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Chicago Red Tent event

“If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully. Stories about food show a strong connection. Wistful silences demonstrate unfinished business. The more a daughter knows about the details of her mother’s life – without flinching or whining – the stronger the daughter.”
― Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

My Grandmother has 14 children. Each Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and well, basically any other reason to get together she happily brings together the legacy of her life. 14 children, 14 in-laws, 32 grandchildren, three great grandchildren … She sings and whistles as she moves familiarly through her kitchen. She pours her heart and soul in measuring cups, stirring them in alongside her spaghetti sauce, her secret cheesecake recipe, her coveted coffee cake that we’ll share over coffee and political debates around the crowded dining room table.

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved listening to these voices. Sharing stories of when my mom was young, sharing the latest books they’ve read, recommending new doctors, churches, books. I would fall asleep with the plastic couch protector sticking to the side of my face as the conversations spun deep into the night.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a lot of changes in my perception of myself and the world. But one of the most impactful was a sense of community with other mothers. I had been the first grandchild – entering the world in my own special way, the “doll” for my doting aunts and their girlfriends to play with, the flower girl to many weddings. I was the one paving the way, the awkward high school years… the first to go off to college… the first to get married. But this time was different. I am the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter, and giving birth to my first born – a daughter – somehow made me feel connected to a lineage of women before me.

Circles of women

I recently went to a Red Tent event hosted by the lovely, Katrina Galbraith of Graceful Birth and Families. It was this wonderful opportunity to talk and connect with other women – as well as celebrate my womanhood. We shared stories of child birth, but the broader theme was our own self acceptance and power. I wasn’t planning on staying long and I only knew one other woman there. But the bond was immediate, the conversation flowing freely, a few tears and laughter. The moon was high and the stars shining before I left.

The Parent Coop and Graceful Birth and Families have teamed up to provide Red Tent events, Mother Blessings, as well as Hypnobirthing education to the Chicago and North Shore area. We invite you to join us for our first quarterly Red Tent event. Share stories of what has made you rejoice in your womanhood, or what has burdened you. In this first quarter of 2017 we want to release those burdens and will go forth into the new moon with renewed power and strength.

For more information on our first Red Tent Event, and to sign up, check out our facebook event.

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Music Manages Pain in All Birth Experiences


Pain during childbirth is often the top concern of expectant mothers.

It doesn’t matter if you plan to have a drug-free birth, use any and all medication, or are having a cesarean birth, you have likely already thought about how it will feel and how to cope with the pain. We’ve seen the tv shows and movies, maybe even watched a birth video. I don’t know how it was for you, but some of that looked SCARY! How can women DO that?! When looking into your options for managing pain, you may hear many of the same suggestions: epidural, birth tub, visualization, etc.

These are all valid options for managing pain. But in addition to these more common approaches to pain,  many studies have shown music therapy is an incredibly effective way to aid in pain management, and not only for those choosing a medication-free birth. In my own practice I’ve had medical professionals joke that morphine is good, music is good, and together they’re amazing.

Music can work hand-in-hand with any other options you may choose to manage your pain and can elevate your birth experience.

In the 1980s researchers began loooking at music therapy’s application in labor and delivery. In one of the early studies done, it was reported that music therapy intervention was effective in managing discomfort by 63%. Since then, the study of music for pain/discomfort relief or “audio analgesia” in music therapy has continued to grow. And while we see studies being done in many different areas, from cancer to dementia and beyond, the findings are easily applicable to labor and birth. Studies in 2010 and 2013 (and many more) have found that during medical procedures, music therapy assisted in not only a reduction in pain but also assistance with decreasing anxiety, regulating and lowering heart rate, and supporting respiratory rate.

Understanding how music can mitigate pain and anxiety is important!

It’s a common understanding that pain, tension and fear operate in a cycle. Pain is a physical feeling, but is also influenced and increased by both tension and fear. When we experience fear our body tenses. When we tense up, pain increases. So when fear and tension creep into labor, the pain of the contractions feel even more intense.

Intentional and clinical use of music has been shown to decrease heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure – in a word, RELAX. Studies also show that music reduces anxiety levels.

A board certified music therapist differs from “music medicine” or a prepackaged playlist of music because we are able to offer hands on physical support, we develop an ongoing therapeutic relationship, and we are trained to read your individual cues to best adjust and apply music therapy techniques to your unique experience.

Music reduces pain by breaking the cycle of fear and tension, no matter the birth experience.

Imagine you’re laboring on a birth ball. Your music therapist may be providing some counter pressure on your low back, sharing encouraging affirmations, and perhaps assisting in cueing deep cleansing breaths. Contractions are frequent and strong. You’re in active labor and your music therapist turns on a playlist that you both collaborated on during prenatal sessions. You’ve been listening to this music and practicing your labor positions for weeks. Now the music cues your breathing. Instead of the panting breaths of panic as you anticipate the pain of the next contraction, the music helps decrease your respiratory rate – you breathe slower, deeper, with the rhythm of the music. Your shoulders relax, your forehead unfurrows, your body opens for your baby to descend.

Or maybe you’re sitting on the edge of the bed as your anesthesiologist prepares to place your epidural. You want the relief and yet are nervous. Nervous of the needle, nervous of the next contraction, trying to figure out how you’ll sit still so they can complete the injection. You listen to the music you and your music therapist have prepared. You go back to the visualization you did in your prenatal session, thinking of affirmations you’ve memorized, the safe space you see in your mind’s eye. You relax and exhale the anxiety as your anesthesiologist places your epidural. The pain is still there, but your focus is on the music, not the pain, and the needle is out before you realize it.

Or maybe you’re having a scheduled cesarean birth. Your birth experience with your first born revealed that you have a heart anomaly that’s left you scared and hoping for a better experience with this birth. Sessions with your music therapist has helped you heal from your past experience and prepare for your second birth. She offers you nonjudgmental support for your planned cesarean birth. You work together on planning music for your baby’s birth from above that will mask the sounds of the operating room, help you keep a positive focus, and most importantly help your body maintain a steady heart rate. You go into this birth experience, supported, confident and empowered. You smile, relieved, as you hear the song you picked out for your baby to be born to and you hear your precious little one’s first cry.

Nonjudgmental support for the birth experience you choose.

Music is a powerful addition to many life experiences. Many expectant mothers will make playlists to take with them into labor. But a board certified music therapist is uniquely qualified to tailor your favorite music to your needs, know when to adjust the music to your stage of labor, and how to best use music to support you.

The Parent Coop provides board certified music therapists who have completed additional training in music therapy assisted child birth. For more information on this program of study please visit

Contact a Parent Coop doula about supporting your birth

DiCamillo, M. (1999). A bio­psycho­social model of music therapy assisted childbirth: an integrative approach to working with families. Doctoral Dissertation, Pepperdine University
American Music Therapy Association. Music Therapy with Specific Populations: Fact Sheets, Resources & Bibliographies. Accessed January 3, 2017.
Hanser SB, Larson SC, O’Connell AS. The Effect of Music on Relaxation of Expectant Mothers During Labor. J Music Ther. 1983;22(2):50-58.
Hanser SB, Mandel SE. Manage Your Stress and Pain Through Music. Boston, MA: Berklee Press; 2010.
Zengin, Suat, et al. “Effects of music therapy on pain and anxiety in patients undergoing port catheter placement procedure.” Complementary therapies in medicine 21.6 (2013): 689-696.
Mandel, Susan E., PhD, MT-BC, and Suzanne B. Hanser, EdD, MT-BC. “Music Therapy for Pain Management.” Practical Pain Management. Vertical Health LLC, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 04 Jan. 2017.
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Cubs-inspired Names for your World Series Baby

Whether your baby is anticipated to arrive any day now or is a celebration baby due in nine months, it would be hard for a World Series baby to go without a commemorative name. So here’s a list of Chicago Cubbie baby names suggested from mom fans around the Windy City. Would you give one to your little one?



I’ve heard a bunch of people say, “I named my dog that!” But don’t discount the name based on a couple furry friends. I have a friend who named her boy Wrigley and was definitively able to defend her super fan status. No “bandwagoning” here!


The last name of red-hot Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta is a great name for a girl – I have always loved this name. When my daughter was born I was campaigning for “Arietta” (Italian for short aria… or little song) given my musical background but this is a great alternative for a Cubs loving family. Love it!



Not wanting to get so “on the nose” with the name Wrigley? Ok, how about the iconic and gorgeous Ivy? Such an adorable name for a sweet little lady.



I absolutely love classic names … and what’s more classic Cubs than Harry Caray? Hello! It’s just so stinking cute! Love it.

Or maybe …


Speaking of the iconic announcer, his last name is just as good a baby name. Caray? Carrie if you want a more traditional spelling for a little lady … or Cary for a boy and also a throw back to Cary Grant (swoon). Or a throw back to the early 2000s with former All-Star Cubs pitcher Kerry (Wood).

Clark … or Addison


The streets outside of Wrigley Field, Clark is a great classic boy’s name, and Addison could go for a little girl or boy. But also… Hello, Addison Russel – that grand slam in Game 6 Tuesday night rocked the world and will go down in history. If Addison doesn’t do it for you … how about Russell? Super cute and deserving of a come back (pun intended)!

Honorable Mentions

A few off the beaten path options with great connections to Chicago’s Northside team

  • (Aroldis) Chapman
  • (Anthony) Rizzo – I mean, come on. That’s just C-U-T-E cute. 
  • Maddon (sure, you could also go with Joe if you’re more traditional)
  • Ryne (Sandberg) – How cute would it be to have a little “Ryno” running around the house!
  • Jake (Arietta)
  • (Jon) Lester
  • Theo (Epstein)
  • (Mark) Grace
  • Javier (Baez)
  • (David) Ross
  • Kyle (Scwarber)
  • Kris (Bryant)

And if you’re willing to take a risk… how about Goat? Your child will likely NEVER have anyone in their class with the same name… but they may also hate you when they’re older. Maybe just going with Billy?


If you can’t get on board with a Cub-centric first name, there’s always the option of a strong middle name… or even just a simple “W”.

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Walking the Path: Fear and Support



“I’m scared,” she said. Her hand in mine as we walked into school for the first time. “It’s OK to be scared,” I whispered into her ear, “I’m here with you.” It was scary as her mom, watching my baby walk into a class of peers, leaving me for the first time. She now seemed so grown up. Goodness. How did that happen?

* * *

“I’m scared,” she said, leaning over the side of the birth tub, squeezing my hands. I cradled her head and whispered in her ear, “I’m here. Your midwives are here. You spouse is here. You’re in good hands.” She had been laboring beautifully, the textbook example of birth. And yet, this was all so new. Unlike anything she’d ever done before.

* * *

Often the most exciting first steps are also a little scary. But the parent’s job isn’t to remove fear, smoothing the path, removing the bumps and road blocks, but rather walking through the journey holding her hand. I’ve learned in just my few short years of being a parent that as much as I may want to help her, I have to let her make her own journey. And scared as she may be, I have to encourage her to experience her own growth.

I can’t do it for her, but I can cheer her on her way.

Only you can birth your baby. I can’t do it for you, but there is no reason you would have to walk the path alone. Hand in hand, you can give birth to your baby. You can do this, and I am honored to be witness to your journey. It’s natural to be scared. But you don’t have to feel alone.


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Grandparents Day

I recently asked new Grandpa, Scott Anderson of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, to share a few thoughts on what advice he may have for his children as they enter the world of parenting. Here are his words to share:


Comes the question: “As a new grandfather, what advice do you have for your sons as they become dads?”


Aside from the wise-ass (“Move back to Chicago so we can see our granddaughter more!”), I start here: “Take inventory of how you were raised, and your relationships with both your mom and me, and chart your course form there.”


And if you need help or advice along the way, just ask.


For the record, no, that does not mean “we were perfect, so just do what we did!” Although in all, I think both sons would, now that they are older and wiser, say we did pretty well. As do we.


I’m a devout believer in “learn by doing” and “learn by example.”

And sometimes it’s really the flaws and mistakes from which you derive the most wisdom.


In all candor, that was what in many ways motivated me as a dad – the flaws of my own father as a father – and a compulsion to not repeat as many as possible.

I will be in some ways ever grateful for those flaws, of which there were more than a few, because I ultimately drew from them the blueprint of how not to do things and how I would approach being a very different father to our sons.


This is not about father-bashing and woe-was-me and there will be none; it was what it was as far as my father is concerned and I’ve been able to make peace with that over time. We all have our demons, missteps and failings. His died with him in 1986 at a ridiculously young age.


For me, the Flaws of the Father were in contrast to the Goodness of the Grandfathers.


If I could summon two people from The Great Beyond that I’d most like to spend time with now as an adult, my two grandfathers – Russell and Columbo — would near the very top of the list.

With their comforting attention, persistent presence and seemingly unconditional love, my grandfathers filled a hole in my heart and psyche that my father really wasn’t able to during my formative years. (Both grandfathers died in my early teens, nine months apart).


It wasn’t until much later in life when when I could emotionally triangulate my grandfathers against my father, and the relationship that we had in those formative years, that I could fully appreciate the foundational importance, impact and gifts of my grandfathers.

No, they were not perfect. And I’m sure the Flaws of Their Fathers weighed on each of my parents, too, and contributed to what would become, good and bad.

They were fine role models in many ways for what a grandfather should be – as well as important traits for fathers. And so they made putting together the Grandpa Playbook I’ve got ready for my tiny granddaughter pretty easy.


One more bit of advice is also tied to on of the grandfathers — my paternal one, Russell.


Let it Be by the Beatles was his favorite song. He’d long had his demons with booze but vanquished them in the end and found something of a Zen in his last years. He learned there was still a light that shined on him. He learned he could, indeed, Let it Be.

So that song has a very special place in my heart and a meaning well beyond the effect it already had on 12-year-old me when I heard it again and again on Boston’s WRKO radio in 1970.

It’s a song of comfort and hope and calm that promises there will be answer when you need one.

As devout fourth-generation Beatles fans, I’m pretty sure Let it Be already has a place in both of my son’s lives.
As for my grandfathers, for whom my heart still aches:

“For though they may be parted
“There is still a chance that they will see

“There will be an answer, let it be”

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My Doula Journey: All Roads Lead to Today

I’ve done a lot of things in the last decade, and looking back, they all prepared me to be the doula I am today.

Yesterday my alma mater, Monmouth College, celebrated its founding with their annual “Scholars Day”. A day to celebrate the history of excellence and the commitment to education and achievement.” The day is welcomed with song – a tradition remembered fondly by many alumni.

This video stirred the reminiscent nostalgia in me and caused for some person reflection. A small liberal arts college in a rural town off the highway in western Illinois, this school was my “home” for four years. It’s where I met some of my dearest friends, where I fell in love with my husband and was where I became who I am. And while there is no way I could have realized it at the time, Monmouth was the beginning of a path that made me the doula I am today.


1. Monmouth College taught me tolerance.

I was a religious studies major. The college was Presbyterian by tradition and the chaplain was an amazing woman (and now dear friend) ordained as a minister in the Disciples of Christ Church. I was raised Catholic and, just a year after 9/11, the first class I walked into on that campus was a course called “Judaism and Islam.” There was so much hate and fear in the world, but that course, and the rest of the religious studies curriculum taught us to engage in open dialogue and non-judgmental discourse.

I would spend the next four years learning about and experiencing other faith traditions. The education I received was built on the ideas of tolerance, respect, and understanding.

Today I walk into a birth with the same mindset. I walk in realizing the my experience and story has nothing to do with the woman giving birth. As a birth doula, I cannot use my own cannon as a standard, but rather meet a laboring mother where she is, learn her experiences, and support her in her own story. It’s this foundation of openness and empathy that helps me see the birth experience through the mother’s experience, and help her welcome her baby in her own way.


2. Monmouth College taught me fundamentals.

I was a music major. Sure, I may have started college with dreams of grandeur – becoming a world-renown opera singer. But this was actually the beginning of a much different path, one that I never could have planned. And the tools that I would learn – appreciation for other styles of music, the ability to analyze the technical elements of music, would come back to serve me as a music therapist and ultimately in music therapy assisted births. I am now able to appreciate the musical preferences of moms and uniquely use their music to support them in all stages of labor.

Understanding the technical elements of music, the emotional pull of certain chord progressions, the way different instruments resonate in parts of your body, really matters when a mom is working so hard to bring her baby into the world.


3. Monmouth College showed me a larger world.

I had the opportunity to push myself out of my “normal” environment and embrace other cultures through travel. I am incredibly grateful that I had the ability to study abroad – to see the world through the eyes of different cultures and different experiences. We all make choices and live our lives in our own ways. To appreciate the beauty in each culture and celebrate the differences.

I grew up in a fairly culturally diverse suburb of Chicago, but I didn’t truly understand the diversity of ideas and lifestyles that the world offered until I went out and experienced it. Culture is more than just the clothes you wear or the food you eat. It’s the way you see the world, the way you define the world around you. I strive to be open to the ways in which other cultures see the world, especially when it comes to birth and parenting. My cultural understanding of birth may not be your worldview and that’s ok! I learn to not deny my personal experience, but also to not become so rigid in my view that I deny your experience. Unbiased, nonjudgemental support is paramount in YOUR birth experience.


4. Monmouth College taught me to Guide, and Be Guided.

I was able to be a part of a ton of extracurriculars … sometimes I think too many. I sang in the choir, served as a student chaplain, worked at the ice cream shop, and was a resident assistant, among others. This isn’t a brag – it’s a reflection on the diversity of situations from which I was able to learn. In some instances I was a leader, in others I was a member of the team. At times I needed to learn, others I was able to teach. I learned that there is a place for action and a place for silent support.

I’ve been the overzealous upstart and enthusiastic activist. I’ve been the wet-behind-the-ears newbie looking for leadership. I’ve been intimidated by those with success, but I’ve also been the leader on the front line. I have worked with a variety of people with a variety of backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and views – what I have found is that on this journey, we are all the same. We are just people, doing our best.

In my journey, I’ve found my place. Here as a doula. Here beside you. Where the I hold your hand and empower you to advocate for yourself. Here where I play the music you love to match your body’s rhythm. Where I gently guide your spouse to be the person you lean on. Where I inspire the power you possess, where I cradle someone powerful as they rest in the pause of the hard work.


It is here where I stand firm on my educational foundation, where I accept you as you are, where you are. Where I support the decisions you make for yourself. Where I honor the life you birth, and the mother who is then born with your baby.


Our lives are a journey … a winding road. I eventually would go on to perform with a small opera company, work with teenagers, offer music therapy in the hospice setting, and eventually find my calling as a doula. Ten years ago, I never would have guessed that this is the work I would be doing. But I love looking back on the journey and seeing how each experience made me who I am today. I am so honored that I am able to provide unconditional, affirming support to mothers in labor.


My path has shaped me to support the women I meet in their unique journeys as mothers.

You were made to birth your baby (1)


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Compassion, from beginning to end

By Annie Walljasper

Parenting can be very reactionary… much of what we decide to do as parents seems to stem from our perception of what our parents did. From cycles of abuse to age old family traditions, both positive and negative childhood experiences influence our parenting philosophies.

My first daughter, just hours after her birth. Little did I know, we'd spend a lot of nights in and out of that bed, struggling to rest.
My first daughter, just hours after her birth. Little did I know, we’d spend a lot of nights in and out of that bed, struggling to rest. (Christopher Walljasper)

I never really thought that I would co-sleep. It isn’t something my parents did with me, and I couldn’t see a way that it would allow my partner and I a place to come together as two people outside of parenthood. But when my first was born, she was demanding. She is my high-spirited little ball of energy who was awake the entire first day of her life. And after that, she woke like clockwork every hour and a half to two hours, ready to eat. If that challenge wasn’t enough, nursing was hard. Not just hard … Hard with a capital “H”.

There was a small nightlight on in our bedroom so that I could get up and get her from her basinet and feed her. I remember telling my husband about 2 weeks into my role as a new mom that that light was shining into my eyes so much, it felt as if my corneas were on fire. They were literally burning. He gently reminded me that the light could easily be turned off. Duh. And just like that, I had a realization.

Turn off the light. Bring the baby into bed. Nurse, snuggle, SLEEP. And we did. She was right where she wanted to be. I was right where I wanted to be. And sure we still woke up to eat all the time, but we were happy and it worked for us.

In our most recent podcast we talked with a woman who is not a “mom” in the traditional sense, but rather a daughter who has had the tables turn. She spends her days caring for her “Mama” – the woman who raised her, held her, fed and dressed her. And now, as mama nears the end of her life, she does the same. She spends time remembering the woman who gave everything for her and wanting to pay back to her the same care and compassion.

When we grow up, we think of the things we will do for our children. But as our parents grow older, how often do we think about how we will care for them? In a 2006 New Beginnings Magazine article, a woman named Dawn shares a story about her mother. Dawn was a surprise pregnancy, and she says her mother didn’t know much about caring for a baby. Their relationship was challenged – hugs and kisses and bonding didn’t seem to come naturally for her mom.

In her sixties, Dawn’s mother gets sick, and struggles to recover from several ailments. As she takes a turn for the worse, Dawn feels torn between what she thinks she’s supposed to do and what she wants to do. Despite feeling conflicted, she crawls in bed with her mom.

“I want so badly to crawl in bed with my mom. I don’t know if I want her to hold me or me to hold her.”

– Dawn Bower

Her mother makes it through another night and even seems to enjoy it, taking comfort in that closeness. In her last days, her children were by her side, in her bed. Dawn writes, “We hold her and stroke her hair, face, and arms, and legs. We do the things that I have always done to comfort my children when they need attention and love.” The comfort they might have been looking for is eclipsed by the comfort they likely gave.

My daughter loves holding her little brother's hand, especially when he's upset in the car.(Christopher Walljasper)
My daughter loves holding her little brother’s hand, especially when he’s upset in the car. (Christopher Walljasper)

Now, I am not saying that co-sleeping is for everyone. What I am saying is that people at the beginning and the end of their lives are vulnerable. Children are constantly facing new emotions, new situations, and a whole lot of uncertainty. And as we begin to lose our physical and mental capabilities near the end of our lives, that uncertainty comes back, bringing with it raw, untethered emotions like when we were young. I am a fairly well-adjusted adult, and I want to be treated with respect and compassion. Shouldn’t the vulnerable among us get the same?

Everyone has to make the parenting choices that work for them. When making parenting choices we compare ourselves to our own parents, as well as others we see around us. We might want to do things differently than our parents, and that is OK. We may want to pass on cherished traditions. And in the end, we are all afraid of screwing up our kids.

We worry. Good grief, there is so much worry. But I think it comes down to treating our children the way we would like to be treated.

I ask myself, “How am I raising my daughter? What will she learn from my actions? How will it shape the parent … the partner … the citizen … she will be someday?”

And if I am lucky, she will care for me someday as well.

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Episode 2: Dancing

Dancing is a part of everyone’s life. Weddings, school dances, or just being silly – we all dance, whether we like it or not.

The second episode of the Parent Coop audio project tells two stories about how the simple act of dancing can make a big impact on a person’s life.


Subscribe to The Parent Coop on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud or wherever you listen to great audio.

Contribute to future episodes

The Parent Coop audio project is planning to release six new episodes in the first half of 2016. We’ve already lined up some great stories to share, but we need your help. Contact if you have a story that you think could add to one of these themes.

Even if your story is only loosely related to a theme, send it our way. If the story has conflict, great characters and a compelling arc, we’ll consider it.


Fridge Art – Stories about art as a release. The fridge as a value judgment. Expression, development, graffiti – tell us about your art story.

Call-in prompt – What was the first piece of art you were proud of, as a child or as a parent?


Hearing – Stories about selective hearing, a child mispronouncing words, or
something you couldn’t unhear.

Call-in prompt – What’s the best thing your child has said?


Loss – Stories about the loss of parents or children. This is an opportunity to cast away some of the fear that surrounds talking about loss as a parent. Tell us about your loved one, and how they’ve shaped you.

Call-in prompt – Tell us the name of someone you’ve lost as a way of honoring their existence.


Pets – Stories about a peculiar pet or an animal that changed the way you saw the world. Maybe you treated your brother like a pet.

Call-in prompt – What’s the weirdest name you’ve ever given a pet? Where did the name come from?


Sell out – Tell us how you identify yourself, beyond the role of parent. How do you maintain that identity?

Call-in prompt – What odd things did your parents do to make extra money? Or as a child, what was your first paying job?

Check back often for more story ideas and prompts. Or check us out on facebook.

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#ilovemydoula – World Doula Week

10428100_947177441989826_7686206455558704071_nMy husband, Chris, was amazing during the birth of our daughter. Not only was he so incredibly supportive of my decisions, he attended the Bradley Birth classes and helped me do the exercises each night. He worked tirelessly to prepare our home for baby (a total rehab in the two months before she was born) and then during the birth he walked with me the entire journey. We would walk together and as a contraction came he’d stand behind me, supporting me both emotionally and physically – I literally was sitting in his lap as he stood behind me.

Days after she was born we went to the chiropractor and it was amazing that he was “out” in all the same places I was. We literally had traveled together. My pelvis needed adjustment, his pelvis needed adjustment. My leg and his leg needed help in the same places. It was like this incredible, tangible way I could see how much he had been with me. I know I couldn’t have had the experience I had without him.

I also had an amazing doula. Kate Taylor with Creative Childbirth Concepts had been someone I got in touch with professionally because we are both board certified music therapists. But from the moment I met her to interview her to be our doula – I knew that she was supposed to be in my life. She has this amazing presence about her, peaceful and calm.

She walked into our house the night our daughter was born when I was laying on the couch crying. It might have been transition, where contractions were increasingly painful, or maybe just the emotions of the day (I had already labored on and off for more than 24 hours). Kate encouraged me to get up and trying something new to deal with the pain. She was a perfect addition to the birth, bringing with her guidance and gentleness. She changed the feeling in the room, helped us regroup, refocus, and reconnect. She got the music playing, got me on the birth ball, and helped me vocalize in a productive way. I never had the experience where I wanted to kill my husband, never lashed out at him like you see in movies… but I also remember that Kate had a way of touch that was just different than anything Chris could do. It was almost like energy coming from her body and working through her hands to ease my pain. To calm and relax me.

And she did more than just help me. She helped Chris when he wasn’t sure what to do. She supported him, telling him how to help me. She gave him direction. She never seemed to just take over – instead Kate empowered both of us to be a part of this birth. When Chris was exhausted she told him to rest, when he was unsure she placed his hands, when he didn’t know what else needed to be done, she pointed out the next thing to do. She was there for both of us, helping us be a team and allowing space for my husband to be an active part of the birth.

Right before I started pushing, I 11013547_10204343665816187_6034165385484712257_nneeded to move out of the bathroom and onto the bed. I had people telling me where to go and what to do, and quite honestly I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Kate leaned in close to me and whispered, “I know everyone is telling you what to do, I know it’s a lot to take. But you can do this. You can birth your baby.” It was the perfect thing to say. Exactly what I needed to hear. The encouragement and empowerment that I carry with me now two and half years after that birth. I did do it. I birthed my baby. My body is amazing. How many women walking around today think to themselves, “My body is amazing”? What a fantastic gift I have been given!

I love Kate. She gave more to us in those 36 hours than I could have ever imagined. Ever expected. She knew the journey, she led us through it. Not just me but all of us. She was our guide and because of her I conquered, I succeeded in having the birth I truly dreamt of.