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My 2-year-old son was home with the flu. He was sick and more sensitive than usual—as most of us are because we feel so vulnerable in this state. He broke his fever, and we had apple sauce together, chatting about our day. When he was done, I went to help wipe the remains on his mouth with the spoon but moved too quickly and caught his teeth. It was not a hard scrape; however, in the sheer raw spot of being under the weather, he sobbed and sobbed.

I quickly felt his sadness, but then immediately this other not-so-good emotion washed over me—shame. This was one of my early pivotal parenting moments.

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At this moment, I could have let my shame take over. When shame takes over, all we want is to get out of its discomfort—and in order to do so we often end up invalidating the other person involved to help ourselves feel better.

I had the urge to tell him, "It wasn't that hard," and "I didn't mean to," or "Okay that's enough, brush it off." All the emotionally invalidating expressions that end up making the situation about me and try to alleviate my own feelings.

I resisted the urge of what seemed so automatic, and instead, I just held him. I labeled his emotions of sadness and pain. And I apologized. I sat there, felt my shame and made a decision to put that on the side, and just stayed present with him. It wasn't about me. This wasn't my pain. Instead, I chose to stay present with him, let go of those hard thoughts and feelings, and stay connected. When he was ready, we resumed our chat and play.

Shame. As a psychologist, I am no stranger to this emotion. I see it daily in my office, but I, too, am familiar with this feeling. It is a core emotion that we all experience at some point in our lives.

Shame is the notion that one is unworthy, defective or a failure in some way. It is the "intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging," according to best-selling author and sociologist Brené Brown.

As one of the most painful emotions experienced, shame disconnects us from others, leading to feelings of isolation. Often times we don't even know we are feeling shame when it happens. Instead, we notice anger, sadness, fear, disgust, or many other emotions.

Not only do we not know what it looks like, it even triggers ways to respond just like I wanted to at the moment with my son: blame the other, deny their emotions or experience, or even withdraw, shut down and avoid situations or conversations altogether.

Yet despite its experience being universal, shame is rarely acknowledged or discussed in our culture.

Shame is a strong emotion that is correlated with mental health difficulties, low self-esteem, and relationship distress. Maybe as you are reading this you can think of moments in your own life when shame has reared its ugly head. Was it with your child as a parent? A romantic partner? Or maybe it was during an important work meeting where you said something and later didn't feel good about it. Perhaps it's even when you reach for that job promotion.

Learning to cope with shame can help improve self-worth, emotional health, and our relationships. So let's explore how we can deal with shame.

1. Identify and acknowledge the feeling

Our emotions provide us with the necessary information on what we need and how to change. Start by asking yourself what it feels like inside when you experience shame.

  • Is it a sinking feeling?
  • Is it sticky?
  • Maybe it's a churning feeling in your stomach, and you want to run away.
  • Or perhaps it always comes up in a certain situation, or it urges you to do something.
  • Do you shut down and walk away from others?
  • What does your internal dialogue say to you? "Uh oh, watch out, that wasn't the right thing to say. People will judge you. You are a screw-up. Why did you say that?" There's that voice that comes from this emotion—what does it tell you about you and who you are?

Next, differentiate between whether this is guilt or shame to help identify what you need.

Feelings of guilt result in the thought of "I have done something wrong" or the behavior is not helpful. Guilt can be a healthy emotion. It tells us that somehow our behavior was not correct and that we should try something different next time.

For example, if you feel guilty after eating too many cookies, next time you may try to limit the number you eat. That's okay. We make mistakes. Allow yourself to make a mistake, change the behavior, and move forward.

Shame, however, is like quicksand—sinking quickly and struggling against it. Ask yourself, "Do I feel like I am a bad person?"

At times, the act of just acknowledging an emotion (e.g., "I notice myself feeling shame") can help. When I'm working with clients in my office, we attach an image to it. One client described the sensation of sinking in a hole and not being able to find a ladder. When the emotion comes again, we can notice it quicker, and I can say "Emily, you're in the hole again without the ladder," and she knows we are talking about shame.

2. Fail, and try to fail better

Perfectionism is a driving force that often leads to shame. We tell ourselves to do things perfectly and hold ourselves to high and unachievable standards. Although this drive can help us achieve, this drive becomes a problem when we begin to feel like a failure or not worthy when we do not meet our standards.

Perhaps it's a work project, or a friendship or a relationship.

Maybe its what you thought you would accomplish in a certain amount of time.

Or, as a mom, struggling to feel good enough in your parenting decisions (e.g., "I must always make gourmet meals; I need to create fun activities to do with my children all the time").

Shame lurks behind these standards and self-evaluations.

What if instead of trying to be perfect, you tried to make mistakes. That's a framework shift!

Pema Chödrön, a teacher of Buddhism, teaches us to "Fail. Fail again. Fail better." What does this mean? This means that in life, we will never stop failing or stop facing challenges. It is just not possible. It is part of the human condition—one that we all face—that we will at some point fail, or experience something difficult.

Instead of trying to avoid failure by putting these high expectations on ourselves, try allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to show when you are struggling and not getting something, and to just be okay with this. So let go of trying to be perfect, and take those risks that shame has been stopping you from doing!

3. Acceptance and letting go

There are things in life we cannot control. We cannot control events or situations that are outside of us or other people. We also cannot control our thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts and feelings are spontaneous.

Yet I so often hear from clients in my office that they want to 'just control' or 'get rid' of their difficult emotions and thoughts. I will let you in on a secret. I would not have a job if I had a way to get rid of your painful thoughts and feelings.

So where does that leave us? Instead of trying to make something go away—which, the more you try to get away from something, the more it finds you—try bringing acceptance into what you are experiencing.

This means that you can hold your thoughts and feelings in a nonjudgmental manner: they are just thoughts and feelings. Instead of trying to hold on to thoughts so tightly—where instead of telling yourself "I failed… I'm a failure… I'm not good enough… I can't get anything right"—maybe you notice this thought, notice what your mind is telling you, and seeing this as just bits of language put together.

Learning to be aware of your thoughts and feelings and letting these go can be done through mindfulness.

According to author Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is comprised of two components: awareness of one's internal experience as it is happening in the moment, and nonjudgment of the experience.

Through mindfulness, try bringing a sense of openness, kindness, and curiosity to your shame.

Next, imagine putting the thoughts and feelings on a leaf, and then letting the leaf gently float by as if in a stream or caught in the wind.

Mindfulness takes repeated practice, and it is meant to be challenging. Our minds are really good at pulling us away from what is happening in the moment. Try checking out different apps and podcasts that walk you through different mindfulness exercises. My personal favorites are Calm and Head Space.

4. Talking to significant others

We all need and long for emotional validation and connection. We are hard-wired to connect. But shame stops us from connecting with others. Fear comes up for many people at the thought of sharing hard feelings, with thoughts of "what will they think of me?" and "will they reject me?" Yet sharing with our loved ones how we feel is a great way to slay shame. Their empathy and understanding will help normalize what you are feeling, and they might even have ways to cope with it.

To share this hard emotion, you will need to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Keep in mind that shame is a human emotion; remember that we all experience this problematic emotion.

Start by setting up the conversation. Let your friend or partner know that you want to talk about something challenging for you. Use first person language, with "I feel…" or "I'm struggling with…" Start by sharing small things.

Often, by opening up to others, we realize that we are not alone in our feelings and that others might be experiencing similar feelings as well.

5. Engage in what you find meaningful

We cannot wholly eliminate shame from our experience. Therefore, it is vital not to let shame stop you from living your life and engaging in what is important. In their book Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Hayes et. al. cite an evidence-based approach for treating anxiety and depressive disorders, posits that we must "ACT:"

Accept (A) what we cannot change

Commit (C) ourselves to what is important in our lives

Take (T) action in what we find meaningful

Perhaps being connected with friends is important—so taking action to meet up with them. Or sitting and playing with your child is significant, instead of feeling shame and worry that they are "not playing in the right way" or if you "did enough" for them today.

Engage in something that brings meaning to you—that fills you up—to help fight those feelings of shame.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Easter is almost here, mama. But if you're anything like me, you haven't had time to prepare. Surviving during the coronavirus outbreak with a preschooler and 11-month-old has taken up much of my energy. And since I'm constantly thinking of fun activities to entertain them, I find myself exhausted with the mere thought of having to think of cool Easter crafts—I'm tapped out!

Thankfully, there are tons of Easter crafts that are perfect for the season (and really, any day). So grab some paper, scissors, glue and googly eyes and let your imagination fly.

Here are 10 easy Easter crafts your kids will love making:

Speckled egg planters

Bring the outdoors indoors with a fun spring gardening project.

What you'll need:

  • Eggs
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Mini cups (disposable or whatever you use for crafting)
  • Paper towels or newspaper
  • Organic potting soil
  • Spoons and bowls (disposable or whatever you use for crafting)
  • Small fresh potted flowers
  • Empty egg carton to display planters

Instructions:

1. Gently tap the top of each egg against a hard surface until it has started to crack. Carefully remove pieces of shell from the very top of the egg, leaving about three quarters of the remaining shell intact. Pour out the yolks and whites, then wash and fully dry the empty shells.

2. Fill up your mini cups with paint in the colors of your choice.

3. Using a brush, start splattering paint by tapping your paint brush with your index finger. Let the shells dry completely.

Craft from Nellie's free range eggs.

Pom pom bunnies

There's nothing sweeter in the spring than fuzzy little animals.

What you'll need:

  • Scissors
  • Tacky glue
  • Yarn
  • Cotton balls
  • Felt
  • Beads

Instructions:

1. Start by creating a small pom-pom for the head and a large pom-pom for the body. Wrap yarn around the "arms" of your pom pom maker and make sure not to wrap too tightly. The more yarn you use, the thicker and fluffier your bunny will be! For the small pom-pom, we wound the yarn about 15 times. For the large pom-pom, we wound the yarn about 40 times.

2. Cut a 10-inch piece of yarn and tie it in the center. Tie the yarn so it leaves one long tail. Gently remove the yarn from the pom-pom winder.

3. Take scissors and cut the loops to create your pom-pom. Make sure not to cut the long tail on the pom-pom. Repeat steps with the large pom-pom maker to create the bunny's body.

4. Take the two pom-poms and tie the long tails together to create the bunny. Trim off any excess yarn.

5. Decorate your bunny with felt and beads! Make eyes, a nose and a tail, and glue them on the pom-poms.

Craft from Kiwico.

Easter egg suncatcher

Similar to a wind chime, a suncatcher can be hung near windows to "catch" light. Make your own by following these easy steps.

What you'll need:

  • Clear contact paper
  • 2 sheets of construction paper
  • Tissue paper in various colors
  • 1 sheet white paper
  • 12-inch piece of yarn
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Pushpins
  • Foam board

Instructions:

1. You will need a sheet of contact paper that is twice the size of a piece of construction paper. Lay the contact paper, clear side down (do not remove the backing yet!) onto the foam board and tack it in place with pushpins, one in each corner.

2. Draw an egg shape on white paper with a black marker. Slide the egg drawing underneath the contact paper on the left side. Carefully peel the backing off the left side of the contact paper (the sticky side should be facing upward) and fold it over to the right, tacking it under the pushpins on the right to hold it in place.

3. Have children decorate the sticky side of the contact paper with tissue paper, using the egg drawing underneath as a guide.

4. When children are done decorating, peel the backing off the right side of the contact paper and fold it over to the left, sticky side to sticky side. This will sandwich the tissue paper design between the contact paper.

5. Take the egg drawing and cut it out. Use that as a guide to cut egg shapes from the purple construction paper. Stack both sheets of construction paper together and cut around the egg, leaving about a 1-inch border all the way around.

6. Use the egg cut-out to cut the decorated contact paper in the same fashion, only leaving about 1/2-inch border all the way around.

7. Tie your yarn into a loop. Use a glue stick to adhere the egg inside the two construction paper eggs, creating a frame for your suncatcher. Be sure to glue the yarn inside with the contact paper egg.

Craft from Crafts by Amanda.

Crafty cascaróns

Making cascaróns is a great way to gather friends, family, and neighbors together to celebrate Easter and share Latino traditions.

What you'll need:

  • Newspaper, craft paper, or a plastic tablecloth
  • One dozen eggs (and carton)
  • Easter egg coloring kit or natural dyes
  • Small bowls
  • Vinegar (optional for vibrant colored eggs)
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper, cut into small squares
  • Glue
  • Paper confetti (you can make DIY confetti by hole-punching construction paper)

Instructions:

1. Prepare the egg decorating work area by covering your table with newspaper, craft paper or a plastic tablecloth. Be sure to have plenty of napkins handy for little decorators to dry their hands on or to clean up any spills.

2. With a spoon, gently tap the top of an egg.

3. Remove the bits of shell, peeling away enough to make a small 1/2-inch hole.

4. Empty the contents of the egg out into a bowl. Thoroughly rinse the egg shell inside and out, shaking out excess water. Let the eggshell air dry upside down in an empty egg carton.

5. Dye the egg shells using an egg coloring kit or natural dyes in individual bowls. Add a splash of vinegar to the dye for vibrant color. Note: Brown eggs produce pretty earthy colors, and usually need to sit in the dye a bit longer.

6. When the egg shells are dry, fill with confetti to the brim. Once filled, apply glue around the outside of the hole and cover with colorful tissue paper. Let sit until completely dry.

7. Find an unsuspecting friend to sneak up on and gently tap your colorful cascarón over their head, then watch the confetti fly!

Craft from Nellie's free range eggs.

Rainbow play dough

Playing with playdough is a classic activity kids love and it's very easy to make.

What you'll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup cream of tartar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Food dye
  • Wax paper

Instructions:

1. Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan. Add water and oil; mix well. Add 20 drops of desired food color.

2. Cook about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture holds together.

3. Remove from heat. Scrape dough onto wax paper to cool. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth.

4. Store in an airtight container. May be kept for 2 to 4 weeks.

Craft from McCormick.

Egg carton floral garland

Spring has sprung and it's the perfect time to add color to your kitchen, living room or your child's bedroom. Use this garland to liven your home.

What you'll need:

  • Empty egg carton
  • Mod podge
  • Oversized needle
  • Green thread/string
  • Tissue paper (purple, pink and green)
  • Scissors

Instructions:

1. Cut the empty egg carton into individual cups.

2. Cut tissue paper into 3-inch squares.

3. Apply mod podge onto the outside of each egg cup. Place a tissue paper square onto the bottom of the cup, pressing to adhere, and then press onto the sides as well, gathering the paper to fit and forming a crinkled flower. Repeat for as many flowers as desired, and set aside to dry completely.

4. To make the leaves, cut out the flat top of the egg carton lid, recycling the off-cuts.

5. Use mod podge to apply green tissue paper onto the lid and let dry.

6. Once the tissue-covered lid is dry, cut lid into leaf shapes, each about 1-inch long. Once the tissue-covered egg cups are dry, use scissors to trim the excess tissue from the edges.

7. Thread an oversized needle with green thread. Carefully pierce the egg cup as close to the base as possible, and pull the needle all the way through.

8. To add the leaves onto the string, poke two holes into one side, as shown. Then, put the needle through each of the holes.

9. Continue adding flowers and leaves onto the string. Once all flowers have been added, cut contrasting tissue paper centers. Pinch the center of each circle and crumple the excess. Add a dot of mod podge into the center of each flower and attach the new tissue paper center onto each dot. Let dry completely, then hang as desired.

Craft from Nellie's free range eggs.

Easter egg wreath

Wreath making isn't just for the holiday season. This colorful wreath from paper plates is perfect for kids of all ages to create.

What you'll need:

  • paper plates
  • construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • ribbon

Instructions:

1. Cut the middle out of your paper plate. Cut ovals out of construction paper or encourage your child to try cutting the ovals.

2. Decorate the eggs with markers, paint, or stickers. I envisioned polka dots, stripes, and springtime decorations. Instead he made Angry Birds, Tic Tac Toe, and happy face eggs. It's times like these when I remember it's all about the process and creativity and not about the end product.

3. Arrange and glue the eggs onto the paper plate.

4. You can layer the eggs or arrange them onto your wreath in any way you want. You could even add a ribbon to hang it. This craft would also work well with egg shapes cut from craft foam.

Craft from Kiwico.

Yarn pom pom bunny tails

There's no doubt that Bunnies are an important part of Easter. Make your own bunny costume and start with a super cute tail.

What you'll need:

  • Scissors
  • Yarn
  • Yarn winder

Instructions:

1. Take your scissors and cut a piece of yarn that is about 4 feet-long. This will act as a belt to secure your pom-pom tail. Put it aside.

2. Hold the pom-pom winder in one hand. Using your dominant hand, start winding the yarn from the skein around and around. Don't wrap it too tightly or it may be difficult to remove from the winder. Keep winding. One full yarn skein will create a big fluffy pom-pom tail.

3. When you are done winding, take the 4 feet-long piece of yarn and tie it around the middle of the looped yarn between the arms of the pom-pom winder. The long string of yarn will act as a belt so make sure to secure the bunny tail in the center. Tie it twice to make sure it is extra secure.

4. Pull the yarn off the pom-pom winder. Take the scissors and cut both ends of the looped yarn. Adult assistance may be required! As you do this, make sure not to cut the piece of yarn that was used to tie the middle. Once the loops are cut, you will have your pom-pom tail.

5. Take the long string and tie it around your waist to secure the tail in place. Now get hopping!

Craft from Kiwico.

Homemade Easter marshmallows

Forget store-bought treats and create your own Easter marshmallows.

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Instructions:

1. For the colored sugar, place sugar in a large resealable plastic bag. Select your desired Marshmallow variation in the tips section below and add the designated amount of food color with the sugar. Seal bag and knead gently until color is evenly distributed. Spread colored sugar in a thin layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and break up any large lumps. Allow to dry thoroughly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Sift or press through sieve, if needed. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with no stick cooking spray then coat with some of the colored sugar. Set aside.

2. For the marshmallows, microwave 1/2 cup of the water, sugar and corn syrup in a medium microwavable bowl on high for seven minutes. Stir to dissolve sugar. Microwave on high for five more minutes. Carefully remove the hot bowl from the microwave.

3. Place remaining 1/2 cup water in a large mixer bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand 5 minutes. Gradually beat in hot syrup mixture with whisk attachment on medium-low speed. Beat 8 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high. Beat 10 to 12 minutes longer or until mixture is fluffy, shiny and at least tripled in volume. Beat in vanilla.

4. Spread marshmallow mixture in prepared dish. Smooth top with a spatula. Sprinkle some more of the colored sugar on top to coat. Let stand at room temperature overnight or refrigerate at least three hours. Reserve remaining colored sugar in a large resealable plastic bag or airtight container.

5. Cut marshmallows with 1 to 2-inch cookie cutters. Add marshmallows in batches to reserved colored sugar in the bag; toss to coat well. Shake off excess. Store marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature up to three days.

Marshmallow color variations:

  • Pink Marshmallows: Add 10 drops pink color with the sugar.
  • Purple Marshmallows: Add 5 drops purple color and 8 drops blue color with the sugar.
  • Blue Marshmallows: Add 15 drops blue color with the sugar.

Craft from McCormick.

DIY scented rainbow bubbles

What's better than bubbles? Rainbow-colored bubbles scented with essential oils. Have fun experimenting with colors, smells and bubble recipes at home.

What you'll need:

  • Empty egg cartons
  • Unscented dish soap
  • Glycerin
  • Essential oils
  • Food coloring Bottles or jars (with lids)
  • Scissors
  • Wire and/or pipe cleaners
  • Wire cutters

Instructions:

1. Open up the empty egg carton and cut along each hinge so that you have three pieces. The two egg-compartment pieces will be used for holding bubbles, while the flat lid piece can be recycled, set aside for another craft.

2. In a pitcher, mix together 6 cups of water, 1 cup of unscented dish soap, and 1 tablespoon of glycerin. Use a large spoon or whisk to stir the solution until well combined.

3. Pour the solution into eight jars or bottles, one for each color of the rainbow.

4. Add a drop of food coloring into each jar. Once the colors are mixed, add a drop or two of essential oil to each color and stir to combine.

5. Have fun forming the wire into loopy shapes, making sure that they either fit into the openings on your jars or are the size of one egg compartment. Use tape to secure the handles if necessary, or simply twist the wire together. Pipe cleaners work in a similar way and are a great option for younger kids. Once shaped, your bubble blowers are ready to use, but you can choose to give them a quick coat of spray paint if desired.

6. To set up your rainbow bubble station, pour the colored bubbles into the egg compartments. Dip your DIY bubble wands into each solution, gently blow and watch the bubbles take shape!

Craft from Nellie's free range eggs.

Lifestyle

Dear mama,

When you find out you're pregnant, oftentimes you're hit by a wave of emotions. You immediately wonder and worry about so many things.

How will I give birth? Where will I give birth? What classes should I take? How will I feed my baby? What do I need for this baby? Should I get a doula? Will I be a good mother?

Never in a million years did you think you'd have to worry about giving birth during a global pandemic. This is certainly an unprecedented time to be delivering a baby.

Just a few weeks ago, my doula business was busy—I was attending birth after birth, all while standing right by each of my client's sides. Then, things changed.

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As we began to hear more and more about the coronavirus each day, we began to realize just how much this was going to impact us as doulas and, in turn, all the families we were in the process of supporting or planned on supporting. Things changed rapidly.

My last in-person support was a few weeks ago. I walked into the hospital to be with a couple that morning, and by the afternoon that very hospital changed their policy to say only one support person would be allowed in the delivery room.

I felt your wave of emotions and worries now shift completely. You wanted me there and I wanted to be there for you—like we planned.

As a doula, it truly is an honor to be there with you to witness the miracle of your baby coming into the world.

As a doula, I aim to support you emotionally, physically and educationally before, during and after the birth of your baby.

As a doula, I aim to reduce fear and instill strength.

Just as someone might hire a wedding planner for their wedding, I am that for your birth. We spend a lot of time together discussing and preparing for your big day. And just like a wedding, rain or shine, the big day is going to happen.

Global pandemic or not, your baby is going to be born.

Changes in your birth plan or not, your baby is going to be born.

In-person doula or not, your baby is going to be born.

Things have shifted, mama, and it breaks my heart that I won't be able to be there physically in the room with you. What shatters it completely is knowing that this is breaking your heart, too. Knowing that you are scared and feeling doubt as you wonder, how am I going to do this?

But remember all the many ways doulas can support you. Just because the physical aspect has been taken away, doesn't mean I am completely taken away. Now I will be focusing on supporting you emotionally and educationally. I can still be part of your birth team—virtually. I will be on the phone talking, texting and FaceTiming with you every step of the way.

Yes, I know and understand it is not the same. I know this was not what you envisioned for your big day.

But here is what I want you to remember: You can and will get through this.

You have been through difficult times in your life and you have made it through to the other side.

You have done everything you needed to do to prepare for this day and you know what to do.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are ready.

You are a mother.

Remember to take it moment by moment, one breath at a time. Allow yourself to move, listen, connect to your body and baby. Remember all the strong women before you who have birthed life into this world. Remember you are not only connected to them, but to every woman across the globe who are also getting ready to birth their babies.

This is a historic moment. YOU are the women giving birth to babies born during a global pandemic. YOU are superheroes.

Now, take your arms and wrap them around your belly and close your eyes. Take a deep inhale and slowly exhale. Know you have the strength and power within you. You can do this—with or without me—because you are your baby's mother. Even though I will not be with you in the room, my heart and my words are right there by your side.

Sending virtual (for now) hugs,

Your doula

Life

The World Health Organization and other organizations agree that pregnant people have the right to have their partner or another companion present at their birth, but recently several New York hospitals barred partners from delivery wards. Pushback from the government forced them to reverse course—but a recent case has some hospitals tightening visitor policies without issuing outright bans.

A New York state father made headlines this week after he hid his coronavirus symptoms from hospital staff at the University of Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital so that he could be present for the birth of his child. When the mother started showing coronavirus symptoms shortly after giving birth, the father told hospital staff that he had been exposed and was symptomatic when he came to the hospital.

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"After the mother exhibited symptoms, and the OB team learned that the partner had been exposed to COVID-19 and was symptomatic, the patient was tested and all staff who had been in contact were informed of their possible exposure," a hospital spokesperson explained in a statement to media.

Thankfully, no staff members tested positive and the family has been sent home to quarantine, but the case highlighted the need for stricter screening of visitors. Before this case, the hospital asked visitors questions to confirm their health status. Now, they're checking temperatures at the door and every 12 hours for the duration of their visit.

"It was purely an honor system before," UR Medicine spokesman Chip Partner told The Democrat and Chronicle. "Now we're adding the temperature check."

"Our health care team understands how important it is to pregnant patients to have a support person with them during labor, and therefore, additional safeguards have been added to allow this to continue safely," the hospital's statement to media explains.

It continues: "We will continue to weigh all the medical evidence available to continue to make the best possible decision for all our patients, visitors and staff."

It would be heartbreaking for a parent to not be present at the birth of their child, but it would be even more heartbreaking if other babies contracted coronavirus. It is important that people be honest with medical care providers during this time of crisis.

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Looking for more creative activities to keep littles entertained while isolating during the coronavirus outbreak? We hear you, mama. Quarantine life isn't easy, that's why we were thrilled to hear that the Library of Congress is collaborating with Captain Underpants and Dog Man author Dav Pilkey to create weekly video drawing lessons for kids.

Starting today, their website will include free videos and downloadable activities for kids to participate in. And, on Fridays at 8 am, viewers can enjoy Pelkey's reading sessions from his books on its website and social media feeds.

In a new video, Pilkey explains that he's stuck indoors just like his young fans are and is spending some time drawing his Little Petey the Cat character.

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"And one thing a lot of people don't know is that little Petey is actually based on my mom. My mom is one of the most optimistic, positive people I've ever met. Even when I was a kid and I was having a hard time at school she always had my back, and she always believed in me. Even sometimes when I didn't believe in myself. And little Petey is a lot like my mom. He's always looking on the bright side of life and I think that's an important thing to do, especially when times are tough," Pilkey says, before reminding kids to keep drawing, reading and doing good during the pandemic.

It's a message kids (and moms) need these days.

"The Library of Congress is delighted to join forces with our friend Dav Pilkey and the nimble team at Scholastic to bring you Dav Pilkey at Home," Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told Publishers Weekly. "Our hope is to combine Dav's artistic gifts and charisma with the wealth of knowledge in our collections. We know that Dav's message of Do Good and the Library's message of Engage, Inspire, Inform are natural partners and will bring children, parents and teachers many happy and fruitful moments during this difficult time."

Each show will also feature tips from Pilkey for children to act out scenes from Dog Man books and for creating new characters of their own. This initiative truly comes as no surprise as Pilkey has made it his mission to promote literacy and creativity in children over the last two decades.

Be sure to tune in and if you need even more Pilkey, check out his other hilarious and heart-warming books.

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