Tag: Birth

Part of Being Human

Part of Being Human

My second grandbaby was born just after midnight on summer solstice – the day with the most sunlight. Something in me knew he would be a solstice baby, though it was down to the wire!

In the weeks leading to his birth, extended family life felt chaotic and heavy. I thought to myself how nice it would be to have a summer solstice baby – maximum light!

There was one day when I became like a mama bear wanting to protect my daughter in an absurd situation in which her and the baby’s needs were not being considered by the powers-that-be. It was a time meant for resting and nesting, not stressing and scrambling.

I was greatly concerned about this and became a roaring mama bear because I understood how maternal stress can affect labor and neonatal outcomes. However, voicing my concerns only added to her stress and wouldn’t change anything, so I learned to keep them to myself and generated a list of equanimity mantras (culled from sources including Sharon Salzberg and Hazrat Inayat Khan) – acknowledgments that I am not in control here, including:

  • I wish you happiness and peace but cannot make your choices for you.
  • Your happiness and suffering depend on your actions and thoughts, and not my wishes for you.
  • I do not know another person’s path or purpose, or what they need to experience. 
  • This, too, belongs.
  • May I stand through life as firm as a rock in the sea, undisturbed and unmoved by its ever-rising waves.
  • This is part of being human.
  • May I find balance, equanimity, and peace amidst it all.

Byron Katie teaches that there are three kinds of business: mine, yours, and God’s. I realized “my business” was how to relate to the reality of the situation in a way that deepens presence and peace rather than suffering.

It began to look like my daughter was trending toward pre-eclampsia, so an induction was scheduled. Given the situation, pre-eclampsia wasn’t a surprising development.

* * * * * *

It had been decided from the start that I would assist my daughter during labor (along with her fiancé), just as I did when her first child was born. A proponent of midwifery and “natural childbirth” (which I experienced twice – once right at home), I was aware of the chain of interventions that medically induced labor could lead to. But when she was being monitored for pre-eclampsia, I surrendered to the process. This was unfamiliar territory.

I drive around with one of zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s calligraphies in my car. It reads: Breathe, my dear. At the last moment before locking my car in the hospital parking lot to join my daughter in the labor and delivery room, I noticed the calligraphy and put it in my bag. It ended up being the three words that would define the birth experience.

I probably should give a trigger warning before going on, for anyone who has had a traumatic birthing experience – for my grandson’s birth falls into that category.

As much as I relished the idea of a summer solstice grandchild, of course what you hope for most of all is a healthy baby. His birth was very scary because he wasn’t breathing when he came out. In all my years of living, the saddest sight I’ve ever seen was the look on my daughter’s face when we weren’t sure if he would survive. It was impressive how quickly a neonatal resuscitation team of about ten appeared in the room and surrounded him and went to work like a well-oiled machine.

The birdsong was beautiful and soothing when I got back home to the river shortly before sunrise. But the most beautiful and welcoming sound of all that day was my grandson’s first utterance and then a soft, newborn cry. 

In those tense moments before hearing those longed-for sounds, my heart walked through a new door of compassion for all parents who’ve gone through this scenario and worse. My daughter’s face was a portal into that collective pain. Every hard thing we go through can serve to grow our compassion, insight, and resilience. It connects us.

It took seven minutes before my grandson was breathing on his own, and the lack of oxygen made his blood acidic, which created poisonous gas in his brain. So about two hours after coming into this world with a bang, he was transferred to NICU at a different hospital, to undergo cooling therapy and minimize the damage. I’d never heard of “cooling” before. It sounded serious and scary.

Leaving the hospital in the wee morning hours, I wished there was someone I could reach out to. I wanted to share what was going on – it felt too big to carry on my own. But my time zone was asleep. So I took refuge in my breath and a mantra:

This is how life is right now.
It is part of being human.

When I got back home, I went right to the riverside and lit a candle for my grandson’s good health and sent lots of prayers down the river (in the direction of the hospital) and into the sky. I sat there watching the dawn sky develop until the sun peeked over the trees across the river.

* * * * *

Our summer solstice sunshine baby had a traumatic birth. Birth is painful, uncomfortable, traumatic, unfamiliar even in better circumstances – and so the human conditioning begins. But what we don’t realize when we’re being born is how deeply we are loved, at the same time. May we arrive at that realization at some point in our lives and let go of the stories we created to make sense of this crazy world. We’re never alone, even when everything feels scary and strange.

Another thing I know is that when we are going through something scary, there are people praying for us and sending wishes for our well-being. Because when I felt the pain of parents who’ve gone through this nightmare and worse, that’s what I did as I sat there holding my daughter’s hand. There are people in this world who send out prayers and healing energy like that, and we can know that and receive it – dip our cup into the stream and drink – and not feel alone.

I also reminded myself that I don’t know what any soul comes here to experience and learn. I don’t know their path or purpose. We often learn and grow the most from what hurts, if we allow it to open us – like labor contractions open the cervix. At first, I didn’t even know exactly what to pray for. What do I have a right to ask for on behalf of another? So I started with, “Help!” And then it flowed from there.

May he be safe from inner and outer danger.
May he be protected.
May everyone taking care of him be guided to make the best decisions.
May he be well.
May his brain and body be healthy.
May he be surrounded by love and light.
May his parents be surrounded by love and light.
May their suffering be eased.

I had stayed up all night and didn’t have the energy to do Reiki. So I turned it over to a higher power – symbolized by the candle on the river. Again, the situation and its outcome was out of my hands. There wasn’t much I was able to do beyond finding the right prayers and taking the widest view I could.

* * * * *

I only managed to sleep for two hours on the longest day of the year. When I woke up, I noticed my mind searching for someone or something to blame. I realized this is why I was so mama-bear upset – because I knew my daughter’s stress level mattered. Also, had I not been so focused on pre-recording classes for the week so I wouldn’t lose out on income while assisting with the birth, might it have occurred to me to do some research on labor induction? Could I have uncovered information that could’ve better prepared us and made a difference?

But the truth was that there were so many different factors at play – and very often, we don’t have as much control as we’d like to believe we do. There are so many causes and conditions influencing this moment and what we do with it. So many factors coming to bear on the choices we believe we are solely responsible for.

In Byron Katie language, that’s “God’s business”. What if this is exactly how it had to be, for karmic reasons beyond our understanding?

It would be days before we’d have any answers, and I had a choice: My mind could keep flowing down those tributaries of blame, or I could allow myself to stay here in the present with the reality of what it’s like in this moment and that it’s part of being human. And acknowledge that many other families around the world are in the same situation right now, waiting to learn more about their newborn’s brains and bodies.

I realized that the love we already feel towards our solstice baby is what will see us through whatever we face. Love is strong! It’s the unseen force that helps people get through situations that look overwhelming from the outside.

The next morning, I woke up feeling rested. I had the energy to send Reiki and practice surrendering to “what is”. I could celebrate my granddaughter’s last day of school and look for tiny moments of awe that Shauna Shapiro calls “glimmers”. I could put faith in the strength and resilience of each of us.

Whoever my grandson is, and whatever his capabilities will be, I was certain that this summer solstice sunshine baby would help us to grow our love and generate more light.

When I visited him in NICU, I did Reiki and whispered to him: You are enough exactly as you are, and you are loved beyond measure.

And, as if in response to those words, I landed in a moment of pure awe and tears. It was as if my words were caught like a ball and then thrown back to me so I could receive them, as well.

Has my heart ever radiated and received such love?

* * * * *

I joked with my daughter before she went into labor that some moms have a mini-me, but I have an anti-me. As much as I wanted to experience every contraction that led to birthing my children, she wasn’t keen at all on pain. Back when I was preparing to give birth for the first time, I remember my mother’s and grandmother’s horror upon hearing I intended to have a “natural”, unmedicated birth. They insisted that I had no idea how much it would hurt, and that there’s no need to suffer so much.

Yes, it did hurt and there were moments when I wished I could be anyone else in the room. But I am grateful for the experience working with the intense contractions. It prepared me for being a parent. Perhaps the hardest part of parenting is watching your children suffer. You can love them, but you can’t make their choices for them or control how the world treats them. And would we really wish for our children an easy life without suffering? How would they learn, grow, and evolve? How would they grow their compassion and wisdom?

And so we learn to breathe our way through whatever comes up.

* * * * * *

When crises arise, they make visible the invisible webs of connection and caring that we might otherwise be unaware of. Although our sunshine baby was sedated on top of a cooling blanket with lots of wires attached to him, unable to be picked up and held or breastfed, he had so much love and care around him. Could some part of him sense that? I prayed that he could.

Although it looked like he was a NICU baby hooked up to wires in a room full of sophisticated medical equipment, I saw him in a different way: surrounded by a bubble of light like Glinda and connected to innumerable lines of caring, including everyone who helped him to be born, to start breathing, and to undergo healing therapy; his parents and sisters and extended family; and many generous souls who are praying for him and making food or sending money to buy food, which none of us have time to make right now.

There is so much love and caring in this world, even when we feel all alone and believe that being human downright sucks. Yes, it’s painful at times, and there’s so much we’re not in control of. But there are so many who care and want to help.

Our webs of caring became visible, like those misty mornings when you can see the spiderwebs glistening with dewdrops, whereas normally you wouldn’t see them at all, because that’s just how it is.

Crises often reveal how much love we are surrounded by, and how good it feels to help and to be part of a caring network that is larger than ourselves. We need these lessons from time to time. Because we forget.

Times like this take us out of our usual routine of being so focused on work or what’s happening in the world, and things that are petty in the grand scheme – so we can remember what’s most important in these messy, human lives.

We need to wake up from the dreams we’re living on autopilot, and remember.

* * * * *

While visiting him in NICU, my granddaughter stood next to her brand new, tiny brother and sang, “You Are My Sunshine” while gazing down upon him.

Listening to her sing, I was certain that I’ve never felt so much love in my heart.

The next day, it occurred to me that the song is perfect for him because he’s a summer solstice sunshine baby. He is our sunshine!

* * * * *

Yesterday, he went through the process of being warmed up to a normal body temperature. It went well – no seizures or other incidents, thank goodness. His skin color blossomed. Best of all, his parents finally were able to hold him. When the sedation wore off, he opened his eyes and looked around his environment. He was able to experience warm and loving, skin-to-skin connection – one of the great joys of being human that releases the love hormone, oxytocin, which benefits breastfeeding. My daughter sent me a photo of the two of them gazing into each others’ eyes while he was nursing, and once again, I wondered if I’d ever felt such love and joy.

His MRI results today weren’t perfect, but they also weren’t bad, allaying our worst fears. It appears that any brain or neurological damage is likely to be mild at most. Time will tell.

There’s so much we don’t know, even when we like to convince ourselves that we do, to feel more in-control. We feel grateful and relieved and tired and so many other feelings, all at the same time at the end of this momentous week.

All I know for sure is that this moment is like this right now, and it’s part of being human. And that we’ve all learned something about love and fragility and hearts and brains and strength and community and interconnectedness. And that each of us – and that includes you, dear reader – is enough as we are and loved beyond measure. Even – and perhaps especially – when we feel most scared and alone.

* * * * *

Update: A week after entering this world with a bang, my grandson was cleared to go home. Test results were good. Only the MRI revealed some minor damage to the left side of his brain. Although we hoped for a perfect scan, this is as good as it could be otherwise. Once he gets a little older, he may experience some mild cognitive/motor skill issues, but as the neurologist said, nothing that would prevent him from being a major league pitcher if he wanted to be. There’s also a good chance that he will never experience any of those issues. It’s just a waiting game until he develops more.

For years, I’ve been saying that neuroplasticity is one of my very favorite words – such a hopeful word. This is more true now than ever!


© 2023 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

The Splendor of Newborns and Snowflakes

The Splendor of Newborns and Snowflakes

In the final weeks of my daughter’s pregnancy, she seemed delighted that I would wear three hats during her labor: mom, doula, and photographer. The morning after Ava was born, I was eager to return to the hospital. Although my role as doula was done, my role as photographer had only begun. By the time Ava was born, I was so sleep-deprived from three consecutive nights of compromised sleep that I forgot to play around with my camera settings and do what needed to be done in low light, handheld situations without flash. Now that I was rested and had my photographer wits about me again, I yearned for another chance! And of course, there is no joy like holding a newborn!

I was eager to photograph Ava before she left the hospital and became adorned with the fashionable layers of this world – clothing and props that would cover her essence and make her look more of this world than a sweet mystery just arrived from who-knows-where.

Before leaving, I glanced at the living room window and noticed snowflakes floating down so gracefully, glistening like diamonds. It reminded me of a tear that ran down Ava’s cheek soon after she was born. From a particular angle with the ambient lighting as it was, it looked like a silver river trickling down her cheek. That was my instant association when I noticed the snowflakes glistening so silvery and bright in the morning sunlight.

I went outside to head to the hospital, and when I got to my car noticed that the snowflakes landing on it were well defined. It was an ideal time to photograph snowflakes!

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I watched one snowflake fall from the sky and land on the frosted car window and wanted to photograph it instantly, before it was affected by its surroundings. When a snowflake comes in contact with other snowflakes or a surface kissed by warm sunlight, it quickly changes and loses its pure form. I wanted to photograph snowflakes right when they landed, before their lovely mandala essence dissolved.

And then I realized how extraordinary it was that this was happening when I was on my way to photograph a newborn baby. Could there be a more perfect visual analogy? Gazing into the windows of a newborn baby’s soul and observing the exquisite, six-pointed mandala pattern of a freshly fallen snowflake evoke a sense of awe and wonder. Both are sights to marvel at.

I had attempted to photograph snowflakes for the past two winters and never had such a rich opportunity. What a gift to wake up to such delightful snowflakes that morning! And what a gift to hold Ava and look into her eyes, which were like dark, infinite pools. Cradled in my arms, she looked around as if taking in the great mystery that surrounds her and wondering: Where am I? What am I? Meanwhile, I was beholding the great mystery I found in her eyes, wondering: Where did you come from?

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For a moment, I imagined her passing through a veil of forgetting before entering this world. But mostly, I surrendered to the mystery. Held it in my heart and let it fill me as I floated in the peaceful pools of her eyes.

And that’s why there’s no joy like holding a newborn.

(happy sigh)

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

Birth Stories

Birth Stories

Over the weekend and for the first time in my life, I had the privilege of being present for the duration of a labor that was not my own. After a marathon labor of nearly 60 hours, my daughter gave birth to 7 lb., 10 oz. Ava at 11:50am on Saturday, January 23. It was an awesome experience, and I am excited to share some magic moments and a few gems of life wisdom I unearthed in the course of witnessing and participating in the powerful process! Even if the topic of childbirth doesn’t interest you, I hope you will stay with me because the end is quite amazing – as in goosebumps.

It’s interesting: A while back, Jasmine asked family and friends to predict when Ava would be born. I predicted the 23rd. When her water broke in the wee morning hours of the 21st, I joked that the baby is so considerate and wants to come before the snowstorm that was forecasted for the weekend. When the sun rose outside the hospital room on the 22nd, Jazz was sitting on a birth ball managing contractions, and I thought, “Today’s the day!”

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But then I remembered it was the 22nd, and I knew today couldn’t possibly be the day because Ava’s birthday is the 23rd. It didn’t really have anything to do with my prediction at that point. It felt more like a well-established fact – as if we’d already celebrated birthdays with her, and her birthday was written on my calendar clear as day…and it was the 23rd. But how could that be? Labor couldn’t possibly last that long! Today was the day, right? It had to be. But no, it couldn’t be since her birthday was the 23rd! Anyway, it turns out my prediction and intuition were accurate, but I decided not to share my certainty with Jasmine until the day was done!

From the very beginning, Jasmine’s labor did not go according to expectations. Weeks ago, one of her midwives advised her to think of her birth plan as a wish list – for you cannot control the labor experience, only the way you respond to whatever cards nature deals. That turned out to be excellent, relevant advice – for labor and life in general!

Since her water broke ahead of time, labor needed to be encouraged to reduce the baby’s risk of infection. She was admitted to the hospital 17 hours later for a possible induction the following morning if contractions weren’t coming regularly at that point. By mid-afternoon, her cervix was still only 2cm dilated, which was unbearably discouraging after all that time and all those contractions. Although I’d long forgotten the physical pain of childbirth, I could feel her emotional pain completely because I experienced the same news during my own labor. The difference was that I wasn’t as exhausted as she was at that point and had the physical and mental strength (from my meditation practice?) and pain tolerance to continue focusing on one contraction at a time. I felt so powerless when she hit this wall and wished I could transfer the inner strength I found during my labors, to give her a boost! It took quite a while for her to get into hard, productive, “active” labor, and by that time she was exhausted from two sleepless nights, very anxious about the pain, and absolutely discouraged about her body’s ability to give birth naturally.

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She had approached labor aware of her low pain tolerance and expected she would need some pain relief. However, she was dead set against having an epidural because she had a great fear of any kind of needle going into her back. But it turned out that what she was most afraid of and determined to resist ended up being the saving grace that allowed her to relax, get some sleep, regain her strength, and ultimately push out her baby. It was inspiring to witness her being empowered by facing her fear! How often does fear cut us off from possibilities that might be exactly what we need to take us to the next level?

But Jasmine did not consent to an epidural right away. It took some time. Back when I was birthing my babies, I was committed to delivering “naturally” without any pain relief and even gave birth to my second child at home. However, even I hoped she would consider having an epidural, and it was because I knew Jazz and trusted her midwife, Lisa, implicitly. As Lisa explained the options and likely scenarios given her understanding of my daughter as a unique individual, she took on a transcendent glow as if she were an angel on earth. It’s as if the light was coming through her eyes and words, and her energy felt like pure love. Her message was: I believe in you. I believe in your body’s ability to do this. I believe in your ability to do what is right for you. Here is some information based on my extensive experience that I hope you will consider. And I believe in you. She didn’t push Jasmine into having an epidural. She shared information in a loving, patient manner then gave her time to decide what she wanted to do so she could have as much control as possible over her labor experience. In fact, it wasn’t until several hours later, after Lisa went off duty and Caren had taken over, that Jasmine opted for an epidural.

As I mentioned above, in the meantime when she was refusing the epidural, I felt powerless to help her push through her discouragement and exhaustion and had my own issues to face. It became clear to me that, as a helper, you can only do so much – especially if “doing” is focused on changing the person or situation. You can’t change others or do the work for them. They have to do it themselves. In addition, empathy can only go so far, and there comes a point when other tools become more useful. You become mindful of what is really needed in the situation and dig a little deeper in your toolbox. You let go of your desires and expectations for a person or situation to be different and trust the process. You discern when to step back and give someone a little space and when to lean in. It’s a lot like tending to a plant or garden. You have to work with what arises and know how much to water it when nature doesn’t deliver ideal circumstances.

So I learned something about myself in the role of helper or friend, and the shining midwife modeled so beautifully how to support and empower others without taking on responsibility that is rightfully theirs. It was something I needed to learn, which is why I believe she appeared so radiant to me. It was as if the Universe wanted me to take notice and really pay attention. (In the course of living our lives, I wonder how often we teach or give others what they are in need of, without even realizing it? How often do we act unwittingly as angels on earth?)

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The long, tumultuous labor also spoke to me of the value of surrounding yourself with an excellent, trusted support network you can rely on when times get tough, and you feel confused and discouraged. People who will be honest with you and support you in making healthy, productive choices. People who value your work and truly believe in you and your ability to rise to the task and accomplish your goals.

During her third trimester, Jasmine’s growing unease with her obstetrical practice and the hospital in which she’d have to deliver resulted in her reaching out (by expressing her feelings to me), connecting with the right person (whom I referred her to), and finding a midwife practice that was a perfect fit for her and allowed her to deliver at the hospital she preferred above the rest. Acting on her intuition, she drew the right people and resources into her life, and the journey unfolded from there. So when she went into labor, she was surrounded by caregivers whom she trusted completely, who understood, honored, and believed in her, affirmed her ability to give birth, and empowered her to own her experience.

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My favorite advice from the second midwife, Caren, is that we try out different positions and options and see what works. If something isn’t working, we try something else. You don’t stay stuck. You try all kinds of different things to see what works. If something works, you can go with it. But then you can try out something else, too. When something is not working for you or getting you where you want to go, don’t waste your time with it. Another nugget of life wisdom extracted from childbirth.

One night, I slept in the recliner next to my daughter’s bed, and it reminded me of being at my mom’s bedside when she was dying in a hospice house. It felt eerily similar. Once again, the door between worlds was swinging open, but instead of someone leaving, this time someone was entering. How refreshing to say hello instead of goodbye!

I’m saving the most incredible part for last. It happened a few minutes before Ava was born. During what would be the next to last contraction my daughter pushed through, I was holding up one of her legs while the baby’s father supported her other leg. All of a sudden, I felt my mom standing right behind me, as if she had her arms around my waist! Her presence was so strong that I even turned around to look behind me. Then I remembered that the psychic medium I saw in the spring said my mom was going to help the baby come into this world, from the other side. He said it was her spiritual mission! Shivers! So I focused on the warm light I felt coming from my mom’s presence and directed that energy to Jasmine. It seemed that doing this provided her with the extra oomph to push out Ava. The next contraction, I did it again, and Ava was born.

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But there’s more!

My dad showed up at the hospital a couple of hours later, and as we walked back out to our cars, he reminded me that my mom worked in that same maternity ward when she was a nursing student back when my children were young. I had completely forgotten that until he mentioned it. Then I remembered her talking about how much she loved her maternity nursing experiences. My guess is that if she had completed the nursing program, she would have wanted to be a maternity nurse.

Have you seen the movie, Field of Dreams? In the movie, there is an elderly physician, Doc Graham, who had dedicated his life to caring for people. But when he was younger, he wanted to be a baseball player. On the same day in his youth, he both made his major league debut and retired from professional baseball without having the opportunity to face a major league pitcher. He went on to pursue his medical career and earned respect and admiration from the whole community. After he died, he returned to the “field of dreams” and seized the opportunity he’d missed out on during his life.

Similar to Doc Graham, my mom didn’t finish her nursing degree and therefore never became a nurse, which was a lifelong dream. She chose to continue in her established career and after retiring kept her dream alive by becoming a hospital volunteer. Perhaps she was able to fulfill her dream of being a nurse when her granddaughter was delivering her great-granddaughter in a room in the same unit where she did her student nursing. Perhaps she was in the room helping Ava to be born, from the other side. It’s such a lovely thought that brings on shivers and tears when I contemplate it. Maybe she had her chance after all. I’d really like to think she did and that she is sharing our joy.

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Below is our first three-generation picture and my favorite picture of my daughter and me after she gave birth.

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Had this picture been taken about five years ago, it could have been a five-generation picture. But I imagine my mom peeking over my shoulder and my grandmother smiling over Jasmine’s. They remain with us even if we can’t see them – and my grandmother’s last name is now Ava’s middle name.

And so the circle of life cycles on.

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

Touching the Veil

Touching the Veil

This week, I did a photo shoot with my very pregnant daughter, whose baby girl is due on February 2. I envisioned photographing her in front of my dad’s living room windows with the afternoon sun shining through the sheer drapes. We stopped by his house after her midwife appointment, and he wasn’t home. So I transformed the living room into a photography studio, and we created some feminine magic. My dad returned home just as we were leaving, which made it feel like the photo shoot was timed perfectly and meant to be – just the two of us in our own private, sacred space.

Here are a couple of my favorite photos from our session:

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I envisioned all the images being black and white, but I loved how golden this one looked, so I left it in color (although it looks great in grayscale, as well):

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Isn’t she beautiful? A twenty-something vision of hopeful, glowing anticipation.

While the two photos above are my favorites, I found a third one compelling for different reasons.

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I love how one of her hands is touching her belly, and the other is touching the sheer curtain. It makes me think of a veil between our human world of physical form and the mysterious realm(s) beyond our understanding. Her daughter is less than three weeks away from passing through that veil, and when she is in labor, I plan to be (as she puts it) her doula, photographer, and mom.

About a year and a half ago, my mother passed through the veil as she slipped out of our world, and I assisted her, too – although she exited in the middle of the night when I was resting in another room. I think of how difficult it has been to adjust to life without her physical presence and how painful the grieving process has been. But the universe doesn’t just take away. It also gives back. And now we are awaiting the arrival of a baby! A new ray of light making its way to Earth. For the past year and a half, I have grieved the loss of my mother’s loving, nurturing presence in my life, and now it is time for me, the new family matriarch, to love and nurture a brand new generation. Rather than seeking love, I am undergoing an amazing process of becoming love as I prepare for this new role and imagine my mother and grandmother (who died six years ago) standing invisibly behind me.

The image of my daughter touching the sheer curtain that allows the light to pass through reminds me of an image I captured when my mother was less than three weeks away from slipping through the veil.

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This image was photographed in the same room as my daughter’s pregnancy photos, and I love how the light shines through so brightly. It is an image of my daughter playing “Hallelujah” on the piano for my mother on Mother’s Day. At the time, we didn’t know how much longer she would remain with us, but we knew it wouldn’t be long.

Similarly, I took the pictures of my daughter, not knowing how long it will be until she gives birth. But it won’t be long. veilcollage

There’s another element in the images that is worth contemplating: They both take place in the living room, which is the room (in my house) in which my most vivid dreams of my mother take place. I had one such dream last week, although I’m not sure it’s accurate to call it a dream because it took place within 15 minutes of getting into bed, and I don’t think I had fallen asleep yet but had drifted into a dreamy, in-between state. All of a sudden, I was downstairs in the living room and heard a knock on the window. It was nighttime. I looked out the window, and my mom was right outside. Her face was close to the window, and she looked just like she did when she was still healthy. I moved closer to the window and realized I could hear her voice. She was trying to tell me something. Then I noticed the window wasn’t all the way closed. It was open several inches so only the screen was between us, which made it easier to hear her. I leaned close to the window and asked, “Do you have a message for me?” At that point, it seemed she faded out, and I couldn’t hear her anymore. Then I woke up, feeling exhilarated because it seemed she really did just visit me.

Perhaps my mom doesn’t speak to me in dreams because I can hear her when I’m awake – but first she needed to get my attention when I was in a receptive state. I sensed that was the purpose of this dreamy visit, and I got up, intuitively knew what to do, sat quietly, and tuned in to hear what she had to say.

Whenever I’ve “dreamed” of my mom lately, it’s taken place in the living room. And there’s always some kind of barrier that she’s either on the other side of or passes through for a brief time before returning to wherever she came from. So the living room and the window that separates the living room from the world beyond is something I’m really drawn to in the images above. To see them together strikes me as greater than the sum of the parts. I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

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