Life in Tasmania – Week 2

Last week was all about slowing down and creating space for simple things. This week was all about settling in and creating a sense of home. Living in Tasmania which is still a very much new territory for us, it’s natural for us to feel a little out of place and isolated (especially being away from family and friends). So we decided to concentrate on making our new place comfortable and spend more time in the house in order to familiarise ourselves with the space, and stay “local”.

Although we didn’t bring so much stuff here from where we lived in Sydney as we could only fit so much in the car and wanted to enjoy the simplicity of “having less”, we did bring things that make help us stay grounded (i.e. comfort objects) including: a scented candle, a couple of books we love reading including Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and JoyBook by Sarah Ban Breathnach (which is all about finding abundance and joy in everyday life) and of course some toys our children love playing with (and which keep them occupied when we need a little break!). Having these comfort objects in the new house, not to mention a bunch of fresh flowers that do make you smile and feel welcome when you walk in the house, does make a big difference both emotionally and physically.

The weather has gotten a lot cooler over the last week, so much so that we have already started using the little fireplace in the house (and it’s not even Winter yet!). One night we turned all the light off in the house, sat down on the couch in front of the fireplace and watched the beautiful log burning slowly, creating bright orange flames and crunch sounds that our 2-year-old son was completely fascinated by. People often asked us how we were going to deal with the cold weather in Tasmania (being so close to Antarctica) when we told them about our move. We found the last few summers in Sydney endlessly long, way too hot and humid (in fact, it had the record-breaking hot April) for our liking, thanks to global warming… So we are actually loving the cold and refreshing weather here so far and looking forward to having snow here in the next couple of months.

As one of the ways to celebrate and embrace the cold Autumn here, we’ve also been cooking and eating lots of soup, curries and casseroles with seasonal vegetables. The apples and mandarins are in season here and they are so sweet – the kids absolutely love them. Julian, our 2-year-old, learnt how to peel Mandarins by himself with his chubby little fingers. Serena, our 7-month-old, eats and enjoys all kinds of fruits and veggies (especially corns!) despite the fact she only has two teeth. We get all our fruit and veggies from the local Hill St. Grocer that has a wide range of fresh local picks that are beautifully stocked in store (it is the Harris Farm equivalent of independence produce grocer in Tasmania, but much smaller). We’re lucky to have one within walking distance.

Cooking is definitely becoming big part of our day-to-day activities that we like to do it creatively, slowly and mindfully, especially now that we have more time and space (and not having a huge variety of take-away restaurants in the area or convenience of ordering food online also helps!). One thing I do miss about being in Sydney a lot is having a Korean/Asian grocer nearby to buy the spices and Kimchi (to make the traditional spicy Kimchi Soup, etc.) from, but apparently there is one in Sandy Bay that I’m very keen to check out soon. Good news is that we discovered an awesome Korean restaurant located on a stylish main street of North Hobart called Kalbi, we have already been there twice and loved everything (especially their specialty – Galbi) we tried. As a native Korean, I highly recommend it to anyone who likes or would like to try Korean food in Hobart.

This week, my partner started on a new client project so he has been working from home everyday. Looking after (and spending 24/7 with) two small children on my own has been challenging (although he is around and helps out when necessary) especially I’m used to having my in-laws around for help. Yet it’s been a good challenge for me to spend every moment with them, in terms of understanding and prioritising their needs in alignment with their current growth phases. Their sleep pattern is also changing, maybe because of the change in the environment, temperature, etc. As a result, I am a little more tired than usual and certainly haven’t been the most enthusiastic and playful Mummy this week, but when I am with them I try my best to stay fully present, choosing the act of “being” over “doing”. Whenever I feel too exhausted to do “play actively” with my son (e.g. jumping on the trampoline, chasing each other, playing hide-and-seek, etc.), I simply put on some music, start singing and gently dancing along (or just with arms if we are sitting down). It is not only stimulating and entertaining enough for them, but also uplifting enough for me to forget about being so tired. I also enjoyed reading books to them and sharing hot chocolate in the afternoon sun. You know, doing the little things that don’t cost much energy (they can actually be very energising) or money. After all, I have survived this week and the whole family is healthy and alive!

 

Next week, my son will start going to an early learning centre in the local area which means he (and I) will be making new local friends. We are very much looking forward to developing and having a sense of community here (which will make or break our decision to settle long-term in Tasmania at the end of our 6-month trial). At the end of the day, things take time and we are aware of the importance of taking our time and letting things unfold naturally, instead of forcing things to happen. All we can do is take each day (or week) as it comes… 🙂

Life in Tasmania – Week 1

Despite the fact it has only been a week since we arrived in our new place where we will call “home” for the next 6 months in Tasmania, we feel settled already. Our base is located in the Kingston Beach area, about a 15-minute drive down south from Hobart CBD, yet it feels like miles away from it (even Hobart CBD seems like a “town center” rather than a city, having lived in big cities like Seoul and Sydney all my life, which I said goodbye to for now, if not forever). The neighbourhood is known for being very family-friendly. Our place just a quick stroll down to the beach and nearby bush walks being surrounded by mountains. It is an unbelievably beautiful (and under-rated) part of Australia.

The first 24 hours after my parents-in-law (who came with us from Sydney here to help us settle in the first few days) left were filled with a mixture of extreme feelings, ranging from sadness related to a sense of loss – that is – loss of our “old life” and of our support network (family and friends in Sydney) to excitement for the beginning of our “new life” in Tasmania as a family of four. One moment I would say to my partner “Sh*t, what the heck have we done to ourselves?” and “Wow – we have made it!” the next. Apparently he felt the same way. Our 2-year-old and 7-month-old seemed more or less unaffected by the whole change. Children can be so much more resilient than adults, more often than not.

Two things we have noticed in our first week in Tasmania so far are: slowness and spaciousness. To pursue a more peaceful and joyful lifestyle here, we decided not to fill days with plans in advance but take each day as it comes. This means waking up in the morning slowly and enjoying our breakfast slowly instead of rushing to go somewhere. It also means there is more space for being spontaneous and taking time to enjoy simple things like jumping on the trampoline, playing hide and seek, blowing bubbles in the sunshine or walking and making sandcastles on the beach. We find that slowness breeds spaciousness (and vice versa!).  Thanks to the “purest air on earth” Tasmania has to offer, we simply love being outside (despite the cold weather, compared to the mainland) and breathing in the fresh air deeply and slowly.

There were moments where I had the urge to participate in more “stimulating” activities like checking out tourist attractions, going to theatres and concerts, attending and organising social events, etc. but deep down I knew this urge came from the old part of me that was addicted to busy-ness and seeking external stimulus rather than inner peace. Living in a slow-paced place like Tasmania, I believe, offers a great opportunity to challenge myself to resist this urge (and the future-oriented mind that keeps asking “what’s next?”) but instead bring myself to the present moment (i.e. the here-and-now) and immerse fully in doing and enjoying simple things with my family. There is never a dull moment with small children who are full of wonder and joy in whatever they do and wherever they are. Even when we play hide-and-seek with our 2-year-old son over and over again, every single day, he manages to find new ways and places to hide and have fun no matter how many times we play it. When we allow ourselves to be playful and flexible instead of serious and rigid, we surprise ourselves with how creative and spontaneous we can be, just like children.

Here is a few snapshots of the simple yet beautiful moments from our first week:

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Next week, my partner will start working on a new project which means I will be spending more time with my children alone as the primary carer. So I am hoping to come up with fun and creative activities we can enjoy together day-to-day in the house, in the backyard and at the local beaches and parks that incorporate both play and learning, both nature and culture. Most importantly, I want us to make the most of this slow and spacious lifestyle we have started to live by bringing our full presence in each and every moment spent together – especially before I start working again in July (which may add a bit more complexity to the lifestyle), and of course before the Tasmanian weather gets too cold to call it crisp, we will see how things change then…

Overall, we’re loving it here.

These Five Words – A Poem

Today, my beloved two-year-old son said “I love you very much” (for the first time!) just before he left the house to go to his grandparents’ place.

It was a magical moment. Those five simple words that came out of his little mouth were so profound that they made my heart swell. I got all teary.

My partner reminded me that I said something like “what’s the point of doing all this hard work for him, when I don’t even know if he loves me back?” during one of many breakdowns I had in the first (and most difficult) few months of parenthood. Of course, I don’t remember saying that at all.

Well, now I know he loves me because he has told me so, even if the two-year-old cannot actually articulate what love is yet. As clichéd as it sounds, it was the moment that made almost two and a half years of hard (and unpaid) work of parenting all worthwhile.

Inspired by the moment and dedicated to my son, I wrote a poem:

“These Five Words”

these five words
make my heart sing
like birds
as loud as
the birds you chase
in the middle of parks

these five words
lift me up
like cranes
as high as
the cranes you watch
in construction sites

these five words
keep me going
like life
as alive as
the life you bring
to my world


minji hur (a.k.a. Mummy)

Also known as…

Who am I? I ask myself.
It is a big question to ponder.

“I am a mum.” is my immediate answer to the question, as I’m occupied with my role as a mother for my two beautiful children at this very point in my life.

But am I really “just” a mum?

Nope.

I am also a partner.
I am also a sister.
I am also a daughter.
I am also a friend.
I am also a writer.
I am also a reader.
I am also a citizen.
I am also a woman.
I am also a human being.

The list can go on and on.

However, I know I am a “free spirit” capable of being whatever I choose to be – also known as – all the above.

We carry multiple titles to identify ourselves in various contexts. We often label ourselves and other people so much so that it became second nature to us.

But in reality, a lot of people struggle to answer to the big question “Who am I?”.

Self-identity is an interesting yet challenging concept to fully grasp, since it is always evolving. It can be a combination of what we do for a living and for hobbies, what we have become and what we are working towards becoming. It reflects our current values, priorities and circumstances.

Since the birth of my first child, my sense of identity has shifted tremendously and almost been consolidated to one title – a mother. And, unlike any job title, it is now permanently who I am and who I will always be, no matter how old my children are.

This is all great. But this wonderful title “mother” (or whatever it may be) often comes with many expectations placed upon us by ourselves as well as our well-meaning society. For example, a mother should be loving and nurturing at all times, a mother should stay at home with children, a mother should be there for the family 24/7, etc.

These rigid ideas and expectations on motherhood often leave many mothers feeling confused, lost and even inadequate. I certainly felt that way in the first vulnerable few months of motherhood. It took me a while to overcome the idea that I should be “more like this”, and “less like this”, in order to fit into the stereotypical idea of motherhood. After all, no two mothers are alike.

After reflecting on my self-identity and motherhood for quite some time, I had a realisation our titles and labels are “socially constructed” at the end of the day – which can be limiting when it comes to understanding and expressing the true essence/nature of our being. This was a huge paradigm shift.

In my conscious effort to give myself freedom to be whoever I choose to be, I decided to change my answer to the big question “who am I?” from “I am a mother” to “I am also known as a mother”.

Who are you also known as?

Understanding Shark Music

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ~ Maria Skłodowska-Curie

Two years ago, my partner and I attended a workshop called Circle of Security® Parenting™ as part of our stay at Tresillian for our first son where health practitioners help parents with sleep training and settling techniques for their babies.

The workshop taught us so much about the concept of secure attachment (where a child feels safe and secure enough to explore the world out there, outside “the circle” and to return to the parents/caregivers knowing  they will be there to embrace, encourage and delight in the child). Most importantly, it taught us how we can become more attuned to our children’s emotional needs and better understand their behaviour.

Shark Music is the term used in the workshop material to describe uncomfortable, painful feelings from our past that are triggered by our child’s behaviour. When those feelings are activated, it is like hearing the eerie, tense background music from the movie Jaws as the shark fin appears out of water.

Shark Music, when unaddressed, can make a situation look so much worse than what it really is. Understanding our Shark Music is crucial for meeting our own as well as our children’s real and raw emotions.  Both my partner and I have found the analogy very useful, and we often share with each other what specific situations press the play button for our own Shark Music.

The very first time I recognised my own Shark Music was when I dropped my son (he was about 8 months old at that time) off at Daycare just around the corner from where I worked. As I said goodbye and got up to leave the room, he started crying, bursting into tears, which was not unexpected. But watching him cry triggered so much pain inside of me, even though he would be taken good care of by the wonderful staff in a safe, pleasant environment – for a half day.

I found myself in tears, feeling extremely guilty as I left the room. I felt like a bad mother for leaving my son in the hands of people who I felt would never love and care for him as much as I did. Of course, that’s not true. When I went to pick him up later that day he was absolutely fine. He had already forgotten about it all. In fact, he had a great day at Daycare and was very happy to see me again! It was really my own guilt, more than anything, made an emotional drama out of the whole situation.

Later I also realised, after writing about it in my journal, that the Shark Music that played at the drop-off was directly related to my past, my childhood. When I was about seven years old, my mother left my sister and I behind in South Korea (where I was born and grew up) for Australia to pursue her dream and freedom, shortly after my parents’ divorce.

This was a traumatic event for me, to see my mother leaving and not knowing when she was going to come back. As a result, I felt abandoned. I felt unlovable, unable to process the fact that my own mother left me. I wasn’t capable of separating my sense of self from my mother’s choice, and her absence.

Although we reunited when I was a teenager and we have a relatively good relationship now, those painful feelings associated with fear of abandonment still arise from time to time, especially in situations like dropping off my son at Daycare. But I do not want to let the painful past shape who I am and how I parent my children today. Therefore I must actively understand and do something about these feelings every time they re-surface, however painful it can be, in order to release them.

Understanding my Shark Music: recognising in what situations it plays and realising that most of the time it has nothing to do with the situation as-it-is but all to do with feelings from the past – has been incredibly helpful in other challenging moments of motherhood.

Now I am less reactive when the Shark Music plays, but am aware and responsive – meaning I listen to it, identify its trigger and move on. I don’t let it define or doubt my abilities as a mother or my relationship with my children, but instead I let it reveal my fears that I must work on in order to become a better, more conscious parent and human being.

Birthing Serena

“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.”  ~ Ina May Gaskin

Introduction

With this essay, you will share in my experience of the labour of love that brought my second child, Serena, into the world. It was without question the most empowering and transformative event of my life. By improving on my first, it proved to me that giving birth can be achieved, both physically and mentally, in a calm and peaceful state. It is my hope that after reading my story, you choose to let go of any fear you may hold and trust your body’s amazing ability to give birth.

Medicalised Society

In mainstream media, giving birth is very often portrayed with images of women lying on hospital beds under the harsh light while screaming for their suffering to end. I believe this is one of the main reasons why people automatically associate birth as dramatic, painful and something to be frightened of.

As a result, we have developed a culture wherein expectant mothers are urged to rely on medical intervention, painkillers and anesthetics as the go-to option, anticipating the fear they must certainly possess.

Of course, we must choose whatever it takes to ensure a baby is born healthy. There is no question about that. However, without first and foremost understanding what our bodies are capable of and the work they are perfectly designed to do, many mothers to be are not exposed to the trade-offs they make as a result of choosing the medical, pain-free option.

Making a Conscious Choice

After the initial shock and joy of confirming our first pregnancy, I started to notice just how pervasive the negative emotions surrounding giving birth. Something deep down in me knew it wasn’t real. I felt a huge sense of clarity when I recognised this and begun to let go of my fear around birth. It was then that I realised I could choose to develop a positive attitude towards birth.

The first step is to acknowledge the power of the mind-body connection. This includes being aware of the language we use and the images we visualise. For example, using words like “waves”, “surges” and “sensations” to describe the contractions during labour are not only powerful but also hold enormous influence when adopted in conversations leading up to the last trimester.

So too enrolling the baby herself. I visualised her actively “working with me” rather than thinking of her as a passive being. I affirmed that the whole labour was a collaborative effort, a beautiful dance between the baby and me. This might all sound too good to be true, yet it was incredibly effective and helpful for me not only to endure but also to enjoy the process.

Preparation During Pregnancy

Preparation coupled with a positive attitude ultimately lead to a very successful first birth. I practiced yoga, meditation, visualisation and breathing exercises (i.e., feel-good activities), not to mention regular walks and swims. I also read some amazing books on childbirth including Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth (quoted above) and wrote daily about how I felt. These activities helped me stay tune with my mind/body/soul, as well as the growing baby inside.

I saw a small group of knowledgeable and supportive midwives that gave me unbiased, practical advice when I had any question or concern. They helped me deal with the challenges that arose during pregnancy, and most importantly, to stay positive. After all, it was going to be a life-changing (and life-giving) event, and I knew optimism was, as always, the way to go.

Birthing Serena – Full Story

Wednesday 13 September 2017 (2 days before the due date)

Around 6:30 AM, I woke up with period-cramp-like sensations around my lower back area. Then there came mild, rather regular waves (i.e., contractions). They were about 15-20 minutes apart which persisted even when I got out of bed, quite different from Braxton Hicks which would come in the middle of the night and go away by the morning.

By mid-morning, the mild waves were about 8 to 10 minutes apart. The gap didn’t last more than 15 minutes. That’s when I knew it was all happening. Michael, my partner, called work to take the day off (which would be the first day of his Paternity Leave) to concentrate on his role as my primary birth partner. He set up our lounge with props including a gym ball, a yoga mat, a bean bag and lots of pillows on the couch that would help me relax and ease the intensity of the waves.

Having felt my uterus warming up almost every night over the last two weeks, I found the sensations more or less endurable. In fact, I welcomed each one of them, knowing that it was “bringing me closer to meeting my baby”. With my eyes closed, I imagined my baby making her way down through the birth canal. It allowed me to focus on “breathing through” each wave.

Michael put some groovy, down-tempo and soulful music to which I naturally started dancing and swaying through the waves. I started doing my signature “tribal dance” – letting the arms hang loose, legs relax and just allowing my limbs to flop and flow spontaneously. That felt really good, especially it reminded me of the good times dancing and laughing with my friends.

Other movements that helped ease the intensity of the waves were: leaning over the gym ball, doing the cat-cows/all-fours/child’s pose on the yoga mat, swaying from side to side while holding onto whatever I could. Working with gravity, I found these “upright” postures to come most naturally to me and helped alleviate the discomfort from pelvic pressure as the baby’s head was fully engaged.

I remembered to keep drinking water, not to mention Raspberry Leaf tea to stay hydrated as well as help uterus contract and progress labour (as recommended by the midwives). Although I didn’t have much appetite for a big meal, I enjoyed small pieces of fruits and my favourite dark chocolate (a.k.a. my remedy for everything) just enough to provide my body with energy much needed for the established stage.

From 3:00 PM the waves were becoming more intense and regular, between 4-5 minutes apart. By this point, I was so “in the zone” that my mind had to switch off from “thinking mode” to “being mode”. All that mattered was to bring our baby to life, which required being fully present and working with the baby through each and every wave.

As the labour started to progress quickly, Michael put on nice and slow music to which we started dancing together. I felt the feelings of love rushed through my body, intensifying the sensation of the waves. (As oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone” is designed to trigger and regulate the waves). They were now about 2-3 minutes apart. It was about time to call Kelsea, our wonderful midwife, to let her know what was happening. She suggested we come to the hospital whenever I felt ready. And there I was, never felt readier than before, to meet our baby.

During the 15-minute drive to the hospital, we listened to Stevie Wonder whose songs always uplift my soul (including “Golden Lady and “Isn’t She Lovely”). Singing along with the songs pumped me with positive energy and excitement. Of course, it was challenging sitting in the car, all buckled up and not being able to move freely. But knowing that it was the ride that took us closer to meeting our baby, literally and metaphorically, I let my anticipation override the challenge.

We arrived at the birthing unit just after 4:00 PM. I was aware of the likelihood the labour might slow down a little due to change of the environment (which is why women in labour are often encouraged to stay at home as long as possible). Thankfully it didn’t. Being warmly welcomed by Kelsea, such a personable, calm and genuine midwife with whom I felt comfortable being myself, helped.

Kelsea had already set up the birthing room, exactly according to my preference – nice and quiet, dimly lit by little electric candles (as real candles weren’t allowed in the hospital for fire safety). It had such a peaceful atmosphere. She had put the bed aside, so it felt less like a hospital, more like a home environment. As I requested, she also set up an area with a firm mattress and a gym ball, so I could continue being on all-fours, leaning on the ball, etc. (very similar to the setup I had at home). Michael put on the “birthing playlist” I created on Spotify via a Bluetooth speaker we brought to add extra homeliness to the room.

Being in such a comforting environment, not to mention being in the company of the two people I felt absolutely safe and comfortable for being myself with, I was able to get straight back into the “birthing zone”, a trance-like state. I concentered 100% on breathing through each surge and relaxed completely in between. Listening to my body, I moved from holding onto the bar swaying side to side, to getting on my knees, on all-fours on the mattress – I stayed upright not only because it came most naturally, but also to keep working with gravity.

As the waves were becoming more intense and closer apart (by this point we didn’t even need to time it anymore), Kelsea suggested an internal examination to see how dilated my cervix was. Having only arrived at the hospital less than half an hour ago, Michael and I guessed it would about 5cm if not less. To our surprise (and much to my delight), I was already 6cm dilated! Knowing I was more than halfway through, I happily continued doing what I was doing.

For the rest of my labour, I wanted to get in the bath remembering how soothing being in the water was from my first experience. Kelsea immediately filled up the welcoming and spacious bathtub located in the corner of the room. As soon as I got in the bath, I could feel all my tight, tired muscles relax and become lighter – especially my legs which were under a lot of pressure during pregnancy. I also felt extra safe and supported. I slightly bent over so my belly was facing the bottom of the bath, so it felt extra weightless. Kelsea asked me whether I would like to have a water birth (which wasn’t planned earlier) given how well things were progressing, and I said yes without hesitation.

Being on my knees in the bath, I leaned forward to hold Michael’s hands. Then I closed my eyes and started moaning like a cow, letting it all out. It was unstoppable. It came from a very deep, primitive place within me. When the next big wave kicked in, I couldn’t help myself but moan even louder. It was like a giant tsunami that washed ALL OVER me. Suddenly I felt the strong urge to push. I couldn’t believe how quickly it progressed (from being 6cm dilated to the “pushing stage” within minutes, I’d only just got in the bath!). Part of the mental preparation was to switch off my “monkey mind” and get back in tune with my body. Accepting what was happening, I took a slow, deep breath, focusing on the word “surrender” – to surrender to whatever was happening in the moment.

The next wave came in with so much energy. It felt like a volcano just about to erupt. I felt a burning sensation down there as the “birthing gate” was opening up. It was the baby’s head. I kept saying the mantra “surrender, surrender, surrender.” And it worked. I surrendered to this powerful energy to push the baby down the birth canal. I closed my eyes and visualised her actively pushing herself out, as eager to meet mummy and daddy too. Out of excitement watching me in the very last stage, Kelsea shouted: “Listen to your body, let your body do the work!” And so, did Michael, saying “We’re so close to meeting our girl! You’re doing so well!”. Their supportive words reassured me to keep going what I was doing.

Two more big pushes later, out came our baby girl, gracefully into the water (like a little mermaid!). It was such a vivid, euphoric moment. I put my hands down to pick her up out of the water. I gently lifted her warm, soft body and placed her on my chest, being skin-to-skin. She was incredibly calm and relaxed with very little sound, movement or tension.

Inspired by sereneness of the baby as well as the birth itself, we decided to name her Serena. She was born at 5:15 PM, weighed 3.125kg, 48cm long. Flooded with bliss, Michael and I took turns to hold her in our arms just marveling at her beauty. Nothing else, other than “being with” each other, seemed to matter.

Post Birth

Within an hour, I had had a shower and felt ready to go home despite a minor tear and normal bleeding. But we were required to stay in the hospital for monitoring for 24 hours though as Serena had passed meconium (a.k.a. poo) in the uterus.

Serena was asleep most of the time during the hospital stay. When awake, she made a few noises here and there but didn’t cry. A reflection of such a peaceful birth perhaps. I had lots of energy too which I channelled into writing, listening to music and bonding with the baby.

Leaving the hospital with the healthy baby the next day, we were overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for the public system we have in Australia that provided the support, facilities and staff.

My stitches dissolved within a week and the tear and bleeding healed just as rapidly. Overall, I felt great and was able to go for walks in a matter of days.

The first six weeks was challenging with constant breastfeeding and settling Serena. However, there were countless (and priceless) moments of just “being with” the baby who reminded me of how empowering the labour of love was and would continue to be for the rest of my motherhood.

If I can do it, you can do it.

When people ask me how the birth was, especially female friends who wish to have children soon, I tell them my story. Most express surprise at first, but they certainly feel more encouraged and reassured they can do it too. Most importantly, they learn that it is possible to have a positive birth experience.

So, I have decided to be the light in darkness and share my story with more women out there in the world – because what the world needs more is stories of love, not fear.