Author Archives: Lesley Cain

A Healing Oasis At Home

Me in my master bedroom on Mother’s Day 2014.

During the weeks prior to my surgery, I was in major nesting mode.  Seriously!  You would have thought that I was having another baby!  NOT!!!  Since I knew that my hospital stay would be short-lived, in comparison to my recovery time, I planned to create a “new and improved” environment  where I could rest and recover, while surrounded by friends and family.  Although I added extra errands to my pre-surgery schedule, I was quite pleased with the results.  In fact, I was so excited to get home to my sanctuary, that it motivated me to do whatever was necessary to be discharged from the hospital as soon as possible.  Here are some things that I did to create a healing oasis at home:

1.  Add aromatherapy:  I purchased an aromatherapy diffuser and a “Calming” essential oil blend of lavender, bergamot, and clary sage from Desert Sage Herbs.  I plugged the diffuser into the wall and took my room from blah to spa!

2.  Plant placement:  What better way to liven up a space than with plants?  I visited a local nursery and brought home a Dracaena ‘Janet Craig.’  Low-maintenance, air-purifying, and health-promoting, I am loving it, and I look forward to adding more greenery to my mix.

3.  Bring on the bedding:  Knowing that I would be spending a lot of time in bed, I felt that it was important to make mine as comfortable and inviting as possible.  I managed to keep things budget-friendly by doing a “spruce-up,” as opposed to an “extreme bed makeover.”

4.  Clear out the clutter:  I believe that clutter to the eye is clutter to the mind.  So, I purged and organized my space before surgery because I knew that I wouldn’t have the energy to do it afterwards.  I’m so glad that I did because I am enjoying my space that much more.  For me, a clutter-free, organized space produces a calming effect.  Ahhh…

5.  Let there be light:  I sleep next to a large window in my bedroom.  Everyday, I open my shutters to let in sunlight and to enjoy my backyard view.  It’s so simple, and it [literally] brightens my day!

6.  Soothing sounds:  I have surround sound speakers in my master bedroom.  So, I asked my family to play smooth jazz, classical, and relaxation music for me to enjoy.  One of my favorite Internet radio stations is Calm Radio Om.  Sooo nice!

How do you create a healing oasis at home?

 

 

My Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

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When faced with ovarian cysts and the possibility of cancer, I sprung into action and tightened up my “food game.”  Mind you, no one advised me to do this.  However, I consider diet to be an important aspect of my health and well-being.  (Is it me, or does it seem like diet is always the LAST thing to be addressed in the wake of a health issue in our society?)  Personally, I am 14 years into my holistic health journey, and it was one of the FIRST things that crossed my mind when my recent health drama unfolded.  I decided to be proactive with my food choices to ensure that my body was in the best possible condition to deal with whatever was going on inside of me.  A little inflammation in the body can indicate a healing response, and that’s okay.  But too much inflammation could indicate, or contribute to, a chronic problem, and lead to disease.  That said, here are some anti-inflammatory foods (in no particular order) that I have been consuming with conviction:

1.  Green Tea:  Heralded as one of the world’s healthiest beverages, it has been used medicinally for thousands of years.  This flavonoid-packed drink is often touted for its anti-aging, brain-boosting, and cancer-fighting capabilities.  I’ll drink to that!

2.  Garlic:  Hhhhhhhow do you like your gaaaaaaarlic, dahhhhhhhling???  I like mine sauteed with veggies; pressed and added to salads; sliced and eaten raw with hummus and crackers.  It’s a pungent, yet powerful, healing food.

3.  Ginger:  In addition to being an “upset tummy tamer,” this spicy root increases circulation.  When I order a “Green Giant” juice at my local Whole Foods Market, I add this to it.  Cheers!

4.  Turmeric:  Used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb, this member of the ginger family is what makes curries yellow.  I have been adding fresh turmeric to my green juices, such as the “Abundance” at Pomegranate Cafe.  And although I feel that fresh is best, I sprinkle the powder on my cooked kale and quinoa.

5.  Kale:  It’s the alpha and omega of dark, leafy greens, in my opinion.  I enjoy mine in salads, blended into smoothies, cooked with quinoa, and I love it in chip form.  All hail kale!

6.  Spinach:  One of my other go-to greens, it’s rich in vitamins and minerals.  I use it in my green smoothies, as a base for many salad recipes, and enjoy it sauteed with garlic.  Mmm!

7.  Other Cruciferous Vegetables:  These vitamin, mineral, and fiber-rich foods can help fight cancer as well.  In addition to kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts are my personal faves.  They’re great in salads, and as side dishes.  Yes, please, and thank you!

8.  Almonds:  Rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, I snack on these during the day.  Furthermore, I use almond milk in my smoothies, pour it on cereal, and drink it straight.  Aaaaah!

9.  Pineapple:  This tropical treat is loaded with vitamin C and bromelain.  For me, it’s a staple smoothie ingredient.  However, recently, I’ve been topping homemade pizzas with it.  Pssst…try it!

10.  Berries:  Gotta love these antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory gems!  I use them to make smoothies, and eat them by themselves.  When I mix them with a little So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt, it helps to curb my desire for more decadent desserts.  Yum!

While my anti-inflammatory food consumption did not eliminate my cysts (I wish!), I do believe that it has boosted my immune system, nourished my body from the inside out, and helped tremendously with my healing process.

What are your favorite anti-inflammatory foods?

 

 

 

My Surgery Saga

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Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  This year, I have been busy working, traveling, and taking care of my family, which is great.  However, over the past 2 months, I’ve had to deal with some medical issues as well.  Now that I’m on the other side of the situation, I have LOTS to share.  This is the first of a series of posts in which I will talk about my experience.  I sincerely hope that it helps others.

THE DISCOVERY:

On March 18th, just hours after I successfully completed a commercial shoot, discomfort on the right side of my pelvic area turned into drama overnight.  I was writhing in bed in EXCRUCIATING pain.  Attributing it to something “female-related,” I took some anti-inflammatory homeopathic drops (the only thing that I could find in my house) to relieve the pain, then drifted off to sleep.  The next morning, I felt better; but my husband (who was out of town on business at the time) insisted that I see a doctor.

I went to see my OB-GYN, who takes an integrative approach to medicine at her wellness center for women.  A pelvic exam and urine test didn’t reveal anything, so she sent me to a nearby lab for an ultrasound.  The result?  OVARIAN CYSTS!  So, she sent me back to the same lab for an MRI.  The MRI revealed large, abnormal, complex masses on each ovary with solid components that were not easily identifiable.  Although the MRI Tech thought that they were dermoid cysts, the Head of Radiology was concerned that the solid components might be malignant.  Due to the need to rule out cancer, I was referred to a Gynecological Oncologist (GYN-ONC) for a second opinion.

DUE DILIGENCE:

GYN-ONC #1 –  I went to a prominent cancer center and met with a nice, young doctor for a second opinion.  His take?  He  doubted that I had “old lady ovarian cancer.”  However, since there was a concern that the masses might be malignant, he recommended going in laparoscopically, removing both of my ovaries for biopsy, including tubes and lymph nodes, and he could take out my uterus, if I wanted him to.  WHAAAT?!?!  I was shocked, scared, and very upset to hear this.  It sounded sooooo extreme to me.  Do we have to cut down the whole tree?  Can we just take a leaf???  He explained that ovaries can’t be biopsied like other parts of the body, and that this approach would help to ensure that no cancer cells would be spread, if there were any.  Needless to say, I left the appointment feeling completely overwhelmed.

The next day, when I reviewed the details of this appointment with my OB-GYN, I expressed my concern and desire to get another opinion from someone more seasoned.  She agreed, and referred me to GYN-ONC #2, who she knew and respected.  After a couple of attempts, I managed to schedule a consultation with him (details below).

OB-GYN #2 – While waiting for my appointment with GYN-ONC #2, my husband’s Integrative Specialist referred me to another holistic OB-GYN for her perspective on my situation.  Like my OB-GYN, she lamented that she could not perform the laparoscopic procedure, due to the concern about cancer, and that I needed to work with an oncologist.  Although she doubted that I had cancer, she advised me that if anything malignant was found, “everything goes.”  *GULP*  Before I left her office, and without any prompting, she also referred me to GYN-ONC #2 for a second oncology opinion.  I felt reassured that I was doing the right thing, and confident that I was getting closer to finding the right person to help me.

GYN-ONC #2 – After 2 solid referrals, plus a glowing review from a friend, I was eager to meet with this doctor.  He reviewed my case, highlighted the positive aspects of my situation, gave us statistical information to help put things into perspective, listed in detail all of the possibilities of what the masses could be, expressed doubt that I had cancer, and proposed a more conservative, “organ preserving” approach to my surgery.  He recommended removing the right ovary and tube, having them biopsied, and using that as a benchmark to determine what to do with my left ovary.  And he suggested that my husband and I provide him with a “surgical algorithm,” which would help him to honor our wishes, based on his and the Pathologist’s findings during my procedure.  In my opinion, it was a more holistically-friendly, staged, respectful approach.

NATUROPATH – My OB-GYN has a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) on her staff.  I decided to consult with this ND about my options for hormone balancing, in case I ended up having a full hysterectomy.  She recommended some natural healing remedies that would help me before, during, and after surgery.  However, she felt that a specific hormone-balancing protocol was premature at this point.  Instead, she advised that we wait to see what my surgical outcome would be, then allow at least four weeks for the drugs to get out of my system and my body to find its “new normal.”  This made sense to me, and gave me peace of mind.

HERBALIST – After meeting with the ND, I rounded-out my holistic consultations with a visit to my herbalist.  LOVE HER!  The purpose of this appointment was to purchase some herbs and supplements to help me recover from surgery.  She provided me with some custom-blended concoctions to heal my body, which I will discuss in another post.  I stored most of these items at home for use when I returned, since I was not permitted to take them in the hospital.

THE DILEMMA:

As you can imagine, this has been a challenging time for me.  I have been blessed with good health my entire life.  I had one surgery, a tonsillectomy, when I was in college.  Since changing my diet and lifestyle, 14 years ago, I have enjoyed even better health and well-being than I had previously.  All of a sudden, within a 2-month time frame, I went from a commercial shoot to a cancer scare?!?!  And did I mention that my maternal grandmother had ovarian cancer…?  On one hand, I realized that her story did not have to become my story.  However, our close relationship and the reality of her demise had me freaking out.  Furthermore, I feel uncomfortable in hospitals, I’m a total germaphobe, and the whole idea of surgery, drugs, losing my “lady bits,” being catapulted into early menopause, and the like, seemed to go against my holistic habits.  I’m just sayin’…

THE DECISION:

My husband and I decided to work with GYN-ONC #2.  His experience, surgical approach, detailed analysis of my situation, compassion, and positive focus won us over.  He was, literally, an answer to my prayers.  So, we scheduled my surgery for May 7th (due to work and family commitments), drafted our “surgical algorithm,” and prayed persistently for the best possible outcome.  Although I made peace with having the procedure, not knowing the outcome in advance was scary, to say the least.  Still, I felt confident that I had found the right person for the job, who had my best interests at heart.

THE DETERMINATION:

My right ovary was taken over by a calcified fibroma, and was the same size as my uterus.  OUCH!  The left ovary had a dermoid cyst on it, which my doctor successfully removed.  EEEW!!  When I woke up in the surgery recovery area, my husband was brought to my bedside.  Here, he proudly informed me that I got the best of all possible scenarios:  No cancer, and I got to keep my left ovary and my uterus.  WHEW!!!

I am very grateful for my outcome, as it was an answer to the specific prayers of many.  After staying in the hospital overnight, I was discharged.   My healing process is going very well, and I look forward to sharing more related posts soon!

In the meantime, have a fun, safe, and healthy holiday weekend!

XOXO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Moroccan-Themed Birthday

So, what does a world traveler with a baaaaad case of wanderlust do to celebrate her birthday?  She picks a destination that’s high on her bucket list, and lives it up locally until her desire manifests.

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A day trip to Tangier, years ago, has me longing to return to Morocco; and I have yet to do so.  My birthday theme was driven by my desire to check out Joya Spa at the Omni International Hotel Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley, AZ.  Joya Spa is the only Arizona spa to offer a hammam-inspired treatment.  So, I booked their “Hammam Experience,” and added 50-minutes of massage to it.  BAM!!!

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Before entering the spa, I had fun setting my intentions by placing three stones in the blessing bowl.  Unable to settle on just one, I chose rhodonite (work), rose quartz (love), and hematite (health).  What can I say?  I have a lot going on…

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Then, I placed my hand on the crystal just outside of the spa entrance and said, “Buh-bye” to any and all negative energy, as I made my way closer to bliss…

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Here, I was slathered with a soap that felt like melted butter, then scrubbed with a Kassa glove and black soap.  Afterwards, I was doused with 3 buckets of warm water.  My skin felt sooooo smoooooth…

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After doing a circuit from the steam room, to the cold deluge, then the sauna, I entered this room.  Here, my massage therapist worked her magic with a flower essence-infused oil that helped me to put things into perspective.  Zzzzz…

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Shhhhhh…this is the Whisper Room, where I luxuriated on one of these beds, underneath a cozy throw.  I need some of these linens in my life…

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“Cheers!”  The staff at Joya Spa offered me a complimentary glass of champagne, in honor of my special day.  How could I refuse?!?!  I graciously accepted, retreated to the spa terrace in my swimsuit, and “marinated” poolside.  I was able to soak up some much-needed vitamin D, while chatting with other patrons, and enjoying this view.  Ahhhhh…

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There…that’s MUCH better!  If you are in the Phoenix area, and looking for an exotic spa experience, with lots of amenities, then jump for Joya!

 

 

 

 

 

Healing Hands

As a massage therapy student, I was taught that energy follows intention.  I have found this to be true during my time as a practicing massage therapist, and in my daily life.

During my last trip to St. Louis, I visited The Center For Mind, Body & Spirit, to explore different healing modalities.  The owner, Deborah Zorensky, booked it up; and Massage Therapist, Marty Wolins, hooked it up…

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There are sooooo many cool things here:  jewelry, candles, books, aromatherapy products, clothing items, and more!  I had to refrain from indulging in retail therapy, despite my love for aromatherapy, bath products, and candles…*sigh*

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My Energy Therapy session with Marty began with a detailed intake.   During this time, we discussed the areas of my body where I hold the most tension, which is customary before a massage session.  In addition, I informed her of every injury, illness, and ailment that I’ve ever had in my life.  Then things got interesting, when I revealed ALL of my thoughts (real time, as they popped into my mind), conflicts, fears, disappointments, hopes, and dreams, before and during my session.  Oh, yes I did!!!

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At this point, I felt totally exposed, even though I was fully clothed on the table.  Marty performed a series of “holds” and light massage, based on the information that I gave her; and the results were P-O-W-E-R-F-U-L.  I had several big releases: I felt the tension leave various areas of my body, I cried, fell asleep, and shared even more of my innermost thoughts, during  the time that I was with her.  What a cathartic experience!  I felt amazing afterwards, ready to take on my daily tasks and the challenges in my life.

If you’re in St. Louis, and are looking for an alternative to a regular massage or spa treatment, check out The Center For Mind, Body & Spirit.

Open your heart and mind, and let the healing begin!

 

 

 

 

Turkish Delight

No, I am not referring to the starch and sugar-based, cube-shaped confections.  I am describing my long lunch filled with awesome culinary creations and great conversation with Chef Sureyya Gokeri at Cafe Turko, in Seattle’s Queen Anne District…

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The menu has lots of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.  YAHTZEE!!!  I was in the mood for mezzes, so Sureyya customized an Orient Express platter just for me.  *happy dance*

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Kisir from Eastern Turkiye, Wholesome Aegean Musakka, Beet Hummus, Spinach Hummus, My Mom’s Dolmas, and (my fave) Yam Hummus.  That’s right, I said Yam Hummus!  Some pita for dipping and Sureyya’s pickles completed this savory sampler…*drooling*

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I mentioned in a previous post that I no longer drink coffee on a regular basis.  However, I couldn’t pass up the Turkish Coffee here.  Don’t judge me…

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I should have called for back-up because there was no one to save me from indulging in all of these Turkish treats.  I was in mezzes heaven!

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Part restaurant, part bazaar, Cafe Turko is filled with Turkish handicrafts and food products, which are available for purchase.  The open kitchen is no exception.  You can, literally, shop and sup at the same time!

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Here is my hostess, the inimitable Chef Sureyya!  Her hospitality and passion for her craft are second to none.  The food, atmosphere, and her stories provide a rich cultural experience.  And did I mention that Sureyya offers Turkish cooking classes, as well as traveling Turkish lessons?  I love one-stop shopping!  If you’re in Seattle, check out Cafe Turko.  You’ll be transported to Istanbul in an instant!

Afiyet olsun!

 

The Herbalist

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Sooo…how does someone who chooses to live life off the beaten path navigate one of the most commercialized days of the year?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone; but I started my quest to “enhance the romance” early this year with a trip to The Herbalist.

Located just a few minutes away from U-Village in Seattle, I found this holistic slice of heaven…

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When you walk in, the aromatherapy welcomes you. The interior is clean, contemporary, bright, and organized. I could have set up a cot in the back and moved in…

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Oils, flower essences, and herbs…OH MY!!!

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They always have a “tea of the day” for customers to try. I tried the Aphrodi-Tea.  Delicious!

So many goodies, so little time. *sigh*

They had a special display in the front of the store, specifically geared towards Valentine’s Day. And this, my friends, is where I went in for the kill…

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BAM!!!  Unrepentant Rose Soap, a box of the Aphrodi-Tea, the Sacred Union flower essence, and Rose Hydrosol came home with me. I could have acted a fool in there, but I managed to control myself.

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The owner, Tierney Salter, and her employees are so helpful and knowledgeable about their products. I will definitely return. Until then, I am glad that they take orders and ship.

If you’re in Seattle, check out The Herbalist. Or place an order and have them ship it to you. However you choose to do it, just do it!

Here’s to your holistic health, and have a great weekend!

7 Random Acts of Kindness

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Happy New Year!

I hope that you enjoyed your holidays, and that you are off to a great start.

That said, I realize that last year was a rough year for some folks, and that many are not off to such a great start this year.  Some people have witnessed the passing of their loved ones, ended their relationships, lost their jobs or businesses, experienced health challenges, and more.

Let’s lift one another’s spirits this year, and elevate our society as a whole, by taking opportunities to practice random acts of kindness.

Here are some recent examples of things that I have done for others, and that others have done for me:

1.  Drinks on me!:  Some of my fave moments were pulling up to the Starbucks drive-thru window, and picking up the tab for the people behind me who had already placed their orders.  The baristas were visibly moved, as well.

2.  After YOU!:  I went to my local Whole Foods Market to purchase some groceries, prior to my mom’s arrival for the holidays.  The person in front of me saw that I was in a hurry and that I only had a few items.  So, they let me check-out ahead of them.  I was so relieved, and grateful!

3.  Trading places:  My husband and I went to dinner at a busy restaurant before a holiday event.  Our names were on a wait list, and we were in a time crunch.  Two lovely ladies struck up a conversation with me, generously offered us their table, and took our spot further down on the wait list.  Another patron, who witnessed the act, commented, “Wow, there ARE some nice people in this world!”  Priceless!!!

4.  Changing lanes:  While driving on the freeway, it is so tempting to “challenge” that person who is driving super fast, weaving through traffic, and looking like an accident waiting to happen.  This season, I checked my attitude, moved aside, and let them pass.  Someone could have died, gone into labor, etc.  And it’s not worth my energy or my life to “teach them a lesson” at 60+ MPH.  Hopefully, they got where they needed to go, and everything worked out for them…

5.  You look mah-velous!:  I love fashion, and I often notice other people’s outfits.  I stopped many men and women in their tracks, and brought smiles to their faces by complimenting their clothing, accessories, and/or color choices.  And it didn’t cost me anything!

6.  Compliments of the chef:  Imagine my surprise when my new neighbors stopped by after Christmas to bring us homemade black bean hummus with carrots.  So unexpected, and sooooo good!

7.  Say cheese!:  Warm, friendly smiles are totally underrated.

But why wait???

Make someone else’s day!!!

 

 

The Proposal

On August 16, 1997, my best friend and soul mate asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.  The thought of that alone was overwhelming to me (Miss Independent here!).  But the way that he did it left me completely speechless (which is quite an accomplishment).  It was like a fairytale, and I felt very much like a princess.

Jerel had scheduled a double date with our close friends.  I was told to dress up because we were going out to a nice dinner.  My girlfriend and I were getting ready at my Oakland apartment, when the intercom buzzed and we were called downstairs.  When we reached the lobby, a red carpet was rolled out from the front door to a white limousine parked in front of my building (I could have passed out right then and there, but I didn’t).  The driver greeted us at the door, handed me a tulip, and read me an original poem by Jerel about a “tulip parade.”  When he escorted us to the car and opened the door, there was a HUGE teddy bear sitting in the backseat.  My girlfriend and I maneuvered around him, settled in, and headed to San Francisco to meet the guys.  Having anticipated an engagement for weeks prior to this, I could tell that it was going to be a special evening.  Still, I didn’t want to get my hopes up, in case it didn’t happen (Yeah, I’m guarded like that).

On our way to the Bay Bridge, the driver pulled up to the toll booth.  The attendant greeted me and handed me another tulip (What?!?!).  We crossed the  Bridge, made our way into San Francisco, and stopped at the St. Francis Yacht Club (Um, okay…what are we doing here???)  The driver parked in front of the building, kicked me out let me out of the car, and he and my girlfriend made me instructed me to walk down the path until I reached the water.  LONGEST. WALK. EVER.  It was windy and overcast too (Gotta love San Francisco in the summertime!).  I thought to myself, “This is so surreal!…What’s at the end of the path?…Where’s Jerel?!?…Does my hair look okay???”

When I finally reached the end of the path, my man was standing there waiting for me and smiling.  Jerel had placed two chairs on top of a blanket, and had soft music playing in the background.  He greeted me, then seated me in one of the chairs, and read another original poem entitled “May I.”  The poem chronicles our relationship, and culminates in the marriage proposal.

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I responded, “Yes,” and some of our closest friends emerged from behind the rocks, where they had been hiding and snapping pictures of us the entire time (Sooo sneaky!).

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Afterwards, the limo driver picked all of us up and drove us to dinner.  At my seat, there was a framed copy of the poem that Jerel wrote and read to me, along with more tulips.  After our meal, we climbed back into the limo and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a magical evening that I’ll never forget!

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For your viewing pleasure, here is the AMAZING poem that changed my life:

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16 years later, I am humbled, grateful, and honored to be married to the man of my dreams!

 

 

Aria’s Birth Story

As a holistic health enthusiast, I wanted the most natural pregnancy and birthing experience possible.  After all, I considered this another leg of my health journey.  Although my pregnancy was confirmed by an OB/GYN, I quickly left her care to pursue my dream.  This led me to the Bethany Birthing Center in Phoenix, where I received all of my prenatal care and, ultimately, delivered my first child.

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Since I love water, swimming, and taking baths, a water birth seemed like an ideal way for me to experience natural childbirth.  Although I did interview a few home birth midwives toward the end of my pregnancy, I decided to stick with my original plan to go to Bethany.  My husband and I both felt more comfortable with this plan for our first child.  We figured that if things went well, then I could do a home birth the next time around.  My estimated due date (EDD) was July 18, 2006.  After a few days of pre-labor symptoms, things got really interesting on July 16th:

I missed church that day, due to cramps, contractions, low backache, and other “fun stuff.”  My symptoms worsened as the day progressed, so I tried to relax in an aromatherapy bath that afternoon.  At around 5:30pm, I felt a contraction radiate around my torso.  This was a major turning point (Hello, active labor! ).  My husband and I consulted with my doulas, then he called the birthing center to find out if/when we should come.  Meanwhile, Doula Michelle came to our house and labored with me in my room from 7:30pm – 8:30pm.  She really saved the day, since my other doula was too far away and had to meet us at the birthing center.  On our way to Bethany, Michelle labored with me in the back seat of my car with my husband driving and my mom riding in the front.  Longest. Hour. Ever.

We arrived at Bethany at about 9:30pm.  There, I went to the restroom, then was checked by a nurse.  I was 5 – 6 cm dialated.  After I requested the jacuzzi room, the tub was filled, my lavender candle was lit, and my music turned on.  I continued to labor in the jacuzzi:  I laid on my side, blew raspberries, brayed like a horse, cried out, squatted, wagged my tailbone, did cat/cow stretches, and breathed deeply.  At this point, my fingers were pruning and I wondered if I could make it through.  The baby’s heartbeat remained strong and steady, which was a relief.  Labor hurt but not as much as I thought it would.  Finally, Midwife Connie checked me and offered to push the remainder of my cervix out of the way so that I could deliver my baby.  I agreed and she did.   My birthing team instructed me to hold up my legs, sit on the edge of the jacuzzi seat, and push.  At first, I felt awkward, but I finally settled into a position and went for it.  I was offered the opportunity to get out of the tub, but I refused to leave the water.   It really took the edge off of my labor.  8 pushes and 40-50 minutes later, I felt the baby’s head, which motivated me to push her out.  This was a magical moment for all of us.  My daughter was born, I helped to lift her out of the water, and placed her on my stomach.  Afterwards, I settled into bed, breastfed and rested.  What an amazing experience!

Though I had some postpartum challenges, my daughter’s birth was textbook-perfect, which is why I wasn’t “scurred” to home birth my son, 22 months later.  I’m so grateful that I was able to labor in the comfort of my own home, make the 1-hour trip to the birthing center, and have a relatively smooth delivery after 8 hours of labor.  I remember the soft glow and smell of my lavender candle, the soothing sound of Deva Premal’s singing, the comfort of the warm water, and the support of my doulas, my husband, and my mom.  This provided me with the perfect “home away from home” experience.  The 5-month road to recovery was a long one.  But my daughter and I went on to overcome many obstacles, heal, and bond.  And I couldn’t be more proud of my “peanut.”

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Happy Birthday, Aria!

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