Articles in Category: General

Sex After Baby: What everyone wants to know, but sometimes is afraid to ask!

Nelia DeAmaral, Registered Psychotherapist and Coach for Women, & Jenny Telfer-Crum, Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

 

Six weeks after you give birth, you will visit with your care provider. Maybe your care provider gives you a thumbs up to resume “normal activities” (including sex). Maybe your care provider checked that everything was healed, or maybe not. Were you or are you ready? Do you feel an obligation to become ready because your partner wants to be intimate again? Most women aren’t and if you are still finding yourself “not ready” a few months later, you are not alone. Partners often are given the impression that once the body is mostly healed, that sex can resume. 

Let’s talk about what sex after baby is really like. This topic comes up over and over in our sessions with new moms, who are almost afraid to ask, but really want to know how to deal with this change in their relationship. Mostly everyone wants to know if they are normal, if things will be okay, and how to stay connected to their partner during this change. 

If you aren’t quite ready, that’s okay. If you are looking for ways to return to intimacy after baby, we’ve listed that too! There are good reasons for how you feel. Below are some factors that might influence when you return to sexual activity with your partner, and some strategies for when and how you return to these activities.

Let’s start by setting some normal expectations for sex after baby. Your first several times being intimate again, will likely require lots of talking, adjusting, and flexibility. It will be a time of “figuring out” and “experimenting” - not hanging from the chandeliers (but it’s okay if it is!). So NO PRESSURE! You will likely need to slow everything down. Your body will feel different and it will be your first time being sexual with this new body & your first time being sexual as a mother! It’s important to take the pressure away that this will be amazing sex, or the sex you had before (at least initially).Your body has been through a major change, and your first few times of being intimate can feel awkward and different. Most partners are very happy to be supportive as you explore these new sensations and experiences.

It is common if…..

1. You feel Pain or Fear of pain or Tension in the pelvic area: 

Your 6 week “go ahead” just means is that your tissues have the integrity needed to withstand the friction and stretching that occurs with intercourse. But vaginal tissues are sensitive after birth REGARDLESS of whether baby is born vaginally or by caesarean birth, whether you have stitches or not.

Imagine you pulled your bicep muscles in your arm lifting something – our first instinct is to bend the arm and hold it close to us. This is a guarding response to keep up safe and prevent further injury when our tissues are fragile and stretched. We rest the muscles for a couple of days, and without even thinking about it we will rub our arm where it hurts – this provides our tissues with normal sensory input (touch, friction, pressure) and helps us check in as to where any tenderness is and how it is changing. Then over the next week or two we will gradually start using our arm again to lift things, testing out how much we can lift. Within a couple of weeks you are pain free, doing your usual activities.

At the perineum and vagina, the same healing process occurs. First our muscles tighten in a guarding response to being stretched or torn (and in the case of caesarean births, tighten in response to neighbouring muscles being impacted). However, at the pelvic floor and perineum, we often don’t get the same normal input we do at other parts of our body. We aren’t often touching or rubbing this area apart from toileting, and women often don’t consciously relax the pelvic floor over time. So what we can have are tight and sensitive tissues around the entrance to the vagina.

Learning to relax your pelvic area again.

Fortunately, most women do very well with pelvic floor corrective exercises focusing on “reverse kegels”, which is teaching the pelvic floor how to RELAX appropriately. Gentle touch in this area can also help desensitize these tissues and bridge the gap between recovering from birth to returning to intercourse. Our Pelvic Health Physiotherapists can help identify where any tension or sensitivity is harboured in your muscles and how to work towards recovery. Research has shown that child birth, even with tissue trauma like an episiotomy, is not linked with long term impacts on sexual function.

How to talk to your partner: Talk to your partner about the worry, and keep talking even during sex. Notice when you tense up, practice relaxing with your breath, and ask for what you need (eg. slow down, pause, or stop for today). 

Remove the pressure for penetration right away. Many women find it helpful to use lubricant, or have touch without penetration for arousal or even orgasm. Try a different position such as a position of power (ie. woman on top) to control rate and depth of penetration.

Some women experience physical and emotional trauma during birth, and despite their efforts, their body doesn’t feel safe letting go. A couple of sessions with a counsellor can help you sort through feelings of self-blame & anxiety. The WOMB offers specialized support for healing from a difficult birth.

2. You feel too exhausted to have sex

This doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner or that your relationship is doomed.

It can be difficult to feel the desire to be intimate, when you are in the most exhausted state of your life! Early parenthood is a time of choosing between your various survival needs. Your frequency of sex will likely decrease because that’s what happens when we are exhausted! 

Give yourself time. It is normal for babies to have erratic schedules. Sometimes more sleep isn’t an option, but studies show that meditation and relaxation can have similar benefits to more sleep. Try these simple, and short meditations for moms and meditation for sleep. Many partners experience feeling loved through intimacy. What other ways do you and your partner feel loved? Maybe something you each already do without words or touch? 

3. You feel too stressed to have sex

The stress of being a new/new again mother is tremendous. You mind is busy and you might feel like you are constantly “on call” and ready to respond to your baby. Sexual arousal is governed by our parasympathetic nervous system, aka “rest and digest” system. When we are stressed, the increase in cortisol (stress hormone) decreases oxytocin (aka hormone of love). Stress also increases tension in the pelvic floor muscles - which can loop back up to tissue sensitivity. 

Focusing on bringing down your overall stress levels might make a little more space for feelings of intimacy. Either way, it will help you cope with the challenges of mothering with greater compassion and presence. Simple awareness practices can help you see yourself with more compassion, which is a proven way to calm down the fight or flight. Try this meditation for stress and anxiety. You can do it anytime. It’s quick and you can even do it while you feed baby. 

4. You feel touched out or too “called on” as an introverted mom

Being a mom, especially if you are an introvert, can leave you feeling like you have no time to be alone and recharge, which can be extremely draining. Some women don’t feel the need or desire to be touched especially because holding baby increases our oxytocin levels on it’s own, so you don’t feel you need to get that affection from your partner. 

It might sound counter intuitive to building intimacy, but sometimes you might just need some time alone. You’ll be surprised how much even 20 minutes can help you feel like yourself again. Time alone is especially helpful if you can step away and allow your partner to parent in their own way and you have specific and set times when you can expect a break. Read more about ways your partner can support you in the article A Mind-Reading Guide for New Fathers.

5. You don’t really like your partner right now or you feel like he’s a roommate

The demands of the early months of parenting can leave you both feeling a little disconnected or unusually irritated with each other. Virtually everyone goes through this. Know that you are not alone. Find small ways to connect that are doable for both of you. Many couples find that a couple of sessions with a counsellor or coach can help get them on track with communication and bonding. The WOMB offers sessions for couples. 


7. You don’t feel connected to your body, don’t love your body or wonder how your partner will love your body again: Who’s body is this anyway? 

Maybe you feel like your body has gone from being yours to providing a function for your baby, whether it’s feeding or caring for baby in other ways. It’s ok not to love your body. Try making friends with your body. Treat it as you would a tired, hardworking friend. Be compassionate with yourself. Many clients describe the relationship to this new body as an acquaintance or even a distant “facebook friend”. Talk to other women. It will help you realize that “bouncing back” is a myth.

Some women find themselves hiding their bodies from their partners for fear of judgement. Talk to your partner about this. Honesty is a true form of intimacy. What if this stage was a chance to be loved when you aren’t perfect? Imagine allowing your partner to love you, just as you are right now? Intimacy is more profound when we allow ourselves to be seen in our imperfection. For more on embracing imperfection look up the work of Brene Brown, a renowned researcher on whole-hearted living.

8. Mood Changes

This is a complex interplay of the physical, social and psychological factors listed above. You will feel good again! Medication given to help aid in post partum depression (SSRIs) can also dampen arousal and desire. It’s normal to feel sad, anxious and not like yourself. If you find that you are feeling this way more often than not, seeking support can make all the difference. Even just feeling normal and being understood goes a long way. 

Here are some quotes from fellow mothers in the Emerging Mothers Group in response to the question, “What would you tell your daughter at this stage of mothering if she felt as you do”?

“This experience makes you part of a community of women”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself”

“You are right where you need to be at this stage”

“You have done something amazing - a miracle. Give yourself time.”

“Let in your partner’s hugs. You don’t have to hide”

We hope this article was helpful. So much can be done to make this transition easier for women and families. Feel free to contact us to talk more or to book a time.

Sincerely, 

Nelia DeAmaral, RP

Registered Psychotherapist and Coach for Women

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

647-456-2229

 

Jenny Telfer-Crum, PT

Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Counting Butterflies: The Beginning of my Postpartum Journey Towards Hope and Change

butterflies

I sat on a cardboard box in the middle of our new living room. Beside me was the portable crib my newborn daughter slept in. Her tiny mouth curled slightly to one side; she was in deep slumber. I sighed in relief, beckoning a feeling of satisfaction to mark this moment. But instead, a feeling of overwhelm took its place.

I scanned across the room at the sea of boxes that harbored all of our possessions- remnants of my old life. I wanted to be a ‘good mom’ and get some unpacking done while my daughter slept. Wasn’t that what all the ‘good moms’ did— work while their child slept? Wouldn’t that help me maximize bonding time with my daughter? I had to be more present with her today and less stressed, and that would help my milk supply- wouldn’t it?  

My body ached and my head spun with self-judgement. I knew I had so much work to do, but what I truly wanted to do was curl into my bed and wake up when my husband got home.  In that moment, a wave of reality settled in: I was a new mom. In a new house. In a new town. In the middle of nowhere, all alone. Sitting on a box containing the only passageway back to my old self. 

And I panicked.

My secret had revealed itself: This was my new life, and I wasn't sure I wanted it. My secret rose from a place so deep, I barely recognized it was my own.   This revelation took my breath away; leaving streams of tears in its place. 

Through blurry-soaked eyes, an object in the flower garden caught my attention. Wiping a stream of tears away, I saw that it was a butterfly; it was so beautiful it looked as though it was from a different world. And there it was, in my garden. My elegant guest.  I ran to grab my phone to take a picture, and as I returned, two more landed on the flowering purple bush.  

When Isabella woke from her nap, I scooped her up and fled to the garden to count more. We counted 23 butterflies in the garden that day. And the next day we counted 33.  That summer, as we nested into our new home and lives, I would stop and count butterflies along the way.  On my hardest days, I would find moments of joy, sometimes fleeting seconds, counting butterflies in the garden- and these moments gave me hope. 

I would like to say that my healing and growth during my emergence into motherhood simply came from counting butterflies that summer (there is something magical, and comforting, in the notion that growth can occur so simply). But my growth into the resilient wife, mother, and woman I am today also took courage, strength, and support. My resiliency has become my travel-companion along my life-long journey of growth... but to this day, I still stop and enjoy counting butterflies along the way.

michelle-brans

Michelle Brans, MACP is a published Author, Teacher, and Child & Family Psychotherapist specializing in Motherhood and Holistic-Integrative Child and Family Mental Wellness.  She is the Founder and Clinical Director of Counting Butterflies, which is guided by The Butterfly Prescription to Mental Wellness ® to nurture the transformation and resilience of children and families, by fostering a deep connection to ones' self, others, and the natural world around them. She holds a Masters in Counselling Psychology, and has received training and certifications in: Emotion-Focused Couples & Family Therapy; Mindfulness & Compassion-Based Therapy; Marriage, Family, and Cultural Systems; Attachment & Developmental-Based Care; Holistic-Integrative Wellness; Ecopsychology and Nature-Guided Therapy; and Women's Wellness. She lives with her husband, daughter, and animal-family on their ever growing Green-Care Farm & Homestead in rural Ontario, Canada. Visit her and her team at countingbutterflies.com.

 

Michelle and her team are honored to have partnered with The WOMB to offer Therapy & Support for new Mothers on their journey towards wellness through the Wellmama Home Session Program. We are currently working on an exciting Online Parent Education & Therapeutic Group for Emerging Motherhood. 

Michelle will be sharing more of her story, and other stories of Motherhood, over the coming months.  Inspired to sit with Michelle and share your own story of hope and change during Motherhood for her program? Connect with Michelle at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..counting-butterflies

 

 

Feeling stuck on the worry treadmill?

Find your “anxiety antidote”

woman widearms

A lot of my work with women revolves around the powerless, and sometimes overwhelming experience of feeling anxious. My clients worry about making mistakes, they worry about being good moms, good employees, they worry about their health….they worry about missing out….they worry. Women often feel robbed of the ability to enjoy the moment, despite a deep longing to feel joy.

There is a difference between worry and anxiety…and we can move back and forth between them.

I want to tell you that you deserve to feel happy. You deserve to feel good enough. You deserve to be free of the debilitating anxiety that comes from constant second guessing, and self-criticism. Your children and family deserve to have a mother who doesn’t carry the world on her shoulders. You are so worthy, my loves…. so worthy.
 
How is worry and anxiety affecting your life? What would your family notice if tomorrow morning, your worry brain took a rest….what would be different?

I help clients find their personal anxiety antidote. I don’t suggest that you just try some generic relaxation or meditation or even just “think positively”. There is a reason that anxiety is there. Anxiety happens when something inside of us is asking for attention. Something inside is asking to be heard, seen and addressed. Sometimes we think we know what it is, so we solve the first thing that comes to mind, but we still feel anxious. I call this the anxiety treadmill! How the heck do you get off without making yourself crazy?
I want to tell you my approach to anxiety. I treat it as a super power. We use this obsessive focus and intense drive to create good feelings!  Did you know that Nasa often prefers to hire anxious people? They are great people, with lots of focus-power. But imagine if they could never turn off that ability? What a terribly stressful existence.

Finding your antidote….

Just for now, try not to “get rid of” the thoughts and feelings. Let’s set out the welcome mat, offer it a cup of tea and an open space. Let’s explore, “What is needed here?

Is there something in your life that you just can’t seem to let go of, even though you have tried? Something that your partner or family think you “make a big deal of”? A situation that you can’t seem to find clarity about, but it’s robbing you of joy in the moment?

Ask yourself a few questions to help identify your antidote:

  • Looking for exceptions to the problem. Getting away from all or nothing thinking: When is the “problem” less bad? What are you doing at these times and who are you with? What are you receiving or giving during these times that seems to help? How might this help you with your current situation?
  • Seeking help: Who can help you with this problem? What has stopped you from reaching out? How easy would it be to reach out?
  • Identifying your harmful self-talk: What belief about yourself is fueling your worry about this situation? For example, what are you telling yourself this means about you as a person that you are having this challenge? Is this absolutely true? What’s more true about you?
  • Giving yourself credit: Even if this situation isn’t perfect, and you are learning, what do you appreciate about how you are handling this? List at least 3, and for extra points ask your partner or friend what they see you doing well.
  • Surrendering control: Are you trying to make the situation perfect? … Trying to meet a standard that seems impossible (even if it is your ideal)? If so, acceptance might be your antidote. Ask yourself, what’s good about this situation? How might I see it 10 years from now?

Send me your thoughts! I would love to hear how these questions open up some new options or perspectives for you!

If this approach speaks to you, drop by for a session or 2. Many clients find that this allows them to experience an anxiety “re-set”. They gain a deeper understanding of where the worry is coming from, get some tools, and off they go. Simple…yes, brave…yes…empowering…yah baby! Lets talk! Do it for yourself, for your children, for your partner, for your family. You deserve it! xoxo

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Neliaheadshot4

Nelia has been coaching women during life changes & challenges for over 20 years. Her unique approach helps you approach life challenges with greater clarity, confidence & compassion. Integrate body, mind and spirit through various tools ranging from mindfulness practices, mind-body awareness, and concrete solution-focused coaching. Nelia is also an advanced Birthing from Within Mentor, Certified Doula with CAPPA Canada and a published author (Bearing Witness, Joyful Birth, Lamaze: Giving Birth With Confidence& Sage Magazine). She is also a trainer offering professional development locally & internationally on utilizing mindfulness-based strategies to help facilitate change. Book a session with Nelia!

Struggling with Infertility

By Nikki Bergen, Creator of The Belle Method, and friend of The WOMB

An inspirational trainer and creative educator with a passion for encouraging women to lead happier, healthier lives, Nikki Bergen is one of Canada’s most sought after health and fitness experts. This is her story about her struggles with infertility.

nikkibergen

 This might be the most personal I’ve ever gotten online. See, I’m supposed to be the one inspiring others with health and wellness – sharing pictures of perfect kale smoothies and video tips on how to get strong flat abs. I never imagined I’d be posting Instagram selfies in pre-surgery hospital scrubs and a video interview with a psychologist about my very real struggles with infertility.

But here we are.

The fact is, no matter how much acupuncture you do, or how pristine your paleo/gluten/dairy-free organic diet is, or how many Naturopath recommended supplements you take – infertility still happens. Miscarriages still happen.

There should be NO shame in this. But it still exists. Women often don’t openly share their struggles precisely because of this outrageous notion that they’ve done something wrong to deserve it – that they are somehow inadequate. Shame around this topic breeds silence, and silence is so, so isolating for the 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility.

The fact is, women’s bodies bear the double burden of invasive medical interventions and society’s judgement when it comes to miscarriages and infertility, regardless of the cause. I’m sharing my story to let other women know they are not alone. We are stronger together. There is no more room for shame in this conversation of infertility.

Here's part 1 of my conversation with Dr. Stacy Thomas .

BelleMethod TAG

Visual Development in Infants

What can my baby really see?

Parents often ask "What can my baby see?". The truth is, we are not born with eagle eyes. In fact, we are all born with our eyes slightly out of focus. Through a process called emmetropization, our eyes strive to become perfectly focussed over the first few years of life (of course, this process often goes astray and even infants and toddlers can end up needing glasses!). Babies also need to learn how to coordinate their eyes together and how to interpret visual cues from the wonderful and interesting world around them.

babyglasses2Here is a brief guide on what you can expect from your child's visual system in the first year of life!

Birth to 3 months
Your baby can only focus about 8-10 inches from their face. So don't go making googly eyes at your baby from across the room! High contrast objects are the most interesting at this stage so be sure to your show baby objects with lots of contrasting colours and shapes. Your baby may be especially drawn to stripes!
Your baby is still figuring out how to coordinate their two eyes together so don't be surprised if once in a while they look cross eyed. This should correct itself within the first few months after birth. However, if your baby's eyes look misaligned constantly or very frequently, a visit to your eye doctor is warranted.

3 to 6 months
Hand-eye coordination is starting to develop. By 3 months, your baby should be able to follow a moving object and reach for an interesting toy. By 5 months, it is believed that infants have developed colour vision similar to an adult. Visual acuity is rapidly developing and by six months your baby should be better at seeing objects and faces from a distance. Six months is also the perfect time for your baby to have their first eye exam! Don't worry, the optometrist will not be asking your baby "Which is better '1' or '2'?". The doctor will check to make sure your baby's eyes are aligned properly, that there are no significant refractive errors and that the eyes are healthy. A problem with any of the above could prevent your baby's visual system from developing normally.

7 to 12 months
Your baby is becoming mobile which further helps to develop hand-eye-body coordination. Depth perception is developed and your baby is becoming better at judging distances. Your baby can also firmly grasp and throw objects. Another important milestone is the pincer grasp which involves fine motor control and careful hand-eye coordination. Give your baby some cheerios to practice!

Your baby's visual system undergoes rapid developments and changes in the first year; much like your baby is quickly learning, growing and changing. Cherish every moment you have staring into your baby's big, beautiful eyes, even if it's in the middle of the night.

Dr. Kelly Gallagher, OD
Optometry On Bronte
www.miltonvision.ca

Choosing the Right Prenatal Vitamin

vitamins during pregnancyPregnancy is an exciting, but often overwhelming time for new moms like you. There is so much to learn about your changing body, growing baby, birth and labour, not to mention preparing for parenthood. It is also a time where moms are more conscious about making healthy food choices to be strong and healthy to support the new life growing within. One of the most crucial parts of having a healthy baby and body during pregnancy is making sure you are getting the most out of your prenatal multivitamin.

When choosing your prenatal look for the following 3 criteria:
1. Adequate Nutrient Levels: AKA how much of each nutrient is found in the daily dose.
2. Excellent Absorbability: Different forms of vitamins are better absorbed than others. This is especially important for moms with digestive issues or food sensitivities, who may have difficulty breaking down and absorbing nutrients. Read below for which forms are best.
3. Few Fillers & Additives: Found under “non-medicinal ingredients”. Choose a prenatal with as few additives as possible to prevent passing on these harmful ingredients to baby.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for the immune system, skin health and development of vision, however, high levels of vitamin A (over 10, 000IU) are known to be harmful during pregnancy. Choose a multi with low or moderate amounts of Vitamin A. Synthetic vitamin A is very poorly absorbed, so look for animal (retinol) or vegetable (beta-carotene) based sources. If you were or are a smoker, beta carotene supplements are best avoided entirely as they can increase a smoker’s risk for lung cancer.

Folic Acid vs. Activated Folate
Folic acid/folate is one of the most important parts of a prenatal multi to prevent neural tube defects (NTD). Since adding this to all prenatal vitamins, there has been a large decline in NTDs. However, over 50% of our population has a defect, ranging from mild to severe, in the MTHFR gene, which is responsible for activating folic acid into it useable form of methylfolate. When this gene isn’t working at its best, folic acid cannot be activated and used by the body. Methylfolate is essential for methylation – a process used to promote detoxification, produce neurotransmitters and hormones, create energy, repair cells, etc. MTFHR defects are common in women with recurrent miscarriages and infertility and are linked to mood disorders, pre-eclampsia, Autism, Down Syndrome, heavy metal toxicity and cardiovascular disease. Testing for the MTFHR gene is an option, but another great choice is to always opt for activated folate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate) when choosing a prenatal.

B Vitamins
Our B-vitamins are essential in methylation, much like methylfolate, and assist in development of baby’s nervous system while supporting your own energy and stress levels during pregnancy. Choosing activated forms of B12 (methylcobalamin) and B6 (pyridoxal-5’-phosphate) ensures your body absorbs and uses these B vitamins effectively.

Vitamin D
D3 (cholecalciferol) is your best-absorbed form of vitamin D and is an important part of a prenatal multi for Canadian women. It is difficult to get enough of this important nutrient through the sun during Canadian winters, so ensuring your prenatal has at least 1000 IU will protect you and baby. Building adequate vitamin D stores before breastfeeding is also important, as we know breast milk is commonly deficient.

Calcium & Magnesium
These minerals are important for bone, teeth, musle and nervous system development. Citrate, malate and glycinate forms are better absorbed than carbonates, sulphates or oxides.

Iron
Constipation is a common complaint in pregnancy, and iron supplementation can make constipation worse. If this is true for you, choosing an iron glycinate or heme iron tends to cause less digestive upset and is better absorbed.

Still feeling overwhelmed about choosing your multi? Use this easy chart to compare common brands, or consult with one of the Naturopathic Doctors at The WOMB to help choose which is best for you and your baby.

Prenatal Comparison Chart

What the heck is the hype about Kombucha?

Kombucha 72981pp w751 h494Kombucha is a fermented tea with its origins in Asia over 2000 years ago. It is only recently gaining popularity in North America. Kombucha is made by adding black tea and sugar to a SCOBY or "Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Fission Yeast." The SCOBY is similar to the Mother found in vinegar. The SCOBY proceeds to ferment the caffeine and sugar into a fermented beverage rich in B vitamins, probiotics, and glucaric acid, a compound which has been shown to have anti-cancer activity; as well as other beneficial compounds like antioxidants. 
 
Kombucha contains glucosamines, which increase hyalaouronic acid production in our joints. This leads to the building of more cartilage and as a result, people with arthritis have anecdotally noticed improved joint symptoms. 
 
Because of the probiotics and beneficial yeast present in kombucha, it leads to improved digestion, protecting against candida (a harmful yeast one excess), mental clarity and mood stability. Probiotics also support the immune system, and along with other antioxidant compounds found in kombucha, this beverage is believed to be very immune-supportive.
 
Kombucha is fairly simple to make and each batch causes a doubling of the SCOBY, so if you have a friend that makes kombucha, they likely have a SCOBY they can give you. The initial batch of tea takes roughly 10 days to brew based on moisture and heat conditions in your home, and some people choose to then do a second ferment where they bottle the kombucha with fruits or herbs to add a flavour to it. The second fermentation also results in carbonation similar to pop, making it an appealing beverage to children. 
 
Your local health or grocery store likely contains several kombucha flavours worth trying; or get adventurous and attend a kombucha workshop to learn how to make your own. (Coming up November 28th, 2015! Call us to reserve your spot!)
 
By Erica Robinson, Naturopathic Doctor at The WOMB
 
 

The Passage of Time After a Loss

My experience of loss and love

Day 1.

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.

babyfeet bwAt 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.

1 year.

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

2 years.

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.

DadMom bw4800And he was. Born safely and strong early on a Saturday morning – our Roan David Griffin.

 

 

 

 

14 years.

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.

IMG 4821 2 smAngie 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.

A Naturally Healthy Winter

Tis' the season for runny noses, scratchy throats and tickly coughs

Ah, the joys of winter: snowball fights, toboggan races,
and snow angels. 

Unfortunately, ‘tis also the season for runny noses, scratchy throats, and tickly coughs.  On average, a child will catch 5 to 10 colds each year.  No need to panic, these brief bouts of illness actually help to strengthen the immune system.  So although complete prevention is not realistic, there are nutritional measures that can be taken to ensure that the illnesses are short-lived and your little one is back guarding his snow fort pronto!
 
·         Stock the body with nutrients and power up the immune system with whole, nutrient-dense foods.
·         Offer a rainbow of colourful fruits and veggies. 
·         Serve up lots of warm, nourishing soups and stews
·         Increase the immune-boosting power of your foods by cooking with lots of onion and garlic
·         Limit sugar intake, in food and drinks. 
 

When the inevitable cold does find its way home, take action as soon as possible.

With a focus on nutrition, we give the body the tools it needs to heal itself.
·         Ensure that your child gets lots of rest and stays well hydrated.  Avoid sugary juices and artificialsports drinks; stick with good ol’ water, or make your own hydrating drinks and healing herbal teas.
·         Offer a variety of nutritious foods, but follow the child’s cues as to their level of appetite.
·         Avoid dairy, which can increase mucous.
·         Sip lots of homemade chicken stock (a.k.a bone broth).   Add immune-boosting herbs and                   seaweed to help super-power your soup. 
·         To calm a sore throat, nothing beats honey... served in a warm drink, as a lozenge, in a home-made syrup, or straight up on a spoon.  In addition to providing soothing relief, honey has powerful  anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.

 
Once the cold symptoms disappear, keep up the healthy eating, and get back to the winter fun! 
 

AnnePichoraAnne Pichora
Holistic Nutritionist, Natural Wellness Coach, and Mom to two busy, snow-loving boys.

 

Join her for her next workshop:

Kitchen Medicine: Building a strong immune system with FOOD!

December 9, 12:00-1:30PM. Register today!


Get in touch! Give us a call at 905.842.2434, or click here to send us an email.