Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Gift of Giving Life: Meet Sheridan

I've been having a good time reading through The Gift of Giving Life:  Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Childbirth, the new book by Austin, Axman, Farrell, Allgood, and Ripley.  I've read my share of birth books and info, but none yet have put such emphasis on including God in your birthing decisions -- from home births to C-sections.

The book includes many birth stories.  I've quite enjoyed reading them; I've never found so many all in one place (other than the Internet, but that's not bound in book form).  It's odd that half of humankind has the capacity to give birth, yet we often fail to share our birth stories.  Perhaps it's because it is so common; perhaps it's because it's so intimate.  Perhaps the Adversary makes us feel embarrassed about sharing, and then we forget the beauty of the process of life.  Then, he substitutes worldly beauty for the divine gift of life and women don't want to birth anymore.  Books like this can help us remember the beauty of pregnancy and birth.  We can remember what makes us different from men.

Anyway, in meeting and visiting with Robyn Allgood, I learned that I could "interview" Sheridan Ripley, one of the authors, for my stop on the Virtual Book Tour.  Sheridan is a mom of three and a doula.  She graduated from Vanderbilt University and served a mission to France.  She blogs at

Sheridan's contributions to the book include quite a bit on C-sections and VBACs, as she's experienced both.  She brings to light that even though a C-section isn't the most natural way to deliver a baby, it can still be a spiritual experience.  Although I've never had a C-section, I appreciated the insight; it made C-sections seem not quite so scary anymore.


Meet Sheridan

1.   Why did you want to produce a book like this? What need did you see was out there for a resource like this?

I will admit that while I had spiritual experiences related to my births, I didn’t really realize that this was a power that I could choose to harness.  For example, I had priesthood blessings in my first pregnancy because there were problems, but I don’t think I ever did with my other pregnancies or births (they were “normal”).  Also in reading some of the essays in our book, I realize I did have spiritual experiences, but didn’t recognize them as such.  It wasn’t even on my radar that pregnancy and birth should be spiritual.  I wish this book existed when I was pregnant.  I devoured probably over 100 pregnancy and birth books over the years and this information was not out there! 

After I became a Hypnobabies Childbirth Educator and hypno-doula and worked with more and more pregnant moms my eyes were opened!  I saw some women who really harnessed the power of the divine nature of pregnancy and birth and how their journeys were so special.  (Regardless of the birth they had.)  I started blogging and talking about it with moms, but realized that this was an aspect that needed to be shared on a bigger platform so more women could have the knowledge and tools to harness this power that God wants to share with us.  

The Gift of Giving Life does that. It gives moms information  through the essays and the stories demonstrate how women have used spirituality to navigate through this journey to motherhood. 

2.       How did you get involved with the group of ladies writing The Gift of Giving Life?

I read Felice’s blog, The Gift of Giving Life and was excited to see her desire to write a book about spirituality and birth.  That was a topic that I felt excited about.  I had actually had similar desires to write such a book.  I was in the process of writing a different book at the time.  The Top Three Tips to Enjoy Your Birth that I offer as a give away on my blog and it took SO much work that I said, “I will never write a book again!”  I think I may have contacted Felice in July 09, but energetically I was pretty closed off to being a part of another book at the time because I was overwhelmed with mine. 

Felice picked other contributors but once I was finished my book, I was sad that I wasn’t part of her project.  Then in June of 2010,  I was introduced to Felice via her friend Chelsea.  I shared my Power, Love and Sound Mind essay and she liked it.  So after rewriting it and making it “less bloggy” I had a section in the book.  We also met in person and I guess she liked me because by September she added me to the Google Group with the other contributors. 

It has been a lot of work, but so much easier than writing a book on my own.  We all have different strengths and we really take advantage of that.  We make a great team.  I feel so blessed to be a part of it.  It is funny that I have really only met Felice and Meleah in person, but feel like I know all the girls so well.  I am so excited to meet them all at the LDS Holistic Conference in June. 

3. Has being a part of this project changed you in any way? (I might just say, HOW has this project changed you?)

It has strengthened my testimony of how the Lord will guide us as we do His work.  I have felt the Lord guide me in my personal life many times, but to see him guide us as a group was SO impressive.    
 It has been truly amazing and humbling to see how the Lord has helped us every step of the way.  Individually as co-authors we would receive inspiration about directions in which the book should go.  For instance at first it was more of a Natural Childbirth Book.  I think that one reason the Lord guided me into the group was because I have had 3 very different births.  Interestingly, Robyn (another VBAC mom) joined the same time I did and I think we had the insight to help guide the group in a different direction, more inclusive of all birth types.  In the end our book covers ALL birth types and supports the idea that each individual mom can be guided to what the best birth for her and her baby is. 

 Another way it has changed me is that now I want to experience a pregnancy/birth journey in a spiritual way.  I have always wanted another baby, but thought my husband was really “done”.  The section on Personal Revelation in the book had a huge impact on my being more open with him about my feelings and our fears.  Recently I have begun blogging about how we are preparing to have another baby, if it is meant to be.   If we do have another baby, it will definitely be because of the involvement I had in this book.  What bigger or better change could there be then a new baby?


Robyn said...

Sheridan, it was so fun to learn more about you. I look forward to our meeting in June!

Enjoy Birth said...

Thanks for interviewing me. I'm glad you are enjoying the book and all the birth stories. :)

Rachel Keppner said...

It's so refreshing to hear about this approach to birth, instead of just starting another Mommy War about how and where we give birth.

I love it!

(From a mom of 11 who done pretty much everything except had a C-Section.)

Thank you!
~Mama Rachel

Emily said...

Holy smokes, Rachel! You're THE woman!