Thursday, July 30, 2015

Becoming a doula after infertility

As many of you know, in March of this year I made the decision to pursue continuing education in prenatal and postpartum massage as well as a massage doula. Some of you may be wondering how I came to this decision after our long struggle with infertility. Others of you are wondering what the heck a doula is and what one has to do with infertility at all. A doula is a non-medical, labor support person who provides education, emotional and physical support to women and couples during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and shortly after birth. As a massage doula I can provide regular prenatal massage throughout pregnancy, massage during labor along with typical birth doula support, postpartum massage and newborn massage instruction. I’m hoping to add fertility massage on to all of that in the future to provide all encompassing care from prior to conception all the way through learning how to massage one’s new baby. 

Now that you have a description of the work I am trained to do, you probably understand a bit better how infertility and becoming a doula impact each other. Ever since I was in massage school, I was drawn to prenatal massage. I even created a business plan in school based around my dream for my future practice that offered various types of massage with specialized training in all aspects of prenatal massage, from fertility massage all the way through to newborn massage instruction. However, that was also the time that we were just beginning fertility treatments.

As our failures with IVF began to take a heavier toll and adoption seemed financially impossible, I put all of this on hold. I was not in a healthy place to focus on helping women conceive, massaging them throughout their pregnancies and then teaching them to massage their sweet new babies. I was struggling with bitterness, depression and anger with God. No one wants a bitter infertile woman as her massage therapist during pregnancy, and frankly, at that point I probably didn’t want to be her therapist throughout her pregnancy because it just hurt too much. In retrospect, regardless of our infertility, providing general massage therapy without a specialization when just starting out in the field, provided much needed experience that will benefit me for years to come.

With time however, God began to heal my heart, the bitterness began to fade and depression was slowly replaced with joy. Then came Asher and Lucas. Every day that I got to wake up and be their mom, my heart sang, and that joy and healing continued to increase exponentially. Just shy of their first birthday, I decided that it was time to begin focusing on my massage practice again after putting on the back burner for a year. I began looking into continuing education and remembered a program for training as a massage doula that I had seen around the time I graduated from massage school. God had been working on healing my heart and I knew that emotionally, I was ready to take this step and continue on the path that He had called me to nearly 4 years earlier.

I began my courses with excitement and even though I have had to face some of the emotions that I haven’t had to deal with for awhile pertaining to experiences that I may never get to have, I continue to be excited about this new path that my career will take. I will still offer the same massage services as before, but with the added specialization in prenatal and postpartum massage as well as massage doula services. I am now in a healthy place to support women and couples on their journey to growing their families, in fact I think that God will use our journey to allow me to even better support women and couples, and it is an honor to do so.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

10 things I have learned about motherhood.

Since becoming a mom, here are some things I have learned:

1. I never knew how much a mom truly loves her child and how much my mom truly loves me. I could not have imagined the depth of the love that I feel for my boys.

2. That that intense love is only a fraction of how much God in turn loves me. If I had truly understood this while going through infertility, I still would have hurt, but maybe my perspective would have been different.

3. Love is not dependent on genetics. For every person who has said "I couldn't do that" when referring to adoption, let me reassure you, the love I feel for my children is no different than what you feel for yours.

4. Even despite this incredible love, there are still hard days and hard moments. Every child has moments that make their parents want to pull there hair out, yet our love for them doesn't change.

5. Just like more than one mom can love a child, a child can love more than one mom. Open adoption has it's complexities, but loving more than one mom doesn't have to be as complicated as we as adults make it.

6. There are days that I have thought how "easy" it would be to have only one child, but that's not really true. If Asher was my only child, I would probably think that parenthood was easier than people make it sound. If Lucas was my only child, I would still think that it's as hard as people make it out to be. Each child is unique with their own personalities. Asher is laid back and fairly easy going most of the time, Lucas is strong willed a bit more needy. They are both adorable and happy most of the time, both have unique, sweet personalities and they both have traits that can try my patience. What I find difficult in one child, might turn out to be their greatest strength.

7. I feel as though God created me to a mother. In many ways, I feel as though it completes me. That being said, I need to learn how to be completely content in God, outside of that role as I really don't need anything other than Him to be complete.

8. I would love to have more children, but I don't HAVE to have more children. I can be happy and our family can be complete as it is. Infertility is still a part of me, but it no longer consumes and controls me, it no longer defines me.

9. Being a parent is an honor and a privilege, and I will never take that for granted.

10. I am blessed.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Where we are today

So much has changed over the past year and I feel like it is time to update all of you on where our lives have taken us.

In the past year I finished working as an office assistant and began working as a personal care aide for an elderly woman in addition to my massage practice. The hours are a much better fit for our family and allow me to be home during the day to take the boys to checkups, Asher's extra appointments with specialists as well as be home for all of Asher's therapies which we now do 4 times a week in our home. I am also now a trained massage doula (pregnancy, birth and labor support person), which is something I'm very excited about.

Elias graduated in the spring with his degree as a Computer Network Technician and began working for the NY Air Break in Watertown as a paid intern for 6 months. He is really enjoying his work and we are hoping and praying that it turns into a full time position at the end of the year!

Asher and Lucas are super busy and super cute! We are no longer parents to two babies, but now we have two toddlers on our hands!

Lucas never stops moving. He walks and runs like he's been doing it forever. He has become a little more snuggly again which is nice since he wanted nothing to do with sitting and snuggling for awhile. He is signing and starting to say more and more words, claps for himself if he does something he is proud of and is very smart. He is still dramatic yet very charming and loves to give me kisses and bring toys to Asher when he is not pushing him over.

Asher still has his same sweet demeanor, but he is beginning to learn that he can be assertive and demanding when he wants to to communicate his needs. He crawls all over the house, really enjoying playing in the dog water and trying to eat the dog food. Sometimes he chases Lucas around and other times he just does his own thing. He eats everything (including sand and coupons) and is trying so hard to pull himself up. If an object, or person, is just he right height he can do it, which makes him very proud. He loves to smile and giggle as well as steal Lucas' wubbanub and pull his hair.

Both of the boys love pushing cars around and they are starting to actually play together more and more which is really fun to see. Lucas loves pools and water, no matter how deep or much he is shivering whereas Asher loves bath tubs and kiddy pools that are warm and that he can crawl around in. Right now we are taking parent and tot swimming lessons and having a blast doing it!

Scrumpy has done surprisingly well and has mellowed out over the past year when it comes to tolerating the boys. He didn't love it when Lucas started crawling, but now the boys crawl on him and pet him and he just gets up and leaves if he doesn't like it. We are really proud and really thankful for how well he has done since he traditionally has not liked children.

Going out to eat is a new challenge that we don't tackle very ofter as Lucas is very picky and very active and Asher isn't a fan of missing out on the action either. Traveling in the car for long distances is also tough for the same reasons as above. We are always tired and always busy, but we are so in love and wouldn't have it any other way. Twins are definitely a lot of work, but they are so much fun. I love that they always have a playmate and another child around. I also love when I get home and they squeal and come over to me, then I sit down on the floor and they climb all over me, fighting for attention (Scrumpy included). Our life is chaotic, but it's a perfect kind of chaos.