Meet My Indiegogo Sponsors!

What really blows my mind about my Indiegogo campaign is all the incredible people who have rallied their support and volunteered to be sponsors. These generous individuals and businesses have donated their goods and services just because they believe in this film and the impact it will have on the world. Thanks to them, you have some amazing perks to choose from when donating to my campaign. You can visit the Empowered Birth Project campaign here to become a supporter. I created this blog post so you can see exactly what you will receive if you decide to purchase a perk. With no further ado, and in no particular order, here are my sponsors and the perks they have donated:

Katherine Farrar

katherinefarrar.myshopify.com

16x20" acrylic painting~ "Empowered"

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Homebirth Cesarean International

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Homebirth Cesarean eBook

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Behnaz Afrakhte, Occupational Therapist

b.afrakhte@gmail.com

Private infant massage class in Los Angeles

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behnaz

Processing Birth & Fear

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I was 12 when I was blessed with the opportunity to witness birth. We played board games, danced around the living room which was illuminated by candlelight, and ate spicy food as my sister gracefully brought new life into this world. It was calm, yet powerful beyond measures, and began to write my story for what birth looked like. There were no bright lights, no surgical tools in sight, no restrictive beds, or strangers wandering in and out of this sacred space. Simply an empowered woman allowing her innate compass to guide her. Since that day, I have witnessed many births, all different, yet all embodying this core essence of surrendering to the naturally wild woman that exists in us all. These experiences have set the precedence for what birth looks like in my mind.

When I went into labor, I felt anticipation, excitment, and carried not a drop of fear. I felt confident in my body's ability to bring this baby earthside, and was ready for the journey ahead. After 2 days of intensive labor, I remember breathing through every rush and telling myself I was one step closer to being able to get in the birthing tub. That was my light. That was my guiding beam that helped me navigate through days of back labor, water injections that offered no relief, and my husband falling asleep in the midst of my agony in these endless nights. When I was finally dilated enough to get in, I felt such a wave of relief, a moment of gratitude for not giving up. They took the lid off the tub, and to everyone's disbelief, the water had an orange hue to it. Our home was on well water, and sulfur & iron levels were commonly high where we lived. I looked to my midwife, my husband, my support team, and everyone's eyes told me the same thing. I would not be allowed to get in that water. There would be no water birth. My relief instantly faded, my light dimmed, and this may have been the beginning of the end.

As we entered day three, I was transported to the hospital. My water had broken 3 days prior, I had meconium present, my baby whom seemed to have been stuck for the past 3 days was making no further progress down my birth canal, heart rates were dropping, and while we didn't know it at the time, his cord was wrapped several times around his neck, making his passage that much more difficult. We all agreed it was time to reevaluate our birth plan, and make sure my baby and I came out of this together. I was grateful beyond words for the accessibility to the hospital when it was needed. While a cesarean was not in my birth plan, it saved both of our lives, and for this I am forever grateful.

While some relate to birth in hospitals, with the safety of doctors and trained specialists at your beck and call, my picture of birth had been imprinted with the comfort of your home, surrounded by a team that trusts in this natural process. I have witnessed birth in such an empowering light that when my own experience wavered from this vision, it felt like a devastating failure, rather than the beautiful experience it was, and still is. There was no dancing, no calm & centered breathing, no flickering candles, and no baby on my breast seeing my eyes and smelling my scent as he entered this world. There were bright lights, and doctors covered in blue robes. There were foreign hands cutting deep incisions through my body while my hands shook uncontrollably due to the anesthesia. My husband held me tightly to control the involuntary shaking, and while I felt no pain, I did feel everything. Rather than being brought straight to my chest, my child was removed from my safe and warm womb and transported to have tubes put down his throat. There was no bonding, no eye contact, and definitely no skin to skin. My soul ached of heartbreak and my spirit was flooded with defeat.

It has taken me years to heal. Physically, skin mends, scars form, and the power of my body to regenerate and transform comes with ease, but mentally, emotionally & spiritually, the essence of my core shifted & broke apart. The feelings of pain & defeat were all encompassing and the connection with my innate guide has taken a shift that is now only coming back into alignment. I have spent the last 4 years processing my sons birth and I now find myself carrying his birth story into this next, new journey. 35 weeks pregnant, I enter into this vulnerable space once again. How does one release fear? Once we have tasted it, how do you wash it from your lips? Can fear transform and transcend into empowerment? As I near this next birthing journey, I am finding my body and mind still holding onto my first experience, where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, so why would this experience be any different? There is potent energy, an existence that has taken root internally, that does not belong to this new child, and it must be released. But how do you sort what must live on inside, and what must find a safe passage out? I am allowing these feelings  to unfold and transpire, and further allowing myself to respond from my deepest integral nature, rather than from a place of the past, a place of fear.

With a little experience, and a great big handful of perspective, I am diving in with my heart wide open. I am surrendering to love, the power of birth, and the power of life, no matter what form this path may take me. My first journey taught me more than maybe all 27 preceding years of my life, and there is no doubt this second experience will open me to new truths, gifting me new wisdom along the way. I have learned that the only thing I truly have control over in birth is my mind. I have the choice to focus on the light, or the dark, and I choose the light.

(You can follow Tessa's journey on Instagram @lycheetherapeutics)

Pregnant Yogini Diaries

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23 Weeks Pregnant:  Today I want to thank to the heavens for my yoga practice, because what I have learned through this wonderful practice, is what has kept me motivated and strong. Before I got pregnant, I had this idea that my pregnancy was going to be something wonderful, easy and enjoyable; I mean, how could it not be? After all, I had worked so hard for it.  I followed all the guidelines you can possible think of,  and did everything I could to be “ready”; I had a very strong and consistent yoga practice that went along with a very healthy diet and lifestyle. Nothing could go wrong. Boy was I wrong! I should’ve known better.  Don Miguel Ruiz’s third agreement is “don’t make assumptions”, but my expectations were set up long before God finally gave me the wonderful gift to become a Mom.

As soon as week #5 hit, my motivation and strength went down the toilet, along with my breakfast, and most of the food I ate. Fruits and vegies were not an option anymore, because my body started to reject everything I used to love. The dizziness, headaches, vomiting, and fatigue got the best of me. I felt sick, weak, lazy and guilty. I was a yogi who could not longer do asana, and my breathing exercises were just not enough. Then, I founda new kind of motivation that helped me relieve my physical pain and even provided me with with happiness: Food. High calorie foods filled with lots of carbs. So that is what I have been doing. Eating to keep my body and soul happy and motivated. It may not sound like the best healthy choice for most of you, but it’s what has been working for me. Besides feeling tired, I don’t feel so sick anymore. Last time I checked I gained about 25 pounds, and that was about three weeks ago. Everyone keeps saying that I look too big to be 23 weeks pregnant. “Are you having twins?” “Oh look at that big belly, you must be about to pop out.” “Are you sure you are only 23 weeks pregnant?” and the best one “How come your belly is so big?” I discovered that pregnancies are just like our asanas, they are all different and what works for me, may not work for you; my pregnant body will not be able to do the things I used to dream of, but that doesn’t make me less of a yogi.  I can now go short walks and flow on my mat in a whole new different kind of way, and that is such a wonderful thing. This is my pregnancy journey, is very different than what I thought it would be, but I have learn to accept and embrace every single thing of it without any regrets. Because after all, I am just a yogi doing my very best.

25 Weeks Pregnant: 

Week 24 came and went relatively quickly; It was a tough week because I was traveling back from Colombia to my home in USA, and saying goodbye to my family and loved ones hasn’t always been an easy thing.  Thus, I was very wrong when I thought that our goodbyes were going to be the most difficult thing, about leaving my hometown.

Once in the airplane, a young lady came to me and asked me if I would change seats with her Mom, who was very sick and old, I couldn’t say no and so I agreed. Little did I know that my new seat was going to be right next to the emergency exit, which didn’t allow me to recline the chair, but I thought to myself “I am young and in good health, I can do this!” Six longest hours of my life. I managed to somehow sleep for hour and a half and if it weren’t for all the pranayama I did, I probably would have lost my mind. My body was retaining all the liquid and my hands and my feet got swollen.  I took my sandals off, and of course I ended up losing one of them.  The flight attendant very kindly offered to look for it once everybody was out of the plane, but there was no way on Earth I was going to wait for it to happen. I wanted out! Hence I only wore one sandal from the plane all the way to immigration, after I picked up my luggage. Hubby’s big hug of welcome made everything worth it. We got home and after a few hours with my feet up the wall, lots of water and a nap I was better.

I hit week 25 and to celebrate my husband invited me to go out, but I got very upset when I realized that the pregnancy dress I wanted to wear didn’t fit me anymore. I cried like a baby because I felt big, fat and ugly. He cooked and we stayed in for the night. A couple of days after, a weird pain in my pelvis made me stop my yoga practice. I was sitting down with my legs open, and my hands reaching forward, but something happened and I just couldn’t keep going, so I got up and went to sit down on the couch. After a couple hours I just couldn’t get up. It hurt, and it hurt so badly that I had to call hubby to take me to the Emergency room. It took us about 15 min to get from the door to the car, because lifting one foot away from the floor caused me an incredible amount of pain. I was sad, frustrated, scared and mostly, I was ashamed.

Ashamed of myself for crying and feeling depressed simply because a dress didn’t fit me. There I was, on my way to the hospital with an unbearable pain and praying that my baby was ok. Who cares about what I look like, or about all the extra pounds that my body is carrying now? When all it really matters is the life that is growing inside of me. During the 10 minute ride I thought about a lot. How many Moms have to spend their whole pregnancy on a bed in order to give birth? How many Moms don’t have it so easy and end up giving their own lives for their babies? How many Moms really hurt themselves and have to go through all the pain and grieving that losing a child can cause? Thankfully the doctor said that everything was ok.  I just pulled a few muscles in my pelvis; I needed to rest, put a lot of ice on it, and simply take it easy. After a couple days in bed, I can now walk slowly and without help. I am better, I am happier and I am trying to understand that everything I feel right now is just part of this beautiful gift of being pregnant.

(You can follow Vanessa's journey on Instagram @colombianyogi)

Of Life & Loss

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A week before I had found out I was pregnant, I was planning and attending the funeral of my fiancé Cody. Twelve days before that, on the day before our birthdays, we sat on a hospital bed holding hands, listening to a doctor tell him he had a brain tumour. Our lives stopped, work stopped, school stopped, we left our home and moved closer to the hospital Cody needed.

Cody was a strong, loving, stubborn man. We had a life planned, with dreams and achievements. But his body quickly deteriorated. Everyday was worse, he lost his sight, taste, most of his hearing. He was one day a construction worker, strong and able, to the next; using a walker, then wheel chair.

It was an unbelievable experience watching the person you believed in more than anything, who believed in you more than anything, die. It was a privilege to be the one by his side, to have a part in taking care of him and leaning over him while he was taking his last breaths, letting him know it was okay to let go.

When I found out I was pregnant, I didn't believe it. I actually took six pregnancy tests, lined them up on the counter and watched each one of them quickly turn positive. Part of me, a huge part of me, was in shock, the other piece of me that was left, set my heart on fire. The day before, I was driving in my car, alone for the first time since he died, crying and asking for direction. Begging to know why I was here and he wasn't, why I had to keep living. The next day I realized that I hadn't gotten my period at all..

I seriously thought to myself, is this something that I can do? Can I be a mother? Can I live beyond this? Can I create the life Cody and I wanted for our children? The answer in my heart was yes.

Although, I spend moments in days when I feel selfish for bringing our child into the world without Cody, pregnancy is the most wonderful thing I've yet to experience. I've never felt more beautiful, or whole, or connected to the big picture. I was born to be a mother, to be a sacred passage between worlds, to allow things to come into life, to be a safe space for life to leave, to live with one hand in this world and one hand in another.

In a circumstance that has disconnected me from what I thought my life was, has only given me experiences of grace. I yearned for higher consciousness, I yearned that my gratitude would provide me with a beautiful existence.. It did. I misunderstood what beauty and fairness was. What happened to Cody was fair, he was neither deserving or undeserving.   He acted with grace in taking charge of his life, and it was beautiful. I have witnessed death, I watched him leave. He said good bye, and did his best to take care of me before he left. Then he was gone. He left me here, with the biggest love I could have imagined. Now, I am witnessing the growth of a human being from almost nothing. I am moved deeply by the life that I get to experience.

{You can read more about Harlee-Jean's heartbreaking and inspiring story on her blog, harleejean2013.wordpress.com}