Category Archives: Pregnancy – the good, the bad and the ugly

Birth Without Fear Boston Meet-Up Recap

Last Saturday I attended the Birth Without Fear Boston Meet-up, featuring January Harshe. I wanted to attend the conference to gain insight as to how to be a better support to laboring women. What I got out of the conference was so much more…

The conference began with January giving a detailed account of each of her five births. Each birth story was very different from the last, and only one of her births was as close to a perfectly executed birth plan as she could get. She had me engaged in her every word; I found myself laughing one second, and had tears streaming down my face the next. She really has a way of captivating her audience – even over the gentle yells, cries, and laughter of a room full of happy babies. At one particularly poignant part of her story, I gazed around the room. I was curious to see if other people were as affected by her story as I was. I saw women rubbing their round, pregnant bellies, enthralled; I saw women burying their face in their hands and wiping away tears; I saw women nervously clutching their babies, holding them so close; I saw women who had been through similar struggles, nodding their heads very enthusiastically with a look of pained sympathy as if to say “yup, I remember how terrible that was”. It was quite touching, and a nice vacation from the “mom-bashing” I have seen so much of recently on social media.

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After January shared her birth stories, she opened the floor to a Q+A session. After a slow start, moms started opening up about their own experiences, and asking for guidance. As most of the women were local, there were a lot of “I need to get your information at the break” and “we have a support group for that” and “talk to Dr. XYZ about that” and “you have to join the Facebook group ABC” etc. That is another reason why I think this conference was ingenious – because almost everyone was local, we were able to network and find solutions together for specific issues. Well done, January, well done.

After the Q&A we broke for lunch – at which time I introduced myself to Heather from Cookies for Breakfast. I spotted her right away in the morning, but didn’t know how she felt about being approached by her followers. Turns out, she loves it, so feel free to introduce yourself if you see her :) After I ate I checked out the vendors, grabbed my tea (after ingesting so much red raspberry leaf tea I don’t think it will even be enjoyable again, haha), and started to silently panic about the afternoon session. Why? Because we were about to participate in the Earth Mama Angel Baby Harmony Circle – which is designed for people to be able to share their birth stories in small groups, share why they were at the conference, and squash their fears together in a small, supportive group. So, why the panic? I didn’t have a birth story to share. I couldn’t introduce myself as “Mary, mother of…” and was overwhelmed with pity for myself. I tried to remind myself of why I was there: to gain insight to better support the families I work with. I wondered if that would be enough to get me through the circle; I wondered if I could skip my turn and just be able to focus on everyone else; I wondered if people would think it was weird for me to be there without having any children of my own; I wondered how I was going to get through it. I took a gulp of my tea, which went down like a golf ball, took a deep breath, and headed over to Table 1.

Hearing my table mates’ stories was incredible. While certain people could say “me too” to certain parts of other people’s stories, it was amazing to me how different each experience was.  From traumatic miscarriages, to the perfect homebirth, to VBAC accomplishments, to lacking confidence, to feeling alone, to mistreatment in childbirth, to postpartum depression, to trusting instincts, each woman shared her story, and hopefully felt supported by the community. The woman who spoke before me certainly deserved a hug during her story, but I was so paralyzed by my own fear that I just couldn’t make my arms work. It is really my only regret of the day; that my moment of selfishness may have caused a woman to feel less supported than she deserved. So, I decided I was going to skip my turn, that today wasn’t about me, and we were here to support birthing decisions. But then the sandbox was handed to me…

Everything I was going to say suddenly sounded silly in my head. Other women in my circle had already opened up so much, sharing intimate, extremely personal aspects of their life. So, I leapt into my introduction: “Hi, I’m Mary and I am a childless mother”. The simultaneous “awwwww” ran me over like a bull and I fell apart. But, the caring women I was surrounded by instantly picked me back up. On either side of me I had women hugging me; from across the table an encouraging nod to proceed with my story. I was safe here; I had the support of women who had gone through their own struggles. So, I fumbled through a severely condensed version or my story and why I was there, and was very happy to get back into the role of supporting rather than being supported.

When the conference was over my doula friend Jen of The Supported Birth, her daughter, and I waited patiently for our turn to meet Mrs. BWF herself, January. We were of the last three to meet her, and it was so worth the wait. At one point earlier in the day January warned that anyone who stood near her would get pregnant…so naturally I stuck my uterus out as far as it could extend in hopes that I would catch some magical baby dust by standing so close. It was certainly refreshing to speak with someone else so passionate about changing birth for the better, and empowering women during such a joyous yet confusing time.

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After the conference, I was able to enjoy some time with my friend, and soak up some sweet, growing, happy baby time. It was a nice decompression after a very emotionally strung day. Jen was able to snap some candid pictures of our time that I will certainly treasure <3

Do you have a birth story to share? Do you want to be supported by local women who have gone through a similar experience? Look for a Birth Without Fear Meet-Up in your area.

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A Story of Friendship, Loss, and a Sweet One Year Old Baby Boy

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While I met Lauren about six or seven years ago through our, then fiancés (now hubbys), it was really a tragedy that brought us so close together. I reached out to Lauren after reading a Facebook post requesting prayers to get her through a really tough time. Lauren and her husband Pat suffered a devastating miscarriage (you can read about it through Lauren’s eyes here). After all of the struggles Jimmy and I had getting pregnant, I couldn’t image seeing that + and then having it taken away so prematurely. I checked on Lauren frequently to see how she was doing, and tried my best to let her know I was here for whatever she needed.

From that point on, we have talked almost daily. We can be unabashedly ourselves without fear of judgment or ridicule. We offer each other advice, support, and gentle slaps upside the head when the other is being a little crazy. This also means that we tell each other WAYYY TOOOO MUCHHH. So, when Lauren had exciting news to share with me, she was a little nervous because it was during my “I can’t be happy for anyone getting pregnant/poor me/why not me/my life is just so horrible” phase. To her surprise, when she told me, I cried happy tears. I was so ecstatic that my friend who had suffered so much, was now getting the blessing she and her husband deserved. She helped me get out of a time so dark and lonely, and for that I will be forever grateful.

It was also during this time that began my Baby Planning/Maternity Consulting education. I was learning a lot, and sharing anything I thought may be helpful with Lauren. Then, one day, she called and told me that her friend who she had wanted to be her doula was also pregnant, and she would probably not be able to attend her birth…

“I’ll do it!!!!” I blurted excitedly.

And, from there, the planning began. I hopped onto DONA later that day, and made the arrangements to attend my training before her birth. We set up appointments, I helped her through bed rest, and did my best to really understand her birth wishes. And then, on June 6, 2013, Lauren and I learned first-hand that you can come up with an iron-clad birth plan, but sometimes outside factors can change everything. For example:

  1. Sometimes, even on your first baby, labor can be so quick!
  2. You can be unsure if your water has broken.
  3. Sometimes even the “Spray Tan” or “Leather Pants” episodes of Friends isn’t enough to get you through a mean f*@#ing contraction.
  4. Sometimes epidurals don’t work in time.
  5. When your epidural doesn’t work, you STILL have the strength, stamina, and perseverance to push your baby out. And it’s amazing. Women are freaking amazing.

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    Photo credit, Tiffany Farley

  6. Sometimes, in spite of staying at the head level, dad’s see things they were not expecting.
  7. Sometimes scary things happen during delivery, and mom and baby are separated.
  8. When mom and baby are reunited, God, it is just. So. Good.
  9. Sometimes, nine months after a baby is born, you can be sitting in your Lactation Counselor training course, wishing you knew then what you know now.
  10. You can be sitting writing a blog post a year after a sweet baby boy is born, crying at the memory, feeling so blessed to have been a part of his birth story.

While I am sad that I won’t be able to attend this little man’s first birthday party (as I await another birth), I hope Lauren and Pat know that I celebrate the life of this sweet, curious, entertaining, happy, smiling, bright little boy every single day. <3

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HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY LANDON!!!

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Posted with permission. Any of the lovely, professional images were taken by Tiffany Farley. To see more of her images, please visit her website.

A Year in Review

Today is my first MCMaternity baby’s first birthday. Where the HECK has the time gone?! I can’t believe I am lucky enough to have been doing what I love for a year. And, I can’t thank the families who put their trust in me to be a part of their birth stories enough. Without people believing in what I do, there would be no MCMaternity. So again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

What has this year looked like? Below is a little summary of highlights:

  • Completed my DONA International Doula training workshop in Albany, NY
  • 7 vaginal deliveries
  • 1 Caesarean section delivery
  • Helped an additional 5 families prepare for birth (education, birth plan design)
  • Became a Certified Lactation Counselor
  • Took classes in childbirth education, reflexology, and breastfeeding
  • Had my services auctioned at the AGC Scholarship Foundation Gala for Hope

What do I have planned so far for this year?

  • Twins! Multiple sets of them :) :)
  • Experience with same-sex couples
  • Infant CPR certification
  • Learning more tips for the blog, first-hand, by babysitting my favorite 4 month old baby girl

What are my goals for this year?

  • Help a lot of people
  • To finish all certifications I have started
  • Figure out better ways to market myself
  • Write more blog entries
  • GET PREGNANT. For crying out loud.
  • At least 12 deliveries. At LEAST.
  • Complete the “Packages” section of my website
  • Learn more about the business side of business
  • Find a good, reliable back-up doula (anyone interested??)

Long-shot Goals (if I make enough revenue to support):

  • Start the process of becoming a certified Childbirth Educator
  • Become a certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (that’s right, folks! It’s time other people hop on board the placenta-loving train!)

I am very excited about this coming year. Now that I have some great education and first-hand birth experience under my belt, I certainly need to learn more about the business side of this business. Have suggestions? Don’t be shy! I thrive off of constructive criticism, and I created this website for you. Let’s make this business work, together :)

Interested in joining my team? Contact me. Know of anyone who could benefit from my services? Please, let me know. Want to give my services as a baby shower gift? I have the certificate ready :)

And, if you see this handsome, happy little one-year old (who absolutely ADORES his older sister), wish him a Happy Birthday!

Posted with permission

Posted with permission

 

Top 5 Ways to Combat Morning Sickness

I know, I know. I’ve blogged about morning sickness before. But it is a HUGE nuisance that many women face during their pregnancy. And, when you can’t pull your head away from the toilet, it may be very difficult to understand how this could ever be “the most beautiful time in your life”. So, below is a list of the top 5 ways real-actual-pregnant-women (with no hidden agendas) have been successful in conquering this battle. This is not certified medical data, and should not be taken as such, it is just a compilation of things that have worked.

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http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMi1jY2U0NDdhNjY0OGZiODZh

1. I have advised many clients to keep crackers and a glass of water next to their beds. And, I advise them to eat a few and drink a bit of water BEFORE THEIR FEET HIT THE FLOOR when they wake up in the morning. Sorry for the caps, it seems a bit yell-y, but that is the most important part.

2. The next piece of advice is to take your prenatal vitamins right before falling asleep. Coming from a woman who has taken prenatal vitamins for the past three years, I know they can be a little rough on the stomach even when you’re not pregnant. So, I advise to eat a light snack high in protein (such as almonds) right before your pre-bed routine. Once settled in bed and slightly sleepy, I advise to sit up and take your vitamins with enough water to make the pill go down nice and easy (but not enough to keep you up the whole night).

3. Ginger. Ginger ale, ginger altoids, ginger syrup, ground ginger, ginger popsicles (recipe here!), etc. Some women can’t stand the smell/taste, and for other this is a wonder cure.

4. Changing eating patterns. The key for many women to avoid feeling queasy is to eat many small meals rather than the traditional three square meals a day. Many women tend to feel sick when they are hungry, so eating many small meals and/or healthy snacks seems to keep the vomit at bay. Staying hydrated is helpful, too (and extremely important!).

5. Drugs. I know that every woman would prefer to have a drug-free pregnancy, but if nothing is working, and you are losing weight, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Keeping your baby healthy is the main goal, and if Zofran (probably the most popular prescribed “morning sickness drug”) or something of the like is the only thing that will help, then it is something that should really be considered. Many women try to suffer through HG (hyperemesis gravidarum) because they feel like it’s “just a normal part of pregnancy” and don’t realize the damage it can do.

So, there you have it. The top 5 ways to combat morning sickness that I have come across. Did something else work for you? Please leave your suggestion in the comments to help the mom-to-be community!

Morning Sickness Home Remedy

Currently, I have two clients. One of my clients is in her third trimester, and has yet to experience morning sickness. I know, she is EXTREMELY blessed. Be jealous.

My other client, however, is 20 weeks along and STILL experiencing morning sickness. Poor. Thing. She tried the suckers, and just about every wives tale out there. She has yet to experience relief.

After scouring through Pinterest, I came across this recipe for Nausea pops. I decided to create my own recipe, and try to get my momma-to-be some relief!

Chopped Fruit and Yogurt

First, I chopped the fruit. I ate a piece of each to make sure everything was fresh, and held my standards to give to my clients. I even tried the banana. Anyone who knows me understands why this is a BIG DEAL, as they are literally the only food I can think of that I do not like. Next, I added the Chiobani blueberry Greek yogurt.

Grating Ginger

Then, I peeled and grated the ginger. This was the most time-consuming part of the experience, but this is the key ingredient that will hopefully bring my girl some relief. Hopefully!                             Ginger Wonder

Then I added two ingredients that stray from the original recipe. Rather than apple juice, I chose V8 Splash Mango Peach to give the popsicles some sweetness and flavor. Next I added the final, “secret” ingredient: Ginger Wonder. This stuff is expensive, around $15 for the bottle from Wholefoods. Again, if it works, what a lovely investment :)

Popsicle Molds

Once blended, I poured them into these adorable popsicle molds I found at Bed Bath & Beyond. After a couple of hours, they were solid, and ready to combat morning sickness. (Word to the wise, if you make popsicles at home and have trouble getting the popsicle out of the mold, run under warm water for a few seconds, rather than breaking the whole mold, like my husband did :) ) Let’s hope they do the trick!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 16 oz. container of strawberries
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 mango
  • 1 individual container of Chiobani blueberry Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
  • 1 Tbs Ginger Wonder syrup
  • 1 cup V8 Splash Mango Peach juice

I made one for my husband and me to try. Even if they don’t miraculously cure morning sickness, they are a tasty, healthy, homemade treat! Enjoy!

Did you attempt to make Morning Sickness Popsicles? Leave a comment below to let us know if they worked!