My experience of loss and love
A woman screams. Not from the physical ache of birth but from the emotional pain of being told that her baby has died. And I am so, so, sorry for her pain. The tears begin to spring from my eyes and I realize that the woman I am looking down upon is me.
I lay upon a hospital triage bed while my midwife and nurses try to find my baby’s heart beat with what I falsely believe is faulty equipment. My hopes rise as the OB asks Troy, my husband and partner to come stand behind the ultrasound screen to watch. But then she asks if I’ve been drinking alcohol or taking street drugs. I am nervous at what this line of questioning is getting to. Of course I haven’t been doing either! But regardless of my squeaky clean record, the ultrasound machine declares “fetal demise”.
I beg to be put out under general anaesthetic so that the baby can be taken from me and I can pretend that this has never happened. Wouldn’t it be easier if I could erase the last eight months?! But…but…The wise, kind women who surround and support me, begin to bring life to images of my child that I will give birth to. They remind me that my baby will be stillborn but my baby will still be born
In that moment, I feel hope. Who is this little one that stirred inside me? What will we name him or her? Will my baby look like me or Troy or both of us? Love, love, love grows and grows and grows inside me until I feel like I will explode.
At 7:50pm on a Monday evening, I meet my little girl for the first time and I am so in awe of her. We name her Kierin Alexis and hold her, dress her and take photos so we can remember every single fleeting moment. Family comes and shares tears and smiles with us. And time passes until we have to let her go and say goodbye.
I’ve missed a year of your life. I have imagined you in my dreams, the beautiful little girl you would be. No longer an infant but a toddler – standing, walking, giggling. It breaks my heart over and over to know I’ve missed these things. A woman once said to me, “At least you didn’t have to hear her laugh or see her smile and lose all that.” And my response, if I had had the strength, would have been, “At least you got to hear her laugh and see her smile and experience all that.” Is there a good time for loss? No. It hurts at 6 weeks gestation, it hurts at 32 weeks gestation and it hurts at 5 months old.
Sometimes I feel like a yo-yo going up and down, side to side, and all around with emotions. It’s September again, your birth month, and all those desperate emotions I had in the beginning have come flooding back. I can feel it in the air – the news, the television premieres, the Indian summer and the way the sun sets. It is an all too painful reminder of our loss and a reminder that this pain will never go away. And that is okay because then I will never forget you.
A year ago when I eulogized you, I was in shock. I should be grateful for that because I could not allow myself to feel that depth of sorrow all at once. Over time, the Universe, God, has given me a little more and a little more to handle. Sometimes, like at 6 months, that little bit seemed too much though. Life didn’t exist without you in my every waking thought. There wasn’t a day that didn’t go by without tears. The ifs, the whys, the hows!!! And then slowly over the next six months again, I began to discern some of these - even sometimes realizing that there really is no reason at all.
Time went by and before I knew it, I really could smile and laugh again. I could remember you, my daughter and not cry at the very mention of your name. I could delight in your memory – the tons of hair adorning your head, the big hands that proved to us somehow that you wouldn’t always be so little, and most of all, the immense love you brought us.
“The mention of my child’s name may bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring music to my ears,
If you are really my friend,
Let me hear the beautiful music of her name,
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.”– author unknown
There is another baby growing in my tummy! I can’t help but compare every little thing about this pregnancy with my pregnancy with you. How much nausea I feel, how tight my pants fit right from the beginning, how much my breasts have grown. I asked your daddy the other day, “Are we going really going to get a baby out of this?” He could only reply, “I don’t know.”
I have dreams of blood and miscarriage and forgetting to take care of my baby. No one helps me when I scream for help. At first I was on cloud 9 and so happy to be out of the “trying to conceive” hell that I forgot everything else – I even “forgot” about you. I want to cry and scream at myself for the neglect I feel for you not being in my every thought but people tell me that you are happy for me, that my little angel is giving me a big hug and exclaiming, “Yay Mommy!” Twenty three weeks to go. This is going to take forever.
We knew right from the beginning that this was going to be your brother. The ultrasound technician confirmed it for me though because I need to bond with this little one before he is born. You know, “just in case”.
Daddy had often said in our hurry and haste to get pregnant again, “Kierin is looking for the perfect sibling to send us.” Well I am glad that he is on his way! This little boy kicks A LOT and that is the most reassuring feeling in the world. I am going to do this. I am going to have a baby. Just because my belly has dropped at 37 weeks doesn’t mean low amniotic fluid, right? Oh man, I’ve become one neurotic mama! Please God, just keep my son safe.
And he was. Born safely and strong early on a Saturday morning – our Roan David Griffin.
14. The number of years it has been since I gave birth to you.
14. The number of years I’ve looked at my clock at 9:17 (the month and day of your birth) and said in my head or whispered aloud, “Hi Kierin"
14. The number of years I have never forgotten you, and the number of years I have had to ponder and understand your passing.
I have reached out to wise women, shaman, counsellors and groups. I’ve read articles and studies about loss in detail that could make me a forensic scientist. I’ve talked to you as an angel and as a gravestone and sat in meditation, listening to my deep intuition. All to get answers to the whys. But the one consistent message that I keep getting is that you stayed with me as long as you could. There was an agreement between our souls. Maybe it was in order for me to go on and have 4 other children in my life. Maybe there was no fucking reason at all.
But it is not just me and Daddy now remembering you. Your 3 brothers and 1 sister talk about you all the time, as if you are here – because you ARE a part of our family. From the moment they were each born, they knew about you and we celebrate your birthday every year with cupcakes and a family picture at the place you are laid to rest. Your siblings also often ponder what it would be like to have their older sister here on earth. The boys say that you would be an annoying teenager that only wants to talk to her friends and play on her iPad. Your sister says that you would play dress up and barbies with her. I think they are all right.
I think your intention was love. People are often puzzled when I say that the day you were born was the worst and the best day of my life. It was as if I gave birth to my heart that day. You were my past, my present and my future and in the beginning I felt like I lost them all. But I realize now that I didn’t lose any part of them – they were all a part of me. They wrote my story - one so rich in love and hope that it inspired a career change in me to become a doula. One that inspired a friend who previously didn’t want children to open her heart and feel it grow so enormously that she birthed two beautiful children at home. One that inspired me to support other women experiencing loss. One that inspired me to look into my own spirit and embrace my own weaknesses.
Kierin taught me love. She taught me life. She taught me family. She taught me forgiveness
I didn’t just experience loss. I experienced love.
Angie Stenback, is the mother to Kierin, Roan, Gavin, Kale and Neive. She is also a birth doula, childbirth educator, fitness trainer and co-founder of The WOMB.
Dangers of Improper Backpack Use
Those last few days of summer are quickly coming to an end and school is about to begin which means that families are gearing up for busy schedules, homework, after school activities and the hectic pace of our second millennium lifestyles. To insure that your child has a healthy and successful year, it will be important for them to have their back aligned and balanced and on track. Here is some information that will help you.
Every activity affects the spine. Contact sports, playing an instrument, sitting down and studying, and paying attention in class are all important for a successful school year and they all require a healthy spine and nerve system. We take for granted that when our child is sitting in class listening to a teacher that they listen through their ears, process the information in their brain, while a signal is sent down through their spine through their fingers so that they can write, add or draw. If a child is playing an instrument, we often hear the instructor or conductor tell them to sit up straight. This requires a healthy spine with good alignment, clear nerve supply and strong muscles.
When we watch our kids participating in sports we often cringe at the intense beating that their spines take when they are hit by another person or twisted through their activities. Keeping their spine aligned and balanced is crucial for them to be able for them to enjoy a healthy and successful year and have a healthy spine for a lifetime.
• Children make 775,000 visits to the emergency room each year because of sports-related injuries. • Every 2 ½ minutes a child is injured on a playground. 150,000 kids are treated in the emergency room for football injuries. Many of these injuries are accompanied by trauma and damage to the child’s developing spine and nerve system.
• More than 40 Million students carry school backpacks. Backpacks that are too heavy or worn incorrectly can injure your child’s back, neck and shoulders, which can lead to other health problems. • Heavy backpacks, playground and sports injuries can cause non-structural or functional scoliosis, an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine that typically appears in early adolescence. This type of scoliosis is not caused by a structural spine abnormality, but develops as a result of misalignment and pressure on the spine and nerve system. Functional scoliosis often can be corrected by addressing the underlying condition.
Millions of other kids injure their spine and remain symptom free until later on in life when the damage becomes more permanent. This can be avoided with regular chiropractic care.
British medical researchers have found through MRI technology that nearly 10% of children show signs of disc degeneration (arthritis) before reaching puberty. Disc degeneration is a condition in which a damaged spinal disc wears down unevenly causing pressure on the nerves which can limit activity levels, stamina, and quality of life as we age. We tend to think of this disc degeneration as a sign that we are getting older but this is not the case. It is a sign that the spine has been injured which can happen at any age.
A simple examination can determine if your child’s spine is on track or off track. Chiropractic care can keep your child’s spine and nerve system healthy and insure your best school year ever.
Passionate for babies and belly bumps, Dr. Diane Meyer is a sought after expert in Chiropractic care amongst Mothers to be and their babies. Mom to four fabulous and holistically raised children, Dr. Diane lives the Chiropractic principle that health comes from the inside out. Dr Diane is the head chiropractor at The WOMB and has been in practice for 20 years.
Barber shops are back, baby!
So what’s wrong with a hip, cool, unisex salon? Well, if I’m being honest, nothing, but it’s nowhere as “right” as a traditional men’s barber shop. I’m talking about a men’s sanctuary, a place to check-out, hang-out, clean up, have conversations and be surrounded by like minded guys doing what us guys do, without compromise or apologies. For far too long, we have lost that sense of exclusivity. We were forced to share territory with our lady friends in environments that were less than manly. We lost that place to call our own.
Thankfully, as with most things, we’re on our way to full circle in a trends lifecycle. Men’s grooming shops, traditional barber shops and men’s social clubs are popping up all over the place. Why is this a good thing?
Beyond the obvious, this return to cool helps us guys maintain or improve our appearance, and helps us clean up and stay sharp, which goes far in building confidence, social status and personal presentation. The beauty of this resurgence is we get to do so in our new favourite hang out, our own little secret, a place we can call our own where we can meet up for a coffee, beer or check the game highlights. It’s not a bar or nightclub…it’s local, it’s part of our community and it’s a place to drop in, bring our boys, form friendships and tell lies.
These new shops are not exactly a throwback from the Fifties where you’d be betting the ponies, checking out a Playboy and eating meatball sandwiches. Shops have evolved, environments are typically clad in all things "guy", from the mounted moose head or deer antlers to the retro photos from back in the day…with some fine points of difference. Add in premium grooming products from talcs, lotions, beard oils and razors, to fine lifestyle accessories like socks, ties, cuff links, and in some cases cigars and smoking accessories. If the shop is “all things guy” you could see a line of well curated camping supplies, cool office pieces and even food & beverage products like sauces, marinades, carving knives and scotch tumblers. It’s truly a thing of beauty. Now these are not exclusively men’s clubs. Women are not banned and are welcome to visit, but to be honest not many feel the desire to be part of this guy thing and that’s perfectly fine.
Our first childbirth experience was traumatic. Despite our excitement going into it, my wife and I were also more than a little nervous.
We attempted to have a natural home birth with just ourselves and our midwife (and no painkillers). As labour got underway, things started to get tense - literally. What started out as slight back labour created fear; was the baby in a bad position? Is this normal? Should we be going to the hospital? Ultimately this level of thinking was the beginning of the end for us in terms of our intentions for a natural home birth. Instead, this only served to create a vicious cycle of fear-pain-tension, more fear-more pain-more tension, and so on. The result was a very slow, painful and stressful labour, and ultimately an unplanned hospital birth with intervention, far from what we had initially envisioned.
The second time around we were fortunate enough to have an opportunity to work with the amazing doulas from The WOMB. In the weeks leading up to labour they helped us to prepare mentally for a calmer birth experience. The plan was to attempt a natural home birth again, but this time with a doula and a midwife. We felt much more prepared and we were confident going into it that things would be smoother this time. However, as soon as labour kicked in, it was game on, and the tension quickly resurfaced. Contractions began to progress rapidly and with great strength, and the back pain began to set in again. Almost immediately my wife’s mental state went right back to the place of fear experienced during our first birth. Within the first hour she was already suggesting that maybe we should just go to the hospital! At that point I also began to become fearful again.
With perfect timing, before these feelings even had a chance to take root, our doula arrived. The instant she entered, the entire mood transformed. Fear was replaced by trust, wisdom, confidence and a sense of calm: trust in each other and in this natural process; wisdom gained from countless birth experiences and knowing that everything would be okay; confidence in knowing this is a natural process and if a mental calmness is maintained, the process can be expansive in every sense of the word and indeed beautiful. Additionally, with our doula present, my wife and I were much more able to focus on just being in the moment and sharing this almost supernatural experience together. Rather than worrying about all of the big and little things, I was able to focus entirely on my wife and working together to make sure she was comfortable and staying in a positive frame of mind. Written by WOMB dad, Evan - dad to two little boys.
10 Tips to ENJOYING your breastfeeding experience
“I thought this just happened naturally”.
I hear these sentiments time and time again in the breastfeeding clinics I work as as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. In a society that has instant access to information, to ALL information, we know what is best for our babies. Google, Best Start, Baby Centre – the message bombards us everywhere: BREAST IS BEST. Yes, we know, we know!
So what if breastfeeding is challenging to the point of wanting to give up? What do we do when the pressure to live up to this expectation to breastfeed makes us feel that we will “fail as a mother” if we don’t?
What if you can feel empowered and like a success no matter what your breastfeeding journey - just through support, information and love?
Because I often am told, “I wish I had known these tips before I had my baby” by moms in our breastfeeding clinic, here are 10 valuable tips that can make your breastfeeding experience more successful and enjoyable.
1) Skin to skin – right after birth and for the first few weeks after baby is born. When your baby is skin to skin with you, your baby will cue to breastfeed more often and you will become familiar with the feeding cues (see below). Mothers who do skin to skin are much more confident. They are able to understand their baby’s needs and therefore are able to respond quicker.
2) You and your baby should not be separated unless medically indicated. There is no need for your baby to be separated from you. Rooming in together leads to increased breastfeeding success for many of the same reasons as above.
3) Nurse your baby frequently – a baby who nurses frequently (at least 8 times in 24 hours) will help you develop a good milk supply. Your baby will also gain weight and avoid things like jaundice and low blood sugar.
Your newborn’s stomach is very small (think of the size of a chickpea) and cannot hold a large amount of milk. So your first milk (called colostrum) will be produced in small amounts chalk full of vitamins and immune factors that protect your baby. Because of that your baby will want to eat quite often (usually every 1-3 hours).
Even if your baby is not interested in latching, knowing how to hand express your colostrum and giving it by hand, cup or spoon will help your baby.
4) Learn your baby’s feeding cues – know the difference between an early feeding cue versus a late feeding cue. Responding to your baby's early cues will help you have a more peaceful, joyful feeding experience.
Early cues (“I’m hungry”) include
• mouth opening
• licking lips
• turning head and seeking/rooting
5) Watch your baby, not the clock – There doesn't need to be any restriction on the length or frequency of feedings. Babies eat just like we do. Some feeds will be meals while others may just be a snack. If someone told you that you could only eat or drink every 3 hours and you had to eat the same amount every time, you wouldn’t be too happy, so why should we expect our babies to eat this way? Feeding babies on demand makes for a happy, healthy baby.
6) A good latch and comfortable position – it should never hurt to breastfeed. Please don’t let anyone tell you it’s normal to be in pain or that your nipples have to “get used to it”! If it hurts, something is not right. A good latch makes breastfeeding comfortable for both mom and baby, and ensures good transfer of milk from breast to belly.
A lactation consultant can show you what “transferring” milk looks like while your baby feeds. When transferring milk is not effective, you may notice your baby may never be satisfied and will want to eat all the time. Thus when your breasts are not emptied, feedback is given to your body that there is too much milk not being used and this can cause a decrease in your supply.
There are many breastfeeding positions, so find a position that is comfortable for you. I prefer the Laid Back Breastfeeding or Biological Nurturing position where every part of your body and baby is supported especially your shoulders and neck. You will feel more relaxed and your tension will be reduced. And even better, in this position, most babies will self-attach!
7) Signs your baby is getting enough – this is the #1 question I always get, “how do I know my baby is getting enough to eat?” Weight gain is a good sign that breastfeeding is going well. All babies lose weight after birth and most will regain their birth weight by 2 weeks. Then babies typically gain between 15 to 30 grams/day. But you can tell from day to day if your baby is getting enough by diaper output. What goes in has to come out! If your baby is having at least 6 wet diapers and frequent bowel movements (1-3/day) then your baby is getting enough.
Other questions to ask yourself: Do your breasts feel softer after a feed? What is your baby’s mood like after a feed? Is your baby content, quiet, sleeping, happy to just play? These answers will tell you that your baby is satisfied.
8) Growth spurts and cluster feeds are normal – your baby will go through certain periods in the first few months when he/she will want to feed more often for a few days. This increased appetite is normal and will not only satisfy your baby’s growing needs but will also increase your supply to meet his/her growing needs.
You may also experience a period in the day when your baby will want to feed more often. This is called cluster feeding and it is normal. It does not mean you have low milk supply.
9) Get help/support – If things are not going well, please seek out help. There are various forms of support available for you. There are peer support groups, support from other breastfeeding mothers, friends and family, La Leche League, Public Health and private lactation consultants such as The WOMB. Challenges are easier to fix, if dealt with early but we are ALWAYS here to help you. We welcome you into a safe, loving and supportive environment where you will feel empowered to meet your breastfeeding goals.
10) Enjoy your baby – breastfeeding is about so much more than just feeding your baby. It is a special and intimate relationship that creates a special bond between mother and baby.
Want more information and tips on how to do all this? Get more at a prenatal breastfeeding class! Join us at The WOMB for our next class on August 10th, 2015. For more information or to register, go online or call 905.842.2434,
Anita Arora is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at The WOMB: The World of My Baby™ and sees clients in their homes privately and in clinic Mondays and Wednesdays. Anita’s aim is to help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals in a non-judgmental, accepting and natural approach. Anita lives in Oakville with her supportive husband and her 2 wonderful children.
Skip the store bought scarves and pretty soaps, I prefer moments...
Home made glitter and glue Mothers Day Cards...
Re-gifted presents from home, wrapped in tissue paper...
Lovely warm little hugs...
A day to celebrate the love that surrounds me from my children and partner, and to spread it to every mother around me, including my own.
As a Doula, Mother's Day is the special privilege of sharing countless beautiful moments between mothers and their babes...
The intimate and unique opportunity to show new moms ways to care for their babies through... breastfeeding, gentle candle lit baths, essential oil massage…
Showing a mother and her family that she needs to be loved and cared for too so that she can continue to love and care for her family...
Quietly helping with a feeding session before helping a baby go down for a nap...
The little hugs I get when caring for little ones...
The satisfaction of knowing that I’ve helped a new mom and family get through the tough moments just a little more ease.
In return and unbeknownst to them, they gift me all the beautiful warm moments between their child and themselves - reminding me of the magic when my two children were very little.
I’m so in love with being a Mother and also being able to “Mother” my clients - as they start their journeys of motherhood.
Happy Mother's Day to us all who Mother our own and Mother those around us who need us.
Daniela Simone is a Birth and Postnatal Doula with THE WOMB: THE WORLD OF MY BABY™. She empowers women to find their labour style, find strength in their choices and appreciate the amazing experience of giving birth in awareness. She loves being a wife to her supportive husband and mother to her two wonderful children.
8 Guiding Principles from an Intuitive Counsellor
Being a parent is one of the most challenging, exciting and rewarding decisions that anyone can make. Yet, parents are often unprepared for the frustrations, disappointments and stress that come from being a parent. Remembering the following guiding principles will help you embrace the joys of parenthood as well as to accept the challenges.
1. Effective parenting is a learned skill. Taking parenting courses is a great way to learn healthy parenting and coping skills.
2. People parent their children in a similar manner to which they were parented. You get to choose how you want to connect and interact with your children. It may or may not be in the same way your parents interacted with you.
3. All learned behavior, ways of interacting and ways of communicating can be unlearned.
4. Negative and self -limiting thoughts, ideas, and patterns can be changed, cleared and replaced with more positive thoughts, ideas and supportive patterns.
5. There is no such thing as “perfect” parent or a “best” way to parent. Some parenting styles are more effective depending on the desired outcome. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to parent.
6. Conscious parenting requires an ability to change, grow, and be vulnerable, open, human and forgiving.
7. Each and every child is unique. Each and every parent is unique.
8. Children need love, support, choices, acceptance, respect, clear communication, and healthy guidelines.
Sandra Couts MSN, RN, CHTP is an Intuitive Counselor and Healing Touch Practitioner at THE WOMB: THE WORLD OF MY BABY™. She incorporates her training as a Certified Parent Coach into her counseling sessions. She values the important role that mothers and fathers have on impacting the lives of their children in a positive and healthy way.
BEING HEALTHY, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
As Osteopathic Manual Practitioners we believe as the dictionary defines it: a state of being free from illness or injury. But we don’t stop there. What is even more important is to understand its old-English, Germanic origin which refers to health as a WHOLE. This suggests that we have to look at the whole individual if we want to really understand someone's health, or health issues.
Being healthy means that one is feeling Whole. All the parts that compose the whole are working together in harmony. A healthy person should feel physically strong, energized, in good spirits, capable to adapt to life situations, and be able to find naturally or with minimal effort his/her way back to health.
Andrew Taylor Still, the man who created Osteopathy in the mis 1800's, understood that principle. He dedicated his life to the understanding of the human body and its relation to health.
Osteopathy is a manual therapy that aims to restore this self-healing and the self-regulating mechanisms that keep your body healthy or free from any ilnesses or injury. By using gentle, precise manipulations of the tissues, we assess and restore their optimal function and relationships.
Often people come to Osteopathy because of one major complaint. As they improve, they also realise that some secondary tensions are progressively disappearing, they globally feel better. This is what happens when YOUR HEALTH is taking care of You. The Whole you is getting better.
Osteopathy is for the whole family, from babies to elderly. It can help you with musculo-skeletal problems, sports injuries, digestive issues, during pregnancy, babies after birth, children during development, people suffering from chronic conditions and much more.
Osteopathy and your Baby
During life in utero (inside the womb) and the birth process, your baby may experience difficulties that may affect his/her comfort or quality of life. They may have experienced prolonged compressed positions in the pelvis, the cord around their neck, or distress during birth as a result of forceps, vacuum, or caesarian procedures.
Your baby may experience:
• Digestive issues such as colic, constipation, regurgitation,
• Latching and breastfeeding difficulties
• Mouth breathing
• Torticollis, Plagiocephaly, limited neck mobility
• Sleeping disorders, confusing day and night sleeping
• Ear, throat, and nose concerns such as otitis/ear infections
• Specific needs babies and children
By gentle, thorough assessment and treatment, Osteopathy in most cases can help alleviate those symptoms by addressing their causes. The Osteopathic Manual Practitioner uses cranio-sacral and myofascial techniques to restore normal mobility of the musculo-skeletal system in order to facilitate a balanced nervous system and flow of the circulatory, lymphatic and cerebro-spinal fluids.
We also take care of other developmental stages in your child’s life as they grow such as dental-orthodontal procedures (braces, etc.), sports injuries, postural problems, and difficulties focusing or concentration at school.
Gael Gaudeau and Lucia Orsini are Osteopathic Manual Practitioners at THE WOMB : THE WORLD OF MY BABY™. They have specialized training in paediatrics and pregnancy, and sometimes they like to practice their skills on their dog-child, Mellow .
Catch Gael at Momstown Milton's event on Wednesday March 4th, 11am at FirePower Kids.