weekending

 donuts make me go nuts birth without fear baby bellyallard lowenstein ribbons in her hair garden plots darla help breakfast artifacts

all the frustration from last weekend over arrested productivity melted away this weekend. it’s hard not to feel enthused about a weekend that begins with donuts. and it’s hard not to feel productive during a weekend that you’re hosting such helpful visitors. my parents are such a support and a help to my growing family. i was very thankful and happy to have them visit us this weekend. months ago, when we had just moved into a new house and i subsequently found out i was growing a person, i felt a little at loss at how i was going to pull everything together.

and to be truthful, it’s not all together but it’s getting there. i can see the light at the end of the tunnel. and i’m feeling like we MIGHT just have a good deal of life progress completed before we settle down to meet this new human. i’m not quite ready but i’m feeling confident that i will be soon. which is more than i can say for when i was expecting darla.

i remember mike and i having a conversation on the way to the hospital for my birthing time with d and discussing how we hoped it was a false alarm. we were not ready. there are days that i’m still not ready for the force that is Darla in my life but this moment in time feels…bear with me for this analogy… like the effects of a shot of warm liquor*. it spreads through you reaching to the tips of your toes and fingers slowly until you’re warm all over and you have this calmness that says “this is right and this is good.” that’s what the conclusion of this weekend feels like. i’m feeling right and i’m feeling good.

and i wouldn’t be in this mentality if it weren’t for all the helpers and support i have in my life. my parents, my husbeau, neighbors and friends and even my little helper that helped {somewhat, sometimes} getting projects accomplished this weekend. my weekend even consisted of helpers i’d never met before since i attended the birth without fear meet-up on saturday. it was an inspiring day and it helped me put a finger on some of the things i’m working through with this pregnancy.

oh gawd. you know you’re in your 3os when you are looking back at your weekend and are excited about the gardening and painting instead of the parties and the concerts.

but it was fulfilling and it was progress and i am thankful. and i am in my 30s. so this is right and this is good.

*ok, so disclaimer: i haven’t had a shot of warm liquor in YEARS. a more accurate description of this would be what it used to feel like when my body could tolerate that lifestyle more. a shot of warm liquor would probably feel A LOT different now, not nearly as poetic. in case i forgot to mention this…i’m in my 30s now.
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Birthy BOGO with a purpose – Birth Tshirts on sale!

I want to let you in on a secret {now not so secret} birth work goal of mine. Almost a year ago my family lost my dear cousin in a tragic accident. She had devoted much of her young life to
mission work and had a passion for helping others. I promised myself that one of the things I would do with my birth work was find a way to provide services for mothers in need of pregnancy, labor & postpartum support in her name. It feels like it’s taken me forever to lay the ground work but, with my certification pending, I feel that I’ll finally be ready to get the ball rolling on a fund to support that work. I’ve calculated how much it would take to cover my basic costs per birth and am hoping to establish a fund to offer those services to at least one mother a month after I’m back from maternity leave in 2015. That feels so exciting and kinda lofty to me at this particular moment but I’m just going to keep pressing on. All I can do is try, right?

One of the ways I’m supplementing this fund is through the sales of my birth work shirts. I began creating these for myself and then thought “hey, maybe you should open these up to other birth workers who want to spread the birth word as well.” So I did and I was right. Slowly but surely these shirts have been bought up. It’s been a modest venture but looking at the earnings I’m sitting here feeling like I could provide service for at least one mother with those earnings. That’s a damn good feeling and I want to keep the ball rolling. I have a few more projects up my sleeve that I hope to add to this endeavor but it feels good to have scratched the surface.

So, I’m setting an intention with this post and providing some birthy information along with these shirts, which are BOGO 50% off until 4/14 through Skreened. Get ready for lots of birth goodness:

necesarean-v-neck.american-apparel-unisex-v-neck-tee.white.w760h760unnecesarean-v-neck.american-apparel-unisex-v-neck-tee.white.w760h760

April is Cesarean Awareness Month. The mission of the month is to draw attention to the fact that 1 in 3 children in the US are born via cesarean. The debate for and against cesarean birth wages on but one thing is for sure, at least for me, it is something that deserves attention and conversation. These two shirts were designed with the intent to help mothers with cesarean experience initiate those conversations. All birth deserves our support. All birth deserves to be discussed.

doula-label-v-neck.american-apparel-unisex-v-neck-tee.athletic-grey.w760h760

As a birth worker, I’ve had the most success with this shirt starting conversations when I’m out and about doing my daily do. I’ve had a variety of lovely conversations bloom because of my shirts. Women want to talk about their experiences with doula support. Partners want to rave about doula work. I’ve even had a heart-warming conversation with an area anesthesiologist who stopped marching in a parade to come talk to me on the sidelines when he saw my shirt. I think having these conversations in everyday life are powerful and necessary. People, in general, want to talk about birth. If you’re a doula looking for a starter shirt I’d say try this one or it’s tank top cousin.

birth-is-beautiful-sweatshirt.american-apparel-unisex-crew-neck-sweatshirt.heather-grey.w760h760

 i designed this sweatshirt to match the apparel for the new Central Ohio Doulas organization that sprung forth into existence earlier this year. i’m very excited to be a part of this group and see good things happening in the future for furthering doula work as a profession and getting that professionalism recognized by the larger birth community in central ohio. however, the shirt has no real affiliation with the group so I thought doulas far and wide might enjoy this warm cover-up for chilly hospital nights.

and this last one i’ve put on here just for funnies. i can’t wait to put my own little baby in some of these onesies.

yo girl birth story baby onesie

 

if you are a birth worker, birth activist, birth lover or baby lover head on over to the skreened shop to see if anything catches your eye before 4/14 to get in on the 50% off savings. i have designs for babies, mamas wanting to rock their homebirth status, doulas, midwives and lots more. i’ll continue to add more to the shop and update the public on these offerings from time to time.

Thanks y’all. May your life be blessed with supported, beautiful birth.

bump day

baby belly pic

it’s a birthday baby bump post today. it’s hard for me to believe that the body holding that baby is 31 years old. i never thought i would get old.  the 30s are a weird decade where sometimes i feel much, much older than my years only to follow it up with feelings of eternal youth the next day.

anyway, i’ve enjoyed a day of rainy solitude for my 31st birthday. husbeau left me cinnamon rolls for breakfast and i’ve been catching up on household projects, rest and online work that was all put on the back burner during 6 long days of workshops and learning for my ventures into postpartum doula work and childbirth education. there’s a lot to unpack in this brain. i feel like i have a 50 item laundry list of things i want to get started on asap to further my career in birthwork.

but in the middle of it all, i’ve made sure to stop and spend time with this belly. i cannot believe it will be only a few short months before i meet the little person inside there.

birth work is my jam

birth work tee from skreened.com/momjeanz

birth work is my jam, yo!

all the excitement is with me right now as i’ll be attending my DONA postpartum doula training AND Lamaze Childbirth Educator training today through next wednesday.

excite! excite! all the excite!

i can pretty much guarantee there will be crying from me and lots of lady fawning posts on various social mediums.

all the support for all the families!!!!!!!!!!!

wish me luck.

journaling the maternal experience

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at a recent appointment with our midwives i discussed trying to find the balance between being connected to this birth and being controlling. with darla’s birth i believed that everything would be ok and all would be well, as nature intended. well, that’s actually a pretty good way to head into your first birth since things did end up pretty well. but i don’t feel like i really connected to my pregnancy with her ahead of time. i feel much more spiritually involved with this little one. however, i’m also feeling more aware of the possibilities of things that *could* go wrong and i’m having a harder time disconnecting from those thoughts. that ignorant bliss goes right out the window with naiveté once you’ve been doing birthwork for a while. it’s given me a lot of empathy for medical professionals given the fact that the majority of the births i’ve seen have been peaceful and natural.

so i decided journaling the rest of this pregnancy would be a good thing for me. i feel i’ve been involved with this pregnancy at a more heightened level and i need to make sure that continues to come from a good place and not a place of fear. because i do believe this natural act my body, baby and self are to perform in a few months will be lovely and healthy. i might just need a place to write that down daily as a reminder. and i believe that when actions are motivated by fear then they secondarily become motivated by control. i don’t need to control this life event. i need to experience it. i need to cling firmly to the faith that all will be normal, healthy and safe, as intended.

i have a few other things i’ve been practicing and/or plan on incorporating into birth prep that i’ll share here in time.  because having faith in the process doesn’t absolve me from doing work on my end to nourish my body, mind and baby. please stay tuned for future pregnancy work updates!

dear DONA, can i be a doula please?

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yesterday marked somewhat of an achievement for me. it also happened to be the day we received 2o dollars in the mail from my mother. this could only lead to one thing in our household: achievement + $20 = celebratory tacos.

baby belly, meet tacos. tacos, meet baby belly. oh that’s right! you’ve met before. 

yesterday, after almost 2 years of working on my certification materials, i sent off my application to become a certified doula by DONA International.

i have been working towards this for a long time. little by little i got it done and honestly it shouldn’t have taken me this long because i had the actual work part of it done a long time ago. i just had to find time to sit down and compile it all into papers and lists and what not. one of my problems is that i put the things that i need to do for myself last.

but i’m not going to dwell on it because the bottom line is, i done put that sucker in the mail yesterday. and now i just wait to hear if i fulfilled all the requirements in a satisfactory manner.

which is going to be a bit nerve-wracking.

i’m already waiting to hear if i passed one certification and now i’ll be waiting on this one. oh yeah, and i’m starting two new certifications in about 2 weeks. i’ve put a lot of myself into this for the past 3 years and i’m investing a lot of my future in it too. what if i get my packet back and stamped on the outside says “probably the worst doula candidate we’ve ever seen. please don’t do this anymore” ?

there’s a lot of fear wrapped up in this for me.

i have fear surrounding my ability to do birth work after the birth of my own amazing little second human. will there be enough space for me? everybody wants to be a doula now! there will probably be 50 newly trained doulas running around my town by the time i’m ready to take births again. and by the way both those last two sentences are written from a positive spot. i think it’s awesome and right that so many women want to be doulas. it’s my hope for female culture that we reclaim the knowledge of childbirth as a collective. and doulas do run around town. it’s what we do for our clients. we go to them, to their houses, to their hospitals, to their doctor’s appointments. we’re a group on the go. but will there be a space for me when i’m back on the scene?

will there be space in my own life for birth work? i worry about finding time to support clients in a way they deserve while basking in babydom and being present in my own life.

well, the answer is i don’t know what i don’t know. i can only have faith. i can only have faith in myself and in whatever future is out there for me. and i can voice these fears because i know they are not realities. they are just fears of things that have not yet come to pass. one of the main things i do as a doula is hold space for others. i’m going to have to learn to hold space for myself.  i will have to hold space in my life and in my thoughts.

this will need to be mantra: my life and my world are big enough to accommodate me and my dreams. 

sooooo this is all a really long-winded way of saying wish me luck with this approval and with navigating this area of life in an unknown future.

ALSO, this was a really long-winded way of telling you that those tacos were damn good and thanks to my momma for the taco funds!

what i really learned in breastfeeding class

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you may or may not know that i attended my Certified Lactation Counselor training last week with the Center for Breastfeeding. it was wonderful in so many ways. thoughts have been tumbling through my head ever since that branch off into various categories: women’s health, politics, the majesty of the female body. mostly, i just keep seeing breasts everywhere i go now.  ^^^see^^^

the instructors said several things that really resonated with me over the course of the week. first, let me say the training was very even-keeled. there were only a few times during subject material such as “workplace breastfeeding and pumping” where the class ventured into the realm of things that could be a place for social debate because we all know there is certainly a lot of debate about breastfeeding in our society. but the class did an excellent job of being fair and leaving us to have our own thoughts and feelings about what we were learning. that is where this post is stemming from: my own thoughts and feelings.

at one point the instructor said “isn’t it funny how sometimes women can be the harshest on other women. why is that?”

and that’s what got me thinking back to some of the other things we’d discussed earlier in the class: breastfeeding in public, the acceptance of breasts as sexual objects and the refusal of breasts used for their intended natural purposes, the discussions about whom is actually making the “rules” about where, how long, and how often a woman should nurse her child.

so here’s a theory for you to disregard completely {bonus points to you if you get that reference}:

it struck me after all those conversations that the reason women can be so judgemental and mean to one another is because that’s how we’re taught in this world to treat women. we are taught it is normal to be harsh and cruel. we are taught to try to control women. we are taught that women are only right if they fit into boxes and roles that appeal to men.

i do not believe that women are inherently catty and judgmental of other women. i have experienced women being authentic my whole life and have experienced the very opposite. i’ve been lucky to be surrounded by wonderful females at every stage and i feel that when women are left alone they are so loving and kind in their interactions with one another.

but when we are forced into boxes created by others we become what we are taught to be: mean girls. anyone who believes that this world is anything but cruel to women is turning a blind eye. we are fortunate in the western world to have it in lesser degrees but it shines through the most in our society in the areas that are so central to many women’s lives: birth, babyfeeding and mothering.

women are cruel to other women because that is the way the world has taught us women should be treated.

unless a woman is lucky enough to have the freedom to be who she really is. i’ve noticed that as women age they learn to cast off the boxes society tries to fit them in and female bonds become stronger with age. being a young female is hard. a good number of us try out being what we were told we should be but it seems like most are figuring out “this doesn’t work for me” by mid-twenties to thirties. we form strong relationships and communities later in life. much of the school-girl gossip is left behind. that is if the woman is supported by a societal climate that allows her to be authentic.

i know the next time i have a judgemental thought i will think to myself “who put that thought there? is that how i really feel or is it a conditioned response?” in my opinion, too many of the things said about women are conditioned responses and not how women REALLY feel about our fellow females.

in the future i hope to do my best to be kind to all women. i hope to change my thoughts, attitudes and behaviors to remove these conditioned responses. i hope to break free from the expectations i’ve had before about how women should look, act and be. i hope to let women be and love them as they are.

because ladies, you’re all pretty great.

i want to close up this post with one last quote from my class that has stuck with me. i hope in the future we will see the health and well-being of our women as important to that of our males.

“It’s time we start acknowledging that women’s health is men’s health because women grow and feed babies and some of those babies grow up to be men. The health of our mothers matters to everyone.”