You are beautiful, amazing, intelligent, creative, powerful and imperfectly and perfectly you. You have something to contribute to this world. You are the only you in this world.
Our whole lives, we are pressured to look a certain way, act a certain way, go to school at the “right” time, to have kids at the “right” time, to raise our kids the “right” way…What does the right way even mean? The truth is that the “right” way is different for each person.
I think despite all the powerful messages to the contrary, the most important thing to be is your own unique self. Your uniqueness is beautiful, and it is that uniqueness, and being able to embrace each other’s differences, that truly brings more richness to the world we live in.
So I wish for you that you stay true to who you are.
I am inspired to write this to you because of a video that a coworker recently shared called “Be a Lady,” which exhibits the pressures put upon people in society to look and act in certain ways (view it HERE). Expectations and “shoulds” are often unrealistic and contradictory. It seems that no matter how you decide to live your life, there is someone out there who is willing to criticize you for it. The easiest solution is to really look deep inside of yourself to who you are.
Your life experience has created the beautiful human that you are. All the challenges and triumphs throughout your life make you YOU. No one can say what is right for you except for you. It doesn’t matter whether you had your kids when you were young or after your life was more settled. It doesn’t matter whether you went to college or not, or how much money you make.
None of these things change who you are at your core, or how much you love your child, or your ability to be a good parent.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t sometimes take advice. You may choose to listen to advice offered from people with good intentions; but listening with an open heart, and incorporating the advice that works for you also means releasing what does not. Listening from a place of confidence in yourself is about recognizing that, just as you are amazing, so are those around you. And then, do your own research. Find what makes you feel safe, explore all the options that exist, and trust yourself to find your “right” way. Education and self reflection are such an integral part of finding your true self.
Many of you chose Dar a Luz because you know how to do that research… and you know self reflection and advocacy are crucial to creating the birth experience you want. Choosing a birth environment within which you feel safe is a priority. Thank you for letting us provide you with that safe space for such a monumental moment in your life!
Crafting your family with intention
Being a parent can be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of a person’s life, and it starts early. It’s definitely one of the times when we can feel extremely judged. Although people’s intentions are often good, it can feel like everyone has their two cents to offer about everything: from your pregnancy, to your birth, to how to raise your child.
We make so many choices every day, and it is those choices that create our family dynamics. Some thoughts about some of the early choices parents face:
From family planning, to prenatal care, to birth, to postpartum care and beyond, there are so many important choices along the way! Each shapes you as a parent and as a family. I am a big advocate of birth center births, but the truth is, the most important thing is to birth in a place where you feel safe, have confidence in your birthing team, and feel heard and respected. Creating your birth with intention is a gift to yourself, your family, and your baby.
Feeding your baby
After all your hard work growing your precious little baby, you’ll continue to nourish them after they arrive! It is OK to breastfeed, and it is OK to bottle feed, and it is OK to do a mix of both. Find what works for you, your baby, and your family, and be open to changes to those needs. Being kind to yourself about your expectations and your abilities is crucial.
Daycare vs. staying at home
Another big choice after adding another person to the family is deciding what is best for your family: staying home with baby, or going back to work. And both are OK! If you stay home, create your own unique version of that, which supports your unique family. If you go back to work, take the time to find out what child care looks like for you. Prioritize, seek your own answers, and make choices based on your family’s situation. Get creative, and trust yourselves.
Trusting and believing in yourself can be hard. We believe in you.
The truth is, you get to decide what being a parent looks like for you and your family. Just as each person is an individual, each family is unique too. Learn to parent and interact with your children in the way that feels true and right for you. That unique and special connection you share with your child or children is part of what makes them the people they will become. I wish you so much trust in yourself and in each other.
I challenge you to celebrate your individuality, to celebrate each other, and to lift each other up. In a world filled with criticism and critique, be kind to yourself and others. Let your personality shine through and help your children grow up in a world where differences bring beauty and richness to life. Teach your children to love by showing them that you know how to love yourself and others around you — regardless of and because of our differences. And know that you have a whole team of cheerleaders here, seeing your goodness and believing in you.
In loving gratitude to YOU,
Claire Merritt, BSN, RN: Birth Assistant
Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this lovely desert, full of culture and amazing skies, is my home and will always have a special place in my heart. My loving and supportive husband and I have two wonderful daughters who were born at home under the care of an amazing midwife. We love to travel together, and enjoy hiking, camping, rock climbing, gardening, and basically anything outdoors.
In 2013, I assisted in the delivery of my niece who was born at home. Ever since the moment I caught her in my arms, and placed her on her mother’s chest, I knew I had found my passion in life. I finished the year at the elementary school where I was employed taking care of medically fragile children, and applied to nursing school. I graduated from UNM College of Nursing where I focused my studies on women’s health. As a student I completed a clinical rotation at Dar a Luz, where I confirmed that birth work is truly my passion.
I am inspired by the holistic, compassionate, and empowering model of care that Dar a Luz provides. I feel incredibly thankful to be a part of the amazing team at Dar a Luz. I am honored to be a part of many stories to come!