Spectrum Doula Collective

Beyond the Bio: Meet Laura

Meet Laura - our newest doula! We first met Laura in August and we’ve been smitten ever since! You see, Laura is a type of grounding person you that puts you immediately at ease and you just know deep in your bones that whatever you tell her, she’ll never judge you and will find a way to support you, no matter what. Find out more about Laura below:

Toronto Doula

WHAT DREW YOU TO PERINATAL WORK?

For the past 12 years I was actually in the world of theatre. I was confident for my teenage years that I was only going to be an actor, and nothing else. Eventually, I found that acting was not very fulfilling. I constantly felt nervous about what my body looked like. There is a lot of body shaming, and a lot of sexism in the industry. I was tired of feeling both self centered, and self conscious all the time. I realized that I wanted to make an impact not by how I looked like, but what I did to help others in times of vulnerability and change. I was always someone that worked well in a crisis, and I have always found birth fascinating. The more I started researching the role of a doula, and the more I learned about artists who were also doulas, I was confident this was the right fit. The training with DONA International was incredible, and after the first birth I went to I knew it was where I belonged!

IF YOU WEREN'T A PERINATAL SUPPORT WORKER WHAT WOULD YOUR ALTERNATE JOB BE?

Great question. I still do love writing and creating pieces of art, but I also know down the line I would like to be a midwife. So possibly a midwife who also writes books, and creates performance art...? Let's say that!

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL?

Either a nurse or an actor. I'm not a nurse, but I think I got pretty close to my childhood goals!

IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD TOMORROW WHERE WOULD YOU GO?

Every year I try to go camping in Wisconsin. It seems like I should be picking Paris, or somewhere in Africa, but honestly the forests and water there is absolutely breathtaking. I'm a big camper, and I would take a tent over a fancy hotel any day!


WHAT WOULD THE PERFECT OFF-CALL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Oooo, this is a great question. First off I would get a ridiculous amount of sleep. I would wake up on a sunny afternoon, and meet some friends in a park to catch up, and rant about how great it is to be a doula. The night would be complete with my friends and I splitting a bottle of wine, and singing folk songs slightly off key.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE THING (OR TWO) THAT YOU HAVE NO GUILT ABOUT INDULGING IN?

Smartfood popcorn. It's bliss.

Name one thing...

…YOU LEARNED THE HARD WAY ABOUT BIRTH EARLY IN YOUR DOULA CAREER:

Ooo I learned that early labour can last days and days. One time I took the whole day off expecting to run to the hospital, but it was just me waiting around in my home for a full day before I was needed. Birth is just as unpredictable as everyone says!

... YOU LOOK BACK ON IN YOUR LIFE THAT MAKES YOU FEEL PROUD:

Honestly I would say switching careers to become a doula! It was scary, and it took a lot of thought, but I've never been happier.

... THAT USUALLY SURPRISES PEOPLE ABOUT YOU:

I ate my first orange 2 years ago. As a child they scared me. Not sure why. I love them by the way.

... THAT'S ALWAYS IN YOUR FRIDGE OR PANTRY:

Smartfood popcorn. Did I mention that it is bliss? It is.

What is your favourite...

COLOUR?

Green. Green. Green.

ANIMAL?

Bernese mountain dogs. Also turtles.

SEASON?

Summer. Can't stand winter.

TORONTO CAFE?

You can always find me at Voodoo Child by Kensington Market!

BIRTH/PERINATAL BOOK?

When Survivors Give Birth! It's a very heavy read but it opened my eyes to the importance of trauma informed care.

When it's a period.

Trying to conceive is not an easy process, but that moment you get your period and you know, you know that for sure you are not pregnant is devastating. We are grateful to a client of ours who has shared how challenging trying to conceive has been for her, and just how difficult it is when it ends with a period. 

 

I never imagined that I would struggle with fertility. I suppose no one ever does. But somehow we are surprised whether we get pregnant quickly, or when we don't get pregnant at all. I've known people who planned for at least six months of trying before a positive pregnancy and then when that positive pregnancy happened right away they were actually disappointed and wished they had more time. On the other hand, I also have friends who have waited until all their ducks are perfectly in a row, and then when it doesn't happen right away it's heartbreaking. 

Back about 6 years ago, when the idea of kids was a little seedling, I had travelled to Chicago for the weekend with my married friends to catch a Cubs game. Like one does at a baseball game, in one of the oldest ball parks in the world, is to indulge in the park's delicacies - hot dogs and beer. We were of course disappointed to find the hot dog we had been given had been boiled, soggy, and limp, but nothing a little ketchup can't fix. 

After the game, my friend started to feel ill, so ill she spent the rest of the evening in the washroom, followed by the next two mornings, and our whole drive back to Toronto not feeling herself. Her husband and I could only assume it was the not so delicate hot dog, we clearly just had stomachs of steel. Turns out she was pregnant. That bad ballpark hotdog was her little man - we couldn't believe it - and well neither could she. 

The significance of this story is that I think about it often. Now that I'm trying to conceive, I seem to mistake my indigestion for a positive pregnancy on the regular... it can't be that chicken I ate!? It's been two years of trying, and it's tough. I always seem to waver between hopefulness and hopelessness. Every twinge I feel I wonder... could it be?? 

There are so many aspects that can be unpacked when trying to conceive, the monitoring, the fertility clinic, the fertility drugs, the constant stream of well intentioned but unsolicited advice. But it's that very real and very brief moment when you know you've got to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and find what little hope you have for another month of monitoring, tracking, and trying, is the one moment I struggle most with. That moment your body tells you another month has passed, another failed attempt. That moment you get your period. 

It feels weird to look back at those decades of relief (sometimes glee) when you get your period, and then just like that you dread it, and not just because of the bloating, and cramping, but because it simply magnifies the sadness, the sadness of another month gone and your dream of having a family a little more crushed. But then again, I can't help but feel hopeful as I near my expected period date, wondering if the bloating, or tiredness I feel is a sign of a positive pregnancy. And then it arrives, as if shedding the aftermath of a battle that's just happened in my uterus. And I feel a loss, a great loss. I had dreamed, hoped and imagined that I would soon begin a new life with babe in tow. But instead I have to clean up the blood and move on. A lost opportunity, and my life in suspension waiting for another month, another attempt, and potentially another loss.

Written by Spectrum Doula Collective Client

 

At Spectrum Doula Collective we work with families who are trying to conceive, we will attend important appointments at the fertility clinic for uncomfortable tests, such as the egg retrieval process, hysterosalipingogram (fallopian tube test), and insemination/in vitro fertilization. Our goal is to be emotional and physical support for our clients who are trying to conceive, or hope to be a parent later on.

 

 

 

Beyond the Bio: Meet Megan . . .

When Megan started work as a doula, she felt that there was a gap in the Toronto birth community. And so Spectrum Doula Collective was born. Megan hopes that no matter how or when you choose to grow your family that Spectrum Doula Collective can be a safe space to find support. Pretty cool, hey? We think Megan is pretty cool too . . .

What drew you to doula work?

After a career break and travelling for a couple of years I came back to Toronto with a new perspective and was keen to work in an inclusive, and progressive environment where I would feel like I'm making a positive impact. When I returned from my travels my very pregnant friend was telling me about her doula, and with my previous work in maternal and LGBTQ health, a light bulb went off. A week later I signed up for the Birthing From Within Doula and Mentor Training, and the rest is history.

If you weren't a doula what would your alternate dream job be?

If I weren't in birth work, I would love to be working with penguins (I'm being very serious! I went to the Antarctic a couple years back and was in awe), OR I've often day dreamed about owning a Bed & Breakfast on Vancouver Island while bee keeping and making honey (pipe dreams?).

What did you want to be when you were in elementary school?

There were so many things I wanted to be, but it ranged between being an artist, a doctor, a firefighter, to an architect. I had no idea what any of the above entailed but they all sounded good at the time.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

This is such a hard question for me, I've been to so many countries that I would love to go back to (Norway, Mongolia and Nepal to name a few) and many more I would like to visit! I have never been to New Zealand though and it's top on my list!

What would the perfect off-call day look like for you?

Because off-call days are so rare, I usually like to spend them doing something away from my phone. I imagine paddle boarding on Toronto island with a good friend or two followed by a picnic in the summer would be lovely, or brunch followed by Body Blitz with some friends in the winter would be perfection!

Favourite vice (or two) that you have no guilt about?

Please don't judge me. I am a sucker for Survivor and the Bachelor/Bachelorette (I promise I won't bring either up unless you ask me first). I love playing bad pop music while I'm driving. And I love chocolate, and cake, and cookies, and sour cream glazed timbits. . . and well anything sweet.

 

Name One Thing . . .

. . . you learned the hard way about birth early in your career:

My first client hired me late in her third trimester and the day she confirmed, she found out she was 4 cm dilated and 60% effaced. I thought she was going to go in to labour that night. After a week of anticipation, and not much sleep she finally called with contractions. I had no idea that someone could be 4 cm dilated walking around the city like nothing is happening for a whole week!

. . . you look back on in your life that makes you feel proud:

I cycled across Canada the summer of 2014. When I started in Vancouver, my cousin asked 'what the heck are you doing??' I said, "I don't know, but I'm here and have to make my way back home". I had told myself that at anytime, I can hop on a bus or a plane if I don't want to finish. But I biked every inch, solo, and self supported from Vancouver to Halifax. Whenever I'm struggling or think something isn't possible I say to myself "Megan! You biked across Canada, you can surely do this".

. . . that usually surprises people about you:

That I use to play Rugby. I actually started the girls rugby team at my high school eons ago, and played Varsity at the University of Waterloo. Even when I was playing rugby people were surprised to find out. It's like they imagined me in the 'end' zone picking daisies or something? (To be fair there were some days where I would have preferred picking daisies).

. . . that's always in your fridge or pantry:

Almond milk, cheese, and hummus.

 

What's your favourite . . .

Colour

Green

Animal

Elephant

Season

Spring

Toronto Cafe

Boxcar Social Riverdale

Birth Book

Labyrinth of Birth by Pam England

 

Beyond the Bio: Meet Taylor . . .

It's hard not to love Taylor at first meeting. She is warm, approachable and has a great sense of humour. Passionate about movement, and pelvic floor health Taylor has a unique approach to preparing her clients for labour and delivery, while also building positive birth memories! We are excited for you to get to know her better (and to find out a bit more about why we fell in love with her).

What drew you to doula work?

The combinations of working with people in a therapeutic/helping profession and working with the mind/body connection to help others create meaning during one of the biggest transitions we can go through physically, mentally and emotionally as people.

If you weren't a doula what would your alternate dream job be?

Probably something in fashion, collecting or curating vintage fashion shows. I have always loved fashion and design since I was little. I would have loved to link cultural/historical significance and fashion trends in the 20th Century. How one influenced the other.

What did you want to be when you were in elementary school?

Everything! a pilot, crossing guard, nun, witch, nurse, captain of a ship.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

Spain!

What would the perfect off-call day look like for you?

Waking up and checking my emails in bed (no earlier than 10:00AM !) having a coffee with my sister at The Common. Walking to a Pilates class in Bloor West. Then checking out the Value Village and picking up a great find. Get home to read an article or chapter out of Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Nap in the afternoon, before catching a ferry ride to Toronto Island. Swimming in the lake, sitting by the shore to share a bottle of wine with great company and then eat dinner in the garden!

favourite vice (or two) that you have no guilt about?

I have way more than two so here goes, I love a good Netflix binge watch. Although not on Netflix, I have watched The Wire 5 times through each SEASON! I love Spanish wine and baked sweet potato fries. I will always order Pad Thai for noodles. My desktop background is a picture of Audrey Hepburn. I am a sucker for Julia Robert's movies. I am addicted to my girl friends and would hang out with them every night to gab and talk about feminism. I will ferociously check Instagram when I am on the TTC. I have always loved big coffee mug/bowls. I will happily eat a tub of Haagen Dazs while watching any one of the things mentioned above :P

 

Name One Thing . . .

 

. . . you learned the hard way about birth early in your career:

I learned the hard way that it is important to take care of myself at a birth. I almost fainted and hit the floor while my first client ever was pushing (and making great progress). I hid in the bathroom to gulp back some sugar and thought I would maybe miss the birth.

. . . you look back on in your life that makes you feel proud:

I am proud of pursuing the career that I love! I look back and I see how all the pages I turned in my life were really leading me here. I grew up a bit all over Canada and felt very scattered at times in my life but somehow it all culminated to doing exactly what I think I should be doing. Entrepreneurship is not easy but I am so proud of what I have made out of it.

. . . that usually surprises people about you:

If they ask about my names people are usually surprised to learn that my middle name Stevie comes from my mother's name which is Stevelen. A combination of her father's names Steven and Lennox.

. . . that's always in your fridge or pantry:

Cheddar Cheese

 

What's your favourite . . .

 

Colour

Purple

Animal

Cats

Season

Fall

Toronto Cafe

The Common!

Birth Book

Labour Progress Handbook by Penny Simkin

Get Packing: Support Bag Essentials

1. Tissue (hospitals don't supply... at all!), 2. Pillow, 3. Earplugs, 4. Breath mints, 5. Extra socks (and underwear)

1. Tissue (hospitals don't supply... at all!), 2. Pillow, 3. Earplugs, 4. Breath mints, 5. Extra socks (and underwear)

It's time to get ready for the big day. You're supporting your partner in life, love, and or friendship through their labour and delivery. This may be the birth of your baby, or you may be there to witness the birth of someone very special, either way, it's important to be well packed and prepared.

In terms of what to pack, you're really looking to pack mostly for your own comfort (I know it sounds a little selfish, but you won't be a good support unless you are well supported). The thing about labour is it's so unpredictable, you might be at the birth centre or hospital for a couple of hours, or you might be there for a full day or two!

Here's Spectrum's absolute essential things to pack in your support bag (click here for a full support bag packing list, and keep an eye out for our essential list for birth bag and postpartum bag)...

Clothing

Since you're not the person birthing, you'll want to be sure that you dress in comfortable clothes that aren't too restrictive and you don't mind potentially getting a little messy, and bring at least one change of clothes. The key is to pack extra underwear and socks! It's amazing how just changing your knickers will make you feel like a whole new person.

Toiletries

Of all things you'll want to make sure are packed will be toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, and breath mints. Smell is incredibly sensitive for those who are labouring, and there's nothing worse for your partner in crime (and labour) when you're holding them with unpleasant body odour and bad breath.

Comfort Measures

Think about what you might like for your comfort! In terms of what the hospital or birth centre supplies support partners is pretty minimal. With that in mind it is always a good idea to bring a pillow for you (in a coloured or unique pillow case so it doesn't get mixed with the generic white pillows the hospital/birth centre supplies), ear plugs if you have an opportunity for a wee cat nap, and some tissue (these are often never supplied, and always needed for both you and birthing person!).

Electronics

Smart phones are great for labour. They become an all in one: camera, music player, and of course - a phone! Just remember your charger! And if you or the birthing person would like the moment captured, you might like to pack a proper camera.

Snacks

You never know when you'll be called in to action, how long it'll take or when you'll have a chance for a breather. And the best way to ensure that the birthing person is well supported and taken care of is to ensure that you are well fueled! Bring nutrient packed snacks, and pre-cooked frozen meals. There are no restrictions on what you eat, but the only person that will ensure that you are staying nourished will be you!

There you have it! Now get packing!

If you've got some great packing tips, or some packing related questions, let us know by writing a comment, we would love to hear from you...!

Love,

The Spectrum Doula Team