Kintsukuroi – Beauty in Brokeness

In honour of Cesarean Awareness Month… I thought this would be a pretty good time to make this post. Fellow c section mamas, this is for you.  <3

Kintsukuroi is my new favourite word. What does it mean? And why? I’ve probably started and restarted this blog post about 10 times. It’s something that is heavy on my heart but I want to share. I’m not going to lie… I’m feeling a bit vulnerable right now. This is my story about my road to healing. I was hoping to be able to write a lovely birth story for my 3rd child like I did for my first two children. The first two were born at home, peacefully and smoothly in the birthing tub. But this “birth” story is more about my road to healing than anything else.

In November, I had a c-section. I’ll try to keep things brief because it was a very complicated and fast ordeal.

I had an infection at 37.5 weeks with no symptoms that caused my placenta to suddenly abrupt (separate prematurely from the uterine wall). I bent over to pick up a sippy cup and started bleeding profusely. It felt like someone turned on the tap down there, except it was bright red blood. I called the ambulance and my midwife. Within 30 minutes, I went from a planned home birth to a very fast, scary c section under general anesthesia. All this happened before I even got to go into labour with my baby. I was very scared because I did not know if I or my baby was going to make it alive. That’s how fast the blood poured out of me. This was about 4 months ago, and I have had to process a lot in the last 4 months, both physically and emotionally. I have had two peaceful, easy home birth deliveries before this, so to go from that to an emergency transfer and c-section was very difficult. I didn’t even get a chance to experience labour this time, which I was looking forward to!

I’ll preface what I am about to say with the fact that I am very grateful. I am grateful for my midwife, and the wonderful team of doctors and nurses at the hospital who ensured the safety of myself and my beautiful daughter. Everything happened as smoothly as it could, though everyone was in a state of panic because I was losing blood, and a lot of it. I am very thankful, but it does not negate the fact that what happened was very traumatic and that I have a lot of healing to do.

While I am extremely thankful that we are all healthy and well, and that Juliette didn’t even experience any deceleration in her heartbeat, I have had to grieve.  I am still grieving over the fact that I didn’t get to experience labour with her- something that I enjoy and was looking forward to for almost 9 months. I still feel guilty that my placenta abrupted, even though pathology results showed that it was caused by an acute infection, something that I could not have had any control over.  I am grieving over the loss of a beautiful, peaceful home birth. I’m sad that I wasn’t the first person to find out her gender (I found out the gender when someone told me as I was waking up in the OR). I’m sad that I wasn’t the first person to hold her or see her, since I was under general anesthesia. I’ve cried because I don’t remember our first nursing session very clearly. I didn’t hear her first cry. I spent the first 5 hours awake after my c section shivering, shaking, and trying not to throw up from the pain medication instead of being on my bed at home snuggling with my new baby. I was put to sleep on a cold operating table pregnant, and woke up with a painful incision on my abdomen. I felt like I went to the hospital and ordered a baby- like I would order fries at the drive through. If you know me, you know that I’m very passionate about birth and that I enjoy labouring naturally. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that any birth after her will be considered an “after caesarean birth.” I lost a sense of independence as I was not very mobile for 6 weeks. If I’m being honest, I feel like I still have a lot to grieve and a lot of healing to do.

I feel broken. Cut. Wounded. Scarred. Defective. Weak. I feel this not only on a physical level, but also on an emotional level. I cried for days, and I sometimes still cry and feel sad about how the birth played out (while still very thankful). I’m working on accepting the scar that now sits above my bikini line. There were things that happened right after the c-section that also caused me a lot of hurt and it didn’t help my fresh wounds. But since, with the support of my midwife, care providers, loving friends and my husband, I have done a lot of healing. I have bonded with my daughter. We overcame breastfeeding and latching issues, and I am finally starting to feel like I am on the road to healing and recovery.

It’s been difficult, but when I came across the word kintsukuroi, it really helped me reframe the c-section. What does this word mean? It’s the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a paste made out of pure gold. Instead of throwing the broken pottery away, the artist will mend and put the pottery back together using this precious gold. When the piece is finished, the breakage becomes a feature and focal point of the pottery because of the beautiful gold that fills the breakage. The potter treated the breakage as a feature of the finished piece, and the breakage becomes a story. The break does not make the pottery damaged or defective, but instead- the pottery becomes something beautiful, unique and precious. I am learning to reframe my c-section this way. I have a long ways to go before I fully heal emotionally, but this reframe has been integral to my healing.

In fact, here’s another thing for fellow moms who birthed their babies via c section: Fetal cells have been found in c section scars. These fetal cells are believed to have a role in the healing of the c section scar. Here’s the link to the article and to the study, here. Those fetal cells are like the gold that the Japanese potters use on the broken pottery.

I know my story may not seem relatable to those who have never had a c-section, or those who have not given birth. Or perhaps, those who had a c-section but were able to cope with it much better than I did, or someone who had a positive experience with a c-section. But I think we are all broken people. We all have things that have happened to us that have made us feel broken and I wanted to encourage you with this word because it has brought me so much peace. Whatever it is that happened that caused you to be broken does not make you any less beautiful, worthy or whole. In fact, just the opposite has happened. Sometimes we don’t know the power of our strength until it is tested. Please don’t let your brokenness make you feel inferior, unworthy or defective. It is the opposite that is true. You are beautiful in your brokenness, and it is what makes you, YOU.

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Mint & Birch Favs: QT&Co.

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One of my favourite things about being a shop owner is that I get to meet so many wonderful fellow makers and designers. Once in a while, I find these hidden gems and I cannot help but share them with my friends! Meet Kristin from  QT&Co. She designs fun, inspirational everyday tees for kids as well as ladies! The first thing that struck me were the quotes and sayings on some of her tees, like this “Let Love Lead” tee! I am such a huge believer in having an optimistic outlook and many of her tees spoke to me! I hope you enjoy this little interview with her! Make sure you take a look at her Instagram feed to see the rest of her designs! You can find her at @qtandco on Instagram!

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Shop Update: Orders and Turnaround Time

SHOP update! Over the last 6 months, our business has been experiencing growing pains. As a result, we have had to open/close intermittently to take and fill orders. We open for about 24 hours at a time and generally receive about 200 orders at a time, sometimes over 300! This small business has been thriving and it has been so helpful in helping my growing family pay for bills, as well as relieve us from a lot of stress associated with my husband’s job.

I cannot reiterate how thankful I am for all the support that I have received from you all! However, having 200 open orders can be quite stressful, and the turnaround time can be long, which I know can be frustrating for some! My turnaround time used to be about a week or so, and I loved being able to get goodies out the same week they were ordered. Along with some exciting changes for our family, and the level of stress that high order volumes and long turnaround times bring, things have to change for a bit as we learn how to adapt.

Right now, I am making all of the pendants and nest necklaces. The one thing that isn’t done by me is the finishing of the chains. This means that I stamp every single letter on every necklace and weave every nest that goes out. I have decided NOT to outsource stamping of the pendants or weaving of the nests to someone else as I want to continue to be the one making them for you. Right now,  I already have a lovely friend I hired to help me with the finishing chains, and she’ll be assisting with packaging, but we still need to make a few changes.

Here’s how things are going to change for the next little while until we figure out how to solve these growing pains: I will only be taking smaller batches of orders, but shortening the turnaround time DRASTICALLY. Here’s the downside: I’ll only be taking 30-50 orders every opening. I aim for turnaround time to be about 7-10 days as opposed to the 20 business days that it is now. We will have to reduce the number of orders we take each opening to decrease the turnaround time to get your goodies out quicker!

We’re still learning, so please stick around! This change means that it’ll be harder to place an order because we’re likely only going to be open for under an hour… BUT there will be more chances to order because turnaround time will be shorter. This means that if you would like to order, being on the email list to get a head start to order will be super helpful in making sure you get your order in!

Because I’m still learning how to juggle being a shop owner and a mama, this change may not be permanent, and we may very well go back to taking 200 orders at a time, especially if I can get into a good rhythm with my hired help. However, we know that we have to implement some sort of system in order to be able to handle high order volumes.

I could not be more thankful for all your support! I sure am a lucky gal! My husband is doing all the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry and basically everything around the house so that I can find the time to work and juggle being a mama and shop owner. I hope you all stick around, as we have some exciting new products coming this year that you have been asking for! <3

xoxo, 
jessica

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REOPENING: RTS & Custom Orders

Hello! 


Thank you for your patience as we took time to bond with our new little arrival! We are beginning to open up the shop for orders in small phases to ease ourselves in! Please read below to see the plan!

Phase ONE: RTS sale will happen JAN 14 2PM PST. If you are order, please be aware of turnaround times on these products here.

Phase TWO: Once everything from the RTS has shipped, we will take custom orders for STAMPED necklaces ONLY. We will include our new calligraphy font as well. Please note that there is no set date for the beginning of phase 2 yet. It will depend on how fast we can get the RTS items out and prepare for phase 2. To get updates and exclusive access, please sign up here.

Phase THREE: Once CUSTOM stamped necklaces have shipped, we will open up for NESTS! You can order custom nests! Pick anywhere from 1-15 or MORE eggs! Please note that there is no set date for the beginning of phase 3 yet. It will depend on how fast we can get orders out from the last phase. To get updates and exclusive access, please sign up here.

Phase FOUR
Once all nests has shipped, we will set an opening date and this time, we will open up for EVERYTHING. Please note that there is no set date for the beginning of this phase yet. It will depend on how fast we get orders out from the last phase. To get updates and exclusive access, please sign up here.
To get EARLY ACCESS: 
Subscribers will get FIRST ACCESS to each phase. Site will be only accessible with a password for first 15 mins-We may only open 48 hrs at a time! To sign up, please go here.

OPENING DATES & CLOSING PERIODS
Due to high order volume, Mint & Birch is unable to stay open 24/7. We usually receive hundreds of orders when we open, so we need to cap our order limit and take orders in batches. So, how we usually do this is open for about 48 hours, and close for about 2 weeks to work on your orders, ship them, and reopen again for the next batch of orders. We understand that because of this, it may be difficult to order. I know it can be frustrating. I’ve even had someone take one of my photos, crop my watermark out and ask others to replicate my work because they didn’t want to wait. Someone tagged me in the post and I was very sad to see that they had used my photo and work in such a way. I’ve since added uncropppable watermarks.

However, we have made a commitment to being a handmade shop, creating small batch, unique, special jewellery. We are committed to being a small handmade business, creating unique and special small-batch jewellery that is not mass manufactured. Therefore, by nature, our turnaround times will always be a little longer than big box department stores, as we place much value on hand packaging every order with care and attention to detail. Because of this, and our commitment to pay attention to detail to each order, we need to open & close for batches, as we believe that each and every item is special to the person who is receiving it! 

-OUR PROMISE TO YOU-
Will we open 24/7 or will we resume with our 48 hour openings and 2 week break to fulfill orders, you ask? I’m not sure yet. It depends on order volume, if baby will allow me to work, how much help I can get with packaging, etc. I am committed to product quality, and I’ll always be the one stamping and weaving your necklaces. I know it may be hard to place an order but I’m worth the wait, I promise! I can’t wait to start taking customs again! Thank you for sticking with me as I navigate this new routine of running a business with a baby who does not like to be away from her mama! My babies are always going to be my priority, but my customers are also very important to me and I’m figuring out a way to take orders in a way that I will always be able deliver on my promises to you! Though we had a rough birth, I was still able to ship everything out from the last opening as scheduled thanks to help of friends! It’s important for me to always keep my promises to my customers! If you’re curious about turnaround time and what I promise, please take a peek at the policies section on our site 

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Mama Essentials: The Ollie Swaddle

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Today I received something that gave me a much needed break from baby: The Ollie Swaddle. When Juliette was born, she loved to nap in her bassinet without needing us to hold her. We thought was too good to be true, since our first two children were basically allergic to anything that resembled a crib. We thought it was too good to be true- and it was. Since she turned 6 weeks, she’s refused to sleep alone. Until I received The Ollie Swaddle today in the mail. Thank you, Hindi for this sweet gift! Let me tell you- this swaddle works. She even likes to be swaddled in it while awake. It seems to calm and soothe her as she takes in her surroundings.


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Right out of the box, the packaging is simply adorable. I squealed when I opened the box! The Ollie Swaddle is unlike any other swaddle blanket on the market. Hindi has designed this with function and style in mind. The material is soft and silky, and also naturally wicks and repels moisture to prevent overheating of baby. The velcro on the blanket is also generous in size- I’m not worried about this swaddle outgrowing Juliette anytime soon. The velcro is also strong. For some reason, all my babies like to break out of swaddles, but Juliette was as snug as a bug in this one! And my other favourite feature: the bottom opens up while Juliette is swaddled so that I can change her diaper while she’s swaddled and asleep!

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When I received this in the mail, I was eager to open it up to put Juliette in it. At first, I was just going to take some photos… but she fell asleep in it within a second of being swaddled. On the carpet. I guess she wanted to do photos on the carpet! She entered into a peaceful sleep and I was able to take photos of her! Hindi has designed a swaddle that is not only highly functional, but is easy and simple to use. In fact, she designed this when she was a foster parent to a little boy who was not thriving. After Hindi designed this blanket for Oliver, her foster son, he began to thrive, grow, eat, and sleep well. There is something therapeutic about being swaddled, and this Ollie Swaddle does just that!

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I also want to take a moment to describe the material that this swaddle is made out of. It’s silky smooth, light, and breathable. It’s not just any old jersey fabric. I can tell that it truly wicks moisture away from baby. How do I know? Juliette started spitting up in the middle of these photos, and I thought that I’d have to throw it in the wash right away and take photos later. However, the fabric was able to handle it. When I touched the spot that she had spat up on, I could tell that the moisture was wicked away already, allowing for the spit up to dry quickly- the spit up did in fact dry up quickly. You can’t even see it in the photos anymore! This swaddle is worth every penny, and is made out of a high-end, high quality material that you can feel and touch.

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The Ollie World recently introduced four new colours into their line: nature, stone, lavender and sky. They are beautiful, light colours designed to calm and soothe baby! I’m just in love with every single colour and when Hindi asked me if I wanted one, I had a little trouble deciding which colour I wanted. By the way, she never asked me to write this blog post! I wanted to do it because I want to share this wonderful blanket with all of you. I still cannot believe my little girl fell asleep within seconds after being swaddled! In fact, she’s swaddled right now, happy as a clam as I write this blog post.

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Would you like one of your own? Make sure you visit their website along with their social media feeds! Hindi donates a portion of every swaddle sold to National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children to help children affected by thrive!

Website: http://www.theollieworld.com
Instagram: @theollieworld
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theollieswaddle
Twitter: @theollieworld

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