When a mother sniffs a babies head she sets off the same receptors in her brain that go off when someone does heroin or cocaine.
Oxytocin is the love hormone and is released the most during orgasm, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
It is also released when feelings of love are expressed, this can be through puppy snuggles, cuddles with friends and family, sharing food, holding hands, etc.
The level of oxytocin released from sniffing a baby can make a person feel euphoric, almost like they used drugs.
The benefits of oxytocin are incredible and have lead me to be a bit of an oxytocin addict, and just an overall lover of oxytocin in general! Luckily my job allows me to be surrounded by lots of oxytocin inducing situations!
It's official! I have a new meeting space for consultations and appointments with clients. It's located just south of my home, in the first town in Vermont I lived in, Bellows Falls!
This space is home to Sacred Transitions, the amazing midwifery team I am working with.
There is a beautiful view of the river, babies all over the wall, and space to work alongside amazing families and providers. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky with this life.
Take a look at the magical space:
I've always had plenty of friends, but they've been the type where you don't know if they'll actually show up for you.
I always wait till the last minute to head to meet people or leave early and bring an assignment to work on that way if my coffee date cancels I don't feel completely terrible about it.
Life in Vermont is different. I have these great people who actually show up for me. If they say they're coming over, they actually mean it. They have my back, lift me up, and celebrate my accomplishments.
They don't criticize my work, but instead just celebrate it. They honor me for all I am.
Who would have thought I would get so lucky. Good things come to those who wait... or something like that.
After two months of overnights you find yourself at your last shift. The baby is sleeping great, parents are feeling recovered and settled into their role of parents, and there is a feeling of peace throughout the household.
You write a note on the chalkboard, snuggle the puppy, and say your goodbyes to the household. It's bittersweet, the family is exactly where you want them to be, but that means they no longer need you.
The morning is filled with hugs, baby snuggles, and one last photo together.
I love my job. I love the care I provide families with and the relationship I have with them. I get to be part of their village, and them part of mine.
I love the peaceful nights spent snuggling their baby knowing they're well rested and feel supported.
These nights are something that will always feel sacred to me, a true gift.
Today is a day of rest, a day of honoring the place the family is now in, not thanks to me, but thanks to their village and new found confidence.
It takes a village. I will never not be honored to be a part of that village.
Last night with sweet baby O...
Writing has always been one of my favorite hobbies. It helps clear my mind and relax me. It also allows me to be creative. I find writing to be such a wonderful outlet.
I found myself writing quite a bit in 2020, probably because I was home with unexpected time on my hands. I ended up writing two entire books!
One of them is a memoir about my time on a college campus -an ivy league college campus, at that! It was a very interesting time that had me questioning so many parts of what we consider a "traditional American lifestyle".
You can give it a read here:
Signed Copy from my shop
"She just seemed to attract life everywhere she went"
Ever heard the term geriatric pregnancy? Is there an equivalent for young parents? What do we call the ones who aren't teens, but aren't at the prime of ages 26-32? From a very young age I had a deep love for working with infants and being around new parents. I knew that I wanted that for myself one day.
At eleven and twelve I was caring for my neighbors and family friends infants. Our home was filled with babies even after my mom had her last baby. I rocked a Nirvana tee and snuggled all the babies. I felt blissful.
When I made the decision to start trying for kids before twenty I knew there would be judgement and all sorts of comments, but there are some situations where it is much more professional to keep those comments to yourself.
I knew from a young age I wanted children and I wanted them early. I had this whole plan to marry a doctor or a lawyer right after graduating from some bachelors program, maybe as a baker or an accountant or even a teacher. I would work for the first two years of our marriage, but then I'd stay home to raise our kiddos, yes there is a "s" on the end of kiddo. I wanted multiple, many, lots, maybe 8...
Being one of seven I wanted to give my children the fun big family I had growing up. Even when my siblings and I didn't get along I never once in my life wished for a smaller family. Some of us actually wished for one more baby in the family.
None of us could comprehend life without one of us and there was a good chunk of our lives we all were still at home, 7 kids under 13 years old.
Our childhood was fun, adventurous, and never left us wanting because even when we didn't have everything our parents knew how to make do and have fun with the things we did have. My dad was crafty, we even had a half pipe in the driveway and my own playhouse in the back.
After growing up with such fun and surrounded by such love and fostering a great love for working with moms and children how could I not want kids of my own?
That idea I had in my head of marrying young and staying home was quickly replaced with a new dream when I discovered just how important my career would be to me.
I began attending births at 15 years old, was certified as a doula at 16, graduated high school at 16, and began traveling the world and running my doula business.
Not long after settling into the adult world I began considering having kids. Fast forward to the random night I discovered the amazing "Young Single Moms by Choice" Facebook and really began my fertility journey. This group was filled with people with all different stories. Some wanted a baby now, but were happy falling in love later and co-parenting a child while others wanted to do this parenting thing completely on their own and never have a romantic partner be a part of that.
My reasoning was more of the former. I decided at thirteen that I would never set goals I needed a man to help me accomplish, or anyone for that matter and frankly, that didn't limit me much because I was an ambitious, strong willed teen.
Of course, I'd need the help of a fertility clinic, but I didn't need any kind of romantic involvement in the whole thing. I was focusing on dating and loving myself. I'm still not closed off to finding a partner. I still date people and look at people with a romantic lens, but I'm also not sitting around waiting for someone to help me fulfill my desire to be a mother.
The fertility process brought lots of unsolicited advice and opinions, but also so much support. It brought me closer to my mother in many ways and closer to friends who could relate to my story, the fertility process, and just pregnancy and baby related things overall.
I was surprised to find the level of support the fertility clinic provided me with. My doctor is and always has been amazing. He told me most nineteen year old's would have been turned off by the cost of treatment alone and that he hoped, and so did another doctor, that their children turned out as driven as me.
There was one nurse that had a different reaction to me seeking care at the clinic. She came in to do my IUI and asked my date of birth. I said the date and then "2001". She blurts out "You're our first 2000s patient. We're inseminating a nineteen year old. Holy cow."
I was instantly uncomfortable.
She continued with the rudeness... She asked, "um...what do you do for...do you have a job?" I responded confidently and told her of my many successes in doula work. Why was I justifying myself to this random nurse I may never see again? Why was she allowed to talk to patients this way? Anybody could see the judgement oozing out of her.
She continued though, mentioning I may be some kind of prodigy, but not feeling confident I was in a position to provide for a parent just yet...she needed more information. She asked if I lived at my parents house, if they were paying for the services, and just other questions about my finances.
That IUI failed, so did two others, but I blame it on her rude comments.
I often think about how if I had a salary of 32K at nineteen I would not be seen as financially stable enough to plan a pregnancy, but that salary at age twenty-eight would be just fine. There is no doubt that more years of life experiences help us grow, but it also doesn't feel right to be so against young people having babies.
Some may choose to have children later, some earlier. My career is extremely important to me, but it also is one that a baby fits well into. We all are doing the best we can and trusting that we are doing what is right for ourselves.
My life vision changed after those pre-teen year and I get to keep changing it, but the constant has been a desire to be a mother and do that earlier rather than later.
When talking about "ism's" there are many that we discuss more often, but ageism isn't some term that was created to describe the young people bothered by stereotypes. People face it in pregnancy on both sides of the spectrum and it leaves them feeling less supported by the providers they are supposed to trust.
I seemed to just rock that tired mom look from age four anyways...tired mom was my spirit animal.
There is a difference between needing a partner and wanting a partner. I want one someday, but I do not need one.
Whether you are looking for a guide on postpartum, pregnancy loss, or just local resources you can find it here!
Birth workers, feel free to take what I have and update it to fit your clients needs and your community's offerings!
Because, it takes a village.
In 2020 I decided to add client welcome bags into my business practice. A bag filled with samples, a local resource guide, and my postpartum guide. I know registry sites like Target, Amazon, and Walmart send out samples, but a lot of them are things I don't recommend and my clients don't usually like using.
I reached out to companies I supported and found out so many were eager to send samples!
Requesting samples is easy and it best to keep things short and simple! I just tell them I love their products, my clients do to, that I'm a birthworker (sometimes they want proof of certification), and they will reach out with a request for a shipping address or information on how to sign up for samples through their site.
I recommend only reaching out to companies you truly support because man do the boxes of samples build up! I not have a nursery/guest room/office in my house because I've been sent so much baby gear!
In addition to all of these lovely samples there are tons of sites with free handouts for professionals! Mam has a full virtual library of brochures, posters, and research articles!
Here are a few of my favorite samples!
1. Boppy! They sent a pillow and multiple carriers!
2. Baby Bjorn! They sent me one of their new carriers!
3. Noodle and Boo! I have not had luck receiving anything, but they do have a sample request page!
4. Mam! I shot them an email and received a sample box with pacifiers, bottles, and handouts.
5. Desitin! I have not personally requested anything, but have heard they send samples!
6. Lansinoh! They will send nipple cream.
7. Dr. Brown! They send pacifiers, bottles, and hanouts
8. Fidella! More carriers!
9. Didymos! They will send babywearing info handouts.
10. Traditional Medicinals! Tea samples for their raspberry leaf tea and mothers milk tea.
11. Pretty Pushers! They have a doula sample that you just pay shipping for.
12. Good Clean Love! I absolutely love their provider sample program!
13. Bamboobies! They sent me TONS of reusable pads
14. MooGoo! Tons of skin care products.
15. Haakaa! They sent me products that could not be sold because of cosmetic issues, but could be used for demos!
16. Minimeis! They sent me a carrier!
17. Three Lollies! PreggyPops for morning sickness.
18. Halo! They will send a sleepsack and sleep education kit.
19. Hylands! They sent holistic remedies for sleep, running noses, etc!
20. Beurer! They sent me a baby scale for free!
These products have allowed for me to pass items on to clients in need and other non client community members! They have also led to the creation of my lending library! Read more about that here!
Throughout the past few months I have been lucky to have received carriers from all different babywearing organizations. Here are my favorites.
Babywearing is one of my favorite forms of multi tasking! It allows for bonding while completing tasks like a walk, household chores, or just scrolling on your phone. I babywear when I grill, paddleboard, garden, hike, etc etc etc...the list goes on and on.
There are so many carriers from ring slings to wraps to structured carriers. Everyone has their favorite and I strongly believe it is important to try before you buy! That's why I created a lending library!
I am so grateful to community members who donated old carriers and brands like Hope and Plum, Baby Bjorn, Boppy, Fidella, Minimeis, and more for sending carriers for free! Companies like Boba, Beco, Oscha, and Aloha and Light sent ones at discounted rates!
Here are some discount codes for some carriers located in my library:
Aloha and Light: AlohaSunflower15
Oscha Slings: f049b5d9
Here are all the carriers included:
We keep saying "it takes a village", but then we send families home with their baby, or maybe no baby and there is no village. This phrase doesn't just apply to parenthood. It takes a village to survive, especially in 2020 when it is even harder to be with your village. We are quarantined and locked down, but we need support when times get tough. Who brings us groceries if we are locked down with covid? Who watches your toddler when grandparents can't come into town and you are not at home while delivering your next kiddo?
When I get a flat tire and my car is in the shop for a week awaiting replacement tires my village comes. When I got strep throat and didn't know if it was covid my village dropped off soup on my porch. When bad things happen your village supports you and when good things happen they celebrate with you.
So many recall having to build their village, and postpartum really isn't the best time to do that. Frankly, I don't think the responsibility to build a village should fall on one individual. I think we need stronger communities with more resources to make up our villages. The providers in your community, friends, neighbors, all of those people make up the village.
"It takes a village to raise a child" is an African proverb that means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment."
Supporting organizations that bring community together is so important. A great example of this is the work done at Ancient Song. This group of doulas connects with their community through doula services, but also through donations of baby gear to families in need. They support their community in vital ways.
We need organizations like this everywhere in the U.S.
Everywhere people are having babies.