Thankful

Thankful

 

Today I am so full of appreciation, joy and respect. I don't know about you, but I don't have one of those lives where you can expect tomorrow to be much like today and next month to be much like this one. My life has always been full of surprises! Sometimes so many surprises come flying at me its hard to take a breath. This last week has been like that.

It reminds me of how I feel when it's something like 15 below outside and I am inside in the lovely warmth preparing to go out. You know- layering everything on; sweater, hat, mittens, scarf, coat... totally prepared to make it from the door to my car. It really isn't that far anyway. I grab the handle and brace myself as I open the door and that's when it happens - that blast of how-can-it-possibly-be-that-cold air hits my lungs like a ton of bricks and I cough and choke as I try and convince myself I can keep breathing. After that I'm good. I make it to my car just fine, turn on the heat and set out on my way timing how long it takes for that temp gauge to get to the middle.

Like I said, this week has been a lot like that blast of air - sudden and intense almost to the point of disbelief. But this post isn't about those specific surprises - it is about the other part. The constant part. The nice warm coziness inside the house.

For me, my most valuable constants are people. I am so thankful for the steadfast people in my life. The ones who have been and will be there no matter if I have no work and can't afford to pay for my own cup of coffee or I have so much work I'm not really sure how to find time for a nap! The ones who hang in there as I move from place to place, career to career, and passion to passion. I have people in my life I can call or drop in on at a moment's notice. I have a woman I call when I need artistic help. I have women to call when I need to be told I'm totally nuts and to chill out. I have people to call for tech help, and car trouble, to tell me a good story, to laugh with, to gossip to, to yell at me, to help me figure out why I feel the way I do and to postulate over politics or religion or childbirth. I even have a friend (or few) I can call for a drive by hug! I mean seriously I know I could swing by my friend Jacqueline's right now and if all I needed or had time for was a big hug that is what I'd get. How amazing is that?!  And then by my side sits the most amazing man who supports me always.

"Hey honey, I'm going to take on a whole bunch of overnights this next couple of months."

"Ok sweetheart, Let me know what I can do to help so you can get enough rest and whatever else you need."

So lucky am I! This man holds me and cares for me so beautifully, because he knows it is my passion to give myself to those around me. He knows that the more he listens and supports me the further my arms can reach and the more I can give to those in my care. I am so thankful. I am so truly truly thankful. 

I sit here wishing for all of you to have the same. Jess and I have a passion to help others build their community this year. I wish for everyone to have a friend to call when your life twists and turns. The humans both big and small in my life have kept me going this last couple of years and am so glad the did. It is because of them that I feel so together and have so much joy to share. If I can be one of your "people" please send me a message. If Jess and I can help you find your people just let us know. Being a parent is full of surprises -  both scary and thrilling - and I want you to have someone to share that with. 

Meet our Doulas: Jessica's Story

Meet our Doulas: Jessica's Story

"A doula? A whatah?"

This is the typical response that I get when people ask what I do so I figured I would begin by explaining what doulas do and who we are. Doulas assist pregnant women and their families through pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond into parenthood. Being a doula allows me to use my unique gifts and talents to help educate families on their journey. Just as pregnancy and parenthood is a windy curvy path so has the journey been for me becoming a doula. My path to being a doula was anything but a straight line, but I am so grateful for the twists and turns because it shaped who I am today! I learned many things on my journey that has made me very grateful and humbled.

Let’s start from the beginning. Back in high school I really was fascinated by psychology. I thought it was so interesting learning about why humans do the things they do. I have always been fascinated by people’s stories and hearing about their journeys. My psychologist dreams were quickly dashed as I was told that quote, “they don’t make ANY money. All the schooling it takes to become a psychologist will cost way too much and it’s not worth it.” Those words crushed me so much I decided to let that dream go.

Like a lot of young kids do, they feel as though they just have to know what they want to do and what they want to be when they grow up. Through my whole life I watched so many of my peers have such clear visions, dreams, goals, and plans for what they wanted to do with their lives. They knew exactly where they wanted to go to college and what they wanted to study. I felt so much pressure that I had to choose something. Anything. But it had to be NOW. At the time I was in highschool there was a HUGE need for nurses. I thought well it seems like that would be a good fit maybe, and I have to pick SOMETHING so I’ll just go to school for that. I started at Century College my senior year of highschool taking a few college courses and immediately loved the freedom I had. One of the prerequisites to get into the nursing program at Century was to become a nursing assistant. You needed to have X amount of hours working as an nursing aide before you were able to apply to the program. I immediately signed up to take the course to become a certified nursing assistant. From there I worked as an aide pretty much full time at a nursing home in White Bear Lake. I didn’t love the work at first, but I came to realize over the first year or so how much my work meant to the families of the residents I cared for. Overtime I fell in love with the work I did. Although the work was not easy and backbreaking at times, I truly loved the people I cared for. My eyes were opened to what my future as a nurse might look like as I worked closely with nurses. I had a change of heart and knew that becoming a nurse just wasn’t in the cards for me.

There were some profound life changing events that also shaped my decision to not pursue nursing school from when I was 18 to about 21. My dad had been sober for around 15 years from alcohol and drugs. I feel as though one day I woke up and all of a sudden he turned into someone I couldn’t even recognize. He started using drugs and drinking and my relationship with him crumbled. So much so, that I didn’t talk to him for about 4 years. This was heartbreaking for me. I was a daddy’s girl. He was my hero. To see him fall from this pedestal I had placed him on crushed me. I was so sad and angry and upset that he would do this to me, my sisters and my family. I had to work through this pain. I actually had to go through counseling to overcome this pain. I learned that we are all human. Even my dad. I ended up channeling this pain and sadness into wanting to help others. Others who were hurting. I decided that I wanted to become a Chemical Dependency Counselor. I wasted no time and started taking courses. I absolutely loved everything I was learning! It fascinated me. The requirements to become a counselor were very demanding. They needed me to do 800 hours of an unpaid internship. I couldn’t afford to do this. I had bills to pay! I felt defeated. I felt so behind EVERYONE else. I felt as though all my peers had graduated from college by now and everyone had started “living their lives.” It took me 5 years just to get my Associates Degree. I should probably just graduate with SOMETHING. ANYTHING.

I decided to apply to Metro State University and enlisted into their Human Services program. I had most of the courses completed to graduate within a year and a half after enrolling. At this same time I felt as though it was time for me to move on from my nursing assistant job. I had some connections at a fortune 500 company and quickly found myself working there as a contingent worker. I was pumped to start working in such a prestigious business setting and couldn’t wait to trade in my scrubs for business casual!

I graduated in the spring of 2014 with my Bachelors Degree from Metro State and was elated to finally have that piece of paper. The paper that embodied all the hard work I had put in and the journey it took me to get there! This piece of paper also meant I could apply for a full time position at my company and was hired on just a few months after graduation. My role, more or less was in customer service. I worked HARD. Very hard. I was proud of my work ethic. I held very high standards for myself. This wore on me over time. My work drained me. Customer Service is HARD WORK! I totally have a different level of respect for the people on the other end of the line when I call somewhere for customer service. It takes special people to do that kind of work. I learned SO much from working there. I learned so much about me as an individual and learned from my peers on the kind of person I wanted to be. I began to question my purpose for life. What were my next steps going to be in my career? Climb the corporate ladder? NO! I began to feverishly search for my life’s purpose. I wanted OUT of Corporate America and FAST.

    My passion to care for others especially women lead my search. I started to what I think was random, looking into midwifery programs. I really don’t even know how I ended up there. I read through what it would entail to become a midwife and came to the conclusion that it was a WHOLE lot of responsibility that I didn’t want to have on my shoulders. During my research I also read about doulas. I was immediately intrigued. I thought to myself this. This is what I want to do. This is who I am. I felt and still feel as though being invited into a laboring womans space is such an honor to be a part of. It is a second nature to me to be able to read others and anticipate what they might need. I think this nurturing side comes from me wanting to be a mom since I can’t even remember. Caring for others is just who I am. So, with fire in my belly and my goals set high I set a plan and started feverishly reading and watching all things birth. I also started in on all the administrative tasks you need to start a business with a goal of leaving my job by the end of year 2016. People thought I was nuts! Why would you ever leave a good paying job with great benefits? My answer to that is that you are given this one life - you better make the most of it. I also understand that not all of us can just up and quit our jobs so I give a lot of praise and thanks to my wonderful husband because without him by my side it wouldn’t have gone down the way it did!

Within a few months I had started a business  and registered with the State. I was now the proud owner of Womb Service MN. I attended a birth DONA (certifying agency) training in February of this year (2016) and then my postpartum training with ProDoula (certifying agency) and got my placenta encapsulation specialist certificate all in one year!

    After taking my birth doula training I wanted to be out and working with my newly uncovered skills. Around April of this year I hit a wall at my corporate position. In all honestly I felt depressed. All I could do was wake up, go to work, be at work, miserably, which showed. I was not a happy person. Everyone around me could feel that I didn’t want to be there. I tried really hard to work on myself but nothing I tried was going to make me happy in that position. To be blunt I hated the person I was becoming. The stress of it all came crashing down one day in March and I cracked. I had a panic attack and knew I needed out. My husband came home that day and told me that he would do whatever it took to support us but seeing me like this was not worth any amount of money. He urged me to put my notice in. I had worked so hard my whole life and had never been without a job. Let alone leave a well paying job without anything lined up! That was crazy. You just don’t do that! And you don’t leave a fortune 500 company! People would KILL to have my spot, and I’m just going to walk away? Yep! Let me tell you, I felt like a gazillion pounds had been lifted from me.

    My last day was at the end of April 2016. I am forever grateful for the opportunity and the knowledge that I gained from my position. The knowledge I gained from being there has been instrumental in helping me run my own business.  Since leaving I have worked very hard to pursue my dreams and ambitions. I love what I do as a birth and postpartum doula. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Being invited into one of the most sacred times and spaces in a family's life is something that I don’t take lightly. I believe deep in my heart that the work I do makes a difference in peoples lives that I want to be able to give them the best of the best and that is why I decided to leave my solo business (Womb Service) and collaborate with one of the best women I have ever met (Megan) to form Blue Lotus. I am so excited for the journey ahead that Megan and I are about to embark on. Together as a team I believe we will make an even greater impact on the families lives we serve. I have a passion to help families find their own unique voices as I have found mine. I’m so excited to help them on their journeys as parents. I cannot wait to look back on the journey that lies ahead and be so proud of the work we have done and have already done!

 

Meet our Doulas: Megan's Story

Meet our Doulas: Megan's Story

I became interested in babies and mothering when I was 2 years old.

Watching my mom tell stories to a preschool class, I saw how happy and inspired she made all the 3 and 4 year old children in her care. It seemed so easy for her to keep them safe and captivated, and I decided then that I wanted to be a MOM. I spent my childhood watching other mothers and learning what worked and what didn’t. As a teen, I was more interested in finding the “one” than just dating. After working in an inner-city youth program I enrolled in college for Early Childhood education. I went from babysitting to nannying and then started specializing in newborns and toddlers.

I worked in schools and day care centers always learning and always caring so much for all the humans - big and small - that I got to work with. I was in my early 20’s when I found my someone and became pregnant. We were so young, but so determined to care for the little being inside of me in the best way possible. I spent so many hours reading and studying, talking and listening about pregnancy, birth, and childhood.

My first pregnancy didn’t go as I would have planned. There was a lot of stress in my life and my new husband and I were really struggling financially. My morning sickness lasted all day everyday. I had issues with becoming over stimulated - no highway driving, movies, restaurants for me. Everything made me feel nuts! Then the last trimester came and with it I added sciatica pain and dizziness to the long list of discomforts. I didn’t like my OB, he made me feel whiny and incompetent. This long pregnancy ended in a surgical birth that also left me feeling incompetent. My OB insisted I had no choice because my baby was breech. I did not enjoy the birth and went on to struggle with nursing and postpartum. My baby blues stuck around. I had some help from a few lactation consultants over the phone, but I couldn’t afford a specialist so my husband, my son and I did our best to cope, mostly alone. I gave up nursing when my son was 2 months. There weren't many people talking about postpartum mood disorders then and I didn't really know where to look for help. So we struggled and I made my own way through. It is funny that even with how hard that pregnancy was and the 9 months following I am still overwhelmed with joy when I think of growing my first amazing child. I wish so much had been better, but there was so much wonder and joy anyway.

My second pregnancy came just a couple years later. I was so determined to make it different. I started by taking more control. I listened to the medical experts, consultants, and our family, but I (we) made our own choices.  At the time you could not have a vaginal birth after a surgical one. Malpractice insurance would not cover it, so a midwife-assisted homebirth was out of the question. It made me really nervous to think about having another surgical birth so we researched. I read medical journals and articles I talked to nurses, midwives and doctors. I learned how small my risk was for serious complication and was comforted by the fact that if there was an issue I was only 8 minutes from a great hospital.  After much consideration my husband and I decided we would go at it alone. That was also scary, but we felt an unassisted birth was our best option. I did just about everything different this time. I ate so much healthier, I drank gallons of herbal tea and water, I did yoga and carried my two year old in the sling while I walked for miles every afternoon. It worked too! I had energy and joy. I hardly had any morning sickness. I spent so much time outside with my son playing and laughing and growing. There were still tears and lots of them! I am a very emotional pregnant woman! We had more financial stress in our life and were even without a place to live for much of the pregnancy - but this time I did not let the stress take over. I found peace and meditation I nurtured my family and that gave me strength. Gabe took his sweet time arriving. I was pregnant for 43 weeks and then we had about 36 hours of labour, but I hardly pushed at all and he came out healthy and huge! It was such a relief to already be home. With my first baby, I felt like being a parent didn’t start until I left the hospital and got home. There was this interim of time there that felt so weird - like I had a baby, but he wasn’t mine yet. This time he was mine from his first breath. I showered and changed clothes and felt refreshed and strong. I would like to say that this postpartum was completely different from the first time around - but I can say it was better. The complicated feelings were not new and therefore easier to work through though. I do believe eating healthy and exercising really helped. My postpartum issues were a bit more dynamic this time, but instead of lasting 9 months I started feeling better around 3 months. I was not able to develop a nursing relationship with this son either, but my experience and knowledge helped me know when it was time to switch to formula and feel ok-ish about it.  

After having Gabe in 2002 I started working more with pregnant women helping them find a way to take all the books and advice and make it personal. Sometime in there I was asked to attend a birth. This is where that word from my childhood  - “mom” - was truly realized. I was finally able to put it all together and define it. What I stated at 2 was and is still true. My calling is to be a mom. That is what I am called by sons, but the job is the same when my clients call me doula and my loved ones call me friend. My joy is found when I nurture, clean, feed, trust, explain, teach, hold, and listen.

Happy New Year, and Welcome to Blue Lotus!

I love beginnings. Sunrises, births, page 1 of a book, the first day of a job, a bundle of wool sitting beside my spinning wheel; they are all filled with so much potential. I love knowing something is about to “be something”. So I wish you a Happy First Day of something interesting, inspiring, calm, safe, strange, exciting, wondrous!!

This year is bringing all sorts of potential with it for Blue Lotus. Jess and I have this lovely new partnership. I have been supporting families through birth, postpartum and beyond for years, but somehow this feels different. I love the idea of having a partner and it makes it all feel new again. I feel so inspired by Jessica’s joy and (drive). This partnership means that we can share so much more with our families - not only while we're with them, but also through this brand new Blue Lotus blog.
 
The idea is to share with you anything and everything related to pregnancy, birth, babies, parenting, and families. We plan to share new science to help you make the best choice for you in the birth room, discuss articles about the hard stuff like infertility, and have guest interviews from parents like you designing their families. We will fill this space with words to inspire, encourage, and challenge.

We want this to be a resource for you - so let us know what you want to read about. Ask us questions here or on Facebook. We are happy to share our personal stories, we'r interested in controversial topics, and we're especially inspired by your new beginnings and the choices you make - let us know all about them!
 
This blog is one of many beginnings this year for Blue Lotus. Most of them are still only in the early staged and we aren’t quite ready to share. I urge you to check in regularly for surprise discounts, gifts, and to get the scoop on the newest thing Blue Lotus has to offer.

Enjoy the first days of a fresh new year and all your New Beginnings!