Introducing birth professional, counselor and Becoming Us Facilitator Carol Peat. Thank you Carol for the vitally important work you are doing in London, Ontario. You are making a huge difference for the families you support! And thank you for sharing your own Becoming Us journey with us!
I have worked with families for well over thirty years as a birth professional, trauma informed parent educator and counselor in various roles. What I see on a daily basis is that we as a society do not prepare couples for the reality of what starting a family really FEELS like. We have lots of ideal "visions" bombarding us daily with social media, advertising and the highlight reels of others' experiences, but what we fail to understand is that the emotional shift in relationship, in our sense of self and in our daily lived experiences as new parents leaves us coming up short.
Time and time again, clients ask me "Why does no one talk about this?", "Why did I not understand that this would feel this way and it would be so hard?", "When will I feel normal again?", "When will I feel like I actually like my partner again, because it certainly doesn't feel like he is experiencing what I am!" There are so many common threads that run through each of our experiences and it is important to be able to reassure families that although we have very different experiences, there are so many more similarities that we all share - we just have to know how to navigate them!
"When will I feel normal again?"
For over two decades, I did my best to hold space for my clients and provide non judgemental, non biased support. I honestly did feel though, that I couldn't put my finger on what was missing for my clients- and I had felt the same way they did as a young Mum myself! I wanted to be able to provide them with resources to help normalize their experiences and give them tools to truly feel like they could navigate the journey into parenthood. I was at a loss- there was nothing I could find that would fill the void for my clients or myself for that matter.
In 2014, I had a meeting with a psychologist in my hometown and she mentioned Elly Taylor and her Becoming Us program. She knew that our community needed support in a capacity that was not being met by the resources we had. I had seen a snippet of the program on Facebook, and when it came up on my radar again, I knew I had to investigate it. I followed Elly's page and found the information for the program. Immediately I knew Elly was really on to what was missing for my clients and I signed up for the program right away and completed it in 2015.
"Since then the program changed how I showed up every day."
Each day, I spent time on the units before going to work. The program engaged me every single day and I was taking tools into my practice immediately! Over the completion of the program, I was able to normalize so much more for clients and tell them that what they felt in their relationships, in their daily lived experiences and in their capabilities were common to so many and that I was actually studying Elly's research and her program could help them navigate parenthood.
The biggest take aways for my clients are that there is a huge difference between visitors and helpers and that boundaries around becoming a new family are so imperative. Building a nest is a wonderful way to help partners connect and gives them excellent parameters for their post partum experience. The pressure that new fathers feel is something that the male participants in my Becoming Us classes really appreciated and it gave many of their partners new insight into what new dads experience. When parents can understand that the territory of new parenting can be very different from the map and can look at themselves as "learners" they feel so much less pressure to live up to the standards that they think they have to. Elly's program deconstructs every imaginable belief that new families have. I tell everyone that it is the crucial "parent-digm" shift expecting couples need to make. All of the families who have taken the program have raved about how much more prepared they felt to have their baby, and how much closer they felt to each other throughout the whole process. When couples understand that the statistics for dissatisfaction in the first three years of starting a family are so high and that there are ways and proven methods to not become a statistic, they listen.
"Then, they learn and experience it for themselves."
My work has become so enriched by Elly Taylor's Becoming Us Professional Development Training. My clients are so appreciative of what the program brings to them and as one client said "saved her a world of hurt" because she knew she was prepared for what could be her experience. The friendships made in class do feel like the lost village that we so desperately need, the knowledge that we are truly not alone in our experiences and that our expectations can be helpful ones are all so affirming for families. I see a huge change in the lived experiences of families from the way they bond with their babies to the more secure attachment they have with their partners through Elly's work and I am so grateful.
Carol, I am so grateful for YOU and all that you bring to our Becoming Us work. To connect with Carol, please visit her here.
To find out more about our Becoming Us Professional Development training, visit here.