Tag Archives: doula

2016: A year to remember

I remember coming into 2016 and thinking, ‘wow, this year is going to be such an amazing year’, and I wasn’t completely wrong. I met almost every personal goal I set for myself a year ago.

Curtis and I celebrated our 10 year “anniversary” in January, and our 9 year wedding anniversary in December. We also made a few steps toward being debt free! Yay!
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In March, almost two weeks “overdue”, I gave birth to little June bug. The day before my own daughters 9th birthday, Brooke and Joe finally got to hold their daughter. My pregnancy, labor and post-partum were all amazing. I ended up with another family that I never expected going into this, and I love them all so much.
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I told myself last January “up or out”. That I would move up in my career or find a new job. Well, I got a raise in April, and then after some stagnation I decided it was time for something new. I started my new job at Central Market right before the new year.
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Not only that, but I also completed my Doula Certification this year! Zen Mama Doula at your service!
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I went home in June and got to see NYC, June bug, and my mom get married. It was amazing.
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A friend took me to see one of my heros. Bill Nye The Science Guy!
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I got involved in politics and made my voice heard. I stood up for things I believe in.
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I said yes to things I was afraid of, and I catered the birthing center for a short time. I made new friends, I saw new things, I went new places. I lived. I spent more time with my family, I laughed more, I loved more.

2016 was hard for a lot of reasons. People died, people suffered, and human rights were questioned. But in my personal life, 2016 will be a year I will always look back on with a smile. With no regrets.

So here is to 2017. May it bring my family and I just as much joy and adventure.

It Takes A Village, To Raise A Woman

“Be a woman other women can trust. Have the courage to tell another woman direct when she has offended, hurt or disappointed you. Successful women have a tribe of loyal and honest women behind them. Not haters. Not backstabbers or women who whisper behind their back. Be a woman who lifts other women.”
-Sophia A. Nelson

I had a long few years, like 22 of them. Some of that is my fault, some a series of unfortunate events or circumstances out of my control. The past two years have also been long, but magic. I’m happy in my life right now, and I don’t think it’ll go away anytime soon. I’ve learned the true meaning of love. I’ve learned what it means to work hard and go after your dreams. I’ve learned how to take better care of myself, mentally and emotionally. I’ve learned that the only one in charge of my life, is me.
And some really amazing women taught me all that.

We don’t always have a positive influence or role models in our lives. But over the past couple years some really very special women have come into my life and taught me more than I thought there was to learn! They continue to amaze me every day. This post, is to talk about those women, their influence on my life, and to show them the love they so deserve.

Laney Sweet. I met Laney about a year ago. We met on a surrogate group and hit it off right away. She was my mirror, my long lost sister. She loved everything birth. A doula. A surrogate. A young mother. A wife. It was a perfect fit. I have enjoyed so many conversations with her about all aspects of life. There have been many days when I called her and she kept me sane, helped me work through a problem, encouraged me. Laney has always been encouraging in my journey to become a doula. Helping me find my place in the birth community. Overall just being a great friend (and my own personal doula)! She invited me to the birth of her surrobabe (who was born this past Wednesday the 27th). As I watched Laneys life, and the life of her intended parents change, it changed mine too. Because of Laney allowing me to be there when that beautiful little girl was born, I have never been so sure in my life that I want/need/am destined to be a doula. Thank you Laney, for taking me under your wing. For always encouraging me and helping me find my way. You are a wonderful friend and I will always love you for all you have done.

Carla Morrow. The very first time I saw Carla, it was at a Tarrant County Birth Network workshop about the different types of midwives and the life of a midwife. Carla looked radiant, happy and full of life. I saw her once in awhile at the birthing center while I was there for appointments but it wasn’t until close to the end of my pregnancy when I actually sat down with her for the first time. I already knew so much about her. Her birthing center, her awesome midwife skills, countless people adore this woman. As many people before me (I’m sure) I felt instantly connected to this amazing women. As my pregnancy progressed I enjoyed her more and more. After one appointment she asked if I was a doula. I answered that I was not, but hoped very much to be one someday. She asked what I did for a living and I told her that I was a chef. She said I should come cater the birthing center, and I laughed it off. Carla was on call when I had June bug. She was awesome. She trusts birth, she trusts women. She was kind of in the background through a lot of my labor, but you could feel her there. I trusted her with my life. When June went home her comment on catering was singing in the back of my head. I’m letting the cat of the bag on this “new job” now. Carla was serious, and now I get to be a part of her wonderful team, this team of fierce and wonderful women. She believes in me. She trusts me. She is such an inspiration to me. She lets me know that it’s okay to struggle sometimes, and that the best people in your life come when you least expect it. Thank you Carla, for being a part of my village. For believing in me and helping me follow my dreams. You have forever touched my heart.

Brooke Moreland. Brooke is so much more than my Intended Mother. Our relationship has grown so much over the past few months. As I learned more and more about who she really is, I felt closer and closer to her. She has become not only a friend but family. Every time I call her with exciting news about my life, she shares in my joy. She continues to encourage me to go after my dreams. She understands my need for a career, to find my place in the world. Thank you Brooke, for making sure that my family was always taken care of while I helped you build yours, even when you didn’t have to. For encouraging me and trusting me and for just being there.

Stephanie Wright. I met Stephanie while seeking employment with her through the Marriott. Within minutes of speaking to her I had already embarrassed myself beyond belief. She hired me right away. I felt a connection to her. When I first started working, I thought she hated me. She pushed me unlike I had ever been pushed. She kicked my ass. Looking back I couldn’t be more grateful for that. She made me the Chef I am today. Without her I never would have been able to go home to say good-bye to my grandmother when she passed away. She fought for me. When I told her about my impending surrogacy she opened herself to me and shared her past with me. She listened to me cry when things got hard and always encouraged me not to give up. When I had personal problems she was there. When times got tough she was there. She gives the best advice and doesn’t bullshit me. I can literally talk to her about anything. She was there when I was depressed. She was there when I was happy. She was there to share my joy when June was born and took care of me after the fact. And even now, even though she thinks I’m crazy for riding that roller coaster again, she’s by my side until the end. I will never, ever be able to thank you enough. For being my best friend, for being my mentor, for being my heterosexual life partner. For always listening and always loving me no matter how crazy I am. For teaching me and encouraging me. For being understanding. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life and sharing in mine. I love you forever.

Emma Claire Kimball. Though she will probably never read this, Emma is the most important woman in my life. She is the reason I am who I am. She has given me the strength that I need every single day to be a better person. She reminds me of where I came from and where I want to go. She is the reason I work so hard, why I continue to push myself even when I want to give up. I am determined to give her a better life, a happier life. I want her to never question if she is loved. I want her to know that not once in my life have I regretted having that beautiful baby girl at 15. I will give her the life she deserves, the mother she deserves. She will never question her beauty or her worth. She will never want for anything. She is strong and beautiful and smart. She is my daughter. My whole world.

The point in all of this is, I wasn’t always the woman I am today. And tomorrow I will be different still. I am always learning, always growing. And at least in some part, it’s because of these women. They are all amazing. They are all teaching me and loving me.
They are my village.

Beyond the Bump: Life After June

“Your story isn’t calm. The road has been chaotic at times, filled with detours and rain and loss so sudden and soon. Sometimes the bliss was so elevated your heart could hardly hold it. Sometime it was maddening to have, and then to lose. You learn soon enough that it hardly ever goes as planned — gentle, easy, and smooth. But that my friend, is what makes you fascinating. You have something to tell. Something you’ve walked through. Something wild. Something courageous. Something true. You’re made of stories within stories within even more stories. Those quiet depths of you.”
-Victoria Erickson

June went home three weeks ago today. I have kept in touch with them, we talk every few days and I see pictures of their beautiful family regularly. It makes my heart sing each time I see a smile on their faces holding that baby. I am forever changed by our journey.

I want to talk about a lot of postpartum stuff today. From some tips for all newly postpartum women, to the new emotional journey I’m on now that my part in Junes story is over. I’ll start with the light hearted stuff.

Whether you are a new mom or a surrogate or you’ve gone through a loss, the immediate postpartum period can be overwhelming. You are processing the birth (vaginal or cesarean), bleeding, healing and hormones. Not to mention learning about your new body and navigating your family and friends.

I found some new (to me) products that helped me greatly during my first days at home after giving birth.

  1. Depends Diapers – Yes I know “But those are for old people!” WRONG! I always thought they were huge and just like baby diapers, uncomfortable and nothing I wanted any part in. But they are just like underwear with built in padding. Exceptionally comfortable. No mess. No ruined underwear. No pads that move around and get stuck to you. These were the best thing I have ever discovered and seriously, highly suggest buying some before you give birth. You can thank me later.
  2. Earth Mama, Angel Baby – This line of organic products are made for pregnant, nursing and postpartum women. As I didn’t have a baby to breastfeed and wanted to my milk to dry up, Brooke bought me their “no more milk tea”. It tasted wonderful and got the job done! They also have teas to help increase milk supply. I was also gifted their Peri spray. It’s to help heal your lady parts from discomfort, especially if you experience any tearing during birth. They offer many more products for all sorts of things!
  3. Acetaminophen – NOT RECOMMENDED IF YOU ARE BREAST FEEDING. I’m not big on taking any kind of medication especially pain killers of any kind. But my cramps were intense those first few days and I desperately wanted some relief. It did the job for me and because I wasn’t breastfeeding it was great and aided in my want to dry up my milk.

As the days have gone by I’ve started feeling a little more like myself every day. For me personally, I got lucky (genetics?) when it came to my postpartum body. I’m already back to my pre-pregnancy weight and fitting in all my normal clothes. I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to deal with those emotions during a surrogate journey. I (personally) feel it’s a little easier to deal with new stretch marks, fat, skin etc. when you’re snuggling your own baby. The emotions/hormones may have been a bit to deal with had I not bounced right back.

My close family and friends have continued to not only be understanding, but great support for me through the past three weeks. I’ve had a couple of hard days for various reasons and they have helped me in every way possible to work through them.

Emotionally how am I? Well, I’ll explain it to you the best I can. When you are pregnant with your own child you do your best to bond with them in the womb. You read to them and sing to them. You day dream about what they will look like and what their life will be like. Who will your child be? What kind of parent will you be?

When you are a surrogate you detach yourself. Instead you imagine your intended parents. You hurt for the losses they have felt. You imagine the look on their faces when they hold their baby for the first time. You spend time getting to know them, their story, their hearts. You become attached to them.

During my journey 99% of the communication was with Brooke. And those last weeks when I went over due, we literally spent every day together. We talked more than we ever had. We dreamed together of the baby growing inside me. I felt loved and important. I was doing something important.

How am I emotionally? I’m okay, but I would be lying if I said I never felt sadness or loss. But to much of your surprise, it is Brooke whom I miss. I find many times grabbing my phone to share news with her and trying to hold back. It’s not that she doesn’t want to talk or doesn’t answer when I do call, but she has a whole new life to navigate. I remember being a new mom, trying to figure everything out and falling in love more and more with my own daughter. They need their space and time to find their routine.

The other unexpected emotion that I am feeling is a little deeper (and mostly hormones). It comes and it goes depending on what’s going on around me, but it’s real. Uselessness.

After being a part of something so big and so important and it coming to an end. It doesn’t help that I can’t go back to work yet, Curtis is gone at work all day, my older two children and at school and my youngest being a very independent child. I’m trying to once again find my place in the world, my meaning. Who am I now? Where do I belong now? I know that I am not useless. I know that my husband needs me. I know my children need me. I know my friends need me. I know that even though my journey is over, I am still important. But in those lonely moments, that’s how I feel, and they are no less valid for me in that moment.

But a lot has happened in the past three weeks. Like, a lot. The first thing I can only give limited details on until we officially announce, but I was recently offered a catering job somewhere very near and dear to my heart. It lets me spend more time with people I care very much about, somewhere I feel at home and do something that I love to do. The second thing, is I got a phone call from the Marriott (where I’ve worked the past two years) and given a pay raise, out of the blue! I now make two dollars more than I did when I first started working there and that is really something! I’ve also done my best to stay involved in the community, in MY community with my people. I had a wonderful learning experience yesterday (that I also can’t officially talk about yet, but there will be a video soon). This was a medical learning opportunity that I never thought I would be a part of. It was truly amazing.

And then today my cup over flowed. A friend very close to my heart asked me why I had yet to get my Doula certification. The truth is, is that getting your certification isn’t cheap and I’ve never had the extra money (and the time at the same time) to go get it… This beautiful heart then offered to pay for my certification. Just wow. To know that someone has so much faith in me, to believe in me so much to offer something like that is beyond anything I ever thought possible. I of course tried to turn her down, but she insisted. I’ve been fighting tears all afternoon.

So what now? Who am I? Where do I go? I’m still not 100% sure what my future holds, but I do know one thing. The future looks so bright. The red threads connected to my life continue to show themselves in places I never expected. The hard work that I’ve put into my life, the love that I’ve given, the pieces of my soul that I have shared for all to see, it all matters. What you put out into the world you get back. This I truly believe. Dreams really do come true.