Rebirth

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Mamalode, Parenting, Pregnancy

All good stories start with water. With a flow, a rush, a release. So did you.  You were made on the sea, in nights full of stars and gently rocking boats. You were made when laughter was simple, and music echoed through it all. 

Here is what I want you to know:

There will be laughter and music and light and love. And there will be storms and pests and trials and droughts. Nothing is perfect. Plans change. Life happens when you’re not looking. Read the rest here.

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A galaxy of calm in the space between contractions.

The Space Between Contractions

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Mamalode, Pregnancy
I want to tell you about the calm in the center of a storm. About a timeless place of softly swirling nothing. About drifting weightless across eons that span mere moments. About a galaxy inside of each of us that is filled with peace and trust and so much depth.
This is the space between contractions. It’s Nirvana, I think.  Read more here.*
*This story appears in Mamalode, where I get a few nickels for each view.  Thanks for supporting my writing!

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Meet Talon Randall Roberts

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in Parenting, Pregnancy, Reflections on Life

Talon Randall Roberts reached into the world with a hand wide open, ready to catch his parents’ hearts.  Our little dude arrived on August 14th at 12:44 pm,  weighing in at 6.9 lbs and 19.5 inches long after a 12-hour labor at the Missoula Birth Center.  Although his passport won’t show it, Talon has already visited Tonga, New Zealand, Thailand, Myanmar and several choice spots in the Pacific Northwest.  Check him out:IMG_1034

Day 3: Talon’s first visit to Rattlesnake Creek.
IMG_1023 (2)Day 1: Being born ain’t no picnic.IMG_1047 Day 6: Still a tiny peanut.IMG_1036

Day 4: Just chillin’.IMG_1042Day 7: A week-old birthday party with his new friends, Everett and Dawson.
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A lot of sleeping to celebrate their first play date.IMG_1044The carseat that swallows Mr. T.IMG_1022 Day 2: Daddy is comfy.IMG_1026 Day 2: Figuring life out.IMG_1032Day 3: Welcome to Montana, kiddo.

Belly Love – Photo Montage of the Baby Bump by a Creek

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Pregnancy

Uncertain abundance.  The phrase kept repeating itself in the cobwebs between sleep and wake last night.  It captures our summer so aptly: ripe and potent, tenuous and vague.  Sands shifting beneath our feet.  Waves of love lapping at our toes.

Uncertain abundance.  This last month of pregnancy is ringed with the unknown.  The baby could come today, tomorrow, in three weeks.  His eyes and ears and fingers and toes will uncover us in ways we can’t yet understand.

Uncertain abundance.  A belly rising above the water.  A baby in a garden of glacial rocks.  A mound of life growing near trees, mountains, and green streams.

Photos taken by Rob Roberts at Rattlesnake Creek in Missoula.IMG_4289 (2)

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practicing yoga while pregnant feels good

Yoga + Pregnancy = Do What Feels Good.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness, Pregnancy

I recently ran into a friend and blog reader in downtown Missoula. She asked if I would write a post on how it feels to practice yoga while pregnant. This one’s for you, Wendy!

One of my first questions after learning I was pregnant was whether I could still practice yoga safely. I’ve been doing yoga for over 15 years. Yoga keeps me sane, balanced and happy. These seemed like uber-important qualities to maintain in the face of rampant hormonal shifts and a major upcoming lifestyle shift. But I was worried that I might be relegated to a few boring poses instead of my usual vinyasa practice.

Since I was living in the Kingdom of Tonga at the time, Google was my main source for answers, along with emails to a few fellow yogis who’d gone through a pregnancy. Here’s what I learned: no one agrees on the “dos” or “don’ts” for how to practice yoga when you’re knocked up. Every question yielded 10 different answers.

Sure, there’s tons of information cautioning against twists and inversions, especially during the sensitive first trimester. And plenty of websites offer opinions about the best poses to open hips and prepare your pelvis to push through a very (repeat: very) large object. Every individual body responds differently to each asana. Every pregnancy is unique. Hence, it makes sense to find conflicting stories and advice on prenatal yoga.

After hours and hours of research, nine months of practicing, and three months of teaching yoga while pregnant here’s my takeaway formula: yoga + pregnancy = do what feels good. Or, even more simply, don’t do things that feel bad. Your body and your instincts are your best guide, and they’re not shy about shouting out when something is amiss. So, I listened carefully and kept experimenting to find out what felt best to me.

Downward dog while 8 months pregnant teaching yoga at the peak fitness.
Downward dog while teaching a vinyasa class at Peak Fitness in Missoula.

My practice has changed as continuously and as rapidly as my body has over the past nine months. The only constant is that yoga always makes me feel better, whether I squeeze in ten minutes of floor poses before bed or a full 90-minute vinyasa session. Each time a new pregnancy-related complaint surfaced – sciatica, rib pain, pressure on my pubic bone, cankles the size of wiener dogs – I could find yoga poses to ease the symptoms.

In short, I can’t imagine not doing yoga while pregnant. My cankles would probably be as big as labradors, and I’m pretty sure my moods would be as fierce as a pit bull’s. Here’s a brief recap on what has felt good to me while practicing yoga as a prego, given with the caveat that, again, every body is different:

FIRST TRIMESTER

  • Slow down any transitions to standing, especially during sun salutations, to avoid dizziness.
  • Try to twist only from the bra strap rather than the tailbone: keep your belly pointed forward.
  • Warrior poses – hell, all lunges and squats – feel awesome, and help keep your foundation strong for the weight gain to come.
  • Spend lots of time in savasana.

SECOND TRIMESTER

  • Almost everything feels good.
  • Do several cat/cow stretches and tabletop extensions (opposite arm and leg reaching long while on all-fours) in the morning and evening.
  • As the belly gets bigger, modify upward dog, child’s pose, standing forward bend and other poses to make room for the growing baby bump.
  • Balancing poses (like tree and dancer) keep hips strong and pelvis centered, which counteracts sciatica pain.

THIRD TRIMESTER

  • Keep doing planks and sideplanks to maintain internal ab strength, but be careful of overdoing core-reliant poses.
  • Wide-legged downward dog feels like heaven.
  • Pigeon pose, straddle stretches, and goddess pose open the hips.
  • Be careful of loosey-goosey ligaments and joints: don’t stay in a stretch too long.
  • Try a supported bound-angle pose or feet-up-the-wall pose when you’re belly is too heavy for lying flat in savasana.

 

mamalode article on pregnancy by brianna randall

The Universal is the Most Personal

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Kick and squirm. Jostle and poke. Nudge. Nudge. Hiccup. Flip.

Someone else is sharing my inner space: my breath, my blood, my body. He has his own routine, his own rhythm. He tickles and gulps and listens and sucks. I can’t see any of it with my eyes, but I can see all of it with my heart. He is my new best bud, my sidekick on errands around town, my dance partner, my silent confidant, my spooner who cuddles inside of me at night.

I am growing a person, a son. It feels like being in love for the first time—that rapturous certainty that no one else has felt this much joy or this much apprehension. It feels like those flying dreams when you leap off the ground to hover, sometimes soaring and sometimes plummeting. It feels like I have an entire universe orbiting behind my belly button.   Read more here.

This article appears in Mamalode.  Thanks for clicking over to read my story, as I get a few dimes per view.

beargrass in montana wilderness

Beauty Has a Bite – Walking Into Nettles

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Pregnancy, Reflections on Life

Sometimes you walk through the wildflowers and straight into stinging nettles. I did it this weekend. I never looked down at the path below, focusing instead on the creek ahead. My inner thighs tingled for hours, pinpricks reminding me that beauty has a bite.

Rob tells me that maybe I shouldn’t write about the depressing parts. That no one wants to read woe-is-me shit. I get that, and agreed. But then I didn’t have anything I felt like writing about for the past two weeks. Nothing seemed as relevant, as prescient, as the bite lurking in the flowers. So I reneged. I write for the release and the uncovering. For the process and the parting. No one pays me for this blog, no one dictates deadlines and content — that’s the rest of my writing. This is real. The real me, right now, who wants to write about the nettle pricks.

indian paintbrush montana wildflower

The road is winding closer to the next stream. Five weeks and a wee person pops out, ready or not. I feel not more than ready. Maybe it’s understandable when you consider that this is the only irrevocable choice I’ve ever made. You can give away plants, sell a house, loan out your pets. You can’t not be a mother once you’ve grown a baby inside of you. That’s terrifying. No outs. No timeouts. No “I changed my mind.”

I am grateful to have more wildflowers than nettles in my life. Truly. What a wimp, I tell myself, to whimper over a bit of sting after a truckload of laughter and light. That’s not me. I don’t whimper.

What I’m really scared of, though, is the big ghost nettle lurking in the wildflowers of upcoming parenthood. How can we hold on to that laughter and light during 3am feedings? When the baby cries uncontrollably and inexplicably? When we’re tired to the bone in the dark and the horizon seems so very far away?

Then I remind myself that all I have to do is just try, with an open mind and a clear heart and legs stinging with the reminder that nettles nestle in the flowers. But they won’t kill me — just help me appreciate the space between the stings more gracefully and more genuinely. Just nudge me into looking at the path I am on instead of all the possibilities ahead. This is the path we chose. It will be beautiful, even when it bites.camping pregnant big belly and big pine tree

pregnancy - 7 month bump - on the horizon line blog - brianna randall - can you put a baby in a drawer?

Can you keep a baby in a drawer?

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Pregnancy

Drawing the line between what’s important and what’s irrelevant

It’s starting to sink in that pregnancy actually ends with a new person in our lives. And that the new little human is gonna need some things. This is a frustrating realization when accumulating things is a source of anxiety for two people who had very few things for a very long time. I denied it for as long as possible. I ignored the friends who told me to “never say no” when a mom offered me hand-me-downs. I pretended we would be those people who only needed a sling and some diapers. I convinced myself that we could keep the baby in a padded drawer and wrap him in Rob’s old t-shirts. I watched moms in Myanmar do just that with their babies – well, minus Rob’s shirts. Babies in Polynesia and Southeast Asia didn’t have copious gear. Or any gear, really. And there were plenty of healthy older kids running around, no worse for wear after forsaking vibrating chairs, Baby Bjorns, bouncy swings or embroidered onesies in their infancy.Bri with Shan family in Myanmar village - Brianna and Rob - On the Horizon Line Travel Blog I know, rationally, that our baby only needs us and some breast milk to get by. But after living in the States again for a couple of months, I’ve realized that Rob and I probably need a little more to survive his infancy. So I’ve stopped saying “no, thanks” to all the first-world gear that makes new parents’ lives easier. The problem is that I don’t know how to close the Pandora’s Box now that it’s open. Do we really need 4 hats for little dude? 12 puzzles? 6 stuffed bears? Boxes of toys and baby clothes have started to appear on our front step, generous gifts from friends. But instead of sorting through it, I’m paralyzed by dreams of being buried alive in an avalanche of baby gear, tiny mismatched booties choking me as I tread water in a sea of noisy plastic gadgets. I’m overreacting. It’s true. But I want to know how to draw the line between necessity and frivolity. Between what’s important and what’s irrelevant. These are lines that extend beyond baby gear, obviously. In fact, perhaps our struggle with accepting baby things is simply a metaphor for our simultaneous struggle to settle back down after a year that changed everything. As I grow this baby, Rob and I are also growing our own identities to make sure they include who we were before we left as well as who we are after traveling. What do we choose to keep from past lives and adventures that’s important and what do we toss that’s irrelevant? Everything is about to change again. Two months from today (give or take), a new person enters our household. We probably need more than a drawer to help us help him. Any suggestions about (or donations of) essential baby-raising items would be much appreciated. And, of course, we always welcome discussions about the line between what’s necessary and what’s frivolous in everyday life. pregnancy - 7 month bump - on the horizon line blog - brianna randall

Bachelorette Party in Bend - On the Horizon Line Blog - brianna randall

Penis Paraphernalia and Pregnant Women

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Family and Friends, Pregnancy

Blow up dicks aren’t typically a decoration associated with pregnant women. Yet I recently found my 5-month pregnant self wading gleefully through cock-and-ball straws, shot skis filled with tequila, and naked hot-tubbers drinking sangria. Even more startling, the scene transpired only a few days after my re-entry to America after a year spent sailing abroad.

I parachuted back to the Pacific Northwest, landing straight into a full-scale bachelorette party for one of my best friends. We jammed 11 women – 3 of whom were pregnant – into a cabin near Bend, along with some stringed instruments, a stocked costume box, plenty of penis paraphernalia, and enough liquor to kill a couple of cows.

Sure, penis paraphernalia is one of the last things I’m craving midway though my second-trimester. But I’d been looking forward to this female festival for weeks, ever since I’d realized we could time our return to surprise my friend. The giggles and raunchy jokes were nectar for my estrogen-starved senses after spending 24/7 with only my husband.

Rob was chomping at the bit to see his boyfriends, too, ready to chainsaw some trees, traipse along streams, and make unwise, testosterone-based decisions. One of the main reasons we decided to put our travels on hiatus was because we missed our people. One year away from friends and family starts to leave a gap in your heart. My husband and I were both aching to fill the hole. I started closing that gap during the raucous weekend in Bend.

I danced and tossed rings at the blow-up dick with the best of ‘em. I mastered the two minute dip-in/dip-out of the hot tub. I matched the sangria drinkers glass for glass with soda water. I put on wigs and hoop skirts, and reminisced with the bride-to-be about past boyfriends. I stayed up way past my usual bedtime.

And when the partying got too intense, I retreated to a quieter corner with the other two pregnant friends to talk about stretch marks and labor positions over hot tea. It was the first time I got to share revelations about growing a person inside of me with other pregnant women. A special treat, in this unlikely setting.

The penis-paraphernalia girl party eased my transition back into “real life” here in the States. It was the perfect mix of old jokes and new adventures, favorite costumes and changing bodies. I’ll be as big as a house when we all reconnect at the wedding in July. Meanwhile, Rob and I are ready to leap into the next trimester – and the next adventure – here in Montana, fortified by the friendships we missed while away.

Pregnant ladies at a bachelorette party in Bend - On the Horizon Line Blog - Brianna Randall

Trekking in Myanmar - Rob deflated with a flat tire on our scooter after a long journey - On the Horizon Line travel blog.

Turning Towards Home: Trekking in Myanmar Part Two

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in Outdoor Adventures, Pregnancy, Traveling

“Yesterday, there was a war here,” said Romeo, our Burmese trekking guide. He was holding a hand-drawn map, and pointing to the spot where we were about to embark on a 3-day hike through northeastern Myanmar. 

“Wait, what?” I said. “A war? What do you mean, ‘war’?” I asked half in fear, half in confusion. Just a minor shooting, he reassured me. Nothing to worry about. The Shan rebels have been fighting for their own independent state for decades. The recent escalation in fighting was part of a long-running cycle of give and take between ethnic minorities and the national army.

“They won’t hurt foreigners,” Romeo said. Then he turned to Rob: “But you must be alert as you drive the scooter on the highway. The Burmese special forces have road blockades set up.”

Rob and I exchanged glances, and then had a brief huddle. We decided to go ahead with our trek. After a 10-hour train ride from Mandalay the day before and hours of research into the best hikes in Myanmar, we were anxious to get up in the mountains.

Luckily, the mountains turned out to be just what we needed. The first two days and two nights were exactly what we’d been searching for in Southeast Asia: quiet forests, new cultures, and a chance to use our feet after a year floating on the sea. Rob and I were enjoying ourselves more fully than we had for weeks. We were chilled out. At peace. Finally in the moment instead of obsessing over what’s next.

Trekking in Myanmar - Burmese guide looking over tea villages - On the Horizon Line travel blog.

But then Myanmar’s mountains kicked us in the butt. And stepped on our toes for good measure. The third morning, in the tiny village of Bong Lon, Rob woke up sick. Really sick.

I did some mental calculations: we were a 5 hour hike from the two old scooters that carried us and our two guides into the mountains. The scooters were parked in a village that required a two-hour ride over rocky, dirt roads to the nearest podunk town, which was a 10-hour train ride from the city, which was a two-hour plane flight from trustworthy health care across the border in Thailand.

But I didn’t panic. I simply rubbed Rob’s back when he returned from his fourth trip before breakfast to the hole in the ground that counted as the ‘toilet.’ I made sure he ate a few forkfuls of rice, filled our water bottles and packed our things.

I didn’t freak out when he made a dozen more trips into the woods, squatting behind tea trees and losing precious fluids. I started to get worried, though, when I came upon Rob sprawled out on the dusty trail, pale as a sheet, lying flat on his back in the sun because he was too sick to move. But I just put on his backpack and helped him to his feet – there simply wasn’t anything else to do but keep going.

I remained calm when we finally mounted the tiny, old scooters, even though I had butterflies in my pregnant belly at the thought of riding behind a driver who was not my husband. Rob slumped weakly behind the 15-year-old Burmese kid who couldn’t speak English, too incapacitated to drive himself. As we started down the worst road I’ve ever seen, it felt like taking a skinny-tired road bike down a boulder-strewn riverbed.

I barely even screamed as our scooter crashed into a particularly large rock and we went flying dangerously close to the edge of a drop-off. The back brake ripped off, but we escaped with only bruises on our legs. Still keeping it together, I ran down the hill to stop Rob and his driver.

I didn’t panic when I saw the Burmese soldier patrolling the road just in front of me, his AK-47 rifle prominently in tow. Instead, I sent up a brief prayer that no rebels were lurking nearby, waiting to start another “war” while we were caught like lame ducks in the middle.

I breathed a sigh of relief when Rob recuperated enough to drive the non-broken scooter down the mountain, and we left our guides behind. I even refrained from backseat driving as I clung to the tiny bar on the back of the scooter, shifting the heavy pack on my shoulders as we skidded over holes and boulders, inches from cows, drop-offs and passing tractors.

I held a handkerchief to my nose when we walked the scooter through roadside construction complete with barrels of boiling oil and rock-crushing machines spewing gravel at us. See, Bri, life could be worse, I told myself, as we passed women and children working to build the road, scrounging to survive in an arid and unforgiving land.

I didn’t curse when we got a flat tire a mere two kilometers from the only hotel in town, after surviving the harrowing mountainside scooter ride. In fact, I even laughed at the irony of the situation, and took a picture of Rob slumped, defeated, in the dust, while a Burmese mechanic changed our tire for 50 cents.

We made it to the hotel. Rob ran for the bathroom while I haggled over a suitable room.

I still didn’t freak out when I found the bags we’d stowed strewn across the hotel’s storage room. Or when I found our prized possession – the beat-up Panamanian guitar – being played by a lounging hotel staff member. I just snatched the guitar away, and marched off to our room to dose my wilted, feverish husband with Immodium and Cipro.

But then. Oh, but then. I lost it because of a shitty shower. After Rob fell asleep, I stepped in to wash off the days of dust and grime and who-knows-what germs. To sluice away the day’s trials in hard-earned hot water. But the shower didn’t spray down on me. It didn’t even drip down on me. It just sprayed sideways, on the toilet and the sink and the window. That’s when I finally cried.

Still dirty, I dragged myself to the bed and stared out the window, trying to sort through what we should do next. As I pondered, it snapped. TWANG!

Not my brain, not my body, not Rob’s bones. A guitar string. TWANG!

We hadn’t broken a string in 6,000 miles of sailing the Pacific Ocean. After driving 800 kilometers with the guitar precariously strapped to the back of a motorcycle. During thousands of songs performed for strangers on foreign streets around the world.

But the guitar string snapped in that moment, all by itself, sitting in the corner of a hotel in Myanmar. To me, that snapped string represented our travel karma. It had reached the breaking point after so many good memories and too many near-misses.

I looked at the calendar, and realized it was exactly one year to the day that we had closed the door on our life in Montana, walking away from our home to begin this adventure. Ironic? Or cosmic? Either way, I didn’t need another sign.

When Rob woke up, his fever down and slightly more coherent, he asked what I thought we should do. “Go home,” I said immediately, assuredly. “Let’s just go home.”

“I’m certainly not going to argue with you,” he replied with the ghost of a grin.

It took us four days and four nights to travel from Bong Lon to Bellingham. Why Bellingham? Because it seemed fitting to end our year-long adventure with the same friends we began this journey with last spring. After two buses, two taxis, three flights, and an arc from Dubai across the North Pole, we arrived on U.S. soil to find Mark and Katie waiting with open arms.

In the mountains of Myanmar, the universe told us it was time to start the next chapter. We listened. We were ready. We are home.

Trekking in Myanmar - Bri back on US soil - On the Horizon Line travel blog.

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