Meet Erin! - Columbus Moms Network

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

We have 3 girls (ages 9, 7 and 5) and 1 boy (age 2). It’s loud and wild over here, but so much fun!

How long have you lived in Columbus and what brought you here?

I grew up in Columbus but moved to the East Coast for college and young adult life. My husband serendipitously got recruited for a job in Columbus while I was pregnant with our oldest daughter, and it seemed like the perfect time to settle down near family.

What does your family enjoy doing together in your spare time?

You can usually find us outside! We love Columbus’s metro parks, Franklin Park Conservatory, visiting all the different playgrounds, and the pool in the summer. We love trying new restaurants (except for our resident picky eater, that is) and cooking together.

Tell us about your business, Thrive Doula, and how you got started.

The seeds for this business were planted after the birth of my first baby. I was a nurse practitioner with years of experience observing and managing labor and birth, spent countless hours babysitting while I was growing up, and was financially and emotionally ready to have a baby with a partner I was crazy about. And yet, pregnancy and birth rocked me. I experienced several miscarriages, then suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum when a pregnancy finally stuck. I labored for 72 unmedicated hours to deliver my sweet, stubborn daughter. I was still reeling (emotionally AND physically) when it was time to take her home 2 days later. I didn’t recognize my healing body, struggled to get into a breast-feeding rhythm, and felt so unlike myself. I needed help, and I didn’t know how to ask for it, or where to turn. With time, and with the support of an amazing set of friends and birth workers I discovered along the way, we figured one another out and began to thrive. The transitions to add each of my following 3 children were infinitely easier, as I could feel my community’s support around me at every turn. As I settled into my new identity as a parent, I knew I needed to do my best to encourage other new parents through this enormous transition.

After the pandemic birth of my fourth baby, I made the decision to scale back my hours so I could offer growing families comprehensive support during childbirth and the early stages of parenthood. I trained as a doula in 2022 and am certified through DONA International. In my role as a doula, I serve as a trusted source of support and comfort during labor and birth. I am excellent at interpreting medical lingo and cutting through the noise during stressful situations so that birthing people have the information and confidence they need to make the right decisions for their bodies and babies. I have additionally received my credentials as a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) through the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice, and completed my training as an Evidence Based Birth® (EBB) Instructor. Can you tell I love learning? I’m a nerd, and I’m unashamed.

What is your favorite part about what you do?

I get to see new people come into the world! It doesn’t matter how many births I’ve seen before. Each and every time I watch someone bring their baby earthside, it takes my breath away. It is such a privilege to witness.

What are some of the ways you support families as they prepare for the birth of their child?

I focus on making sure families have the information and resources they need to make birth parenting decisions that are right for them. This usually looks like a LOT of education- focusing on what birth typcially looks like in American hospitals as well as what the current research says is best (spoiler alert: there are a whole lot of things about our maternity care system that are in dire need of an update!). I spend a lot of time with my clients, and much of that time is spent really listening to them. This helps me to get a clear sense of what their values and priorities are, what they’re scared of, what they’re hoping for. This helps me to tailor both my education and my birthing day support to them specifically. I truly have no agenda when it comes to how my clients choose to birth and parent. You could give birth at home or a hospital, unmedicated or with an epidural, breast or bottle feed, cosleep or sleep train. What I care about is that you have the resources you need to make informed choices and that you feel safe and respected in those choices. On a logistical level, support can vary from family to family based on their needs. Need help finding a pelvic floor PT, a therapist specializing in perinatal mental health, a sleep consultant, a chiropractor who specializes in infant feeding issues? I’ve got you! Overwhelmed by registry building? I LOVE nerding out about baby gear! Nervous about breastfeeding? I’ll help you select a pump, set it up, and do a prenatal session on breastfeeding basics. Annoyed that you’re 40 weeks pregnant and everyone keeps asking if you’ve had the baby? I’ve got a meme for that! Every client is different. It is fun.

What does a typical day look like for you?

What’s a typical day?! Most days, I wake up around 5:30 or 6 with our 2 earliest risers. Sometimes I can get in a quick workout before everyone else wakes up, but often we just snuggle and hang out. Once the later sleepers are up, it’s the usual mad dash to find shoes and backpacks and forgotten water bottles and get out the door! We walk the oldest 3 to school and drop the youngest at preschool. Then I jam as much work as possible into the time between 8:30 and 3! Often I’m visiting clients in their homes for prenatal or postpartum visits. Whenever possible, I work in a snack or lunch with one of the other wonderful birth workers in town. Being a solo entrepreneur can be lonely, and it’s so important for me to nurture my relationships with other folks in the birthing space. We learn so much from one another, and it’s invaluable to have such a deep referral network for clients in the trenches. There’s plenty of admin work too- lesson planning for evening childbirth classes, keeping all my paperwork and accounting current, checking in with clients to see how they’re doing. Before I know it, it’s time to pick up my munchkins and either shuttle everyone to afternoon activities or (my favorite) lounge at home and cook dinner. That is of course unless someone calls me in labor! In which case, I cancel everything, quickly make contingency plans for my kids, and run to meet them! A birthing day usually lasts about 12-18 hours for a first timer and 6-12 hours for a veteran. I typically meet families at home, help them work through the start of active labor there, then head to their birthing location once things are getting spicy. I stay through the birth of the baby and for about an hour after, then head home. My kids are always waiting at the door to hear the new baby’s name!

How do you juggle work and being a mom?

It’s a constant negotiation of priorities and boundaries. First and foremost, I have amazing help. My husband is an equal partner in parenting our kids and is incredibly generous about jumping in to pick up the slack when I have to go to a birth, or get some rest after one. We could not both do what we do without our village—our wonderful babysitters and daycare provider, our neighbors and friends who are always willing to help with logistics, and my SAINT of a mother in law who flies up from Florida to stay with me in case of overnight births while my husband travels monthly. On the work front, I’m so lucky to be part of a community of independent doulas who back each other up, help process difficult births, and celebrate each other’s successes.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to a new mom?

Build your village! Parenthood was never supposed to be done alone. Chat up moms at library story time or the park. It can be nerve wracking to put yourself out there, but having friends in the same stage of parenting with you is so helpful and fun.

 

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