Afraid to feel

I have been reflecting a lot since returning home from my trip to Haiti. They do life and birth so differently there. During these reflections I keep coming back to the same line in my head "Why does it seem like Americans are SO afraid to feel?" From the time we are born, we are taught if we feel any measure of pain or discomfort, that there is a means to take that all away. We tend to be uber quick to medicate the physical, emotional and much of the in-between. 

About 8 months ago, I had friends arrive to the US after living their entire lives in a refugee camp in Rwanda. One of the girls, 11, cut open her foot pretty bad while playing for the first time at a local Portland park. While she didn't skip a beat, the rest of us were scrambling to find ways to clean her up and make sure she wasn't in  a crazy amount of pain! All the while thinking to ourselves "how is she not crying or freaking out?! Our kid would have lost it by now!" Was she supernatural and couldn't feel what was happening to her foot? No. She had just experienced so much in her little life that what to her was "just another cut on her foot" was in fact "no big deal!"

Then I arrive in Haiti. A place with the most resiliently strong people and where I got the amazing opportunity to witness numerous women give birth. You would not have known some of these women were feeling the same labor discomfort that so many of us know so well. They were calm and collected, as if having a baby was effortless and truly, not a big deal. I was amazed with the grace they carried as they sat, walked, and laid. It was a spectacular sight to see! Now I know Haitian women are not exempt from the pain of childbirth, just like refugee children are not exempt from feeling foot pain.

So what is it that aids in the ability for one to cope with the discomforts of life?

My thought is that it is not masking the pain, but allowing ones body to actually FEEL!

Don't try and take away every emotion, discomfort, or twinge of pain. Don't be afraid to feel what life is throwing our way!

When Life gets hard, lets deal with the emotions, not medicate. When we get the slightest ache from a fever, why don't we allow it to run its very-important-course in doing what the fever was created to do (fight infection) rather then being so quick to make it go away! I am thankful for the advances we have in the U.S, but I think sometimes we may take our knowledge and technology a bit too far. I want the best physical and emotional health for my children and myself. Sometimes this means enduring some discomfort so we can reach the overall healthiest outcome in the end.

Let us not always be afraid to feel what life throws our way. Some of it can actually be really beautiful to feel (childbirth being one of them!) Plus, the pain we mask, typically will catch up to us one way or another in the end. 



Haiti day 5

Happy new year! The people of Haiti were cheering all night long- but I fell asleep at 11:30pm! 

This morning I woke to another quiet day. Majority of the staff is still away visiting their families. so I sat in the Sun reading more in my book "Wild". I have less then 50 pages to go and am going to be so sad when it's done! 

The birth center was quiet and empty and I was upstairs when I heard a "hello" quietly call from down below. I went down and there was a pregnant women and two men saying "baby" to me! She is in labor, and everyone is gone! I took her to the room and had her sit down as I went to grab Judith.

It's this mamas first baby and she has now been here working SO hard all day. This is the first birth here that resembles the ones I often see back home. It's much longer and more intense! She has had such a great support system though. Sweet girlfriends here, the babies daddy (which usually doesn't come) has been coming by often. I just have been sitting back watching her people and trying to learn what I can from them! 

A couple days ago a few people kept saying to me "Mailen" (I'm sure this is not how it is spelled but it's how it sounds!) I didn't know what they were saying but remembered it today and asked my translator Claudin. He said they were asking me to be the babies Godmother!!!! Gah! What an honor to have them ask that and I wish I could have thanked them for the sweet gesture at the time! I am going to leave here being a bunch of babies Godmother, if only in my mind ;) I swear a man said the same thing to me today when we were "talking" (really him talking and me just motioning I don't know!) about a pig... So maybe the Godmother of some babies AND a couple of pigs!!

The birth that I described above has just happened and it was one of the sweetest parts of my trip! Watching the excited family wait outside and the support this mama got was beautiful! She had the cutest baby girl.

The little sister of the babies dad, Shamika, and I played for a long time. She is 6 years old and reminds me so much of my spunky Alomae. She played with my hair, we ate candy and trail mix, and she was so giddy when I came to get her so she could meet her new little niece!

The whole family of this mama are so kind, supportive, and wonderful! It's a beautiful sight to see! 


Haiti day 4

It's New Year's Eve and the birth center will be quiet, as far as prenatal's go, for the next few days! Everyone seems to be venturing out to spend time celebrating the New Year and Haitian Independence Day with their families.

Since the doors were closed today I decided to venture out to see the villages with my translator Claudin. Since I was turning him into my tour guide for the day, we started off at a  restaurant so I could could connect with Andy via their Wifi. After sharing a nice meal of Goat, we walked about and he took me to where he has lived his whole life and this was so much fun! I got to see the authentic, resilient, and true Haiti! The way Haitians REALLY live! It was beautiful and heartbreaking all in one breathe. I met Claudins mom and brothers! When I went to shake her hand she gave me her upper arm to shake instead. I then looked down into the bowl her hands had been in and it was filled with chicken blood and feathers from the birds she had just killed and prepared!! 

I saw a few different types of villages around and the different ways people live. We walked down to where Kasava bread was made on the side of the road and It was pretty amazing to watch! I walked on a stone wall surrounded by "swamp" and in it were some really loud and snorty pigs! So many smells and sights were taken in today! 

People stared at me wherever I went but everyone was very kind. As soon as I gave a friendly smile or wave, I was always met with the same! 

Something I enjoy more then anything else in this world is walking amongst other cultures and seeing their true authentic life!

When I got back I broke open my chocolate bars and sat at the table chatting with Judith (a midwife) and Claudin. The 3 of us ate it while I taught Claudin a magic card trick. It was a eerily quiet but an overall good night. 



Haiti day 3

Woke up this morning "showered" (really I poured buckets of water over me while I stood in the shower) and headed down to the birth center. It's quiet around here because of New Years (which is a big deal in Haiti because it also is their Independence Day) 

Oh wait, I spoke too soon... Quiet as far as prenatal's go, but we just had two births (babies born 4 minutes apart) and have a mom laboring in the same room as the birth I just attended. Birth here is so very different then back home! Women are left in the room to labor (with others if there are more labors happening at the same time) and the midwives are very straight to the point (this is a cultural thing)  it's interesting having such a language barrier- so I am doing lots of keeping them hydrated, counter pressure, and letting them squeeze the heck out of my hands! 

The baby I just saw born is a handsome little boy! I love watching the relief and joy that all mothers get once their baby is born. It crosses all cultures for sure!

I showed a bunch of ladies pictures of my "babies" and she passed my phone to all the other ladies. They said a bunch of stuff and laughed! I get that a lot- being the only American! I'm pretty sure everyone just makes fun of me ;)

I actually think they may have been saying that the girls look like me! Man do I miss MY baby girls! 

If you accompany a friend or family member to the birth center, expect to be put to work! I have seen mothers and sisters and friends outside scrubbing post birth bedding in a bucket (gnarly!) and making the beds back up for the next mama to come in! I'm not sure if they are asked to do it or volunteer, but it is messy work! Haitians work together and have the best attitudes while doing it! (Update: I just asked and found out that each woman is expected to have someone with her to launder the birth soiled bedding... They sit in the hot sun scrubbing for hours! These women are servants and are tough!!)

I am now currently sitting in on my 3rd labor of the day. I missed the one that was 4 minutes after the one I attended (it was in the other room!) this mama is 18 years old and lost her previous baby last year when it was just 6 months old. I cannot help but pray for a healthier outcome for this baby! I have no idea why that baby died, but I can only imagine the anxiety she must be carrying as she labors with baby #2...

Her TINY baby boy was just born. These Haitian mamas make giving birth look so easy! I wish I could share with my American friends just a glimmer of what it's like here! It's truly an amazing thing to watch! 


Haiti Day 2

Today has been a whirlwind of emotions. I woke up at 7am and with very little English spoken here, had little direction as of what to do. Mamas started showing up for prenatals (all walk-in, no appointments) but I quickly learned that without knowing creole, there was very little I could do. So I went upstairs and started working on any project I could find. I organized their book library, then cleaned and organized the supply room. While doing this I fought back tears the entire time. I just kept asking "why am I here? What good could I possibly do..." I am relational and l love people and culture. So not having many to communicate with is hard for me. 

After awhile, I tried venturing downstairs again. Now there were two mamas with 3 beautiful and tiny babies! All girls. Two were twins and they were all just so darn cute. One mama must have caught my look of admiration because she  immediately scooped her baby off the bed and gave her to me! There I was- looking straight in the eyes of this stunningly dark skinned newborn who had been born here just days or weeks ago (there was no translator around so I have no idea how old she was, very new though!) Holding this baby and sitting amongst the women (even if they were probably just talking about me) was so redeeming. I went from feeling defeated and purposeless to at least feeling connected for a quick moment. I then when on to go through all the prenatal charts taking out the ones who have not come in in over 3 months. 

After this, one of the midwives came to me and said "massage"

I wasn't sure what she meant by it but quickly learned from her hand motions that she wanted a massage from me!! At first I was taken back when she guided me upstairs to the table to sit so I could massage her back. But after a minute of rubbing her tired and tight shoulders, I had a quick vision of Jesus washing feet. Why wouldn't I give her a massage? She is tired and obviously needs one! So I sat there for a good 20-30 min giving the best massage these unqualified hands could give! 

Once the massage was done I went and read a chapter in "Wild". I went searching for the book while at PDX because I really wanted to see the movie when I got home. I am 100 pages in and it's crazy to read about this woman's solo adventure while I experience a solo adventure of my own! 

Appointments end at 2pm here and then the place grows very quiet. So I decided to venture just outside the gates (just on the other side so I would stay safe) and watch the people walk by. So many walking about on this dusty bumpy road. People and cows and chickens, and goats and dogs... 

After awhile, Claudin, one of the translators walked down the road. It was so refreshing having someone to talk to. I asked about his family, their town, jobs, everything I could think of. I just want to learn about the people I meet. Claudin has been with his girlfriend for 3 years now and wants to marry her so bad but cannot yet afford them a place to live. It costs $600 a YEAR to rent a place here. I was so heartbroken that this is something he cannot afford. His only job is to translate at the birth center- which means he only has work when someone like me is here! I was beginning to find purpose in my day. If only it was providing a job for Claudin. I told him about my family and showed photos of Andy and the girls (who I have missed desperately since the moment I left them). We talked about Haiti and America and the advantages and disadvantages they both have. Here, everything is slow... Service is VERY slow (like dinner last night) and Claudin mentioned how America has something called "fast food"! I assured him that Haiti's slow food is much better then Americas fast food! ;)

It became very dark quickly and as soon as it did, a taxi pulled up to the gate where we stood. A stunning woman stepped out with a belly to match. She was in labor! I was excited to see the Haitian midwives in action and support this mama to be. She was handling her contractions so internal it was hard to know when one was happening. I would just watch her foot start tapping to know that she was. It turned out that her blood pressure was way too high though, so another taxi came to transfer to the Hospital. I felt sad for her. She was young and alone, and now had to take a taxi (fearfully I'm sure) to another place alone.

I will go to sleep tonight thinking about her. She is a beautiful and strong mama. I pray that she and her baby stay healthy in the hours to come...


Haiti day 1

Sitting at gate D9 at the Miami airport, I look around, I am almost the only white person in the beautiful sea of black. Everyone around is dressed so nice and seem to know each other. I know this can't be though, and chalk it up to the friendly Haitian way. 

After sitting on the plane for just under two hours, we descend into beautiful mountainous terrain and land on a short landing strip I swore by site, was gonna run out before we came to a complete stop. When the plane touched ground the plane applauded (never seen a plane applaud a landing) and the speaker turned over to playing Michael Jackson slow jams! (Another first!) 

I made my way into the tiny one room airport with the rest of the passengers. The crowd searching for bags was like vultures looking for meat- the aggressive won and those who were mildly delayed or passive in their approach- kept getting pushed to the back of the crowd. This was me. Not knowing the language, I just submitted to the people who pushed all around me, and about an hour after landing, I finally found my bag and made my way out the front door.

There I was met by tons and tons of men and boys offering me rides "taxi!?" "Ride?!"- I didn't know who was coming to get me but I knew someone was, so I said no thanks and stood in the sea of them as I searched for whoever this mystery person may be. It was then that a very tall and quiet voiced man said "are you Echo?" It was Santo, the house manager and one of my translators, and he quickly ushered me off to the car. I walked past a TON of "adventure mobiles" with snorkels, and land cruisers like Andy has. He would have been in absolute heaven! 

We drove the 20-30 min to MamaBaby Haiti. Weaving in and out of traffic, honking at anything and everything coming our way. Haiti does not have traffic laws- anything goes! It's a pretty unbelievable ride! Watching people on foot, motobike, car, truck, tap tap, all fighting for the small strip of ground, all going different ways!

We finally turned left down a small dirt street and honked for the gates to be opened so we could enter MamaBaby grounds.

I was showed my room (4 sets of IKEA bunk beds) and then given the orientation tour (via translator) by Patricia the on call Haitian midwife. I now really was the ONLY white person, it being the holidays, I am the only American volunteer here! 

We ate lunch and I unpacked. At this point I had slept 3 hours in the past 36  and decided to lay down for a quick little cat nap. About 30 min later I awoke with my second wind and went downstairs to the birth center. There were two mamas who were arriving in possible labor. Both were swollen with child, but neither were ready for their baby to come today. Achey and limping I watched both slowly walk out the door. I asked "how long do they have to walk to get home?" And was answered with an "I don't know." I was amazed and my respect for the Haitian woman grew even more. Many of these woman WALK a long ways to get to their prenatal appointment and births- And many come alone. 4 hours after their baby is born, they are free to go home. In all that comes with postpartum discomfort- many are walking, riding on a motorbike, or taking the tap tap (taxi service) home!

American moms- don't take for granted the luxury we have in birthing our babies... The vector that we have a comfortable ride to and from is a true gift! Also- don't get so wrapped up in our american way! We could learn a lot from a more simplified way! (Think baby gear, and toys, and clothes...)

The sun quickly set (around 5:30) and the place became dark! No overhead lights- just flashlights hanging in some random places. Santo invited me to go into town and get dinner with him, his girlfriend, sister, and his 4 year old daughter Holy. It was so fun experiencing the vibrant night life. Loud music and people hanging out every where you look. The restaurant was nice and Haitian couples were dancing all around. By the time dinner was over I could barely keep my eyes open. We made our way  back to the birth center and I crawled into my netted bed as quickly as I could and slept a wonderful 9 hours of good good sleep!


Looking forward to love.

I have two daughters. Two very sweet, fun, spunky (sometimes intense) creative, loving girls.

As 2014 comes to an end I cannot help but reflect on this past year of life.  Specifically, mothering...

 This past year mothering my girls has been hard, eye opening, beautiful, and inspiring, all in the same breath. I am leaving 2014 behind both encouraged and awestruck at just how hard forming fun-little-people into GREAT-big-people who love others well can be. 

If I could tell my girls just a few things to carry them into 2015, this is what I would say.

Alomae & Poppy.

      First, you are so fiercely loved. Even when I seem like Im frazzled or mad or am distracted by all that is around me, please know that not a moment goes by that you are not my #1's. 

I want you girls to know that we have so much choice in this life. We get to choose who to be around, share our time with, and who we let speak into us. We get to choose to follow the crowd or stand apart for the good of the ones who are in need. It is our choice to focus on ourselves or to put that energy into loving others in a way that can really change the world! 

My goal as your mama is to help navigate your hearts in a way where you will always choose to fight for the voiceless, dare to be different, see all faces as fearfully and wonderfully made, and to not just love in a half-hearted way. We are called to love girls, and I want us to do it well! 

This is hard for a lot of people because it causes discomfort. It's not easy to go outside your home, culture, and familiar faces. But life lived stretched beyond these things is far richer then the comforts that can be found within them.

I pray that as we tear  this last page off the giant calander on our wall, that we will jump feet first into a year of endless possibility. 

You are NOT too young to experience the greatness that is going beyond mere expectations and daring to love in a new kind of way. So many peope love just "ok"- but girls, we are not going to be average in this area of our lives... I promise to continue to expose you to opportunities where we can all learn and grow.

The great thing about love is it doesn't take money, power, or clout. Nope, it just takes willingness, bravery, and paying little attention to what others might think.

In closing, love others but do not forget to extend yourself the same good love and grace! You are doing good my girls, so so GOOD! It is very hard to love others if you do not first love yourself (in a unselfish, pure kind of way!) 

You are loved by God with such a rich kind of love that allows you to love others as well as yourself. We were created to do this and I know together, if our hearts are willing, opportunities will come and we will learn how to do this Love thing well.

I am so excited to walk through another year learning this all with you two- there are no other little people I would ever choose! 


Potty training at... Three?!

With my first, potty training was a breeze! Or so I thought... She was 2.5 and I was 7 months pregnant and didn't want two in diapers at the same time. We did treats and bribery to get her sitting on her little potty, and then slowly weaned her off them and reserved the treats for when she actually went potty. 

After a couple weeks of this, we ventured out of the house in panties and I would stop everywhere to sit her on the potty for fear of an accident. All the normal potty training a toddler kind of stuff.

It eventually clicked (though night training took close to a year longer) so I figured I would take the same approach when it came to baby #2. 

Baby #2 though, ended up being Poppy... And Poppy is a stubborn little being! So when 2 1/2 came around, I was thrown off a bit when she flat out said no to all the approaches I had learned to use. Yes, even mini Reese's peanut butter cups were not enough to woo this child. 

Fast Forward to a week ago and Poppy is a month PAST turning three. I brought up sitting on the potty (like I frequently did) and she DIDN'T say no! I spent two days putting her on the potty and she has not been in a diaper since! (Not even at nighttime!!!) 

The point of all this is, she was now ready! I was ready 6+ months ago, but my Poppy girl was not. It truly does pay off to go at their little pace sometimes and not try and force a square peg into a round hole.

Poppy may have gotten into panties 7 months after her sister did, but it took a lot less time and effort to make everything click! 

And for that, this mama is thankful she waited!

It is OK to listen to your kid more then we listen to our friends or what a book or even your Dr. says to do! 

I am now fully convinced there is absolutely nothing wrong with potty training at three! 


Meet Mal.

Mal is a Portland Doula who is fresh out of her coursework at Birthingway. She is looking for Mama's who are in need of a Free doula to allow her to attend their birth as she completes the practicum phase of her training. Take a look at her beautiful new site and see if you and Mal might be a good fit!


back to haiti?!

When God gives you the heart for his people, He will illuminate opportunities, stir your heart, give you boldness, and pave the way. 


I am so thrilled to say that I am In the process of planning a trip for the last week of December to return to Haiti! This time though, I will be joining the beautiful team at Mama baby Haiti , a non profit who daily provides safe and sanitary midwifery care to the women of Cap Haitian in northern Haiti. Did you hear that? God is opening doors for SO MANY FACETS OF MY HEART to collide in one very beautiful and amazing way! 


Mamas. Babies. Birth. Justice. Haiti. Oh my!


 I can hardly contain my excitement. 

Ok, a little back story... Before I had Alomae, I worked 3 years at Andaluz Waterbirth Center. After the devastating 2010 earthquake, Jennifer (owner of the birth center) and a few other women made their way down to Haiti and from that trip, Mama Baby Haiti was born! 

Mama Baby Haiti is a free clinic and birth center and every dime they receive goes towards the work in Haiti (not one penny stays in the U.S- how great is that!)

As a doula, I am up for recertification. I have decided to take the $ I would be paying to an organization (to have their letters after my name) and put it into something that really makes a difference. Helping women safely become mothers in the place that has the worst infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere. I am choosing is to invest into human lives (and yes, I will re-certify someday. it is not crucial for the work of a doula.) I truly believe that the experience gained by this opportunity will make me a far more compassionate and empathizing person and doula then any classes I could possibly take.

I want my work in this life to matter

I want to impact others and advocate for those whose voices are not always heard. I want to set an example for my daughters that this life isn't about us. That we are to love others well in action and in word. That we have a choice in how we spend our time and what we put our energy in and that life is best spent loving others more then ourselves!

Will you join me on this journey? Pray with me and for me? There are expenses involved that are beyond my reach, but I am trusting that God is taking me there and will abundantly provide because He has a work to do in and through me. 

I cannot wait to return to this beautiful country, love it's people, and meet precious Haitian babies as they make their way to this beautiful (yes there is beauty still here) world! 

Thank You to all my friends and family who are supporting this dream. I love you!


you can donate to my trip through here


they don't stay two

Now that I am almost 3 years post pregnancy/birth (and do not have plans for another!) I am realizing how much I cherish the photos I have from being pregnant with my girls and even wish I would have taken much MUCH MORE!

If I can encourage you, document your pregnancy process and document your birth! You never get those moments back and while memories are sweet, they are fleeting! I always snap a ton of photos while my clients are laboring/birthing their babies, because you can always hit delete if you do not like a photo, but there is no recreating the scene once it is done!

I was pulling up some photos for my midwife today for her to use on her new website and I came across these sweet photos of my family when I was pregnant with Poppy (taken by the lovely Meghan). They made me smile so much and reminded me (in the midst of a hard season with a two year old) just how much I longed for her,  prayed for her, and all the emotions and dreams that come with the prospect of having your family grow! I needed to be reminded of these feelings today and looking back on old photos was just the boost I needed!

So today I am thankful for the ability to easily document this season of life and that even though no more babies are planned, I can look back on the pregnancies I did have and quickly go back to what an amazing time GROWING A LIFE really is!

bonus: these photos also serve as a reminder that two year olds grow up to be five year olds very fast! I miss my days with a two year old Alomae and am reminded that soon Poppy will be 5 and I will miss her two year old self too! 


The perfect pregnant pick me up

Need a pick me up but afraid of caffeine while pregnant?

Look no further then Gwyneth Paltrows "The Best Green Juice" in her It's All Good cookbook! 


This little drink tastes HEAVENLY and packs a mean punch! 

5 leaves of Kale

1 large sprig of mint

1 large apple

1 lemon, zest and pith removed

1 1 inch piece of fresh ginger


Thats it! Run it all through your juicer and watch (and feel) it wake you up!  

here is what Gwyneth says about the drink. 

"Just about as energizing as a cup of coffee but with none of the let down, green juice is an incredibly healthy, invigorating way to start your day. Kale is full of calcium and antioxidants and just about everything else- it's one of the best things to put into your system." 

Sounds like an awesome way to feed your baby and wake yourself up right?! 

*don't worry of you do not have a juicer, you can blend all the ingredients and put through a strainer! 



nursing my babies

I never felt nervous or ashamed when breastfeeding my two daughters.

With boldness and confidence I nursed them in restaurants, cars, airplanes, church, shops, even a prison bathroom.

A skewed social stigma of what a woman's breasts could or should appropriately be used for never phased me. I was always tasteful and with respect for my babies, nursed them with a smile on my face! 

I nursed my first baby for 22 months, to give her immune system the absolute best start. I kept up my milk supply up when I traveled to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake just in case I might meet a struggling baby in need.

My second nursed until she was 19 months. 

41 months I gave of myself beyond just being pregnant with my girls. I could never be far away and that was just fine by me. It was a gift to them I was happy to give!

I have two amazing daughters and I hope that they grow up with the knowledge that their bodies are beautiful and powerful. They have the power to grow life and sustain it once it is here!

breastfeeding alone grew these thighs...


and these!


breastfeeding got this baby to quietly sleep on a 6 hour flight

(you're welcome!)

it allowed for many peaceful nights at home...

and keeping the peace when on the go!


I do not for a second regret the time, energy, and sacrifice of nursing my babes!!

If you are a woman who wants to breastfeed your babies, I hope you know that you are supported and will be applauded and cheered by many all along the way!

Happy World Breastfeeding week!


the birth debate

Well, here we are again! It seems like every few weeks a new study, article, or opinion is released into the inter-web and tension gets high and the topic gets heated.

Why is this? What is it about us women and our inability to be neutral or see things from the other side? I am learning that no matter where you teeter on the issue, there seems to always be somebody right there ready to kick the bucket out from under you!

I do not want to be that person.

This does not mean I am going to sway in my beliefs or the truths I know to be true. It is just to say I am putting my white flag in the ground and letting all women know, that regardless of your feelings towards childbirth, there does not have to be a big taboo line dividing us! We have a choice in the way we speak towards one another, we have a choice in the voice we give to our side of this passion filled cause! 


Birth is always going to be controversial.

Birth is always going to be political.

Birth is always going to be normal.

Birth is here to stay!


I believe there is a way to be passionate without being mean. I believe I can still inform women about possible risk/benefits without them feeling attacked. I believe there is a way to listen to a woman's story and even if I do not agree with the choices made, see the absolute beauty in the process of greeting new life.

We do not always have to agree, but we really do need to be kind! The best gift we can give to ourselves and our babies is an educated and well informed choice! So go and constructively learn the facts of both sides.

And remember to be nice to one another, for LOVE covers a multitude of sins!



the hormone of love

today is valentines day, so I thought it would appropriate to share some fun facts on Oxytocin, the hormone of love!

Oxytocin is released in both men and women during love making and plays a big part in feeling connected. The act of making a baby isn't the only thing the Love hormone is good for though, It plays a huge role in birthing and bonding as well!


  • triggers and regulates contractions during labor
  • is what helps your milk let down and be expressed with breastfeeding
  • after the birth it is what contracts your uterus (helping prevent excess bleeding) and aiding it's quick return to a normal size.
  • plays a huge part in bonding with your new baby! nursing and skin to skin contact also trigger the release of the hormone (yes, your baby releases it and gets the benefits too!)

Oxytocin sounds pretty wonderful huh?!

It is important to know that there are also things that can suppress or keep oxytocin from doing it's job.

Stress and Fear in any situation hinder our oxytocin from being released. Add stress and fear to the labor process and the bodies natural reactions to coping with labor are at risk!

There is a term often used when talking about what can happen after we start to unnecessarily intervene. It is called the CASCADE OF INTERVENTION. Here is an example of what can happen when this process is began.

  • The epidural can make the mother's blood pressure drop, affecting the blood supply to the baby.
  • The synthetic version of oxytocin (pitocin) can never be as gently regulated or released like the natural one the body produces, causing the baby to be more likely to be distressed.
  • The electronic foetal monitor that we need to attach because of the risks of these other two technologies show the baby might be distressed.
  • The woman is now more likely to have a caesarean section.
  • The woman, if she gets to second stage, can't feel the urge to push and finds it much harder to get upright for birth, ending up with a forceps or vacuum extraction.
  • An episiotomy (cut to the perineum) is often needed to make the vaginal passage wide enough for the instruments and baby.
  • The baby is more likely to need to go to the special care nursery.
  • The baby is less likely to breastfeed straight away, impacting on future breastfeeding.
  • The mother feels sore (caesarean or episiotomy) and wonders if it could have been different. (source)

But doesn't birth really really hurt? Don't I want to avoid the pain?

I am not going to lie, having a baby can hurt! But there is something incredible to be said about allowing the body to release it's natural hormones and take you through the wild ride of feeling all, including the GOOD that a natural birth can provide!

In a natural birth, "Levels of oxytocin gradually increase throughout labour, and are highest around the time of birth, when it contributes to the euphoria and receptiveness to her baby that a mother usually feels after an unmedicated birth. This peak, which is triggered by sensations of stretching of the birth canal as the baby is born, does not occur when an epidural is in place. Administration of an epidural has been found to interfere with bonding between ewes and their newborn lambs." (source)

(this is not to say that if you do intervene, you will not feel happy or bond with your baby! that is not the case. But depending on how and what happens, it can have an effect!)

I have had two babies naturally and have witnessed countless women do the same. I can attest that though being very hard, allowing the body to work in it's created state, is so amazing! And when allowed, this hormone of love, really does do such a wonderful job! 

Ok, it's Valentines Day... So now if you are married, go release some Oxytocin! ;) And don't worry if you are not married, a good HUG releases the hormone just the same! (well not exactly the same...)

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This is a post I wrote for my personal blog a couple years ago when I was 38 weeks pregnant with my second baby girl. It is coming from the mind of a normal pregnant mama who was thinking through what was to come.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

last night I was sitting and praying... I eventually got to the point where I was asking for covering over the birth coming up and thanking God for creating my body capable of growing a child and bringing it into the world. I was saying "thank you for creating my body to do this and allowing it the ability to know on it's own exactly what to do. That I do not have to fear but that I can trust in the process you have made because I know it is not flawed."

Then it hit me! So many people DO believe this process is flawed... That without intervention our bodies would not be able to birth our babies. It simply is not true! He has created us to be knit together and grow and develop in our mothers womb. He also has created our bodies to open and for that baby to descend and be born in just as simple and natural of a way. 

it's all so purposeful and so not flawed!

don't get me wrong, I do understand that ever so often a complication arrises that does require major medical attention! And I am so very thankful God had created intelligent Dr's and Midwives to facilitate when an issue does arise.

That all said, I pray all my lady friends (especially you who are pregnant and growing a baby right now and will soon face the amazing moment of birthing your child) that you will trust and believe that your body too is far from being flawed! When God created YOU in YOUR mothers womb He designed your reproductive organs and hormones and everything else to endure and even flourish during the pregnancy and birthing process.

fearfully (beautifully) & wonderfully made...



Siblings at birth.

Choosing to include an older sibling in the birth of the new baby is a very personal thing. Many factors go into making this decision (especially place of birth) and there is definitely no one size fits all approach as to how you will decide.

When I was pregnant with Poppy, I knew just like her older sister, that I was going to have this baby at home. There are many reasons why I chose a home birth but an important one for me was the role it was going to allow Alomae to play. Prior to going into labor, I ran every scenario though my mind so I would be fully prepared and that her every need was met. Would she be scared seeing me in pain? what if it was a long and drawn out labor where I was incredibly vocal? there were so many things to consider. My hope was that I would go to into labor in the middle of the night and that she would wake up towards the end or even with her new baby sister already here for her to see. How it really turned out though was even far more sweet.

She was fully awake and aware when labor began. Of course I had no idea how long my labor would be so just like I had planned, I had Andy try and put her to sleep. The girl is smart though and knew something exciting was happening and that she definitely wanted to stay awake! She jumped right into being my nurturer and was concerned when I would close my eyes to breathe though a contraction (but nothing over the top), and when her baby was born, Alomae immediately got to bond with her long awaited Poppy Grey! 

Personally, I have such beautiful memories of having my big girl by my side, but I am very aware that most births don't go as quick or easy as mine did. Know your personality and do it only if it brings you joy, and don't if you feel like it's just going to add more stress!

If having your older child being a part of your birth is something that is important to you or you may want to try, here are a few things I think would be really important to consider and have  already set in place!

1. Consider your place of birth: If you are at home it will be easy to make your child comfortable. If you are headed to a birth center, make sure you bring some fun things for them to do; coloring, movies, favorite blanket. If you are going to a hospital, it will be a much more foreign environment in which you will want to do some extra prepping to make sure they feel at home (and you many want to consider having someone bring them towards the end of labor instead of being with you the entire time.)                                                                                                         

2. Talk to your child about what a birth is like. Do not blindside them during the main event. Kids are pretty amazing when you allow them to hear the truth and can rise to the occasion much better then you may think

3. Show a birth video and talk to your child about what they hear and see! 

4. Have someone at your birth thats only role is to hang with your child. A friend to distract, feed, put down for nap etc. Your Partner, Doula, or support person needs to be present with you so make sure it is someone who is totally fine not being in the room and knows they are simply there to be your older childs friend! (make sure this person doesn't stress you out though and is a calming presence!)

5. Arrange for a back up person to come get your child should he/she just not handle you being in labor well. No need for anyone to be stressed out!


If your older child does see the birth of the new baby, it will for sure be an experience they will NEVER forget. Alomae has been known to tell a random stranger or two "My sister was born in the bathtub." And you know what, I wouldn't have it any other way! 


Medicated or un-medicated. What's a doula to do?

I heard someone say the other day "doulas are only for women who want un medicated births" and then just read a forum where a woman said her doula "pushed her own agenda and was mean and acted disappointed in her when she chose to intervene." This  got me thinking about many of my past clients births, why they chose a doula in the first place, and the role that I played. 

How I chose to birth my own babies in no way crosses over to an expectation of what my clients or any other woman should choose. It was a personal decision. I am glad I had them at home, but I 110% believe in informed choice (meaning educating yourself as much as possible and then making the best decision for you off of the information you found) and the freedom to birth in whatever way you choose.

If you are considering a doula it is so very important that you talk through personal beliefs, expectations, as well as dreams and desires. It is imperative that she listens and really gets a feel for what you want and is able to adapt herself to YOU.

I have had mamas who hire me because they are dead set on wanting an all natural birth, some who want "see how it goes", and some who don't care  about going natural at all.

my role as a doula is to try and make your birth experience positive, well informed, and hopefully super sweet! I want to remove the stress of not understanding the "birth" or hospital lingo, advocate for the things that are important to you, and be a constant in what can sometimes me a inconsistent time. 

Don't be afraid to shop around and wait to find a doula who you feel respects your heart on the matter and who isn't there for herself but does her job in service to YOU!