about me

An Anniversary

I meandered over to my LinkedIn account the other day, and found messages in my inbox congratulating me on my work anniversary. After briefly wondering just what anniversary LinkedIn was marking, I realized that I filed the first of my legal paperwork for my solo practice on April 13, 2017. It is indeed an anniversary.

Milestones tend to prompt some introspection, an inventory of the perhaps non-tangible ground that’s been covered. So, I’m taking stock of all that has transpired over the last year and more on my journey to solo practice.

I was part of a local partnership practice since 2009 that is very busy. Prior to starting that business in 2009, I was a student midwife for about a year and a half. I’ve been mostly on call, tethered to my phone, with my brain always imagining the scenario in which I have to leave any given situation in order to quickly get to a birth, for 10 years. It is always a joy, honor and privilege to attend a birth. I still feel excited to get the labor calls; and I take enormous joy in traveling to your homes, often under the secret cover of the night, to quietly help you to welcome your little ones into your homes and families.

But, for real, 10 years is a long time to live an on-call lifestyle. And, truth be told, I haven’t been so diligent about my own self-care. For years, I have run on coffee and random snacks, little sleep and not enough exercise, and more M&Ms than I should probably admit to. Though I love whole foods and no one has to coerce me to eat my vegetables, I was often too tired to prepare healthy food and relied on not-so-healthy restaurant fare. In 2016, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, plus adrenal stress. Of course I was.

The diagnoses prompted me to start cleaning up my act and attempt to manage the symptoms of overwhelming fatigue, body aches and pains, disrupted sleep, disrupted periods, depression and anxiety. Then in September of 2016, just a month after my diagnosis, my mother unexpectedly died. At the ages of 23, 20, 19, and 14, my kids lost their sole remaining grandparent; my husband’s mother had died just a little over a year prior. Everyone grieves in their own ways, and their stories are not mine to tell; suffice it to say, I felt throughout that autumn that my family and my life really were coming quite undone.

I knew that I couldn’t keep up the pace I was going, or the pressure of a busy practice with an unrelenting overhead, all while trying to heal my body, grieve, and be there for my kids and husband. My business partner and I began discussions about me selling my share of the practice, and I began preparing for a smaller, slower paced practice. That was all finalized on June 30, 2017.

Pregnancy, labor and birth have always been powerful metaphors for my life. It’s been 26 years since I was pregnant with my first born, but the giddy, excited feeling knowing that a whole little person is forming and going to be born is unforgettable. It was similar imagining a solo practice–purchasing new equipment, designing the logo, creating my own procedures, and reveling in all the spreadsheets. (I REALLY dig spreadsheets.)

But nothing is all giddy excitement. (Did your parents say, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt,” when you were growing up? That was a favorite of my dad’s, addressing a general air of chaos brought on by a household of six kids.) A new thing also brings worries, doubts, queasy stomachs, and a whole lot of hard work. I’ve had to self-talk some of the things I say to laboring clients in the middle of the night.

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“Just breathe”

“Take it one step at a time”

“You can do this”

“You are doing this”

“It will be so worth it in the end”

And you know what? It is worth it. A year on, I am delighted by

  • office mates who are filled with laughter and joy
  • a leisurely drive into the country to get to my office (it’s really not that far away, I promise!)
  • the opportunity to walk at the state park on my way to or from work
  • a slower paced practice, with time to soak all of you in, and hear your stories, and hold space for you and your babies
  • an opportunity to continue to support Heather on her way to becoming a midwife
  • a new assistant, Hanna, who is intelligent and excited and dedicated to the work
  • Arvigo® work being integral in my care
  • the opportunity to participate as part of the teaching team for two Arvigo® workshops since January
  • repeat clients who have followed me to the new place, whose kind words of encouragement and appreciation have meant more to me that you can possibly know
  • new clients–for home births, Arvigo® Therapy, and lactation consults–welcome! I am grateful for your business

The storms of life come and go. Labor lasts for sometimes seemingly endless hours. Eventually, we are delivered. Delivered into new time and space, a new sense of being, a new opportunity, a new soul to nurture and love. The stormy experience gets integrated into our beings, teaches us lessons that we can return to time and again, and helps us to create something beautiful in the present.

May it be so.

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Arvigo, events, Self-Care

Arvigo® PechaKucha

That’s quite a title, isn’t it? Almost like a foreign language. Lucky for you, I’m a pretty good explainer.

My son’s very awesome public school has an annual fundraising event called Pecha Kucha. This is a simple, brief presentation style that originated in Tokyo in 2003, that helps folks to start having community conversations about great ideas. Each speaker presents a power point, 20 slides, with 20 seconds to talk about each slide. The slides advance automatically while you’re speaking. Let me tell you, as a speaker, you really have to figure out how to make your point concisely. It was a lovely challenge.

I tend to shake like a leaf in a windstorm when I’m speaking publicly, even though I’m not afraid to speak, and I usually say yes to these types of opportunities. I was grateful for the structure of the talk, and the solidness of the podium to hold on to as I was speaking.

Of course, my topic was Arvigo® Therapy. I can’t talk about it enough–I think it’s such a great tool that can help so many people. If you want a general overview, and you have 6 minutes and 40 seconds, you can view my recorded presentation here.  As I write this, it is April 16th, and we’ve had two solid days of an intense blizzard named Evelyn. Everything is closed down, and roads are impassable. It’s a great day to watch some of the other Pecha Kucha presentations from all over the world about so many topics. Learning all the time, but especially during blizzards.

Stay safe and warm, Midwesterners! The rest of you from balmy climates are so jealous that I live in a veritable snow globe, I just know it. This photo was taken yesterday, before ice started raining from the sky and an additional ten inches of snow fell. Totally jelly, aren’t you?

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Blizzard Evelyn 2018

 

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events

Upcoming Events

My introverted self is going to be out and about in public in March. I hope that spring will grace us with her presence for those events, because I’d mostly like to stick around home with a warm cuppa and some knitting if it’s terribly winter-y. Anyway, if I’m overcoming my introverted nature and the weather, I hope you’ll come out to meet me. It’s always great to see some warm and friendly faces at events. I really value our local community and the cool events that folks put on, and look forward to being involved in more things in the future.

First up, I will be doing a brief three minute and forty second PechaKucha presentation at this event, hosted by my youngest son’s very awesome school. I’ve chosen to talk about Arvigo® Supported Pregnancy, since it’s a thing I want lots more people to know about. I’m working out how to include the howler monkeys I encountered in Belize into the presentation, because, well, monkeys, people. They were so cool. If you can’t or won’t click through to the Facebook event, PechaKucha is on Tuesday, March 6, at 6:30 p.m. at The Fox Club, located within the Wisconsin Timber Rattler’s Stadium. The event is free and open to the public, with appetizers and a cash bar. Maybe it would be a fun date night for you and your sweetie?

Secondly, I will have a table at The Belly to Baby Expo, put on by Green Bay Doulas on Saturday, March 24th from 12:00 to 3:30 pm at The Meadows in Green Bay. I’ll have some cools mugs for sale, definitely some dark chocolate to giveaway, and I’m happy to chat with you about breastfeeding, home birth, Arvigo®, pregnancy, etc. I never pass up an opportunity to snuggle a baby, either, if you’re willing to share a squishy little person for a bit. The event has it’s own website (linked above), plus a Facebook page, plus a Facebook event. Stop by and say, hi!

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sweet little one who came to play at a park reunion
breastfeeding

Lactation Support

When I was pregnant for the first time, I planned to breastfeed my baby. Though I’d never really witnessed anyone nursing a baby, I assumed that it was just the most natural thing in the world, and that my baby and I would just instinctively know what to do.

Was I ever in for a surprise! I gave birth at a hospital, and the lactation support there was less than ideal. My baby was given bottles of sugar water and a pacifier, and by the time I was discharged three days after his birth, he’d really only had one decent feeding. That one feeding was roughly facilitated by a grouchy older nurse, who essentially mashed my breast in one hand, and shoved my baby’s head onto it with the other. Somehow, though, that worked, and my baby fed contentedly. I was completely uncertain how I would ever replicate that event, given that I would be missing the two extra arms required to make it happen.

To this day, I remember clearly being discharged from the hospital and thinking frantically, “What makes them think I can take care of this baby all by myself?!?” I didn’t know really anyone who had breastfed a baby, there was little support in the area where I lived at the time, and though my husband was supportive, he was also pretty inexperienced, and much to my dismay, was rather unable to produce milk. Feeding my baby–keeping him alive–was all on me. Cue postpartum hormone swings, an abundant increase in production of milk, and a less than ideal latch from my sleepy, small, and kind of early baby, and I was a bit of a mess in short order.

Friend, if you are struggling with breastfeeding, have gotten less than ideal help and advice, I’ve been there! And now, I’m here to help you. I attended many years of La Leche League meetings, soaking up all the mother-to-mother wisdom there, and making friends that have lasted a lifetime. As I began developing as a childbirth professional, I moved beyond the mother-to-mother model. In 2016, after a ninety hour didactic course, and documenting over 1000 hours of professional support of breastfeeding mothers, I passed my examination to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. As the name implies, it is an internationally recognized certification to provide professional support to nursing pairs, and it is the gold standard of lactation certification designations.

Your initial meeting with me includes a detailed review of the issues you are experiencing with breastfeeding, as well as a general overview of your birthing experience. Then we work out a plan for you and your nursling, which may include follow-up visits for weight checks and assessment of the plan. I can typically get you in for an office visit within one business day from the time you call, and for a home visit within two business days of your call. I can evaluate your little one for tongue tie, and I have a referral network, if needed, for the revision of ties and follow-up care.

What are you waiting for? Call the midwife!

P.S. That first baby I referenced above? I managed to keep him fed well enough as an infant, and I’m grateful that he’s a confident, competent, compassionate young adult who manages to feed himself these days. Oh, and he breastfed until he was two and a half years old, no grouchy nurse required.

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about me

An invitation

It’s a lovely fertile June morning, and I would love to invite you to my deck for a cup of tea and a chat. I’m excited to hear your story, and to share some things I’ve learned with you as well. I’ve worked in the birth professions since 1997 as a doula and childbirth educator, and now as a midwife, Arvigo® practitioner, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I’ve raised four children of my own, so I have the perspective and experience that goes beyond academic training. I have a heart for new families and all that fertility, pregnancy, birth and parenting entails. Please share your stories in the comments, and I hope you will find some things here to learn, value, and take comfort in.