Go With Your Gut, Mama!

PHOTO: Justine Kurkland via MysticMamma

PHOTO: Justine Kurkland via Mystic Mamma

 

Guess what? I’m a Registered Nurse!

I left my exam thinking I failed. Like really truly failed. In my car, through teary eyes, I texted my best friend from school whom had already taken and passed the exam. She wrote back that she totally felt the exact same way when she walked out. She was sure I passed. This made my drive home a little more hopeful though still I was dubious. Time slugged along and finally Friday afternoon, and the posting of unofficial results, came. Bracing myself for the worst, I logged onto the NCLEX website…

I freaking passed.

I shrieked. I cried. Really, I wept. I hugged my husband. I kept weeping. And I stuttered through my tears how I really did it. I actually went to nursing school and became a nurse. I did it. I did it. I did it.

The feeling of accomplishment, a kind of astonishment at myself and what I had achieved, is not a feeling I will soon forget. I was a very heavily history, English and arts focused kid through high school and college. My first bachelor’s in photojournalism and magazine writing is from a school that requires students to only take one science class; I took “Weather.” To have worked my way through a very math and science oriented program was one heck of a feat for me.

I’m not sharing this to puff myself up or show off but to illustrate that if you have a dream and feel a calling to do something, even if it’s something very different than what you’ve ever done before, you can do it. You will find a way and, I believe, somehow be provided with the abilities and resources to achieve your dream.

How does this pertain to birth? Too many of the women I work with tell me they desire a natural, unmedicated birth but that their family and/or friends don’t think it’s possible. They, not the mother herself, doubt her ability to birth without intervention. And so, she often does birth with intervention and frequently not in the setting nor with the care provider of her choice.

This absolutely breaks my heart.

When I announced to my family and friends I was going to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife I did not hear resounding cheers of support and encouragement. Some thought it was ‘just some funny new thing Kara was going to try’. Midwife?! Why don’t you become a doctor? Others were happy for me to become a nurse-midwife because, hey, nurses are so well respected and you can always get a job as a nurse! I chose to become a midwife for much more spiritual and soul-rewarding reasons than a paycheck. (Read that story here.)

And still sadly, others, either to my face or behind my back spouted that it didn’t make any sense for me to be a doula or a midwife. I didn’t have any kids. I’d never been pregnant. How could I possibly be of any help to women in childbirth?

This particular response was perplexing to me since many of the care providers chosen by my family members when they were pregnant were men who would and will never carry or give birth to a baby. Forget me being a woman, having a period, or aspiring to become a mother someday (proof that I had some inclination for mothering, which essentially is what a doula does; we mother the mother). All besides the point, I suppose.

Long story short is that I had to walk away from this pointedly negative, nay-saying energy in order to make any headway on my new dream. I also had to sidestep the voices that were focused on my new career path as solely being a means to making money. Money, while a very practical and welcomed benefit, was and is not the point.

Back to how this relates to birth: The thing is, our loved ones can’t and won’t always understand the choices we make as women and mothers. Swaths of misinformation, sensationalizing, and fear mongering add an additional burden to those of us wanting to go against the grain of how our family members and friends have birthed. So many women, our mothers, sisters, and aunties included, were not truly supported in the births of their babies. They weren’t given choices, they weren’t empowered to trust their bodies, they weren’t listened to.

Their experience does not predict your experience.

Trust your gut and go for what you know is right for you for the birth of your baby. It’s so important to use and find your voice now. A MAJOR added but not often spoken of bonus is that finding your voice in your pregnancy and birth will give you the courage to be the kind of mother you want to be. We all know how hard it can be to fend off well-intentioned–but not appropriate for us–pregnancy and parenting advice. Don’t let the fear of others make you abandon your naturally spot-on instinct. If it isn’t a full body YES! then it’s a no.

You’ve got this, Mama.

BIG Love, and XOXO,

Kara

Sweetmama Doula Sweetmama Says: Go with your gut. Don’t bend to others’ fear when it comes to doing what you know is right for you and your baby.

 

P.S. If your dream happens to be a non-medicated birth, fortunately, science is on your side. Every day more and more evidence is piling up in favor of not intervening in the births of healthy babies to low-risk women. ChildbirthConnection.org, TheBusinessofBeingBorn.com, ChoicesinChildbirth.org, and OurBodiesOurselves.org are your informative friends. The Birth by the Numbers website and their 2014 video update by Boston University’s own Gene Declercq, Ph.D, LCCE is a great resource for the distilled hard data. Henci Goer’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to A Better Birth is an excellent book on evidence-based options. And Dr. Aviva Romm’s blog is another favorite of mine.

 

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Hey All, Sweetmama’s Teaching Again!

After a much needed yoga teaching break during the final push of my nursing program, I’m so pleased to announce I’m back at it! I feel rested, inspired, and thrilled to return to the mat in the teaching capacity. You can find me every other Saturday morning at North Shore Yoga Studio on Cabot Street in centrally located, beautiful downtown Beverly. With two class offerings, Mindful Vinyasa 8-9:15, and Yoga for the Natal Year 9:30-11, there is something for everyone, especially all you mamas out there!

North Shore Yoga Studio

Mindful Vinyasa is an all levels class with a soft focus on alignment and a sharp focus on fun, getting into the body, getting out of the head, and expanding overall health and well being.

Yoga for the Natal Year is for women in any phase of the natal year. Whether you are looking to conceive, newly pregnant, mere weeks away from giving birth, or freshly back from your postpartum rest, all are welcome. Feel free to read more here about the benefits of yoga for the natal year, as well as kind words from former students.

I look forward to seeing you on the mat soon!

om. xo.

Kara

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Pathway to a Healthy Birth

Just released, a new report by Childbirth Connection outlines just what’s going on with the hormones of late pregnancy and labor and how common interventions, like labor inductions and epidurals, can get in the way and most often cause some form of harm to the laboring mother and baby. Though we’ve known intuitively and scientifically for years and years (and years) that the natural process of labor is, for the vast majority of the population, the safest way to birth, the burden of proof is now finally shifting onto those who use these interventions frequently rather than sparingly.

Let’s use this information to calm our over-active (and worrying) minds, break free from the prickly grip of fear and lean into trust–trust in ourselves, trust in our bodies, and trust in the process of birth once and for all.

Here’s the press release and a summary of the new report, Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care.

And the amazing infographic! (Sweetmama loves infographics.) Click the image for the downloadable PDF.

Pathway to a Healthy Birth

 

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Step 1: Graduate From Nursing School

uktv-call-the-midwife-8

CHECK!

Yesterday afternoon, a long-awaited moment came: I was pinned as a graduate of the Simmons College School of Nursing! It’s been a long road. Two and half years of full-time, year-round study, 700 clinical hours, hours of reading, prepping for exams, and writing care plans. I have to say, I am so proud of myself. I had to take classes like organic chemistry and pass medication calculation exams. Every. Semester. These requirements scared me out of my wits! But I did it and it was all worth it.

I can’t write a post about graduating from nursing school without a shout-out to my husband and greatest supporter, Matthew Billey of Starleaf Boat Works and 2 Union Wood Craft. He has been by my side this entire time, making me healthy food during long study sessions, calming my fears that I would fail an upcoming exam despite weeks of studying, listening as I described tough clinical days at the hospital, packing me lunches, filling my thermos with hot tea and honey, changing the oil in my car so I could get to class and clinical, filling my washer fluid reservoir so I could see through my windshield, and in general, basically being totally amazing. I honestly could not have survived this program without him. More than anything, just knowing I had someone to come home to, to eat dinner with, to make me laugh, and to nudge my butt out of bed on those cold winter mornings when I had to get up so very early for clinical, was the best support I could ever have asked for. He earned this degree with me (and even married me in the midst of it all). Thank you, Bear. Thank you so much.

Next step, the last step of the “become a nurse” process, is to study and sit for the NCLEX exam, which is the national nursing board exam. I’m planning to do that in late January. When I pass, I will officially be an R.N. and one giant step closer to being a Certified Nurse-Midwife! But first, I’m taking some down time this week to enjoy the pause between and go cut down a Christmas tree from my Grampy’s woods. Nursing pin in hand, the snow is falling and I even talked Matt into joining me for my annual Love Actually screening last night. It’s an understatement to say I’m feeling grateful.

Wishing everyone a beautiful weekend and week as we turn inward and move towards the upcoming Solstice.

om. xo.

Kara, pre-licensure R.N.

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A little plug for my Love.

Sweet mamas, have I told you? My husband, Matthew Billey of Starleaf Boat Works and 2 Union Wood Craft, is one heck of a wood worker. Traditional wooden boats, hand-turned candle stick holders, wooden cradle boats, custom SUP paddles, reclaimed, raw-edge wooden coffee tables, built from scratch guitars, beautiful + functional chairs, he crafts it ALL, and by hand. If you live locally, please come visit us at the First Annual 2 Union Wood Craft Holiday Pop-Up Shop (hours above). For more info, please email me (karadoula@gmail.com) or Matt (starleafboatworks@gmail.com) or give him a call to set up a gallery viewing appointment. World-wide shipping is available for most pieces.

Wooden Baby Cradle Boat

Start ‘em in boats young, Matt says.

Hand-turned Candle Stick Holders

Statement maker, White Oak hand-turned candle stick holders from 2 Union Wood Craft’s “FIRE WOOD” line.

 

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Private Prenatal Yoga Now $50

prenatal yoga

Image from mogacharlotte.com

In effort to keep prenatal yoga accessible to sweet mamas everywhere–well, those on the North Shore at least–I am now offering private prenatal yoga sessions (1 hour in length) for new and expectant mamas at a $25 off, discounted rate of $50 per session.

And(!) now, instead of just 5 friends, you can add up to 9 friends at this rate. That’s just $5 per mama! Even with 5 mamas, it’s just $10 a class.

If you haven’t found the right prenatal yoga teacher for you, the class times offered don’t fit into your schedule, or you are simply looking for more personalized instruction, private sessions could be a great option for you. Please email me at karadoula@gmail.com or give a call at 978-471-9122 to set up a time for weekly, bi-monthly or monthly classes.

om. xo.

Kara

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SweetMama Back to Treetop Yoga for Two Classes This Weekend

Yogis! The heat is here so let’s make its acquaintance, shall we? This Friday and Saturday I’m covering for the lovely Hayley Haberman at Treetop Yoga in Gloucester. We have a Friday afternoon vinyasa flow to help you transition from your busy week and an early-morning option on Saturday for a loving little hot yoga kick in the pants. Or, really get your practice on and join us for both classes!

Friday, June 20th, 5-6 PM, Vinyasa Flow Hour (just $10!)

Saturday, June 21st (Happy Summer Solstice), 7:30-8:45 AM, Hot Power

Hope to see you there!

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An In-Hospital Newborn Bath Done Right, Full of Presence & Peace

Wouldn’t the world be a different place if we always handled newborns with this much care and intention? This video stops me in my tracks every time I watch it. The wild and immense potential to make peace manifest by being present to each other is so real, as evidenced here. Notice how your body feels when you watch.

Baby bath video

(Sorry about the ad at the start of the video (hey, it’s YouTube), and sorry I couldn’t figure out how to input the video right into the post!)

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