Updated: Apr 26, 2022
The Weekly Newsletter for Heart of Houston Birth and Wellness Families and Friends
Over the Weekend
Happy Monday friends! Well, it's the last week of the April and I don't know about you but this month has just flown by us. This weekend was finally warm enough for the kids to spend time in the pool without signs of hypothermia. Mary, Tori and I were honored to attend a memorable birth on Friday evening. Sweet 9lb 2oz baby boy was born en caul and had a birthmark shaped like a heart. I tell you what, student midwife Tori is getting to witness all the magic that happens when a birthing person is encouraged to allow their body to write the story. How wonderful would it be if this was the case in every birthing space? We also had a great turnout for our Zoom pregnancy group orientation. As always, we discussed managing expectations and preparing for the fourth trimester. Our next group prenatal will be Sunday May 1st at 2pm. I'm calling this one Meet the Experts! Expectant folk will join newly postpartum families to hear first hand what to expect in the early days of life with a newborn. We hope you'll join us!
A gentle warning: In the following section we discuss grief and loss, including pregnancy loss. If you'd like to skip ahead please do so. I'll meet you the photo of my feral toddler.
Getting Comfortable with Grief
Saturday was our first birth worker circle on grief. Our friend Jodi Gonzalez, LCSW of JAH Grief Services created a 6 week curriculum specifically for birth workers and we are so happy to be hosting this event. As a birth workers, we encounter grief in various forms throughout conception, pregnancy and postpartum. One of the most profound, of course, is the loss of a much wanted pregnancy. With the rise of social media over the past couple of decades we've seen an increase in folks sharing about their experiences on what were once taboo topics like miscarriages and struggles with fertility. As common as these events are in the reproductive life span, it wasn't until recently that folks really began publicly addressing the true emotional impact of such losses. Generations of birthing folks were, and still are, encouraged to wait until 12 weeks to share news about a pregnancy, "just in case." I will always advocate for folks to do what feels best for their well being AND I encourage folks to allow others to carry the load with them.
Working with growing families has taught me that not all grief has to do with death, more often than not it is about loss. Loss of identity, unmet expectations, changes in relationships and family dynamics, and almost always, a loss of perceived control. Nothing says you are no longer in control of your life like the introduction of helpless tiny human. So much change at once can catch people off guard. Having a baby is supposed to the best thing ever, right? So why are you questioning all your life choices at 3am? You should be happy that you have a healthy momma and baby! Never mind that the experience of birthing your baby was not at all what you had envisioned. You knew your attention would have to be divided between your firstborn and this new addition but that doesn't mean you can't mourn the loss what was. Grief takes on many forms and each one deserves your attention. Where do you put those feelings? Jodi Gonzalez recently wrote and published a guidebook for navigating grief, The Healing Tree. In it she says, "Grief is a lifelong experiance: it never ends, but it does change over time."
Some dear friends of mine experienced a miscarriage late last year. The grief was and still is a part of their everyday life. One of the ways Jodie and other grief counselors recommend honoring the array of feelings around loss is through ceremony. These friends have chosen to hold a blessingway. Typically these ceremonies are held for expectant persons as a way for their community to bless them on their journey into motherhood/parenthood. My friends describe their ceremony like this. "This sweet soul would would have joined us late this spring. To continue processing the grief as well as honor their existence, I would love to have you join me for a grief blessingway. A moment to collectively address our grief and share our emotions. There has to be space to say how overwhelming the loss of a pregnancy feels. Let us attempt to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. " What would it look like to include others on our journey with grief, regardless of they type of loss? Or to hold space for our friends so they can grieve freely? What would it mean for you to ride the waves of grief and emerge with better understanding of yourself and your loss? I don't have the all the answers but please know that you're not alone.
"Grief can be lonely, and I offer this guidebook as your companion along the path. I can't say I know where we are going, but I promise I will walk alongside you through this wilderness." Jodie Gonzalez, LCSW The Healing Tree
Infant CPR for everyone
If you're like me you've taken a few CPR courses throughout your lifetime and most likely you've never actually had to use it in an emergency situation. Fingers crossed you never will but when it come to having children in your home, it's definitely a skill you want to brush up on regularly. I joke that my wife and I never had to baby proof our home with our first daughter. I would simply give her a stern "no" and she would immediately stop doing whatever she wasn't supposed to be doing. She never put small objects in her mouth or other orifices. Our second daughter...well, lets just say she is NOT her sister. She will often walk up with a cheshire cat smile on her face and we go into straight into detective mode in search of the rock or tiny Barbie shoe in her mouth.
One day after her first birthday she kept itching her nose and we realized she had shoved a something up there. After a moment of panic I used the "mother's kiss" method to remove the bright yellow bead. I could go on but you get the idea. Infant CPR is one of the few things I think is absolutely necessary for parents to know. Really, anyone who might be alone with your baby for any period of time should know CPR and basic first aid. June 11th at 10am our friend Gail Gould will teach an American Heart Association CPR class for $45 a person. You can sign up here. Hope to see some of you there! (originally posted in 8/2021 Bumpdate) (Price corrected 4/26)
My book pick
The Gen-Xer in me is strong and this book selection is proof. I love of all things Neil Gaiman and when he wrote Blueberry Girl for my teenage crush/favorite musician Tori Amos, it become part of my library even before I had babies. Please enjoy this reading from Mr. Gaiman himself.
Our calendar will look much fuller when we get into our new space!
Postpartum Support Group: Latch Clinic: Wednesday 4/27 10am-12pm IN PERSON
Postpartum Support Group : Thursday 4/28 9:30-11:30 on ZOOM
Frame Dance Family Dance Party: Saturdays in April 30th 10am 888 Westheimer FREE be reminded of the joy of play and movement with the whole family!
Pregnancy Group: Ask the Experts: Sunday 5/1 2-4pm IN PERSON Expectant couples are encouraged to join newborn parents for a Q&A session. Get survival tips from folks in the thick of new parenthood and get to know your HOH community.
Postpartum Support Group : Wednesday 5/4 10-12pm on ZOOM
Postpartum Support Group : Thursday 5/5 9:30-11:30 on IN PERSON
Pregnancy Group Core Class : Newborn Care and First 48hrs of Breastfeeding with Leah Jolly, IBCLC Sunday May 15th 2pm-4pm IN PERSON
Postpartum Support Group: Every Wednesday from 10-12ish and Thursday 9:30-11:30. Zoom link has been sent to all HOH clients and Whole Heart Collective members. Email Jessica if you need more information.
Latch Clinic: Twice a month during Postpartum group. Keep an eye on schedule for specifics
Queer Parent Circle: Second Sunday of every month 3:30-5pm Open to the public!
Birthworkers Circle: Second Sunday of every month starting Jan 2022 time 11am-1:30pm