By Heidi McDowell
Mind Body Baby was born from my own journey and struggles with conception and then pregnancy and motherhood during a pandemic. No one told me motherhood could feel so hard and absolutely NO ONE told me becoming a mother could be even harder.
I didn’t know if I would ever want children of my own. When I was 11, my family became a licensed foster home. We would take in children who were taken from their homes for one reason or another. In total my parents fostered 64 children and adopted 12. I already had an biological older brother and sister so that made 15 of us total. That’s a lot of kids– and it left me feeling like I needed time to myself for a lot of years.
I knew the stereotypes of women aging – turn 30 and get dusty. The stories about the ticking clock on our ovaries. I had been a vegan for 12 years, a yogi for just as long, and I was the healthiest person I knew. Nonetheless, when I hit 32 and met the man who would become my husband I decided to have a baseline fertility blood panel done just in case. I went to my OBGYN, she told me I have no reason to have this blood test. Yet she relented and did as I requested. When I got my results everything was within normal limits – my ovaries and I were the same age. Good job, body.
A year and a half later of trying to conceive with no luck, I found myself at the Fertility Center requesting the same blood work panel. Little did I know, these numbers are like a mudslide, very unstable and falling fast. According to my new test results living inside of my 33 year old, vegan, toned body were the ovaries of a 42 year old woman. If 30 was dust, 40 was the tumbleweed rolling through. My only hope to conceive a child would be through IVF (in vitro fertilization). I knew ZERO women who were undergoing fertility treatments even though 1 in 8 women will experience trouble becoming or staying pregnant. That meant no one was talking about their own struggles and neither was I. I looked around for support and found very little. It was isolating and terrifying.
Cut to four rounds of IVF, hundreds of needle pokes, thousands of tears, and countless headaches, I finally conceived my beautiful daughter in February of 2020. By March of 2020, the world began to shut down. I joked that I could emerge from the pandemic with a baby and no one would have even known I was pregnant. But that wasn’t wrong. The joyful celebrated pregnancy I prayed for was now just as lonely as the journey to conceive her. Where was my village? Where were the mom friends I was supposed to make? In November of 2020, I birthed my baby in a mask, just me and my husband at the hospital. My friends met my baby through a window. At just over a year old, my daughter has only recently started going on playdates and experiencing the life I had envisioned.
I knew we as a community of individuals in the same chapter of life could do better to support one another. There had to be a better way. And so Mind Body Baby was born. It’s the product of feeling isolated, alone, scared and unsupported for the past five years. I dove into educating myself on maternal health and built upon what I already knew, yoga. I became the only Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher in West Michigan. I am a Fertility, Labor, Postpartum and Infant Care Doula. I hold certifications in Postpartum, Fertility, and Children’s Yoga.
I want Mind Body Baby to be a community space and yoga studio for people at all stages of motherhood – from preconception through postpartum and the years beyond. A safe space where you don’t have to bring perfection. Don’t think you need to have your act together, look, feel or be a certain way. Messy buns and questionable stains on your clothing included. I will hold space for who you are, exactly as you are.
The classes and events are curated with our students in mind. Mind Body Baby is so much more than movement and classes. It is everything my heart longed for and I hope that when you step into our studio you feel the love and friendship that our community has to share. You are not alone – we see you, we hear you, we are you.