Tag Archives: sleep

Birth Happens: A journey of Wombs in Bloom.

One of the things about birth is that you can never predict when the baby is going to come. A due date is really just an estimated marker, but baby can come any day of the week. One of my dear doula sisters had the opportunity to be present at her sister’s birth. The catch: They live on opposite sides of the country. This is her experience of being a long distance doula and what she did to overcome her expectations of being present during the birth.

Birth happens.

As much as you may try, you cannot predict its unique process. That’s the beauty of it. Having the wisdom to accept that your baby knows when and your body knows how. Be at peace and surrender to the rhythmic waves of your rite of passage. Let others lucky enough watch in awe as you conquer each one.

I was one of those lucky ones chosen to watch another bring new life earth-side. A gift not many receive–The gift of witnessing strength and courage.

Being invited to be in the presence of the most powerful of feminine energies.

To hold space and to hold hands.

To support birth wishes and support new families.

I was chosen to be my sister’s doula.     With four years apart, I was constantly amazed by my big sister. Copying every movement she made, every word she spoke. Once becoming the middle child I came to understand this is quite annoying. But irritating or not, I was to fly back home to Ontario to be by her side. Fresh out of school and trained as a holistic doula, I had travelled to Victoria, BC to pursue a calling from my soul. A calling which had me leaving everything and everyone I knew and I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that this is what I am meant to be doing and there is nothing else suited for me out there. I had been given valuable skills. My mind filled with knowledge, my heart with compassion and empathy. It was time to put all of these to work.

We spoke over Skype and through text messages of natural birth wishes and comfort measures, herbs and skin to skin contact. I gave her resources and advice. She gave me the blessing of my very first client. She wanted a different birth experience than the previous: She wanted to feel empowered and in control. We did not need to meet every month to create a bond. The trust and comfort was already there running through our veins. We had stories and inside jokes, family vacations and family pets. We shared the same upbringing. We were children of divorce and we share the same emptiness in our hearts of an absentee father. I knew just as well as she did what support she needed, and we were both ready to learn, grow and birth together.

With signs of a preterm birth (low cramping, belly drop and already 3 cm dilated) weeks before her EDD we decided it would be best if I flew in two weeks early and we could all prepare together. But baby V was to enter this world at a pace no one could see coming. She was anxious to lock eyes with the familiar voice that calmed her growing body, the woman whose womb created safe and ancient territory. She wanted to meet her mama and no one was going to stop her.

It was settled. I was leaving work and all packed to go. I said goodbye to the animals and my partner and headed out to take part in the most intimate and sacred of moments. I felt fear and disbelief in myself. I can admit that now. The very thought of letting her down shook me to the core. I felt like I needed to prove myself. I desperately needed my family to see that going to the other side of the country had paid off. I would catch myself in this negative space and quickly remind myself of all the training I had received, all of the experienced and enlightened instructors who filled my life with wonder and curiosity. They instilled a yearning for personal and professional growth. My heart was ready whether my brain knew it or not.

Baby V was growing fast and a stretch and sweep was to be done on the day I would be leaving. A stripping of the membranes can take days, even weeks and sometimes they don’t take at all. In case of baby V this was it! Her pathway was within view and she was that much closer to meeting those who already loved her. My flight was at 9pm and I had three layovers before I could get to Ottawa. I tried desperately to change my flight, but in the end my heart knew what was happening. A call from my mother made it real.

“She’s 8cm dilated.” “But I’m still in Vancouver, my flight isn’t for another hour. This is my job and I’m missing it.” I rambled and raged. I sobbed and kicked my luggage. I didn’t care that people were staring. They’d be crying too I they were me!

I had done what I feared the most: I was letting my big sister down.

How could she ever forgive me for missing the birth? How could I ever look into her eyes knowing that I disappointed her so much?  For hours these thoughts ran through my head. I was wondering if she was coping and if she had stayed drug free like she had wished for. Did she feel safe and empowered? Were the doctors and nurses giving her time to labour? Each plane could not go fast enough. I couldn’t sleep; I just wanted to be by her side. I wanted to look her in the eyes and say “You’re doing it!” I knew I couldn’t do any of these things and I felt raw and powerless.

I finally landed in Edmonton, ran into the airport and checked my phone. My sister had birthed a healthy baby girl completely drug free just like we had talked about. She did it! Everyone was happy and safe. Despite the wonderful news, I was still upset about the situation and angry that it was still going to be another 5 hours and another layover in Toronto until I could see my sister and meet my new niece.

 And then something hit me like a ton of bricks; I was being selfish.

I was letting something so special and beautiful hurt my feelings. I was being childish and it needed to stop. As much as I tried, I couldn’t shake my grumpiness. What if I had jinxed myself and my career?

I finally passed out for the 40 minute flight from Toronto to Ottawa. I woke up feeling more like myself. My mom picked me up at the airport, bought me breakfast (finally food!) and then we were on our way to the hospital. All of my anger and resentment towards the situation and me quickly melted away once I walked into that room. I saw my glowing sister and the first thing she said to me was “I did it.” My eyes filled with tears and I replied with “yes you did. You’re a birth warrior.”

I knew I couldn’t turn back time and be my sister’s birth doula but I could use my skills and be her postpartum doula. I stayed for a week to help her and her husband as much as possible. For the first few days, I was on sibling and dog duty. Baby V’s hilarious big sister, A, kept me busy with cartoons and stories of karate. She called her new little sister “sweet baby” and always wanted to hold her as soon as she got home from school. She is in awe of this new life and she is going to be the best big sister.

Then it was placenta time. I was going to be able to give my sister back so many of the nutrients she had shed during birth. I had done a raw dehydration and encapsulated 100 pills but could have easily done another 100, I unfortunately ran out of capsules. She credits these pills for her exceptional milk supply and increase in mood.

I tried to let my sister and her husband sleep as much as possible so I would take the night shift–caring for babe from the hours of 11pm- 6am. I quickly fell in love. She is pure magic. We would stare at each other and I felt like she was looking right into my soul, like she knew who I really was. I wondered what her journey was like and if she remembered my voice from the first time I had talked to her in the womb. I played her sitar when she fussed and within seconds she was either mesmerized or fast asleep. Despite what everyone says, sleeping when baby sleeps was impossible. I couldn’t miss one second of those eyes, that yawn or those impressive farts. I felt capable and proud of myself that I was trusted with this precious being. She felt safe enough to fall asleep in my arms every night and I can never forget our time together.

It was hard leaving and it’s even harder being so far away and not continuing this bond. I love the island and I know that my heart belong to this land, but it stills yearns for the familiarity of home –like the smell of cinnamon that fills my mother’s home. Maybe one day I’ll go back, but for now I have a future to build here and I’m very blessed to know that I am being fully supported by those around me.

I will cherish my first experience with birth and even though it wasn’t exactly what I had imagined, it was still powerful and unique. I grew a new understanding for my sister and what she is capable of. I had always looked up to her because of her sense of humour and for always being the cool one; now I stare up at her with completely different eyes.

She is strong, she is powerful. She is a Birth Warrior!

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The Season For Sickness

Sickness is striking in my house again. I guess by this point we are all used to getting a little under the weather and finding ways to overcome some of the symptoms. My poor dad is getting hit the hardest. It seems like it has been weeks of him coughing and sneezing, sleeping for hours when he would usually be doing something else. Usually the parents take care of their children when they become ill, but the tables are slowly starting to turn. I won’t say that my dad is against natural medicine but he usually sticks to what his doctor says. This sickness is making him try new things and giving me a boost of confidence that he believes in my “kumbaya approach”.

If you have ever been in the same room as me, you probably figured out fairly quickly that my dad is one of my favourite people in this world. Any time I have the chance to switch the topic of conversation to my dad I am on it in a heartbeat. If you’ve ever been in the same room as my dad, you understand completely. My dad is one of the greatest people I have had the chance to learn from. He has so many skills from woodworking and mechanics to making the best tortellini and being a realistic human being. He has always made me think twice about my decisions and opens up a whole new world of thoughts. Not only does he help me through things but he helps my friends too. We’ve always had a house full of people and I think he’s helped every person who has walked through our doors in one way or another. Of course, if you’ve done something silly he will make fun of you until you fall asleep, but it’s all in the name of fun.

I have so many memories of being little and having him take care of me. He worked as a logger which meant he would spend a few weeks away and then a few weeks back. When he was home.. Those were the best days of my childhood. Mini golfing, teaching me how to skateboard, cooking, playing baseball, brushing my hair and reading to me at night—he was always doing the things we wanted to do. Some of the days when he would come home, we would be sick and he would deal with that too. I come from a family of three daughters so it was always triple the sickness. There was even the time when we got chicken pox and passed it along to leaving him hospitalized (sorry dad). Somehow he stilled loved us after that. Through this most recent sickness, he is still helping me heal from my surgery and making sure I am proceeding with the right therapies to get strength back in my leg. He really keeps pushing himself. It’s now my chance to make a difference in the way he is feeling. I try to hobble around and clean up after myself a bit more but the biggest difference I can make is adding in little things.

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My sister and I with my dad back in the day.

This is where anyone can make a difference in a sick household. If you have a multiple children in your house, you are aware that so many different germs can make their way back to you. If you are pregnant, you know that your immune system is slightly less effective. Little colds and a runny nose are common symptoms of pregnancy and there’s always a chance you can catch something. So what do we do about this? Little preventative measures! Here are a few things that I am doing in my own home that are really starting to help us out:

1) Essential Oil Steamers: Place 2 cups of boiled water in a bowl, add in 3-5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and 1-3 drops of peppermint oil. Cover your head over the bowl with a towel and take long deep breaths. The amount of oil that you need will depend on the quality of oil you are using. Continue taking deep breaths until there is no steam left. The steam will help open your nasal passages and the combination of peppermint and eucalyptus will help relieve the pressure in your head and chest, help move unwanted bacteria and phlegm out of your passages and will provide mental clarity. This combination smells like vicks vapour rub. You can make your own rub by dropping some of the essential oils into coconut oil. The lauric acid in coconut oil will provide antifungal and antiviral healing qualities that are beneficial as well.

2) Lemon Ginger Tea: Everyone is starting to feel sick? Make a big pot of lemon ginger tea! I like to make this tea day by day depending on how I am feeling, but you can make a big pot and store it in the fridge. Take 4 cups of water and start to boil over the stove, add in 2 inches of sliced ginger, 1-2 lemons- squeeze and drop into pot and 1-2 tablespoons of honey. Let this mixture boil on the stove for a minimum of 20 minutes. At this point, you can add in more honey, ginger or lemon. If I am feeling overwhelmed, I like to add in a few drops of Elm from the Bachflower remedies.

3) Thieves the house: Thieves oil is an amazing disinfectant with an aroma that I can’t seem to get enough of. I put my thieves oil in a little spray bottle and spray down my surfaces and bedding. This kills any bacteria on my pillows or couches so that the next person who comes over hopefully won’t have to meet it.

4) Make soup: Soup is the best. Easy as that. With all the rich squash coming into season right now, why would you want anything else? If someone in your house is able to make enough soup to freeze or keep in the fridge for a few days, the ill people will love you forever. It can be so hard to feed ourselves properly when we are unwell, but it is so very important for recovery. Try bulking up your soup with lentils and beans or garlic and an assortment of fresh herbs. Your body will love you for it. If you are stumped on recipes, try The Nourished Kitchen’s recipe selection. There’s something for every diet! http://nourishedkitchen.com/recipe-index-2/

5) Love and Patience: Everyone has gotten sick before and knows how frustrating it can be. Between the lack of sleep and scratchy throat, we all need someone to show us a little compassion. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it but always try and return the favor. If someone around you is sick, drop them off a hearty meal or offer to drive their kids to school. Give a little massage or unload the dishwasher.

The littlest things can make the biggest difference. I hope you can avoid the cough and flu season with success and if not, I hope you recover quickly.

With love, From Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com
ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com