23 June 2018

Trending in the Delivery Room: Mothers' Methods for Making Their Birth Plan

Brooklyn Brewer Tanner
Utah Valley University

Submitted to Rongxun Liang, Ph.D.
Summer 2018

This paper explores the research that has been completed about the potential risks and benefits of natural and medicated childbirth. In depth, the research is examined that has been performed about epidural use and natural birthing in order to determine the overall safety of each method. Considering the variety of choices a woman has in planning her birth, the paper will also evaluate the effect of internet information on expectant mothers' birth plan choices. It is found that internet searches involving pain management during birth have risen significantly in recent years, demonstrating women's dependence on the internet for reputable information. The role of a mother in giving birth to her child can be helped or hurt by the information found online.
Key Words
Birth, Birth Centers, Childbirth, Doulas, Epidural, Homebirth, Internet, Medicine, Midwifery, Millennials, Mothers, Natural Childbirth, Obstetrics, Pain Relief, Pregnancy, Social Media.
The common, yet miraculous occurrence of birth is experienced by the majority of women at least once in their lifetime. That first pregnancy spurs a myriad of feeling to the inexperienced mother including excitement, fear, happiness, confusion, and determination. Among the many choices a woman will make during her pregnancy is the consideration of natural birth and medicated birth. In most low-risk pregnancies, women have the option of bearing their child naturally, or without medicinal pain relief, whether it be in a hospital, birthing center, or home. They also are commonly offered an epidural to numb the pain of childbirth when delivering in a hospital. Now that information on the internet has been widely available for two decades, women have an enormous pot of information, research, opinions, and experiences from which to draw considerations as they make their decision. This topic is particularly pertinent to the rising generation of mothers, who have more access to a variety of internet resources than any generation of mothers before. The topic of internet-influenced birth planning has been chosen in order to assist the modern mother in navigating the risks and benefits of natural and medicated birth methods.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the research that has been completed about the potential risks of natural and medicated childbirth. The paper will also evaluate the effect of internet information on expectant mother's birth plan choices. When women can receive unbiased, true information regarding pregnancy and birth, they are better able to make sound decisions for their health and the safety of their infant. This paper strives to provide that reliable information to expectant mothers.
Definition of Concepts
Mentioned in this paper are many medical, pregnancy, and labor and delivery terms.
Caesarean Section: commonly known as C-section, the surgical delivery of an infant through an abdominal incision
Doula: a non-medical personnel that coaches and assists women in giving birth by giving suggestions for positioning, providing encouragement, and giving massages.
Epidural: anesthetic used mainly in childbirth to reduce sensation below the waist.
Natural Childbirth: the birth of an infant without any type of medicinal substance assistance. May also refer to birth taking place in the home or in a birthing center.
Medicated Birth: the birth of an infant that is assisted by one or more medicinal substances, such as an epidural anesthetic, Pitocin, narcotics, or instrumental/surgical assistance such as forceps, vacuum extraction, or C-section. 
Research Questions and Hypotheses
What are the benefits and drawbacks of a natural childbirth? What are the benefits and drawbacks of an epidural-assisted childbirth? What influence does the internet have on an American woman's choice to receive an epidural or strive for a natural childbirth?
It is predicted that the research will suggest potentially adverse side effects of a medicated birth, but further danger in natural birthing. It is predicted that in the United States, mothers receive most of their medical information from the internet, most of it non-credible, which can inhibit their ability to make sound birthing decisions.
Literature Review
Plenty of research has been conducted around pain relief during childbirth. However, most of the research has been done in the medical field, considering the scientific nature of medicine. The homeopathic and natural community is not as abundant in research or research methods around natural childbirth. However, there are a few published studies available focusing on the social science of women's birth experiences. The data sources used in this paper come mainly from articles in medical journals published after the year 2000. In an attempt to provide information that is as accurate and current as possible, this paper uses almost exclusively peer-reviewed research and data.
The research published in medical journals has generally been well-documented with legitimate research methods. Medical case studies are thorough in disclosing the details of possible side effects in the use of an epidural, even rare occurrences. The information published about natural childbirth occasionally has a biased tone, sometimes disregarding previously proven medical research. However, the research is clear in explaining the need for trained and competent professionals to be present at any birth to avoid fatal complications. It would be beneficial to see more research on childbirth and pain management conducted in the United States. Finding studies, especially those involving the personal experiences of women, concerning American families requires some elongated searching.
Natural Childbirth: The Benefits
What is now defined as "natural" childbirth has been the method of delivery for women for centuries. Many women, mostly in the holistic, alternative, and natural care community profess strongly of the benefits of a natural childbirth. Many mothers enjoy the freedom of movement that comes with not being tied to a hospital bed by IV or epidural. It is believed that for the mother to be able to move around and choose a position that feels right to her, labor is more effective (Howland, 2017). Some naturally-minded mothers feel that naturally birthing their child will give them a sense of accomplishment, or badge of true motherhood. By enduring the pain of childbirth, they feel committed and connected to their baby (Lothian, 2000). In a natural childbirth occurring at home or a birthing center, mothers find comfort in avoiding the pressure for medical intervention. Having a baby in the comfort of their own home accompanied by a midwife and doula is appealing.
Along with benefits during labor, benefits are reported for mother and baby after birth as well. Mothers are generally able to recover more quickly after a natural childbirth, which is mostly attributed to the less frequent occurrence of episiotomy and tearing (Panazzolo & Mohammed 2011). Howland (2017) claims that without the use of drugs in delivery, babies are born more alert, and without the lethargy, they are better able to quickly cultivate an effective breastfeeding habit. It is also believed that pursuit of natural childbirth lessens the chance for the need of a Caesarean section. When the infant passes through the vaginal canal, essential bacteria are picked up that help in the development of baby's immune system (Howland, 2017). The report of these benefits is found on multiple platforms online, including in articles, blogs, videos, and lifestyle and pregnancy websites. Many mothers are drawn to natural childbirth by these benefits the testimonials promise.
Natural Childbirth: The Drawbacks
The main drawback associated with natural childbirth, and the reason nearly 90% of births are medicated, is the immense pain associated with childbirth (Lothian, 2000). Compared to other mammals, the head-to-birth canal ratio is jarring in humans. The average head of a baby is actually larger than the dilated birth canal, requiring the cervix and vagina to stretch painfully to allow for passage of the baby (Shipman, 2014). The fear of or realization of this pain can drive most women to demand the assistance of an epidural.
While the benefits of a natural childbirth, especially at home, seem attractive, women must technically fit a certain criterion to qualify. Due to the enormous progress in mother and baby mortality, there are many measures in place in medical settings to save a mother and /or baby if something is to go wrong. Panazzolo and Mohammed (2011) in analyzing natural childbirth noted, "Although this option can seem to be the optimal choice, women seeking natural births must be healthy, low-risk women without serious medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure." Properly and improperly attended home births have a much higher mortality rate than those attended to in a hospital or birth center (Grünebaum, McCullough, Arabin, Brent, Levene, & Chervenak, 2016).
Childbirth with Epidural: The Benefits
The modern epidural is a remarkable feat of analgesia (pain relief). A woman is able to have a thin, cord-like tube inserted into her back with a needle that will pump appropriate amounts of medication to the lower half of her body on demand. The analgesia provides pain relief, instead of anesthesia, which would numb the entire area of feeling ("Epidural," 2017). Complications associated with epidural use are very rare, and the majority of hospitals are equipped with competent providers to properly install the epidural (Rajkalyan & Kaumudi, 2014).
The epidural reduces or eliminates pain associated with childbirth, including the feeling of a tearing perineum, or episiotomy. Many mothers are able to regain energy to birth their child once the pain of labor is lessened. This potentially allows for a more pleasant birth experience, where mama can enjoy laboring and focus on her growing family, instead of constant, intense pain. Doctors, nurses, and doulas are available for coaching the mother on what to do, since she may not feel the urge to push as strongly as one does in a natural childbirth. 
Childbirth with Epidural: The Drawbacks
As with any medicine, studies have confirmed possible risks and side effects associated with the use of epidurals in childbirth. Some women who use an epidural complain of intense postpartum headaches. One case study examined in depth the occurrence of Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), a rare but extremely painful disease postpartum, due to the improper installation of an epidural (Raj & Rupasinghe, 2016). While misplacement is not common, human error is always possible in medical procedures. Patients more commonly experience postdural patient headaches (PDPH), due to the puncture the epidural requires near the spine. These headaches can last indefinitely, and a lasting cure has not been found. "Although not life-threatening, PDPH carries substantial morbidity by restricting activities of daily life. Current noninvasive treatments, including bed rest, fluids, analgesics, caffeine, and sumatriptan, only temporize the discomfort" (Ghaleb, 2010).
Some women may feel very restricted by the effects of an epidural. With an epidural, and subsequently an IV, in place, mama is restricted to her hospital bed, due to the hookups and the numbing effect. This means she will labor on her back, which may not be the optimal position for delivery, depending on the baby's descent. Since the epidural reduces feeling in the lower body, mama is not able to move around or change positions to expedite labor. Mama may also be hooked to a catheter, which many women do not realize comes with the epidural experience before agreeing to one (Howland, 2017). Some studies speculate that medical induction and epidural use lead to a higher likelihood for doctors to determine the need for instrument-assisted birth (forceps or vacuum extraction) and C-section.
Influence of the Internet on Birth Plan Choices
There has been much research published on the benefits and drawbacks of natural and medicated childbirth. Ultimately, either birth, if properly attended, has proven to be generally safe for most mothers and babies. This concept has been researched over and over in the last two decades: "Pain and anxiety...appear to have been relieved as effectively by social support as by medical assistance" (Fox & Worts, 1999).
Accurate information puts a mother in a very strong position to make sound choices for the care of herself and her baby. Some research indicates that many mothers do not attempt any personal research beyond the advice of their chosen care provider, which can limit her opportunities to understand the best birth plan for her situation (Panazzolo & Mohammed 2011).
On the other end of the spectrum, women can receive heavily biased material from non-credible sources seeking to antagonize the opposing party. This content is often infiltrated with strong, hyperbolized, advertisement-like wording to hook readers/viewers into their material. It is essential that women understand how to do effective research and discern content for what it is. Google searches regarding epidurals have skyrocketed in the last five years. Women are turning to the internet as their main source of medical education. "Identifying the most common and rapidly increasing online search queries may guide physician-parturient interactions and online content creation, to address labor analgesic topics that most interest users" (Sutton & Carvalho, 2017). The information, credible or not, that women find on the internet about pregnancy and birth strongly influences the choices they make in the delivery room. Holistic and medical caretakers urge expectant families to understand the options available to them (Christieans & Nieuwenhuijze, 2013).
Pregnancy and childbirth are miraculously and commonly experienced each day by women around the world. Pain management has a variety of safe options, including medicated and unmedicated methods. When attended by a trained, competent professional, the birth of a child has a high rate of a healthy outcome. A mother's planning for birth is affected by family traditions, culture, the opinion and practice of their chosen provider, and most recently, information found online. Websites, blogs, video blogs, articles, instructional videos and advice columns can now be created and published by anyone with an internet connection.
As women strive to obtain credible information, their decision process is well-informed. Ultimately, the mother is the main participant in the birth. As she is able to understand her role in the process, she will be empowered to use any information she meets to her benefit, and for the benefit of her growing family. 

Arcia, A. (2013). US nulliparas' perceptions of roles and of the birth experience as predictors of their delivery preferences. Midwifery, 29, 885-894. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2012.10.002
American Pregnancy Association. (n.d.). Epidural Anesthesia. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/epidural/ on June 22, 2018.
Christieans, W., Nieuwenhuijze, M.J., & de Vries, R. (2013). Trends in the medicalisation of childbirth in Flanders and the Netherlands. Midwifery, 13, doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2012.08.010.
Fox, B. &Worts, D. (1999). Revisting the critique of medicalized childbirth: A Contribution to the Sociology of Birth. Gender & Society. 13, 326 – 346
Ghaleb, A. (2010). Postdural Puncture Headache. Anesthesiology Research and Practice, 102967. http://doi.org/10.1155/2010/102967
Grünebaum A., McCullough L.B., Arabin B., Brent R.L., Levene M.I., & Chervenak F.A. (2016). Neonatal Mortality of Planned Home Birth in the United States in Relation to Professional Certification of Birth Attendants. PLoS ONE. 11(5):e0155721. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155721.
Howland, G. (2017). The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Lothian, J. A. (2000). Why Natural Childbirth? The Journal of Perinatal Education, 9(4), 44–46. http://doi.org/10.1624/105812400X87905.
Panazzolo, M. and Mohammed, R. (2011). Birthing Trends in American Society and Women's Choices. Race, Gender & Class, 18, 268-283.
Raj, O. and Rupasinghe, M. (2016). Postpartum cortical venous thrombosis: An unusual presentation of postdural puncture headache. Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia and Critical Care, 6, 95-97.
Rajkalyan, C and Kaumudi, P. (2014). Surgical management to secure prolonged epidural site bleeding.  Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia and Critical Care, 4, 89-90.
Shipman, P.L. (2014). Why is Human Childbirth So Painful? American Scientist. Retrieved from https://www.americanscientist.org/article/why-is-human-childbirth-so-painful on June 22, 2018.
Sutton C.D. & Carvalho B. (2017). What's trending now? An analysis of trends in internet searches for labor epidurals. International Journal Obstetrics Anesthesia, May;30:52-57. doi: 10.1016/j.ijoa.2017.02.004.

04 March 2018

On Disaster

There is nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. -Shakespeare

Late August 2017, Harvey has finally resigned, Maria is on her way, and Irma was in full angry force. Residents of Florida anticipate the impending disaster. In the slow-motion blink of an eye, Hurricane Irma devoured 134 fatalities during her 65 billion-dollar tantrum. Images of damaged homes, slaughtered sights where homes used to be, and hundreds of people, suddenly thrust into survival mode, these images took over the big and small screens of Americans for two months. 180 mph winds will blow more than your mind. What we cannot count are the tears, the favorite blankets lost, the words spoken at funerals, the hugs, the prayers, the hands that helped.

Surely, disaster invokes a reaction. Shock, horror, flee, fight, sadness, anger, devastation. Moments of speechlessness and anger because there is nobody to be angry at. No one to punish. However, disaster also invokes action. Neighbors and nearby acquaintances now share a commonality. They are one in heart because of loss. They help each other, they clean up, they hug and mourn for the dead, and for the lost. Residents near and far flood in as well, hoping to help make a dent in the clean-up.
Here in Utah, we cannot feel the pelting rain, the flooded streets. But we see something like that, try to imagine what it would be like, and sympathize. Maybe we empathize, if we have lost someone we love. We pray, we donate, and we send messages of support, love, attempt at understanding. Thanks to the internet, we can instantaneously have updated information. Donation sites are all over our social media feeds, email inboxes, and televisions. The Red Cross raised enough money to feed well over a million meals to victims and send 52,000 health care workers to care for the Floridians. These efforts do not completely meet all the needs, and they don't take away the pain of a hurricane.

However, in a hurricane, we are not freshman and seniors. We are not atheists and Christians. We are not angry liberals or egotistical conservatives, we are humans. The innate culture of the human is to love. We love one another, motivate one another, and have the power to heal one another. Ethos, pathos and logos, are fired up in our souls in disaster. We feel obligated to help, especially if we are not the ones hurting. We feel that sympathy and empathy, pain for the pain someone else holds. And in our minds, it makes sense that we should help. If one house falls, seldom do all the members of other, standing houses stay in, lock their doors, and watch curiously as their neighbor rebuilds the wreckage. We run, we hug, we post, we pray, we pay, we work, we apologize, we try, we love.

Natural disaster is not the only moment in which our culture of unconditional love is activated. We come together in artificial disasters, too! Moments of silence for those lost in horrible acts of violence, and loud protests when injustice is evident. The "news" is not so new anymore, daily we are confronted with the sadness, horror, and anger of those trying to destroy love. Disaster is not always widespread or news-worthy either. Sometimes the world disaster is the small disaster going on in someone's world.
To the sixteen-year-old who just broke up with her first love, life is a disaster. To the clinically depressed college student whom it pains to start another day, life is a disaster. To the single mom coming up short, to the widower missing his companion, to the comedian trying to make it, to the couple buried in debt. Each human has their moments of disaster in which time is frozen and the future seems dark. Comparison will kill validity, but truly, we each deserve love when disaster bursts into our hearts. As these humans, we will never all agree, but again, we can love.

Love is a word, which speaks a life-sustaining language. These kinds of words are used to communicate meaning, suffering, love, or goals. This language continues in conversation in order to eventually improve one's quality of life and capacity for understanding. Life-sustaining language, loving words which give hope for a sunrise in a fitful, dark night. Hope is a most difficult choice, but the ability to hold onto hope is stronger when surrounded by hopeful, loving friends. A hope, a prayer, love: these are very small beams of light which can only be turned on with sincerity. One beam may be small and dismissible, but when rallies of hearts full of hope, numerous prayers, and outpouring of love arrive, an enormous spotlight is available to warm the wounded and light the way for perseverance.

Love is a touch, a hug, or hand held, to transmit comfort from the depth of the soul, through the heart, blood, and sensory receptors to the sensitive skin of the victim. Humans need touch like they need water, but we do not know that, because touch isn't sent with toothbrushes and soap in care packages. A welcome and well-intended physical touch alleviates the emotional pain for a small moment, a small step toward recovery. It is the universal language which strengthens the friendship for the moment and sometimes forever.

Love is a hot meal. Love is using your hands or hard-earned money to provide enjoyable, comforting food for your friend who lost her soccer game or lost her house. Good food shared with friend is bonding and uplifting. The use of this and any talent to love one another is our great responsibility as a human family. The thing you are good at is not an accident, it is stewardship. These gifts are those which are to be lovingly and freely given to each other. We need the songs others can sing, the cake others can bake, and the strong arms others can provide.

Love is not pride. Love is removing our biases, our preconceived notions, our assumptions, our lies, our walls, our obsessions, our idleness, our worries, our lipstick, our comfort, whatever is necessary to provide help. Love is the desire to give, not the desire to receive a reward for giving. Love is recognizing that you and he both came out of the womb wailing and helpless. Love is remembering to lend your heart when the wailing and helplessness resurfaces.

Perhaps love is all we can hold in the eye of a storm. No hurricane can drown it, no gun can obliterate it, no disease can infect it. Only we, the humans, the souls, can destroy it. It is the power within us that initiates and harbors love, and from there it is inevitably felt. Love can be freely given, freely received. Our human culture is bonded by porous hearts. Love is activated and spread by these difficult and tearful times. Thanks be to God for difficult days.

10 February 2018

本宿、本宿です。 (Motojuku, this is Motojuku.)

Standing obediently behind the kiroi sen, waiting for the futsu densha. The shinkansen rushes by violently, the daigakusei immersed in their keitai taking no notice to their fluttering strait hair. Exhausted men staggering in from the post-work nomikai and a teenage couple holding hands on the way home from a late night of bukatsu. Kaze.

Kiroi sen, yellow safety line. Even the automated intercom voice warning riders to stand behind the line sounds tired, as she lists off the next few stops. Futsu densha, the local train, which is the slowest, but the only one that will stop near our obscure apartment by the river. Shinkansen, the bullet train that yells at 200 miles per hour, travelling from the frigid top to the beachy bottom of this California-sized island.

Daigakusei, college students. Thoughts of breaking the mold swimming around in their thoughts, but conforming to the norm on keitai, their cell phones. Nomikai, men drinking together with the coworkers they have already spent 12 hours with today. Leaving their wives to put the kids to bed and fall asleep alone, again. Bukatsu, the club sport middle and high schoolers have chosen, attending in the evenings after morning study, school, and after-school exam preparation class.

Kaze, a gentle wind, flowing from the ancient treetops through the canal of the Motojuku train station, singing to the gods of the land of the rising sun. Motojuku, a mountain town in the city of Okazaki, Japan. Motojuku is in puberty, honoring the ancient roots that run down the mountain through the station: the first spurt of growth into city life.

Walking to the station, strict tradition and devotion tingles the ground as one passes the abandoned shrines and temples covered in mossy drapes. The remaining beverage machine lights glitter, enticing the pedestrian to enjoy a melon soda, or can of corn soup. Cross the bridge, around the enormous gutter and down and up the staircase to cross the street, kaze again. The automatic ticket teller doesn't process prepaid train cards yet, a two-inch ticket must be purchased in the adjacent machine, fed to the teller, where it will meet the rider on the other side of the gate.

Alas the futsu densha arrives, and all these figures pile in to the surprisingly clean car. The train travels hundreds of miles, carrying thousands of people per day. However, like their thoughts, all riders keep their refuse to themselves. Exhaustion and beaten routine swirl through the muggy air, pride in their inventions but begging for innovations. Eyes do not meet on purpose, they sleepily close or adhere to a screen, sealing in isolation. Politeness and courtesy abound although friendship shyly remains fictional. The figures rock back and forth once, as the train stretches out of the station. Until next time.


07 February 2018

Current Understanding of Obedience

I would love to share a bit of what I have learned. I pray that as I testify, the Holy Ghost will be in your heart to teach you the tidbit of Gospel that you need in your home this week. To me, the Holy Ghost feels like a warm swelling in my heart, which is similar to the feeling of heartburn I get after eating a meal like the one on Thanksgiving. So, sometimes it’s hard to tell. But, if we listen, the Holy Ghost will quietly testify to you in a way that is specific to you. This is how we learn truth.

I am Brooklyn Tanner, Jonathan is my husband. I am from Murray, a suburb in south Salt Lake, and fabulous Jon is from fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. We met as missionaries in Matsumoto, Japan. We worked in the same ward for the very last month of Jon’s time as a missionary. We were friends there, but I never really expected to see him again. However, I came home about four months after him, just in time for his spring break trip to Arizona. He called and asked me for a ride to the airport, took me to breakfast, and now we are married! It has been my greatest joy being his wife for 300 days so far. A bit about me, I work as a family entertainer, performing a magic variety show for private events, I love pies and I am rather loud but relatively lovable all the same.

A bit about Jon, he is a studying at BYU to become a software developer. He a dog lover and a very good dish-doer. He is humble and sweet, and silly and fun to talk to, but he is best at listening intently and thoughtfully. His personality is charming and he is so loving. He is selfless and knows and acts upon his priorities. He is a hard worker and obedient to God. I am learning about the Savior through Jonathan and reading the Book of Mormon.

I feel privileged to have known Jon as a missionary, because I saw him in a place where he was working very hard to please nobody but his Heavenly Father. He really showed me the true meaning of obedience, just like the Savior did for us. Jesus Christ was obedient to God in order to accomplish his divine potential. Our divine potential is to become like Jesus Christ, which we can do by knowing his teachings, and doing as he would do. This cycle of Know, Do, Become has helped me more clearly understand the importance and joy of being obedient.

So let’s read about it in the scriptures. Please, turn with me to Alma chapter 12. For those of us who are stylishly vintage, this is on page 237 of the Book of Mormon. Here we are in the midst of the ministry of Alma and Amulek. These two are awesome. I think the mission president was very happy about this companionship. In chapter 12, they are working with a particularly difficult investigator, Zeezrom. Amulek just finished testifying about God and the purpose of Jesus Christ. Zeezrom still doesn’t understand, but is speechless, so Alma takes this opportunity to step in and give it a shot. Verse 9.

Diligence. I this that is a good synonym for obedience. We have the great blessing of being taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we accept it, and live it, we are rewarded with eternal life. Alma promises us that if we listen to the word of God, we will have more access to understanding the word of God. Let’s keep reading. Verse 14.

Ouch. Sounds a little scary. The only thing that can condemn us, that can keep us from eternal life is our own words and works. When I was younger I thought this meant God wanted to control me, and blindly follow him even though I didn’t understand very much. He is waiting to punish me if I do something wrong. But that is NOT how it is. Next verse (15). This will not do!

God is EAGER to reward us, bless us, live with us, His children. His work and glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. He sent His son, to live for us and to die for us. He lived a perfect life to show us the commandments, how to be obedient. Then, He took upon Him the suffering for our sins, so redemption would be possible. He died physical and spiritual death so we would have the chance to repent when we mistake in our obedience. This is a grandiose and humble act of love. Verse 33-34.

Jesus increased in wisdom, and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Luke 2:52

Vision, Purpose and Values

In my pursuit to develop a helpful, graceful presence, I hope to develop an understanding and cultivation of charity, humor, balance, and dependability. 
Charity is pure love, the inherent desire and responsibility I believe we all have to care for one another. To have charity would be to be patient with all people, even those I have not met who seem to make the world more unkind and unproductive. I want to be able to discern the needs of those around me, and especially those under my stewardship. I want to create a family where love foundational and felt daily. I want people to come into our house, and feel good, and know they are welcome, desired, loved, able, and listened to. Listening would be a big part of it too. I want to be able to discern when to talk and when to listen, because I know I need to do more of the listening.  
Humor is adding a helpful, light-hearted perspective to mundane experiences. I absolutely adore the feeling of saying to do something that makes someone laugh. I believe there are many fine lines in humor, and potential for hurting others with it, which I want to be wary of. I want to create jokes and words that can make people laugh, and bring joy back into their day, never offending or hurting someone at the expense of a joke.  
I would love to achieve balance in my lifestyle. There are many things which are important to me, and I have a tendency to take on responsibility for many lovely things, subsequently being unable to accomplish any of those things well, since my efforts are too far stretched. Balancing food and exercise, critical and positive thinking, family and work time; I think these elements would help me develop a great sense of peace.  
The last characteristic I am focused upon is dependability. Too often people in need go unnoticed, uncared for, and unheard. I would love to be a dependable person whom people think of to call when they need a friend or a helping hand. Along with balance, I feel that dependability stems from organizing your time in a way that allows you to stop and fulfill a need when you see it, even if it is sudden or immediate.  
I hope to hone these characteristics to achieve some fabulous goals. The first accomplishment I envision is singing Christmas songs with my husband and children in our living room while I accompany us on the piano. I have always wanted to learn to play, because I feel that music strengthens my relationships and beliefs. I really want to become a mother, and create a warm, nourishing home where my children can have good memories and learn kindness. Learning to play piano is difficult, I am on my fourth attempt at starting lessons. However, I believe in practice, so if I am more diligent in my practice I believe I will be able to accomplish this goal.  
Next, I hope to become an excellent entertainer. I think at times it is difficult to find interactive entertainment one can experience with their family and hold good memories about. I currently work as a magician, and I adore performing. I have a goal to one day perform a one-woman variety show for a theatre-sized audience. I want this show to be very funny, and include magic, dance, juggling, music, and audience participation. Being able to bring this type of happiness to an audience would bring me great joy. Developing entertaining material and finding a venue to perform at is a challenge. I can overcome this by continuing to perform at my small-scale shows, improve my talents, and strive to meet people who could connect me to the right places.  
Another important goal to me is finding a way to assist humans in need with my husband. One day I hope we can leave our home, travel to a foreign place, and use our talents to teach, uplift, heal, or assist someone or a group of people. I believe one great purpose of being human is to have talents and share them with others, and this type of work would be a fulfillment of this purpose. I think it will be hard work to save up enough money to move somewhere and volunteer for an extended period. However, we can overcome this by setting priorities and budgeting modestly.  
In pursuit of a fulfilling, joyful, useful life, I will make choices based on the principles I believe to be true. The principles that appeal to me are those of love, humility, and charity taught by Jesus Christ. I love learning about what he taught by reading scripture and noting characteristics I find in others that align with his characteristics. Jesus Christ lived his life committed to helping humans understand perspective, charity, joy, and self-mastery. Therefore, I feel that involving in Christianity will help me achieve my chosen goals. 

Anthology of Desires

Dear God,
thank you for mommy and daddy thank you for a dis day please bless that I can have a little brover amen.

Dear God,
Thank you for mommy and daddy and baby sitser please bless that we will all have good dreams and be happy and know whats right, amen.

Dear God,
Thank you that I am so beautiful. Please bless that my sister wouldn't bug me so much and bless people who are poor. Please bless that it will be cheesy breadsticks at lunch tomorrow. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you for this day and for the food. Bless me not to be so ugly anymore and not trip in dance so much. Please bless that McKenna and Rosie will let me play with them at recess tomorrow and bless mom that she won't be so bossy. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you that I get to go to work with my dad like every day and have so much fun. What do you want me to be when I'm like older? A magician? A writer? A mom? I think I want to be a mom. Like the best mom ever who even knows how to sew. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you for the pretty sky, I really liked the nice colors during the sunset tonight. Please bless me to make some friends and not become evil in junior high. Amen.

Dear God,
I am thankful for my mom and dad and for the love in our home. Thank you that I could be in the school musical this year. Please help me know what to say when Katherine says mean stuff. Please please please please bless that Zeke will think I'm pretty and not like Katherine anymore. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you for my family, and thank you for all the sunshine Aunt Shana was for me. Will you let her into heaven, even though she didn't do everything right? Will I get to see her again? Please help me to be as kind as she was. Amen.

Dear God,
Aunt Terry is in for surgery today. Please bless that the chemotherapy will work. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you that Aunt Terry beat it. Please bless Grandma to beat it too. Amen.

Dear God,
Please say hi to Grandma for me, and please bless Grandpa to feel closer to her. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you for my amazing friends and cool teachers. Thank you that I finally have this great part in the school play! Why does everyone have a boyfriend besides me? Amen.

Dear God,
Please help me fall out of love with my boyfriend. Amen.

Dear God,
What a beautiful day for graduation. I can't believe it's over! Thank you for my supportive and present family. Please bless that I will understand what's next for me. It seems dark up ahead, and it feels dark inside. I don't think death would be so bad. I won't do it myself, but if you want me back, I won't be mad. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you for such an exceptional sunset tonight. Every piece you have created is revitalizing and a poignant expression of love. Those clouds, vibrant and vivacious colors blended so flawlessly, a piece of art. I promise to give it all I have. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you for this remarkable experience to be in this beautiful new country. It's gorgeous, and I love these people. I don't deserve this, I feel worthless. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. Please, please help me understand Japanese. Please help me be useful. Amen.

Dear God,
I have been here for over a year, trying to be my best and do what is good, but I don't think I am doing anything good. Inside is a vicious war of horrible feelings. Have I done it all wrong? Have I done anything at all? I know have magic to do. But this feels poisonous. Amen.

Dear God,
I don't get it, but thank you for peace. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you so much for Jesus. I didn't realize it was Him all along, thank you. He is my joy and my song and I will praise Him forever. Amen.

Dear God,
Should I marry Tyler Rennat?

Dear God,
Should I marry Tyler Rennat?

Dear God,
Should I marry Tyler Rennat?

Dear God,
Should I marry Tyler Rennat?

Dear God,
I'm going to marry Tyler Rennat.

Dear God,
AAAH. Amen.

Dear God,
Thank you so much for sending me Tyler Rennat. I love him and now I understand family a little better and I am so excited for what is ahead. Thank you for all he has taught me. Thank you so much for the medicine that keeps my head level, thank you for my good healthy body, thank you for an education, and thank you for the mountains. Please bless Kaye Blaine to feel better. Amen.

Dear God,

14 April 2017

Getting the Part of Mrs. Tanner

Every girl needs to tell her cheesy story while flailing her hands around and squealing, so here's the transcript of how Jon and I decided to get married and stuff if you'd like to read it. 

July 2015 - First Met
As a missionary for the LDS church in the Japan, I first met Elder Tanner (code name: Jon Tanner) at a conference in Fukutoku, Japan, where we were welcomed our new mission president. We shook hands and ate delicious lunch with 145 other missionaries!
For six weeks, Jon and I both worked in the Matsumoto Branch in November 2015. We were good friends there (riiiight, "friends" ;) [no really, just friends who both had not great haircuts] uh huh, sure), and it was a little sad to say Goodbye to him, just like every elder and sister who goes home. However, I did not expect to see him again.
The following January, as a junior at BYU, he emailed me with a couple updates about "real" life, and how much better it is to be in missionary life. We exchanged a few mission experiences, and a month after I had returned, he called and asked me out to breakfast. Because, you know, he was going to the SLC Airport anyway, so why not?


April 20, 2016 - First Date
When he came to pick me up, my parents where instantly gawking at his handsomeness, telling me that I really scored. Which I failed to notice right away, as far as I was concerned, his first name was still "Elder."
We enjoyed French toast at Kneaders with a surprisingly comfortable conversation to go along with it (nervous?? I'm not nervous. I just can't remember how to speak English, that's all).
The date lasted a record-breaking 53 minutes before he was on the plane to visit his new niece in Arizona (I'm starting to think you just wanted a ride to the airport).

All the pictures of our first few dates are just of Jon, because if you take together that's when you're official, right?

May 3, 2016 - It's official
After his cousin, Ellis' wedding reception at the Utah state capitol, we sat on the bench above the hill looking over the city.
"Will you be my girlfriend?"
(Ten minutes later)
*Rolls down car window*
Jon Tanner!

July 4, 2016 - The "L" Word
We were on his sister's porch in Arizona, and I was standing on a big rock so I could actually see his eyes.  Who wouldn't melt in those gorgeous, endless barrels of root beer?
 We took the weekend to visit his family in Arizona, which was marvelous, since I hadn't met his siblings yet. They're all really fantastic. 
Falling in love with Jon was very simple and joyful, but definitely a decision. I had been pondering what I was feeling for a few weeks, and when he said it to me, sincerely but allegedly on a whim, my heart exploded (no fireworks necessary) and I knew I loved him too (sorry about the layer of cheese you have to peel off your eyes after reading that). 

Arizona was too hot and Jon's fan was too cool to handle!

pssst hiden mesej 2 jon i love you

October 29, 2016 - Hm, what question?
Every girl has her outfit regrets, but did I have to blow it on the day I got ENGAGED? Luckily boys don't care what you wear very much as long as you smell like a human (seriously, how do we spend so much time praying over which jeans to wear?!). 
I was wearing a very cute red dress all day, because I had a magic show and Jon was nice enough to come watch and carry all my things. Afterwards, we rushed to my mom's family's Halloween party (debuting our creative hero costume of "Super Late"). After the party, we had planned to go Wal-Mart to pick up some things I needed, which I tried to cancel since I was tired, but Jon insisted.  
 Everyone has those pants you wear to Wal-Mart, hoping you don't see anyone you know. It was my unfortunate decision to wear this unflattering pair of Old Faithfuls. When he turned right on the freeway toward downtown instead of left towards the store, my fashionable pride cried by my heart started throwing a party. 
After a beautiful walk around the hill above my favorite city lights, Jon had a lot of beautiful words to say and then was down on one knee. I think the residents all the way in Draper heard me say YES.

Bonus points: same shirt he wore on our first date.
Not pictured: baggy old Wal-mart pants which are now my favorite.

January 31, 2017; 10:35 a.m. - Time and All Eternity
Which is waaay longer than any Netflix series I've ever binged through. Our wedding day was truly the happiest of my life. The day my life became ours and I vowed to love Jon forever and never wear a corset again. We were married in the Salt Lake City Temple, because that was the goal we had worked for all our short lives. We knew God's temple is where you find lasting peace, joy, love, and knowledge. I married Jonathan Tanner and I'm super psyched pumped totemo ecstatic about it! He is kind, motivating, fun, and loyal. I love you Mr.! I look forward to more notable dates to come. 

Marriage is awesome. Not perfect. Perfectly awesome.

Below is our fabulous wedding video, created my the phenomenal Olivia Hamrick! I am immensely grateful to Olivia and each of our beloved friends and family member that made our day dreams come true on our favorite day!


19 February 2017

The Lovliest

When Jon and I began dating, my father was impressed with  a him immediately. So impressed, he worried just a bit about my  chances. He told him, "You so know she comes from clown stock, right?"
Jon just laughed and continued to support me in my work and pursuits. That is when I was able to recognize he started showing his love  for me, just how I was and what I was trying to be. I recognized it because that is the type of love I feel from Heavenly Father. Kind, unconditional, and supportive. Another way Jon shows me he loves me every day is by communicating with me well. He let me know how he feels and what he is thinking thoroughly, concisely, and consistently. We are able to be or get on the same page because he communicates so well. 

I also feel love from Heavenly Father because He communicates with me, and allows me to communicate with Him. 
In prayer, we can report to Him all our feelings and happenings. In prayer we can express thanks, and faithfully ask for blessings for ourselves and the people we love. At baptism He gives us the gift of the Holy Ghost, so He can send messages back through good feelings and experiences. He speaks clearly in words when we read His holy scriptures, and listen to the words of the modern prophet. 
I feel love through all these wonderful vessels of love, and know they truly are His words.

I have been specifically blessed by God's prophets and apostles. He calls humble and strong men and their families to serve His children, therefore Him (Mosiah 2:17). Prophets receive, study, and interpret messages from God that apply to all of His children. We can read the words of the prophets of old in the scriptures and the words of the prophets of these latter days (prophets starting with and proceeding Joseph Smith) in General Conference. In October 2011 I was a junior in high school, listening to this Conference. Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita gave a talk expressing his love for missionaries, and giving prospective missionaries three areas of focus to prepare for service: Desire, Testimony and Love. I really enjoyed this talk, wrote down those three focuses, and strove to develop them to be ready for my own missionary service one day. 
I was delighted to be called to serve in the Japan Nagoya Mission three years later. While studying in the MTC, I opened my notebook to find my notes on Elder Yamashita's three points. In that moment, I excitedly realized that Elder Yamashita was now President Yamashita, my very own mission president! I felt Heavenly Father's strongly from President Yamashita during all my time as a missionary. 

I know the words of the prophets guide us to joy and protect us from all types of harm (D&C 21:5-6). Just while a missionary, principles I learned from the prophets and apostles protected me from harm in a bike crash, sickness stopping me from work, anxiety attacks, depression bouts, and temptation for sin. 
I know President Monson loves us, and I know he receives his ability to love us like that from God. I know God called him specifically to lead us this time, this month. What he testifies of is true and we will be safe as we learn to follow Christ by following His prophets. I love Jesus. Jesus love me, and I know He lives, among us. He shows us his love through communication, healing, comfort, and so much more.  

02 December 2016

The Ordinary Extra

Ah, the Pirouette Club dance recital. Toddlers and tutus and tantrums, oh my!  Semi-annual events give me a that consistent, nostalgic tool to string my days together and reflect on changes and blessings. Today, at this dance recital, I am engaged to the man of my daydreams and evening prayers, Jon. At the last dance recital, we had been dating for a whopping three days! At the recital before that, we were both missionaries in Matsumoto, Japan. And at the recital before that, we hadn't even met yet.

I wonder how if God measures His time. I suppose it's all one eternal round for Him! I am grateful for the piece of that He has given me to have a body and a fantastic family and meet Jon and learn the mysteries of His universe. I am also grateful He gave me a mom to teach me to dance.

17 November 2016

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Book Review!
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
by Jan-Phillipp Sendker

Image result for the art of hearing heartbeats

An enchanting romantic story, starring a Burmese handicapped couple, discovered by his daughter and  told by an onlooker. The writing style is scrumptious and I tip my hat to the translator. I give it an A and recommend it for a hearty vacation read.

12 June 2016

Konnichiwa from the Other Side (ただいま!)

Returning missionaries compare going home from the field to death, which is rather dramatic. We have built this new life, and sometimes a new person based on that little white book and big-deal of a blue book. We are on a now-familiar, stringent 16-hour work schedule and most of us have come to really enjoy it. We are blessed with plenty of time to study the gospel and many opportunities to bear testimony.
You are doing all that one day, and then tomorrow comes and you step off an airplane into another world, different from the new environment and loved ones you have grown in and close to. It's all snatched away at once.
It's kind of like...going on a mission in the first place! Ahahaha, everything is an interesting eternal round. I didn't quite feel like I died coming home, but it was very strange. The mission seems like a short, wonderful, weird dream I had. 

The good news is, it was real! Real, just like real life; the mission was exciting, beautiful, very difficult, confusing, strengthening, challenging, loving, and full of evidence of God. 
As a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I was called to serve in Nagoya, Japan. The cities I worked in were Okazaki, Kariya, and Toyohashi of Aichi Prefecture; and Nagano and Matsumoto of Nagano Prefecture. 
The weather was similar to Utah, four seasons with increased humidity. We traveled by bicycle, train, and a good amount of sweat or rain! My companions and I met and taught many humble, kind, passionate, Christlike Japanese people, along with people from Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Chile, China, Korea, Vietnam, Egypt, the Philippines, USA, Thailand, and Morocco. I proselyted in Japanese, but was also assigned to study and teach in Portuguese for the last three months of the mission.
My mission presidents: President and Sister Yamashita, and President and Sister Ishii, are each native to Japan and provided excellent examples of the type of missionary I wanted to be. I remember consistently feeling immense love from them and learned much about diligence, consecration, love, and teaching from them. I served with nine different companions, learning something important about Jesus Christ from each of them. I can honestly report that I love each of my companions dearly.

A highlight of my time as a full-time missionary was the opportunity to testify of Jesus Christ every day. I am grateful for truth to testify of, and doing so gave me an electric feeling I absolutely love. Feeling the Holy Ghost with people, watching Christ change them, therefore being inspired by them. That's magic!

What anyone will tell any "discouraged" missionary is that your efforts are not measured by your results. Of course not. We can't make any conclusion like that because we have such a minuscule view of this thing as humans. No one can or does promise you "baptisms" as a missionary. As a missionary, your purpose is to help people develop the faith to be baptized, and keep those commitments eternally. No one my companions and I talked to or taught have been baptized yet, and sometimes that made me feel like a lousy missionary. Somedays, I probably was a lousy missionary. That's why I am grateful for repentance, and the Atonement. God commanded me to do something I wasn't able to do as a missionary in Japan. Though it meant I failed, if I didn't put all I could into accomplishing that purpose just because I knew I wouldn't be able to do it, I wouldn't have done what He needed, become what He needed me to do. If I knew I wouldn't see baptisms, I wouldn't have worked for baptisms, and learned so much on the way. That's also not what we're working for, baptisms. We are working for people, for Christ. The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught. (Doctrine and Covenants 3:1) 
I testify that what He commands us IS what is best and right and eternally progressive. He can see it. He lets us see what we need to as we grow along. He teaches us the answers to the questions He will ask us. 
Going on a mission was a rewarding experience and the right thing for me. I am grateful for the way it has influenced my character and decision. I am happy to be back in the SLC and love being a muggle as well! I hope to always be a missionary. I love God and His many creations. Jesus loves us, He is among us.
Brooklyn 姉妹