Leaps and Bounds

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This week, we’ve talked birthing babies, businesses and ideas. But we haven’t talked much about love. When Christina and I decided to explore birth in it’s many incarnations, I suggested the birth of a relationship. Equally as terrifying as birthing an idea, (though perhaps not a baby), the birth of a relationship is that moment when you both decide it’s something more. 

Before this moment, it’s all crumpled sheets, messy hair, 2 AM conversations, long drives to nowhere and hours staring into each other’s eyes. It’s magical and wonderful and uncomplicated and unknown. It’s the first honeymoon the two of you will ever take and the memory of it will always bring a smile to mind. But to me, none of this is the birth of the relationship. Birth, as we’ve learned this week, takes time, and work, and love. 

For Michael and I, the birth of our relationship was when I moved to Atlanta to be with him for a Summer. He was working at a theater there, performing Titus Andronicus and Midsummer Night’s Dream in rep. I was bored in Wales and totally in love. It seemed like it would be all Georgia peaches and reading Shakespeare in the shade.

But actually, it was hell. It was hot, we didn’t have a car, we didn’t have AC, I didn’t have a job and Michael hated his. We slept on a mattress on the floor. We hemorrhaged money. We got lost all the time. There were, literally, no peaches. (But we did read Shakespeare in the shade of Piedmont Park.)

Ask either of us about Atlanta and we will recall terrible car rentals, unfriendly bosses and excruciating heat. But we will also agree, Atlanta made us. It was difficult, but we stayed, we labored, and by the end of that Summer, there was no going back. There were no more questions. I knew I loved him. Even when all the lovely circumstances of college and New York were taken away. And I knew he loved me. Even when I freaked out at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car.  

Five years later, we both think of Atlanta as THE WORST CITY EVER (no offense Atlanta, this is purely circumstantial). But we’re so thankful to one and other for getting through it, for working on it, and for creating the incredible relationship we have today. 

A Brief History of An Incredible Woman

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Ina May Gaskin

Ina May Gaskin is the name to know when it comes to natural childbirth. Before Christina got pregnant, we discovered Ina May and fell in love with her Ted Talk, her documentary and her books. There’s a lot to learn from her incredible approach to childbirth, motherhood and being a woman! 

Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, PhD (Hon.) is the founder and director of The Farm Midwifery Center. Inspired by a difficult first -time hospital birth, other women’s stories and the book, “Childbirth Without Fear“, Ina May began her life’s work in the early 70’s. Her husband, Stephen Gaskin, founded the commune, The Farm in 1971 and it was there, that Ina May and the women around her began to learn midwifery. Over the years, Ina May has encouraged women to pull inspiration for childbirth practices from cultures outside the U.S.A. She encourages everything from sleeping to kissing during childbirth and she is credited with The Gaskin Maneuver — an obstetrics technique that reduces shoulder dystocia.

Today, Ina May continues to work at The Farm Midwifery Center and though she has never been formally trained as a midwife, she and her team of have handled over 3,000 healthy births. She is an advocate for women, fighting for their right to choose how they will have their children and encouraging them to go into childbirth unafraid. She believes deeply in  putting birth back in women’s hands and showing them their true power. 

She is the author of the seminal book, Spiritual Midwifery and she is the founder of the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, a national effort that works to draw attention to maternal death rates. She lectures on childbirth, midwifery and maternity care all over the world.  

“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”

This is our first installment of A Brief History of an Incredible Woman. Each week, we’ll share some facts about a woman we find inspiring, empowering or just damn awesome! We hope you’ll learn more about them and share their stories with others!

C+C 

 

if this finds you on the brink…

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We’re very excited to announce that Christina and her husband, Chris, birthed a beautiful boy, Oliver James Justiz Roush, just a few weeks ago. Christina shared her birth story on our blog this week – check it out here. (It’ll inspire, amaze and move you.)

As Christina neared her due date and welcomed Oliver into the world, our hearts and minds began to gravitate towards birth and all that it encompasses. There are many “births” we experience in our lives, some bigger than others, but all deeply important. After long conversations over tea (and breastfeeding breaks) we came to understand “birthing” as, “the moment you leap”. Whether you’re committing to a relationship, starting a new job, moving cities or expanding your family, birth is what happens after all of the talking and planning and dreaming is done. The birth of anything is rooted in reality and thus it is hard and exhausting, and incredibly beautiful.

Before we got Girl Gift Gather off the ground, we spent hours talking, writing, imagining, planning; an entire year of meetings and phone calls and mission statements. It was a beautiful time, full of big ideas and lofty plans. But nothing is quite like showing up for Girl Gift Gather every day: answering the emails, writing the blog posts, filming the episodes, hearing from you. Though we look on those days, drinking tea and hatching plans, with a bit of nostalgia, we know in our hearts that they are no match for the days spent making our dream a reality. And when we’re in the thick of it, and we’re feeling lost, the simple knowledge that this year, we took the leap and we survived, gets us to take the next step. 

So, if this week’s newsletter finds you on the brink, then this morning, with happy, fulfilled hearts, we encourage to go out there and take the leap yourselves!

Have a beautiful weekend!

C+C

p.s.

On the topic of birth, make sure to check out – Anne McClaine‘s, founder of MCMC Fragrances GIFT episode. She talks about the romantic nature of dreaming up your business, and the thrilling feeling of actually putting your product out there.

And baby makes three

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After 12 hard hours of labor, our son, Oliver James Justiz Roush was born into the water in our home at 10:32pm on 6/24/2014. He was welcomed by myself and my doula, midwife and incredible Husband. 

I wanted to share the all the details of my birth story with you, the ups and downs; the fears and triumphs. But after finishing it, just short of three typed pages filled with details that only I will find interesting when I reflect one day, long after the memories have faded into the day-in-and-out of raising a little man;  I’ll give you just the bullet points…

Did it hurt? Yup.

Did I beg for someone/anyone to make it stop? Yes.

Did I sing, scream, ohm, and pretend to be a bear to get through the contractions? You bet.

Did I think I could do it? Nope! Even in the very last moments I doubted my ability to birth my son, and announced this to everyone in the room.

But did I do it? Yes!

At one point I pleaded with the Goddesses; I made an incantation to every woman who ever gave birth in the entire history of the universe… PLEASE HELP ME! Only to be struck with the most intense contraction that I had had… Not so much what I had in mind at the time, but being on the other side, I now understand that it was indeed the only respectable response. You want our help, we will help you get this baby out. It’s what I would wish on any laboring women, productive strong contractions.

The instant I met my son for the first time was the most incredible moment of my life. After one final contraction, my midwife calmly told me to reach down and grab my baby. I did, we locked eyes, and I saw him… I really saw him. The little being that I had been carrying around, experiencing the strangeness and joy of pregnancy with; that I had just labored with. And there he was, wide-eyed and remarkably calm, looking right back at me.

I instinctively pulled him close to my chest, and I knew beyond knowing that I was forever changed. I love him in a way that is so completely different from how I have ever loved before: a heart-breaking love.

I heard a small inner voice say, Yes it is heartbreaking, just let it break your heart right open.

Bitch Fights and Healing Circles

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Last Saturday, we aired the final GIFT of the season! We’ve had a blast cooking, drinking, crafting and designing with some of Brooklyn’s finest makers. Over the next few months, we’ll be taking some time to plan and film our GATHER episodes.

Watching TV these days, you wouldn’t be amiss to assume that women cannot hang out in a group without a screaming match, gossip fest or “bitch fight” taking placeYou wouldn’t be crazy to think that women are their own worst enemies

— at the office, in the dating pool, on Twitter. But our experiences with women have been so vastly different, so wildly inspiring, that we felt it must be made a part of the larger dialogue.

In some ways, GATHER was the start of it all – it is the epitome of connecting women and sharing in their greatness.

The concept for GATHER, came after we began hosting monthly New Moon Ceremonies at The Girl Gift Gather Studio. What we saw conspire in this sacred space lit a fire within us. The gatherings started small, but quickly expanded to include friends of friends and then friends of friends of friends until we sat in a circle of diverse women: mothers, daughters, entrepreneurs, travelers, survivors, creators.Each woman with her own story, her own struggles, her own wisdom. 

We’ve seen women come together and commiserate, laugh, encourage, inspire and heal one and other simply by sharing their experiences.