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The Threshold of Birth

This post is about birth workers, because I don’t think any of us take much time to describe what it’s like to do this kind of work. We are so good at focusing on mom’s and dad’s and baby’s and talking with them about their experiences that we often don’t have the space to talk about what it’s like being with them in their journey’s. I think that’s a good thing, because I do believe that birth has everything to do with the family and nothing to do with us. After a few births recently I feel like it’s time for some transparency and vulnerability, similar to what we say moms have to experience in birth.  Hope you enjoy!

 

There’s this moment after you’ve had the call to come, when you’ve finished packing everything you think you might need, and you step outside of your home one last time. You know that as you close that door and turn to walk away you will be returning a different person. Sometimes the changes are so small and finite that you transition back to your life seamlessly, but there’s always those births that challenge you deep into the core of your being and cause you to have to readjust who you have become back into your life as you left it.  

The birth workers experience in a minor way mirrors what happens to mothers in labour. I always feel this letting go happening, as I kiss my husband goodbye, finish putting my life on hold for the foreseeable future and get into my car to drive. I’m letting go of my life and I’m switching all of my thoughts, emotions and energy onto that woman in labour. It’s like stepping into a different time zone or alternate universe.  Of course I know that my world is going on without me and I’m missing out and there are people missing me, but it’s like I switch to a different place where all of that is existing in an alternate universe, because now I’m locked into a moment in time with a different couple, in a different life, going through something completely transformational with me as a witness and support to them. There isn’t always room within me to hold onto both places, so I let go and immerse myself into her time.

I always feel this moment of leaving somewhere in my body. Sometimes there’s a pain in my heart that I willingly do something that can affect me so deeply, but other times there is a bubbling of excitement and anticipation because I know that no matter what happens in some minor way I will be challenged, and I will overcome and that this birth has something to teach me about myself. Just as I know that mom is going to be challenged at the root of who she is and she too will overcome.

That’s what birth is. It turns your daily routine and patterns upside down, it takes you deep into a primal place of passage, there’s a grief as you let go of yourself before this baby is here, and an anticipation of this new life with this baby. There’s an ebb and flow, a letting go and a holding on. Letting go of control and holding on to the process of birth that so many women before you have gone through. It’s beautiful and terrifying all at once.

As I drive, I shift all of myself towards this woman (literally and figuratively).  And I truly am consumed with this birth. Once I arrive and the support begins, I barely notice the passage of time, similar to the woman and her partner. We all know that we’re in a different time zone now (even if the place we’re birthing at disagrees, more on that another time!) and we settle into a rhythm and ritual of being together as we help this process along.

I only notice myself when I leave the room and tap back into my time zone for awhile. It’s then when I feel the sore muscles, the burning eyes and the slightly faint feeling from not knowing when the last real meal you had was. Depending on the birth sometimes leaving the room makes me realize how much of myself I am giving. I can feel my tank draining while using everything in my doula bag to plug the holes. You see, I’m not just giving hip squeezes while squatting for a minute, or massaging backs and hands, I’m holding an emotional space for her. I’m loving her, her staff, her process, her baby. I’m flooding the room with positivity, with faith and trust in birth. I’m doing what everyone else is too busy to do. I’m holding space for the spiritual and emotional process of birth. Because it isn’t just about vital signs and cervical dilation progress, or fetal heart tones and mothers blood pressure. It’s also about her emotional state, her baby’s feelings as it transitions, what the dad is experiencing as he too lets go of who he used to be and continues into the unknown. There is so much happening in a birthing room that can’t be charted, but still needs to be supported.

Sometimes when I’m outside the room and checking in with myself, I can feel the weight of that space I was holding and I take a moment to assess how much of myself is left to give. You see, that’s what birth workers are. We’re givers. We give women trust and faith in birth, reassurances, encouragement, love, understanding, compassion, hip squeezes, supportive squats, massages. We fill the gaps in her care and honor and respect her to the core of who she is.

I use the times I’m not in the room, to fill the holes in my tank. To do quick measures to make sure I can still keep holding space for her. Sometimes brushing my teeth and washing my face is the most magical moment of a long birth. It restores me for hours longer. Sometimes it’s discovering a fabulous couch I can stretch and sink myself into for a nourishing 10 minutes of sleep. Or discovering a space to open my hot meal I packed and truly appreciate what it will do for me. Occasionally, it’s a phone call to my doula partner and sister to hear her say what I need to continue on. That kind of self care even fills that tank back up a bit. But it doesn’t quite ever get you back to the place you were when you walked into the room for the first time. Usually 20 minutes is all I have before I know I need to be back in her space and giving to her to feel okay again. It’s like a transfusion of endurance as I walk back into the room and back into her rhythm.

Even with excellent self care, there always seems to be a slight moment (whether I acknowledge it at the time or not) where a part of me goes “why are you doing this? You know there’s probably several thousand jobs that pay better and take an 1/8th of what you’re giving right now.”

This. This moment right here. This is why I do this.

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Because despite how much it takes out of me, I know it’s taking more out of her, and I know that no matter how hard this couple has to fight, how dark the path has to get, that moment of joy and transcendent beauty at the time of birth is worth it all. Seeing a family come into being in one moment, to be so blessed to witness their first tears of joy over their precious baby, to hear that baby take its first breath and then to see them in a triangle of love for over an hour. Knowing how much that will benefit this baby for the rest of its life and how much that bonding is going to aid this couples ability to parent from a grounded place.

It’s everything. There are some births where you can see how much of a difference you made for them and that they might not have gotten there without your steadfastness, (or your backup partners because you had to call her in!) and there are others where you can’t see your affect quite as easily, but you still know you were the one person grounded and breathing in the room as that baby made its entrance into the world. 

I’d love to have the chance like in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” to take myself out of every single birth I’ve been at and see what it all would have looked like without me. I’d love that chance to learn and see first hand why I’m doing this. Without that really obvious and unrealistic way of knowing, you have to trust in your own evaluation of your work, and the feedback of your clients to see the areas you were most helpful and to see where you can do better next time. I truly believe it doesn’t matter how many births you’ve attended, what’s so much more important is the humility to say, “how can I do this better next time” and even if you did make a tangible difference to still say “that mother did all the work, I simply supported what her body was designed to do”. It’s really not about us, it’s ALL about that family and the moment of birth is a beautiful illustration of that.

 

Written by Sarah McCloskey

Intentional Living

In the last couple blog posts, I’ve shared a bit about some life-changing experiences that I had in 2016 including the Beautiful Body Cleanse.

Today, I’m going to share my absolute favourite part of the Beautiful Body Cleanse. It was so hard to do. But I saw instant results in my every day life and because of that, I would say it was the most life-changing part of the cleanse.

Perhaps I’m the only mom to feel like every day I struggle to stay on top of things. With 3 children in the house, there is always someone who needs me or some “emergency” that needs my attention. *MOOOOOOOM! I WENT POOOO! I NEED YOU!* etc. etc. etc. I often feel as though I’m behind. I roll out of bed and sort of crash into the day, trying to get bigger projects done as well as the day to day tasks of running a household and two businesses and I miss so very much the order and neatness of knowing exactly what I will do in a day, when I will do it, then getting it done.

Am I the only one?

Somehow I doubt this.

The Beautiful Body Cleanse provided me with an incredible opportunity to change that just by changing one thing.

When I wake up in the morning.

I know, I know. You NEVER get enough sleep as a mom and the thought of getting out of bed earlier, before the kids are awake, is impossibly hard. Those are precious minutes of sleep that you need! And you know what, that may actually be true. If you have little ones and you’re not getting enough rest, this post may not be for you in this season of your life.

But if you feel ready for change and are able to sacrifice 30 minutes of sleep, then read on.

Here’s what I did.

I set my alarm for about 30 minutes before my children usually wake up.

I GOT UP AS SOON AS IT WENT OFF. This is very important. No snooze button.

I went to my “zen zone.” You can call this what ever feels right for you. For me, this was a space in my office that I set up the night before with my diffuser, favourite oil blend, candles, journals, blankets, pillows, yoga mat, etc.

Once there, I started my day with the following:

  • 10 deep breaths
  • 10 minutes of silent meditation/prayer
  • Inspirational reading - Bible, book, poetry etc.
  • Short journal entry with an intention for the day.
  • Glass of lemon water

If I had time, I would do yoga/work out immediately following this.

The results were totally amazing. I was more centred, patient, productive, and peaceful than I had been ever in my life. I felt like I was in the driver’s seat again. My life was manageable. I had so much more time to spend doing the things I love! It was utterly amazing.

My greatest difficulty is simply doing it. As soon as someone gets sick, or I have a really broken night of sleep, or we’re travelling, my morning routine goes out the window and I really struggle to get back into that groove. I don’t want it to seem like I’ve mastered this by any means! I’m trying to have grace with myself that it might not be possible to do every morning. And it’s ok to have those days too.

But I’m going to keep working towards this goal of being intentional with my time, energy and attitude.

INTENTIONAL living - this is my focus for 2017.

What about you? Do you have an intentional morning routine? What does it look like? I’d love to hear from you.

 

Written by Christina Bakanec

How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?

Water.

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There are few other things more essential to life. 

Did you know that up to 60% of your body is made of water?

Despite the fact that we literally can’t survive without it, how much thought do we really put into water?

If you’re like me most days, the answer is little to none. On a typical day as a mom of 3 kids, running two part time businesses and juggling multiple other responsibilities, at a certain point in the day I realize I’m very thirsty and haven’t had any water yet. I chug a glass or two and forget about it. Until I’m parched again a few hours later. Chug. Forget. Repeat. 

One of my absolute favourite parts of the Beautiful Body Cleanse was the challenge to drink water more mindfully. As soon as I began to be mindful about water, the obvious question arose:

How much should I be drinking?

If you Google ‘how much water should I drink’, you’ll find hydration calculators, health blogs, and government guides. The typical answer is ‘8 glasses of 8 ounces of fluid per day.’ This is just an average. It is important to take into account your age, activity level, environment, how much hydrating food you eat, if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant…etc. 

I’m an active, 28 year old who has been breastfeeding for 3 years straight. I also live in a very, very dry climate. Perhaps this is why the ‘8 glasses of water/day’ has never worked for me. I don’t stay on top of it and find myself trying to catch up in the evening, which is not what I call successful hydration.

Keeping a water bottle with me at all times also hasn’t been effective for me. I tend to leave it behind and forget all about it until I’m parched. 

Truthfully, the only successful way I have found to stay hydrated (thanks to the Beautiful Body Cleanse’s challenge to make mindful hydration of upmost importance) is…

(WARNING: TMI ahead) 

 

 

 

CLEAR PEE. 

 

Yep. I said it.

 

It’s super simple.

I drink a glass of water when I first wake up and a glass before each meal. Then I follow these rules:

  1.  If my pee is yellow, I go directly to the kitchen and drink a glass or two.
  2. If it’s light yellow, I go directly to the kitchen and drink one glass.
  3. If it’s clear, well….MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

I recognize that mindful hydration is different for everyone. This works SO well for me.

As a side note, I also discovered that I can drink a lot more if I drink warm water. Not hot, but a bit warmer than room temperature. It doesn’t feel as shocking to my body. 

What about you? What tricks do you use to stay hydrated? Do you drink cold/warm/hot water? I’d love to hear from you, comment below!

Wishing you a well-hydrated day!

 

Written By Christina Bakanec

Life Changing Magic

 

In October, I completed the Beautiful Body Cleanse. It’s a 30 day cleanse facilitated by a Leanne Jacobs, who is also the founder of the program. 

The timing of when this program couldn’t have been more perfect. In June of this year, I embarked on my Konmari journey - decluttering my life completely and only keeping the things that spark joy. This consumed most of my summer and I am still working away at the final category: sentimental items. 

In September, I began a 30 Day Yoga Camp online with Yoga with Adrienne. I’ve done yoga before, but never 30 days in a row. As a mom of 3 little ones, finding the time to do yoga every day was quite challenging but so worthwhile! I felt stronger, centered and more focused than I have in years.

When I came across the Beautiful Body Cleanse towards the end of September, it was so clearly the next step on my journey. I was so excited!

What drew me to this program initially was that it doesn’t focus on losing weight, counting calories, or consuming some magical substance that will cause to to lose weight, eat what you want, fart rainbows and ride unicorns (hah!). It’s about nourishing yourself on every level - your body, your mind and your spirit. It focuses on the WHOLE you, not the number on the scale. 

I consider myself a fairly healthy person normally but this program really brought my idea of ‘health’ to a new level. It wasn’t always easy - I had some deeply ingrained habits to break and new ones to create. It took commitment, focus and determination.

But it was SO worth it.

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that I did it. 

Over the next few blog posts, I’m going to share the most life-changing aspects of this cleanse with you. I hope that it will inspire you to make changes or perhaps provide you with strategies for moving towards a healthier you, whatever that may mean in your life. 

2016 has been a year of change for me. I feel stronger and healthier than I have in a long time. I’m so excited to share this journey with you.

Stay tuned!!

 

Written by Christina Bakanec