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Stepping Up

The subtle art of step-parenting Sounds of Birth Summer 2019 / theholisticparent.ca

Emotional Labour & Parenting

Unique Baby Shower Gifts


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Montessori Inspired Wood Learning Materials for Toddler, Preschool and Special Needs Children.

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The Holistic Parent is thrilled to be working with Etsy Waterloo Region to help promote local makers and their products. If you are a member of EtsyWR or a vendor at an EtsyWR show and would like to be included on this page in a future issue, please contact Elaine Kapogines at elaine@wiltshiremedia.ca.


STEPPING UP The subtle art of step-parenting BY JANE HOBSON PAGE 20

REGUL ARS

CONTRIBUTORS Meet the people who made this issue awesome PAGE 4

RECIPE Sensible Summer Sweets PAGE 6

PRODUCTS Unique Baby Shower Gifts PAGE 8

COLUMNS

BIRTH Self Centred Birth PAGE 10

BABY A Light in the Dark PAGE 12

BEYOND Between the Sheets PAGE 14

MOTHER OF INFLUENCE Melissa MeInychuk PAGE 30

SPECI AL FEATURE

THE HOLISTIC PARENT MARKET SPECIAL INSERT PAGE 16

FEATURES

SOUNDS OF LABOUR BY DR. MELODY LEE

Screaming vs. moaning PAGE 25

UNSPOKEN BY SAMANTHA ESTOESTA

ON THE COVER The cover image was shot on location at the Cambridge home of Erin and Paul by Meg Thompson of Megpie Photography.

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Emotional labour and parenting PAGE 28

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UP FRONT | OUR TEAM

SAMANTHA ESTOESTA Poet | Advocate Samantha (she/her) is a published poet, a long-time #WomenInSTEM advocate, and a mother. When she’s not talking about being a brown female in tech, you can find her pushing her child in a jogging stroller or tweeting and Instagramming during naptime at @smoestoe. Keep her caffeinated: ko-fi.com/smoestoe. Read her piece Unspoken on PAGE 28.

DR. MELODY LEE Chiropractor Dr. Melody is passionate about advocating for women’s health throughout their pregnancy. She has seen the wonderful results that chiropractic care can do to help expecting moms and their families. She is Webster certified, a practicing student doula, prenatal/postpartum fitness certified and a Core Confidence specialist. Check out her article Sounds of Labour on PAGE 25.

Volume 05, Issue 02 | Summer 2019

PUBLISHER | EDITOR Elaine Kapogines elaine@wiltshiremedia.ca ART DIRECTION

www.madebyemblem.com Erik Mohr (Creative Director) Ian Sullivan Cant (Associate Art Director) Sally Tan Soriano (Production) Marikha Saira (Intern) ADVERTISING DESIGNER

Elizabeth Wise

VERONICA QUBROSSI Culinary Nutrition Expert | Holistic Nutritionist Veronica Qubrossi is a holistic nutritionist and culinary nutrition expert. She helps women embrace holistic diet and lifestyle practices in a way that fits their needs and goals. You can find her at veronicaqubrossi.com. Veronica contributed the recipe entitled Sensible Summer Sweets on PAGE 6.

FEATURE WRITER

Jane Hobson CONTRIBUTORS

Samantha Estoesta, Dr. Sarah Hawthorn, Tania Heinemann, Dr. Melody Lee, Melissa Melnychuk, Bina Moore, Veronica Qubrossi PROOFREADER

Lesley Wiltshire

PUBLISHED BY

ELIZABETH WISE Graphic Designer | Artist Elizabeth is The Holistic Parent’s advertising designer. She is a full-time mom and co-owner of Wise Idea, a Torontobased design firm. She is also a mixed-media artist who specializes in hyper-realistic graphite portraits, hand lettering and large-scale murals. You can follow her work on Instagram at @wiselettering.

Wiltshire Media The Holistic Parent magazine is published four times per year. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher © 2019 Copies are available for free at one of our 90+ community partners in the Waterloo Region, Wellington County and surrounding areas. Visit theholisticparent.ca for a list of distributors. ISSN 2368-6790 Publications Mail Agreement No. 42845523

THE BLOG For more fabulous content including recipes, news, articles and contests, check out our blog space at

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SECTION | NAME

Direct billing available | wellnessteamonqueen.com 519.220.0888 | 39 Queen st. e., Cambridge

• Nutrition consultations • Food sensitivity testing • Breastfeeding support: Lactation Consultant • Hormone balancing • Adrenal fatigue • Digestive concerns yellowood.ca | 519.716.0956 Insurance receipts provided. theholisticparent.ca

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Registered massage therapy Chiropractic care Nutrition consultations Food sensitivity testing Doula Pre and postnatal fitness Placenta encapsulation Lactation Consultant Studio room rentals for parties / events Prenatal comfort measures workshop

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UP FRONT | RECIPES

SENSIBLE SUMMER SWEETS By VERONICA QUBROSSI

Gorgeous, fresh, in-season fruits are an essential part of summer that most Ontarians anticipate each year. Not only do fresh fruits taste better, but they pack more nutrients into each bite. Deeply coloured fruits are some of the richest sources of vitamin C and antioxidants that we have available here in Ontario. Let’s be honest though, it’s the divine flavours and nostalgia we associate with seasonal fruits that keep us coming back for more. Summer fruits make for a sweet, yet sensible, dessert. Paired with a drizzle of local maple syrup, and you have the beginnings of something beautiful. WINNING COMBINATIONS

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COCONUT CRUMBLE This coconut crumble is gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, vegan, paleo, dairy-free, soy-free, and compliant with most therapeutic diets. But, that doesn’t mean the final product isn’t chock-full of comfort. I mean, who doesn’t love a fruit crumble?! And with only a quarter cup of maple syrup per batch, you won’t be subjected to the sugar rush and consequent crash that often comes with sweet treats — but the kiddos won’t be any the wiser.

Ingredients

2/3 CUP coconut manna (aka coconut butter) 1/4 CUP maple syrup 1 1/2 TSP cinnamon generous pinch of salt 3 1/2 CUPS unsweetened, unsulphured, shredded coconut 6 CUPS seasonal fruit of choice OPTIONAL: 1 TSP vanilla extract

This recipe works perfectly with just about any seasonal fruit combination.

Directions

Some favourites include: ͫ Strawberry and rhubarb ͫ Apple and raspberry ͫ Nectarine and blueberry ͫ Peach and rhubarb ͫ Raspberry, blueberry and blackberry

Wash and dry fruits of choice, then chop as required to achieve bite-sized pieces.

THE HOLISTIC PARENT Summer 2019

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Layer fruit in a 9×13 inch casserole dish or large pie pan, and place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until fruit begins softening. While the fruit is baking, in a medium

saucepan over low heat, melt together the coconut manna, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. As the coconut manna and maple syrup begin to melt, stir constantly to ensure it doesn’t burn. Once mixture is heated and well combined, remove from heat and add shredded coconut to the pot. Use a fork to press the shredded coconut into the manna mixture creating a “crumble” texture. Set aside. Remove the casserole dish from the oven, and evenly distribute the crumble mixture on top of the baked fruit. Return the casserole dish to the oven, and bake for approximately 10-12 more minutes until coconut is golden brown, and the fruit is fork-tender. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!

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UP FRONT| NAME | PRODUCTS SECTION

Unique Baby Shower Gifts Shower momma and baby with these unique gif t ideas

BRIGHT FUTURE

Knowledge First Financial A RESP is truly a gift that keeps on giving. Not only is each deposit eligible for up to 40% government grant matching, it earns tax-sheltered income and opens future doors to higher paying jobs through post-secondary education. knowledgefirstfinancial.ca/heather.heartfield

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UP FRONT | PRODUCTS

WARRIOR WATER

Muse Self-care A new mom’s body is a temple that deserves to be honoured, especially after birth. Treat her with a Humble Warrior Herbal Bath Soak so she can indulge in an herbal and mineral blend that will captivate all her senses! $18 | museselfcare.com

BIRTHING INSPIRATION

By Debby Spitzig A collection of personally written, heart-felt letters, Inspiring Birth Stories belongs on the nightstand of every mom-to-be. One of the best ways to prepare for a positive birth is to read stories by the experts…moms. $15 | debbyspitzig.com

IT’S ME, MARIO!

The Night Owls Take a trip down memory lane with this nostalgic teether paired with a star-accented pacifier clips. Our binky clip is made from the highest grade silicone beads designed specifically for teething babies. $25 | thenightowlscrafts.ca

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BABYWEARING PERFECTION

Helina Baby With exceptional comfort for parent and optimal support for baby, these Meh Dai-style organic carriers are perfect for keeping a new baby close by. $199 | helinababy.com

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BIRTH | ANXIETY

BINA MOORE is a registered social worker (MSW, RSW) with the Ontario College of Social Workers, maternal mental health advocate and counsellor offering services through Embrace Counselling Services. She’s also an infant and pregnancy loss doula with Home Hospice Association and a labour doula student with DOULAs Inc. www.embracecounsellingservices.com

Self Centred Birth Staying at the centre of your birth Story by BINA MOORE

SOME WOULD ARGUE

childbirth is the most strenuous experience one can endure, encompassing both emotional and physical components. For months prior to birth, the birth person tends to prepare in many different ways for an “ideal” birth. Ideals are often informed by societal, cultural or peer-led constructions of what may be a “typical” birth experience. True fears regarding a much anticipated childbirth can trigger historical trauma and exacerbate any fears one may have, clouding one’s vision of a “perfect birth.

Remember a feeling is just a feeling. Breathe, distract.

On some occasions, one may respond by creating an armour in the form of a very complicated birth plan. Vulnerability is a complex emotion, which desires control in most cases to help protect a person from further emotional damage. By embracing the Brené Brown approach of believing we are enough, a birth person can find an alternative to creating an armour during their birthing experience. How do we work towards believing we are enough when we are feeling vulnerable in an unfamiliar place, room, surrounded by unfamiliar people, experiencing pain like no other, and working with medical language and decision-making that can be difficult and challenging? KNOWLEDGE IS POWER Acquiring information prior to labour and delivery can help to empower a birth person feel in better control of their options should an alternative course of action be needed. Give yourself permission to ask questions. Share your fears with your careprovider and ask for clarification even if they may be running behind. Never feel guilty for ensuring that you are well informed. FLEXIBILITY Having realistic expectations of your birth plan and entertaining many different options will help you manage your anxiety in the moment. Vulnerability is often fueled by perfectionism. The lack of control during moments of labour and delivery will shift you out of the centre of your

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birth. Invite the practice of a mantra pre-delivery and during your birthing experience, for example, “I am enough,” “I am safe,” etc. Remember a feeling is just a feeling. Breathe, distract, clear away tangled thoughts and place worries into a worry container. Invite joy and gratitude in, especially when it may seem as though you are physically and emotionally chasing down the extraordinary. SUPPORT Enlist a team of support people whom you know will be your advocates. Make sure the individuals you choose challenge you to set aside your armour. Some of these people may not be your typical first choice. Entertain the idea of a doula, friend, cousin who will keep the energy in your room light. If you have encountered trauma in your life, prior to birth, seek counselling to help develop grounding exercises if/when needed. SELF-COMPASSION Showing ourselves selfkindness when we are suffering, feeling as though we are failing, or feeling inadequate will help to keep your mindset positive. The examples of vulnerable moments are countless during birth, talk to yourself the same way you would talk to someone you care about. Remember, you are hardwired with exceptional strength, and staying at the centre of your birth will be difficult. When you feel ready, lower your armour, and set aside your weapons because you are ‘enough’.

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You Be in the moment. I'll bring my camera. megpiephotography.com

CUSTOM HAND LETTERING logos wall murals chalkboards personal art live lettering at events @wiselettering | wiselettering.com

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BABY | PPMD

TANIA HEINEMANN is a registered holistic nutritionist and lactation consultant (IBCLC) specializing in digestion issues, thyroid imbalances, infant and children’s health, and pre and postnatal concerns. She is the owner of Yellowood Nutrition (yellowood.ca), and co-owner of Wellness Team on Queen (wellnessteamonqueen.com).

A Light in the Dark Shame, courage and postpartum mood disorder Story by TANIA HEINEMANN

DID YOU KNOW that between

10 and 20 percent of Canadian women may experience postpartum mood (PPMD) disorder? Did you know that 10 percent of Canadian dads also experience PPMD? Postpartum mood disorder (anxiety and/or depression) can look different for different people. Some symptoms during pregnancy and/or the postpartum period can include (just to name a few): feeling sad or empty most of the day; loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities nearly every day; feeling worthless or guilty nearly every day; preoccupied with worries about the child’s health or safety. Many factors have been identified as increasing your risk of developing mood problems during pregnancy or the postpartum period, including but not limited to: a personal history of depression, anxiety or other mood problems; family history of mental illness (in particular parents or siblings), including alcoholism, depression or

PPMD; history of premenstrual syndrome; history of sexual abuse; unplanned pregnancy. Healing requires speaking up, reaching out for help and sharing our stories. Many new parents who are experiencing PPMD are concerned that opening up means someone is going to take their kids away, someone will think less of them, or they aren’t good enough as parents. These fears can feel very real. However, the truth is there are people who want to help, resources to tap into and other parents to connect with. Screening can be a very useful tool — the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a universal tool for identifying women who could benefit from more support (however, it is not a diagnostic tool). Although postpartum blues and depression can feel extremely impairing at the time it is important to remember that there are treatment options. The medical route may involve the use of anti-depressants, such as SSRIs. There are also several alternative options such as fish oils, supplements and ensuring we are taking enough vitamin D3 can help us feel more energy and increase positive mood. COUNSELLING AND PEER SUPPORT Cognitive behaviour therapy remains a key support for new

parents. It provides tools, support and a place to share openly how you feel. NUTRITION When we are eating healthier foods we feel better. Making meals and grocery shopping can be daunting with a new baby in tow! Asking for help with meals and snacks can ease some of the pressure around eating healthier. EXERCISE Regular exercise has been shown to improve depression by increasing serotonin levels. SLEEP AND REST Sleep and rest may be difficult with a newborn, it is important to prioritize some time to heal and sleep. Time alone and time with others can feel like a balancing act, while meeting the needs of the new addition to the family unit. SOCIAL SUPPORT This can be in the form of family, friends, peer support groups, other mothers, older siblings, religious community members, or post partum doulas. They can come and be an extra set of skilled hands to help out with baby care, mom care, and everything in between! Although it can seem daunting, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

WHERE TO GET HELP IN WATERLOO REGION

» No Woman Left Behind Peer-to-Peer Group meets the second Tuesday of each month at Wellness Team on Queen, 519-716-0956 » Stork’s Secret EarlyON, earlyyearsinfo.ca/stork-secrets.html » Local therapist Lisa Aldworth, (519) 342-3551 » Calming Tree Counselling, calmingtreecounselling.ca

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BEYOND | SEX

DR. SARAH HAWTHORN is a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, mom of three, and

co-owner of Health In Balance in Cambridge. She has a special interest in treating the pregnant and pediatric population. She loves helping families live more holistically. Dr. Sarah has been voted the #1 naturopathic doctor in Cambridge annually since 2011 in the Cambridge Readers Choice Awards. www.health-in-balance.com

Between the Sheets The science of postpartum sex Story by DR. SARAH HAWTHORN

IN THE FIRST FEW WEEKS POSTPARTUM,

women are hormonally wired to bond with the new baby. The downside of this amazing “bonding” hormone (i.e. oxytocin) is that women can feel “touched out,” which, on top of everything else you’re going through (hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, emotional challenges, and so on!) can deplete libido even more. Testosterone also declines after birth, and prolactin (breastfeeding hormone) increases and both of these changes decrease arousal. According to one study looking at sex habits within the first year after baby, 89 percent of couples had resumed a sexual relationship by six months; 83 percent of these reported problems within the first

three months, and 64 percent reported problems at six months. The main problems included painful intercourse and worrying about pain especially if there was a tear, vaginal dryness, and loss of desire. Low libido is on the most frequent sexual disorders among women. A study published in the American Medical Association reported that 43 percent of women have issues with sexual desire. Relationship pressure and hormones are also an issue. Many partners are ready to get things going again before women feel ready. New moms are also very vulnerable to postpartum depression, stress and hypothyroidism, which all have a huge impact on sex drive. It’s important to seek treatment in these cases for your overall well-being.

» Eating well. Your body needs adequate protein and dark leafy greens to metabolize hormones. » Magnesium and B vitamins can help restore your nervous system. » Essential fatty acids are important for your mental and emotional health. » Taking two tablespoons daily of ground flax seeds can help with healthy hormone balance. » Maca root powder is a nourishing, restorative tonic from Peru. It promotes mental and physical vitality, stamina and libido. It’s rich in essential amino acids, iodine, iron and magnesium.

SO…HOW CAN WE BRING SEXY BACK?

» Grab some alone time on a regular basis. If you’re feeling touched out, the last thing you want is to be touched. Taking time to restore will help you feel full enough to reconnect with your partner. » Start to exercise. Moving on a regular basis will help, but be patient and loving toward your body.

» Give yourself some time! New mothers often crave intimacy, and most couples find it takes one year to fully reboot their sex life. Talk openly with your partner and understand each other’s needs. » Forget about your to-do lists. Our mind chatter can often prevent us from being intimate; this is where self-care is so important (stepping out of the “mommy mind”). » Using lubricants to help with vaginal dryness. » Increase your fluid intake. Aim for 2–3 litres of water each day. Sex requires a lot of fluids, especially for vaginal wall lubrication. You need more if you are breastfeeding as well. » Check in with your body image and awareness. Are you beating yourself up for how you look? Compassion and self-love is especially important after giving birth. It’s helpful to find the root cause of your low sex drive, so ask your ND or MD for assistance. Don’t worry, the love feeling is not gone for good, with a bit of patience, nourishment, compassion and rest, you can bring sexy back!

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A self-care market for all the moms

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2019 event!


Connecting the Community The venue was a huge part of how The Holistic Parent Market all came together. Seeking out the perfect space to match the “ feel” of the market, it all fell into place when we connected with the owners of Storehouse 408. Meet the local family behind this incredible transformation from Beer Store to an event planner’s dream.

W

e always knew we wanted to have an event space. For nearly 10 years, we’ve been working on our business plan. We knew we wanted to buy a building, but we didn’t know is that it would take nearly 8 years to find the ‘perfect’ building. Our search began with barns, but municipal challenges took us in a different direction. We began searching for old, character-filled spaces with unique built-in features. But budget constraints and red tape seemed to get in the way. We put in many failed offers, but persevered. Then one day, driving through our own neighbourhood, we saw a sign in front of the old Beer Store. We’d been in before and knew it wasn’t exactly pretty. Did it have the character we desired? No. Did it have acreage, or water… or anything unique? Nope. But we quickly realized, it had all the things that were missing from the other buildings: great location, good size, outdoor space and proper zoning/city services. We realized that with some creativity, we could inject that much-needed character. So we did the scariest thing we’ve ever done, and bought the building. The design process was fun, dreaming and creating. But reality quickly set in when added costs, permits and delays plagued us. But we knew that this was only the beginning of unknowns in the world of entrepreneurship so we quickly surrendered and went with the flow. We’re now over a year in and about to open our doors. We hope to use our space as a platform to bring together our community, create positive experiences and be a part of the Hespeler we love so much. We are not corporate. We are a family, we are parents, sisters, brothers and friends and we will bring that mentality to everything we do. - Matt & Amy Jakubaitis

storehouse408.com

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SECTION | NAME

The Shop Around the Corner Meet our title sponsor: One Sixty One Artisan Market 1. How would you describe your shop? A curated assortment of local handmade products. Unique gifts, home décor, paper goods and more! All of the artisans create their products within 161 km of the store 2. Why Hespeler Village? We looked at a spot in Hespeler a couple of years ago in the dream stages of having the store and the timing wasn’t right. When we finally decided the store could be a reality, we looked everywhere except Hespeler Village! We were concerned that the traffic in the village wouldn’t be enough to keep the store going, but after exploring other options and not getting the perfect space I realized that I should be looking in my own backyard. I’m thrilled to say the response has been fantastic and I am so happy to be a part of the up and coming businesses in the village

products and your customers. Be prepared for busy seasons and also the not so busy seasons. We hope to use our space as a platform to bring together our community, create positive experiences and be a part of the Hespeler we love so much. We are not corporate. We are a family, we are parents, sisters, brothers and friends and we will bring that mentality to everything we do. To see the full interview, visit

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3. What’s been your biggest challenge? Balance! I’m in the shop six days a week, have my own handmade business, as well as a home life. I love doing all the things which is why working for myself makes sense but its definitely a juggling act most days. 4. Where do you see the shop in five years? Besides the obvious answer of still open and thriving, I hope to be able to expand to showcase more makers in either a larger or second location 5. Any words of advice for a maker who’s looking to expand into a retail shop like yours? Be confident in what you make and your brand. Know your

You Be in the moment. I'll bring thank you to all of our sponsors and partners! my camera. megpiephotography.com

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Meet the Vendors The Holistic Parent Market featured nearly 40 vendors, sponsors and special guests throughout the day. A huge thank you to all the wonderful local businesses and professionals who participated in the event!

All Things Perserved Bangs&Braids Belle Aura Natural Skin & Body Care Boosh Cedar Lily Bra Boutique Cocos Nucifer + Near Earth Orbit Filbert Studio Garden of Eden Reusables Gossling Organics Helina Baby Honour the Temple Hoto Art Therapy Lavender & Stone Le Prix Love Sew Bright Moon+Co MVP Meals Oh Hello Bug Peachey Prints Purely Patricia SkullzNBeadz The Feral Knot Th3 N3xt St3p Living Plant Art The WOOShop :to bathe Wednesday+Rose Young Huron

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MindOnline + Azra Gregor Peggy Dietrich Wise Lettering


P H O T O : M EG T H O M P S O N , M EG P I E P H OTO G R A P H Y

Erin Moraghan with step-children Brayden, 12, and Ava, 10, Husband Paul Hoekstra, and dogs, Lexi, Joey, and Florence.

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COVER | STEP-PARENTING

Stepping up You’re not-quite-mom, but that’s OK Story By JANE HOBSON

P

arenting is often described as the most challenging pursuit a person can face. On top of the absolute weight of being responsible for another human, every parenthood journey is unique, making it virtually impossible to measure one’s success against any triedand-true rulebooks or guidelines. This is especially true when it comes to step-parenting. “The struggles are amplified when there are parents that exist outside the household,” says Tracy Poizner, a holistic parenting coach who has worked in childhood wellness and behaviour issues for 20 years and operates an online resource for step-moms. “Two sets of parents often means two sets of ideas about child-raising.” It’s common for people who are co-parenting to disagree on things, but it’s not really in a step-parent’s best interests to wedge their beliefs too forcefully into the mix, Poizner warns. Doing this can lead to alienation between co-parents. Parent alienation occurs when one parent speaks negatively of the other to the child, making an already stressful transition even more confusing and upsetting for the children involved. It also breeds a toxic and hostile environment for the adults, which children pick up on.

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Instead, step-parents should honour the relationship that exists between the co-parents and between the parent and their child. Respecting the child’s relationship with their parent, who is also your partner, can be demonstrated in acts as small as offering your seat beside dad on the couch or sending them out to do errands together, Poizner explains. “When you’re out with the kids alone, find ways to bring dad into the activity; bring something home or take a picture to show him later when you’re telling stories about the day,” she says. Children can also feel guilty when they are fond of a step-parent, Poizner adds. “They think it means they are booting the love for their own parent out of their heart and this loyalty bind makes it even more difficult for kids to adjust to new parenting dynamics,” she explains. “So standing in the right role as a step-mom is very important.” Poizner suggests that step-moms should choose an identity for themselves that’s akin to “aunty” or “yourbest-friend’s-mom.” This is useful because it allows the step-mom to function in a role that feels genuine to her and is still very important in the child’s life, but it’s also

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Brayden, 12, and Ava, 10, at the home they share with dad Paul Hoekstra and step-mom, Erin Moraghan (and three fur-siblings).

a role that’s not quite “Mom,” Poizner explains. Children will appreciate this authenticity and sense of safety more than they will respect a person seeking to fulfill the role of a third, or sometimes fourth, parent, Poizner says. “Nothing should be pressured or forced. Things will transform organically if you let them,” agrees Angela Saenz, who got a two-for-one deal when meeting her current husband and his daughter more than a decade ago. The couple now share two younger daughters. “When people ask, I always say, ‘Oh, we have three girls. They range from 22 to 5 years old,’ and then I usually explain by saying that one came with my husband,” Saenz says

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happily. She met her husband in a summer baseball league and was introduced to his daughter around the same time since she would watch the games. Saenz says she thinks meeting casually set them up for an easier transition when the relationship became more serious because his daughter was already familiar with her. “When you’re in a new friendship, you want to know that friend inside and out, and I thought of it that way,” says Saenz, talking about her husband’s daughter. “Yes, I wanted her to like me, but I also wanted to get to know her.” Saenz invited her to cooking classes with her friends so that the two of them could bond over new recipes. Conscientious of respecting

boundaries right from the start, however, she also made a point of encouraging the long-standing traditions that her husband and daughter had just for them, like attending baseball games. Saenz sought out activities she knew they would both enjoy and sent them out on dates, like father-daughter dances. “It was a good reminder...that they have their own thing going. I don’t have to glue myself into their traditions.” Of course, it wasn’t all roses, Saenz says. Communicating with her husband was crucial as her stepdaughter grew into a teenager. She says she found it helpful to try to see situations from the perspective of the teen instead of only thinking about how she felt as the step-parent.“When it came to her saying things like, ‘You’re not my mom,’ I would tell her, ‘No, but I’m your Angela and I care about you,’” Saenz says. “I think it’s important for step-parents to realize how you present changes in that child’s life.” Along with honouring pre-existing relationships, shifting the step-parenting paradigm to the mom-next-door model can also help relieve the pressure and stigma that a woman should become an instant-mom to kids that are not biologically her own. This not-quite-mom truth is likely the most difficult topic to tackle when it comes to step-parenting, but it can be explained by human nature. While nature provides a strong maternal instinct for women who birth and raise their own babies, nature just does not provide this instinct when it comes to step-mom-ing, even though the notion of a step-mom is very normalized in society where half of all families now have a stepparent, Tracy Poizner explains. “It’s OK to not feel mom-ish,” says Erin Moraghan, who is a step-parent to her partner’s two children. “There’s so much judgment...but you’re still a valid person if you’re [a women and] not a parent. We don’t do that to men, but we definitely do it women,” she says. Before meeting her husband Paul Hoekstra, Moraghan was mainly focused on her career as a business owner. She says she was instantly attracted to what a capable, involved and loving father he was to his children when they met. “It forced me to get real with myself and assess how I’m spending my time,” she says. Despite the negative reputation that’s often attached to

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P H O T O S : M EG T H O M P S O N , M EG P I E P H OTO G R A P H Y (T H I S PAG E) , C O U R T E SY O F A N G E L A S A E N Z (FAC I N G PAG E)

COVER | STEP-PARENTING


COVER | STEP-PARENTING

A few family snaps from Angela Saenz with husband Matt, step-daughter, Montana, 22, and daughters Valencia, 11, and Evera, 5 (not pictured).

being a step-mother, Moraghan says her parenthood experience offers her the best of both worlds. “Now I have the blessing of having both the kids and the independence [to run a business].” Moraghan and Hoekstra saw a therapist early in their relationship because they wanted to ensure they were equipped with the necessary support and tools to build the partnership they both wanted and needed in order to do right by Hoekstra’s children and previous partner. “I really honour the position of Paul and his ex as those are the parents. I see myself as a supportive mentor, another person who loves [the kids],” Moraghan says. “Kids just want authenticity, so I just

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try to be myself, be cool and respect the fact that I am not their parent. I am in a different role.” Moraghan’s parents divorced when she was young and she grew up with step-parents. She remembers having a poor relationship with her own stepmother and is thrilled that Paul’s children presented an opportunity to re-do the step-parenting dynamic. “What I wish I had from my parent’s partners is the acknowledgment that I was someone else’s kid,” she explains, adding that she doesn’t discredit step-parents who’s parenting journey looks different but is still hugely positive. “It’s a hard topic to talk about.” Moraghan says she hopes the bad rap that

is associated with step-momhood will diminish if more people talk about it. Learning to communicate effectively is the foundation to a successful and lasting relationship, says Anna Gold, a couples therapist who teaches active communication through imago therapy. Coined by couples therapists Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt, imago therapy intends to teach couples how to talk to each other in order to move past early romantic love into a deeply committed and loving relationship. “[Imago therapy] helps couples understand why things are happening, why they are having the same fight over again and how they can become each other’s best healers,” says Gold. This same theory can be applied to the stepparent/child dynamic, she says. “Divorce or separation leaves the child feeling insecure, and when people feel unsafe or insecure, they feel more stressed and more anxious,” says Gold. If the parents are communicating and listening to the child’s concerns, the child will feel more secure and willing to form new relationships because they have been acknowledged, she explains. This communication can take the form of weekly meetings with the kids or a quick check-in at dinnertime where the child can discuss their worries and be heard. “What works well for us is open communication and being respectful of how the other [person] is feeling,” agrees Erin’s husband Paul. He says the most challenging part of raising kids in a stepparenting dynamic is being mindful of all the differing opinions. “At the end of the day, the relationship you have with your kids is the most important because it will impact how they develop,” Hoekstra says. “You have to have some level of letting go. We work very hard to maintain the [perspective] of asking ‘what really matters?’, which is that the kids are happy and safe and cared for.” PODCAST ALERT! Continue the conversation with Episode 6: Step-parenting with Erin Talking with Grown Ups Podcast Available at theholisticparent.ca/podcast

iTunes | Spotify | Google Podcast

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THE HOLISTIC PARENT Summer 2019

䌀愀渀 眀攀 猀甀最最攀猀琀 愀 瀀愀椀爀椀渀最 琀栀椀猀 猀甀洀洀攀爀㼀 刀攀昀氀攀挀琀漀爀 匀倀䘀 ㌀  䘀愀挀椀愀氀 匀甀渀 倀爀漀琀攀挀琀椀漀渀 愀渀搀 䌀愀爀漀琀攀渀攀 䜀氀漀眀 䄀渀琀椀漀砀椀搀愀渀琀 䈀漀漀猀琀攀爀 愀爀攀 琀栀攀 甀氀琀椀洀愀琀攀 昀漀爀 瀀爀漀琀攀挀琀椀渀最 礀漀甀爀 猀欀椀渀 昀爀漀洀 唀嘀 爀愀礀猀

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FEATURE | LABOUR

The effects of screaming versus moaning on labour and delivery Written by DR. MELODY LEE

W

e’ve all seen it in movies — women screaming as they are pushing their babies out. We often think this is something that needs to happen in order to birth our children. However, did you know that screaming may have negative implications on labour and delivery? Let’s conduct an experiment. As you are reading this, make a high-pitched scream and take note of how your body

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reacts. Now make a low-pitched moan and compare any differences you saw or felt. Making that high-pitched scream makes your bodies tense upwards — shoulders reach to the ceiling, eyes open wide, eyebrows go up, jaw clenches, neck is stiff and your butt and pelvic floor muscles contract. This makes sense right? When we scream we are usually in pain, scared, or nervous about something which elicits our fight-or-flight system to

heighten all our senses. This produces a series of stress hormones, necessary for our primitive survival. When you moan or produce a low-toned sound, your body tends to do the exact opposite. Shoulders push down, face, jaw, butt and pelvic floor muscles relax. So why does this matter? Let’s talk about the science behind all of this. One of the systems in our body that is in charge of labour and delivery is the

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FEATURE | LABOUR

autonomic nervous system. It’s broken down into two sub-systems that work opposite of each other. If one system is turned on, the other is turned off or dulled down. The first is your sympathetic nervous system, commonly known as your fight-or-flight system. Instinctually, the sympathetic system helped our primitive selves get out of dangerous situations, such as running away from predators. It helps you prepare for emergencies by increasing blood pressure, muscle tone, core body temperature, heart and breathing rates. It also slows other processes that are less important in the event of an emergency. The second is called your parasympathetic system, or your rest-and-digest system. This helps to counter the sympathetic system by lowering blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, and allows digestion, urination and defecation to occur. The idea is that when you are not running away from predators, you are able to do other things, such as digest food, sleep and relax. This is also the system that helps to progress labour and delivery. When you are screaming, your sympathetics are usually turned on full blast which is why muscles are so tense and stress hormones are fiercely flowing through the body. Did your mother ever tell you not to go swimming (or do exercise) after eating dinner? This is because in order to digest food, your parasympathetic system must be turned on and it cannot do this if the sympathetic system is taking over (in the instance of doing exercise). If your sympathetics are too high, your parasympathetics are not able to optimally function. This is the idea behind labouring at home, being in your comfortable environment, controlled belly breathing, meditation, getting a soothing massage, receiving chiropractic adjustments, because it helps to calm your system down (turning OFF your sympathetic system). Ideally, your sympathetic and parasympathetic systems must work harmoniously together throughout labour and delivery. However, nowadays people are too stressed, always on the go, suffer from adrenal fatigue and have their sympathetic system on overdrive which is why many birth workers emphasize the

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people are too stressed, always on the go, suffer from adrenal fatigue and have their sympathetic system on overdrive which is why many birth workers emphasize the idea of letting go. Be aware of your body and practice getting in tune with how you feel.

idea of letting go. What does this mean for you? Be aware of your body and practice getting in tune with how you feel. As a chiropractor, I can’t tell you how many times that patients come back to their next visit and say how much more aware they are of their posture, or the difference they feel between their tight and relaxed muscles. Sometimes people get so used to feeling chronic pain that they forget what optimal relaxation and function is. They forget that they are chronically stressed and blame their bodies for “failing to progress” during active labour. Something as simple as moaning, instead of screaming, during labour can help you be as efficient as possible, because stress regulation during pregnancy is considered

to be connected to the timing of labour initiation. With all that said, it’s perfectly natural to scream during labour and delivery — it happens. However, do try and take note of the sounds you are making and remember to tune into your body. Birth workers, doulas, partners, chiropractors and support staff — remind your momma of these sounds. Moan with her so she feels comfortable making these noises. If you are not a moaner or sound maker, try opening the throat and mouth during an exhalation and watch how your body relaxes. Not sure where to begin? Get in contact with your midwife, chiropractor, physiotherapist, or doula to see what steps you can take before the big day.

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FEATURE | EMOTIONAL LABOUR

Unspoken Story by SAMANTHA ESTOESTA

I

t’s 8:43pm on a Monday night. On Saturday, we have a dinner to attend for Justin’s work, and I haven’t found a sitter because of a lack of details. Our child has refused to nap all day and tensions are high. It’s clear that Justin feels terrible; I go through my emergency list of sitters and finally find someone. I’m angry but attempt to reassure my partner it’s OK. I let him know when I find someone to take care of our child. Then a well-meaning friend tells me, “It’s a good thing that you can stay home if you can’t find a sitter.” I explain that, for me, attending the dinner would give me a much needed night with adults. They reply, “But it’s not like you need to be there.” I continue to explain that, for my mental health, I need to be there. They still don’t get it. Four hours later, I text my sleeping partner that I love him and apologize for my bluntness earlier. I apologize again in the morning. He goes out of his way to try and give me additional self-care time and opportunities as an apology. It’s 4:37pm, and we’re shopping at our favourite children’s consignment shop. A woman looks at Morgan, smiles, starts to say something, and then looks at me. “How old are...they?” I say, “She’s four and a half months.” She sighs. “Oh, I was going to comment on how beautiful they are, but then I saw all the blue.” The woman continues to talk about my baby’s features (with a racialized undertone) and goes as far as commenting on my features. My husband takes over the conversation so that I, the racialized parent, don’t need to placate this older, white woman. He gently but firmly reaffirms our choice to use gender neutral parenting tactics and warmly discusses our child’s physical traits in a way that disarms her. I spend the entire drive home ranting about it with Justin. He listens

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and validates my anger. In each of these real snapshots of my life as a parent, emotional labour is performed. Emotional labour is the exertion of energy for the purpose of addressing people’s feelings, making people comfortable, or living up to social expectations. It’s called “emotional labour” because it ends up using — and often draining — our emotional resources. Every parent, to some extent or another, exerts emotional labour to address the feelings of our children, to make them comfortable. Caring for the well-being of our children includes their emotional state. I’m not going to go into emotional labour expected of (usually) fathers to emotionally support their children and their partner(s). It’s 2019, if you don’t think that you have a duty to care for your family members’ emotional needs because of gender norms, there’s about a hundred academic articles and thousands of parenting blogs that can show you how antiquated that view is. No, this is about the emotional labour that parents and guardians perform to live up to social expectations with society at large. Here lies where the unspoken disparity in doing emotional labour happens in the majority of heterosexualpresenting parenting structures. There are complexities and experiences here, such as households where the birthing parent goes back to work almost immediately and the non-birthing parent stays home, polyamorous households, etc. These experiences already defy social expectations (and all power to them!) and have much more complex ways that they must comply and defy social norms for the well-being (and often, basic survival) of their families. Let’s go back to my two real life examples.

Example 1: First of all, partners should care for the emotional well-being of each other. Second, social norms tell us to prioritize the working parent’s mental and emotional state. They are the ones providing value to our capitalist society. The mental state of the caregiving parent is not only discounted but actively not prioritized. Why does the primary parent constantly have to justify why they need a break? Why does society force them to regulate their emotions (and perform emotional labour for others) with little regard to their own emotional wellbeing? This forces the primary caregiver to constantly be in a state of drainage to satisfy societal expectations. Example 2: First, stop complimenting babies through a gendered lens. Second, stop complimenting babies through a racialized lens. When this is done, the parent who is marginalized is not only put in a spot where they need to do emotional labour, they must educate someone who might refuse to validate their lived experience. I use these examples as they are concrete. Moreover, they show how secondary caregivers can support primary caregivers by doing emotional labour and defy archaic norms. Here are a few simple ways you can decrease the amount of emotional labour the primary parents in your life do: 1. Step in when you see the primary parent is doing emotional labour. 2. Prioritize the primary caregiver’s emotional well-being, not just the working parent. 3. And, most importantly, don’t be that woman in the store; don’t be that friend. Check yourself before you put a parent(s) in a situation where they need to do emotional labour for you.

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MOTHER OF INFLUENCE | MELISSA MELNYCHUK

MELISSA may be the queen of transformation after what life has thrown at her!

Social media watched as she transitioned into single-parent status, and then we witnessed the (amicable) break-up of her long-time business partnership. She’s now solo and hitting her stride, big time! With over 50K devoted followers on social media, her humour, authencity and vulnerability is a perfect combo for mega-success.

It’s Just Melis!

@its.me.melis

Solo and loving it 1. Tell us a bit about yourself My name is Melissa, and I am single mother, raising three biracial children. I have two roles right now. One as a life/mindset and transformation coach for women. I started my online business a few years ago, and then developed SHIFT Mindset + Training. The rest of the time I share my life on Instagram and Facebook under “It’s me, Melis” and give raw, unedited exposure to my life as a single mother and entrepreneur. 2. How did you get started in this business? And what drew you to the social media space? I have been a trainer and holistic health coach for over 10 years so the shift to creating an online business was a very natural move. My social space originally started out with myself and my business partner over five years ago. We had a television show on RogersTV called Vanessa + Melissa. Our online community grew with us over the last few years. We then each developed our own brands, and most recently this was when I launched @its.me.melis. 3. Do you identify with the term “influencer”? I tend to not use that term. I never want to be known for influencing people; I want to give my tribe permission to be the best version of themselves. To step out of their norm, to laugh, to love and to embrace life through the trials and the joy. I consider myself a content creator when it comes to working with brands, but I am so much more than an “influencer.” I am a mother, an entrepreneur, I have struggles and I am just sharing my real life experiences.

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4. How do you feel about the attention you get from being a public figure? I love any and all attention (LOL! Just kidding). I love to perform, so I love making people laugh, love or open their minds to a new idea or perspective. However, specifically for myself, because I am raising biracial children, I have been on the receiving end of some very hurtful comments towards myself and my children. Until I started in the online space I didn’t realize that there are people out there who would write comments towards my children and their race. I just didn’t. That being said, I have worked very hard to spread love, and also ask my tribe online to spread the message of love and inclusivity. 5. You’ve gone through some pretty big changes over the last year or so. How do you feel about those situations playing out on a public forum, like social media? In the beginning, I kept most of it to myself. I didn’t know how to share it, or if it would be well received. Then in 2019 I really started to open up and I found that was a game changer for my tribe online. I think the more real I am, the closer I am with my community. I just make sure that whatever I share is in a respectful way. 6. What’s been the most challenging part of doing what you do? Figuring out when to shut things down. This job is about my life, which means I can find myself online a lot. I have really had to learn to shut down my phone and social, and work in general so that it does not over consume me.

THE HOLISTIC PARENT Summer 2019

Life doesn’t stop for Melissa with three kids (Zion, 10, Soul, 5, Malachi, 2), a thriving online business and social media brand. To see the full interview, visit

theholisticparent.ca/blog

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Profile for The Holistic Parent

The Holistic Parent - Summer 2019  

Articles on step-parenting, emotional labour, unique baby shower gifts, sound of labour, and more!

The Holistic Parent - Summer 2019  

Articles on step-parenting, emotional labour, unique baby shower gifts, sound of labour, and more!

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