A Sacred Pregnancy Retreat

Sep 27, 2014

There are no words to truly describe a Sacred Pregnancy retreat. It's a magical place. In August I had the honor of photographing a Sacred Pregnancy (and Sacred Doula) retreat in Toronto. It was so much fun to capture these moments forever. I've been working with Anni Daulter and Sacred Pregnancy for over a year now and I am so thankful for that. It has been a huge blessing in my life. I truly can't imagine life without it. This beautiful book guided me through my pregnancy with Everly and the Sacred Living Movement has grown leaps and bounds since that time (PS a second edition of the book with updated photos is being released in 2015 and one of my photos is being featured!).

Sacred Pregnancy is for any pregnant woman who want to connect more with herself and her baby during the pregnancy. Because pregnancy is such a small amount of time (really, 9 months is so short compared to the years you'll be a mother), Anni has created pregnancy practices to help center you during your pregnancy and really bring beauty and awareness to this special time in life. Sacred Pregnancy retreats are for any woman who wants to teach these classes in their community, though really I could say the retreats are for any woman. You do not have to be pregnant to attend a retreat, you just need a desire to open yourself up and connect with your sisterhood.

When you step through the doors to a Sacred Pregnancy retreat you're stepping into a new world. Hearing about it and experiencing it are two completely different things. Anni adds so many tiny details to the retreat to make it beautiful. She truly shows you the meaning of The Beauty Way of living. The circle where you gather is beyond beautiful and so inviting, you immediately want to sit down inside of it. You begin the morning with a check in and start to get acquainted with the other women in the circle. By the time you leave on the fourth day you're calling these women sisters. Anni guides you through eight lessons of self discovery, awareness, love, gratitude, and beauty. Each piece of the program is designed to push you, to stretch you, and to bring you to a better place. You share with your sisters, create art with them, laugh with them, cry with them, and hold space for them while they grow. You honor each other with massage, bathing, henna, and hair braiding. You release fears, accept love, and claim your power as a woman. On the final day you celebrate your transformation with an explosion of color and hugs! If you're feeling drawn to Sacred Pregnancy in any way don't hesitate, just do it. Your entire life will be better for it. I am a better wife, a better mother, a better person because of my experiences with Anni and Sacred Pregnancy. 

Sometimes Life is Hard

Sep 18, 2014

There's just no way around it. Sometimes life is hard. I've realized that no matter how carefully I lay my plans out, life is never going to follow them. A few weeks ago Aaron had some really scary health issues and I'm finally feeling like maybe I can talk about them. Be prepared. This is long.

On a Thursday evening Aaron came home from work saying he wasn't feeling well. He sort of passed out and was feeling dizzy but he was having no other symptoms (that we knew of). We put him to bed early that night thinking he was just exhausted from starting a new job and needed a good night of sleep. It was nagging at me that something wasn't right but it was hard to say that we should go to the doctor when there weren't any real signs that he needed help.

Friday he went to work. He still wasn't feeling great but he wasn't in any kind of pain. He was feeling dizzy again and really tired. Everly and I picked him up from work because we were going to my family's cabin for the weekend. We talked about it and decided to go even though he wasn't feeling great. A little R&R sounded like exactly what we were looking for. When we got there (a 5 hour drive because of traffic) Aaron was pale and clammy and all he wanted to do was sleep. He went to bed and I continued to worry quietly. He still said he wasn't feeling any pain so we decided to let him try and sleep it off again.

About 12:30 in the morning he suddenly climbed out of bed and wandered into the bathroom. I was just drifting off to sleep but something woke me up hard and gave me a terrible feeling in my stomach. I knew I needed to go check on him. When I did I found him completely blacked out and unresponsive. I cried and panicked for about 7 seconds. Then I snapped out of it, got my dad, and we got Aaron to the car. We took him to the local hospital ER of a very tiny town. The nurse there listened to me explain what was going on while she started an IV to get him fluids. At that point he was as white as a person could be and still very clammy. He wasn't responding coherently but he was opening his eyes occasionally. He kept asking me where we were because he didn't remember anything leading up to our hospital trip.

When the on call doctor arrived in the ER he immediately ordered a blood transfusion for Aaron. He came to talk to us and said that all the little signs were there for internal bleeding (mostly that he was having black, tar-like stool) even if Aaron wasn't experiencing any pain. We started the blood transfusion to help his body try and recover and he had to have 4 units of blood. This all happened while Life Flight was on their way to get us and move us to a much larger hospital. We needed to have a specialist take a look at Aaron and figure out where the bleeding was happening before we could make any decisions.

When the Life Flight helicopter showed up the whirlwind began. They moved Aaron to the portable bed, strapped him in like a mummy, and loaded him up. I followed them out to the helicopter pad and after a little chat with the pilot they said I could come along. It was a long half hour flying through complete darkness and suddenly we made a turn and the skyline lit up. We got to the ER at the larger hospital and Aaron was soon taken back to have a stomach scope and determine the extent of what we were dealing with.

Aaron had several bleeding ulcers in his stomach. By the time he made it to the ER at the small hospital he was down to 1/3 his usual blood volume and he was excruciatingly close to death. Through the transfusion we'd restored that to about 2/3 of his blood volume but he was still very weak. The bleeding had slowed and they were hopeful it was going to stop on its own but we were still in a very scary place. The first 48 hours after bleeding ulcers are pretty critical and Aaron had to say for observation at the hospital. After all the adrenaline and worry coursing through my body I felt like I was crashing. The reality was terrifying and I've never been so scared in my life.

Through the entire experience I kept telling myself that I would not, could not lose my husband. He was not going to die. It was hard to tell myself this because it could have easily gone the other way. There were a million tiny things that could have gone a different way and ended my husband's life.

For the last few weeks I've played them all through my head over and over again. What if I hadn't followed him into the bathroom to check on him? What if I'd taken him to the doctor when I felt like I should, even though we had no real reason to think he needed it? What if they hadn't had the right blood type for Aaron's transfusion (we were SO lucky they had 4 units of his type at that tiny hospital)? What if the doctor hadn't realized he was having internal bleeding because the major signs weren't there? There are enough what ifs to make me crazy. Sometimes they do.

We're still healing, still processing. Sometimes Aaron looks at me and says "I almost died" and we hold each other tight and feel so grateful that he didn't. All I really know is that I'm grateful. I'm grateful for Aaron, for the people who saved his life, and for our family for supporting us through it all. And I'm grateful for myself because when it came down to the pressure I didn't fail.