Ah, Albuquerque airport- you are so cute and tiny. If only all airports were so quick to get around with a little one in tow! Summer is a great time to travel and going by air sure is faster. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your travels with your little one.
Happy summer travels!!
I have taken a DONA International TENS Training course and am now approved to assist my clients in applying and utilizing the TENS unit.
What is TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)?
Benefits of TENS in labor:
Reduction, but not elimination, of labor pain with…
Gate Control Theory of Pain: Pain awareness can be reduced by increasing innocuous (pleasant) stimuli, such as the tingling sensation from the TENS unit. The Endorphin Theory: Endorphins are the body’s own pain-relieving hormones. Laboring people already produce high levels of endorphins during labor and the TENS stimulation increases this level.
When to start using TENS: TENS should be started in early labor or at least before contractions become overwhelming and intense. This will also increase endorphin production at the appropriate time in labor.
This was during a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. I love hiking and backpacking but this Nankoweap Trail was the hardest trail I had ever been on. It's super exposed, no water for about 11 miles, and that day it was crazy windy. It was amazing and so worth facing my fears. We had the trail to ourselves and once down at the river climbed up this tiny perch to see these ancient dwellings.
Fear is a terrible place for anything to start. Our society has so much fear surrounding birth but I wanted to become a doula to help people have a positive experience surrounding their birth. We need more positive birth stories in the population. More people need to experience the transformation that is possible during labor and birth. My hope is to encourage an overall appreciation for what birth does to your mind and your body. I feel like my formal training as a musician is a huge asset for dispelling fear in my doula clients.
First I need to give you glimpse of life as musician: As a musician we have auditions for orchestras. Openings for the orchestras are posted online monthly by our union, and you can only audition when openings for your instrument are available. Everyone going to the audition is given a list of excerpts which are the trickiest sections of various orchestral works. On the day of the audition, the committee that is listening to the audition compiles a list that each candidate will perform. As an audition candidate you perform anonymously, and auditions have typically one opening and at least fifty qualified applicants. You are behind a screen so the committee doesn't know your name, gender, race or age. When you play the list for the committee they can stop you at any time and ask that you perform things differently or just ask you to stop all together. As the audition-er, you are responsible to pay for your entire trip to the audition location: flight/gas, hotel, food, plus any loss of income while you are travelling. The audition trips are normally no cheaper that $700 each and you could play for a few minutes, or (hopefully) get the job.
As musicians we are trained to practice and perform. That's pretty much what we learn in school. We learn how to turn on focus and tune out distraction. We are taught how to really listen and be a part of a team able to respond to our colleagues with in-the-moment flexibility. We are taught the standard way various works are performed so we can continue the folk-art that is music. It is an exacting profession with luckily some room for adding our own life experiences, taste and creativity like salt and pepper.
Good musicians become good because of hard work. Period. Yes, talent- blah,blah..that really just translates to diligence and actually wanting to do this particular hard work. Smart musicians know that life doesn't always have as many hours free in the day as it may take to learn a new work or master a specific excerpt. Another thing we learn is mental practice. During mental practice you can be as creative as you decide: You could visualize the hall, colleagues, conductors. You could slow tricky parts down until they are mastered. You could repeat things as many times as you want.
Because of my birth experience I wanted to become a doula. It's been an honor to join my clients as they welcome their new family member. It's beautiful to see the full range of human emotions and be present for this intimate, special and sacred moment of life. Birth is amazing and doesn't need to be shrouded in fear. Hard work and discomfort doesn't always have to equate to fear. In fact the less tension you hold in your body during labor the easier it is for your body to birth. I decided to be a doula because I want to help birthing people break out of the fear-tension-pain model that is prevalent in our society. My hope as a doula is to continue to support families through labor and birth so the birth can be looked back on with pride and a sense of powerful accomplishment. All births: slow births, fast births, medicated births, un-medicated births, c-births, VBAC births can all bring about this transformation. My hope is to support people so they can be informed, involved and flexible during their journey into parenthood.
Thanks to anyone that read and responded (on FB) to my previous blog post. Here's more of my story since I am, for whatever reason, not tired even though it's midnight and I will be super tired in the morning.
Where did I leave off? We moved back to Albuquerque. I was more than bummed about being in New Mexico. Not to the fault of New Mexico but more because I have this idea that I never want to go backwards in my life. I had been here. I wanted to keep moving on, or keep moving forward. Maybe it's some competitive thing?
Anyway we moved back. I slowly started to like being here. One of the things that helped me was our little "mother-in-law quarters" rental or casita. All our stuff was in a POD storage thing, thinking we'd live in this tiny, furnished casita place for a couple months and then rent a house. Well, we adored our landlords, their dogs and their garden. They treated us like part of the family (we're still friends and still adore them!). The dogs had a little dog door to our place that we willingly left open for visits from Bob and Emily(named after the Newharts) and Bella too. The woman landlord is an expert gardener and welcomed us to pick and eat things from the garden. It was a lovely place to live and heal.
While living in the casita I started to volunteer at Animal Humane as a dog walker. After five months (yep, all our stuff besides two suitcases and backpacking gear was in the POD for about 6 months) in the casita we found a rental house that we moved into. Mark and I decided we were ready for our own dog again and we found Poppy Q whom we renamed Phoebe. She was a stray puppy and it was love at first lap-sit. Having a puppy really opened up a bunch of stuff in our marriage. Our communication improved and our team-work strengthened. This of course was after some really hard times and things that only sleep deprivation from a puppy will help you reach.
Then, I got pregnant. Yippee! Like I mentioned, it was basically a combination of all human emotions stuffed into each moment. The pregnancy was good but after the previous losses I was nervous and had to work hard on meditating. I was and am thankful for the Blissborn Hypnosis birth class we took to prepare.
Fast forward through the almost 41 weeks of pregnancy and my water broke and I didn't know. My plan/hope/preference was to give birth at Dar a Luz birth center but I was suddenly put on a schedule due to the risk of infection for the baby. My contractions were also not really ramping up so the midwife had me take castor oil. Phew. That's the real deal! Those intestinal contractions started the uterine contractions by the time I got to UNMH.
I wasn't planning on using a doula since Mark and I are a good team. I also felt really informed from all of our classes at Dar a Luz and the Blissborn class. At the last minute though, when the plans shifted from birth center to hospital, I decided to request a doula. Dar a Luz has a program exchange with New Life Birth doula agency. I had met all the doulas before, and would just be given whoever was on call that night.
I got Shawn. She came to the birth and instantly was a birth professional in the form of a comforting friend. She anticipated my needs. Talked me though all the intense emotions of birth. Fully involved Mark and also gave him a break to hydrate and eat. I am eternally thankful she was present at our birth.
My goal was an un-medicated birth and that is what I got, in the hospital. I think my preparation for the birth and life experiences, all of them, helped greatly. I truly had a profound feeling of love and thankfulness throughout my labor. It was like nothing I have ever experienced. Two (and little bit) years away now, I still remember lots of different moments about the labor and birth of our daughter. The main thing I remember about the experience was an enormous amount of strength that I had in myself. It makes me the person, wife, mom and friend I am today. It transformed me. I think I was able to step into my strength because of the support and space I was given during my labor and birth.
I thought I would write a little about me here. Birth is personal, so I thought I'd share some personal stuff here too.
My formal training and schooling was in music performance and I majored in horn (or french horn as some people say). I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my Bachelor's degree and continued on at Northwestern University for my Master's degree. It feels like music was always an important part of my life. I began taking piano lessons when I was four and started horn when I was ten. I loved music. Sure, as a kid I still had to be reminded to practice, but I actually did it and I always wanted to be a musician. I was the kid that listened to classical music on the radio, had tons of tapes and then CDs of classical music with a tiny bit of pop/rock/whatever is more usual music mixed in.
After finishing grad school I had a three year fellowship playing in Miami Beach, Florida in a training orchestra called the New World Symphony. It was my first paycheck as a musician. As a fellow in this training orchestra we were given studio apartments, our stipend and at least monthly coaching from some of the top musicians around the globe. Seriously, from Chicago and San Francisco to Vienna. I learned so much and made some great friends while there.
My first professional horn job was a one-year position in Norfolk, Virginia with the Virginia Symphony. I played second horn there. Most orchestras have between five and six horns. It's a very competitive profession and I feel lucky to have had so much success. After that I played for a year in the Houston Grand Opera as third horn. Then came to Albuquerque and got the job as fourth horn in the New Mexico Symphony (now reformed as the New Mexico Philharmonic).
Here in New Mexico I met my husband, Mark Hyams who plays trumpet. We got engaged after dating two months and got married a year later. Right after we got married..like the day after!...we both had a three month trial period with the Malaysian Philharmonic. It was an amazing experience culturally and a good orchestra too. It also allowed us to take a crazy cool honeymoon on this remote island. ...but we wanted to come back to the U.S. We came back to New Mexico and then I got a one-year position as fourth horn/utility (meaning I would move around a little in the section) with the Saint Louis Symphony. The job in St. Louis was incredible and the one-year actually turned into five years. While there we went to Carnegie hall every year and took a European tour too. We also did a recording project and I (and Mark too!)got to perform on a Grammy Award winning CD. This was definitely a high point while there!
During my fifth year in Saint Louis though I had a lot of sadness. I had three miscarriages within nine months. My first dog as an adult died of cancer. A week after my dog died, my Mom who was my best friend died. Torture. I was fairly certain I was the harbinger of death at that low point in my life. I even considered taking my life. It was so bleak and dark. A few months after all those losses the tenure audition for the job I was playing in Saint Louis happened. I gave it my all, but I didn't get the position. Looking back, I am unsure how I was anything but a puddle of mush.
When I didn't get the tenure position in St. Louis we moved back to Albuquerque because my husband still had his position in the New Mexico Phil. I was not super excited about moving back to New Mexico. Not for any good reason besides just continuing to feel sad. I started going to talk therapy and that helped (and still helps) a bunch. I slowly came out of my depression and fog. I started hiking again and made a few local friends.
I started subbing locally and then started to get calls to travel and perform. Getting those calls was a great reassurance that I hadn't fallen off the map. I was still a musician! I was invited to Honolulu, Kansas City, back to Saint Louis, and Los Angeles.
Then, I got pregnant! WOW! I was a mixture of excited, freaked out, happy, terrified, confident and worried.
****speaking of baby, she's up from a rare nap....to be continued!****
Who has time to meditate?...You do! I promise, my sweet friend you really do have time to meditate or to be mindful! Are you thinking about becoming a parent? Are you a soon to be mama*? Are you a soon to be a mama again? Are you already mama or parent? Are you a currently a caregiver of any beings in your life? Believe me. You need this.
The amount of time is minimal and the effects are monumental. I thought, geez, right...I need one more thing to add to my crazy long "to do" list kinda a like I need a hole in my head! But, seriously hear me out:
Lots of apps have suggestions for you and they are not a huge time suck. Headspace is popular, and so is Calm. They both have free trials, so not tons of commitment initially. After you start though, you may feel that having the ability to connect with yourself will be something you actually want to commit to long term with a daily practice. Try it and see to what you can bring to and for yourself and as a side effect, to your whole family.
For myself, meditation has given me increased patience. I already felt like a had a lot toward my baby-toddler, but meditation and mindfulness increased the amount of patience I have with my partner and now with myself. Also, some days as we continue our journey into toddler-hood I really need extra patience. My now two year old is requesting increased independence, control over her space and let's say "exploring boundaries."
Anyway you as a caregiver deserve care too! You don't need to be super organized about this. No guilt allowed and no perfection (ever) required. You also absolutely don't need to wake up one hour before your family. When I see those suggestions, of even less sleep, on various sites I just run away! You don't even need a special dedicated space. Meditation can be: come as you are, when you are able.
You don't need fancy stuff at all. All you need is you and your breath.
The app I have been loving is 10% Happier. It is free for a week and I am cheap, I mean frugal, that those seven days were what I needed to jump-start my meditation. The meditations last about ten minutes. Now, if you are really newly postpartum give yourself a break and listen to what you are truly craving. (So, possibly a shower, a meal, a hot tea, a nap....you get the idea) For those of us a bit past the fresh, shiny, new baby phase, please give this a go.
I do my meditation when putting my daughter down for her nap or at bedtime. I still nurse her to sleep. During that sleepy-time routine, I become really mindful and focus on my breath. It makes me feel like a renewed person.
However you decide to connect with yourself and do some self-care is awesome. Please just allow yourself the time. Just sharing what I have been really enjoying. Meditation...we really do have time! Happy you and happy parenting!
*please know that the term mama is inclusive to all people and parents in any way that they identify
Just wanted to wish you all a Happy Halloween! My mom always made this day special with silly costumes (usually sewn the night before since I took forever to decide, or I changed my mind), special pumpkin-y treats, pumpkin carving, so so much candy. I really like the fall. My birthday is in September, we got married in October, and my daughter's birthday is in November. Our little 23 month old doesn't eat candy but I'm hopeful she'll put her costume on to at least give candy out to the neighbors. Either way, here's hoping we can make the day special for her like my mom did for me. It's going to be cold here in Albuquerque tomorrow, which reminds me of nearly every Halloween growing up in my Chicago suburb. I don't really remember seeing costumes without winter coats covering them! Keep warm everyone and I hope you have a really fun day!!
Hiring a doula for the birth of your baby is an important and personal decision. Websites like to suggest a checklist of questions to cover during your initial doula interview. Of course, you are welcome to ask anything that makes you feel like you are making a good choice for your birth team during your free consultation-doula interview. This is a monumental day and your birth will be in your memory for the rest of your life. It's a big decision.
Here in New Mexico we have a lot of doula options and I suggest all my potential clients interview at least two additional birth doula choices. Please don't go strictly by price. Most of the doulas I know (myself included) are willing to work with you to arrange a payment schedule or even slide their scale to support your birth, if necessary. I also suggest you don't choose a doula strictly by total births attended either. This question misses the beautiful tapestry of experiences that doulas weave together to create their approach to birth support! Doulas come from so many diverse backgrounds (for instance, I am also a professional musician) and few doulas take a straightforward pathway into birth work, so it’s worth listening for their unique trajectory.
In my humble opinion you will decide your doula is right in your gut. How do you feel when you are in your meeting? Are you heard? Are you feeling respected? Are you connecting with the personality of the person/doula you are interviewing? Do you feel the doula is knowledgeable about birth and capable and confident in handling various birth scenarios?
Trust yourself and your feelings! This is your birth and the right support is out there.
Bottom line: you should be left with the feeling that your doula can support you, whether they have attended 5, 50, or 500 births
For real, I love being a mom. I had no idea I'd like it so much. When my husband and I first got married we were both on the fence about kids. I knew for sure I wanted to marry him, and I knew I wanted a career as a professional musician. That was about as far as I had really thought!
When I was growing up, I remember my mom saying that she had "always" wanted babies and had "always" known she wanted to be a mom...and that made me always feel bad for her. How lame. All she aspired to was being a mom? Really? That's all?! What about her identity as a person, her place in society, her career, her hobbies and whatever else is possible to stuff into a full and happy life?
Yeah, then I had a baby. My everything flipped on its head. This little person is amazing to be around and I feel so lucky to get to hang out with her all day. I am not sure I want to go back to full time work...ever. Do I "just" want to be a mom? Is it really so small of a title after all? I mean, I am raising a human. I am trying to help her figure out all the developmental goodies that come with growing into an independent person. It sounds like a colossal role. It really actually is a colossal role!
My mom passed away in February 2014 and I so wish I could apologize for thinking she had no aspiration since she "just" wanted to be a mom... which turned out to mean running the house in a zillion ways, caring for my dad, my brother and me, and having a few careers over her lifetime.
Anyway, it's really damn hard work being a mom. It's awesome-sauce and fun and then taxing and patience-pushing. If being a mom was your goal in life, I think it's a pretty great one. If it's your goal for right now, I think it's also a pretty great one. So many moms I get to know are hard on themselves for not being more and doing more. It can be about anything: more of a career, more of an elaborate house or elaborate meals, or cleaning more, or having more play-dates. Why do we do this to ourselves? Maybe we are all more than enough. Sorry, this is getting too heavy. Do you like the Llama Llama books? You need to see this silly video now.
Anyway, it's Saturday and I'm just sharing. I don't have it figured out by any means and I am not in a position to offer advice on life, so I won't. I just wanted to share that what we do whether we stay home full-time, part-time, or some combo of the two is a bunch of work. It takes a toll on our brains but also on our necks and back. Was that enough of a transition? Ha!
It's important to listen to our body while we are giving so much of ourselves to our little one/s. Let's talk quick about the physical aches and pains of carrying a baby or toddler around all day, or breastfeeding possibly in funny positions, or co-sleeping (and getting kicked in the neck last night...ooof). Stretching is so important for that synovial fluid in your back. Man, my life is better from 15 minutes here and there with a YouTube yoga stretch. I had a yoga teacher say that "a flexible spine gives you a flexible mind." Maybe that's the key to us being more gentle on ourselves during whatever phase we are in of motherhood. Again, I am not offering life advice but I can offer advice to try these videos on on the neck and back pain!
I wish you well and I wish you gentle thoughts for yourself...and I wish the same for me.
Congratulations!!! Happy labor day, friends. I hope you are snuggling your baby with joy thinking back to your strength and accomplishment as a birthing person that labored your baby.
Happy vaginal birth, happy cesarean birth, happy non-medicated birth, happy medicated birth. Only your baby knows how they need to be born. Congratulations for listening and trusting your body for your individual birth and your individual baby.
Birth is not a competition or a time for comparisons. Motherhood or parenthood is also not a place for comparisons. Continue to trust yourself as you navigate the journey of parenthood. (I am writing this to encourage myself too, cause it can be hard to trust yourself!)
When the days get long or tough or both, think back to your strength during labor. You did it! You can continue to do it, whatever "it" happens to be!!
Need additional support or a cheerleader? Let me know, cause I'm here for you. firstname.lastname@example.org