Book review: Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

NOTE: I was given an advance copy of the book Hannah, Delivered (affiliate link) in exchange for my honest opinion. Review and opinions below are my own.

"There's three things to learn about labor. It's work. It hurts a lot. And you can do it." - Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

When I got an email from a publisher with the subject line “Midwife Fiction”, you know that I was in! I am a bit of a natural birth junkie. I just love to hear how women learn to trust their bodies and how they discover their strength through childbirth. I actually visited my midwife just last week for my annual checkup and fell in love again with the entire practice. The old Victorian house, the cloth robe and cover, the corner of the exam room filled with toys for the kids, the comfy chairs I sat in while we chatted, with the sunlight streaming in the huge windows…So far removed from what I’ve heard about OB/GYN offices. I just love sharing the stories of my first natural birth and my second natural birth.

The mind-body connection espoused by midwifery is not so far removed from what we practice in yoga. The book that I was given a chance to read definitely delivered (if you will excuse the pun) on that reality. The book is called Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew (affiliate link) and it is about a young woman on her journey to become a midwife. She has built a safe, secure life for herself working in an administrative position at a hospital and one evening is called to assist in a birth. She accidentally ends up catching the baby and BAM! catches the midwifery bug. She will have to leave everything she knows: her job, her relationship, her state, and her security to train as a midwife, only to return to practice in a town where midwifery is only barely legal. Is that how this really happens? BAM!, just like that? To a woman who has never been a mother herself? I am not sure. I didn’t know much about birth, myself, until I read the book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy (affiliate link) almost 10 years ago. Shortly after, I also read Taking Charge Of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler (affiliate link). To say those two books shook up my idea of what my body was capable of and how our society has treated women would be an understatement. Some of these same injustices, mistrust, and misinformation are touched on in Hannah, Delivered. It is plausible that activism is a response to correct a wrong. But more importantly, Hannah’s journey to midwifery is a journey that has a goal of creating what is right: assisting women in the positive aspects of birth and allowing them to be free. The book is about how Hannah delivers herself from her old ideas of what she “should” be or isn’t, and allows herself to be born into what she is meant to be. She struggles with her place in the world as well as her own spirituality and the spirituality of her parents. It’s definitely not a Christian book, as the main character remains agnostic throughout the book. But I did not feel uncomfortable with it as a Christian, either. The Christ-followers in the book were presented in a positive and loving way.

The characters in the book were believable and I found myself caring what happened to them. There was enough of a twist for me to wonder what was going to happen, but enough of a reassurance that I didn’t feel the need to skip to the end to keep from getting anxious (not that I ever do that…) . I also found the end satisfying, unlike some of our recent Book Club books. I would happily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good fiction, whether or not you are a natural birth junkie.

Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

So if you’re getting ready to build your summer book list, add Hannah, Delivered — and let me know what you think!

My Self-Care List: suggestions needed

Drinking coffee & reading

This week, I was very inspired by this post by Green Moms Collective about self-care for moms. In the post, the writer encouraged us (even if we aren’t moms!) to make a list of things that make us feel renewed and happy, and even to write down how much time each of these activities take so that we can intentionally build them into our days. While this might sound unnecessarily detailed to some people, this approach sounds perfect for me! I loooove to multitask and I constantly have a list in my head and on my iPhone of various tasks that I mentally (and physically) arrange and re-arrange according to the length of time I have available and the length of time the task requires. So I thought I’d make a quick list of things I love to do and the amount of time I could allocate for them. Hopefully this will keep me accountable for actually taking breaks during the holiday season.

  • Read: magazine (like Green Child Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, or Shape) – 30 min
  • Read: book club book – 30 min
  • Read: other peoples’ blogs – 5-30 min
  • Read: bible/bible study – 30 min
  • Take a detox bath with epsom salt/baking soda – 20 min
  • Deep breathing – 1 min to 5 min
  • Take a nap – 25 min
  • Do a yoga vinyasa – 5-10 min
  • Entire yoga workout (Ashtanga series, from online instructor, or ad lib) – 20-45 min
  • Watch a TV something – 30 min
  • Drinking tea – 5 min
  • Eating something chocolate – 2 min

Well, that’s all that I could come up with off the top of my head, and I am realizing that unfortunately most of my “happy” things require at least 20-30 minutes. Which might explain why I never seem to have time to do what I enjoy. Who has 20-30 extra minutes?! Not me!

Now accepting ideas: things to add fun to the day that take less than 5 minutes?

Contentment vs Lack of Ambition

We’re reading Sheryl Sandberg’s inspiring book Lean In for book club this month. I know, I’m late to the party since I’ve actually already heard her speak at BlogHer 2013 in July. But I wanted to wait to read the whole book until I had the opportunity to discuss it with some really smart and thoughtful ladies in my neighborhood while drinking wine. I have found this book to be extremely balanced, and not at all about how we all need to be CEO’s or how women need to kick men’s butts in the workplace.

I particularly loved how she highlights that not all of us who are not CEO’s or even full time employees at the moment have made that choice due to lack of ambition. Sometimes it is because the way we are living our life right now is just right for us at this moment. This is a yoga principle as well — being content with where you are right now and accepting both your limitations and your current accomplishments.

"Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire." - Sheryl Sandberg

Changing Diapers: the end of my journey, the beginning of yours?

I reached a bittersweet milestone in my parenting journey in the last 2 weeks: I finally packed up all my cloth diapers! After consecutively and simultaneously cloth diapering two babies since 2009, it was my first time to start doing loads of tiny undies instead of cloth diapers.

Folding tiny undies
Folding tiny undies

I did, however, make sure to pack the cloth diapers safely after washing and stripping so they are more than ready for another baby that might come along…I am relatively sure that this is not the absolute end of my cloth diapering journey.

Storing cloth diapers for future baby
Storing cloth diapers for future baby?

As I look back on my time in the trenches of cloth diapering, I know that I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience. It was both harder and easier than I thought it would be. I never felt like the cloth diapers added more than I could handle to the challenges of raising two babies virtually at the same time, but there were also hiccups in leaking, washing, and repairing that I wouldn’t have envisioned when I started.

Out of all the advice I would give to parents who are looking into or just starting their cloth diapering journey, there is one resource that I would recommend above all others: a book by Kelly Wels, Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom’s Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering.

My #1 Recommendation for new cloth diapering parents: Changing Diapers by Kelly Wels

I received this book from Kelly after BlogHer 2011 and reviewed it here. I find it such a valuable resource that I still do not want to get rid of my copy. But, good news for all your cloth diapering parents: I received another copy this year as part of the EcoFab50 event in Chicago! Since hoarding two books is probably not cool, I am going to give away my second copy of this book to a family who is just at the beginning of their cloth diaper journey. It doesn’t have to be your first baby. You might have been cloth diapering for a few months and just now hit some snafus that this book can help you overcome (and it can!). Or you might be someone who works with young parents (a doula, a pregnancy resource worker, social worker, adoption advocate, etc.) who could give this to someone who needs it.

I’m going to run this contest for one week, ending Thursday, August 22.

In giveaway entry form, I’m asking newbies to share their #1 cloth diapering question and I’ll answer it. For those of you who are already on your cloth diapering journey, I want to know who you’re planning to give this book to!

 

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book tour: Early Childhood Activities For A Greener Earth

Patty Born SellyI am not an educator. Really, really not. But I do care about the wellbeing of our earth and I want to teach my children a sense of responsibility and love of nature so that they will also make conscientious choices in their lives. For those reasons, I am particularly excited to be included in the book tour for Patty Born Selly’s book Early Childhood Activities For A Greener Earth, a book that is full of green school activities for kids ages 3 through 8.

What the book is full of:

  • activities costing little to nothing
  • goals for each activity
  • National Science Education Standards
  • Fun!

The National Science Education Standards are important, I think, for people who homeschool. I do have to say that the it is an intensely educational book. There aren’t many pictures or illustrations. But that just leaves room for more activities! One of my favorite chapters is Chapter 4 “The Food We Eat”. I am excited to try some of the activities with Little Sir (3 years old) to help him learn to be a more adventurous eater.

As a little taste of what you might find in Patty Born Seller’s book, here is a sample!

10 Things To Do With Rocks

10 Things To Do With Rocks

We’ve got little rock piles in every room of this house. We can’t help it-I’ve always been a saver of rocks, and L is too. Everywhere we go, she and I are collecting them, absentmindedly putting them in our pockets and bringing them home.

We dug out the stash of rocks and the kids came up with some very creative ways of using them. In no particular order, here are 10 favorites:

10. Use them as trucks. Long, flat rocks became bulldozers. Small round ones were steamrollers. J even designated one to be a feller buncher, his all-time favorite truck. (um, whose child is this?)
9. Use them as blocks. They make fantastic building elements. We created a cave, some bridges, and a “garage.”
8. How many can you stack to make a tower? Which kinds of rocks work best for stacking?
7. Use them as characters in a puppet show. They all have distinct personalities, have you noticed? Is this a bit of a stretch for you? Pick up a rock and make it “talk” to your child. He or she will likely get the other rocks involved in the conversation and you’ll soon see each rock’s personality emerge.
6. Wash the rocks. You can do this in the sink, a pan of warm water, or better yet, the bath.
5. Paint them. An old favorite, this activity never gets old. Tempera paints are bright and bold, what effect can you get using watercolors? Or forget the paints, how about pastels? Crayons?
4. Paint with them. Instead of using brushes, use rocks. Dip them in paint, press them on paper, roll them around in a tray lined with paper.
3. Sort them. Let your children decide on the categories: size, shape, color. Where found, boy/girl (for some reason, in our house, rocks have gender) etc.
2. Hide them around the house. In our house, we never seem to tire of “hide-and-seek” games. The kids love it when I hide their stuff so they can search for it. Rock hunting inside is a new challenge.
1. Roll them around on various surfaces and compare what happens. Watch how they move, listen to the sounds that they make. This is especially fun if you’ve first dipped the rocks in paint. (see #5 above)

You can order Early Childhood Activities For A Greener Earth from the Redleaf publishers today for 30% off with the code GREENEREARTH now through June 30!

This post has been a part of the Children For A Greener Earth Blog Book Tour.

 

NOTE: I was given a promotional copy of the book to review, but all opinions are my own.