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.

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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.

dear DONA, can i be a doula please?

 photo 2CC8C17E-EE03-4657-A6C4-9479D225DCE7-17962-00000489A74968A8_zps715e8a3b.jpg

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!

the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i really love working on this series and i’m so happy to share the wisdom of these women with you.

photoRina Crane kinda seems like a, excuse my language, badass. Rina is based in the Bronx as a doula, doula trainer and founder & program coordinator of a volunteer doula program called Bronx Doulas serving women that otherwise might not have access to doula care. I was connected to her by another awesome doula and based on her answers and bio I can say i’m so happy women like Rina are doing this important work. From hypnobirthing, to reiki, to lamaze, it seems that Rina’s studied it all.

I’m happy to give you the words & wisdom of Doula Rina:

1. How long have you been a doula and what brought you to down the doula path?

I’ve been working as a doula for five years and feel that I’ve always been a doula at heart. After my births, I felt that there was lots of information that wasn’t easily accessible by so many women in our culture. Most of us do all of the standard things without asking questions or knowing what our options are. I felt very strongly that I should help get information out there. I decided to train as a doula so that I could help one or two women every now and then. Apparently, I’ve had a slight departure from that initial goal.

2. I’ve experienced people with the preconception that doulas only help women during natural birth. How would you respond to that? Who can benefit from doula support?

First, everyone can benefit from doula support, that’s why we’ve always had doulas. In most cultures, women are supported in birth by members of their community who come together and share their experience, stories and comfort techniques. Whether it’s one person or a group, this is how humans have always birthed in most parts of the world. I’ve been hired by women who were planning to use pain medication or even have cesareans. They may hire me for the reassurance and comfort I might provide or for the information I can share.

Sometimes we think we are being given a choice, but without an understanding of the pros and cons, we are being cheated. If you have a negative side effect from a decision you made, but you knew that was possible, you’re still in control. If you didn’t know about the consequences, it can have long-term effects, physically and emotionally. Many doulas say that they empower women in their births. I disagree. Women have the power already. Sometimes, a little information or a little word of encouragement uncovers it for them, the power that was theirs to begin with. That was a circuitous route to say that doulas can be immensely helpful during births with planned or surprise interventions.

3. You are a doula trainer and run a volunteer doula program in the Bronx, {tres awesome!} can you give me 3 top concepts of the doula role you teach women pursuing this role with you.

I became a doula trainer in order to support my volunteer program (my next step is to convert it to a community-based non-profit in which the doulas get paid!), and have learned from my trainees which are the top concepts:

-It’s not your birth

When a prospective client asks what my birth philosophy is, I say it is to help them achieve what they want. As doulas, we need to put our own ideals aside. We help people get the information they need to make the decisions that are right for them. Sometimes, we may not agree or understand them, but we don’t have to.

-How will she remember this?

As a doula, it’s important to know that a woman will always remember how she was made to feel in labor. Sometimes ours is the lone voice of calm or encouragement in the birth room. It’s essential to keep this in mind. A birth that departs greatly from the plan can still be triumphant and fulfilling if the woman feels she has been treated with respect and care. For various reasons, sometimes the doula is the only person doing that, but unlike others on the scene, that’s her job.

-Take care of yourself. 

Hopefully, it’s clear how this is important for your clients. You know, the whole idea of putting on your own oxygen mask first? Some things are obvious like eating well and urinating frequently and having reliable back up. Just as important, though, is having a network with whom you can debrief. Don’t take this work lightly. Attending a birth is exhilarating and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. You should have someone with whom you can share your joys and sorrows. You will experience both.

I’d like to thank Rina for sharing her thoughts and words on the doula spotlight. You can learn more about Rina’s services at DoulaRina.com  and her service work on the Bronx Doulas facebook page or website.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

in addition to birth links i will be adding a new series to birthy goodness fridays called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers.  each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.

mchdoulaspotlight

my first kind doula is someone dear to me. she’s been a family friend for years, my wedding photographer, a parenting inspiration and birthwork crush. i think she’s pretty rad and she’s my first doula spotlight. I give you Mary Catherine Hamelin of Magical Days Blog and birth worker and aspiring midwife with Barefoot Birth in Tampa, Florida:

1. when did you decide to pursue doulahood?

I always sort of knew I was more interested in pregnancy and birth than most of my peers–I was 10 when my youngest brother was born and my mother was always very open with us about her births, natural, emergency cesarean, and then a VBAC. I was 12 when my nephew was born and attended a couple of childbirth education classes with my aunt. That old copy of “A Child is Born” with all the amazing in utero photography was well read at my house.

I had strong designs on how I was going to give birth to my daughter, but despite my reading and preparation I was met with the standard “get into bed, put on your gown, time to be monitored” as soon as I entered the hospital environment. I was blessed with a shift change and a nurse who had been a midwife in England who got me up out of bed and moving around the way I knew I wanted to. She essentially served as my doula–hands on physical support, strong emotional support, and then leaving me alone to do my own instinctual thing. I had an awesomely empowered first birth.

After my daughter was born I heard stories from other mothers who didn’t feel as supported, and it seemed so wrong to me–that during such a pivotal time in a family’s life they might feel alone and disrespected, uneducated on their options. The Business of Being Born was released right around that time, and after I watched it I was up in arms. I looked up Midwifery Education programs, learned about doulas, and decided that with a wee baby still in my arms, signing up for a doula training was the first step.

2. what do you think is your favorite part of your support role? what is the most challenging?

My favorite part of serving families is obviously that moment of birth, of realizing that whether things happened according to plans or not, a baby and a family were just born. But also those moments afterward when I get to hear about how GOOD they feel–how they did something they didn’t think they could do, what they learned, when they worried, when they knew everything would be okay…the listening and the learning is my favorite part. And of course, I also love hearing that a family is so glad they hired me. It feels good to know I made a difference in the way a family embarks on their parenting path.

The most challenging thing is supporting families through prenatal choices that contradict what they’ve expressed they want from their experience, saying they really want a certain kind of care or birth but then choosing a birth setting and care provider that are repeatedly meeting them with opposition. It breaks my heart when families feel like they have to fight to have a positive experience.

Leaving my children to attend births is also a challenge. I’m recently getting back to work in a new community after moving from another state, so I’ve had to re-establish childcare support and helpful friends who are available on-call and understand the unpredictability of birth. Having to be awake and ready to parent after an all night birth isn’t easy. My family is on this journey with me for sure, and it’s always interesting!

3. where do you see your path in birth work heading?

My birth work has made a sort of natural transition into studying Midwifery. After a couple of years working as a doula I started feeling called to serve families more directly, to have a greater impact on their care. My original plan was to get my CM or CNM, as most of the homebirth midwives in New York City (where most of my doula experience is from) are, and be able to work in hospital, birth center, and home settings throughout my career. After moving to a very different birth climate in Florida though, I’m feeling drawn to out-of-hospital birth and traditional midwifery.

I’m assisting a couple of wonderful homebirth midwives right now and this Fall will be working on board a rad bus that is serving as a mobile maternity unit for low-income families around the community as well as our own homebirth families. I also teach childbirth education classes and will be helping to facilitate some family support groups. I look forward to continuing as a doula and birth assistant when I begin Midwifery School, hopefully next year.

I’d like to thank MC for kicking off this series. You can find more about her birth work with her partners at Barefoot Birth and you can follow her adventures with her family in their tropical cottage at Magical Days Blog.

in addition, are you a doula that would like to be a part of the doula spotlight? Send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks!

i need help

y’all, i just sent in my payment for my last requisite class for my birth doula certification. the class will be in April, almost 2 years from the day that i supported my first birth. i am beyond excited to be so close to having this life goal completed. beyond excited to be certified and have some credentials to add to my street cred.

i recently watched an interview with Miranda July for the Makers series in which she stated “whatever you put energy into grows. if you want something to grow you must put your energy into it.”  well, that’s a paraphrase.  the past 6 months have been a period of immense growth for me in my birth work path. i’ve put all my energy into it and i’m ready to blow up. i really want to get deep into this world and support as many families as I can. I took a minute to read my astrological profile this morning and it said When Aries sets her sights on a goal, it becomes an all-enveloping quest.

That is how i feel. I feel that i’ve been scratching away, clawing at this goal for two years. i feel i’ve almost exhausted my energy in trying to inch this goal along. In turn, it has been rewarding when movement forward has been accomplished.

but i’ve come to the point where i have to give some of it up. what i mean is i have to relinquish this feeling of doing this on my own. my astrological profile also says this: Aries strives for independence, and success is defined by a series of distinctive or high-reaching personal achievements.

So, I want to make myself vulnerable right now and ask for your help, which isn’t easy for me because the stars even state that i’m an independent lady, but we all know being strong entails knowing when to ask for help.

Please share my info, please consider me for your own labor support team, please keep me in your thoughts and send me your good energy. i will send you mine. i’m trying to focus on finding the path the universe has laid out for me and relinquishing my ideas of what that path should be. but maybe with your help, i’ll meet more families and achieve these high-reaching personal achievements.

thank you.

http://www.ColumbusBirthArts.com

http://www.facebook.com/ColumbusBirthArts

bizness of being born

well, this week was a fantastic one in my world. i supported two couples in three days and saw two sweet baby boys born into the world. i’m so thoroughly excited to do more of this work.

my lessons this week were about the institution of birth. yes, the business of being born. the care providers, nurses & doctors, i interacted with this week were some of the best i’ve worked with thus far. these births lifted my heart and left me feeling “yes, this is the way it should be. we really are all in this together.” in short, it gave me a little hope for the future of birth. {i’m still fairly new so just let me bask in these hopeful moments. i need them right now.}

these doctors really let these mothers birth their babies. i tell you there is nothing more awe-inspiring than watching a mother tap into her instincts and bring her baby into the world. it feels great to witness nurses, women who see birth many times a day, discussing how inspired they were by a client’s birth. having experienced some callous and controlling doctors with my daughter’s birth, it fills me with hope when i witness doctors go to lengths to honor their patients’ wishes and treat them with respect.

i’m just happy to be part of the equation, making a difference where i can. please keep making babies people. i hope you’ll invite me in to help. it’s a real honor. and yes, birth work truly is my jam.

Source: skreened.com via Elaine on Pinterest