Or at least, organize her life.
I'm a blogger. Ish. I'm not a woman who blogs often, but I'm still a blogger. I have my own business (shameless self promotion, yes!) and we know that comes with its blessings and its challenges. I am also a parent, a partner, and a full time employee at a day job. Oh and I'm supposed to have a social life, be active, and have a hobby. Right now, scrolling Facebook for an hour before bed is my hobby and it's also part of my problem. While I genuinely learn so much from Facebook (the obstetrical violence conversations are overwhelming this week!), I am also not focused or working towards anything. I end up rushing after wasting time. Part of it is FOMO, part is how my mornings are spent snuggling with a coffee, an iPhone, and a three year old and that time is precious. But, I got shit to do.
So, loyal reader and Blog follower, I'm going to boldly try something new.
I'm going to commit to two full weeks of "time blocking" on the daily. Organizing my day. I'll update you about it. Probs not on the daily, but enough so you know I'm working on it. Going to see what changes over two weeks.
Scheduling feels challenging when you don't know what you want to do, or what kind of mood your 3YO is in. Having said that, isn't some loose plan better than no plan? Maybe I'll just feel worse that nothing is crossed off my list? But isn't it better to have a list than NO list. Right. Right? Another thing I get excited about and lose track of? Anyone else have like 14 reallllly pretty journals?
On the other hand: it could help. Like, really help. Less guilt about wasted time. I'll be prepared for the risks when I'm ready to take them. More time in the now. More stuff off the list.
I believe in setting goals, being present, having a plan, and making progress. So.... let's apply it!
I'll be using my planner from Michael's. I still adore it although I got it months ago and haven't used it reliably.
I also have a task chart on the fridge that I was inspired to make after reading some of FlyLady's stuff. If you haven't read her stuff about organizing your life, starting at home and with your routines, you SHOULD. My chart includes being romantic. Hope, you're reading this, husband.
Anyway, folks. I'm going to do the thing. Feel free to check in!
According to world famous researcher and obstetrician Michel Odent, there are four tips towards achieving the birth you want. You know what's amazing. The tips he talks about are free, and have to do with YOUR BRAIN.
Before we send you over to his article, I will say a few things. What we know is that support is key. Having a consistent, educated, aware support person can be critical for a pregnant person to last through a challenging birth experience. A support person like a caring partner, or doula can help you remain focused, provide alternatives when you need pain relief, and help you navigate hospital policies.
Partners also need support. When a birthing person knows their partner can comfortably run to the washroom, grab a snack and a coffee, and recharge, while a doula stays with them, they can feel settled in knowing they don't need to caretake for the partner during labour. I've had birthing women say between contractions, "I need to know he's eating, and taking breaks." Doulas can also encourage partners to be involved with hands on comfort measures, and other active jobs during a birth. Partners like to feel useful. Helpless is a hard place for partners. Sometimes they just need a little direction.
Three other things you can do to help your birth:
-Eat and Drink (click here for safety info!)
-Pee. Your bladder will get in the way of your uterus, stall progress and can make contractions less tolerable.
-Be active. Active births can be faster and offer better main management.
Finally, to hear from the experts....for Michel Odent's four tips, click here.
To learn about how a doula can support your birth, check out my services page, or email me for a free, no obligation coffee date to talk about how a doula can support you during birth.
A lot of my clients ask for suggestions on comfort measure tips for the postpartum period, breast pump info, baby wellness information and product suggestions, teething care, and baby led weaning items. I'm just going to tell you what my views are. Over the next little while, I'm going to be profiling some of the products or tips for things I have come to love as a parent, or as a doula. I will give you an honest review, but share why it made my or my clients' lives easier.
A few of the items I'm going to share my opinions on:
-comfort tips for pregnancy
-infant wellness and health care products
-sippy cups and mealtime info
Stay tuned for more info! Shopaholics beware: I am not one to advise over purchasing. I don't think you need a lot of "special products" for your little one, or yourself during pregnancy. Come back soon to hear more! xxoxo
So...what do we do now?
When the glimmer of giving birth has dulled to a glow.
When you're finally home, settled, in your own jammies.
The pets have been introduced.
When your parents and inlaws have inspected the swaddled bundle of your finest work....
There's no nurse.
There's no lactation consultant.
There's your partner. Your baby. And you.
Now, you're the grown-up. At least, that's how I felt. All of a sudden, you're responsible for keeping a tiny human fed, clean, and content.
Enter: The Postpartum Doula.
Let me share a bit about what I've been up to on my postpartum visits:
-I've supported parents in hospital with sleep support while they recovered from a c-section.
-Taught a new mama how to breastfeed.
-Recognized a lethargic, jaundiced baby and helped them get the medical care they needed.
-Brought menstrual pads and chocolate milk to the hospital upon the mama's request.
-Helped new parents who didn't drive get lactation support so they didn't need to bus to a clinic or drop in.
-Recognized mama wasn't eating so brought her Ensure to get nutrients so she could feed her baby.
-Advised new parents about heir babe's tongue and lip tie and helped them with referrals. Worked with them to get latch as comfortable as possible in the meantime.
-Took out garbage.
-Weeded spring flower beds.
-Brought nipple cream.
-Taught side nursing.
-Watched baby so Dad could sleep.
-Santized and washed bottles.
-Made meals for the next day.
-Played with toddlers so they feel important and special, too.
-Helped with transitions.
Postpartum Doulas are an extra set of hands. When you need to sleep badly, your partner is home and the lawn needs cutting....who changes baby? When you're supposed to "sleep when the baby sleeps," but your baby.doesn't.ever.sleep... Let a postpartum doula help.
If you are looking for a baby gift for a friend, sister, co-worker, I offer gift certificates for Pop-In-Postpartum care. You can email me at email@example.com to purchase through me. I accept e-transfer, cash, Visa or MasterCard. Or, visit The Been Garden, grab a gift certificate from there and see what other little treasures you can find!
Real talk: Breastfeeding was hard for me. Really hard.
I birthed my son. That was the easy part. I struggled hard with nursing. It was the one thing I was most worried about. My nipples cracked and bled. A "normal" rate of weight loss for a newborn is up to 7% of baby's weight., and Andrew lost more than 10%. I had I.V fluids during birth, so this is not uncommon. For a first time Mom, it felt like catastrophe. I make sure I tell my clients now that it is normal for baby to have some water weight from the I.Vs, and normal for them to lose it. At any rate, we were suggested to supplement with formula. Within the hour, I tried to pump to increase my milk supply, while my husband drove out for formula. I was nursing my baby on one side, and re-reading the instructions for the breast pump to pump on the other side. He cried around the clock. We could go an hour and a half without getting him to breast. I got the Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle. A month later, he lost weight between check ups. I got the Domperidone. I had LCs come to the house, I was referred to a pediatrician. I went to breastfeeding clinics. More than many other parents do. Below is a real email I sent to my now mentor, but then was the Lactation Consultant:
I'm still struggling a bit here and was hoping to ask your advice, yet again. I will pay you for the ongoing advice and really appreciate the support!
It seems like my boobs have missed the memo on up-regulating my supply. The past couple days I've been lucky if he will stay on for 30 seconds (even with compressions), unless it's before sleep and I'm moving with him. I'm doing skin to skin as well. Night feeds are still great - the primal brain is amazing!
I'm still on the max of domperidone, fenugreek and blessed thistle. We've cut supplementing with pumped breast milk or formula, in an effort to try and get him back on the breast and increase my supply, even though the pediatrician we saw on Tuesday for our pre-scheduled follow up said we need to top him up if he's not satisfied because he needs calories, and that he didn't gain as much as she wanted him to (bare minimum of safe range over 3 weeks) so we we were told we shouldn't withhold!
I guess I'm wondering at what point I consider that maybe my supply isn't going to be enough for him? We keep being told he needs more and it's really hard for me to hear him screaming like this during feeds.
If you have any more advice for me, that would be so appreciated.
Sent from my iPhone
These were dark days. It was coming to the end of day nursing for us, within a month of sending that desperate email. We tried the supplemental feeding tubes with formula. The day I met some of my dearest Mom Friends, I was at Mom and Baby group. Andrew cried and cried. I had to sit in the hallway for half of it, so my supplemental tubing bottle could be higher than my breast. Ann, a very dear woman to me, came to check on me. "Are you ok?" I couldn't blink or the tears would fall. "I'm ok; you can take my spot in the big comfy chair if you want." "You've been gone for a while, do you need anything?" What I really wanted was a Guinness, a hot shower and a nap. "I'm ok, thanks though." Lie. Dark days. I flew to Cape Cod and he stopped nursing during the day. He was hungry, but refused the breast. He took bottles instead. We kept night nursing until he was 9 months old.
We found out when he was almost six months old, Andrew had an undiscovered posterior tongue tie and a stage four lip tie. He couldn't flange his lip properly or get enough breast in his mouth to drain the breast well, get enough milk, or maintain supply. We missed it as tongue and lip issues can get worse over time. He was healthy; he was just small. He nursed around the clock to get what he needed.
I had PPD. I was anxious all the time. I counted days and ounces that he was supposed to gain between doctors' appointments, and marked it on the calendar. At the time, I felt like such a failure. I wanted nothing more than to EBF. That's Momspeak for exclusively breast feed, if you were wondering. I couldn't feed my baby. I was so frustrated he refused the breast. I tried not to give him another option. I couldn't handle his response to that. He didn't want the milk I barely had. How could it be so easy for everyone else? I found a medication that worked for me. I talked about it. It got better.
Looking at it now, I would have changed some things. I would have offered tubing to the breast instead of a bottle right away. I would have known to check for tongue and lip ties. I would have still done all of the herbs and meds. I would have still tried it all. But when it stopped working, I would have stopped blaming myself. I did everything I could. When the facilitator of the Mom and Baby group said to me, "Jackie, no one could have tried harder than you; You did all you could." It was so validating. I could have hugged her. I could have cried. That wouldn't have been hard- I spent most of my time close to tears. I wouldn't have made it as long as I did without my support team and being around other like minded parents. Those breastfeeding clinics saved us to see that other people needed help, as well. By the end of it, I could give some advice to them, too.Parent and Baby groups saved my anxiety.
I am not a doula who will judge your feeding choices. I don't know what you've been through. I am pro-breastfeeding and pro-formula feeding. I am pro-baby feeding. I did it all. I did baby led weaning. I gave him baby food pouches on occasion. He still wants to eat chicken nuggets and bananas, and other beige foods for the majority of his meals. Do your best. Forget the rest. If breast feeding just isn't the right choice for you, I am still in your corner. You're doing great. You are not a failure because you're not nursing. Your baby is lucky to have you.
If breastfeeding isn't going well, get help. There are individual supports like lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, public health nurses, breastfeeding clinics, and other professional services that can help. Reach out today. firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll point you in the right direction. If you need postpartum mood supports, or are struggling with your emotions, please reach out. <3
Polaroids of Motherhood
For me, motherhood is like buying a super expensive DSLR camera and realizing you prefer Polaroids.
Immediately produced memories that are tangible. They are a little sloppy. Slightly discoloured. They aren't perfectly planned with time to review exposures.
The truth is, I wanted to be a photographer. I had the dark room planned out, the camera bought, the internship lined up. However, much like in motherhood, I'm an amateur at best. I'd consider myself, at this point, a hobby mom. I'm not great at taking it seriously, but I know professional work when I see it. At times, I lack vision, organization, and follow through, but sometimes: I'm fun. Efficient enough. Making do.
I was supposed to be better at this.
Somewhere between point and shoot, I lost it. Frame by frame of trying to catch my breath, I think I have it. I'm figuring out: I don't. Activities, trips, crafts, games, pre-planned meals, bedtimes ON time. Pinterest pages of parenting blogs I haven't read, homemade toys and experiments I visioned, but haven't attempted. Piles of laundry. Disorganized closets and mismatched socks. I was supposed to be better at this.
It turns out that much of the photography we see in print and online is photoshopped. With each click and drag, imperfections have been brushed out, and the finished product is perfection. I'm not that artist. I make my work quickly and shake the images produced with rushed hope. Balance is hard.
I will keep taking my moments as they come, and hoping I have it together enough to make a sweet memory or two. To have enough "remember whens," and less "I forget." One day, I'll learn how to do more than point and shoot and plan on the fly. For now, selfies will do.
April is a month for transition. Out goes the snow and ice left from March's indecision and in comes the predictability of wishy washy April. April will rain, and glow, and blow, and then lather, rinse and repeat. Much like an over- tired toddler, April doesn't know what is next.
In July of 2012, I got pregnant. I found out soon after that I was miscarrying. It was an early loss. Some would term it as a chemical pregnancy. For me, I feel that term invalidates the grief that we have when Hope unravels. I was to be due in early April.
So the seasons pass and April rolls around. The due date falls on my college reunion. With women I hadn't seen in years, we recall memories of professors, relationships, polar bear shots before exams (don't judge, I share my birthday with my best friend.) Conversations have a ribbon woven throughout. Babies, marriage, kids, engagements, work, husbands, girlfriends, babies, houses, kids, careers, babies. Babies. Babies. I'm in the bathroom of the Moxie's on Richmond deep breathing in the stall. Trying not to blink. Looking up. Can't. Finally, I return to the table and order another glass of wine. I should be waiting for a baby right now. I should be at home with swollen ankles waddling in the nursery, assessing each Braxton-Hicks. I'm not. I'm sitting with women I am heart bound to and hearing them talk about their toddlers, babies, pregnancies. "You're next, Jackie." I can't. Not today. I am so happy for them but can't shake the weight.
The next day, we figure was the date we got pregnant with our second. We lost again. Three months later, we were pregnant with our son. Our double rainbow.
Here are a few thoughts as I consider what I needed that April:
I needed the distraction of going out with my college friends but I needed permission to be real with them. I didn't give that to myself that day. I needed them not to ask about me and my reproduce plans. Well meaning people who I dearly love, didn't know what was reeling below deck.
I needed my early loss to be validated by care providers. I had the Early Pregnancy Assessment resident ask me "What's Wrong" after performing my ultrasound and confirming the loss. Not shitting you. I needed permission to be anxious during my pregnancy with Andrew. I had early bleeds. I felt like I was hoping uphill. I was petrified. I needed support. I needed serious postpartum care. I should have had a doula. I attribute my PPD in partiality to my anxious pregnancy.
What to do on loss anniversaries: whatever you need to. Stay home, distract yourself, go out, or don't. Honour your baby. Honour what you lost and whoever you're missing. With a baby born in 2013, I'd have a four year old, and should be registering her for JK this year. Light a candle, yell, cry, remember. And if you need to forget, that's ok, too. Every year for me is different. Sometimes it's easier. This year, I'm not sure.
This week, before relabeling file folders at work, I started to write their names in marker. Illegibly, I scribble the previous clients' names before it gets a new label. I smile because I can do that now. Hope. Everett.
My living toddler's birthday is May 10th. April showers, bring May flowers. Rain, blow, and glow.
Let Them Be Little
My son is closing in on three in just over a month. We are through the baby stage. The stage of the never ending soother game, the quest for the sippy he would actually drink from and are, gratefully, done with constantly trying to sort out the sleep. *Touch wood*
Shopping out of town on Saturday, my son fell asleep right before we arrived at the shop we were looking forward to. As I lifted him out of his car seat, I was expecting he would be either crabby apples for having woken after a short snooze, or it would be the reset button we needed. It was neither. He stayed asleep. Sound asleep. He slept on my shoulder while walking through the store for over 45 minutes. His body draped over me, his arms trailing over my shoulders, halfway down my back- he slept hard. Finally, I shifted him to holding him in a tummy to tummy cradle position. I was taken back to nursing and bouncing. It seemed to last so long; the phase of constantly trying to settle him. And yet, here is is, almost three. Draped across me like a giant infant. Rubber boots with spaceships instead of infant socks, both impossible to keep on. Shoppers in the store were in two camps: commenting on the sweetness of a sleeping baby, or remarking about his size. Truth be told, so was I; but not with the tone of he latter. I wondered how long I can keep holding him while he sleeps this way. I don't want to ever miss a moment of it. The questions roll: how long will he keep wanting to be held? How long til he tells me he's no longer a baby? What if my back gives out before he does? What if he's my only and this is it? Does he deserve a sibling? What if I hadn't lost? Did I hold him enough? Never too much- that's not a question. I hope he sleeps long enough that we can get through lunch. I hope there's beer with lunch.
He's so big, and in that moment still so little. Their feelings at three are BIG. That's a whole other post.
My arms ached from holding his weight. I won't complain for a second. How can he be so big and yet still a baby in my arms? I look at him and he's this independent boy, speaking in sentences, and then the next moment sighs in my ear with sleepy baby breath.
Just gratitude to have this. Let him be little.
Here's to the moments where you realize their clothes aren't any longer measured in months. Here's to holding your breath while they hold the railing to steady themselves on the stairs. Here's to the open cups and extra spills, the two piece jammies, the rubber boots, and the pants that are getting worn out before they're grown out of. Here's to the weird moment you put away the plastic cutlery and the pang of guilt that you don't remember the last time he took a bottle or who gave it to him. Heres to all the onesies that still fit but can't wear while potty training. Here's to falling asleep without being held.
For now, I'll hold on to the rear facing car seat. I'll embrace the post tub snuggles where he drapes himself over my shoulder wrapped in a big, fluffy white towel, and the and the last kisses of the night with the crib rails digging in my ribs. I know the transition to the big bed is coming but I can't bear to rush it.
I came across this post this morning and it says everything I need to. At the Pregnancy and Infant Loss group I attend, we talk about isolating and invalidating phrases like these.
This post for anyone who has faced the adversity of a change that they did not choose. There is no "reason."
I'm just going to leave this article from Tim Lawrence right here:
Everything Doesn't Happen For A Reason
OCTOBER 20, 2015
Everything Doesn't Happen For A Reason
I emerge from this conversation dumbfounded. I've seen this a million times before, but it still gets me every time.
I’m listening to a man tell a story. A woman he knows was in a devastating car accident; her life shattered in an instant. She now lives in a state of near-permanent pain; a paraplegic; many of her hopes stolen.
He tells of how she had been a mess before the accident, but that the tragedy had engendered positive changes in her life. That she was, as a result of this devastation, living a wonderful life.
And then he utters the words. The words that are responsible for nothing less than emotional, spiritual and psychological violence:
Everything happens for a reason. That this was something that had to happen in order for her to grow.
That's the kind of bullshit that destroys lives. And it is categorically untrue.
It is amazing to me that so many of these myths persist—and that is why I share actionable tools and strategies to work with your pain in my free newsletter. These myths are nothing more than platitudes cloaked as sophistication, and they preclude us from doing the one and only thing we must do when our lives are turned upside down: grieve.
You know exactly what I'm talking about. You've heard these countless times. You've probably even uttered them a few times yourself. And every single one of them needs to be annihilated.
Let me be crystal clear: if you've faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.
Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.
So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:
Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on an increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed.
They can only be carried.
I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn't. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we've replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.
I now live an extraordinary life. I've been deeply blessed by the opportunities I've had and the radically unconventional life I've built for myself. Yet even with that said, I'm hardly being facetious when I say that loss has not in and of itself made me a better person. In fact, in some ways it's hardened me.
While so much loss has made me acutely aware and empathetic of the pains of others, it has made me more insular and predisposed to hide. I have a more cynical view of human nature, and a greater impatience with those who are unfamiliar with what loss does to people.
Above all, I've been left with a pervasive survivor’s guilt that has haunted me all my life. This guilt is really the genesis of my hiding, self-sabotage and brokenness.
In short, my pain has never been eradicated, I've just learned to channel it into my work with others. I consider it a great privilege to work with others in pain, but to say that my losses somehow had to happen in order for my gifts to grow would be to trample on the memories of all those I lost too young; all those who suffered needlessly, and all those who faced the same trials I did early in life, but who did not make it.
I'm simply not going to do that. I'm not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive. I'm not going to assume that God ordained me for life instead of all the others so that I could do what I do now. And I'm certainly not going to pretend that I've made it through simply because I was strong enough; that I became "successful" because I "took responsibility."
There’s a lot of “take responsibility” platitudes in the personal development space, and they are largely nonsense. People tell others to take responsibility when they don’t want to understand.
Because understanding is harder than posturing. Telling someone to “take responsibility” for their loss is a form of benevolent masturbation. It’s the inverse of inspirational porn: it’s sanctimonious porn.
Personal responsibility implies that there’s something to take responsibility for. You don’t take responsibility for being raped or losing your child. You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don't choose whether you grieve. We're not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don't get to escape grieving.
This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.
In so doing, we deny them the right to be human. We steal a bit of their freedom precisely when they're standing at the intersection of their greatest fragility and despair.
No one—and I mean no one—has that authority. Though we claim it all the time.
The irony is that the only thing that even canbe "responsible" amid loss is grieving.
So if anyone tells you some form of get over it, move on, or rise above, you can let them go.
If anyone avoids you amidst loss, or pretends like it didn’t happen, or disappears from your life, you can let them go.
If anyone tells you that all is not lost, that it happened for a reason, that you’ll become better as a result of your grief, you can let them go.
Let me reiterate: all of those platitudes are bullshit.
You are not responsible to those who try to shove them down your throat. You can let them go.
I’m not saying you should. That is up to you, and only up to you. It isn't an easy decision to make and should be made carefully. But I want you to understand that you can.
I've grieved many times in my life. I've been overwhelmed with shame and self-hatred so strong it’s nearly killed me.
The ones who helped—the only ones who helped—were those who were there. And said nothing.
In that nothingness, they did everything.
I am here—I have lived—because they chose to love me. They loved me in their silence, in their willingness to suffer with me, alongside me, and through me. They loved me in their desire to be as uncomfortable, as destroyed, as I was, if only for a week, an hour, even just a few minutes.
Most people have no idea how utterly powerful this is.
Are there ways to find "healing" amid devastation? Yes. Can one be "transformed" by the hell life thrusts upon them? Absolutely. But it does not happen if one is not permitted to grieve. Because grief itself is not an obstacle.
The obstacles come later. The choices as to how to live; how to carry what we have lost; how to weave a new mosaic for ourselves? Those come in the wake of grief. It cannot be any other way.
Grief is woven into the fabric of the human experience. If it is not permitted to occur, its absence pillages everything that remains: the fragile, vulnerable shell you might become in the face of catastrophe.
Yet our culture has treated grief as a problem to be solved, an illness to be healed, or both. In the process, we've done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. As a result, when you're faced with tragedy you usually find that you're no longer surrounded by people, you're surrounded by platitudes.
What to Offer Instead
When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.
Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:
I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.
Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you're going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.
There is no greater act than acknowledgment. And acknowledgment requires no training, no special skills, no expertise. It only requires the willingness to be present with a wounded soul, and to stay present, as long as is necessary.
Be there. Only be there. Do not leave when you feel uncomfortable or when you feel like you're not doing anything. In fact, it is when you feel uncomfortable and like you're not doing anything that you must stay.
Because it is in those places—in the shadows of horror we rarely allow ourselves to enter—where the beginnings of healing are found. This healing is found when we have others who are willing to enter that space alongside us. Every grieving person on earth needs these people.
Thus I beg you, I plead with you, to be one of these people.
You are more needed than you will ever know.
And when you find yourself in need of those people, find them. I guarantee they are there.
Everyone else can go.
I'm Tim, and The Adversity Within is a blog dedicated to examining the topic of resilience in the face of adversity, while inspiring readers to stand headstrong in their grief and fight for their own evolution. Living with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, I explore topics like post-traumatic growth, survival, and self-reliance. No one should face adversity alone. Subscribe to my mailing list below for free weekly writings delivered to your inbox, and follow me along on Facebook and Twitter.
Doulas....Not just for birth....
When people ask why I became a doula, I tell them I love all things birthy. I am fascinated by pregnancy, what the body and your baby are capable of. I love facts, stats, and normalizing. I bloody well also just like knowing things.
But there's more. I became really interested in fertility after our first miscarriage. I read whatever I could around pregnancy. After the second MC, I found the preliminary catheter and dye testing we had at the time (to check for deviations and septums of the uterus) incredible. I loved the idea of taking charge of my fertility and charting my cycles. Gratefully, I didn't need to do it for as long as some. That would get tired reallllly fast.
Looking back, my doula work didn't really start with birth facts. Maybe it was in Highschool, holding one of my closest girlfriend's hands when she got her stitches out after her breast reduction.
Maybe it started when my dear friend Chris was diagnosed with primary sclerosing colongitis and received a liver transplant. He spent more days in the hospital that year, than out. I needed to learn everything I could about the situation. I spent more time with him during the two months he was hospitalized close to me (the first time!) than with my husband. Details have gotten foggy over the last eight years, but after surgery when he developed lymphoma, then appendicitis and pancreatitis, his family asked me to go to him. He was having emergency surgery and they weren't sure they'd make it in time from Windsor. I shooed out the youth from the Teen Centre, and provided them with homework so I could leave. Doula life: Drop and go. I used to ask to watch when they were changing dressings. Incredible modern medicine. Blood was no big.
Maybe it was attending my mother's vascular cardiology appointments before her bifermoral aeortal bypass. Decoding information, asking situational questions, and discussing comfort measures.... I'm a bypass doula.
I'm new to the birth doula gig- I know that. But this is more than birth facts and breathing techniques. Being a doula doesn't always have to do with how many births they've been to. Yes, experiences count, but personality, response, courage under fire, trust, the ability to validate... count more.
My guess is that if you ask the next doula you meet why she does what she does, she will tell you about reproduction. In her heart, she will have stories where she's shown up and loved hard.
This is heart work and holding space.
We've been so enjoying ourselves with learning, getting classes advertised, arranging new space after the great flood of March.... Now comes event season! Today we are doing Beyond the Bump- a pregnancy and early childhood fair for families at Fanshawe. It's going to be an awesome day!
We we are still looking for certification births for Melissa. These births are offered at a reduced price! If you know of anyone who is expecting who would benefit from labour support, please let us know or email Melissa at email@example.com.
So, speaking of the Great Flood of March/16.... We are so sad to leave the Been! (Kandice, we promise our stuff will be gone soon!). BUUUUT....
we have a new space! We have hooked up with The Photographer's Studio to use their large open shooting space at 4096 Meadowbrook Dr, Unit 107! It's lovely, bright, and private!!
It's been a bit of a setback to re-arrange but we believe in what we are doing so we aren't giving up!
Much love xo
New Space: the Been Garden
We are so unbelievably stoked to offer classes and groups from the Been Garden! Guys, my heart is happy. We were going to run some public classes and just rent a space but the Been Garden allowed us the chance to have a more permanent set up and establish a doula zone that suits our style.
Melissa had been shopping at the Been Garden for some time. She knew all of its features, advantages and benefits. I was not as savvy. I started following them online and basically fell in love.
When you walk into the store, it's this perfectly adorable array of cute, practical and quirky (much like myself!). It's colorful, well arranged, and has a whimsical feel. People KNOW about the Been Garden.
Staff are amazing. They're helpful, friendly, and knowledgable. They know about the companies featured there as well as the products. "Sounds like you have a cold," Sam the staff said. I did. I'm calling it the NeverEnding Story of Sinus Hell. "Try these shower pucks by Alchemy Soap Works". I did. It worked. Amazing. Kandace, the owner, cares about people, the product and supporting local. Just lovely.
We fell into the opportunity and can't wait to get started! Huge kudos to Melissa for the awesome find!
Check out our new, expanded list of classes by visiting www.holdingspacedoula.com/classes
Please like and share widely. You guys are awesome. Thanks for showing the love! Xo
Is Birth a Competition?
At a recent birth I attended, one of the strongest, most incredible women I have ever known asked if she was cheating.
Let me set the scene. It's her second baby. Rough first pregnancy, rough birth. This time, Mama wants to try for a lower intervention, active, un-medicated birth. Mama had been in prodromal labour for four days. The first time we went to the hospital it was after hours and hours of steady contractions. We walked, did the stairs, squatted, etc. etc. etc. only to be sent home after cervical checks not showing progress. So disappointing. After this point, Mama never stops contracting. Can she sleep? Barely. Does she have energy? Nope, cause she's both excited and exhausted from the contractions keeping her up. Four days, three trips from home to the maternity floor of the hospital, several uncomfortable cervical checks, many baths and showers, over 15km of walking, and countless stairs (cause her doula was ruthless). She also had to get through Christmas with her family. As awesome as a family can be, that weight sitting on you is not easy when you're 38 weeks pregnant. Oh, and she has a three year old. So, you know. Life. She had a lot of hats to wear while her body was preparing to birth.
So let's talk about how her birth-day went down. She calls in the morning saying that contractions had picked back up, but was being cautious due to being sent home with early labour four days earlier. Contractions are every four to five minutes, lasting 45 seconds to a minute. Good pattern, lasting in intensity. We walk. And Walk. We do stairs. We bounce on the ball. Surges are gradually getting longer, stronger, and closer together. We think this is it. We call the family who is out of town to come back (they had just left that morning, obvs.) They come back to watch the pre-schooler. We head to hospital. Mama is feeling it. Low back pain, needing to move, make noise etc. Nurse checks her cervix. Still 3cm. She has been for five days. No change. Mama is so discouraged. We all are. We thought we were staying.
We head back home. She tells me to go home to see my family. I tell her I'll just stick around for a little til she's settled. She's discouraged and I can't bail just like that. Also, she's still contracting and it's a 40 minute drive for me. She eats a giant plate of turkey leftovers and gets into the bath. Things pick up. A lot. She said it's no worse than it was when we went to the hospital the first time, four days before, and that I should head home. This doula is silently laughing, but tells her again, she will just stick around for the movie the Mama and her sister suggested watching. Mama is feeling it. It's different. She needs to move through each contraction; she's gripping the couch. The legs are writhing a bit. Good signs. Contractions are 3-1-1. Then, we hear it. "Guys..... my water just broke!" YESSSSS! With towels set up we gather our things to head to hospital. Mama can no longer keep moving during contractions. We arrive and she is checked at 4cm. We bounce on the ball, again. We get Mama in the tub, and she starts to get some relief. Her body is coping beautifully. She's breathing with horse lips, she's swaying her hips in the water. She's rocking birth like a superstar. She's the Beyoncé of birth. She may as well name that kid Blu Ivy.
The vomiting. Shaking. Pressures change. She's 8cm, and gets out of the tub. Breathing becomes key. She's been at this for days, really, with early labour, but only at the hospital for just over an hour. She's worn out, but brave as a mama can be. Warrior brave. She says she doesn't want an epidural but asks if there's anything else she can use to take the edge off. Her nurse suggests nitrous oxide (laughing gas). She looks at me and says it:
"Is that cheating?"
I laugh and say "No way, there's no such thing as cheating in birth." I tell her this birth is hers, and she's doing what's best for her. This is all between contractions, by the way.
She thought she was cheating because she was in transition and needed some pain relief to take the peak off the contractions. I'm attaching a story but when Moms ask these kind of questions of themselves, maybe they think they needed to go without medications to gain closure after a first, challenging birth. To "Take Back Birth," so to say. Or, to have a "doula approved birth," or that if you go med-free you're officially "Mom enough." She was bloody tired. She's been sleepless for days. Of course she's feeling it. Never mind that her pain tolerance was probably decreased from exhaustion. Even if she HADN'T been in labour for days, it's still 100% perfectly absolutely beyond all shadow of doubt OK and NOT CHEATING to ask for what you need during birth. It doesn't mean you aren't Mom enough. It doesn't mean you'll have your Crunchy Card revoked. Just cause you didn't have an orgasmic* water birth, while enjoying essential oils, drinking organic Hawaiian coconut water, listening to the sweet sounds of Orcas frolicking, you ARE Mom enough.
You don't need to compare your birth experience to anyone else's.
Birth comes up, naturally, among circles of women. We talk. They ask "did you have an epidural?" I tell them I didn't. That's what I thought was best for me. They say "Wow! Good for you!" and to that I say the same thing: "Wow, you birthed a human." Good for all of us. Birthin' ain't easy. People make congratulations sometimes when they hear you "went natural." We all deserve congratulations. Our bodies pushed out a human. Or if you had a C-Section, you had serious major surgery to bring your tiny human into this world. You're hard core. We also need to let up on Moms who choose not to have epidurals. That is her choice, too. She's not "being a hero" if this choice is what she has decided to be best for her. We can save the eye rolls.
Some wise doulas I know have said that there's "Nothing better than a well placed epidural." When you're exhausted, and not coping well, your body can tense up and fight progress. It can close up. How's that for insult to injury? Sometimes you NEED the pain relief to get through and progress. Anyway, this post is not about the pros and cons of birth medication options. It's about being OK with whatever you educated and informed choice you see as right for you. It's about being OK and not comparing yourself to others, regardless of how they see their birth priorities. Theirs are not yours. If you're satisfied with your birth experience, that is what counts. Don't let anyone take that away from you. This blog post is nothing new in the birth world, but just an experience as I saw it that I feel attached to. What does this mean if you're choosing a doula? Maybe just consider what your goals are for birth, and in your interviews, ask the doula what their take is on pain management. There may be personal biases that don't align with your birth plan. Does it mean that you should only get a doula if you want a natural birth? Nope. Get a doula if you want to do everything you can to work towards the birth you want.
You're a goddam warrior, mama. A human came out of your body. You're fierce and a force to be reckoned with.
*Yes, Orgasmic Births are a thing. Google it.
Well, here we are! A blog on my very own website. Stay tuned for information and comments on prego/birthy/whatevery articles I find interesting.
Thanks for visiting, be a good human today.
Jackie Anger is a London, Ontario doula, a mama to an amazing pre-schooler, and a kid-dude, a community advocate, and a lover of coffee.