Showing posts from 2012

Working Meditation

I'm not sitting with a still body and mind.
I'm not walking a winding path, quieting the clamor in my head.
I'm working.

I'm standing outside at the door, waving in cars and walking women and their companions into the building. I'm chatting mindlessly, trying to give them something to hear and focus on, something to drown out the cries of, "They kill babies here!" I'm standing on the sidewalk, waiting.

Escorting at a local women's health center on the mornings they provide abortions is an exercise in living my personal values and religious principles.

I am not Buddhist, but many of the principles of Buddhism inform my personal, spiritual development, chief among them Mettā, or LovingKindness. There are seven principles of Unitarian Universalism, but the first two in particular have called to me, planted themselves deep in my mind, begging me to nurture and cultivate them.

I'm trying to shape myself into a person whose default setting is Mettā…

Validation Makes Hearts Happy

I feel like I've lost the blogging groove. It's not for lack of blog fodder; rather almost for an excess. I'm too busy actually living my life to write about it. But there have been no dearth of developments, the most recent and major being sending my 7-year-old to public school.

When you enter the system as former homeschoolers (technically I'm not a "former" homeschooler, since I'm homeschooling my 4-year-old in Kindergarten this year, but HE is a former homeschooler), you expect a certain amount of ... uncertainty from the system. You expect to be frowned upon for having bucked the system. You expect to be treated, maybe, as a little bit of a leper.

I'm pleased to say that has not been our experience in even the slightest of ways, and Q's school has been amazing at helping him with the transition, getting him services for his special needs, and keeping me in the loop as to the goings-on.

I got just such an updating phone call from the school so…


Jude (my 4-year-old) woke up twice last night, crying pitifully about a headache. After the second time, I pulled him into our bed, wrapped my arms around him, and kissed his head until he fell back asleep. As I lay there with his little arms clinging to me, I thought about how fast he's going to grow up. I thought about how awesome he is right now, and how I'm probably going to forget it all in the coming years, since I've sucked at blogging lately. Excuse the cell phone photography. The best camera is the one you have with you.

Jude... He's almost 5 now. He is athletic - tall and lanky, and busy busy busy. He loves to run, jump, somersault, and flip. He was running in a slalom pattern today, side to side while moving forward. It was pretty amazing, coordination-wise. When he does fall down, he's quick to jump up and say "I'm ok!" If he's ever not ok, kisses (especially from mom) are still the perfect remedy.

He's pretty much the sweetest per…

Surrounded by goodness

In the past five or so years, I've worked really hard to cultivate my network of friends and acquaintances, to rid myself of drama and emotional vampires, and to strengthen bonds with people who are kind, and who are real.

These past couple of months have brought home hard the success of that endeavor. For whatever reason, the people I know have been hit again and again with difficulties. From fellow surrogates dealing with early labor and other struggles, to illnesses of parents and children, to just plain postpartum fatigue, my friends have been struggling. But while that makes me shake my fist at the heavens and shout at the Universe, "C'MON, GIVE MY FRIENDS A BREAK," the thing that really gets me is the response from everyone else I know.

Every single time something bad has happened to one of my friends or acquaintences, someone else has come out of the woodwork to hold out a virtual contribution plate. And without fail, everyone else responds. My friends span the…

Baking Someone Else's Baby

One of the things "they" tell you to do when you're launching a photography business is to maintain a blog. But not just any blog. This blog should be 2 parts recent work and 1 part YOU (or some other magic combination, I guess). I've always kept blogs, but this is a little different for me, so bear with me!

Here's something cool about me you probably didn't know (unless you're reading because you already love me, in which case, HI MOM), and a big part of my love of all things birth: I'm a surrogate. I have a blog that's solely dedicated to my surrogacy experiences so far, and I'll keep the details there.

But surrogacy and why I do it are a big part of who I am. I carry babies that aren't genetically related to me for gay men (who are obviously without uteri). I've never had a lot of money to donate to causes that are meaningful to me, but I do have a lot of heart. And, well, a uterus. So, as my friend Kelly says, My Uterus is an Ally!

Self, Fear, Inspiration, a leap of faith

One of my favorite things about the photographers I admire is their ability to blog in their own voice. Maybe it's my background in journalism or my very Hermione-like desire to do everything just. so., but I always seem to sound a little pompous, a little forced, or just plain NOT ME when I write.

So forgive me, and don't believe a word of the tone. Just look over there at my pink hair. That's who I am. Fun, funky, silly, Mandie.

I spent a good part of today checking out photography web sites. I realized that a good number of the photographers I get most inspiration from are wedding photographers. I don't know if it's because wedding photography is The Place To Be, and so their voices are the loudest, or if it's some hidden part of my "I don't do weddings" photographic psyche that secretly longs to tell love stories along with birth stories, but is afraid.

I've worked hard to stop being afraid lately. I spent years avoiding the attempt to bec…

The Birth of Dylan Gray | Chicago birth photographer

On an early morning in May, I was fortunate enough to witness the birth of a beautiful baby girl. It's the first birth (other than my own) I've been present for, and it was awe-inspiring. I'm so grateful to Heather and Demian for asking me to be present for the birth of their daughter. If you're just here for the visual birth story, you can watch this slideshow and view more pictures here. Otherwise you can continue on first, and read the story of Dylan's birth as experienced by the photographer (with a few extra photos) before watching the video.

If you want to watch in fullscreen, click over to YouTube and select the HD format.

On Saturday night, Demian texted me around 6:00 to let me know Heather was having regular contractions and the doctor had asked them to come in to the hospital. Since she was planning to birth in the city, and since this was her fifth labor and delivery, I thought I should probably move quickly. I ran around gathering my things while waiti…

I *like* being unusual

I'm attending an intensive, week-long leadership conference next month, and as part of the training, we'll be studying up on the Meyers-Briggs personality typing system. The folks running the conference have sent out an official Meyers-Briggs test to all attendees, so that we can talk about our own types during the conference.

I'll admit it, I'm a little nervous.

I've never taken the official test before, but I have taken several adapted versions online, and though I've changed a lot over the past 10 years, my type according to these non-official tests has not. I'm INFJ, also known (in the Keirsey system) as a Counselor-Idealist.

INFJ is the rarest of the 16 possible personality types, and that's just the way I like it. On average, 1.5% of the population contains this unusual mix of introversion, intuition, feeling, and judgment. So when you tell me that no, I'm not special, I can say, "Screw you, I so totally am."

My concern here is that t…