Kristy, Au Naturale: Demystifying Doulas

In honor of the closing of World Doula WeekI asked my 7 year old son, “Honey, what do you think I do as a doula?” His reply was perfect, and what most folks (if they know doulas are a thing) think a doula does. He said “You help get babies to come out!”

In a word, “no” In a longer, roundabout way….yes.

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I am here to set the record straight on what a doula does and does not do.

I am, first and foremost, by no means, your primary medical caregiver. Whether the provider is midwife, OB-GYN, Nurse Practitioner, or even an EMT, they answer your questions about the medical care of your body and your baby, not the doula. 

So…. what is a doula?

One of the easiest and best definitions I have found comes from my doula-bible, Mothering the New Mother by Sally Placksin.

 “The doula’s basic role is to provide nonintrusive, nonjudgemental support according to the family needs and wishes”.

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We exist, and have since the dawn of birth in communal society, to assist a laboring mother’s relaxation and confidence that you can birth your baby, and to take away worries about anything else. We facilitate you and your partner (if present, whoever that may be) experiencing labor and birth however you have envisioned it.

That’s right. You envision a birth with no meds, in a tub with candles lit? We provide evidence-based assistance to help you there. You envision an epidural and watching comedy central while you dilate? We are with ya! What if something happens and medical advice doesn’t mesh with that? We help you through that adjustment to the vision. 

How does this work? A recent client had a fear of an epidural. Having had one previously, there was trauma about that experience. It was my role to talk about this prenatally. We talk about the benefits, the risks and how the couple wants to approach that decision this time. I’m there to allow the client to talk and tell her story about the reality of her trauma. And I’m there to do what can be done to make the coming birth experience empowering and under her control. Reassurance, peace of mind, and educational preparedness are our top roles prenatally and in the labor room.

IMG_0202Think the doula’s role is over once the baby is born? Nope. We also carry a role in helping facilitate breastfeeding and bottle feeding education and support. Some doulas are even IBLCE (International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners) certified as a part of their postpartum role. We can help you prepare and get through those first days, weeks and months postpartum. 

In short, doulas help you feel like YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS. What is often missing from modern maternity care is the emotional support in prenatal care , in labor, and postpartum care for both mom, partner, and baby. THIS is the most important role we play as doulas. 

Are there benefits other than feeling supported? Hell to the yeah!

According to Robbie E. Davis-Floyd, author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage, a randomized study at Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston Texas of 422 first time mothers were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) Control, had no one present. 2) Supported, doula present or assigned, or 3) just observed, someone there but no doula, showed:

“1)Epidural anesthesia and forceps use were much lower in the Supported group compared to the observed and control groups, and Cesarian section rates were halved compared to the control group”. From this, “They concluded that support during labor, even in the form of the present of a silent observer, has a therapeutic effect.”

Let me review: Lose your fear, feel empowered, AND potentially decrease risk of complications. Wait… can I get a life-doula?

IMG_9104Kristy Wright is a married mother of 2, doula, massage therapist, fitness coach and homesteader in the Richmond, VA area.

Adventures of Mommy Money: Introducing Margo!

“Mom, the teacher said that we are making lunches for homeless people.  How can people be without a home?” This was the question my 5-year old son asked me as I was rushing around the house at 6:30 am trying to get everyone to put on their clothes/shoes and get in the car.  “Well, my love,” I said, while trying to get my crazy ninja two-year old into her leggings, “some people don’t have enough money to buy or rent their own home.” I could see the look of absolute befuddlement wash over his face.  “But Mom, why can’t you just print them some money at work?”

Do you ever have that moment where you realize that you are so busy trying to manage career, wifehood, mommyhood and mayyybe a little self-care that you miss the mark on actually explaining to your child what it is that you do all day?!  Well, have no fear, I’ve had that moment for you. Multiple times, in fact. It wasn’t too long after this conversation that his teacher told me that when she asked him, “What does your mommy do during the day while you are at school,” he answered, “She donates blood and makes money.”  L. O. L.

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Me and my little loves

If this is your first foray into our blog, allow me to formally welcome you.  My name is Margo. In my career outside of the home, I am a financial advisor in a fee-only firm who primarily serves women looking to achieve a work-optional lifestyle.  But who am I really?  I’m a woman married to a hunk of a hubby I met in high school, the mother of a 5 year-old son and 2 year-old daughter, a student, a best friend to the three other ladies you will have the distinct pleasure of meeting in this blog, and a horrible chef/homemaker.  

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The good ol’ days!

How did I get to this place in my work life?  (I ask myself this quite often! Ha!) In all seriousness, I always wanted to be in finance.  When I graduated college, however, the job market was just starting to take a turn for the scary, so I jumped on the first offer for a job to make real money, which was as a fundraiser for a hospital in South Florida.  After making a few strategic career moves in the nonprofit industry, I was (thankfully) kicking ass at this career and thought perhaps I was wrong about the whole finance dream. Then, one day, I came home from work and my son, who was in preschool at the time, said to me, “Mom, look!  At school, we all were asked to draw what our dinner table looks like. Here’s mine! Isn’t it pretty? There’s me. There’s daddy. Do you like it?” Notice who was missing there? Me. It was like getting hit with Thor’s hammer. I wasn’t being true to myself or what was important to me (like being home in time for dinner), and I needed to make a change.  Shortly thereafter, I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse to join a stellar financial advisory team in my area, with a completely flexible schedule, and jumped on it with all of the enthusiasm of my 2 year old coloring on a newly painted wall.

So why this blog?  I had the distinct pleasure of meeting three amazing young women in high school who are my lifelines.  Somehow, we all managed to find totally different career life paths which make for a really awesome group text filled with varying types of expertise and knowledge base.  We joke that our “group text” is like an “Ask Us Anything” reality show, where we discuss super personal things, hilarious things, serious things, the meaning of life… Now we’ve decided to share it with you!  

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With my super awesome mom and sister

I certainly don’t pretend to have all of the answers to life, but if you need financial advice?  I’m your gal. Cooking? Nope. Dieting? I can stand with you in solidarity if you are like me and find yourself staring, adoringly, while drooling, into the front of a pizza shop while walking to a meeting.  Studying at 10 pm while your family is asleep and questioning all of your life choices and fantasizing about your bed? Without a doubt. Most importantly, though, if you need to laugh with someone who is thoroughly flawed and mostly failing  falling stumbling? forward in this thing we call life but just embracing it, then you’ve found the right place.

So… ask me anything!  It can be about finance, my handsome and hardworking hubby, kids, my messy house, why my treadmill is so lonely, or anything that strikes your fancy.  Can’t wait!!!!

Potato, potato and other messages from above

So, part of what led me to this awesome blog adventure is an ultra-inspiring book called The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear To Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein. The book plopped into my life at the exact moment I needed to hear her message: don’t let fears about the future stop you from following your passions.

Meditation and positive thinking have been shown to have very significant positive effects on all sorts of aspects of one’s health. And, I’m not just talking about mental health. In this study published in 2015 in the International Journal of Cardiology by CM Dubois et al on patients with coronary artery disease a meta analysis “showed  that positive constructs were associated with reduced rates of rehospitalization or mortality”. Let me break that down for you – if you had a positive outlook, you were less likely to have to go back to the hospital or DIE from your heart disease. There are similar findings for diabetes, arthritis, and of course depression, anxiety and all sorts of psychiatric disorders.

I had lived in fear about the time commitment of writing a blog, even though I knew it would be fun and fulfilling for me, for literally, years. Letting go of that fear was obvious. My Our decision about baby number 3 was more difficult. You see, even though my ovaries and soul (are those the same thing? a question for later….) were crying out for more, my level headed hubby was quick to point out all the reasons not to rock the boat. I couldn’t figure out if it was fear or logic holding me up.

I decided to sit down with one of Gabriella’s meditations where you clear your mind and ask [The Universe, God, Uncle Tony (if you’re my mom)] for a clear sign that you’re on the right path guided by love and joy. Having done yoga and meditation for about a decade, I still struggle to clear my mind every. dang. time I start a meditation. But, not this time!! When I wanted something to *pop* into my mind as my sign I’d look for, nothing. Blank, black, peaceful nothing. And then, finally, clear as day, this roars into my head:

“Potato potato, ching chong tomato!”

Um, excuse me Universe? That’s my sign?? The absurd line from an insomnia meme I looked at 3 days ago??  At the same time, I realized the Universe was probably looking at me going, “Really?? How do you expect me to pull that one off? Most people pick owls or the numbers 1234.”

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I decided to go for a second sign. Peanuts! I always think of little babies as a peanut. So, peanuts in the shell seemed like a much more doable sign.

On went my life in a bit of a blur. The usual day-to-day was extra-challenging because Noemi got the dreaded post-cold-ear-infection and was miserable and so clingy and whiny (and yes even doctor moms stress about whether their kid does or does not need antibiotics). Today, FINALLY, she was well enough to go back to preschool and I got to go to the gym and the grocery store without a child in tow – basically a mini-vacation! As I waltz through the grocery store in my post-workout chill, I am contemplating, “how in the heck am I going to find ‘potato, potato, ching chong tomato’?”. Maybe my sign was getting an ovarian cyst a month ago and that emotional breakdown and I am overdoing it asking for a specific sign… Suddenly, I’m starving and head for the deli section. And stop dead in my tracks.

The middle prepared food cart has, in this order, french fries – mashed potatoes – 2 containers of crappy “Chinese” food – and tomato-vegetable soup. I kid you not. Potato, potato, ching chong tomato. I almost keeled over in shock. Then, I immediately was mortified and mentally berated myself that I had associated the Chinese food with “ching chong”. I quickly convinced myself I was reading too much into this. In a daze, I ambled over to the produce aisle, where I ran smack-dab into the large display of…  peanuts in shells. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit. You could have knocked me over with a feather. (I start talking in all my mom’s southern sayings when I’m in heightened emotional states, it’s not something I can control).

So, friends, moral of the story is: If you’re unsure that you’re following your joy and a decision is right for you, ask for a sign! Make it specific, and then be open to find it. If it’s meant to happen, the Universe will find a way! And also, this blog will, probably at some point in the next year, feature my pregnancy stories if I am reading the signs right 😉

My favorite app for guided meditations is the Insight Timer (they don’t pay me). It is free, has thousands of guided meditations from 1 to 90 minutes long and also just a timer setting for quiet meditation.

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Last pregnancy, delivering babies at 36 weeks!

 

Adventures of a Doctor Mommy

Ever have random medical questions you’d love to *informally* run by a doctor? What about questions you’d like to run by a real estate agent? Interior decorator? Financial advisor? Marketing expert? Massage therapist? Doula? Lawyer? Well, you just hit that jack-pot, my friend. We are Annie, Christiana, Kristy and Margo. Four best friends from the locker-days of high school now raising a total of 9 little ones who have decided to combine our group’s knowledge into a super awesome, sometimes absurd, and hopefully helpful blog. You get to meet me first. I am Annie, a married family physician in the Sacramento area and mom of 2 little girls, ages 3 and 5. I’ll be your mostly medical themed consultant here. This is a little intro to me and how this blog was born.

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Let me set the scene for you: 9pm last Thursday, I have just FINALLY gotten my 2 sick little girls to sleep. I walk into my bathroom and slug back the last sip of my second glass of wine (because it was that kind of day). After a moment of consideration, I squat down, reach up into my hoo-ha, grab hold of my IUD strings and yank. Looking back, this moment is a pretty perfect cameo of my life and decision making at this moment, living my #doctormommyadventures.

How did I get to this point?

The big picture is that I recently was stuck home with sick kiddos for several days on end. I was led (cattle prod style) by the universe to spend a chunk of this time soul-searching during my “down time” (aka when I put the girls in front of a video for a bit). I decided to join a new business as a side job, rework how I was spending family time and go ahead and start the blog I had been talking about writing for years. Where the universe gives me opportunities, I am going for it! BOOMSHAKALAKA!!

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you have to listen to what the universe tells you is right

So, why attempt to yank my own IUD out at 9pm on a Thursday? I had spent some time organizing and setting aside the 18-24 month clothes my 3 year old had grown out of the day before. My husband (we’ll call him hubby pants, or HP) and I had been debating having baby #3 for almost a year and had just had a perfectly civil conversation about how it was probably best to keep our nice, simple life and also another kid would be financially difficult and we should just be done. However, as I was packing those tiny outfits away, I broke down in full-blown ugly sobs. My soul felt like it was dy. ing. Message from the universe received, loud and clear, I need another baby. Being the impatient pragmatist that I am, it of course seemed the most reasonable to just take out my own IUD right then and there. But I couldn’t, because my kids were in the next room and I didn’t want them to walk in and ask really awkward questions.

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just because you have the outfit, doesn’t mean you follow the advice.

Lesson one for all you readers: even really smart doctors (not to toot my own horn here) sometimes make bad decisions about their own health. That doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about, just that they are human too. I think that’s an important premise to my doctor-mommy blog advice.

I met my husband in college. First day of college. First class.

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isn’t he dreamy?? 18 year old me made at least one good decision!

He was pre-med from age 8 and after checking into a few other career options, I decided that worked for me too. I was a whiz at multiple choice exams, I loved science but I wanted to work with people more than test tubes. I worked my buns off and got into UCSF School of Medicine where I got to study with some of the smartest people in. the. world. As I did my 4 years of rotations, I could see myself in all different fields, but most loved women’s health and pediatrics. Lo and behold, my final rotation was in Family Medicine, where you get to do a little bit of everything! I was hooked. Off hubs and I went to University of Utah for 3 years of Family and Community Medicine Residency. I got grueling and thorough and awesome training in, well, everything. We had a baby. I got a job out of residency doing tons of women’s health, obstetrics, pediatrics and all the things I loved. We had another baby. Life was good.

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And then, HP decided he needed to go back to fellowship(aka extra doctor specialty training where you get paid minimum wage). Twice. So my fulfilling career transformed into finding primary care jobs wherever his training took us and being a mom. One of my favorite activities became answering health questions from friends and family members. I had lost my long-term relationships with patients, but these people gave me that connection back. In living my life and looking up information about topics I didn’t get to talk about with patients in a formal clinic setting, I learned a ton more about nutrition, fitness, fertility, and parenting. It fulfilled that part of my career that was missing. I started thinking… I should just write a blog about this stuff so all the information is in one place. I thought… well, there are a lot of mommy and doctor blogs out there, how am I going to really add to the world. Then, boom! It hit me! Women working together and supporting each other always make bigger, better things happen. I texted our group text – which is my lifeline, in a literal sense, through all of life’s joys and challenges since group texting became a thing – and they were in. Instantly.

Here we are world! Get ready for some ass-kicking advice and fun!!!!

In case you’re wondering, I couldn’t get enough of a grip on those IUD strings to get it out… I guess I’ll have to ask a doctor to do it after all 😉

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Photo Credit: All the beautiful shots above are from Fiona Margo Photography Website Here . The amateur ones are my own 😀