Thursday, September 15, 2016

Our Birth Story: Luna Wild





During my pregnancy, people would say to me, "You're a yoga teacher, that baby will just pop right out of you!"  Every time, I would shake my head and laugh. 4 day-long labor. For some reason, that was stuck in my head. A few of my yogi friends recently had experienced 3 and 4 day long labors and I was convinced that mine would be a similar long, drawn out experience. I had come to terms with it and even had embraced it by convincing myself that this way, it would be long enough for my mom to catch a flight out from the East Coast and be there for the baby's arrival. Little did we know, this little babe had an agenda all of her own and would rock our world with her wild entrance.

Flash back a couple of months and Devin and I were deep into our Hypnobirthing classes. We chose this style because it encourages natural, peaceful birthing, free of medication and medical interventions, unless absolutely necessary. We worked with birth coaches and our beloved doula, Tema Mercado to visualize and mentally prepare ourselves for an unmedicated, all-natural water birth. That was my goal and in the weeks leading up to the end of July, I was meditating and breathing into this with every fiber of my being. I made sure to eat super healthy foods and practice yoga as much as possible to maintain my physical strength for such an undertaking. Everyone I sought advice from said plan for the worst and hope for the best, so that's exactly what we did. Here's a timeline of events leading up to the birth of our little mermaid, Luna Wild...

July 23: Our official due date! No signs of baby, just some general discomfort, so it was business as usual. I went for a swim in a friend's pool, then treated myself to a Prenatal Kundalini class where the instructor had us practice "breathing the baby down" and we belly danced with our eyes closed for 11 minutes. We chanted SA TA NA MA, a mantra for releasing limiting patterns of the subconscious to prepare for birth. It was definitely one of the most "hippie" things I participated in during my pregnancy but it turned out to be the most spiritually connected I ever felt to her on the inside. 

During the final meditation, the instructor asked us to listen to any messages the baby was trying to tell us. It sounded silly at first, but once I really tried to dial in and receive, I ended up having this beautiful conversation with Luna in which she said, "Mama, I need you to be three things for me. Be OPEN, STRONG, and LOVING." I have chills all over my body as I write this because that was such a profound, turning-point moment for me in my pregnancy where I, for the first time, really listened to her guidance and finally let her take the lead. Soon enough, she would become my biggest teacher and show me the way...

Later that night, we went out to dinner with friends and I made sure to order the super spicy pasta arrabiata and a glass of limoncello. My attempt at trying some Italian old wives tales to kick start this baby's descent. 

July 24: Still no baby.  Knowing that these are my last days to be completely selfish, I drove 30 minutes north to Encinitas to indulge and take one of my favorite classes of all time -- Bhakti Brunch at White Peacock Yoga. Audrey Sarquilla teaches this special class and it brings me to tears every time. I was craving the deep mind/body/soul connection and that's exactly what happened. My older sister Brandi came along for the ride because baby could arrive at any moment. Luckily, we made it through the entire 90 minute class and I left feeling so rejuvenated and ready for whatever the Universe wanted to send my way. 

Later that night, Devin and I went for our usual Sunday night beach walk and watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean with friends. As we walked back up the hill to my house, I felt my first big shooting sensation wrap around my back and travel up my belly. I never had Braxton Hicks or any discomfort like this at all during my pregnancy, so I knew right away something was happening. At around 9pm, I was feeling super uncomfortable so we called my doula Tema and she said to just relax and take a bath. Devin was hovering over me asking, "Are you in labor? Are you having contractions?" Being a first time newbie at this whole thing, I had no idea the difference between an intense cramp and a real contraction, so it was a little confusing and overwhelming. In the movies, I had always seen a big dramatic water breaking as the first tell-tale sign of being in labor. My water had not broken, so I figured it was just pre-labor and we needed to chill because this could last a while. 

Around 9:30pm, I crawled in the bath tub and my girlfriend Rozy came over to keep us company. Remembering what we had learned in class, we quickly downloaded the "Contraction Timer" app and started timing the contractions. (Side note: in Hypnobirthing, we call them waves or sensations over "contractions" but for the sake of keeping everyone on the same page, I'll go with contractions for this story).

You're supposed to head to the hospital (or already be there) when your contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting for 1 whole minute. At this point, they were anywhere between 15 and 5 minutes apart, lasting for about 30 seconds. I spent the next 2.5 hours in the bath tub going through my contractions with Rozy there rubbing my shoulders and holding me up, while Devin packed the hospital bag and got the car ready. 

At midnight, I got out of the tub and started bouncing on a giant exercise ball to relieve the immense pressure building around my tailbone. The contractions were now consistently 5 minutes apart, getting really close to a full minute in length and taking me out at the knees every time I tried to stand up. Then, out of nowhere, the contractions jumped to 2 minutes apart lasting for a full minute every time. Devin, Rozy and I all looked at each other wide-eyed and semi-freaking out, like OK it's game time! My doula was on speakerphone and urging us to get to the Birth Center ASAP otherwise we were about to have an accidental home birth. 

July 25: After what seemed like the longest, worst car ride of my life (picture Devin driving the fastest yet somehow the safest he's ever driven meanwhile I'm in the back seat screaming at the top of my lungs down the 5 South), we arrived at UCSD Birth Center at 1:45am. Seeing my doula's face in the parking lot was the biggest sense of relief I'd felt all night. Her strong, reassuring embrace, combined with Devin's supportive energy behind me -- I knew everything was going to be OK. 

As soon as we got checked into our birthing suite, the midwife came in and did my first pelvic exam. She happily reported, "You're 5 centimeters dialated! Congratualtions, you labored half way at home!" At that point, we were so excited to hear the progress we'd made, but also nervous of what's to come. To be completely honest, the next hour of my life was a blur. I was set up in this big, beautiful, sturdy 4 poster King sized bed where I alternated between clenching the headboard, laying on my side in fetal pose, moving into a table top position, occasional cat and cow poses, upright holding onto the bed frame, and eventually ended up on my back in a variation of happy baby pose. 

One hour after checking in, at 2:45am, the midwife came back in to check our progress and quickly blurted out, "You're 10 centimeters! The baby's head is right here, do you want to feel it?"  OMG. Words cannot describe the panic I felt at that moment. Everything had progressed so quickly and now the baby was actually coming! All I could think was, we were just watching sunset, just the two of us, like 5 hours ago, how did this happen so fast?!?! 

The midwife called her team of nurses in to quickly prep for a birth nobody was truly ready for. Looking back, I think me being a first time mom, they maybe thought I was exaggerating in describing the intensity of the contractions. Or maybe, from their experience, they thought I would get "stuck" somewhere between 5 and 10 centimeters and we'd have at least another day before baby, which happens quite often. Either way, all 6 women in the room plus Devin, all at once, collectively realized that my water hadn't broken, this baby was coming en caul (inside her amniotic sac) and there was no stopping her! My doula had to constantly remind me to keep breathing and stop clenching. Ironic, I know, considering that I've been teaching this to other people for more than 5 years. Subconsciously, or rather very consciously, I was trying to hold her in. I was trying to slow down the process, and somehow enjoy the moment, but she had already decided that this was her time. With fierce conviction, my doula urged me to listen to baby Luna. Through every contraction, Tema reminded me to talk to her, connect with her, breathe and open up to this experience. 

Lying flat on my back, with Devin behind me massaging my shoulders, Tema on my left side doing aromatherapy and holding a mirror so Devin could the progression, my midwife told me to really bear down. After 10 minutes of deep, focused pushing (what felt like pushing out a water balloon since she was still in her sac), baby made her way through little by little. First the head, then the shoulders, and as the bottom half of her body came through, she stretched her little right arm out straight and burst through her sac. Devin was able to watch the whole thing happen. As the water poured out of me, baby Luna emerged down her very own slip-and-slide and was quickly placed on my belly. From there, she did the famous "breast crawl" in which newborns instinctively army crawl up your body and find the breast on their own. She searched around for a few seconds, then tried to latch on and nurse. Meanwhile, I birthed the placenta after just a few quick pushes. Compared to a baby, the placenta felt like nothing! We delayed umbilical cord cutting and kept her connected to her placenta for another 10 minutes, until it naturally stopped pulsing. 

By 2:59am, after 6 hours of active labor (5 at home and one in the birth center), our sweet baby girl had arrived! Weighing in at 6 pounds 14 ounces and 19 inches long, Luna Wild Burstein came out with a full head of blonde silvery hair and bright blue eyes. My favorite part of the whole labor experience was the few hours following her arrival. Between 3 and 5am, she laid right on my chest for some precious skin-to-skin bonding and learning together how to nurse. After that, I needed some time to clean up and process everything that had happened, so she went over to Devin for father-daughter bonding. Around 6am, I crawled back in bed with the two of them and together, we watched the sunrise from the window of our birthing suite, as a family of 3. I hadn't cried at all during the labor, I was more in shock and struggling to find my breath, but at that moment, as the sun came up on Monday morning, July 25th 2016, I finally broke down. She was finally here! I did it! We did it! In the end, it was much quicker, more painful and intense than I ever could have imagined (the midwives called it a precipitous birth, aka"FAST AND FURIOUS") but I am happy to say we ended up having the all-natural, unmedicated birth we had dreamed of and prepared for.

Our little baby girl had arrived safe and healthy earthside, in her very own water world! In the coming days, we would find out that being born en caul has a very special meaning. Many cultures believe that "caulbearers" have psychic abilities, are natural healers, and have a special connection with the ocean. During my pregnancy, she was alongside me as I taught hundreds of yoga classes, led many moon circles and goddess gatherings, and she even experienced a temazcal (Indian sweat lodge) while inside my belly. Her connection to the divine seems to have been established long ago. In the 6 weeks since her birth, she has already taught me so much about myself and the power of the divine feminine. I cannot wait to see what other lessons this little mermaid is here to teach us!











Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Very Bohemian Baby Shower

Last month, we celebrated my 30th birthday by saying goodbye to my 20's and hello to mama life. As someone who designs events and leads women's gatherings for a living, thinking of doing one for myself became overwhelming and stressful. It was such a breath of fresh air for my family and friends to take the lead on this one and plan my baby shower! I'm not so good at giving up control and letting others do for me, so there were many conversations that started out with, "Mandy relax, we got this!" 

Luckily, I'm surrounded by a group of creative, resourceful, go-getter goddesses who worked together to create one of the most beautiful days of my life. Walking into the shower literally took my breath away. From the handmade flower crowns, to the long farm tables, to the prayer flags, acoustic live music, henna tattoo artist, green juice cocktails, tie-dye onesie station, and all my favorite people frolicking around the garden barefoot -- these girls truly outdid themselves! Every detail was so intentional. 

Thank you so much to my family for flying in from the East Coast to be there for this special day. Shout out to my 85 year old Grandma for making the trek out to San Diego in style! Thank you to my mama, sisters, friends, and our local community of yoga girls for coming together to create my dream Bohemian Baby Shower. This little girl is surrounded by the best group of Aunties to teach her how to be a goddess one day. I'm forever grateful! 

Vendor List
If you're in the San Diego area and need some amazing people to help you pull off a bridal shower, bachelorette, baby shower, or birthday party, here are the magic makers I highly recommend!
Green Juice //  Farm to Fork  La Jolla
Catering //  Poke platters by ILYLYFfoods - the lilikoi (passionfruit) salmon was to die for!
Dessert //  Raw dairy free cheesecakes by Jenny - recipe here!
Flowers //  by Leslie of Cleo Beauty 
Photography //  Rozannne Edwards Media
Henna Artist //  Tejal of Henna San Diego
Music //  island blues acoustic serenades by musician Matt Huz 









































Monday, June 20, 2016

Pre-Natal Yoga

Hi friends! As many of you know, I've been teaching my regular Vinyasa Flow classes throughout this pregnancy, and have witnessed my own practice shift in interesting ways. There's a commonly held idea out there that once you become pregnant, you need to pause your practice and only take "pre-natal yoga" classes, just to be safe. I disagree. Many pregnant women actually want (and need) to continue their regular Vinyasa practice, with some specific modifications. 

As yoga teachers, we should be well-equipped with the basic information for guiding and empowering a pregnant yogi on her mat. Simply saying "you can't do twists" is not good enough! As teachers, let's step up and learn creative ways to incorporate pre- and post-natal women into existing Vinyasa Flow yoga classes. 



At almost 9 months pregnant, I will show you what it actually looks and feels like in the body, allowing you as a teacher to understand the anatomy of pregnancy and ways to guide a safe, yet strong Vinyasa Flow. This will help make you a better teacher in studio classes, and open up doors to you working privately with pregnant clients in their home or workplace. 

Tuesday July 12 at 6:45pm
Bird Rock Yoga 
Pacific Beach, San Diego, California
cost: $25  // sign up here

Pre-requisite: Must be 200-hour YTT certified.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Best Brunch in Baja!


After brunching in Baja at least once a month for the past 7 years, I've finally found my dream Sunday spot! Conveniently located only 24 kilometers (about 15 minutes) south of the border, Mi Casa Supper Club is my go-to place to take yoga retreat groups, bachelorette parties, and my own family and friends. Everyone I've ever taken leaves feeling so relaxed, well-fed, and overall impressed with the quality of service, attention to detail, creativity and love poured into every dish. 

This past Sunday, I celebrated my 30th birthday with a beautiful brunch here with 12 of my closest friends. Handmade bloody marys, fresh-squeezed mimosas, local oysters, smoked salmon dishes, and delicious locally grown summer salads were happily circulating the table. Possibly the thing I love most about Mi Casa is that every detail is intentional. The minute you walk in, you feel like a Queen. The oversized luxurious Balinese furniture mixed with relaxed, oceanfront Baja energy is the perfect combination. Owner and Head Chef Bo Bendana Sein has a way of fusing worlds together that just works. She takes her Moroccan roots, mixes in some European flair, and pays tribute to her new home of Baja Mexico in a way that can only be understood if you feel it in person. Put this place on your Summer 2016 Bucket List! In the two short years since the restaurant's grand opening, they've received so much buzz that this place won't be a secret much longer. 

Chef Bo has created such a beautiful, welcoming space and inspiring, innovative menu that keeps drawing me back month after month. Something was tugging at me to learn more about her and the journey she's taken to get to this place. Read my interview with Chef Bo Bendana Sein below...

Celebrating my 30th birthday brunch at Mi Casa - June 2016
Smoked Salmon puff pastry, fromage blanc, flying fish caviar, pickled red, pink and golden beets, capers,
cornichon pickles with an apple celery salad and home made vinaigrette

San Quintin Baja Gigamoto Oysters with Chili Ginger, Seaweed Salad, Champagne Vinegar sauce & Flying Fish Caviar.

Meet Head Chef, Founder, Creator of Mi Casa Supper Club, Bo Bendana Sein!




1) Where are you from and what did you do in a past life? (before Mi Casa)
I was born in Morocco and grew up mostly in Casablanca before moving to New York City to pursue a career in Interior Design where I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Mi Casa Supper Club was born as a private underground club where members would make reservations to a monthly dinner at my ocean front home in Baja. I would create and cook a 7 to 8 course menus for 30 to 50 people inspired by Moroccan and Mexican cuisine we call Moroxican.

2) When did you decide to open Mi Casa and why?

My intention was to create a social gastro club for our friends and people like us who crave a place where they are treated like royalty, surrounded by fine furnishing and unique art while dinning on a cuisine that captures the essence and flavors of Baja while fused with Moroccan recipes. When we started getting phone calls and emails from people in Vegas, Arizona and Europe asking how to join our club, we realized that Mi Casa Supper Club was no longer a secret! To keep our privacy but keep our members happy we closed our home to the public and build Mi Casa Supper Club in July 2014. We tried to duplicate our living room and keep the same warmth and the feeling of dinning in a home verses a restaurant so we went back to Bali, Indonesia and found the same artist we used in hour home and brought back a container of carved stone, tile, wood carvings, sculptures, light fixtures, etc. So the restaurant reflects our love for Baja, Bali and everything eclectic and coastal!

3) What 5 words would you use to describe your unique restaurant?
Eclectic Elegance, Moroccan Mexican Fusion

4) What is your biggest challenge AND what is your biggest joy of living and working in Baja, Mexico?

Being creative is what keeps my body moving and my mind focused on what brings me joy verses my daily battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Many mornings, I struggle with getting out of bed due to inflammation and joint stiffness. I am 43 years old with energy of a 23 year old but often my body feels like a 70+ years old, LOL! :)

Living in Baja is a very laid-back style of living where you don't have to ever feel rushed. There is less pressure and less expectations. People come down to northern Baja to rejuvenate, to heal, to escape the hustle and bustle of US living and Dennis (my husband) and I are a perfect example. We could open our restaurant 7 days a week and probably make a fortune but that would mean we'll have to sacrifice our time with our kids, family and friends so instead we chose a more moderate life style, with a lower cost of living, so we only open the restaurant 4 days a week. We close one month a year so we don't miss out on living a fun, balanced life.

5) Speaking of balance, how do you juggle being a wife, mama, creative artist, and business woman? Any tips or tricks you've learned along the way?

I delegate and I am not shy to ask for help! I have a nanny that's been with me since the birth of my children who allows me to spend quality time with my family instead of time spent cleaning the house or squeezing oranges for my kids everyday. My husband loves being a dad and he has a tremendous amount of patience for our little ones but when I need ME time, I ask. I don't wait for him to offer and he does the same!

My husband and I love our independence, he loves to write and I love to cook and garden so every morning we discus our plans for the day and how to work around our kids schedule because time with our kids is priceless and irreplaceable, so they always come first.
//

Currently, Mi Casa is nominated for the prestigious 100 Not-to-be Missed Restaurants in Mexico and is a key contributor to the highly-anticapted annual event, Sabor de Bajahappening August 31, 2016 where Chef Bo hosts her famous all-white party.  To keep up with their seasonal menu and special dinner parties, be sure to follow Mi Casa Supper Club on Facebook. 
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