Here’s Deanna’s birth story and her adorable baby. Her own words and chosen picture are posted with her permission. Thank you for sharing this with us, Deanna.
Here’s Deanna’s birth story and her adorable baby. Her own words and chosen picture are posted with her permission. Thank you for sharing this with us, Deanna.
Spring has arrived in central Texas! We are luxuriating in warmer evenings for eating outside and the smells of our amazing wysteria vine next to the office.
The bees love it too!
” A LIGHT exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here. ” (Emily Dickenson)
In good spring tradition, we are cleaning out and starting things anew, in this case restarting the blog posts featuring our client’s birth stories. We have heard from so many people about the power of hearing normal birth stories, including all the messiness of daily life alongside the courage and power of ordinary folks. The birth photography world has certainly expanded the images available to most of us, and helps to normalize the experience of giving birth naturally. As well, there are many podcast options out there that feature birth stories. One of the newer ones I’ve discovered is Doing It At Home , with two parents from a home birth family interviewing others about their experiences. If you feel inspired, share other recommendations in the comments; we’d love to pass them on to other clients. And, email us your stories and we’ll post them for others to read and be inspired by.
Enjoy the spring, wherever and however it finds you.
Happy International Day of the Midwife!
I was reading about this annual celebration of our work and discovered that it was established in 1992! Almost 25 years of celebrating midwives and the incredible care they provide pregnant and birthing people, and their families, all over the world. The International Confederation of Midwives spearheads this celebration. Separately and together, Christy and Jenni have celebrated International Day of Midwife in many different places and with lots of different activities.
Here are previous years’ pictures and Christy’s post from 2009.
This year, if we are not attending a birth, we will be:
a) Hosting our monthly group prenatal at our office, with (as always) food demo’d by Christy and discussion facilitated by the three of us. Our topic this week is newborn care and early postpartum norms.
b) Feeling grateful for midwifery knowledge and the home birth of Haven, now ten months old and making things very exciting at our house.
c) Checking in with midwives from across Texas and our dear friend Marinah Farrell from Arizona, President of the Midwives Alliance of North America at the Association of Texas Midwives‘ Annual Conference (May 5 – 7).
d) Appreciating the ever-growing skills and general fabulousness of our apprentice, Chandra Fisher. We are lucky to have her and I know that our current and past clients appreciate her involvement in their care at prenatals and births.
e) Expanding Christy’s offering of primary care appointments and fertility consultations at our practice. See our website for more details and please refer your friends and family!
f) Getting ready for the launch of midwifery-model culturally-appropriate prenatal education with the Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman clinic opening in June. Paula Rojas, a former apprentice with MotherBloom and now a Licensed Midwife, is integral to this project; Christy is a midwife advisor and Jenni is providing volunteer technical support with the use of an EHR.
Thank you for continuing to support us both in doing this amazing work.
From our good friend and fabulous facilitator Lanell:
” Throwing out a lifeline for new mamas and babies before school’s out for summer!
Raini Gomez, Le Cordon Bleu chef and doula, will prepare a delicious, nourishing breakfast for us each week! It’s gonna be YUMMY! “
WHEN: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, Thursdays, May 12, 19, 26, June 2, 8 (last meeting is on a WEDNESDAY)
WHERE: 1401 Ridgehaven Drive, 78723 cell 512-663-9320
WHAT: bring yourself and your baby
COST: $275 (includes breakfast each week)
I am passionate about connecting mothers and supporting your unfolding journey from my nearly 20 years of experience working with mothers, birth, and breastfeeding. You don’t have to figure all this out by yourself. There is support and love and RELIEF just waiting for you!
We were never meant to go it alone in the care of our young children. The company of mothers helps us make sense of the day to day tasks, the miracle unfolding in our laps, and the heart-exploding love we feel for our babies. And being in community releases tons of oxytocin, helping us feel connected, warm and fuzzy.
Read recent participant testimonials, here:
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Email Lanell directly to register: lanellcoultas (at) gmail.com
We were lucky enough to have a number of previous and current clients at our reunion in February. Despite the slightly gloomy weather, there was a lovely turnout, lots of delicious food, and many children playing on the trampoline and the swings. Thank you to those who made it! Here are a few pictures we’ve finally downloaded of that day (all posted with permission). We will be repeating this event for sure as it’s become one of our favorite gatherings to host.
Blog post by Jenni
One of the things most of our clients learn about me is that I love cookbooks. I also seem to have grown up being infused with a love of lists, and I make mental lists even when there is no paper available. A recipe, to me, evokes both of these in a succinct, yet entirely flexible format for ultimate enjoyment. Like many recipes, the ‘recipe’ I used for my postpartum time worked well, with some tweaks along the way. Like all recipes, it may work for some and not for others, depending on what you have in your kitchen already (though that’s part of the recipe) and what your body and mind want and need at the time. I don’t know anyone who has sailed through the fourth trimester without a few days (or more) of discouragement and challenge so I was really prepared for emotional mood swings and lots of doubt. Physically you have to recover from the birth also (my first preoccupation). The combination that worked for me is below. Feel free to substitute as needed, or to ask your midwives (wink, wink) for other suggestions.
Fourth Trimester Wellness
Begin the fourth trimester with a home set-up that is as restful and as physically relaxing as possible. This may be hard with older kids and other responsibilities but try and keep your space as gentle on you and your new baby as possible. We were lucky in that our teenagers are quite self-reliant, other than meals, and Christy and I were able to cuddle with Haven a good part of every day after he was born. We had a couple of interruptions to the restful space (he was born just a few days before the fourth of July) and I just kept as cocooned as possible, sleeping as much as possible.
The key then is to stay in that space for at least ten days. I didn’t move far from my bed for at least 9 days; on the tenth day I walked down the driveway to the mailbox and back. That’s all. I believe that the time I took (and was able to take – so grateful for a little bit of paid work leave) was one of the key reasons that Haven breastfed so well. He still doesn’t have an amazing latch (at 7 months!) but I gave my body the physical rest it needed to help us both learn how to breastfeed and for my physical body to heal from birth. Ten days is just a minimum, by the way; cross-culturally forty days is much more common.
Add in a key support person, partner or like-minded family member to help ease this physical transition. For me, Christy’s physical presence in the house constantly for the first week and her making and feeding me meals totally made it possible for me to enjoy the early time with Haven. Her knowledge and experience as a mom before and as a midwife of course didn’t hurt either, but you don’t need to have a midwife live with you 24/7 to feel supported and able to focus on your baby. An identified person who knows your probable needs postpartum and who is relatively comfortable with babies can and has made a huge difference for new parents who have just birthed. I’ve seen it over and over again as a midwife, and so we planned for Christy to have the least amount of other responsibilities in early July as she could manage to do and still pay our bills. I was lucky to have additional support people too, after our practice work started up again. My mother arrived after about three weeks and appeared a little surprised at our already established routine. She helped our garden survive the hottest part of the summer, and her presence and her stories of me as a baby made those next two weeks very sweet as we watched Haven growing and having more alert periods. My dad visited around week eight, listened to all my excitement and my worries equally, and got to witness the first smiles and giggles and Haven trying to roll over. Christy’s parents, our constant support people, continued helping us out regularly with house stuff and being with Haven when I returned to work in September.
Our community is amazing and we let them surround us in the postpartum. So much generosity!We had not organized meal deliveries (which IS something we recommend to clients in our practice), but our community stepped up and about every three days for the first four weeks we had lovely meals cooked or picked up for us, and no one stayed too long! We did make a typical mistake and had three sets of people visit the day after he was born, but we quickly realized that was too much for me and for him and we dialed it way back for the first week. Everyone who offered something was totally fine with us setting limits on how they could help, and I was glad that Christy could help set these boundaries for all of our sake.
The one exception to leaving the house initially may be to add in some bodywork or other healing treatments for you as the birthing parent and the baby. We got preventative and healing bodywork for both him and I AND Christy, several times in the first three weeks, and all of us did so much better because of that. Cranio-sacral or similar bodywork is such a wonderful start for babies, as I’ve seen again and again, and Haven was no exception. It even seemed to accelerate the disappearance of the mild jaundice he had, though there is nothing in the research that I can find that would support that. Our appointments were made in the middle of the day (to minimize time spent in traffic) and were short initially. We also only went to practitioners who we know to be good with babies so that he and I could both go at the same time. (The MotherBloom website has a list of these, and people who want to gift something to new parents can get gift certificates for them from most of these practitioners.)
There are lots of additional things that can help individuals, but the time does come when you want to be out in the wider world again. The ninth or tenth week mark was very emotional for me. This was about the time when Christy started to have more births again, and five nights in a row of being with Haven almost completely on my own really wore me out. I had also started working three days a week and, though Haven was sleeping two long stretches a day, I was still tired from the feedings every two hours at night. Luckily, I had been considering another part of the ‘prescription’ I often talk to new parents about: community building with other parents. At the last minute, I contacted Lanell Coultas about her local Mothers Unfolding group and was able to join that. It was a five-week one-morning-per-week get together facilitated by Lanell and as an amazing bonus we were fed by a lovely chef and parent herself, Raini Gomez, who also held babies when needed. The combination of nourishing food that I didn’t have to plan and prepare myself, and the lovely reflections that Lanell offered us were exactly what helped me enjoy the new baby time and relax into my role as a parent. As a bonus, I discovered the book Momma Zen through Lanell and that was inspirational to read during these weeks. The people in this group created a community too, as we found common questions and interests and connected individually as well. I definitely credit that group and the peer-to-peer support with helping to further ease the next round of transitions, as we as a family figure out how to have two working parents and still meet all our commitments with home schooling one teenager and our daily farm chores, amongst other things.
This recipe has and is working really well for us. We are figuring out together how to have a sustainable and happy life, enjoying the support of each other and our community.
Blog by Jenni
Christy thought it would be interesting to reflect on what I felt was surprising having been a midwife and then becoming pregnant. Overall, I think the experience has been more about being a pregnant person, with my midwifery background not really coming up very often. Being a pregnant midwife has had its advantages and disadvantages. Like many people assume (as I did at the beginning of my pregnancy), I have enough experience of pregnancy and its variations to normalize my own experience, and sometimes this knowledge prevents freak-outs over symptoms that come at a different moment than expected or just catch me off guard. Well, sort-of. Pregnancy brain affects midwives too, and I have found myself several times telling Christy about a symptom that I’m puzzled or worried by only to have her say ‘yup, round ligament pain’ (or something similar) to my obvious chagrin. On the other hand, an episode of low blood pressure on a hot day that made me nearly faint may have been less worrying to me than it might have been for someone else. I know that it is possible and I just lay down, drank lots of water, and waited until it passed.
Overall, I think my midwifery background has made me more tolerant of aches and pains (intermittent leg cramps and heartburn). I have been able to find alternative remedies that are cheap and that I can put in place without too much fuss (homemade slippery elm lozenges by Aviva Romm!) because I am familiar with what the common concerns in pregnancy are. I think all of this would have been very different, however, if anything clinically significant had been happening in the pregnancy. I’m very clear that the absolutely straightforward conception and pregnancy with this baby has so far totally reassured both Christy and I. It has felt so normal to have reached 37 weeks with no interventions and no extreme physical symptoms. That’s not to say that emotions haven’t been very volatile in our house with two teenagers, and our stress levels have been significant at different points over the last several months. Still, the huge privilege of a job that I do remotely (from home), and the relative stability of our lives here, have allowed me flexibility and the ability to find a bit of money for body work, alternative therapies, and acupuncture. I know the benefits of these are so amazing in pregnancy to temper the hormonal changes that happen and to help the body stay aligned and open for birth. I feel great, and I am so grateful for it.
It is a crazy part of being human that, in the midst of feeling so good, I can still have the same fears as anyone else. When we tried to listen to, and could not hear the heartbeat with a doppler at 10.5 weeks, I was really worried that my pregnancy had ended even though I was still feeling very nauseated and tired. I reviewed the stats (geek that I am) and found that there was less than a 30% chance of hearing the heartbeat at that stage, and was reassured enough to wait until 12 weeks when we heard the heartbeat easily. Lucid horrible dreams for about three months also made all my fears be present in a much stronger way than I had ever imagined they would. I’m glad that has dissipated somewhat, even if lucid dreaming hasn’t. Reading Everyday Parenting by John Kabbat-Zinn, a book about mindfulness practice and parenting, has also really helped calm my brain, consciously and unconsciously. Also forcing myself (with a little prodding from Christy) to be outside and be active. Walking at least 3-4x a week, and now starting swimming in the warm weather has helped change my perspective at key moments, in a positive way. Even though I dreaded the summer and the impending heat, I was so grateful to be living this year in a climate where spring came at the beginning of March, where it is green and I have had a garden to be in and work in, well before I would have been able to in Toronto, my hometown.
Being a midwife of course does not make me immune to any of the societal experience of being pregnant. A friend and I were comparing notes about how relentless the comments are about appearance, whether it is to make predictions about the sex, or to talk about relative size, “you are so small!”. Or even to go so far as assuming something about my life because now I’m visibly pregnant; “is your husband being supportive?”. Our community here, half midwives themselves, is more insulating from these comments, (“you look amazing!” is way more common) but being out and about in the grocery store or the post office brings comments at least weekly for me. Even feeling as confident as I do in my pregnant body (I have loved being pregnant), I get so irritated with how public my body has become. I haven’t even had to deal with the worst negative comments that our clients and my friends report. I still feel exposed and a little defensive when responding, as if a friendly/positive response is required of me, along with accepting whatever people feel like they need to say. It has been especially annoying when I’ve spent time that morning trying to find not-ultra-feminine clothing that I feel comfortable in to go out in public wearing. I am so grateful for all the clothing I’ve been given, and I still feel like my choices are overwhelmingly feminizing, when that is just not how I always want to present myself, just because I’m pregnant. Ever expanding breasts don’t make this any easier, that’s for sure. Don’t get me started on maternity bras. I continue to wish for more clothing options for all pregnant folks that are comfortable in pregnancy but don’t overly emphasize the belly and breasts.
As a midwife, and now as a pregnant person, I feel like I get to expand my empathic sense of the huge variety of physical and emotional experiences of pregnancy, and I know that this enhances the language I have for supporting my pregnant clients. Mostly, though, I’m just excited about having and loving this baby. We are excited to welcome whomever this new person is into our lives.
Printable invitation here: Client Reunion Invitation