If you are a doula and would like to join in our next live sessions in January, join the Tough Love Doula Group on Facebook. We'd love to have you!
PS - WARNING: I cuss in this video.
|Birth & Parenting, Podcasting & Retreats||
This past weekend a facebook group I love (and Admin) had 12 fun and informative video sessions about doula work and more. I wanted to share the talk I did on blogging and some small bits to consider about this flexible communication medium.
If you are a doula and would like to join in our next live sessions in January, join the Tough Love Doula Group on Facebook. We'd love to have you!
PS - WARNING: I cuss in this video.
Goal setting. It's proven to be a part of "successful" people's approach to life, and it is often part of any coaching, therapy session, or exercise consultation. And that makes sense! Where do you want to go, what do you want to be able to do, and how do you want to feel are all incredible questions that give our actions direction and purpose.
And I am one of the best at goal setting. I can make some serious goals. I can goal with the best goalers out there goaling.
I need to admit something.
Hi. My name is Ariel and I'm a recovering start-overer.
While I am incredible with ideas, getting things started, and making a started something into a finished something, I suck at delegating, following through on boundaries on my time, and trusting other people.
And because of those things I suck at, I get really really tired and have to muster up quite a bit of sparkle to turn my ship back to having my goals on the horizon and my feet firmly planted.
These things I suck at are things I'm discovering and starting to own how they became my struggles. Brene Brown says I'm starting to "own my story." It's been a tearful process. It's been an angry process. AND it's been a very good process.
The last weekend in September, me and 10 other incredible women spent some time in the Michigan woods talking and thinking about hard things. Things like why our brains are wired to make up stories when we don't know what's going on. Things like perspective and why being generous towards those we have a conflict with can actually be a self-serving act. And things like grief.
Our brains are incredible and capable of amazing things, and when we are willing to take some time, we can unlock some interesting truths through a very simple act: 15 minutes of writing.
When you write, your brain transforms feelings and thoughts into tangible stories we can start to analyze. Once we take the time to let our feelings and thoughts OUT OF OUR MINDS, we can do ourselves a huge service and decide if that story is based on facts, or if it's made up.
But none of that can happen if we don't acknowledge where we are right now, and what is going on.
So like my GPS asks if I need directions from my current location, or somewhere else - I've been choosing to start where I'm at and see if that doesn't get me closer to all those goals I'm so good at making (but not actually meeting.)
Image from Brenebrown.com
I had 2,074 days to prepare for these mornings, but apparently it wasn't enough time. My daughter started kindergarten this week, and I started the next phase of parenting: protecting her self esteem. I didn't realize this was what Kindergarten was going to be. I remember 6th grade being hard, and of course middle school...but I should realize by now all ages are hard...
In these three days we have gotten up on time 2/3 mornings, packed lunches, successfully found all the parts of her uniform, and had rather enjoyable walks on the 4 blocks to her school's door.
Two of the three days, once she has gotten home, she has not wanted to give any details of her day, other than:
But that worksheet...A single piece of paper has already opened a door for self doubt.
"I am not a good girl because my numbers are bad."
That is how she remembered the comments from her teacher. The teacher that I don't really know, that I don't really get to talk with (hello HUGE change from preschool), and that has only had two school days to begin to learn how lucky she is to have my child in her class.
Because my girl is magic.
My magic girl will befriend the whole school.
My magic girl will see when other people are sad.
My magic girl seeks out joy and fun, and sees possibility.
She is competitive, funny, attentive, sharp, and a helper.
My magic girl has been lucky - lucky to have people in her life who have made her believe that adults can be trusted. That adults want to keep children safe. That adults appreciate what she says and how her body can move, and that they want to spend time with her because she is worth knowing. I know not every child gets that advantage.
Oh sweet child. Do us all a favor and don't hide your magic.
There was a 30 second window this morning while she was putting on her socks where she chose to share a moment from school yesterday...
H: I am not a good girl because my numbers are bad.
Me: What do you mean? (Oh the look on her face made me immediately careful...)
H: I didn't do a good job writing my numbers. I did a bad job on my number worksheet. So the teacher put me with the bad kids who don't write their numbers good.
Me: Do you need more practice writing your numbers?
H: I need more practice, yes.
Me: Oh wonderful! How great that you are in the perfect place for practicing! Kindergarten is the perfect place to learn hard things like writing numbers! There is no way you are a bad kid. You are a great kid! Your numbers just need more time to find their way out of your hand and through your pencil. That can be tricky. But tricky isn't impossible. I can help you practice if you like.
I don't believe for one minute that her teacher called her a "bad kid," but that is how she heard it.
She got discouraged, and like many others equated "good" with "correct."
And now I have a couple more goals to strive toward as a parent:
No small task...
Are you going through big changes right now? How do you help your family transition? What help do you need when changes occur?
Written by Ariel Swift
Making friends as an adult is just not the same as childhood. On the same day my daughter came home crying because she had “too many friends and couldn’t play with them all,” I was wondering if my recent invite to have people over (to help this very pregnant person paint a room) would have even one person show up.
How much time is required for adult people to become friends? Where is the threshold? When is it ok to go from waving and hellos at daycare pick up to invites to events, having coffee, to eventually “I’ve been around you long enough that I know you won’t judge me as a horrible person when my child inevitably reveals that she is a jerk sometimes.” ?
I don’t know the rule, but for me, it seems to be about two years.
Tears and crying.
My life recently is full of tears and crying.
I have two persistent alarm clocks that go off at 6am everyday demanding food. The cats will not be deterred. If they are on the other side of the door, then everyone wakes up at 6am with their insistent cries for some sort of recognition of their need. I used to throw pillows at them.
Now I get up.
I feed them.
I make coffee.
I walk around the house opening window blinds, and look at my street. I live in a garbage vortex. A literal vortex of garbage settles in my yard if there is even a small breeze because of the way my house is positioned next to the 9 unit brick condo building next door. So every morning I look at the trash from my neighborhood and imagine the person who selected that bag of Flamin’ Hot Fritos corn chips and the empty pack of Newports and find a place of calm. Between picking up after my own child, and now some other person’s grown child too…it is an exercise I practice often.
Starring at the garbage, while sipping my coffee, while the rest of my house is sleeping minus the two cats slurping their breakfast across the kitchen floor with their faces, I remember that this is the time where I can watch those videos of singing competitions where the child stars will sound so beautiful, and their acceptance to the next round so emotional, that I can’t help but get emotional too.
Or… the newest rendition of the mom commercial where the baby grows up/returns home from college/says something adorable that keeps the whole sleep-deprived-worry-loop going for a few more days/weeks/months.
I seek out tears in the morning when I can become snot nosed and revel in a bit of privacy.
I don’t have time to be emotional any other part of the day. So the mornings, from “Meow,” to THUMP THUMP THUMP, “Mom?” are when I let it out.
Cause I have be ready for the moment when this comes home with a full face of TEARS:
“Mom, I have too many friends and I can’t play with them all!...
“And I don’t want to share my show and tell toy…
“And I don’t think I should have to, because I’m not done with it so why would I just stop playing with something just because someone else wants the toy?...
“And why does (friend) say that I’m stupid because I can’t read?...He can’t do math, but I don’t tell him he is stupid…
“And (not-friend) hurts me everyday but there is never any proof, so I can’t tell on her, and she is NOT my friend… but she won’t stop following me!”
Unpacking the social life of a young child was definitely not in the parenting guidebook.
I don’t think you should have to share your toy either if you are still playing with it.
And, there are so many measurable and immeasurable paths to intelligence that not reading before kindergarten is not a sign that a child is stupid, nor is doing math skills above a particular grade level an indicator of the opposite!
And if someone is hurting you, why do you need proof before someone will listen to you?
And it is hard to manage life when you feel you can’t spend time with all of your friends!
Finding our own circle of calm. Grounding our own feet in our own space. Tending to that space and, damnit, picking up the frito lay bag, is a part of a healthy existence. Right?
I was surprised when not just one, but five of my people came to help me paint a room in my house after I asked for help.
I was surprised when they asked how I was and started crying and everything that is hard right now comes pouring out of my face.
I was surprised when they didn’t think less of me for showing such messy parts out in the open. (Was that the first time?)
I was surprised, and then I stopped being surprised and let the feelings of being nurtured take over.
At the end of the day, I shared a story about how getting through my daughter’s second year was troubling and demanding. It came from her “Big Feelings” we called them, and how through multiple failed parenting strategies, I finally realized that for her, her feelings needed to literally GET OUT OF HER through action and vocalization.
And I also learned, that when when this happens, after more failed attempts with alternate parenting options, I need to remain and remain engaged with her.
In short, she would have a “tantrum” and I would stay with her through it. Sometimes it meant holding her, sometimes it meant talking to her, sometimes it meant laying on the floor with her.
She would have feelings, and I would validate her feelings. Ya know. Like supportive people do.
Like this weekend, with my people. Painting and crying.
Written by A Swift Doula
I became a doula after I became a mother. But I didn’t feel like I became myself until I realized 5 things…
I have no idea what men feel when they go through life, but it has been shared over and over that women feel pretty bad, for a myriad of things: guilt, shame, body image, expectation. We get labeled as “emotional.” And our voices become invalid.
But guess what. I’m pretty emotional. I’m full of emotions like pride, wonder, excitement, compassion, and joy.
What I see when I’m with women who are about to give birth, or who have recently given birth, are some pretty intense emotions. The tricky hormones that help women push a baby out of her body and produce breast milk to nourish that child, also make women extremely emotional.
I liken it to a warrior taking off heavy armor – all the tender parts are just more exposed. Closer to the surface. Easier to access. And it isn’t a bad thing!
Perhaps a woman now feeling vulnerable is able to address her fears about childbirth. Perhaps she can now look at them, and then decide they are present, but no longer hold power over her. She is going to do IT anyway. She is a woman who has taken the opportunity to know herself better.
Don’t we all want to know ourselves?
Here are 5 things I have found that directly (indirectly) relate to my doula work after I began to know myself better:
It's a new year and great new things are on the horizon!
Ariel Swift was selected to join the ProDoula Training and Development Team starting this month, January 2016! What does this mean? It means that the support that Ariel has been able to provide to families will now be extended to other professionals who are curious about doula services, or in becoming a doula themselves.
Ariel Swift is available as a labor and postpartum doula trainer. Questions can be directed to Ariel here through her Contact page, or you can call the ProDoula office directly at # 914-400-3494 to discuss bringing her to your city to train you or your team!
ProDoula's mission is to elevate the role of doulas in the eyes of care providers, families, and other doulas, and Ariel Swift is committed to that mission as well.
Have an incredible start to 2016!
Visit this blog at www.DoulasofChicago.com!
Authored by Ariel Swift
"Let's talk about it."
It's not flashy, but it may be the most creative thing that I have ever shared with my daughter. And I say this because, of something I just heard yesterday.
I was listening to an interview with Todd Henry, author of the The Accidental Creative and most recently Louder Than Words where he talked about the "U shape journey" of the creative process. He described what was involved in the work of being a creative; the layers, experience, learning, time, challenges, and struggle that made success look easy...from the outside. And he affirmed that you can't get there without all of that stuff. That to make lasting, long term progress, sometimes we have to be inefficient in the short term to be effective in the long run.
I can't think of a better description of parenthood that I've heard in the last half of year.
Let me share a little bit more about this U shaped journey: he likens it to taking a hike down, through, and up a canyon. When we start our journeys, be it a project or parenthood, we can see across the gap to the other side. We can see the end result. We can see our baby breastfeeding well, that our baby sleeps through the night. We can see our toddler using a toilet and not using a diaper. We can see them reading books, or riding a bike, or learning to swim, or ANY of the millions of things our children will learn in this life.
In our minds we see the end. So we start. We get excited!
In essence we hike down the path.
We decide that we will try a sleep sack. Or a white noise machine. We start the process of introducing a potty and teaching cues to go pee. We spend time reading books to our children, we introduce letter sounds and names, and then sight words. We use scooters, then training wheels. We start at the beach on the sand, with toes and legs in the water.
Then we get to the bottom of the "U" and something happens.
We are surrounded by weeds. The path isn't as clear. We look up and can't see the end. It starts to get dark and we realize the trip is longer than we planned and we will have to camp out in the bottom of the canyon for a night.
When we are in the bottom of those canyons, when we have tried to keep our focus but the path gets blurry, it starts to feel like failure. It starts to feel completely hopeless. It starts to feel like a mistake.
We question our direction. We question our decisions. We question what got us excited in the first place.
But the next day, the sun comes up, and we have more light, we keep going on our path, and we we start to climb. We climb up the other side of the canyon - each step hard, but showing incredible progress. And before we realize, we are at the top, on the other side.
We are there, with our baby who can breastfeed seamlessly. We are there with our baby who is sleeping through the night. With our toddler who is potty trained, or our young child who can read herself a story or ride a bike, or swim for hours.
Through the canyons I have already hiked with my daughter and the many that are come come, I know I will continue to use a phrase that invites cooperation - "Let's talk about it."
I would talk with my girl friends when my baby was causing me worry. I would talk with my husband when it felt like I was losing my mind. And I would talk with my daughter. Even when she had no clue what I was saying.
Just recently, when she was not interested in picking up her room, she even said it back to me. "Let's talk about it, mom." And I was so happy that she used those words instead of fussing, and that she engaged in (if I'm being honest) a negotiation of sorts.
Everyone goes through these canyons. But from the outside we rarely see each journey. We rarely see them at the bottom of their "U."
And what I'm learning, and what Todd Henry affirms, is that the process is important.
For some families, deciding to have a baby is the starting point of their canyon. Prenatal education, IVF, IUI, surrogacy, or adoption are all huge undertakings.
Some families are able and happy to be pregnant, but are lost when it comes to birth and labor.
Some families are solid for labor, but have zero help or plan for postpartum.
When we are in the weeds and need help getting back on track, to get caught up, or to start the process with some help, you need to be able to know who can help.
Know that you don't have to to this alone. Contact me for early support for pre-pregnancy or labor support or postpartum support and you can have all the help you need along any part of your U-shaped journey.
Authored by Ariel Swift, A Swift Doula
It is not often, but there are times when I am the Scapegoat Doula.
It is not a comfortable spot to be, but it is recognized by birth workers that sometimes families need a release of tension and anger. Sometime it comes out as blame. And sometimes that blame is laid upon the doula.
Birth is unpredictable. A "perfect" pregnancy can turn into a high risk delivery extremely fast. A well-progressing labor can turn into an emergency cesarean delivery. Families are left with little opportunity to choose any option other than to follow their care provider's lead.
People know that they are not medical experts and they should take their care providers advice. But doing so doesn't mean feelings of disappointment, confusion, and helplessness are easy to manage or understand.
Families may be left asking:
Why did this happen?
Why couldn't I stop it?
What went wrong?
And under it all, "WHY DIDN'T I GET TO CHOOSE?!"
The loss of participation is extremely unnerving. The handing over of one's body to be surgically cared for is not the image of child birth that makes many women get warm fuzzy feelings. The sudden care by professionals is one of the many reasons women are happy to have birth in hospitals, but the hope is that those services will never be used.
In instances an immediate medical response is necessary, families search for answers. They look for reasons why. They want a cause for the effect.
And sadly, it is not such an easy thing to find for some.
With as much as we know about birth and bodies, there is still no way to know what path a woman's labor will take.
"I knew that it was time for the babies to come. I went in for the cesarean, but then, they couldn't get the spinal placed right. I heard them talking normally, sometimes directly to me, but then they got quite and were whispering to each other. I couldn't see anything. Then the baby was born but they said he had to go straight to the NICU. Then I was horrible nauseous, and I said I didn't feel right. I wake up and was in a different room, and it seemed like four people had their hands inside my body. Then I was told I might need an emergency hysterectomy. They got it under control, but I needed blood transfusions and no one could tell me what was going on."
Hiring a labor doula does not guarantee an outcome. Having a doula scheduled for postpartum care does not guarantee any result. BUT, hiring a doula for your labor or recovery means you won't be alone. And by sheer proximity, sometimes the doula is the emotional dump for the mother, partner, or the whole family.
And that is ok.
I can be that person for you.
You can unload anything on to me.
I am your doula.
If your mother needs to send me angry text messages; I can read them, call her back, and talk her through what is going on.
If your partner is freaking out and wants someone to blame; I can be blamed, I can be yelled at, I can take it.
If you are angry and are confronted with feelings you don't know what to do with, you can yell and scream, and cry, and be angry with me if you need to.
I can take it. I am your doula.
Doulas are present and helpful for birth and postpartum, and sometimes those events aren't completely happy and joyous. It isn't talked about. But it is real.
Doulas are there for you thorough any situation. Your goals become our goals for labor and recovery, and when goals aren't met, we know that those feeling are in direct disagreement with your vision of success.
But even when your original version of a successful situation is shattered, your doula will be there to help you pick up the pieces, and be with you, still without judgement, because when there is no known reason why unfortunate events happen, you should hear that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
It is not your fault.
You are not broken.
It is not your fault.
So know that a doula is not just for unmedicated birth. Know that a doula is not just for position changes and encouragement through labor. Know that a doula is there to help with the hard feelings just as much as the joyful feelings.
I can help carry the load you bear. I hope you won't need to use this part of my care, but please know that you can.
Authored by A Swift Doula
I am so excited to share a conversation with Shannon Griffith, owner of Green Diaper Babies, Chicago's premier cloth diaper delivery service.
I used disposable diapers with my daughter when she was a newborn, but was happy to convert to cloth diapers when she was about a month old. Using cloth diaper with my daughter I fell in love with their ease, baby-friendly fabrics, and how well she was able to convert from diaper to using the toilet. What was most surprising for me getting started is that they can be just as simple as disposables.
There is something out there called an All-In-One which was the selling point to get my husband on board. Green Diaper Babies knew this kind of diaper would make a tremendous difference for families, and she is happy to offer this option as well as traditional pre-fold diapers.
But don't get bogged down with this lingo - Green Diaper Babies offers a class for parents looking into diaper use.
Green Diaper Babies takes all the good qualities of using cloth diapers for your family and none of the bad, meaning, cleaning the soiled nappies!
Shannon has a love for families and the environment, and this venture is an extension of those passions. Feel free to visit Green Diaper Babies for more information or - get this - call 773 - DIAPERS. Love that.
Interview with Shannon Griffith
What led to the creation of Green Diaper Babies?
An adventure! :) I am originally from Colorado but living in Oklahoma at the time the seeds were planted in December of 2012. I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2013 to get things started. It will be 2 years in August and I'm so happy I took the leap to try Chicago, try cloth, and I can definitely say I found a passion!
What have you learned your customers are concerned about?
Our customers are concerned about usually a few reasons. First, the environment; even making a small change, one cloth diaper a day would say 365 diapers from landfills! The numbers add up. Another reason would be baby health: rash is slim or non existent, as well as skin sensitivities are eliminated because of the natural fiber. Plus a baby in cloth diapers on average potty trains 6 months sooner!
Can you speak to the level of education that may be involved to encourage people who may not know this diaper option exists?
Parents overall are becoming better at looking at options, trying to be open minded and find what parenting styles and techniques they want for their family. Cloth is one of those choices. Cloth is not as mainstream yet as it ought, but certainly has progressed over the past generation and we can only hope this continues. Most families who are looking into better, holistic, healthier options for their family often turn to cloth.
What is your favorite part of the cloth diaper business?
Oh my, my favorite part? I have given a couple of years of my full attention and passion to the the cloth diaper business and really love it. I have experienced every part of this company and I wouldn't trade it for anything! My favorite part is that at the end of the day, the long week, and the load of laundry, I know that I've had a positive impact on my friends, city, and earth. I'm making a difference in a small way and I sleep well at night knowing that one less diaper is in the landfill and one more baby slept well in cloth. I wouldn't be in the business if it wasn't for the wonderful families I work with daily!
The cloth diaper market has many different options and brands. How did you come to your decision on which brands you would use?
I knew we would carry the traditional cotton pre-fold as it is the most basic, traditional, yet approachable and affordable. Our All-In-One diaper decision was a bit harder because we knew we would be standing out. The All-In-One diapers are often not offered in services across the nation and I chose to give them a shot. I came into the industry with a fresh eye and saw the modernization of cloth. I knew my company needed to be on that page to offer the best for our customers.
How do you offer ongoing support to families who use your service?
One of the best things I think we offer in our service is our free in-home consultation for each of our clients. Though this technically happens before they begin the service, it sets every new client up for success! We take time to meet with each family individually to practice putting diapers on, review products and policy, and to have a face to a name. This helps us in our relationships going forward because we know siblings, pets, babies, and parents names and environments. Now that the weather is nice we also coordinate Meetups for our customers and other cloth diapering families in and around Chicago. We meet in parks and cafes to talk and share stories and mingle. It's a real blast!
What have some of the responses been from customers?
I'm thankful to say that most customer responses have been positive. Over the course of the couple years I've had the opportunity to watch little ones grow and I am thrilled to have been a part of their lives! The families are terrific and allow us to be succeeding. Often we hear good reviews on our service, which for me is most important, so I am thankful for that!!
What parts of Chicago do you service?
We service every zip code of the city of Chicago; we go North through North Shore to Highland Park, West to Elgin an Aurora, South to Tinley Park, and of course everything in between!
What is the best way for people to learn more about cloth diapering through a diaper service?
We offer free Cloth Diaper 101 course usually twice a month. We have classes in the suburbs, West Loop, Lincoln Park, Ravenswood, and Evanston. We try to meet in spaces that are relevant for our customers such as prenatal gyms, chiropractor and acupuncturists who workwith pre- & postnatal, and birthing centers and studios. Our workshops discuss options of washing at home or cloth diapering with a service. And as mentioned before, we also offer the free in-home consultation for our customers, which is a great one-on-one. And if schedules don't allow or class doesn't work out, call us: 773-DIAPERS. We are happy to talk about cloth diaper with you!
Thank you so much to Shannon and her team that makes this incredible service possible! If you are looking for more information about Green Diaper Babies, visit their website at www.greendiaperbabies.com