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Dear clients, members of the TLC community, folks with a uterus,

This is a pregnancy announcement.

It is also a love letter.

I've written and rewritten this announcement several times now. And only under the weight of a giant belly am I pushed to finally share this pregnancy announcement.

I will be taking a three to four month maternity leave this May and then returning part time to the practice for the remainder of the year. If you have been thinking about exploring services at TLC or having follow up sessions, make sure to book in March and April.

From early May to late August, there will be no services available at Tiger Lotus Coop. Services will resume part time starting in September.

They say every pregnancy is different, and I can’t disagree. When I had my daughter, my pregnancy was full of joy, wonder and bliss. I felt the glow of new life: one inside of me and mine changing. It was also full of nausea that lasted until 2 years postpartum, excessive weight loss, and the beginning of a deep and difficult to shake sense of loneliness.

I was the first of my friends to get pregnant. I missed my best friend’s wedding. I was sad, FOMO racked and got my first taste of the feeling of isolation that motherhood can bring. Pregnancy wasn’t what I expected. It was much harder. And little did I know the edges of survival it would bring me to as my child grew.

Since then I have suffered a history of pregnancy loss. Most recently, I miscarried in January of this year. It was hard, but made much easier by support from family and friends. I know from this work that the worst aspect of pregnancy loss is feeling alone. This resonated.

Sometimes loss can be a relief. Sometimes it can be devastating. And it can be both in the same breath. Seeing the first sign on brown or pink on the toilet paper, not knowing if it means anything. Trying to interpret the cramps, wiping yourself incessantly, not knowing whether to hold out hope or assume the worst. And then various medical appointments to follow up. Taking blood. Ultrasounds. Reminders.

The day after my miscarriage was confirmed, I began a 10 month Mastery program based on menstrual charting. I had already done a 4 month program and had tracked my cycles for a year, but the FAMM program uses an in-depth charting system and I strengthened my ability to analyze charts, beginning with my own.

In a strange twist, the day I found out I was pregnant, I was also scheduled to speak with Lisa Hendrickson-Jack from Fertility Friday to recap the program. We spoke about the Mastery Fertility Charting Program, my own trajectory from miscarriage to another conception, and menstrual and reproductive health. Listen here for my personal insight into the work:

After the miscarriage there were a few months of recovery. My hormones were dysregulated. I had a weeklong existential crisis and when I reviewed my chart, my progesterone levels mapped perfectly onto my difficult moods. I was hoping to get pregnant again but knew my body wasn’t there.

Using the nutrition and supplement protocols, the lifestyle shifts and bodywork from my studies and years of practice, my partner and I built up for our best chance. The egg and sperm take a minimum of 3-4 months to develop, so we waited….

At 12 weeks I heard the heartbeat at my first medical appointment. It was the first time I felt happy in a few months. I often tell fertility clients that the most difficult part can actually come after getting pregnant - having something to lose. It plays on the conscious and unconscious mind.

You are moving through some of the worst parts of pregnancy - nausea, exhaustion and just feeling not like yourself - and not sure if it will amount to anything. There’s a part of you that wants to be happy and another part that is terrified to be.

I am keenly aware of the pain that pregnancy announcements can bring to the folks who are in TTC - trying to conceive. In this work I have been on both sides of the table so to speak, working with pregnant folks while I am experiencing pregnancy loss, and pregnant while working through the challenges of fertility struggle, miscarriage and abortion.

What has stood out in my countless hours of conversations and space holding for all aspects of perinatality and even into perimenopause, where we struggle with the ending of the capacity to bring in new life, that there is an elements that is often shared across all of it: grief.

It is often a sliding doors moment in our lives; the decision that we take, or the circumstance that decides for us.

In pregnancy, we grieve the person and life we will not have as the physical, emotional and logistical realities of childbearing and parenting set in. I often frame postpartum as the journey back to ourselves - the process of refinding our edges. We sometimes grieve our relationships - failed marriages, or partnerships that persist only to uphold fantasies of family.

There is a growing body of work and study that explores this transformation that comes after giving birth: matrescence. Our internal and external world sees shifts and we make our way through a new role, loss of an old one and overstimulation.

In miscarriage, the devastation of watching as the deep red river of loss leaves our body. The grief of the life that came and left before it had a chance to be.

In fertility, the grief of waiting and not knowing if it will never happen, or if we will have to do the journey in a way we hadn’t planned: IVF, donor eggs, surrogacy, fostering, adoption. The grieving of the financial losses that may not amount to anything. Grieving the family we longed for.

In the process of deciding to allow the window to close on our fertility in our 40s, we grieve our potential to birth and to childbear.

We need to be doula-ed, held, cared for and seen through all aspects of this moment. Whatever happens, this is a great moment of transition to be deeply honoured and held.

In my practice and in my own life I have come to realize the choice is not important, it is allowing space for the grief to rise and fall, to love it and to know that it was always meant to be there. The way that during my birth I learned that death looms large in the birthing room, grief is present where there is love. And it is the love that needs to be celebrated.

This is a unique moment in history for birth.

We have passed through and continue to pass through so many challenges related to the suppression of our midwifery traditions, and the medicalization and patriarchal holds on birth. As we start to reclaim this knowledge and return to some of these ways, we face unprecedented crises. There is a movement amongst our youth to stop having children as we plummet towards climate chaos. (My dear friend Britt Wray has been documenting and sharing this through her work under the name Gen Dread.) And just as climate change and the lack of political will to change it has coming to a point, research has shown it is the accumulation of pollution and toxins that every year makes it harder for more and more people to conceive. This is well documented in Shanna Swan’s book “Counting Down”.

Deciding to get pregnant is not a light decision. What does it mean to bring new life into a house on fire? I let love tilt the scale when weighed against fear, but the weight of fear does not go silently into the night.

In this letter I wish to extend my deep love to all those in the community and who come to see me who are living these different shades of grief, as you hope for the baby, go for the IVF treatments, count every second towards the end of the first trimester, struggle with pregnancy discomforts, lack of support, fear for your children and move through difficult perinatal mental health or make the quiet decision to not have a child. All your grief is valid. And you are seen.


Courtney Kirkby

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