#THISISHOWIWASBORN with Tanya Wills

 
 

For those of you local to the NYC birth community you definitely know who Tanya Wills is, and for those who aren’t, well, you Wills now (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves). She is a real force with just about the entire alphabet after her name: MSN, LM, CNM, WHNP-BC, IBCLC. She’s an educator and Doula turned Certified Nurse Midwife turned Homebirth Midwife and Lactation Consultant. And is known to all as someone who gets shit done (and aces whatever she does). And while Tanya is more so in the 'conception phase' of birthing whatever comes next for her, it was very invigorating to meet with a woman who refuses to be small and who believes, that just as birth is BIG, so will be whatever comes next for her.

So, here’s Tanya on finding her voice and how we can support birthing women to do the same.

HOW WERE YOU BORN?

TW- I actually don’t know a lot about how I was born. I asked my mother about her births when I became pregnant. She said 'Oh! Just listen to your doctor and you will be fine.' I was born three weeks early I’m told. My mother claims that she had no drugs when she had all of us but she did say that they put a mask on her face and she doesn’t know what that was. I’m like, 'Thanks Mom! Did they numb you? Did they do something?' She’s like, 'Nothing, nothing... except for the mask!'

WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF ASKING ABOUT YOUR BIRTH LIKE?

TW- I think my mom had her kids and never thought about her births ever again. It was because of the process of having my son that I became interested in childbirth, a topic I knew nothing about, and couldn’t help wondering, 'How this is happening!?' And I think the answers are too big for us.

BB- That was part of the impetus to start Brilliant Bodies and this interview series - to start reaching people before they are pregnant, to start connecting people to birth before it happens to them so that they can deeply trust their bodies and their selves and become active participants.

What are your thoughts on reaching women sooner?

TW- I’m asked this all the time and I think the answer is that we have to get them as girls and address how they view themselves and their bodies and what their bodies can do, probably will do. Something like 88% of women are going to have babies. This is not alternative stuff. It doesn't get more mainstream than this! What is happening during births now is a kind of oppression, oppression because we don't know any better. There is no good reason why no one in the system can't help women breastfeed. There is no good reason that people are separated after having their babies... why partners can’t stay in the hospital overnight without paying $900. There is no good reason why women can’t hold their babies after having a c-section. I assure you, I’ve been in that room. There is NO good reason - she’s awake during the surgery, don’t tell me there is a good reason she can’t hold her baby! Women are not cupcakes - tell them the truth!

This is a blanketed statement, and there are definitely hospitals with better practices, but generally speaking, what is happening now is that hospitals are controlling births - even if there's no IV, there’s some unnecessary intervention that happens because they feel they have to do something. How many times have I heard students tell me they couldn't push effectively? One student told me once she felt like she was a dancer and her doctor the choreographer and she couldn't figure out the moves.

how can we empower these women?

TW- The thing is, babies are SO GOOD at being born, and we are SO GOOD at birthing them. So what happens when we start honoring the experience of what she is doing which is so ordinary and so extraordinary at the same time? This life force is SO POWERFUL. What happens when we just allow ourselves to work with it if we need to and otherwise just stay out of the way? What happens when we stop measuring outcomes by if everyone came out alive? 

Women tell me all the time 'I was changed [from my birth experience].' I personally didn't have a home birth because I was looking to have a spiritual, transformative, beautiful, peaceful experience… but I was changed. I sat with my baby and was like 'Whoaaa! That was so much bigger than I thought it would be.' There is this wall that you get to, this self-doubt. I believed with every pore of my being that this was impossible.

So what happens when we say, 'She will find her way' in our own minds? 

BB- She will find her way!

NOW TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE CURRENTLY BIRTHING?

TW- For me right now in terms of what’s next, I feel I am standing at a cliff. What’s next for me is not something I envisioned before and that is so big, SO HUGE.  I have my hand in a lot of things which is great. I thought that when I graduated from midwifery school that I would be there but now I know there’s no there. I graduated and I thought that things would get smaller and fall away and become sane. And that is not what has happened. And I don’t feel willing to get smaller right now. There is a part of me, as a mother, a wife and a friend where I feel pressure to get smaller as far as my work goes. But every other sense that I have is to get bigger and that is scary because I don’t know what that is. I am very interested in having the largest amount of influence that I possibly can. That’s what I feel I am here for - to help people. My work as an activist is the way that I live now.  

I don’t know if I am going to be able to lower the overall c-section rate but where do I lower it? On the front lines - with my own hands. And I can help lower the rate by encouraging people to have their babies with folks that have low c-section rates, and help those practices be so busy that the change is totally consumer driven. I feel part of what I am called to do is to ignite the consumer to ask for what is right. It’s going to be some bigger influence to get people to hear this issue, I’m just not sure what the portal will be just yet.

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’VE FOUND YOUR VOICE. WHAT HAS THE LABOR OF GETTING TO THIS POINT BEEN LIKE?

TW- I’ve been told that I take up too much space. I feel OK about that now, but in my first year as a doula I didn’t. I felt I wasn’t playing the role as this person that has more experience than me thinks I should. And that was challenging for me. The good news is that I had some terrific mentors that told me, 'They are afraid of that...This is about you and if you’re taking up space you must have something to say.' Stepping into that is BIG.

WHAT'S NEXT?

TW- Where are we right now? Ina May is retired, we have her book - half of her book is totally dated and doesn’t speak to what’s happening in the hospital. And the other half of her book is about people having their babies on The Farm, which I personally did not identify with as a pregnant New Yorker whose favorite food is Doritos.

                  Sign on Tanya's door at her home in NY

                  Sign on Tanya's door at her home in NY

                                                       #MidwifeBrain

                                                       #MidwifeBrain

So where are we? I am interested in knowing who is speaking to pregnant families right now - it’s kind of no one!

BB- Other than friends and family sharing scary stories right when you’re about to hit your due date, of course.

TW- Right. So what is the change that needs to be made and how can it be made boldly? And I don’t think it’s going to be made in the political organizations. It’s going to have to be a personality who moves this forward and it is going to have to be with consumers asking for what they want, and specifically with consumers asking for what they want for things that there is no reason we don’t have. Somebody approachable has to talk to them and be available for them. Someone who’s feet are on the ground. I feel a lot of the birth visionaries that are out there have excellent messages that have carried us all and have paved the way, but I think that we’re ready for somebody regular. We’re ready to talk about birth and labor as it is. I don’t think it needs to be a special place in Tennese or an orgasm. It can be something regular. And what is wrong with that? 

BB- Boom. So exciting!

ANY #BRILLIANTBITS YOU WANT TO SHARE?

TW- Your body is going to birth the baby, it's your mind that will not go along for the ride, it's your mind what will try to screw you every time. 

                                                                                                                   Tanya with her daughter Violet

                                                                                                                   Tanya with her daughter Violet


To learn more about Tanya and keep up to date with everything that she's birthing (or if you want her to catch your baby) head over to:

MANHATTAN BIRTH + MARCY TARDIO HOME BIRTH + INSTAGRAM + FACEBOOK

Plus checkout her new class CHILDBIRTH FOR EARLY BIRDS that's coming up on March 17th!

THE BRILLIANT BREAKDOWN: week of february 29

HONORING DANA RAPHAEL - GRANDMOTHER OF ALL DOULAS! 

What an amazing life this woman lived and how fortunate we all are for her breastfeeding and doula care advocacy. Ever wondered where the term 'doula' even came from? It was her! She coined it in 1969, meaning 'mother to the mother' as biological grandmothers were "walking out of the nursery to take on painting and golf" - leaving new moms without the traditional family support to help them figure out how to nurse and take care of their brand-new-baby! She was a big proponent of breastfeeding but also a pioneer of ending the ‘mommy wars’, stating that her goal was for mothers to be happy and have support regardless of how they chose to feed their baby. We’ve come a long way and yet there is still so much to do to improve maternal and postpartum care, we’re honored to follow the lead of amazing women like Dr. Raphael and her mentor -the badass anthropologist Margaret Mead-who was one of the first scientists to question formula manufacturers.  RIP Dr. Dana Raphael, we’re grateful for your legacy!

READ MORE HEre

 
 

MEDITATION is LITERALLY CHANGING OUr BRAIN!

We knew we were on to something with our Sound Meditations for Pregnancy and Fertility. There’s just something about getting a break from our monkey minds that feels GOOD. But now there’s a study that proves our brain is literally changing when we meditate. According to the results, after meditating for only 3 days there is more activity in the portions of the brain that process stress and induce focus and relaxation. The best part? After 4 months the benefits were still there, even for those who had not been meditating regularly! Sign me up! There’s still much research to be done, but in the meantime we’re off to MEDITATE (and so should you)!

READ MORE HERE

 
                                                                Image by Huntress of Roots

                                                                Image by Huntress of Roots

 

a growing force: the SINGLE AMERICAN WOMEn

While Facebook may make you feel like all of your friends (and not friends) are getting hitched, you aren't alone (or you are, but so is everyone else!) Turns out, more than 50% of American women are single and more than 23% of the American electorate is made up of unmarried women. All the single ladies are a driving force behind advocacy for pay equity, paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, universal pre-K and more accessible reproductive rights, among other MAINSTREAM issues that have been hiding in the dark for wayyyyy too long without real policy changes that would benefit us ALL. The reasons behind this growing force are diverse but we're all up for badass independent women that are 'no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry.' BOOM!  Also who needs to get married with friends like this? #TheFutureisFemale

READ MORE HERE

 

 
                                                                   Image by Frances Cannon

                                                                   Image by Frances Cannon

 

breaking the silence

1 in 3 American women will have an abortion before turning 45. On March 2nd the Supreme Court will hear arguments for -a potentially landmark- abortion case in Texas, challenging a law that requires abortion doctors to be affiliated with nearby hospitals and also limits abortion to ambulatory surgical centers, which opponents say reduces access to abortions and limits its safety. Not an easy subject for sure, but we're glad to see a lot of women breaking the silence about their abortion experiences and sharing their stories. It takes a village and ending the taboo around abortion will allow us to support each other through the thick and thin. 

READ MORE HERE

 
                                                                                                                                                                                    Image by India Evans

                                                                                                                                                                                    Image by India Evans

 

+ SOME MORE #BRILLIANTBITS...

Our heart breaks for all the women and families that have to go through pregnancy miscarriage or loss. We're glad to see that new evidence confirms there is no physiological need to wait before trying to get pregnant again (as long as families are emotionally ready).

READ MORE HERE

We're psyched to see that teens are talking about babies and birth! Here's a good reminder of why there's no need to bathe your baby after they are born - #VernixIsTheNewGold

READ MORE HERE

And while we are thrilled Leo finally got an Oscar and used the opportunity to remind us we should not take our planet for granted, our eyes were on this badass chick who left her costume at home and instead opted for comfort. #keepin'itreal

READ MORE HERE

THE BRILLIANT BREAKDOWN: week of february 15

About this whole no drinking thang...

Yes, yes. It's been everywhere- the CDC's insane recommendation that women should stop drinking alcohol if they are not on birth control.  We get what they were trying to do here (sure, drinking excessively can effect fertility- for both MEN and women and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Scary stuff. But please, better define your audience and stop making everyone go on Birth Control!).  Man, they need a new editor ASAP. Missed this whole debacle? Check out Rebecca Solnit's take.  And then read Emily Oster's book Expecting Better in which she takes an economists' approach to the pregnancy rules and finds out just how many drinks are too many.  And, we'll leave you with this #Brilliantbit: the embryo doesn't even implant in the uterus 'til week 3 so for those of us charting, you have time to change your ways if necessary once you realize you may be knocked up. Cheers. 

READ MORE HERE

 
67cda571242428477c9a6515a63f7cfa.jpg
 

Rolling your way March 2016... The High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment. Dun, dun, duuun.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced the creation of first-ever High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.  What's this fancy pants panel do? Works to close economic gender gaps. #Brilliantbit McKinsey Global Institute estimates that if women in every country were to play an identical role to men in markets, as much as US$28 trillion would be added to the global economy by 2025 (!)  Not so #BrilliantBit, women spend more than twice as much time on unpaid care and domestic work as men and are paid, on average, 24% less than men globally for the same work. Moreover, 75% of women’s employment in developing regions is informal and unprotected. This High-Level, High-Brow Panel will have its inaugural meeting at the UN in March 2016.  The Panel’s first report with action-oriented recommendations will be issued in September 2016. Score!

READ MORE HERE

 
                                                                            art by Laura Berger

                                                                            art by Laura Berger

 

THOSE SPOILED ROTTON NEWBORNS...

"We'll just let her cry it out. She has to learn crying isn't the solution." Great idea. Your child who has been living in a warm bath spa for the last 9 months is all of a sudden faced with cold sensations, loud noises and bright lights with zero control over her body or environment...but yeah, she can figure it out herself. Your baby can't drink or do yoga.  You are her sole comfort measure and your newborn is BIOLOGICALLY INCAPABLE of self-soothing. YOU CAN'T SPOIL HER by comforting her, you are simply helpin' a sista out.  In fact, we reco that you get to know your newborn's cues so that you are tending to her BEFORE she starts howling. This helps with stress levels (and is kinder on the ears). Plus, new research points to cuddled children growing up to be healthier, less depressed, kinder, more empathetic, and more productive adults.  Get snuggling!

READ MORE HERE

                                                                         photo by Bernd Vogel

                                                                         photo by Bernd Vogel


Happy Anniversary Family and Medical Leave Act...we want a better partner.

It's been 23 years since The Family and Medical Leave Act was put into effect. This law provides 12 weeks unpaid leave for workers IF they have been employed full-time for at least 12 months for a company that has 50 or more employees, within 75 miles of the employee’s workplace.  The U.S. is just about the only nation in the world that does not mandate paid leave for all new mothers (that's us and...Papua New Guinea) As a result, the vast majority of women — some reports say 88% — get no paid leave at all, and almost a quarter of new mothers are working again within two weeks of giving birth. Women are now 47% of the American workforce, (yeah we are) and this once niche problem is becoming mainstream. 

READ MORE HERE

 
                                                                        art by Cecile Dormeau

                                                                        art by Cecile Dormeau

 

The New Birth Trend: Seeding

What's it you ask? Seeding is a much more pleasant way of saying "taking a swab of vaginal fluids from mom and schmearing it all over her baby born via c-section." Why? Because babies born via cesearan are introduced to the hospital's bacteria before his mother's bacteria can help protect him, build his immune system and teach his body friend from foe. The thought is that by "seeding", baby will be able to make some use out of mom's bugs. 

READ MORE HERE

+ HERE

 
                                                                       art by Frances Cannon

                                                                       art by Frances Cannon

 

P.S. We think this article is nonsense. Just because the research is new and studies small, doesn't render the practice useless.... It just means we we need bigger and better studies. Vaginal microbes are GOLD. Fact. Jury may still be out as to whether seeding is effective or not, but if done safely, there's certainly no harm. Now if only it could make someone some real gold maybe we'd actually get somewhere. So moms-to-be: do your research and ask about your options with your care provider if a section becomes necessary!  Power to the peeps.


 A #menstrualrevolution starting in ny state?!

You guys, it's happening! Manhattan Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Sue Serino of Dutchess County announced legislation that would finally stop making us pay the government for having our periods. We know, we know, we've said it before, but for good measure: Feminine hygiene products (including tampons and pads) are clearly no luxury.  So, it makes NO sense that they are taxed. Even President Obama agrees with us! It's about time. Linda and Sue, you make us proud!

READ MORE HERE

 
 

And just for fun...

Check out these crazy cool images of what our produce once looked like hundreds of years ago. READ MORE HERE!

There's much work to still be done, but pretty freakin' crazy #brilliant that resonant frequencies are shattering cancer cells! We knew there was something more to our Sound Meditations ;) READ MORE HERE!

Parents- in this day and age your kids' best bet for success might just be... ART SCHOOL.  Dang, where was this advice when we were growing up? We don't need no thought control. READ MORE HERE!

P.S. Want to buy us a present?

How #Brilliantbodies is this book!? Cells as art! Kinda like our website, eh? We do welcome gifts ;) CHECK IT OUT!

 

 

THE BRILLIANT BREAKDOWN week of february 1st

colbert wants bernie with a scoop of chubby hubby and gabby hoffman was double teamed...

by a group of doulas that is. We loved hearing Gabby Hoffman (from Girls and Transparent) explain the role of a doula (she's one too!) and share the experience of her daughter's birth at home on Stephen Colbert. We also appreciate her mentioning the importance of campaign finance reform. 

Read more here

 
 

 

we are #womennotobjects 

Check out ad executive Madonna Badger's new campaign which aims to highlight the harmful effects of sexist advertising to young women (and, we'd like to add, men too!) Her agency has vowed to stop creating ads that use women as props or objectifies them. GO BADGER! A man that smells like vagina is the key to our hearts too ;)

READ MORE HERE

 
 

 

the day it didn't rain men in CONGRESS. hallelujah! 

Say what? While women may only make up 22% of elected legislators in the U.S (and only 19% of congress!) Women were the only ones to show up to Congress after last week's snow storm. Senator Lisa Murkowski said after pointing out that only women were present: “Something is genuinely different—and something is genuinely fabulous.” Wimps. No wonder why women are the ones to birth.  

READ MORE HERE

 
 

 

look out ken...BARBIE's goin' brunette (and black, and purple)

Do kids still play with Barbies? We have no idea but we're into Barbie trying to get more real with 7 new skin tones and 3 new 'shapes'. After all, what baby would fit through that birth canal?! #justkidding. Dolls will be dolls. 

READ MORE HERE

 
 

 

paying for our periods

President Obama doesn't know why tampons, pads and menstrual products are taxed in most states as "luxury items" but surmises that it is because men were in charge of making the laws. And he's on board with recognizing that an uncontrollable contracting uterus is no luxury. 

READ MORE HERE

 
 

 

THE ZIKA UPDATE - We're wondering about Zika too! Here are some (maybe not so) #BrilliantBits about it

The Aedes mosquito is the mofo causing all the trouble

The virus IS NOT contagious: It can't be spread from person to person!

4 out of 5 infected will have no symptoms

The virus is only dangerous if you are pregnant as it is suspected to cause microcephaly (stunted brain and skull development in-utero)

If you are not pregnant, IT IS NOT DANGEROUS to your health and even acts as a vaccine of sorts as you will become immune once it passes through your system

It only lasts in your system for 5-7 days!

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) was asked if they agree with El Salvador's announcement to not get pregnant for a few years.  THEY SAID NO. It's more about figuring out how to prevent already pregnant women from getting it. 

READ MORE HERE

 
 

#THISISHOWIWASBORN with Madame KIRAN GANDHI

A few years ago Nat was at a TED Talk and was thoroughly impressed by Kiran Gandhi who is a total badass at just makin’ it work (Instead of choosing between Harvard biz school and touring with M.I.A she did both) and who recently bled freely during a marathon to bring attention to the issue of period stigma around the world (Reminder: you wouldn't be here without em!) During our interview with our other favorite period pioneers, Nat was reminded of Kiran’s talk and in particular her theory of Atomic Living (we think it can be applied to labor quite beautifully- take a listen!). So, between her can-do approach to just about everything, and the new music project, Madame Gandhi, she is currently birthing, we thought this major creator would be the perfect person to sit down with and learn more about how she was born.

                                                                                                    #thefutureisfemale

                                                                                                   #thefutureisfemale

so tell us, How were you born?

KG- My mom told me that she and my dad were both staying in a Harvard dorm (they were both in Business school- my dad at Harvard and my mom at Boston University) when her water broke.

BB: Ha - born at Harvard, born again at Harvard. It was meant to be!

KG- She said it was easy, that it’s amazing how the body just completely opens up and then closes. They would shift taking care of me. My dad would go to class in the morning and my mom would go to class at night.

What was the experience of asking about your birth like?

KG- My mom is very matter of fact. If it were me telling the story it would be all emotional, I’d remember small significant details, but it’s just not her style. She was more like “We got to the hospital. Birth was awesome. You popped right out. We had class the next day.” Very much my mom. 

BB: It's funny- it sounds like your approach to life mirrors your mom's attitude and the circumstances around how she birthed you- that wanting it all attitude and really special ability to just therefore make it work- going to biz school and touring, being in biz school and having a baby.

KG: Yeah. That's cool. I never thought of it that way. It would have basically been this year that my mom would have given birth to me and I could never imagine giving birth now. They were going to graduate in May and I was born in Feb. of that year. 

DId your birth story taught you anything about yourself or your relationships today?

KG- Yes, my mom is always able to find the positive of any situation, and I have definitely learned how to do that, no matter how difficult it can be at times! 

When thinking about birth what are the first things that come to mind? 

KG- Excitement. Love. Nourishing someone. I like the idea of it a lot. I think it would make me feel righteous, elevated, like I have purpose, that I want to be protective. It definitely excites me. I think it's because my mom was so strong about it. Her saying “Oh yea of course - it's beautiful” makes me feel excited instead of afraid.

Tell us about what you are currently birthing.

I’m birthing my music. I’m moving to LA. It feels very good and I am very excited. My producer is out there and she and I work together really well. 

BB: That's Madame Gandhi?

KG: Yea! I call it Madame Gandhi because the notion of a 'madame' is someone who is female, and who is respected for her female qualities; not because she’s trying to become masculine, or hard, or change herself to fit in, but really just being a female leader. 

So this is the notion of a 'madame', the idea that you are leading based on your feminine qualities and they should be as valued, loved, and welcomed as we love, value, and welcome male qualities.

Check this out. It’s a meet the band type thing. It’s cool. It’s a clip from when we played this pro-choice party in DC.

What is the connection between the pro-choice movement and your music?

KG: Being able to make and perform music that speaks about gender equality and liberation. I want Madame Gandhi to stand as a project that celebrates women, that celebrates women’s voices, that makes other women feel confident to do whatever they want to do. I feel like everything that is related to women is often so strange and taboo and awkward and I'm so over it. There aren’t that many artists that want to champion women's causes. I don't know why. Maybe because they are trying to work on their own career and many times their careers fall in the hands of men because they are the ones running the industry and so it's difficult to actively forward any gender equality cause.

What’s the labor been like?

Bewildering. It's a great parallel to giving birth. Everyone acts like its so easy and when you actually do it you realize there's a million unknowns - why didn’t they tell us this?!

Theres a lot of finding your own path. There’s no set answer. There are a couple things you can do that are set like "Use this program" or "Upload to Soundcloud", "Post to Facebook." And maybe that’s a parallel to "Going to the hospital", "Finding your Dr." etc. But the actual making of the music, the creative birthing process, is difficult. You have to catch yourself at moments when you are ready to be raw and vulnerable and that’s hard.

My process has been that, when I’m walking around the street and I'm just thinking or singing or whatever, I record it quickly because I know that if I am the studio, that authentic song/melody/lyric wont happen as easily.  This allows me to have a sound bank of ideas to build off of when I'm in the studio. Had I not recorded it in it purest form- when it was created from my brain and body, it would be gone. To just come up with something in the studio for the sake of it- it never works. It just sounds shitty.  

What gave you the final push to just focus on your music- and to start using your voice?

 
kiran-ghandi-3-435.jpg
 

It was after I ran the marathon and felt lucky to have been given a megaphone to speak. It felt like a gift to be able to have an audience who valued and resonated with my views on gender equality and liberation- so I took this gift and have been running with it ever since. I have written articles, songs and speeches this year that I never thought I'd have the chance to do in a life time.

Any #brilliantbits you want to share?

The heart is a beating drum!

 

 

To learn more about Kiran and keep up to date with what she's up to follow @madamegandhi , read her blog and listen to her music. Also...

MEET MADAME GANDHI

LEARN ABOUT ATOMIC LIVING



#THISISHOWIWASBORN Partnership, Purpose and Periods

I (Ash) first met Annie back in college when I cast her in a production of Vagina Monologues.  Fun footage here. Given our shared appreciation of all things vagina, it came as no surprise, but with much admiration and joy, when I received an email about her new endeavor Conscious Period with co-birther Margo Lang.  Natalia and I had been musing over launching our #thisishowiwasborn campaign for some time now, and their courage to launch was just the kick we needed to birth this baby.

So we're off!

Welcome to our first #thisishowiwasborn, where we invite those who are birthing projects of their own to reconnect to their own birth story and learn from where they come from.

 
 

Let’s started by talking about BIRTH. HOW WERE YOU BORN?

Annie- My mom would have liked a home birth, but in the late 80s it was just so far out there that my parents opted for a hospital delivery. She wanted to go as natural as possible--she even asked her doctor for a vaginal massage instead of an episiotomy. But once I was over a week late, she ended up being induced because there wasn't enough amniotic fluid anymore. After a lengthy delivery and pushing for two hours, they realized that my head was too big and her OB/GYN, whom she loved and trusted, performed a c-section. My dad says that the second that they opened her up I was just there, looking right up. I went straight to my dad. The nurse told my mom right away “This is a very sensitive baby.” My mom was just so happy I was healthy.

Margo- My parents met in medical school and my mom delivered at the same hospital she did her residency. She knew she was moving along very quickly in her labor but no one believed her because I was her first baby. Everyone was shocked when I was born 45 min later! Because it was so quick, the OBGYN was nowhere to be found so my dad put gloves on and was ready to catch me until a nurse “hip checked” him out of the way. However, there was a medication in my system that stopped my breathing when I was born. My dad insisted on helping and says he was the one to revive me by tapping the bottoms of my feet. In the meantime, my mom was trying to get off the bed to help too even though she hadn’t even delivered her placenta yet. Apparently, it quite a scene. Eventually I started crying… and here I am. I was named after my grandmother.

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WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE STORY?

Annie- Right after I was born, my mom was totally out of it but the first thing she said to my dad was “Well what are we going to do the next time around?” 2 years later I had a sister.

Margo- I think it is really cool that both my parents felt so empowered to help revive me- to own that process and change the situation. Most people don’t have that opportunity.

DID YOU LEARN SOMETHING THAT SURPRISED YOU?

Annie- My mom's biggest take-away from the entire process of having a baby, from first finding out she was pregnant all the way through my birth and infant hood, was to let go of control. I think it's interesting to be able to experience that level of surrender in such transformative situations.

Margo- A funny take away is how different my parents remember the story of what happened- my mom remembers a lot more people around helping with the “reviving” process.

HAS LEARNING ABOUT YOUR OWN BIRTH TAUGHT YOU ANYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF TODAY?

Annie- I’ve always known I’m very sensitive but didn’t know I was perceived like that by other people. It also made me admire my mom a lot more and realize that sometimes you just have to surrender and realize that people and the system aren’t prepared for what you want, but if you persevere and if you hold on to the ultimate purpose of the situation it will all be okay.

Margo- When you find out that you were born not breathing there is this weird sense of ‘I could not be here’. In my mind, my dad saved me when I was born and I’ve always felt very protected by my parents. Knowing that I could be, literally, dying and that they would know how to fix it has been very much a theme for me. That sense of security and knowing they have the tools to fix even what seems to me a very scary situation, makes me feel very safe and protected. And it allows me to take risks because I know at the end of the day they are there for me if something doesn’t go right.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FEARS ABOUT GIVING BIRTH?

Annie-  I really want to give birth today and I want everyone to watch!

Margo- I have heard horror stories from a friend that is a medical resident. Crazy things happen to people’s bodies!

TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY BIRTHING

Conscious period is an organic tampon company with a dual giving model. There are two parts to our model- the first is one-for-one- for every box of organic tampons that we sell, we give a box of pads to women that are homeless.  But we felt we wanted to take the one-for-one model a step further and address the issue at the root- unemployment- which is why they can’t afford the pads in the first place. Which brings us to the second piece of our business model and what we are currently working on now- crowdfunding to raise enough money to purchase machinery so that we can manufacture the pads locally and employ the same women that we seek to serve in everything from production to packaging to sales, to inventory management.

In addition to our period products, we aim to break the stigma around periods.  As it stands now, period products are not covered by food stamps AND they are subject to taxes. We want to help make policy changes by creating a dialogue around menstrual issues and educate women on these issues so they can stand up for themselves.

We all have Brilliant ideas but actually trusting ourselves enough to make something out of them is where a lot of us get stuck.  WHAT GAVE YOU THE FINAL PUSH?

Margo-  For both of us having a partner- someone with different yet complementary skill sets with whom we felt safe and confident with was super important and made it possible.

Annie- I also think there’s a deep understanding that this is my special way of being of service in this world, and it has snowballed into something way bigger than me. What propels me is deeply knowing that I am using my talents, interests and gifts to bring something forth that can serve other women in line with my ideals.

What’s the labor been like?

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Annie- It’s hard and ALOT of work. Our INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN made us feel so vulnerable to everything: from praise to criticism, from people supporting us to people not supporting us. And I think that speaks to what happens when you really follow your dreams. When you follow this idea and believe that you have the unique capacity to make it happen. And that is a really powerful force propelling us forward and collectively. There is a hell of a lot of leg work to go about making it happen but it is really exciting too.

Any favorite #BrilliantBits to share?

Annie- The average woman spends over 100,000 hours menstruating.

Margo- And will use 16,800 tampons in her lifetime (assuming you’re a tampon user)

 

 

To learn more about Conscious Period and the work that Annie and Margo are doing go to http://www.consciousperiod.com.

To pre-order or pledge go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/conscious-healthy-period-products-for-all#/

Follow them on instagram and join the #menstrualrevolution: https://instagram.com/consciousperiod/

 
 



HOW TO CALM A CRYING INFANT

While this book is pretty awesome for a good chuckle, here are some pretty useful tips brought to you by Dr. Harvey Karp on how to actually calm a crying baby. His work is some of our favorite on infant care and is based on the premise that babies need a “fourth trimester” to adjust to their new world. To help with this transition, Dr. Karp suggests introducing ways to remind baby of the uterine atmosphere.  Can't remember your time in utero?  No worries. He's got you.  Here is his "5 S" System to access your baby's "off switch" and ignite her "calming reflex."  (Yeah, we know. Sounds too good to be true. But while the science behind it is still being studied, a whopping 41 out of 42 families found them to work in clinical trials.)

 
 

S numero 1: SWADDLE

Okay, okay this is a very modified version of the classic "swaddle" (click here for a helpful swaddling vid) but really, your baby just wants to feel really comfy, cozy becase the uterus was pretty bomb.  Afterall, she did get 24/7 access to float in perfectly heated water without getting too pruney.  The life! Now she has to wear paper on her butt, lie on hard surfaces and sometimes, she even gets cold.  Swaddling can help make your infant feel more secure.  Also “baby burritos” are pretty adorable. 

 
Artwork by Louise Bourgeois (this is "Exhibit A")

Artwork by Louise Bourgeois (this is "Exhibit A")

 

S numero 2: STOMACH/SIDE

Exhibit A: baby trying to lounge on back while in womb- upgrade to a bigger womb please! Newborns are used to hangin' on their sides/stomachs.  So while your babe shouldn’t sleep this way, try holding him on his side or allowing him some belly time for familiarity and comfort. Like so. 

 
Photo from wengenninwonderland.com

Photo from wengenninwonderland.com

 

S nuMero 3: Ssssh!

It’s not rude to sush your baby (just your partner).  Your babe is used to some serious atmospheric music- as loud as a vaccum cleaner! So whip out your inner Raffi and “ssh, sssh, ssh” into your baby’s ear.  Don’t be shy, crank up your volume-  you gotta match her cry so he can hear you!

 
 

S numero 4: Swinging

You kept your babe a jigglin' the last 9 months (We know you looked just like the lady above) and the sudden stillness leaves the babe wondering where the dance party’s at.  Baby slings and carriers, dancing, infant swings, rocking, car rides, and bouncy seats are all great ways to give your baby back her jiggle.

 
 

S numero 5: Sucking

Who doesn’t want a boob? Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, placing the babe to breast can be a comfort.  Pacifiers and clean fingers work too!

 

 

 

Join our community for more access to Dr. Harvey's work!

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