Doula Support

Doula Support

As of today I have received my doula certification and have attended 5 births. I’ve had some clients deliver with an epidural and others who did not. I’ve been in attendance during vaginal deliveries as well as cesarean sections. Some clients were medically induced while others experienced spontaneous labor at home. After some births, my body has been physically drained and sore. After other births, I feel energized and ready to take on the rest of my day. The support I’ve provided has been as diverse as each of the women receiving the support.

Since I have begun my doula training, I vowed to myself to be dedicated to learning about research and evidence-based information. My dedication was due to apprehension that I would find an overwhelming amount of misinformation based on fear, old wives tales, and anecdotes. I have been pleasantly surprised by the volume of research that is available and the dedication of other birth workers in obtaining and sharing information based on research, data, and statistics.

The majority of my interest lies in helping my clients manage their pain and discomfort during labor and delivery. Three themes keep showing up: support, placebo effects, and perception of pain. These themes are a reminder of the power of the mind.

People feel and perform better when they perceive themselves to be in supportive environments. Support is relative and varies by individual and preferences. If my clients get what they want, they will feel supported and have a more satisfying birthing experience.

A client who gets an epidural after wanting a completely natural birth will feel dissatisfied. A client who gets an epidural after expecting, wanting and requesting it, will feel satisfied. It isn’t the epidural it’self that is causing these feelings, however, it is the expectations around the birthing experience. When our expectations are met, we feel content and fulfilled.

Since coming to this realization I have shifted the conversations that I have with my clients from spewing information and tricks of the trade to me listening to their hopes, wishes, and fears. I don’t have a magical doula wand or pixie dust that eliminates pain but I do have some experience, an ear to listen, a heart filled with good intention and a bag with some tools to help my clients customize a birthing experience that they won’t want to forget.

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Storm King Art Center

Storm King Art Center

I have wanted to visit Storm King Art Center since some of my friends went, last summer. The idea of an outdoor sculpture park, holding 100 larger than life sculptures for my viewing pleasure was more than intriguing.

The mix of sun, forest, art, activities for the little one, and fresh air was well worth the drive and admission price and I am looking forward to returning again and again. During our 3 hour visit, we only saw about one-tenth of what was available for us. Next time, I will be packing a picnic lunch and turning this into an all-day excursion!

My June

My June

I resigned from my position as a Case Manager on June 14th, which marked the end of getting paid for full-time work but it did not mark the end of my grinding spirit nor busy lifestyle. Up until that point, I was working three jobs, managing a new blog, planning a wedding and paying special attention to my daughter’s evolving needs of me as she grows and matures.

On June 14th I also hopped on a plane and flew across the country to one of my favorite cities, LA. You can read more about my trip by clicking on this link. I returned just in time to begin to prepare my daughter for her senior dance and elementary school graduation.

Her graduation was scheduled for Wednesday morning, June 20th. On June 19th, just the day before, I got word from my client that she believed she was in the beginning stages of labor. I got my doula bag together and began to mentally prepare for a birth, dangerously close to an important milestone in my daughter’s life. I had to push through the thought that I could miss either of these very important occurrences. I didn’t want to have to make a choice between them, so I didn’t.

At 2:57am on Wednesday, my client’s husband called to inform me that they were on their way to the hospital as her contractions were increasing in intensity and frequency. As he updated me on the phone, I was carefully listening to my client’s moans in the background. She sounded as though she was in mid-late labor and I hoped and guessed that she had labored long enough at home, meaning that she just may be nearly ready to deliver by the time she arrived at the hospital. I took the leap of faith that there was no need to contact my backup doula to cover for me. I felt nervous and mildly confident that I could attend her birth and Jayda’s graduation.

She delivered around 6am that morning. I had enough time to marvel at her strength, admire the new family and make sure the baby was latching on well, go home, shower and run out to Jayda’s graduation. I even had time to get flowers and a good seat. Immense relief, a huge deep breath, and a shit ton of gratitude.

My little girl is no longer an elementary school student and she will be attending the School of the Future in the fall. As this was our first pick for middle school, I am extremely proud of Jayda and excited for everything in store for her.

Her senior dance was the following Friday. Jayda and all her friends looked beautiful and had a great time at their masquerade ball themed celebration!

On the 26th, my second client of the month delivered her baby and it was also amazing. I love my job!

On the 27th I saw my wedding dress for the first time in months! It’s still beautiful and still the one! I’m growing more and more excited for our big day as we get closer to it. Plus, my bride tribe and I have started planning a bachelorette/bridal shindig that I’m also looking forward to.

June felt jam-packed, but everything fit. And there’s lots more to come.

Going Back To Cali

Going Back To Cali

When our friend Jibril told us that he was getting married, Rick and I grinned at the thought of having an excuse to visit California again. California is pretty significant to the ever-evolving story of Laura Max and Rick. We kicked off a love affair there in 2014 and got engaged there in 2017. Click here for the full love story and all the juicy details.

Rick and I met at his house in the Bronx after work on Thursday afternoon but this was no ordinary Thursday. Not only were we heading to the airport, but it was also my last day at my 9-5 job. This trip was intended to commemorate our friend and his nuptials as well as celebrate and mark the end of an era working full time in the field of developmental disabilities.

We touched down in LAX on Thursday evening. Well rested from the 6-hour flight, we decided to go out. Rick found a venue from Instagram that looked pretty cool called Apt 503. This venue is only worth mentioning due to it’s avant-garde Alice In Wonderland-like decor, which made for the perfect photo op. Much of the decor was being projected onto the walls, thus making it also great for the optical illusion lover. Dubstep isn’t really my speed so I cannot vouch for it musically, but visually, this venue is on point.

 

On the second day of our trip, I woke up and visited the garden of the Airbnb we were staying. I was all too excited to learn that there were tangerine and lemon trees there and I quickly began to plan what I could do with all this fresh garden goodness. I ended up deciding on a sweet and tangy tangerine-lemonade.

 

Later that day we visited the dispensery. Legalization makes me happy. We bought more than a reasonable amount of product consisting of a carbonated beverage, a sativa, indica and gummies. All this on day 2 of a 4-day trip. What can I say? We love to live in abundance.

 

After I mistakenly put the wrong address into the GPS that put us 45 minutes out of the way of our next stop, we finally found ourselves at the Famous Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.

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The abundance of cannabis and infused treats, of course, led us to be on our asses and we called it a night pretty early. Luckily we had morning hiking plans at Griffith Park and getting a full nights rest was key to getting out of the house by 6am the next day.

 

After our hike, we visited Beverly Hills for some light shopping. I was excited to visit Kyle Richard’s store (from The Beverly Hill’s franchise of The Real Housewives). Rick was excited to visit G-Star where he wound up getting a $200 pair of jeans on sale for $30.

 

Then it was back to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, because why not?

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The next day we celebrated our reason for visiting LA in the first place by attending our friend’s wedding. Both the bride and the groom were dressed in beautiful garbs from the Muslim faith and looked amazing as they vowed their love and commitment for one another.

 

I left early the next morning, thus concluding my brief but memorable trip to LA. As always, I am looking forward to returning. There is always something to new to do in the sunny state of California.

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Simple Summer Salad

Simple Summer Salad

I was shocked to be impressed by this simple recipe for the perfect summer salad!

Torn Romain Lettuce

Diced Pink Lady Apple

Diced Cucumber

Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Mix

& sprinkle your favorite nut (I used a homemade trail mix which had pecans, pistachios and cashews)

It provides such a fresh taste with an array of flavor, from bursts of crisp sweetness from the apple to smokey heat from the black pepper. It was so yummy!

Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Do you have a favorite summer recipe? Share below!

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Laura Max

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Laura Max

I asked my readers to submit questions to continue to get to know me. I was thinking I would have to explain my favorite colors or hair products but ya’ll wasted no time getting straight into the deep stuff.

Here we go……

  1. If you were in a fire, and everyone you love was safe, what three items would you grab to save and why? (Question submitted by Jeisson C.)

First of all, I saw This Is Us and realistically I’m not running into any fire to save anything, since my family are all safe…. but hypothetically speaking, I would grab this large plastic bin I have that holds some of my mother’s belongings. There isn’t much in there but it means a lot to me. She was very spiritual, so it has a chanting book, a notebook, and other items that remind me of her and my childhood growing up with the influence of the Ashram. Then I would try to grab as many photo albums as I could. I have tons from high school, way before digital cameras so they feel extra valuable to me. I would have to use my third option to save something that belongs to Jayda, likely Callie, one of her stuffed animals.

 

2. If you had a super power, what would it be and why? (Also submitted by Jeisson C.)

If I could have any super power in my imagination, I would choose the power to change people’s mind. I promise I would only use it for the greater good of humanity, and only for really important issues. Best part about this power is everyone would love my initiatives and no on would disagree because, well, I would change their minds if they did. World hunger, war, racism? All things of the past. I think I would also use this power to help people on a more personal level. You want to go back to school but you’re not sure if you’ll be able to commit and finish? Yes, you can! You want to lose weight but you hate whole grains, vegetables and exercising? BAM! How you like them now? You want to quit your job and move across the country but you’re scared of the unknown? Not anymore!

 

3. How does it feel to control your own paycheck? (Submitted by Cedric F.)

Initially, I felt nervous about this. My earnings are now a direct reflection of my effort. There are no “benefits” in terms of 401K or paid vacation time. However, I feel really motivated by this also. When I work hard, money rolls in and that is an incentive to work harder, if and when money is the goal. When relaxation is the goal, I don’t have to ask anyone for permission. I’m creating a life I don’t need a vacation from anyway, so the responsibility that comes with this control is exciting! Let’s check in on this in a few months though (lol).

 

4. What is a defining moment in your life, other than being a mom and falling in love, that made you a better person? (Submitted by Mario C.)

Don’t you hate when you ask a specific question and the person answers something else? Yeah, sorry about that Mario. I cannot choose one defining moment because I feel like my life has been a culmination of little moments that are all guiding me to wherever it is I am supposed to be. I feel like growing up with spirituality has been a huge factor that’s helped to make me a better person. Falling in love has made me better, but more specifically the man that I have fallen in love with makes me a better person. He holds me accountable for the things I say which makes me a better communicator and more responsible. I know he has high expectations of me which helps me to keep growing. I feel safe knowing that when I fall, he’s there to get back up with me.

 

5. How does it make you feel about pursuing what you love? (Also submitted by Mario C.)

I feel GREATFUL! Greatful that I have the capacity and resources to truly customize my life. I’m sooooo greatful that I have support from my friends and family. I’m 32 years old and I could have sworn my parents opinions didn’t affect me anymore but I realized I was nervous when telling my step-mom about my new career. But after I nervously did, she was so happy and excited for me and it just pushed me further. I take my hat off to people who pursue their dreams despite doubt and criticism. I feel courageous but that is some next level fearlessness.

 

6. Since you’re a birth doula now, what was your own birthing experience with your daughter? (Question submitted by Stephanie L.)

I got pregnant with Jayda when I was 21 years old. I had a very stressful pregnancy, which began with my father asking me to move out, led to the strain of living in my daughter’s father’s family’s house and ended with an emergency cesarean procedure at just 32 weeks. I was completely removed from my body at the time. I didn’t feel my sky high blood pressure. I didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t empowered. I didn’t have one single doctor, but instead many rotating physicians and residents. My birth story was a complete mess. But that mess gives me an interesting perspective when working with my clients. I would never want anyone to experience their births the way I did. On August 15th 2007, Jayda was born 2 lbs 9oz. Tiny as could be but just as strong and healthy. She didn’t have anything to worry about except getting bigger and she stayed in the hospital for her first 5 weeks of life.

 

7. Which self-care practices do you subscribe to? (Question submitted by Nicole P.)

I love. love. love breathing deeply. I even use an app that helps guide deep breathing. It’s called “Calm”. I also love stretching my body, especially my neck and shoulders which is where I carry most of my stress. Warm baths with candle light are also nice. I bought an oil diffuser for my clients but I’ve enjoyed using it for myself as well. Mango and peppermint oils are my favorites so far. Sometimes I need to journal to practice self-care, especially when I’m having a hurricane of thoughts in my head that need organizing and sorting out. I write what’s bothering me, and the solutions. Sometimes the solution is just getting it out of my head and on to paper, and sometimes I need to take action. Either way, writing has been a saving grace for me.

 

Thank you all for your submissions and thank you for being supporters of my blog!

Take Me Higher

Take Me Higher

Do you identify as a stoner?

Do you like to eat delicious food?

Are you into yoga?

Do you enjoy spending time with strong women from all walks of life?

 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Higher Yoga may be just for you.

Created and run by sisters Shanelly & Roshelly, Higher Yoga is exactly what it sounds like, and then some. A giant cipher among the 15 participants, yummy snacks and food (some of which has been cannabis-infused), an hour of yoga led by a wonderful instructor and goodies to take home.

I smoked before leaving home because I was afraid that a cipher of this magnitude would certainly leave me feeling sober. I was wrong. There was an abundance of weed, food and great vibes for the entire 3-hour event.

The afternoon started by laying out our mats while munching on fruit bowls, bagels,  and enjoying homemade juices. We then began the cipher with a sativa strand. Sativas tend to provide more invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. (Source) We went around the room, introducing ourselves and setting intentions for the week. After checking in with ourselves and each other, the yoga instructional portion began. This was led by Muriel, who eased us into gentle yoga over hip hop beats. After yoga, a hearty brunch, and of course  the next round of marijuana was served. This time Indica, which is a strain believed to be physically sedating and perfect for relaxing. (Source) We ended the afternoon with deep breathing and meditation.

I will definitely be participating in more Higher events and I invite all my New York readers/stoners to check them out and see for your self what all the hype is about.

Their next event is on July 1st, as the sisters celebrate 1 year of their business and it’s sure to be a memorable event of the summer. Use this link to get your tickets.

Higher Yoga and all of the Higher events are nice reminders that if you have an idea for a business venture of your own, there is no better time than now to see your dream to fruition. If you would benefit from the service/class/product, there are countless other like-minded people who would think your idea is dope as well, so go for it!


Check these ladies out on IG//

Shanelly                  Roshelly                  Yogi Muri                    Higher Dining