Each month, we play 10 questions with one of Alberta’s most interesting mamas. This month we hear from maternal support practitioner Sarah Wallace. Sarah is a mama to four kids between the ages of three and eight, and since battling postpartum depression, has become passionate about helping other moms navigate the fourth trimester. Currently, she serves the areas of Edmonton, Leduc, and surrounding communities. Connect with Sarah on instagram @sarahwallacedoula, or by visiting her website sarahwallacedoula.com
1. You’ve been very open about your own struggles with postpartum depression. What made you decide to share this experience with others?
When I was first going through postpartum depression, I felt so much shame about it. I didn’t actually realize that I had postpartum depression and just thought I was failing at being a mom. Hearing other’s stories led me to make an appointment where I got diagnosed and that was a game changer for me. I wasn’t failing as a mom – I just needed some help! I share my story in hopes that another parent who is suffering will see that they are not alone and will reach out for help. I also share it because I want to take some of that stigma away so that those struggling don’t feel so much shame for needing some help.
2. Why were you inspired to offer both birth doula support and postpartum doula support?
I have been supporting families for a long time now. Through my work with Momstown as well as my own personal experience, I saw how a positive postpartum experience can really set a family up to succeed. After I had my 2nd and 3rd sons, I found myself floundering and struggling through because I didn’t know how to ask for help and my support network wasn’t always able to help when I did. I knew that I wanted to help families get through the hard bits in the postpartum so that they could feel more confident. I love birth work and seeing folks birth their babies into this world, but there is something special about the relief a new parent feels when you come in and ease some of their burdens for a few hours.
3. What’s the most rewarding part of being a maternal support practitioner?
I love seeing families be made and grow. It is an incredible honour to be witness to the strength and vulnerability it takes to grow, both in birth and in postpartum.
4. With four kids, how does a typical day unfold in your household?
Usually, at least one of my kids are up around 6 am. I am not typically a morning person, so usually my partner gets up with them and does breakfast while I drink my coffee. But from there, we don’t really have a typical day. We tend to be pretty flexible with our days. We try to play outside every day. Sometimes we go explore in the trails around Telford Lake. Sometimes we go to a playground. Sometimes we garden. Sometimes we do crafts and read. Sometimes we watch some Netflix. Sometimes I have a client and they get to play with their friends. There’s always a lot of noise and mess and snacks. I didn’t realize how much food four kids would eat! I feel like I’m always thinking about the next meal or snack. My kids tend to go to bed early (7 pm) and unless they’ve napped, I keep that schedule fairly consistently. I also sneak in an hour or two of work every day, and I have no shame in using Netflix to accomplish this if I need to do it during the day.
5. Which three words best describe your parenting style?
Laid-back, flexible, instinctive
6. What’s your favourite kid-friendly destination in the Edmonton area?
There are so many great places in the Edmonton area to go with kids. I love both the Royal Alberta Museum and the Telus World of Science, but above all, I love going to explore in the river valley. There’s so many great places along the river valley that makes you feel like you’re not even in the city anymore. Lately, we’ve been heading to Devon where the kids can splash in the water and I can relax on the river shore. It’s so refreshing!
7. Who has been the biggest influence on your life and why?
There’s been so many incredible influences in my life. I’m not sure I can pick just one! I’m lucky to have a plethora of strong women who continually inspire me in my life. But if I had to pick one, I think I would pick my friend Kristin. She’s had a few really crappy things happen to her, but she just keeps moving forward, living in her truth. Unapologetically her. I love how she puts her whole self into what she’s doing. I’ve known her for over 9 years, and I am still amazed by the things that she does to make this world a better place.
8. How do you practice self care?
I went many years without practicing self-care because I thought the only way to do so was by going for massages and pedicures. Learning that that was wrong was a game changer for me. Now, I stay on top of important appointments that I don’t really like to go to (hello dentist, I’m talking to you), make an effort to take 5 minutes every day just being alone, and I’ve started meditating in the last couple of years. I also find gardening to be incredibly therapeutic, so once gardening season hits, you’ll find me out there every day that I can.
9. What’s your best advice for families expecting a new baby?
If you don’t have a strong support system around you, build one. If you do have one, tell them how they can help you – and accept their help! Oh, and also – hire a postpartum doula!
10. Who would you nominate for 10 questions and why?
I would nominate Jessie Mundell. I’ve been following her for years now and I love her perspective and honesty. I love her willingness to reflect and adapt to new things – and be open about how she’s doing so. I also love the new perspective she’s bringing to prenatal and postnatal fitness. That can be a minefield for a pregnant or postpartum person to navigate through, and Jessie is really helping to bring a new awareness to it!
Kirsten Clark is a high school English teacher, a reader, a writer, a runner, a podcast junkie, a lover of good food, and, most importantly, a mom. She lives in Vermilion with her husband and son, a curious and energetic toddler, who keeps his parents on their toes! Connect with her on Instagram @kirstenlanae.