The Mostly Weekly Newsletter for Heart of Houston Birth and Wellness Families and Friends
Hello again dear ones! As I'm sure you've noticed I've been slow to get the Bumpdate out recently. We've had a busy summer so far and as the senior midwifery student I have been on call for almost every birth we've had recently. Totally NOT complaining, it's been the most fun I've had as a birth worker in years but many of my non-midwife obligations are feeling a tad bit neglected. That being said, July is looking to be a little quieter so hopefully I can get back on top of things. Buuuuut don't hold your breath.
This month we hosted a monthly meeting of The Greater Houston Midwives Alliance (GHMA) and had the opportunity to hang out with other Houston midwives and midwifery students. This month's guest speaker was a representative from the Texas Department of Health and she gave us all the latest information and best practices for newborn metabolic and hearing screenings. I'm such a huge fan of community skill shares and info sessions. As a community, one of our goals going forward is to establish community standards for out of hospital midwives. Houston is a big diverse city and we all want to be sure that every person choosing midwifery care is receiving the very best care possible.
Speaking of Houston's amazing birth worker community, have you checked out some of our favorite locally hosted birthy podcasts? Slightly dysfunctional and always hilarious doulas Eleanor Prado and Alex Tran of Premier Doulas of Houston discuss all things pregnancy and parenting on their popular show, In the Family Way Podcast. Our friends at Holistic Heritage Homebirth, Dr. Andie Wyrick CNM, DNP and Jaelin Stickels, CNM, WHNP, MSN host a birth-nerd's dream of a podcast, Midwife Monday. Andie and Jaelin hit everything from conception to menopause. If you're on Tik Tok, follow midwife Rowan TwoSisters for her musing on topics like circumcision and her latest book on Cervical Scar Tissue.
Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with midwife Pat Jones, host of KPFTs Whole Mother Radio show. to discuss all the cool things we are doing at Heart of Houston. Sometime I feel like a used car salesman when I talk about the Whole Heart Collective and the community you all have helped us to create. Folks often react with disbelief at all the programming we offer and how much we focus on life AFTER the birth of your baby. We understand the importance of having community during this transformative stage of life and we want to shout it from the rooftops. Pretty sure our insurance won't cover that but we are trying hard to get the word out. A few weeks ago I also received an invitation to speak at the Midwifery Wisdom Conference in Denver this November. I'm planning on presenting on The Whole Heart Collective model. I'm honored to be asked to share all the great thing I've learned about community engagement and collective peer support groups!
If you've participated in any of our programming stay tuned for some cool opportunities to share your feedback and win some pretty unique prizes.
Back in early 2016, I had just had a baby and I was slowly getting back to doula work. I reduced my workload from 5-7 births a month to 2-3. I didn't want to be away from my baby much so I was very careful about the clients I took on. I knew that I shouldn't take on families that needed a ton of support because I myself was still learning to be a parent. I received a call from a couple looking for support for the birth of their second child and they had been given my name by the midwives at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women. I was accustomed to doing interviews at a local Starbucks but this couple asked if I would come to their home because they had a medically fragile child. I had no idea that I was walking into the home of folks who would become like family to me. Even if they hadn't hired me as their doula I'm pretty sure we'd still be friends.
Holly and Todd McDonald welcomed me into their home and asked that I remove my shoes and wash my hands. The living room looked like a hospital room complete with a hospital bed and noisy equipment. In the bed was a small, squishy, and oh-so-beautiful two-year-old little girl named Cora. After I washed my hands, I walked over and greeted her, and introduced myself. At this point in her battle, Cora was minimally responsive. Over the next hour or so Holly and Todd educated me about Tay-Sachs Disease, the genetic disorder slowly taking away their active baby girl. Like so many people, I had heard of Tay-Sachs but believed it to be a disease that mainly affected Ashkenazi Jews. The screening tools many Ob/Gyns used to determine risk for genetic disorders did not flag the McDonalds, so no genetic testing was done during Holly's pregnancy. It was a visit to an ophthalmologist that led to a diagnosis.
There are three different types of Tay-Sachs: Classic, Juvenile Onset, and Late Onset. Cora was diagnosed with Classic Tay-Sachs before her first birthday. The Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation describes the disease like this; "Tay-Sachs disease (TSD) is hereditary. A mutation in the Hex-A gene causes the body to have no or very low levels of the Hex-A enzyme. Without Hex-A, cells (especially nerve cells in the brain) are unable to break down fatty waste products. The waste products begin to build up inside the cells causing it to swell and eventually die." The McDonalds began to notice something was not quite right when Cora unexpectedly stopped hitting her developmental milestones. When I met the family, Cora was already in Hospice care and receiving around-the-clock care. Holly and Todd had chosen IVF to conceive their second child in order to ensure their next baby would not suffer as Cora had.
As fate would have it both Mary Love and I attended the birth of Cora's little sister, Tessa. Less than a year after Tessa's birth, I held space with my now dear friends as they said goodbye to sweet Cora. She was just shy of four years old. Since the, their family has grown by one more: One very large baby boy named Callum. Holly and Todd continue to advocate for preconception testing for ALL families. CTSF and other organizations working to find cures for genetic diseases recommend, "Carrier testing is best completed before conception. Even if your childbearing years are over, your carrier status can be an extremely important piece of information. If you are a carrier, your close relatives (children, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles) should be alerted so they can be tested as well. Tay-Sachs carrier testing is also vital for the close relatives of families with an affected child, regardless of ethnic background, since all parents of children with Tay-Sachs are, by definition, carriers."
I hate that we lost Cora to such a preventable disease. In my dream world, universal genetic screening would be commonplace and covered by all insurances. Until then, we will support the research for a cure and inform folks on the importance of knowing their carrier status prior to conception. We'll also continue to celebrate the life of the sweetest little girl who changed so many lives during her brief time on earth. You can join us in raising funds and awareness by donating to The Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation in Cora's name or hop on facebook and donate to our campaign there.
Meet Amanda Moore
Who are you? Amanda Moore, Owner, Holistic Expectations How do you serve/help the pregnant and postpartum communities? I provide Coaching and prenatal/postpartum guidance for couples and families as they make the transition into life with kids. This includes exploration into: values, support systems, divisions of labor, safe scheduling, and individual self care. I have studied and incorporate the following modalities: Gottman, Harriet Learner, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy and Family Systems work.
How did you get into this line of work? I began my work in public television (channel 8) with media literacy for parents. I then shifted into birth preparation and labor support, educating couples and strengthening their relationships before and after baby. This lead into one on one coaching therapy with women to strengthen themselves and their relationships. I have since designed a curriculum I am circulating through talks like the 50/50.
What do you wish everyone knew about your area of expertise? I wish that everyone knew that this work is for everyone. We are all working our way thru the same road map of ups and downs, missing skills and stunted growth in our relationships. The more normalized the experience, the more permission people will give themselves to prioritize it and share it.
What is most rewarding about your work? Watching people self realize out of shame, anger, and paralysis. Witnessing families get stronger.
Tell us about something (or someone) you love. I love my four kiddos. They have grown me so deeply and keep me hoping for better things and striving for them. I can see through their examples where I still need to evolve and where I’ve made great progress.
Our next 50/50 workshop will be in August the exact date is TBD. I'll let you know when I've posted the event.
This Week's Events
6/12 Anxiety Support Circle: 12-1pm, open to HOH and WHC member. Please register HERE
6/15 Evening Core Class: When Plans Change, Thursday 6-8pm open to HOH and WHC members only
6/17 Family Pride Festival: Saturday 4-8pm Montrose Center 401 Branard St 2nd Floor, Houston, TX 77006 Open to the public, stop by our table and say hello!
6/17 Baby Wearing info sessions with Angelique Geehan 4-5pm free to HOH and WHC members $25 for everyone else. Open to the public Please RSVP
6/17 Houston Babywearing Meet-up: 5-6pm Please RSVP Free and open to the public.
6/18 Happy Father's Day! No events.
6/19 Monday Morning Yoga with Bee: 10am, donation based for HOH and WHC folks. Open to the public.
All events are open to HOH and WHC members. Please RSVP
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.
Babywearing Beginners Series:Every Third Saturday 4-5pm Free for HOH & WHC
Parents of School Age Kids Circle: First Sunday of every month 11-1pm Open to the public.
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.