The Weekly Newsletter for Heart of Houston Birth and Wellness Families and Friends
Happy Tuesday Friends!
Y'all, this weather is fuel for my soul! Last week our community walk was a warm one and it was glorious. If you haven't joined us for a walk yet I hope you'll find some time to hang out. This past weekend was our gear swap. Thanks to all the folks who dropped off items to share with the community. So many first time parents were able to swing by and grab some great items. We are planning on doing another swap in late summer/early fall so keep an eye out for those dates and collect the stuff you want to share.
Speaking of sharing, I promised to share some deets about new events coming to Heart of Houston so here we go!
Don't stop believing
Last month when pediatrician Dr. Shirley Chan Ramirez taught our Newborn Care Class she and I had a chance to catch up beforehand. We talked about the lack of support for folks like us who are past the newborn and toddler phase and well into school aged parenting. Let me tell you, elementary drama is a thing. In fact it's a thing I was NOT at all prepared for and the struggle is real. When I first met Shirley I knew immediately that she was my people. She spoke so candidly about her struggles as a new parent and how even as a pediatrician she felt utterly unprepared for the realities of the fourth trimester. Her experience led her to become an IBCLC and eventually open Blossom Pediatrics and Lactation where she offers individualized care for new families. As parents of school-age kids the challenges have changed, but she and I both know the value of having a circle of support.
Starting in April she and I will facilitate a new group geared towards folks with school aged kiddos every first Sunday of the month from 11am-1pm with light refreshments served. This group is a safe space for folks to share the highs, lows and strategies of parenting at this stage. This group will be open to the public and free to attend. Please RSVP.
Words by the Handful
These tiny humans are such smart little things. I've been on the hunt for programming for our growing HOH babies and as luck would have it my wife and I were seated next to Words by the Handful founder Mimi Vance at last months Prelude Music Foundation's first annual luncheon. Mimi is charismatic and was definitely made to work with toddlers! Her energy is infectious and I can see why her classes are so popular. "Learn how to use sign language with your baby in this 8-week series of classes with Mimi Vance of Words by the Handful. Each class builds on the previous, creating a good working knowledge of the most useful signs to use with babies. The use of songs, rhythm and rhyme help both parents and babies learn and retain signs more quickly and more easily. Theory and practice are combined for a successful launch into baby sign language."
We're super excited to offer her Baby Sign Language series starting Monday March 20th from 11 to 11:30. This series will run 8 weeks and is open to the public. HOH and WHC members receive a 12% discount! You can register for this series HERE. Learn more about Mimi here
Waiting is never easy. Waiting for your first baby to make their arrival gets more and more difficult once you've passed the forty week mark. Every day after forty weeks feels like an eternity. The well meaning text from friends and family asking if the baby has arrived can add to the frustration and urgency. And then, all the months, weeks and days of waiting are reduced to hours, then minutes and a final exhausted breath. The space between two worlds is momentarily blurred as your baby moves from the otherside to earthside and into your arms. You did it! YOU DID IT! Look at the little person you've grown and nurtured inside of you for forty plus weeks. What magic. Your soul will sing and you will never, ever be the same. A year from now, when you look back, those forty weeks will feel like a blink of an eye and you'll swear you'd do it a million times over because the baby you are holding is worth it. We see you. Hang in there dear ones, the magic is already happening, the grand finale is just around the corner.
Get to know the HOH team!
I thought it would be fun to show y'all what a day in the life of each HOH team member looks like. So, our incredible RN Rachel took some shots throughout her day to share.
Meet Mimi Vance!
Who are you?
I'm Mimi Brian Vance, Author, Teacher, and huge proponent of using sign language to help babies communicate before they can talk - baby sign language. My company is Words by the Handful, which is also the name of my set of four board books.
How do you serve/help the pregnant and postpartum, parenting communities?
Before a baby's mouth can form words for talking, they have lots on their minds, and want and need to say lots of things. It can be a frustrating time for babies and the ones who love them! I have developed a method of teaching baby sign language to help babies and their families ease and avoid some of those early communication difficulties. At the same time, we are promoting a very language rich environment, which promotes and nurtures baby's speech development. Language is a big organizing principle in the brain, and communication is one of the most important parts of relating to other humans. Giving our little ones a head start on "talking" with their hands before they can talk is a great way to support language development. Giving parents a tool to help tame the "terrible twos" is only one way my work and baby sign language supports parents of our littles ones.
How did you get into this line of work?
I heard about the use of American Sign Language signs with pre-verbal (hearing) children many years before I had children. My background is in foreign languages, and I immediately knew that if and when I had my own kids, I would use baby sign language with them. When I did have my little ones, I found the materials for teaching/learning and sharing baby sign language to be cumbersome and not user-friendly. I wrote my Words by the Handful books - four adorable board books - to make it easy and fun for any parent to get started with baby signs in the space of a 5 minute book-reading. The success of the books and requests for more led me to create mom/baby classes. I know have three different levels of in-person classes, and have made all of my classes available online in an on-demand format for parents who can't get to a class.
What do you wish everyone knew about your area of expertise?
I wish everyone knew how powerful signing with babies can be. It not only lets them tell you what they want or what they are thinking, but it reinforces the parent-child bond in so many ways. It also makes it easier for the non-primary parent and all family and caretakers to figure out what baby wants and needs. One father took my class with his fourth child, and shared that signs offered him a relationship with that child that he hadn't been able to have with his first three. They could communicate at a very early age, enhancing his ability to know his child better earlier.
What is most rewarding about your work?
While teaching baby sign language to babies requires some patience, and lots of repetition, it pays off with so many rewards, and for such an important time in baby's early life. Sometimes those rewards only start after our class sessions have finished, and as parents continue the practice until baby begins to sign more frequently. Most rewarding for me? The messages and emails of delight I get from parents about the amazing connection they feel - yes, even more than they already did - when their baby starts to sign and "talk" to them at a very early age.
Tell us about something (or someone) you love.
I love my family and friends, but that seems an obvious answer. One thing I love is making silly animal noises. And I have a little bit of talent in that area, developed over years of, yes, making silly animal noises. Making animal noises with babies actually helps them train the muscles of their complicated vocal tract. I love that I not only found a way to help babies and families with early communication, but that I get to use silly animal noises in my job that I enjoy so much!
RSVP on our Calendar of Events page
Events are for HOH and WHC Members unless otherwise noted
Community Walk: 10am 3/1 Centennial Gardens, 3/15 Memorial Park , and 3/29 Water Works Open to public!
Evening Core Class: Orientation, Mapping Out your Pregnancy Wednesday March 1st 6pm
Virtual Postpartum Circle: 10am 3/8 & 3/22 . Please RSVP for link to HOH Zoom room.
In-Person Postpartum Circle: 10am -12pm every Thursday
Mindful Movement: 3/4 and 3/11 10:30am register or pay at the door Open to the public $20 non members, $15 members.
Pelvic Floor Pregnancy Prep: Sunday 3/5 11:30am-1pm Open to the public $125 per couple
Core Class: Breast/Chest Feeding the first 48hrs Sunday 3/5 2-4pm
Prelude Music for Babies: Monday 3/6 11am-11:45 Free & open to the public.
Anxiety Support Group:Monday 3/6 & 3/20 12-1pm
Meet the Doulas: Friday 3/10 HOH zoom room Free & Open to the public.
Friday Night Yoga with Bee: 3/10 & 3/24 6:45pm Open to the public see event details for pricing for non members. Donation based for members
New address 6550 Mapleridge Ste 100
Monthly Ongoing Events
Wednesday Virtual Postpartum Support Circle: Second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 10-12 on Zoom. HOH clients and Whole Heart Collective members. Email Jessica if you need more information.
Thursday In Person Postpartum Support Circle: 10-12 in the community room. Open to current HOH & WHC members. Feeding clinic first and third Thursdays of each month.
Queer Parent Circle: Second Sunday of every month 2-4pm Open to the public.
Parents of School Age Kids Circle: First Sunday of every month 11-1pm Open to the public.
Babywearing Meetup: Third Saturday of each month 4-5pm New Topic each month
Birth workers Circle: Second Sunday of every month 11am-1:30pm midwives, student midwives, doulas, birth assistants, Obs and L&D nurses are all welcome to attend.
Mindful Movements: First and second Saturday of each month 10:30-12
Yoga with Bee: Every Monday from 10-11am Open to the public members donation based register here.