Giving Thanks

We, Ariana and Katy, would like to show our gratitude to all of our family, friends and community for supporting us as we work to grow this business to support our families.  Thank you to the mothers and families who have trusted us to come into the birth rooms to hold space and support.  We never take that honor lightly.  Thank you to all the clients who have become great friends!

doula selfie
Thankful doulas

We thought we would list out a few things we are each grateful for this fall.
I am grateful for my partner. I am grateful that my partner has a job that allows him flexibility on days I’m at an overnight birth when he needs to find childcare for the day.  On that note- I’m grateful that I have amazing childcare options, a must in this kind of work.
I am grateful that hospital policies seem to be following evidence lately.  The shift towards even more mother/baby friendly care is heartwarming to see.

Cuddly Kitty
Cuddly Kitty

I’m thankful for my house.  It is awesome.
I’m grateful for cozy fires, cuddly kitties, and yarn.
I’m grateful for Zachary!  Parenting a toddler can be a serious challenge, but the growth I feel as we go through everyday’s little tests is profound. His joy, curiosity, wonder, and spirit make everyday better!
I’m thankful to have found work that fulfills me. I never want to live to work, or work to live, but it’s great to have a job I love doing that fills me up.
I am thankful for my partner who totally understands that we might have to leave in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner so that I can go to a birth (or any dinner for that matter); who has been helpful and supportive as I put more time into make doula work work.

doula husbands
And for overlapping off-call time so our families can go camping together!

I am grateful for care providers who trust women, their bodies, and birth.
I am thankful for all of the families who have allowed me to serve as witness and support during their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
I am grateful for horrible horrible dad-joke level puns that get me laughing no matter how hard a day it’s been.
Happy Thanksgiving from our families to yours!

Creating Your Ideal Birth Plan

This is a starting point, use the method of writing your birth plan that suits you and your family.  Dreaming is encouraged! Step out of reality a little bit and use your imagination.

alexander97“The first step in writing a birth plan is to dream.  Let go of all the ‘shoulds’ and pressing realities that circumscribe your choices. Let yourself visualize the perfect, ideal birth for you.  Trust that later you can add in reality.  Right now, let loose your feelings and your imagination.  It’s OK to invoke magic in your dream birth.  Think through all the stages of labor: early, active, pushing the baby into the world, and the first hour with your new baby […]. Get specific about the details.”

Natural Hospital Birth (2011) by Cynthia Gabriel

Dream

Write this dream down, be as specific as you can.  Have your partner dream too.  Talk about your dreams and begin the dialogue of what is a reality.

Discover

Next, take a look at one of the “check-box birth plans”.  Check all the boxes!  Mark everything you want, or don’t wantcheck all the boxes while creating your birth plan as the case may be.  
Use this tool to start your research.  Ask questions, google, read.  

Find out what procedures are common in your chosen birth location, and which ones are unlikely to happen no matter the situation.  

Create

Now take these two very different ideas of a birth plan, both of which may be several pages long, and begin to reconcile the differences.  Chat with your care provider, your doula, your friend who has had a baby in the location you have chosen, or your mom or sister.  Work with someone who is familiar with local birth policies and make your final birth plan.  Ideally this plan is one page, uses positive language (“I would like…”, “I prefer…” etc, rather than “I don’t want…”, “Don’t do…”) and expresses your desires in a kind, yet firm way.  
There is no need to compromise at this point in your birth process, there will be plenty of time for that if a need arises while IN LABOR.  If you would like to avoid pitocin, don’t say “I would like to avoid pitocin, unless XYZ…” Instead say “I would like to avoid pitocin, I have other labor enhancing methods I would like to try in the event that there is a need”.
Sit with it for a few days, revisit it and make changes as you need. This is not a document you will necessarily be able to finish in a day, or even a week. Take your time. Print a few copies, put them in your birth bag. Now forget about it.

Printable PDF version of this post is here –> CreatingyourBirthPlan

I get to teach! Birth and the First Three Months

Update!  I am no longer teaching for Pregnancy Arts as Deb has retired from CBE and commenced her career as a Certified Nurse Midwife!  It’s very exciting for her, and our area is very lucky to have her in that roll.  Therefore, I will continue teaching at Ypsi-Arbor Childbirth Education, Ariana and my joint venture.  Check us out!

It’s happening!

I get to teach childbirth education! This has been a dream for awhile, and while I have taught a few private classes here and there, I haven’t found a class model that I really wanted to teach in a group setting. Well, that’s not quite true, but the style of class I wanted to teach was already being taught, and by a Man_150x390fabulous, inspirational teacher.
Deb Rhizal, of Pregnancy Arts and Mara’s World, a doula, mother, and wellness coach, has the most fantastic, evidence-based, and feel good class I have attended. So much of her class has gone directly to my clients, as I try to emulate the feelings I left her class with, and share them with new families as they ask me questions about what to expect, and how to manage labor, birth, and the postpartum time.
Recently, Deb has been super busy with all sorts of new life adventures and letting go of the 6 week course was a necessary change to her schedule. I jumped on the opportunity! I believe this class, Birth and the First Three Months is important to have in our local Childbirth Education resource list. I think that it is essential to have available to help families really prepare, to be empowered to make the right choices for them and their birth.  So, I asked if there was a way I could be entrusted with her curriculum, and continue to share it with the community.  And she said YES! 40-weeks-pregnant-term-internal-large
The reason this class is so great is that it does an amazing job of speaking to all people.  We all come to pregnancy and birth from a different place, with different stories, and different belief structures.  This class can speak to everyone, from those planning a home birth, to those who feel most comfortable in the care of an OB.  It covers labor and birth, but also the postpartum time, as families really do the hard work of adjusting to the major changes that come when you add another (tiny) person into the fold.  This class is truly about encouraging women to do their research, both by reading, and asking questions, but also by looking inside and seeing what feels best.
babyandsacinfoSo, here we are, just a month away from the start of class, and I am so excited!  I am working on perfecting my presentations, and getting some feedback as I go along.  It is going to happen, and I am so honored to get to work for Pregnancy Arts in this way.  Check out all the great information Deb has on her website about the class, and please let your friends know that there is a really great class starting up again this fall!   Registration is on the Pregnancy Arts website.  I will be teaching at Indigo Forest in Ann Arbor.
Deb also teaches this class in a condensed version, as well as a breastfeeding class.  Check those out too!

Doula as Luxury Commodity?!

doula support
Women Supporting Women

There is a fallacy going around right now in the Doula community.  It is being said that Doulas are not needed, or deserved.  That Doulas are WANTED, and therefore are a luxury service.  I would beg to differ!  Women have been supporting women through childbirth for all time.  Sure, there wasn’t always a trained, non-medical, non-judgmental support person hired by families to provide, “physical, emotional and logistical support through the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum time”. There have been the wise-women, other mothers (who had also gone through natural, and well supported birth), sisters, sister-wives, midwives, the shaman, and so on and so on.  The wisdom of childbirth and mothering has been passed down through generations, and only relatively recently has birth become the often frightening, and disempowering, medical process it is today.  Women do DESERVE to be supported by their community of mothers and sisters and wise-women.  They do DESERVE to be informed, supported, confident, cared for, trusted, and empowered.  They may not want a Doula, they may want a Doula who is unavailable, they may want a Doula, who for some reason or another is too expensive for their budget.  We don’t always get what we want, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the support a Doula would provide.

doula, labor, support
Katy at Work

As Doulas we are trying to make sense of this contemporary version of women in community. How do we provide this essential service, this service that we feel is so missing from modern maternity care, and not lose ourselves in the process?  How do we support our families, as they support us, as we do this work?
I think there can be a better answer than only providing the service as a luxury (and charging as such).  I have to admit that I’m not sure what it is exactly.  The fact that the field is growing so rapidly at this point in time means that there are more and more women who know that this is important, who believe they can make a difference in their communities.  I know we can be more creative though.  I know that the problem doesn’t lie in women not deserving to be supported, and asking for support anyway.

Doulas, support, everyone deserves a doula
source unknown

So what can we do to create an environment where every woman gets the support and care she deserves, as well as allowing Doulas to make a living wage and support their families?  I really think there is a better solution to this than just saying “We provide a luxury service”.  Perhaps it lies in the fact that ALL women deserve to feel non-judgmentally supported.  Whether they believe that or not is a different story.  How do we teach women that they do deserve to be unconditionally supported?  How do we teach women to lift each other up, and give that unconditional support?  I think once we have an environment that is healthier and more supportive to pregnant and birthing women, the business side of this work will become a little clearer.  I hope so, and I guess I’m going to have to remain optimistic as I continue to do this work I love, and provide an essential service to the deserving women of my community.  In a way that feeds my heart, and soul, and family.

More babies?!

passive solar house in the woods
Halfway through painting the trim.
There have been big changes going on lately in the Gladwin family. We have officially moved into our new house! (post about that coming soon!) This house has been a dream or ours for many years. Over the last 3 years we have put innumerable hours into dreaming up, designing, hiring, firing, redesigning and building this amazing house that we will live in for the rest of our lives.
baby in a hat
He absolutely loves this hat.
During this time, we also got pregnant and had a baby!  Zachary is an awesome, almost-2-year-old.  He’s full of wonder, too smart for his own good (and mine for that matter) and frankly, a handful.
We have always said we would have 2 kids, for a number of reasons.  The most important to me being that I have always felt like that would feel like a complete family to me.  I grew up with 3 little siblings, and while I love them all and wouldn’t change a thing, I also think that I would have a very hard time giving as much attention as I would want to 4 children.  One has always felt lonely.
Now, I have to admit, I’m not so sure.  Can we just have one and feel like a complete family?  We do, though there has always been the expectation of another soon.  Will I always want another baby?  Even if I have another one, will I still always want yet another baby?  I have plenty of friends who are very happy with the number of kids they have, yet still long for a newborn, and another chance to experience the magic that comes with all the ‘firsts’ of a new life.
I had a difficult postpartum period, Zachary was great and healthy, I was physically healing well.
doula walking Ann Arbor
Out for a walk. Zachary really loves to be walked to sleep on my back. Outside walks always work faster, and he sleeps longer.
Mentally, I was a mess.  It took me almost a year to realize I was dealing with postpartum depression.  I didn’t realize that spring and summer had happened and that we could venture outside until mid-June.  Zero sex drive. Attending births was too scary.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had belly-laughed.  I started several treatment routes, and began to feel more human by September.  The last 10 months have been hard, lots of uprooting and shifting ground, but I have for the most part been able to stay even-keeled and emotionally healthy.
Now, here we are, at the time when we always imagined trying for number 2, and I feel like we JUST got a hold on real life.  So, do we just go for it, know it will be amazing, and life changing – again? Or, do we hold off, wait for things to settle further (will they ever settle?) and then have the conversation again? I’ll let you know where we land.
We built a house!
We had great help through the whole build! Friends and family help us move in on building day.