An open letter to my doula

My darling doula,

From when I began telling people I was pregnant, the question came… “but will you have a doula”? It was as if people wanted to catch me out in some weird way – like did I really value what I did?

The answer was of course yes without question. And again without question, I knew I wanted you by my side.

I felt like I was already being doula-ed by you. At a time when I felt utterly broken, you offered me such light.

This was the first time I’d felt the magic of the support you can give by merely being and not doing. And just by sitting & being you made me feel so safe.

Then we did ‘do’ we did the rewind technique together which offered me such healing & my birth became my joy to aim for, to work towards.

So of course you had to be with me.

You protected my space whilst I looked into the birth I wanted – the birth I needed it to be. You helped me to create a picture in my mind, a future memory to bring to life.

My hand was well and truly held and guided as we changed hospitals to enable us to have the homebirth I so yearned for. The hospital where I had my other two was my safety net, my familiar, my ‘known’. But you offered me the light to be able to step away and choose something more.

For me, I needed to have faith in my team and faith in my body – I had those hands down.

My husband needed facts, figures & questions answered to allow his medical mind to be at ease with stepping out of the medical institution and embrace birth undisturbed. You offered him all these answers, through evidence based research. You gave him his black and white & me my light.

You helped me plan on a real practical level… from towels to pads, from pool to pants I felt so ready.

When it came to b-day, your presence made me feel safe. Not in the medical term, but kinda more than that, safe to just follow my body and have faith to find my rhythm. Your hand to grip, your gaze to give me strength and your breath to join mine in rhythm to find my focus.

I was fed and watered… we’re talking hobnobs & green tea – you knew what I’d want. You knew what I’d fancy – you were there before me.

You tucked me into bed, armed with a placenta smoothie to nourish my body from the beginning. I felt so safe, so held, so cared for. And then your practical sweat & slog that you put into clearing the birth space whilst I cuddled & fed just allowed my practical mind to quiet.

You also set me up on my mothermoon by affirming for me it’s ok to stop, to heal & to pull up the drawbridge.

You’ve taught me so much as I now know how it feels to be truly held, to be genuinely heard and to feel totally safe. In my mind…

Why on earth would any woman NOT want a doula??

Your companionship on my birth journey will always hold such a special place in my heart. I will always be truly thankful.

As it’s World Doula Week – I put it to all the pregnant mamas out there to give your birth the time & thought it deserves. Birth isn’t something to fear, to dread or endure.

There is a wealth of varied, beautiful support out there who could walk with you to embrace your birth with open arms. To get you excited for your birth, to feel empowered by your birth and to own your birth whichever path it takes. Go on… you deserve it.

www.doula.org.uk

My birth story

On the morning of 25th January while so many were cracking on with the morning school run, little did they know of the magic that was happening behind my front door as I welcomed my third child into the world at home.

After a false alarm on the Monday night with lots of braxton hicks and then my show over the next couple of days, I knew that the warm up was happening. At 41 weeks, I told the midwife I had no interest in induction, who fully supported my decision and the plan… was to wait. Wait for the miracle. Just wait for my body & my baby to kick into action and do exactly what it was made to do.

After about 7 trips to the loo over Wednesday night, I knew the pressure had intensified and everything felt crazy low, but there was no sign of any surges. So once more, I waited. And that was still the case until 7am when out of nowhere I had an immensely intense surge that literally floored me. I was straight to all fours, having to breathe through the feeling of pressure & tightening for seven long minutes. I hollered to my husband Andy for the pool to be run, I knew this was it and boy was I excited!

The next hour I had a mere 3 surges which were intense, but only 40 seconds each and around 20 minutes apart… I got the kids ready to be picked up by my mum, as I was wondering how speedily the rest of the day was going to unfold. I knew the timings weren’t textbook to say I was in labour, but I knew this was it. I knew my body. I instantly remembered the sensations – it was time to use the power of my breath.

At 8am, they were 3 minutes apart as I prepped the kids for school and brought my focus to a single candle at my bedside to breathe through each surge. All I could think of was my special birth space waiting for me downstairs – I just needed my mum to pickup the kids and take them out of the equation. Listening to the breakfast goings on & putting on of coats/shoes felt like an eternity.

As the house emptied I came straight downstairs and into the birth pool. The relief was instantaneous. The combination of the peace & quiet and the warm water was heavenly.

My surges were coming thick and fast and without consciously doing it, my eyes had closed, my mind was focused and I felt myself completely internalise. It felt like it was in the far distance I heard my doula arrive. I trust Zara implicitly and my whole body took a deep breath knowing that she was with us.

Then too arrived the midwives who had been battling rush hour traffic to get to me – one of which was my named midwife who had done all my antenatal appointments – another familiar voice of support had entered my birth space. It was around 9am by now and almost like a switch I felt my surges ramp up another gear. I felt safe. I felt so supported… it was show time.

Gas & Air

The sensation of pressure was greater than I had ever experienced in my other two births and something I can only put down to the fact my waters hadn’t broken. I tried gas and air, almost like an experiment as it had been useless to me in my other two births, but for this one it was just the ticket. With Andy’s hand & encouragement it kept me focused, helped me find my rhythm and allowed me to breathe through each surge.

The Wise Hippo teaching & doula training has taught me so much about the physiology of birth and I had complete faith that my body and my baby would do exactly what was needed when the time came. And I had such faith in that too… in those days 40+ weeks, I was able to find the joy in the suspense and the sacred last days as a family of four.

My midwife suggested I try and go for a wee to help relieve some pressure, so off I waddled with Andy in tow. We closed the door and it was just us. It was quiet as I breathed through another surge. I’ve seen this happen in so many of the births I’ve attended as a doula… but there is that moment where something shifts and this was my moment. This was my new energy. As I tried to go to the loo I had the overwhelming desire to push which just filled me with joy.

As I got back into the birth pool I felt the most connected to my body than I have ever been before. My body knew just what it was doing & I had learnt the relaxation tools to allow it to do just that. This was team work in its rawest form as my body and my baby worked together… this was birth undisturbed.

After two second degree tears in my previous births, much of the prep work I had done in the lead up to this birth was to practice the pause and really control the birthing phase in the hope to avoid the need for stitches. So once again I waited. I didn’t forcibly push, I waited for my body’s innate ejection reflex to take over. And my goodness that it did, in the most extraordinarily amazing way as my baby’s head was born. And then I waited some more for the next contraction as my baby was born into the water and up into my arms, under three hours since my first twinge.

First Hello.jpg

That feeling of warmth, elation & overwhelming unconditional love. I was completely lost in the euphoric moment – so proud, so relieved, so happy. It took the midwife to prompt me as she asked ‘and do we know what we’ve got’? It just didn’t matter to me – my baby was earthside & safely in my arms. I held my baby boy to me – I was complete.

My rock.jpg

The couple of hours following Arlo’s birth were so different than in a hospital setting. It was like the world paused and allowed me to breathe in the magic. There was no one dictating timelines or hospital buzzers or business. There was no trauma needing stitches and there was laughter & love filling the room from my three wonderful midwives, Zara & Andy. I lay on the sofa drinking tea & eating hobnobs feeling held and supported.

After suffering with PTSD last year, this was the ‘happy ending’ I yearned for and worked towards. My bump gave me faith in finding joy again and this birth gave me restored faith that love really does win.

My birth story ends with us tucked up in bed just staring at Arlo. Our life had changed so quickly & for me it had been everything I had wanted & everything I had believed in.

Elation.jpg

* A massive thank you to Zara for our wonderful photos – a blog post ‘An Open Letter to my Doula’ to follow *

Is it normal?

I have been thinking so much the last few days about this question. I get asked it over and over again as a doula

… is it normal to feel nervous?

… is it normal to need this?

… is it normal for you to labour like your mum?

… is it normal for the baby to feed this much?

We constantly feel the need to know if what we are experiencing is considered to be ‘normal’. I mean it’s a comforting thought right?! To be part of the masses, to have the reassurance that women have walked the same path before and there’s nothing wrong with us for being the same.

But what about when we don’t want to be treated as normal? I mean as a pregnant mumma about to welcome my third baby into the world, I feel everything but normal. I feel exceptional, I feel privileged – and yes I feel a big buggered having grown a tiny human whilst running around after two mini humans for nine months – but I feel insanely special. And honestly I want to shout it from the rooftops!

I’ve also suffered a big fat bout of ptsd in this time, so whilst healing I was looking desperately to find my peace and my ‘new normal’ as everything that had ever felt normal to me had totally shifted.

I don’t want to be told at my antenatal check up that I’m normal, I want to be told the facts about me and my bump. I want to know how engaged I am, I want to know my blood pressure, I want to know the position of my baby in there as this is my story and I don’t care how it compares to anyone else’s. And yes I do like to know all the intricacies of it all as it whole heartedly fascinates me.

Of course I want to be told if there is anything that is glaringly obvious as being abnormal in terms of medical safety. Of course – I hope that goes without saying. But it’s funny, I guess I’m finding less and less need in life to compare my goings on with what is considered normal and it feels really fucking liberating!

As much as we can find comfort in our similarities with others and the ‘norm’, I’d really encourage you to find comfort in your own normal. It’s far less exhausting and really empowering just to listen to your gut.

I look at my friends now and I don’t see just one kind of normal. We are all so different and I cherish all the magic that comes from all the weird and the damn right wonderful.

My first born was early, my second on time and now this little heart is keeping me waiting. Is it normal for third babies to be late? Is it normal for third babies to be your most difficult labour? Who cares! I have so much faith in my body & my baby and I’m having the most special time waiting for the magic to begin.

This time now & everything to do with it is about as far from ordinary or normal as you can get in my eyes. I don’t care what’s considered to be normal or what the masses are doing or in fact if there is any normal – it’s so sacred for me as a mother and for my family and I’m treasuring it!

P.T.S.D – Finding the new normal.

So,  I just feel compelled to write a note today about the journey I have been on since the 3rd June when I was involved in the terrorist attack at London Bridge where eight people tragically lost their lives.

The evening started as just a dinner with some friends – a rare chance for me to be out in London, leaving the kids at home with my husband.  I never go out in London Bridge – Soho was my old stomping ground when I worked in Leicester Square, but that night it was a girlie dinner in London Bridge in a fab little tapas restaurant – joy!

At the time I was 7 weeks pregnant. I’d had an scan and seen a heartbeat that week – the future was so exciting and full of love.

But then terror literally tore through the restaurant and the following hour and a half was a time that was purely drenched in fear and utter panic. We were hidden waiting for the men with knives to come and get us. I thought I was going to die. I thought I would never see my husband and my children again. I had no idea if my friends upstairs were alive or not. There was no escape. We just had to wait.

Our group were all ok. We got home safely that evening and life has gone on. But how does life just go on after that?

I wondered why after a couple of days I didn’t feel back to ‘normal’. I mean, I had been at a birth the following night, supporting a woman at the very time she needed me – I was capable of moving on. Life goes on. I was rested, my bruises were fading, but why was every feeling I had so alien to me?

I had PTSD.

I was supported to realise that ‘normal’ doesn’t exist anymore and the work I needed to do was to find a ‘new normal’.

I found this list of questions I wrote down 3 weeks after the attack…

Will I ever find joy again?
Will I ever stop crying?
Will I ever not be scared?
Will I ever have patience for my kids again?
Will I ever want to crawl out from my duvet?
Will I ever be able to look into my kids eyes and not think that I’m never going to see them again?
Will I ever stop feeling sick?
Will I ever stop feeling numb?
Will I ever be able to just peacefully fall asleep again?

It felt like I was just watching my life happen before me – like I was removed from my body and had no control over what was happening. I hid away from my children sobbing. I ignored my friends calls. It was overwhelming, again I had no control. I couldn’t get the visions of hysteria or terror out of my mind.

And yet I felt so supported. I had the most amazing team of people helping me build myself up, holding me, listening to me and just being with me. But nothing seemed like it was shifting. I didn’t want to leave my house. I had no patience with my children, I just yearned to feel safe.

How was I to find a new normal? I knew I had to find a place for this experience to rest within me, so I could move on. Because you have to right? I can’t change that this has happened to me, it’s part of me now.

I started the ‘Rewind Technique’, which is a trauma therapy technique used to support women who have had traumatic birth experiences. I went back into my memory in a safe environment with someone that I trusted. Each time I reflected on a different part of the event that I hadn’t noticed before. Each time I went back into the memory, it was was more familiar to me and less scary. Each time it affected me less up until the last time when I was ready to leave and put the memory to rest.

I am truly so thankful for being guided to a technique which gave me so much clarity – a clarity and strength I believed to be so impossible just days before. Alongside some CBT which was so speedily set up for me by our wonderful NHS, I am finally at a point where it feels like things are starting to shift.

As for that list… I’m defo working on it. Some things I’m nailing, others are going to take a bit more time. But for the first time in a long time, they feel do-able.

It’s made me think of the sheer physical response fear can have on your body.  I talk about the physiology of pain with my clients, but these feelings were way beyond anything I had imagined. It was all-consuming sadness and fear. I felt so physically stuck and not in control of my own being.

It terrifies me that so many women are suffering similar effects from the trauma of their births and yet they aren’t given the space and opportunity to be able to debrief, reflect and grow from such an experience.  So they hold this fear deep rooted inside them – how do they find a new normal? How do they possibly face the idea of having another child?

I have booked my training so I can too facilitate the rewind technique and support women to heal & to make the impossible seem possible again.

I am so thankful for the love that has just shone through the darkness of this bizarre ‘ole time – you know who you are and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

So for now I just live for today. Today I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Today is and will always be about love.

 

The gift of a doula preparation course.

I left working in a media company in April 2015 to go on maternity leave with my second child and I was so happy to be starting a new chapter as a mum of two. I had only been back at work for a year after going back after my first maternity leave and that year had left me exhausted. I was exhausted from having to juggle what felt like everything… commuting into London, nursery drop offs/pick ups, endless doctors visits with a poorly first born, barely any sleep, an HR battle to try and get some flexible working, a full time job and a new pregnancy. So for me, so be able to stop work and just focus on my family was everything I wanted.

I had a wonderful birth experience and I was absolutely buzzing and loving it. But I found myself wanting more. Financially it made no sense for me to go back to work, childcare for two and travel would have taken all of my salary, if not more. From everyone I knew that was pregnant I felt a longing to support them – to tell them that birth can be amazing. Training to become a midwife was my first thought, but I knew with all the training and punishing shift work, I’d be back to my old juggling act and I didn’t want to be taken away from my young children. So I sussed out other ways that I could support women through pregnancy and BAM, I found doula training.

As a pretty excitable person, I was booked on a course pretty instantly and got excited to start another new chapter for me and my family. But boy oh boy was I not ready for what was to come and I whole heartedly think that every woman should give themselves this training as a gift. There was me thinking I was finding an answer to me going back to work, but what I found was so much more…

First and foremost my five day training was like a retreat. Like many new mums, I spent my life giving all to my kids with little to no time for self care. And then suddenly I had distance and was Me – not mum, just me and to be honest I had no idea who ‘me’ was anymore.

I was surrounded by the most wonderful and diverse women who all had one thing in common… we all wanted to support women. Do you have any idea how electric that can feel? We had a safe space to explore, discover, feel and support. There was laughter, there were tears and my goodness was there joy.

I realised it was OK to want more. Yes my kids and my husband were everything I’d ever wanted, but I was supported to realise it’s OK to want something for me – to want something that makes me covered in goosebumps because it feels so right. I wanted to bring this joy back to my family.

I experienced what it feels like to be listened to. And I don’t just mean a chat, I mean to actually be heard. I was given a safe space to explore different thoughts, beliefs, motivations and desires with absolutely no judgement. And this wasn’t in a therapeutic environment, it was just something that organically grew as the week went on. The only way I can describe it is magic.

Everyone there had a chance to debrief their birth experience which is something I feel so overwhelmingly passionate about. Good or bad, just revisiting such a pivotal, overwhelming time in your life can allow you to discover things about yourself, things that have impacted you in ways that you just weren’t aware of. This time allowed for reflection, which as a mum I didn’t really ever allow time for.

I discovered more about the woman I wanted to be. And it was a refreshing time to not be talking about success at work, but more just what I perceive to be success. I looked at the beliefs that are really at the core of my being which has helped me to shape the woman, mother, wife and practitioner that I want to be.

In what I will always remember as the most sacred of spaces, the everyday expectations of us as women were nowhere to be seen – we dug deep and found what made us tick. And there was no ‘voodoo weird’ stuff going on which I think so many people think doulas are all about. There was no hemp, there were no dreadlocks, there was no chanting. But I think my biggest learning has been to not make any assumptions. It’s all too easy to do, especially when we are exhausted or have little time. But that’s not support. I believe in the pause… a pause can be all that is needed to read a situation a bit clearer or to offer someone a chance to be listened too or to. I’m practising with my kids too, allowing time to digest, realise or discover.

For me, its a no brainer… if you are to give yourself one gift, allow yourself a pause and a sacred space to discover what makes you tick. It might actually surprise you… you never know, you might want to grow dreadlocks afterall.

A positive induction – it really can happen.

I don’t think it’s quite possible to put into words how excited I was for my baby to come into the world. After having an early miscarriage before Ollie, there was a time that I had convinced myself that I was unable to have a baby. I loved every part of being pregnant and just got more excited as his due date got nearer. I committed to listening to my hypnobirthing relaxation tracks and immersed myself in my NCT classes…

My waters broke in the middle of the night 10 days early, but I didn’t start contracting so after heading to the hospital as we were asked to, we were sent home and were told if I didn’t start contracting that I would be induced the following morning. Would I have taken up the ‘offer of induction’* now – thats to be debated. But looking back that day was just amazing, we were both so excited! We walked a lot, ate loads… hey I even pruned and gave myself a mani & pedi in anticipation.

Positive_Induction

Nothing happened, so in we went the following morning to Kingston Hospital. My birth plan had been as little of anything as possible and in the birthing suite, but there I was checking into my hospital room and being hooked up to monitors. It literally didn’t faze me in the slightest though. I was happy. I was excited. I had heard of such long drawn out inductions, so we were there ready to play the long game. But I stayed focus… I was getting closer and closer to meeting my baby. This was everything I had ever dreamed of. The midwifery team were fabulous and I was ready.

Positive_Induction_drip

I was given an examination and was 3cm dilated which obviously I thought at the time was amazing – this was actually happening! Now I would ask – is an induction necessary? They went straight to the syntocinon drip still and recommended that I should think about having an epidural as it could get pretty intense. I declined. I was prepared and knew it would be an option later on if I needed it.

Within 6 minutes, BAM… I was having full on surges pretty damn close together. So yeah, it was intense. Even though I was on the monitor I tried to keep as mobile as possible on the ball and on all fours. My eyes stayed closed and I stayed focused on my breathing, holding onto the fact that every breath I was getting closer to meeting my baby. I was visualising my honeymoon beach. I was there in every sense of my being and I didn’t need anything else.

There was a moment where they found meconium, so put the electrode on Ollie’s head which made me more anxious than I had been at any point, but when I had the nod that he was ok, there came the urge to push. Feeling his head as he was crowning with my hand was just so overwhelmingly wonderful, it gave me all the will power I needed to push him out and get him in my arms.

Within 4 hours, Ollie was here. My husband (Andy) was there with me the whole time and was my absolute rock. The three of us were a force to be reckoned with that day, it just blew me away. Andy saw that he was a boy and declared ‘we have our Ollie’, those words just made me sob. Sob with relief, pride, adoration & exhaustion. He was with us and in no time at all was feeding and it was just wonderful.

We stayed in hospital for the 24 hours for Ollie to have his observations (as my waters had broken 24 hours before) and I just remember this absolute glow over our room. Andy stayed over and we embarked on all our ‘firsts’ with Ollie together. Family came to visit, I fed lots and lots, we took Ollie home – I was in heaven.

Positive Induction family

So no matter how scary the word induction may seem, it doesn’t have to be negative. If this story makes one woman feel more positive in the lead up to her birth, then fabulous. If you’ve been ‘given an offer of induction’, remember it is just that – an offer. Talk it through with your healthcare providers and go through BRAINS. What are the benefits? What are the risks? What are the alternatives? What is your instinct telling you? What happens if you do nothing? And remember to smile – have an honest and open discussion with your healthcare professional and take a pause.  

This is your birth… ask the questions, start the discussions and stay strong to your desire for a positive birth. You’ve got this mumma! 

* NICE Guidelines https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg70/chapter/1-guidance

 

Prepare for it. Nail it. Rave about it.

It’s got to be time that all that chat around birth changes, surely?! People are all too quick to share their horror story of birth in a way that gives them some kind of ‘one up’ on you if they’ve survived a horror. I just don’t get it – maybe they just want people to tell them that they are so fabulous for surviving something. But where does all this chat get us?! The stories get retold (and usually a bit more exaggerated as they go) and suddenly friendship groups, families and communities are drenched with stories of birth full of horror & pain. And what’s more, these stories are passed down through the generations, so the first thing we hear about birth is about these absolute horrors.

And funnily enough, those women who have a wonderful birth experience don’t seem to shout about it as loudly… I mean, why is that? I’ve witnessed that it often comes from the notion that women as a whole just don’t really boasting about anything really. If women love their bodies they are seen as an exception, or if they get a promotion, it’s ‘no biggy’. It’s a bizarre one really- we try to build eachother up, but to accept and praise yourself, well that’s another whole situ.

I’m a geek and think that preparation is the key to everything in life. I’m all up for winging it with kiddies day to day. And hell, with the small amount of time I have for anything these days, everything secondary – well pretty much anything just for me – is all about winging it. But for my work, I prepare to be the best I can be. When I used to dance, I would spend hours to be the best I could be. Exams, revision timetable (colour coded of course) was as thorough as can be so I could excel. And birth… for me was the same.

But why is it not for so many people? If you want something, my goodness ladies you need to make it happen. Don’t just listen to the horror stories and roll over just accepting that childbirth is going to be a horror story. PREPARE. And I mean, really prepare. Research your options and your rights. Look into what feels right for YOU. Drown yourself in birth stories that best match what you want for your birth. Go to birth preparation classes and make sure you feel comfortable with all the options you have available to you. And when you find one that fits – make it happen. Whether it’s through relaxation techniques, hypnobirthing, complimentary therapies, positioning, active birth classes or just good old knowledge.

Prepare in a way for you to excel at your birth.  Birth is powerful and so bloody intense. It’s time for women to start taking charge of it, and not quaking in your boots at all those stories you’ve heard about whoever’s cousin’s neighbour’s best friend. Take charge and own your birth experience like you would a job interview. Own it. Make it yours. Believe in you and please, shout about how wonderful it was, let’s do this 👊🏻

I believe in you. End of.

So many people have asked me what a doula is… How can they support? How can teaching hypnobirthing through The Wise Hippo help in labour?

First and foremost I believe in YOU. I believe in your ability to prepare, I believe in your ability to birth and I believe in your ability to be a mother.

Without even realising it, we are absolutely swamped with negative messages about birth. Through stories told to us, films we watch (don’t even get me started on Bridget Jones’ Baby!), magazines we read and general need for everyone to over share their negative experiences of birth. I mean, what is with that?! This need for people to instill fear when a woman is at her most vulnerable is something I will never understand.

I can teach you through the Wise Hippo techniques that a positive birth experience is a state of mind, it’s not something that will be determined by what path your birth takes, but by how you feel during the whole process.  It is possible for you to have control over your birth experience, to master the art of deep relaxation, to have faith in and to allow your body to do exactly what it’s made to do.

A friend of mine called me up out of the blue when I was 36 weeks pregnant with my first baby and said:

“I just want to say to you that I had a wonderful birth. It’s totally possible, but people never tell you the good. So I’m telling you one and I want you to know I’m thinking about you”.

This is one of the most empowering things that someone has ever done for me… She knew as a new mum herself the mix of feelings I’d be having at that moment and this managed to wade through the negative doubts that were creeping in and focus on my relaxation practice.

I can’t promise you that your birth will ‘go like this’ or ‘feel like this’, but what I can do is share techniques with you that will allow you to be utterly relaxed, focused and absolutely in tune with your baby for their exciting journey.

I believe in your birth partner and your family. This is YOUR time, your path and your euphoria, you can totally own it and make it yours!

So where does the role of a Doula come in I hear you cry?

“Most women after seeing that thin blue line, are catapulted to a place where they don’t speak the language, all the rules seem different and the only option is to cling to any life raft that is offered. It can be comforting to be led by the hand through the corridors of pregnancy and birth”, Maddie McMahon.

I mean… it truly is another world. When I was pregnant it felt like the whole world had an opinion on everything and anything. I looked big, I looked small.  I should go straight for the drugs… It’s painful, but so worth it… the seeds of doubt and worry were just planted all over the damn place! But you can cut through all that negativity and having someone by your side to discuss every little thing you might have seen on google, heard one of your friends saying or just a gut feeling you have, really can be invaluable.

People want to find answers to a ‘problem’ to help them. I’m just going to put it out there… birth isn’t a problem. I believe being pregnant and giving birth is an utter privilege.

I want to help you break through all the medical jargon and keep things as simple as they need to be for you. I want you to know your choices and I can be the familiar face and ongoing support throughout your birth preparation, labour and postnatally that you choose, can confide in and allow into your sacred space. I can be your advocate for what you want, an extra pair of hands, a physical support and I’m nifty with a bottle of nail polish to help you pass the time and feel like a goddess.

But enough about what I can do, this is all about YOU. My role is to empower you, to hold your space and to get to know you so I know what makes you tick  so I can support you. I’m there to be your doula, to help you to feel like the best you you can be at such an insanely special time!

Thank you for saying “yes, it’s shit”.

img_5330

I am the first person to think positively about anything, and I really am. I’m a total ‘cup half full’ kinda person and the older I get the more I realise it really is just the way I look at the world as opposed to any need to make it that way. BUT, sometimes I need to just have a moan, a cry and glug of wine and the friends that you can do that with, without judgement are just like gold dust.

This got me thinking about my friends and the different ‘stuff’ that makes each of those friendships so damn special to me. Those friends that want to fix everything and tell me it’s going to be OK – we all need those friends. Those that dance with me until there is literally no more dancing left to be had, make the pain of trying to be with two tiny people on two hours sleep totally worth it. And then there are those friends who will just hold my space, hear what I’m saying and  cheers to all those feelings you’re feeling (however irrational),  I cherish you.

It’s so easy to make assumptions about friends and so much of the work I’m doing – working with other women – is making me realise more than ever that making any kind of assumption, however slight, is just not OK. It’s not OK to assume your friend is coping because she has a full face of makeup, it’s not OK to assume they’re struggling because their child is screaming, it’s not OK to assume if she has ‘the perfect 2.4’ then everything is hunky dory and it’s equally not OK to assume that if she’s single at 45 then shes yearning for ‘more’.

I don’t want to assume anything, I want to be present in my friendships and in my work.  I want to ask the right questions, listen, celebrate or commiserate and just ‘be’ in the moment… no preconceptions, no assumptions, no judgement. Because I’ve realised that too often than not, life takes over, everyone is busy and these honest, raw moments are happening less and less.

So… to my friend who knows me inside out and back to front and can know exactly what I’m feeling even before I do and without muttering a word, thank you.

To my friend that dances with me until the end, thank you.

To my friend that says its shit and can offer a friendly face on those days that feel like groundhog day, thank you.

To my friend who takes an interest in genuinely knowing my children, thank you.

To my friend that always finds a way to help me find the why, thank you.

To my friend that will rummage to the bottom of her wardrobe to find me a dress because she can see I just want to ‘feel nice’, thank you.

To my friend who gets me safely to my train home because I had one too many vinos being out of the house and feeling like me, thank you.

To my friend who takes the moment to tell me I’m fucking awesome, thank you.

And to all those wonderful women and families who I have the privilege of working with and learning from and who genuinely inspire me each and every day, thank you.

So much sparkle is found in each and every one of these moments when real connections are made. Some say ‘girl gang’, some say ‘tribe’… I have no idea what I call you crazy lot, but I love you dearly and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

It can totally all be about the journey *

*and sometimes that journey doesn’t need to include eggy kids or endless snacks!

Today I had a bit of a revelation that sometimes the magic happens in the journey rather than the destination. I know this isn’t a new notion, but today it just hit me! Whether it be the food, the activities or the places we visit…  I find myself so often getting in a bit of a rut. Just hitting repeat and cracking on to get to where we need to.

I had a play date with my 3.5 and 1.5 year old in Clapham Junction, so I committed to making my little boy crazily happy and take the train. We don’t really take the train much so it was a fun treat. And it really was. It was a bit much getting out and to the station for the first off peak train – why is it always mornings like that that everything gets spilt and everything is an effort?! Bleugh! But we actually made it all on time for the train, all happy, no dramas… so I gave myself a little internal high five and started our journey.

Ollie was in heaven talking me through every single thing he was seeing and it was so gorgeous to see what was once my mundane commute to work, through his beautifully excitable eyes. Ella made friends waddling through a little bit of the carriage, connecting with people radiating her warm heart and sparkly happy eyes. 

One man actually took the time to stop and say to me “you’re doing a really great job”. I mean… how kind is that. Too often when I was pregnant I had people ignoring me and not offering seats, but this man actually took those few seconds to share such kind, encouraging words and be in the moment with us.

I then had a classic ‘got lost in Clapham junction train station’ moment amidst re-directions and searching for step free access. But the adventure continued. My phone then suddenly dropped to 1% so I just went off memory and asked a postman the quickest way. So that was followed by us walking with said postman for a good five minutes as he offered to walk us there, smiling and chatting as we went. I mean… I know it’s the little things but such kindness, it made my morning so much easier. 

The play date was less successful really, but I mean I guess I couldn’t have expected them to be angels all day could I?! I got to catch up with one of my fabulous fellow Developing Doulas and it was just glorious to be in her company for a cheeky couple of hours. And I guess that makes the whole day a raving success in my book! I know I often get so focused on the getting from a to b, trying to keep things simple or taking the quickest route possible that I forget to see the magic in all the small things. 

I don’t make New Year resolutions, but I do make a commitment to try and enjoy all these little nuggets of discovery & throw myself out of my comfort zone more.