Coffee on the couch

When I was younger, if I woke up before 6 am, I would find my mom sitting alone on the couch drinking her coffee. I often wondered why she woke up so early to stare at her coffee cup instead of putting it in a to go cup and drinking it on her way to work. 

Now, as a mom, I get it. I also look forward to the early mornings before my kids wake up drinking my coffee alone on the couch. I ignore the little song the dishwasher sings telling me it's time to empty it. I pretend there are not clothes in the dryer waiting to be folded. I don't rush to clean up the toys off the floor. I just sit and stare at my cup enjoying the quiet. Some days I get 30 minutes, most days about 8, before I hear the sound of the baby crying or a little voice saying “Mommy, I want juice please.” Some people might use this time to sleep in a little longer, accomplish a task or exercise, but I find the coffee on the couch time to be more beneficial. It helps me to  prepare for the day.  

As a mom there is rarely quiet time during the day or even a few minutes to yourself. It's so important to take just 15 or 20 minutes to do whatever you need to re -energIze yourself. It might be coffee on the couch, going for a walk, doing some yoga breathing, or enjoying a nice glass of wine. Whatever it may be, make sure you take the time mamas, you definitely deserve it!

Just like my mom, even if my coffee on the couch time gets interrupted by a crying baby or a sweet little voice, I still feel more ready for the day to begin. It may be the time alone or the jolt of caffeine, but either way it makes my day. 

You can run but you can't hide

You can run, but you can’t hide…

For those of you who read my post on Delusional Optimism, I am happy to report that my attempts to improve my time management skills are indeed working.  By bringing my awareness to my slightly skewed concept of time and trying to hone in some better boundaries, I’ve been knocking things off my to do lists right and left #likeaboss. So, my question was this, “If I’m operating in a more organized way and accomplishing the things I set out to do, why do I still feel down and discouraged?” The answer came gently through one of my friends, “Katie, you’re still grieving.”  And, that is true.

I’ve been grieving for about two and a half years now. I lost one of my best friends 7 months before I got married, and about a year and a half later, I lost my Nana (who was really more like my second mother). My friend was sudden and unexpected. You aren’t supposed to lose your friends at 32. My Nana was almost 90, and while it wasn’t as shocking, it’s been incredibly hard. After my friend died, I thought I was going to drown in my grief. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, and I miss him every single day. When I lost my Nana, a part of me shut down and disconnected from it. I’ve never been without her, and the reality of it was actually terrifying to me. I kept saying that to people and nobody seemed to understand it. It wasn’t simply that I didn’t want to lose her; the idea of living without her scared me.  After she died, I just started moving faster and faster. It’s really not that hard to over schedule your life. I have work that I love, a husband, friends, a sister with two kids who could always use a hand or two, and a dream house to work on. I’ve been taking on thing after thing until I started to feel so overwhelmed, I knew something had to change.

Losing two of the people closest to me in less than two years has pushed me into this panicked battle with time. We really don’t know how much time we have to be here with the people we love. I think a certain awareness of this is helpful. It reminds you to appreciate your life and all of the little moments that make it up. Where I’m at though isn’t quite like that. I’m in this constant state of anxiety that I’m going to blink and it will all be over and I won’t have enough time to get everything done. I won’t have enough time to be with my loved ones or to create the things I need to create, or to travel to all of the places I want to go; so I’ve been hurrying, moving constantly, trying to get more than is humanly possible accomplished each day, and then beating myself up that I’m not doing a good enough job with any of it. 

I usually consider myself to be pretty self-aware, so I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to see that I’ve been running from my grief, and it’s beginning to catch up with me. You can only run for so long before your body needs a break, and my grief is beginning to sneak through the cracks in my armor, leaving me crying in the middle of Stop and Shop or hearing myself sound impatient and frustrated when I don’t mean to be. I think it’s time to stop running. The other day, when we had a long list of “shoulds,” my husband and I tossed them all out the window to go to my parents house and play in the pool with my niece and nephew. It’s the first day I’ve felt at peace in a very long time. I think I need to accept that this is where I am right now, and there’s nothing I can do that will make me heal any quicker. I try to hold both Matt and my Nana close. Their memories fill my house, from Matt’s artwork to my Nana’s furniture, and they are with me in all of my moments. I think of Matt when I cut lemons; it always stressed him out because I move so fast. I think of my Nana when I pour laundry detergent because she would swirl the cup so none of it would spill down the side. When you love people so much, they become a part of you forever in ways both big and small. I’m going to try to be more patient with myself and my process, and accept the fact that I’m not really ok right now.  I’m going to set the intention to create space to let the grief process out, and I’m hoping some of the panic will leave with it. That’s where the real yoga is, in being completely present in your process and experience. The standing on your head isn’t the hard part, it’s the sitting still. That’s where the real magic begins.



Supporting Birth

My primary goal as a midwife is to support women to birth their babies in whichever way it feels right for them. I am often known to say that I cannot control how your birth progresses, but I can control that you feel supported during the process. Sometimes being an advocate for birthing women can be challenging. There are times when I don’t agree with their detailed birth plans and unwillingness to accept my very experienced advice.  Most of the time I end up being right with my suggestions and the birth ends up in the exact way I anticipated, usually with the mother learning to surrender to a greater force and let go of her detailed birth plan.

However, and I would say thankfully, I often find myself surprised in her adherence to her plan and the revelation that it works! This week I had 10 births and 8 progressed as I anticipated and 2 did not. One mother came in birthing her first child at full dilatation and informed me she would only push if she felt like she needed to.  I thought to myself, ok we’ll see, but to my humility 3 hours laters with minimal pushing, she was crowning and 4 hours later birthed her baby without ever breaking a sweat. It was awesome and made me realize once again that we really don’t understand all the component parts of birth. There is the physical, clearly. The shape of the mother’s pelvis, the size of the baby, the position of  the baby, the diameter of the baby’s head, etc.  But there is the emotional and mental component of birth that propels labor or inhibits it. I have observed after 30 years of birthing babies that women rarely deliver their babies on high holy days or holidays. There is a strong emotional component which we cannot treat with an herb or a medication. Women do birth as they live. 

The second labor surprise came from a woman also birthing her first baby.  She arrived at 9 cm dilated and also did not feel she needed to push. She was moving with her body, rocking, squatting, lunging with each contraction. I thought, great, let her be, she will get to fully dilated and start spontaneously pushing. Wrong again. When she actually started pushing, she became so agitated, she completely kicked her sympathetic nervous system into action and we could not get her to focus or breathe. End result:  She got an epidural at 10 cm as a last resort.  It worked and after 1 more hour of pushing she delivered her baby.

I love observing  women in their power demanding their caregivers respect their wishes.  I love watching women succeed in their strength, and as always I am always humbled by their power.


There is no good time to visit a new mom.

There is no good time to visit a new mom. I'll say it again. There is no good time to visit a new mom…unless you come bearing chicken parm.

After my second baby, I came to realize why people should not visit new moms. The sole reason being there is no good time of day to visit. Let me explain. At any time of the day, the baby could be sleeping and therefore I could be sleeping. At 10 am, I could be sleeping with the baby, at 2 pm or 6 pm. Get what I'm saying?   We had visitors (or sleep stealers as I like to think of them) come visit after my second baby was born. Also let me add, I’m not Martha Stewart on a good day. Never mind when I just made a person. My sister says that, "You did a good job, you made a person.”  Pretty amazing when you put it that way right?  So I found it stressful to have to pick up my house before these visitors came over to make it look like I had it all together when I really wanted to just crawl into a ball and go to sleep.

People mean well but they ask questions like, “How was your birth?  “How’s your older child adjusting?”  Umm… I'm still recovering and actually it's time to go soak my stitches so I'll brb. As for my older child, she doesn't even know what having a sibling means so stop asking her dumb questions. Not to mention my biggest pet peeve of all…when you're breast feeding and people ask, “That baby is eating again?”  Seriously, it made my blood pressure rise or I was just overtired and cranky (another reason to steer clear ).

If someone has an older child, the most helpful thing you can do is take them out of the house. My mom and sister did this frequently which was a huge help.  Bring them to your house, the park, the movies anywhere will do and this gives you time with the baby and possibly some SLEEP!  

A month before my second baby, my friend's mom asked what she could get the baby. I replied “Nothing, can you just make me some chicken parm?” And she did! It was seriously delicious! I’m very grateful to all those who brought me food. New moms are hungry and don't have time to cook. My dad said it best. He said "Kendall, when the baby is 3 months and you feel pretty good, nobody is going to come see the new baby."  I have to agree. The truth is after 12 weeks you feel better, you possibly have slept for 5 hours in a row, you physically don't hurt, and you're ready to pour the coffee and cut the crumb cake for your visitors . So in short, if you decide to go visit a new mom before she is 12 weeks post partum, I suggest you bring her chicken parm.

Delusional Optimism

I have come to the conclusion that about 80 percent of the stress in my life is self-induced. The negative emotion I experience most frequently is feeling overwhelmed. I take on too much, say yes when I should say no, and seriously lack organizational skills. I blame my mother. Seriously, I’m convinced the woman has super powers. She raised four kids, worked full time, and is the most amazing mom ever. When I was four, she was commuting back and forth to Columbia University to get her Masters in Midwifery, and she would study on the floor of the hallway so we could see her from our bedroom as we went to sleep. She currently works full time as The Director of Midwifery for an OB-GYN practice, takes care of her grandchildren, teaches prenatal yoga and childbirth classes, and still manages to train for and run marathons. She goes on vacations with my Dad and somewhere in their week away, she runs a marathon. She does this multiple times a year. When that's your role model, you pretty much think you should be able to take on the world and do anything. So, I set out to accomplish more than is realistically possible to do on any given day. My husband calls me a “beautiful disaster” because I’m constantly moving so fast that I have a tendency to walk into walls and break a lot of dishes. I always feel like I’m falling behind, like there are a million things on my to do list and I’m nowhere near getting them all done. 

Last year, I got hooked on the concept of minimalism. I started reading articles and blogs about how having less "stuff" can help you to have a more meaningful and joyful life! I was really excited about this because it made me think, “If I have less clutter in my house, my keys won't have such an easy time hiding from me.” So I decluttered a LOT. Then I decluttered some more. One of my favorite mantras has become, “When in doubt, throw it out,” and my house is definitely cleaner, but it didn’t actually solve any of my problems. I still find myself feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and like I’m battling time most days.

The reason I feel overwhelmed is because I don't set realistic goals or boundaries for my time. I literally set myself up to fail. I told a friend the other day that my goal for my one day off this week was to finish the photo gallery wall in my house, paint an end table, a bookshelf, my bathroom vanity, and dig up some bushes in the front yard. He just laughed and said, "Everything you just listed is a full day project on it’s own.” I do the same thing with my work schedule and my social life. I hate the feeling of disappointing people, so I have a hard time saying no. I say yes way too often until my life is completely over scheduled. Then I get frustrated when I'm exhausted, burnt out, and haven't accomplished half of what I set out to do. 

My goal for my 35th trip around the sun is to find more balance in all areas of my life, to say no when it's necessary, and to start taking an honest look at what is actually possible for me to do on any given day. Here’s my plan so far: I’ve started bullet journaling. If you haven’t heard of it, type it into “the google.” It’s pretty awesome, and it’s helping me recognize where my delusional optimism (in regards to only having 24 hours in a day) is holding me back. Speaking of those 24 hours, I’m also attempting to get onto a better sleep schedule. I’m fond of saying, “Sleeping is for sissies,” but I heard a rumor that getting adequate sleep actually increases your productivity. My sister SWEARS this to be true. Finally, I’m going to start being brutally honest with myself and everyone else in my life in regards to how I commit my time. My superhero mom says you have to accept that you’re never going to get it all done in a day and make peace with that . . . I”m working on it.

Happy Mother's Day!

There is no power on earth as strong as a mother’s love. There are countless stories of women finding the strength of 10 to save a child. Every time I assist a woman in birthing her baby,  I am amazed and awed by the sheer strength that women carry within.  I will often tell her support person to watch her face at the moment of birth.  It is one of sheer triumph! I assisted a woman birthing this week  and as often happens for me, was humbled by her tenacity and courage in birthing her baby.   She pushed in every position imaginable to rotate her baby and bring her into “the light”.  She never wavered in her conviction that she could do it and  through the sheer power of her will,  she did it!

I often tell mothers that to birth they must  access the deepest darkest part of the self. They must find the strength that lies deep within, in the parts of the soul that are not polite or quiet but  can wield a sword or throw fire. Anyone who has never before seen a woman in the throes of labor is astounded by the transformation that takes place. To witness a normally polite, controlled  woman rocking and moaning and assertively telling everyone in the room to be quiet or leave is truly awesome.

I believe that birth is hard because motherhood is hard. It comes with sacrifice and the giving of part of your very being. I have been known to say that children “suck your life force,” and they do, but it isn’t a bad thing.  You love them unconditionally with all that you are and all that you have. But the rewards are endless. I would not be the person I am without the gifts of my children. I would not know yoga;  I would not be a teacher without my daughter Katie.  I often work long hours, staying up for 24 hour calls and then caring for my grandchildren for  another 8, and then I find the energy to teach prenatal yoga.  My peers often ask me how I do it all.  My answer is simple. I am a Mother. As a mother, you love unconditionally and through that love, you dig deep down  and you find the strength within to give and spread that love.  So I want to wish all the women who have conceived or  birthed a baby Happy Healthy Mother’s Day!   You are all powerful, strong, amazing women and I bow before you.






Make them count.

Make them count.

As a mom of a two year old and an 8 month old, I feel bad a lot. I feel bad that my house is a mess. I feel bad that the laundry is not done. I feel bad I don't make time to exercise or that I am not back to my pre-pregnancy size. Tonight my 8 month old woke up crying so I went in to get him and he immediately stopped crying and snuggled into my chest. I stared at him for awhile. He fell back asleep quickly. I drank in the smell of his head and kissed his chubby little cheeks. I held his little hand and held him a little closer and longer. That's when it hit me. Your baby doesn't care if your house is a mess, if the laundry is not done, if the jeans you are wearing are two sizes bigger than the ones that hang in your closet. Your baby doesn't care if you have makeup on or your hair is done. Your baby just wants to be held.  So hold your baby a little longer, a little closer. Time goes too fast. Your house can wait , the laundry can wait, your old jeans can wait.  Your baby will only be a baby for a little while. Someone once told me these are the longest days and shortest years of your life. Make them count.

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Welcome to Spiral Path Yoga!

Welcome to Spiral Path Yoga! 

We are a mother/daughter team inspired to celebrate the feminine and create community around motherhood. My mom, Karen, is a Certified Nurse Midwife and The Director of Midwifery for Ocean Gynecological and Obstetrical Associates. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist with a Certification in Prenatal and Perinatal Massage. We both teach yoga and we also offer childbirth, breastfeeding, and breathing for labor and birth workshops. My sister, Kendall, is the mother of a two and a half year old girl, Mackenzie, and an 8 month old boy, Robert. This blog is a place where we will share my mom’s knowledge and insight from her career of birthing over 3,000 babies, my tips and guides for wellness and balance, and my sister’s experiences as a mother. Our goal is to empower women through the transition into motherhood.

Back when women lived, birthed, and mothered in community, birth was considered a natural part of life. In our busy, modern society, we’ve started to lose touch with this concept. In the year 2017, with all of our medical advancements and technology, we should have less fear around childbirth, but it seems that we have more. Birth is indeed a natural part of life, but our present day society sends the message that it is a medical condition to fear and instead of supporting one another, many women feel judged by others about their choices around breastfeeding or co-sleeping or overwhelmed with negative birth stories. 

Spiral Path is where we have created a community to give women a place to connect with other women, a place to feel supported and nurtured. We truly believe in the power of female connection. My mom, sister, and I function as a tightly knit unit and the link between the three of us is incredibly strong. It became even stronger when my sister became a mother; and I think having a female support system is an integral part of a healthy life. We wish to welcome you to our world, where we strive to encourage, educate, and support you through this beautiful transition into motherhood.

With love,