How to Avoid a Parenting Failure

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How to Avoid a Parenting Failure

I’ve been in the business of family for nearly 15 years. I began babysitting at the ripe age of 14 in the deep, deep south. I’ll be 28 soon and over the years I have had the pleasure (and some pain) of working with hundreds of families in many different ways. I’ve been a nanny, an overnight caretaker, an infant teacher, a toddler teacher, a Child Developmental Specialist for Early Intervention, a behavioral therapist, an in-home therapist, a curriculum specialist, the Director of a Newborn and Infant Program, an in-school aid, an appointed family advocate for families going through diagnosis, a doula, and finally a Maternity Concierge. I have seen some families, yal.

As I’ve been able to watch these families grow and transition, I have been able to identify characteristics that will make or break a family’s success. Now obviously, it’s never too late to change and sometimes people surprise us. There’s no 0ne-size-fits all or a magic pill that will make parenting easy, but there is one identifying factor that will cause you to be a parenting failure every single time, without fail. 

Mindset. 


Yep, it’s that simple. Mastering your mindset is not easy, but it is a simple answer. The minute that you begin to give-in to those voices in your head telling you all the things that could possibly go wrong, you are giving over control to your mind.

So many things can throw kinks in the chain on being a parent. Poor communication can be a showstopper, a difference in discipline styles can be challenging, and the stress that ripples into your home life from work can pose problems for your family. It will seem like you’re facing uphill battles around each corner sometimes. Other times you will be wondering if you are a human or a superhero. (spoiler alert: you’re a superhuman!)

In parenthood, your mindset will determine your success. I was blessed with two amazing role models growing up. My mom and dad taught me something as a young child that is now coming full circle as I get to watch them be parents from the eyes on an adult rather than a “child.” At 28 years old, I am beginning to realize that my parents are still experiencing firsts. They have never had a 28 year old, they’ve never had a child get married, they’ve never been grandparents… there’s a lot of firsts coming down the shoot to them and they’ve been parents for almost 30 years. They didn’t always have the answers when I was growing up and they didn’t always get everything right the first time.. what parent does?

Since you’ve never been here before, how can you expect yourself to have all the answers? Even for people who have been here before, they’ve never been here before with your baby, your partner, or your mental health. Since everyone brings a different equation to the table, it’s silly (and unhealthy) to compare your story to anyone else’s. With this, don’t allow others to compare your story to theirs. You have permission to gently remind them that their story is not your story and that’s okay. 

Just as my parents didn’t always have the right answers the first time, you won’t either. That’s okay. The one thing that my parents never did was give up. No matter what came their way financially, mentally, physically, from society, from luck, or from my sister and I, those two never gave-up. Therefore, they never failed. 

In parenthood, you will never be in total control. There will always be outside forces that impact you, opinions that offend you, and factors that are inevitably out of your control. However, you do have total control over the thoughts that you allow to permeate your mind. Reminding yourself that you are learning and that you deserve some wiggle room to learn this new skill is a great place to start. Grace for yourself is one of the greatest feats of parenting. It can also be helpful to remember that this is temporary-whether it be a phase of tantrums or having a hard conversation with your adult child—this, too, shall pass. This is an amazing list of “mindset shifts for parenthood” for the hair-pulling, lock yourself in the closet and scream into a pillow times. We’ve all been there. We’ll be waiting on the other side of that closet door with a hug when you’re ready.

So, to the mom of the newborn struggling to latch and wondering if you were cut out for mom life, you were made for this. To the mom of the potty-training, tiny dictator toddler, toddlerhood doesn’t last forever, you’ve got this. To the mom tirelessly teaching your six-year-old to process their emotions, thank you for caring about the mental health of our future generations, keep going. To the mom of the 12 year old being body-shamed, you have power to change your child’s entire future with how you react, react with love and body positivity. To the mom of the 16 year old who is having chats about sex and consent, the stickiest of conversations stay with them forever, don’t give up now. To every mom in the world, you are enough and they are watching. Your child will be a world-changer thanks to you! To my mom (and dad), thanks for using all the tools in your toolbox to be the best parent you knew to be. It was more than enough.

Now, you may be thinking that my parents have “made it.” Yes, their kids are grown, but they aren’t in the clear. They are simply entering a new “new phase” in their life. This is such a harmonious example of the circle of life. Remember, no matter where you go in life, you will always have firsts, so don’t get too hung up in the details. Rather, love that child fiercely and unconditionally, and you cannot fail.

Don’t forget to check out our newest adventure The Birth Lounge, listen in to The Birth Lounge Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe! 

Books to Prepare for Your Ideal Labor

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Books to Prepare for Your Ideal Labor 


This quarantine has changed so much including how you are preparing for your birth. Across the nation, we have witnessed cancellation of childbirth classes left and right leaving millions of expecting parents feeling stranded and unprepared. 

On social media, in my inboxes, in my texts, and frantic phone calls have proved that women are feeling the pressure of having tons of questions and not having anywhere to turn for answers. There are great online choices, but there is also a group of women who aren’t jazzed by that option. If that’s you, don't worry, you can still prepare fully...through reading! I can’t tell you how much I learn from books. I have compiled a list of my favorite books that are incredibly supportive of a safe and gently, controlled birth experience. 

Books:

  1. Expecting Better- Emily Oster
    When parents ask me waht books they should read, I understand that most parents aren’t going to bang out a book a month so logically I want to suggest one book to increase the likelihood they get, at least, some information. This is always that one book. If you read nothing else, read this. It will help you understand the most common misconception and misbeliefs about pregnancy. Professor Emily has looked at meta-analysis on things like drinking alcohol in pregnancy or sleeping on your back and shared what the science says in comparison to what current recommendations are (you’ll see some of our recommendations are more than just a little out of date…). 

  2. Cribsheet- Emily Oster
    Round Two. This is Professor Emily’s second book. The book title sounds like it’d be fit for postpartum, but it’s slightly misleading. It is about things you’ll need to know postpartum, so you should read it before your baby is here so you are already educated on the decisions you’ll face immediately after birth like the erythromycin eye gel and what to know if your baby fails their hearing test (don’t worry 30% do!). 

  3. Pushed-Jennifer Block
    This book is the cold, hard truth. It’s the ugly side of birth, but it’s an important side to be aware of if you are birthing in the medical system (hospital or birthing center). Jennifer shares about the side of healthcare that is financially driven. At the end of the day, a hospital is a business and everything has a price tag, even birth. While that alone may not sound intimidating, Pushed will help you understand why certain practices may be pushed or suggested over something else (hint: a lot of it comes back to the pay day or the cost associated). If you go into it understanding you can use this information to equip yourself, you can actually protect yourself. 

  4. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth- Ina May Gaskin
    This is the woo-woo book in the group. Every book club has to have one and this is mine. Ina May is my spirit animal and this was the first book I read after I decided to become a doula. It has shaped the integral parts of who I am and how I practice. Ina May shares the raw and beautiful ( and very, very crunchy) side of birth. This book will help you understand everything I‘ve said about the mind and body connection. After reading this, you’ll know why my Mastering Your Mindset for Birth is one of the most requested and most attended classes we have. 

  5.  Babies are not Pizza- Rebecca Dekker
    I already love Evidence Based Birth and it’s one of my staples. It has been incredibly influential in, both, my practice and my support during birth. Rebecca is brilliant when it comes to explaining big data piles in everyday terms so your average birthing person can understand what the hard science (and confusing statistics) says about having a baby. In Babies are Not Pizza, Rebecca shares the evidence behind routine care during pregnancy and what birthing people should know. 

  6.  Birth Without Fear- January Harshe
    January breaks down any limiting mindset you may have around your ability to birth your baby. As a mama of 6 and someone who has had every kind of birth (seriously, C-section, VBAC, HBAC, freebirth, etc), she is sharing what you can do to break free of the restrictions of traditional maternity care and take control of your birth...yal know that’s right up my alley!

    Optional: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
    I know this isn’t about pregnancy or birth, but I am a firm believer that everyone can breastfeed if they want. This book beautifully sets the stage of what to expect when breastfeeding a newborn. You know I love realistic expectations so this book is another staple of mine. 

The way you prepare for your birth matters. It matters big time. There is absolutely 0 time to avoid preparing or put this off. You’re already working on a limited 9-10 month schedule and every minute you don’t prepare is time you could have spent mastering your mindset to control your birth no matter what comes your way. 

In The Birth Lounge, I teach my signature C.O.N.T.R.O.L. Method that helps women have less painful births, shorter pushing time, and decreased tearing. Join me in the lounge if you are ready to take control and have a safe, gentle birth experience. 

Don’t forget to check out our newest adventure The Birth Lounge, listen in to The Birth Lounge Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe! 


4 Appointments to Keep During COVID-19

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

4 Appointments to Keep During COVID-19

With all the changes to our healthcare during this global crisis, there have been so many questions about cancelled appointments! Millions of women all over the world are being told that their prenatals are being cancelled and this has left so many folks feeling unsure and scared about how to have a baby in this pandemic. I’ve talked to so many women who have been left scratching their head with what to do next.

I may not have the answer of what to do next, but I do have some pointers on the doctor appointments that are worth keeping even among this pandemic. You can expect that your doctor will probably request you come in for these. And, if they don’t, but you think they should, you have the right to ask about that, too. Just because times are crazy, doesn’t mean you don’t get to advocate for yourself. Now is the time more than ever to use your voice and make it heard to receive the care you deserve.

Pregnancy Confirmation 

This can be a tricky one because pre-pandemic, many women might be seen at 6 or 8 weeks pregnant, to ‘confirm.’ It’s always more of a confirmation (duh) of what you were already expecting (or maybe not) or it was a delightful surprise and a sigh of relief. BUT, that is no longer the case amongst this global health crisis. We are seeing pregnancy confirmation appointments be pushed out to 10, even 12 weeks. Not only does this leave thousands of women with lots of questions and nowhere to turn to for answers, but it also leaves a huge gap in care. It creates this limbo type space for women who are pregnant and have questions, but not pregnant enough to get care during a pandemic.

Even if your provider is still seeing patients or providing telehealth appointments, you are probably left with tons of questions and nowhere to turn to for answers. The Birth Lounge has a community for exactly this. You can ask women all over the country what their experiences have been like, what their options are where they live, and what their providers are telling them! Join us in The Birth Lounge.

Genetic testing

It is so unlikely that your provider cancels this appointment, but should they, you can definitely ask why and request the test be done anyway. This is such an emotional test that can feel dreadful for days leading up to it. There are so many questions that this testing can bring up and your provider isn’t too busy to give you the compassionate care required for this part of pregnancy. If they are, change doctors. There’s genetic in the first (blood work and ultrasound) and second trimester The first trimester looks at the risk of Down Syndrome, Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, and complication with the 23rd chromosome (sex chromosome). The second trimester is going to be made up of blood work around 16-18 weeks and an ultrasound at week 20 (anatomy scan) to check for cleft palate kidney conditions, and heart complications.

Gestational Diabetes Test

Just because you shouldn’t skip it, doesn’t mean you are forced to be in the hospital for extended periods of time. While the traditional way to test a pregnant person’s is what everyone is used to, this study shows that eating 28 jelly beans is an acceptable alternative to the glucose drink. It is important to note that studies show treating gestational diabetes does improve maternal and fetal outcomes. There are multiple other alternatives that women have shared such as fruit juice, pancakes and maple syrup, a soda, some fruit, and a bowl of milk and cereal or a two week food diary.. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) states, “should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure. Variations in practice may be warranted based on the needs of the individual patient, resources, and limitations unique to the institution or type of practice.” One of my favorite Physician & Midwives, Aviva Romm shares why the traditional glucose drink may actually be harmful to your thyroid.

Non-Stress Test

This is done usually after 28 weeks gestation and it measures your baby's heart rate. Sometimes your baby will be asleep and that’s totally okay! It’s not indicative of your baby’s health! They need sleep just like you do. Your nurse or tech may try to wake your baby up with noise or physically touching and pressing on your belly. You are hoping for a “reactive” response. Things like maternal prescriptions and poor oxygenation can also cause non (or less) responsive results. This will call for further testing to double check everything is okay. This often looks like staying hooked up to the fetal monitors for additional time in 20 minute increments. ACOG defines a responsive result as “two or more accelerations peak at 15 bpm or more above baseline, each lasting 15 seconds or more, and all occurring within 20 minutes of beginning the test.”

This pandemic has definitely changed things, but it hasn't taken away your control. In Boston, we have the option of free standing ultrasound centers. With a quick google search, you can find out if there’s one near you. Knowing how to minimize your time in the hospital, but also advocate for the care you want and deserve.

Don’t forget to check out our newest adventure The Birth Lounge, listen in to The Birth Lounge Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe! 

You are not alone in this. Join The Birth Lounge to join a supportive community of mothers and experts to help you birth your baby safely and gently.

The Truth about Miscarriages and Infertility

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Truth about Miscarriages and Infertility


I was recently asked my views on miscarriage and the fact that it is quite taboo. But, why? 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage at some point in their reproductive journey and 1 in 8 women will face challenges of some sort when trying to conceive. If it’s so common, why are we so afraid to talk about it? I have a few theories like death in general is usually an uncomfortable. Death of a child is really uncomfortable. Also, just because it’s common, doesn’t mean you won’t come across people who have never experienced it. For those people, it can be very uncomfortable because they may not know what to do or say to be supportive.

I think this is the ultimate reason that people don’t venture into the discussion of miscarriage because they are uneducated on it. When asked, many adults can not tell you an actual reason for miscarriage. People have no clue what causes infertility issues, miscarriage, or even stillbirth. If we don’t understand the problem, how can we properly support someone going through it? If we don’t know the basis of what’s happening, how can you be helpful? You can’t..or at least, it’s really really hard. 

The first thing to understand are the type of infertility challenges that couples can face. Primary Infertility refers to infertility challenges while trying for a first child. Secondary Infertility refers to couples who are struggling to conceive, but already have a child or children. Couples who have adopted then struggle to conceive are considered to be in the Secondary Infertility camp. There’s also Female-Factor Infertility and Male-Factor Infertility. Finally, you have sub-categories like age-related infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, situational infertility, and unexplained infertility

Let’s break it down, so you know what can be a possible cause of pregnancy loss:

Genetic Abnormalities account for upwards of 70% of miscarriages. This means that the genetic wiring of the embryo was not sustainable. It’s a very primal example of survival of the fittest. Embryos that have strong genetics will be more likely to survive and become a viable pregnancy. Some genetic abnormalities will be compatible with life like Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) and some will not. 

Hormone Imbalances can be a huge contributor to infertility issues. Your body’s “hormonal puzzle” must line up just right to be in the perfect state to conceive and for that embryo to develop into a healthy pregnancy. There are numerous hormone imbalances that can impact fertility. Speak with your healthcare provider about lab tests that will give you insight to your adrenals and reproductive hormones. 

Anatomical Abnormalities/Structural Abnormalities interfere with fertility if the shape of your uterus is preventing implantation or a fallopian tube is blocked. It may also be growths like fibroids or septums that prevent a healthy pregnancy. 

Blood Incompatibility between the birth parent and baby can cause issues, too. There is something called Rh Factor and you can be Rh+ or Rh-. If the gestational parent is Rh- and the partner is Rh+, then there’s a chance that the baby is Rh+, too. This is dangerous as the birthing parents’ antibodies can cross the placenta and be harmful to the baby. 

Advanced Maternal Age impacts infertility because as women age, their eggs experience chromosomal changes and this can lead to genetic mutations or birth defects. “AMA” is defined as any pregnancy of a person who is over 35 years old, but today, 15% of birthing people are over 35 years old. The concern is an increased risk of Trisomy 21, but at age 35, the risk is only 1 in 240. At age 40, it jumps up to 1 in 53. 

Maladaptive Immune Response can also be the cause of infertility challenges. When an egg and a sperm get together, your body will recognize this mass of cells as foreign (duh!), but the natural process of pregnancy is for your body to soon realize that while it’s foreign, it’s also supposed to be there. Sometimes, your body doesn’t realize it and will always attack the embryo, preventing pregnancy. There are also a few inherited blood-clotting disorders that may cause problems when trying to conceive. 

Miscarriage and infertility challenges impact millions of humans everyday. Women, and men, walk around with the heaviness that accompanies the deep desire to be a parent and the inability to conceive. There is power in numbers and this population of people is only growing as the days go by. I encourage you to share your story with others. If we don’t give people the safe spaces to learn about these hard places in life, how will we, as a society, get to a place where we are properly supporting those walking this path of pain and despair?

Remember, the reason that a miscarriage occurred is none of your business if it’s not shared with you first (also they may not know-- and you don’t want to be the asshole to dig that knife just a bit deeper). You should never ask someone their cause of infertility. Keep in mind that talking about a miscarriage experience is not the same as asking for advice. 

Final Words from HeHe: so many women who have experienced miscarriage share that they wished someone would just ask about it. Many times, you can’t do anything to make the pain (physical and emotional) go away and words won’t fix it either. Sometimes, simply listening and being is the most supportive thing you can offer someone.

Don’t forget to check out our newest adventure The Birth Lounge, listen in to The Birth Lounge Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe! 

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