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When Survivors Give Birth - The Book

Heather Crossan

“When Survivors Give Birth”

Penny Simkin, PT, & Phyllis Klaus, MFT

This book is important.

Trying to describe this book to others this is all I can say. The minute I finished it the first time I immediately turned to the first page and started again.

The way the book is laid out allows a difficult topic to be handled in an approachable way. Separating the survivor stories and the narrative of the book allows the reader to digest the difficult stories and details without taking away from the important information within the chapters.

Dividing the book into sections gives the opportunity to focus on clear topics and sets you up to continue into the next section with the information needed to fully understand and absorb the next sections.

Every time I turned a page and found a shaded section I was both excited to hear from another survivor, while also scared to read the details of what they had experienced. I really appreciated the way these stories were not edited to remove the horrific acts, and the way it was treated as fact based, just simply the survivor explaining what happened. As a relatively sheltered, privileged person, I have lived without having to face the reality of what is truly happening behind closed doors to far more of the population than I would like to admit. This books lays it all out in the open, warts and all, for us to deal with.

I really appreciated the way topics were explained in the book. While being evidence based and citing the research the tone is conversational and easy to read. I didn’t feel like I was attending a lecture, but having a conversation about each topic. As the book moved along it felt natural to move into each new section and deal with the new information.

Throughout the book I found it very helpful to have the “abuse” discussed in different ways. Not just focusing on the physical, but also delving into the emotional, psychological, and developmental impacts of childhood sexual abuse. There were so many factors and manifestations that hadn’t occurred to me and I appreciated the way the book gives an overview to gain better understanding.

One of the biggest take aways for me would be the reoccurring theme of control. The lack of control the survivors felt, the control asserted over them by the abuser and how little things could be a trigger for that lack of control. It was fascinating to read about the ways the birth team can give the birthing person control and help them feel like an active participant in their own birth.

Along with that though, I also question why this even needs to be discussed! Shouldn’t we be treating all birthing people with respect? Don’t they all deserve to know why a vaginal exam is being performed or what is happening behind their back? Although this is even more important when dealing with a known survivor of childhood sexual abuse, with the rates so high, it would be nice if disclosure was not necessary.

In part II we explore the various methods of communication, help and healing beneficial to the survivor. I found this to be a well presented, thorough break down of various methods and more importantly WHY these methods may be helpful. While not an instruction manual to begin therapy sessions, this section provides useful tools and real world examples to better inform and hopefully allow those not seeking help to find alternative methods.

Part III gets into the clinical considerations we should have in mind when in a clinical setting with a survivor. I wish that this was mandatory reading for all care providers, and applaud the authors for reaching out to several medical professionals for this section. It was reaffirming to hear the same ideas and purposeful language reiterated by others, and hopefully having these opinions shared by many respected professionals will cause care providers to take a second look and read this important section.

As I said before, this book is important.
This book gives practical tips and tricks that can be implemented by anyone. This book addresses an issue that is far too common, although not talked about. This book gives survivors a safe place to discuss their experiences and help others. This book, unlike any other, brings the whole person to the fore-front. This book reminds us that we do not birth with our body alone. This book shows that we birth as a sum of all our experiences and each of those experiences must be considered. This book gives a voice to those who have experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse, survived, and birthed.

This book is important.

- Heather

Heather Crossan, AdvCD/PCD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, CLE is an Advanced Certified Birth Doula, certified Postpartum Doula, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Lactation Educator, as well as a certified Henna artist. She has been an active doula in Calgary for over a decade, while also being a birth doula trainer, Lamaze Seminar Instructor, founder of Doula Essentials as well as Co-Owner of Elite Doula Group Inc. She takes great pride supporting families, and doulas through their entire journey.

Doulas of Distinction - Christa Duquette

Heather Crossan

Periodic Profiles of our Passionate Peeps!

Christa Duquette CD(DONA), SBD

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Who is this doula? 

Christa is a doula everyone should know. Not only is she a gifted doula, she is also a leader of the community, fierce advocate for doulas, voice for under-served populations, life-long learner, and just an awesome person. 

When you are in her presence you immediately feel at ease. She is truly dedicated to whoever she is with at any moment, and actually cares about their life and story; a rarity these days! 

Her ease with others is one of the reasons she has excelled at growing a strong community in Central Alberta. The Red Deer Doula Association is a leader in the province and with the help of the rest of the community the RDDA has opened opportunities for birthing families, and birth workers never before considered. Christa welcomes everyone as part of the community and invests in making them successful, as they define it.

Since completing DONA International Birth Doula training in 2012 Christa has been busy!  She started as Secretary of the RDDA in 2014, then served as Vice President and now is in her second year as President.  She has attended over 100 births in Red Deer, Olds and surrounding Hospitals, while also serving as a volunteer with the AHS Volunteeer Doula program for 5 years. Christa has also been an active volunteer and Doula Support with the Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre in Red Deer and Olds for 3 years while recently working with the new Maternity Home in Red Deer to build a program of Doula support with the RDDA and has helped with fundraising for Red Deer Regional Health Foundation and Ronald McDonald House of Central Alberta (in all her spare time).

We are very proud to share that Christa has been nominated for the 2018 Women of Excellence Award for Central Alberta, Community Building Category.   As well she is the recipient of the Alberta Health Services "Spirit of Excellence" award 2017 in the volunteeer category for their Doula program. 

A personal perspetive...

My name is Christa Duquette. I am mother to three beautiful children, wife to a farmer, and friends to many. I am also a Birth and Bereavement Doula and current President of the Red Deer Doula Association

Looking back over the past 5 years I am amazed at what an incredible journey it has been for me as a Doula. Each experience has brought more to my life then I could imagine and has helped shape the path of this passion for me. I now offer Birth and Bereavement Doula Services, Childbirth Education, and sit on the board for the Red Deer Doula Association and it has been wonderful in so many ways.

I am very lucky to do what I do, not only am I a certified Doula, but I also stay home with my children and help raise them on our 5th Generation family farm in Rural Alberta. I was born and raised in Olds and now with my husband, we continue to farm the land that will soon be 100 years in the family! All three of my children were born at the Olds Hospital, where I primarily now support couples through their own birth experiences. I have a soft spot in my heart for Olds, Alberta, but have really enjoyed expanding my services to Three Hills and the Red Deer area as well.

When I am not attending a birth or running my children to sports, I like to sew, enjoy camping and attempting to garden ;) Living on a farm we have cows, cats and dogs and our life is always busy with equipment, livestock and plant life. I also have a background in Bellydance and enjoy sharing the joy of dance through Mother Blessings, as a celebration of women. 

As I grow in my Doula journey I always look forward to learning new skills, meeting new people and of course the honour of being invited into the intimate time of birth. It is incredible the couples I have met along the way and I'm so grateful I have found my calling and am able to share my passion with those I meet everyday. 

Christa Duquette CD(DONA), SBD

Li'l Apple Doula Services - Olds and Red Deer

Are you a "Desperate Doula"?

Heather Crossan

Are you in an Abundance or Scarcity Mindset?

This might be the number one pain point and complaint I hear from doulas:

"I need more clients!"

Do you hear that? That's desperation. It's like being asked out on a date...who would you rather say yes to: the guy who's begging for you to say yes, or the guy who knows they are perfectly happy whether you say yes or not?

It's great to make your clients feel wanted, but there's a fine line between desperation and deserving.

You know what else 'I need more clients' tells me? You operate with a scarcity energy. You are starved and will accept anything that resembles food. Let me tell you, going into prospective meetings with this scarcity energy and desperation to close will lead you to your-less-than-perfect-client, and ultimately cause you to lose them.

One of the biggest shifts I made early in my career and continue to make (because it's hard not to feel the pressure of adulthood), is to go into every conversation/interaction with the desire to...

H E L P A N D S E R V E

Tie your deserved outcome to something deeper, because there's a reason you're doing what you do, and it's NOT just for the money.

At one point, you believed that the services you offer would make a difference to your clients' lives. Stick to that energy of service and offering; leave the desperation at the door.

Prospective clients can sniff out desperation. Like you, they know when they're being sold on something. Like you, they just want help and understanding.

Try this instead: Just be helpful, be genuinely interested in your client's pain points and model what business confidence should look and feel like.

Money and clients will follow. I promise. 

💕Loree

#wisdomwednesday

Loree Siermachesky, Alberta's very own Doula OG. With 20 years of experience as a DONA certified birth doula, and a personal history of assisting at more than 1500 births, she has blended the heart work of being a doula with the reality of running a thriving full-time business.  Loree not only has received the recognition of her community as the 2013 Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year recipient, a 2016 Medicine Hat Women in Business Inspire Award nominee, the 2016 Prodoula Diamond Award recipient, she is widely respected within the international Doula Community.

As one of the founders of Elite Doula Group Inc. Loree has proven time and time again she is fiercely committed to the new families of Southern Alberta, and commits her time to sharing knowledge and mentoring new doulas through her advanced doula courses.

Loree lives in Medicine Hat, AB with her husband of 23 years, her sons and her much loved Sheltie and two cats. She is an avid gardener and when she’s not in the labor room, she’s usually outside…or sleeping.