lived her life in the fast lane. In short, if anyone can overcome this little buddy and invite him to leave, it’s her.

The level of commitment and care that my Dad and Liza have for their partnership is profound as they wobble in the unknown.  They’re just in it, they’re bobbing and weaving, shaking and rolling, no matter where the dice land.

Our parents are our first teachers.  And today, they are teaching me about grace and human-ness as I hold them.  There are moments that are awkward and moments we’re grateful to find our flow again.  Errands feel amazing.  Deciphering her words reminds me, gives us patience and gratitude for the moments of clarity.  The ability to speak, swallow and giving up the steering wheel, literally and figuratively is a daily unraveling of knowing what you can do and can’t do.

Surrender has a whole new meaning to me, again and again and again. It’s strange to watch a person know when to ask for help when she’s so fiercely independent.

I haven’t spoken much about my family nor my life of late because I’m just in it and taking time to watch it.
We are all writers, writing our stories every day and I’m finding more and more that I’m the space between the telling and more and more I’m the listening.
I’m the prayer in action, I’m the tender and I have less to say.

Liza’s quality of life is changing, it’s less comfortable and it’s unpredictable just like birth.
She’s so present, it’s beautiful and in her fragility she is grace and is so committed to life, giving it all she has and simultaneously accepting that this may be her time to leave this body.

I can’t control what happens, I can only be here and offer my heart just as I did the wee one that came through in July.

I’m grateful to live my life, to make choices that honor the life I’m getting to live and remembering that showing up sometimes just means working from your computer while eating snacks on the couch.  An hour makes a difference. Smelling and hearing your loved ones tinker about the house is something I’ve sorely missed.  This modern world offers skype for connection and texting, which is great, but I’ll take real face time over FaceTime and emoticons any day and it takes big effort to make that happen.

Take the time to use your words wisely this week, our speech is a gift.  Be grateful for the minutes you spend with those around you, it’s your life you’re giving and sharing with them.

xo

Freedom To Choose

  ** published on Elephant Journal 2/14/2013:  http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/02/freedom-to-choose-ella-lauser/)lady liberty vintage graphicsfairy008c

“Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense, consists in the ability to choose.”

Simone Weil

 

When discussing abortion, a highly charged political point as well as a big decision that deserves much space and time for reflection, I’m concerned that we aren’t aware of how a child is brought into the world and how they are brought up affects everyone involved.

 

To choose what is right for your life is, in my opinion, the key to honoring life itself.

I’m pro-choice in all aspects, however, that doesn’t mean I’m not pro-life; they are not mutually exclusive except in the war between right and wrong. I respect everyone’s choice and individual opinions, even if I don’t agree with them nor they with me.

 

I choose to give my attention not to war, to fighting, and dualistic  black and white philosophy but to love, truth and compassion.

What is true for one, is not true for another because of ideals.  Ideals change, truth does not and it is through curiosity, critical observation and/or examination that we become wiser, freer and have the ability to create change for the highest good.  Inquiry leads us back to ultimate, unwavering, un-sell-able truth- the kind that just rings.

bell

In my experience s as a doula, supporting people through challenging circumstances and often uncomfortable questions, I’ve become a devotee of questioning, honoring and understanding well-being, with a particular interest in primal prenatal and perinatal health. Very powerful lessons have come through conversation, studies that have given light to subjects I never considered, and questions in my inbox in the middle of the night titled “Help! I’m Pregnant“.

 

A colleague and wise adviser of mine has been studying the story of Womb to World for upwards of 20 years as a Registered Nurse,  Maternal-Child Health Nurse, Birth Consultant, Labor & Post-Partum Doula Instructor, Primal Period Educator.  Her name is Anna Verwaal and she recently brought to my awareness something that I think all people should consider and reflect upon especially when politicians are in debate about Personhood Measures that will make it more difficult for people to choose whether or not to have abortions.

Like Anna, I advocate for the journey that shapes our life, from womb to world.

Consider what goes in to the climate of our collective womb, consider that the emotional turmoil of not wanting to have a child has lasting effects in society.

 

Womb Ecology, shares studies that reflect the genesis of antisocial behavior and being related to pre labor intrauterine life.

 

What I found incredibly revealing and helpful to clarify my understanding in the battle of the womb was their perspective from primal health research specifically on “Deviations usually classified as criminal behaviour:”

When exploring the Primal Health Research Data Base, the keyword ‘criminality’ leads to research indicating the importance of prenatal factors. Two Finnish studies suggest that certain maternal emotional states in pregnancy are risk factors. In one of these studies the authors identified 167 children whose fathers had died before they were born.(64) Also identified were 168 children whose fathers had died during the children’s first year of life. Then the medical records of all 335 of these children were followed for 35 years. Most of the fathers had died during the Second World War when cigarettes and alcohol were severely rationed, if they were obtainable at all. In both groups, the parents were of comparable age and from comparable social classes. All the children grew up fatherless. However, only those who lost their father while in the womb were at increased risk of criminality (plus alcoholism and mental diseases). The results of this study suggest that the emotional state of the mother during pregnancy has more long-term effects on the child than during the year following birth. The other Finnish study researched 12,059 children born in 1966 and followed to the end of 1998.(65) The pregnant mothers were asked at the antenatal clinic if they felt themselves to be depressed. The Finnish Ministry of Justice provided information on criminal offences for all descendants. For male children of prenatally depressed mothers there was a significant increase in criminality.

Smoking in pregnancy is a well documented risk factor for criminality.(66) In one study(67), involving a cohort of 4169 male and 3943 female subjects born between 1959 and 1961, a dose-response relationship was found between the amount of maternal prenatal smoking and criminal arrest in male and female subjects.

More than 4000 male subjects born in the same hospital in Copenhagen were followed up until age 18(68) and then assessed again at the age of 34.(69) The authors looked in particular at the interaction between birth complications and early maternal rejection. The main risk factor found in these studies for being a violent criminal is the association of birth complications with early maternal rejection. Early maternal rejection by itself is not a risk factor. We can conclude once more that very early influences are implicated in violent criminality.

Have you ever thought about what brutal criminals often have in common?

They are often unsuccessful abortions and these criminals have suffered from severe early childhood developmental trauma.

Saddam Hussein was not just an unwanted child who never knew his father but had a mother , “depressed over the death of her 13-year-old son from cancer, [who] tried very hard to have a miscarriage by hitting and bumping her stomach…. In Arabic, his name means “one who confronts.”  Yeeesh!

Can you imagine what that must’ve felt like for the mother, for the baby yet to be born?

What about a child who is subject to hostile, abusive environments both in the womb and in early development?

One of the most terrifying examples of this is Adolf Hitler, a murderer of millions and a violent criminal of astronomical proportions.  “There is substantial proof that child abuse has severe psychological effects that cannot be reversed. The effects include, but are not limited to anger, hatred, aggressiveness, hostility, poor school performance and poor relationships with peers and/or the opposite sex. Many victims of child abuse often become offenders in violent crimes (Dunning, 2004).”

Imagine being rejected by your mother, father, love, the world…

What could that do your well-being, humanity, life?

For the record, I do not believe that once the fabric of our precious lives has been crumpled, burned or mistreated that we are incapable of healing however our awareness and education about the consequences of choice are paramount for our world to be treated, created and sustained wisely.

Emotional well-being and the emotional well-being of the world is dependent on freedom and learning from when it is infringed upon.

What does freedom look like to you?

wombtoworld

I invite you to welcome life with love and consciousness…

Let that freedom ring and echo ” hello beautiful world, I’m here for love.”  

 

 

 

 

Birth Doula at Your Service

This past Sunday/Monday was a miracle to behold, I took part in supporting and welcoming the birth of a little baby girl as a doula.

I have such gratitude for my doula community, particularly my educators/mentors Ana Paula Markel, Naoli Vinaver, Sufi Ertur, Ida Reid and lastly Tracy Hartley who took a chance on me to assist her at a birth.

Meeting moments of fear with grace and brushing aside that which did not serve (in thought or in action), was a BEYOND powerful lesson in the face of life itself.

Biggest a-ha moments:

  • When you make a plan, be prepared to let go of how you think things should go, knowing (aka trusting) you’ll arrive at your destination
  • Unquestioned, unconditional support isn’t just something people should have but deserve and very well need
  • When in doubt- sing, breathe and rock back n’ forth
  • Always carry a toothbrush and tooth paste
  • Know when silence is the best gift you can offer
  • Kindness is the best medicine for EVERYONE especially the people that rub you the wrong way
  • Consider what the intention is behind your words before speaking them

Being in service, an emotional support person, a holder of space and flow is what so many of us do (you’re doulas without even realizing it).  It’s no wonder we need a little extra T.L.C. during the moments we birth (and all things are ultimately such- think about every major change/shift in your life- it was a birth).

As I take on new families, honoring them through their pregnancy and labor- I’m also here for you (to be your own birth of life doula).  So bring it on, I’m back in the saddle and with new sparkly spurs.

FYI send in your questions of the week, I’ll be selecting one and posting my response June 20th.

Also be on the look-out for the new tabs on the website, I think you’ll like what you find…

Yee haw!

Love ya,


Ella


P.S. Stay tuned for some more exciting stuff that’s happening!  Hint hint: new blog posts, new articles, new classes, and ooooh a RETREAT in Santa Barbara, Ca.

BIG NEWS!!!

I’m beyond thrilled to share to some really BIG and inspiring news with you all.

Drum roll please…………….

Go Ask Ella A.K.A. me, Ella Lauser, is shifting gears to follow my calling to really empower women from the root down, in birth. I’m on my way to becoming a doula!

In order for me to pursue this dream, I need your financial love.  I know a lot of you have expressed your gratitude for my work, support and this site as a whole, here’s your chance to give back.  You get to have that warm and fuzzy feeling with your donations today which help me live this purpose and continue to do this great work.  Think about the good karma on that!

If I’ve ever brought a smile to your face, given you some insight, or I’ve helped you (or someone you know), please make a donation.


Any and all amounts welcome.

Thank you for your love and support!


xoxo

Ella