The minute my sister Lauren wrote her truth teller story, I knew the mommy she was going to nominate and sure enough I was right. Her best friend of more than ten years, Mama Sarah. Lauren and Sarah met all the way on the East Coast when my sister was only 20; they were roommates in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My sister was young and left home from California with no plans just a suitcase and a bright spirit. She happened to go out there because of a boy she was dating, this boy knew Sarah. Sarah and Lauren were roommates for a year, and I got the pleasure to go out to New York and visit them.
Sarah and her husband Brien were from the same hometown, but they didn’t connect until after college when he moved to Brooklyn in 2003. That’s the time when Lauren was living with Sarah, and Brien walked into their loft with her cousin. From that night, they pretty much have been together ever since. My sister moved back to California, and then Sarah moved to LA in 2006, she then married Brien in September of 2008. Motherhood was her next chapter, and she was pregnant just a few months after they got married, and Riley was born November 2009. She returned to work at the Nature Conservancy for about six months, before deciding to be a full time stay at home mommy. Shortly after, she then welcomed Joya, who was born July of 2011. After Joya was born, Sarah decided to complete her certification as a Doula, Childbirth Educator, and prenatal yoga instructor. A couple of years later, they decided to have baby number three, and they welcomed their third daughter Margo. She gave birth at home last September.
I had the pleasure of going down to LA when I was newly pregnant. I had breakfast with my sister and Sarah, and I was debating if I was having a boy or girl. Sarah was giving me great advice, and even offered to come up and help me with the birth. She is so sweet, and just like that would have dropped everything to come help me. I ended up not using her, only because I went into labor at 9pm at night and she lives in LA. From what I know about Sarah, she seems to always have everything together and is such a joy to be around. I have not met her new bundle of joy, but I do see her adventures on Instagram, and boy she has the cutest three daughters. Check out her interview below and see her thoughts:
After having your daughter Riley, what made you decide to stay home?
At The Nature Conservancy, I was surrounded by coworkers who had families at home and who praised the organization for its support of a life-work balance. I was able to return with a temporary flexible schedule of 3 days a week in the office and the other 2 days “working” from home, to help ease the transition. Coming off of a whirlwind 16 weeks on maternity leave, I found those 8 hours a day at the office to be sort of nice! The quiet mornings at my desk with a coffee in hand. Popping my head into coworkers’ cubicles and chatting about grown-up things or any good drama I could get my ears on. Lunch at an outdoor table with an US magazine. All a stark contrast to the other 4 days of the week home with an infant. But after about 4 months, the downsides of the arrangement (pumping milk three times a day in a 4×4 closet, an hour long stop-and-go commute, and of course the hours I missed with Riley) started to weigh on me, and in the end, I chose to leave the job instead of recommitting to a full time schedule. I’m glad I explored the option when I had the opportunity, and the experience gave me meaningful insight into what I wanted in terms of a career, time to myself, and being a stay-at-home mom. It also ultimately led to my decision to become certified as a birth doula and educator.
Jumping from one child, to having two children close in age what’s hard and what’s easy?
I don’t think there is anything easy about the jump from one to two, no matter when you do it! I can remember about 3 months after having Joya, I finally got both into car seats and out the door for a grocery run, and I felt like superwoman afterwards! I was lucky that Riley happened to be a relatively independent and cautious toddler – two qualities that really helped me out when the baby needed my attention and when we were out and about. And once Joya was walking and sleeping through the night, we put them in the same room which also made life a little easier. I could finally feed them at the same time, bath them, read to them, and close the door for the night! They sort of became a little “unit” and have been like that ever since. They certainly have their fair share of fighting and differences, especially now at 5 and 3 1/2 years old, but they are best of friends and I know they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Becoming a Doula, what kind of advice can you give to someone who may be pregnant right now?
I became a Doula primarily because I learned through all my own pregnancy research how the birth process has essentially been taken away from women and put in the hands of the hospitals. Birth, when the mother is healthy and has a low-risk pregnancy, is very much a natural process, and I think many woman have lost faith in that. We have been bombarded with movies of women screaming in pain in the delivery room, or their water breaking followed by a mad rush to the hospital, running red lights along the way. We are told our pelvises aren’t the right shape, our babies are too big, we are too old, and that we can’t handle labor. I delivered my first two babies in the hospital with a midwife/OB team. I had great experiences both times and appreciated the security of knowing I was there in case I or the baby needed medical attention. I have also seen when medical interventions or surgery are necessary, as well as plenty of women who have had wonderful birth experiences with labor induction and epidurals. But I think it’s important, no matter what we choose or how labor unfolds, that we are educated about the birth experience and equipped and empowered to make decisions that are best for our babies and ourselves — to know that we HAVE a say, that it’s our own experience of birthing to have, and that it can be a beautiful, powerful, and deeply transformational experience. So my biggest piece of advice for pregnant women is to read, take a class, consider having a doula along with you, or at least a partner or friend who will be by your side for constant support, and most importantly, to trust in your body and yourself.
Having a home birth, what did you like about it and what didn’t you like about it?
Well it’s nice when you don’t have to get in a car and drive to the hospital when your contractions are a few minutes apart! Those were the worst car rides imaginable. I liked being home during labor without the anticipation of going to the hospital, having time alone when I wanted, being able to eat and drink when I felt like it, laying in my own bed with music, the lights low. When Margo was born, she didn’t cry right away – my midwife placed her on my chest and massaged her gently, as she stared with big open eyes into mine. It was so calm and quiet in those first few moments and I loved knowing that this was how she entered the world. My two other girls were able to see her right after, too, which was awesome to watch. My husband would add that it was pretty sweet to have a new baby in your arms, your family around, some sandwiches and drinks from your kitchen, and Sunday football! I appreciated being able to sleep in my own bed that night and to be with my girls in our own space. Looking back, the only downside to me was when the midwife left a few hours after the birth, everything sort of went back to “normal” except there I was with a newborn and a really sore body! So I missed the comfort of being doted on in the hospital and knowing that the baby and I were being monitored in those first 24-48 hours. There is something to be said for that peace of mind. All in all, it was a really positive experience, and I have to believe that Margo’s calm, easy going nature can at least in part be attributed to being born at home.
What do you wish you had MORE of during the day? It can be anything.
TIME TO MYSELF. It’s easy to let ever growing to-do lists and keeping up with our kids’ schedules take over our daily lives, but we as moms need to make the time to take care of ourselves, physically and emotionally, just as we do our children. I am a better, more fun, and certainly more patient mom when I have had a couple hours to do a yoga class, get out for a coffee and some errands, or a walk on the beach a few days a week. It’s really hard to find that time with three kids, especially with an infant in the mix, but I am working on it! I also need more SLEEP….but don’t we all?? If it’s not the baby, it’s one of the girls having a bad dream or one of the dogs having to pee in the middle of the night! My husband leaves early and works late during the week so there is not much relief Monday to Friday, but it is all okay on Saturday morning when he takes everyone out of the house and I get to sleep in till noon and have my coffee in the backyard…in silence. That right there is pure bliss.
Now that you have told the Mother Effin Truth, who do you want to nominate to tell their story as a mother? And why?
There is no one I look up to more than my little sis! Annie is the definition of an Earth Mama slash Goddess! She is a licensed midwife in Durango, Colorado and has 2 young boys. Her path to becoming a mother and a midwife is heartbreaking, inspirational and beautiful all at the same time. She is a smart, strong, grounded, compassionate, spiritual woman. She inspires me and so many other people everyday through her work and just by being who she is.