Managing An On-Call Life

I went from working very predictable and typical hours, to a job that is widely on-call. Some of the work I do these days can be pre-planned and arranged (such as prenatal, postpartum and overnight support) however the bulk of what I do is attend births and those are hard to plan around.

People have the notion that their baby will be delivered on their due date, but the truth of the matter is that due dates are just rough estimates based on the last date of menstruation. No one can accurately predict the day that their baby will be born even if they know the exact date of conception and your baby certainly isn’t keeping track. Babies come when they’re ready. Luckily we have estimated due dates because they give us a ballpark idea of when to expect the baby but knowing exactly when is near impossible (outside of scheduling a cesarean). Even once labor has begun, it’s hard to predict how long it will last before your little one arrives. Throw in prodromal labor (contractions that can begin anytime at term and last for a few days to a week) and Braxton hicks (“false labor”), and you’ll start to see the value in going with the flow.

As a birth worker, this has been a difficult transition for me. There have been times when I’ve received word that a client believes labor has begun but she isn’t quite ready for me to join her yet. I have sat on the edge of my bed, frozen, like a statue. Afraid to start anything (like cooking or cleaning) and afraid to exert any energy for fear that when it’s time for me to join I’ll be exhausted, or asleep.

The last time this happened, I knew I had to develop a plan to help myself cope with being on call, and here it is…

  1. Live my life. If I was heading to the gym, or the store, or was about to start cooking dinner, then I will continue to do what I intended on doing. Being fully supportive to my clients doesn’t have to include putting my life on hold. When they’re ready for me I will put everything down, but in the meantime, I must go on as I normally would.
  2. Don’t be afraid of being tired. I know for a fact that when it is time for me to join my clients, my adrenaline kicks in and I am filled with energy and ready to work! I know that since I am a doula full-time now I don’t have to worry about being rested for any other jobs and after the birth, I can come back home to sleep and recharge as necessary. I also stock red bull in my fridge now. This has more of a placebo effect than anything else. Knowing that it’s there gives me peace of mind, even if I never drink it.
  3. Change my client’s ringtones. If I do fall asleep or find myself in noisy New York streets, a brash and startling ringtone will do the trick to make sure I never miss a call.
  4. Schedule the classes that I teach online to be lighter around my clients EDD (estimated due date). I have already come to terms with the idea that sometimes I might have to cancel classes in order to support my clients, and by scheduling fewer classes in the first place I reduce my chances of having to cancel at all. Luckily my teaching job is pretty flexible and I can make up classes on the weekends or any other time, really.

Handling an on-call life has been a challenge for me, but I’m happy that I took the time to figure out how to best support myself so that I can best support my clients.

Do you live an on-call life?

How do you cope with the unpredictability?

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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

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!

New Face, Who Dis?

I have struggled with acne since elementary school. When I was younger, I hid my huge pimple riddled forehead under baseball caps. As an adult, I rely on makeup and bangs. I visited with dermatologists when the problem first arose but all I remember from that was getting injections in each pimple and leaving the doctor’s office with a bleeding face… And returning to do it all again… but without any benefits.

As a teenager, I was a regular at my local drug store. I purchased all kinds of washes, toners, masks, serums, moisturizers, and strips. Nothing worked! Plus- As a pathological picker, I only made matters worse.

As I’ve grown older and begun to revisit the natural lifestyle that I grew up with, I started to rely on oils to cure my acne woes.

Tea tree oil

Lavender oil

Coconut oil

I was dedicated and convinced that one day one of these oils would get rid of my problem skin. In reality, they just made my face super oily.

Go figure… I’m not sure why that lesson took so long to learn but I gave oils at least a year to do their thing before giving up.

Most recently, I had some leftover money on a benefit card from my employer which could only be used for medical purposes. The idea didn’t come to me on my own, but my fiance suggested that I use the money to give a dermatologist another try. So I did. I was prescribed a medicated wash, a day cream, a night cream, a fading cream for scars and an herbal supplement.

For once in my life I am pleased with the results enough to >gasp< share my before pictures!

Dr. Lodha at Pura Dermatology really delivered! I am now so excited to wash my face and go, only bothering with a bit of mascara if I’m feeling fancy. No more concealer or foundation or any other feeble attempts at covering up.

This change has come just in time for my upcoming wedding and all my other pursuits which require people to look at my face a lot more than ever before. I know that I still have a bit of scarring to resolve but I’m really happy with the results.

When I began my journey into creating a life I love, I didn’t know it would involve my face. The way I perceive myself is a huge determining factor of how I move in the world. It dictates the amount of eye contact I give, which dictates conversation, intimacy, and connections with other people. For me, a clear face is more than looking good in my reflection. It’s about feeling good and confident and being more open in relationships both old and new.

 

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January 2018

 

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March 2018

 

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May 2018

New face, who dis?

Feeling Like a Freak on a Leash

My baby feels like a freak.

My 10-year-old, little peanut, sweetest girl in the world, feels like a freak.

And for now, all I can do is listen to her cries, and assure her that one day all of her peers will be bleeding from their vaginas too. But for now, she’s the first in her class, and she feels like a freak.

Some change feels natural. Like from being held in a womb, to in arms, to sitting up, to crawling, to walking, to running. And some change feels abusive and unnecessary, like bleeding for days from your private area, every month,  in order to be able to have babies in 20 years…. Like really?

She and I had different experiences. I was 13 and one of the last of my friends to get their periods. I was eager for puberty. I had a book called “What’s Happening To My Body: A Book For Girls”. I studied the pictures to make sure my boobs and pubes were developing on schedule, and they were not. My best friend had C cups, and I was still in training. I longed for my period, and for the rest of puberty, and my baby girl just wants to slow down.

“Mommy went through it, every auntie and grandma you got went through this too.” As her tears run down her little face, it seems as though my attempts at normalizing this phenomenon are futile.

But she wants to talk about it. And watch youtube videos. And she wants to hear stories. For that, I am grateful. I didn’t want to talk about things when I was her age and I built bad habits of keeping thoughts and fears to myself from early on. She’s not like me in that way. Her ability to talk things through and ask questions that are on her mind will help her manage this and all other changes she experiences.

When she was 3 years old and in a very strict, Catholic preschool, her biggest challenge was talking too much. One day a teacher from the school, pulled her aside and told her that speaking is her gift. Just like the old saying goes, I don’t remember that teachers name but I remember how she made us feel: anointed and special. So my daughter is using her gift to get through this time, and I hope she will remain whole and better for it.

This Saturday, we’ve invited some of our tribe members to come to our home for the purpose of welcoming my little one into womanhood; a “period party” if you will. This will be a time for love, support, and sharing. We’ve all felt freakish for one thing or another. Let’s talk about it, laugh about it, cry about it and normalize the fuck out of feeling like a freak.

I’m confident that she will be ok. We’re all ok with bleeding after a while. And she’ll get better about remembering to wrap things up and throw things away with practice. As time goes on, it will feel less and less “weird” and weird will turn into normal before we know it.

But for now, my baby feels like a freak.

Review: Tapping The Power Within

One of the books I read towards my Doula certification is “Tapping The Power Within” by Iyanla Vanzant. I  chose this book because I am a fan of Iyanla, and based off the title, I knew this book would add to my new career as a Doula, but more importantly to my life as a whole.

The most personally influential concept addressed in this book, was that of alignment. Iyanla writes, “When we are in alignment, we can recognize and accept the lessons that will lead us to a fuller, more peace-filled, and more purposeful sense of living.” The idea of alignment has been increasing present in my life over the past few months. In December, I attended a three week yoga workshop and that is where I first heard the word, in this context. The workshop discussed how being aligned with our higher purpose increases the flow of our lives. When we aren’t aligned, we find ourselves feeling unsatisfied and displeased.

In January I  read “A Return To Love” by Marianne Williamson and I saw her speak later that month. The part of her seminar that resonated with me the most was when she said “When you are aligned, you cannot separate your spiritual self from your personal or professional self.” This truly spoke to me, as it also did while reading “Tapping The Power Within”.

For the past 10 years, I have been employed by an agency that serves the developmentally disabled population. It is a frustrating job for someone like me, because I feel like administration, overseeing agencies and bureaucracy in general, held me back from implementing change in the lives of the people I  served. My initial disalignment was the catalyst for finding my higher purpose.

Through many conversations with myself, family and God I  came to find that I am truly served by serving other women and their babies. This realization led me to people who were and/or knew Doulas. I was overwhelmed with the thought that I  could be fully aligned in my life’s purpose and create a career out of it, at the same time! “Although thoughts govern how we respond throughout life, they may not be in alignment with the spiritual purpose or meaning of the experience,” Iyanla writes. As a doula, I  feel like my spirit is at ease, because every aspect of my being is working together to serve the world and to equally serve myself.

Image result for tapping the power within iyanla vanzant

Use this link for Amazon Books:

Books

Oils

I am obsessed with oils! I have many in my home, such as castor, argon, coconut, avocado, aloe vera, mango, lavender, tea tree, peppermint and rosehip seed. I like making natural products such as deodorant, lip gloss and butters and I often use one of these oils as the main ingredient. I like how many uses each oil has, they’re so versatile!

My absolute favorite is Castor Oil. It has a thick molasses-like consistency that is perfect for coating natural hair and adding shine and life to dull lips. I recently learned that castor oil can help with menstrual cramps when applied topically. I am always amazed by how much and how far just a little bit of castor oil can go.

My second favorite oil is Coconut Oil. It’s accessible from nearly any supermarket or local store, which makes it extremely convenient to find. I use coconut oil primarily on my skin and hair and I find that it’s great for braid/twist-outs. I stopped using any type of cream on my hair, so I’m always in search of the perfect oil that will add or retain as much moisture as possible, and coconut fits the bill! The key is to not use too much, otherwise, expect your soul to glow all over the place (Coming to America reference).

. . . but the most convenient store of them all is Amazon, so I can easily and quickly have all my oils delivered to my door in just two days. Check out the links below to some my favorite oils using Amazon.