Mind & Body by Samantha Nichole

Mind & Body by Samantha Nichole

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Our Experiences at the BWF Chicago Conference

I woke up at 4:45 in the morning. My clothes were set out, and my eyes were practically swollen shut from being so tired. I threw on my clothes, brushed my hair, did my makeup, and grabbed my daughter Audrey (who was still in her pajamas.) We left by 5:15 in the morning to meet Tabitha, a carpooling buddy I met on Facebook. We traveled together to Chicago for the Birth Without Fear Conference.

Somehow, by the grace of God, we missed all the rush hour traffic. We arrived roughly an hour before conference registration started, so we decided to get breakfast at Denny's since neither of us had time to eat. Audrey and Tabitha's son Lincoln had a fun time hanging out while the two of us ate our breakfasts and got to know each other a little bit better. We learned that we're both interested in birth work and share similar spiritual and parenting interests. Needless to say, conversation was never lacking!

After breakfast, we started looking for parking. It took us longer than it should have to find the appropriate place to park, but we got the hang of it once we learned to start following the groups of women wearing babies and/or pushing strollers. I brought a stroller, but after unpacking it I realized that the tire was flat. (Bummer!) It wasn't a big issue because I had my sling with me, but the stroller would have been nice to hold our luggage. After getting situated at the car, we arrived at the conference just in time to find a seat, grab water, change the babies, and sit down to relax.

I was so excited that Ashlee and her business partner from The 4th Trimester Bodies Project had a booth. Ashlee kicked off the day by telling her own birth story and the inspiration for her empowering business. I bought a bag to show some support. (They both complimented me on my flowy skirt, so I couldn't help myself.) If you haven't heard about it, you should look them up. They've been getting a lot of flack from Facebook and it's draws quite a bit of media attention.

After Ashlee spoke, there was another woman who took the stage. We had a conversation about Aunt Flo where we learned about some products to use for your menstrual cycle aside from pads and tampons that are loaded with toxins. It was informative and entertaining. As a whole, this conference was great, but I would have loved to have more speakers talk about a variety of things like menstrual health, essential oils, natural family planning, making cloth diapers, et cetera. However, this conference was a meet-up, so the emphasis was more on meeting people face-to-face and making awesome conversation.

There were a lot of giveaways. I left the conference with an entire bag full of stuff I didn't have before, and I didn't even choose the package with the baby carrier. After January (who is the leader of Birth Without Fear) mentioned something about how people should come up to her and talk, I decided to introduce myself and let her know how her blog helped me to prepare for a great hospital birthing experience. She was funny, bubbly, and flattering. The first thing she did was tell me how beautiful I looked. Compliments are always wonderful to hear, so I was sure to pass the compliment on to some other ladies throughout the conference.

Later in the day we had a harmony circle where we sat at tables and discussed some pretty personal stories. Even though the whole day was essentially about me and my body, this part of the day was interesting to me as a doula. I was able to hear about so many different birth stories and struggles other women went through. There were tears, laughter, and tea to help us get through the emotions we were feeling. I liked hearing the stories of other women because I was able to analyze their situations and challenge myself to find solutions to their problems. (Of course, this whole process was in my head. When they would tell their stories I would listen, but I would also do some troubleshooting. I couldn't help it!) 

The conference concluded with January sharing her 5 birth stories. Each one was so different; it was an excellent way to show how unpredictable and awesome birth can be. Tabitha and I packed up and headed home, but before we went home we stopped to get some Starbucks. Our energy levels were quickly depleting, and I knew that if we had any chance of survival we would need fuel.

One Veni blah, blah. Thanks.
Audrey had an awesome time hanging out with all the other babies and toddlers. The kiddos at this conference behaved so well! Maybe it was due to all the people babywearing, the gorgeous day, fabulous parenting, or maybe it was something they gave nursing moms in the Earth Mama Angel Baby tea that passed through our breastmilk into our nurslings...

The day was fun. It was a great experience for Audrey and me, and I was able to meet a new friend! I look forward to attending more conferences in the future and bringing my daughter along with me.

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