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A journey to Canadian – Sunmi Cha

A journey to Canadian

Sunmi studied sports medicine in her undergrad, and was already looking to study in the United States, but then she met a Canadian….

… And then she fell in love…

Tell me about your  journey.

I was working at the time, for a company that hires English language instructors to send them to Samsung, LG, Humex, Coca Cola, we’re dealing with big companies. I got a job there to learn English before I could come to study in the US. So one of the coworkers that was working there, she was Korean Canadian. She saw me working every weekend because I wanted to make as much money as possible for my studies. Working there was good because I could study at the same time, so she saw me working and she said,

“You are a fine looking women, why are you working every weekend? You have no boyfriend?”

“No, I have no boyfriend.”

“I have a really cute friend. He’s from Toronto, he’s very good looking, he’s very sweet, he’s very cute. But he’s white.”

  So I was like, “Uh, no.” So she was very persistent for a few months, telling me and showing me his picture. She organized a gathering in a big izakaya, she invited 15 friends of hers. This would be a good opportunity to practice my English, it wouldn’t be one on one. I met Tom and he said he was going back to Canada in a couple of months, and I said there is no way I am dating this guy. He messaged me, and I messaged him back three days later and I was so not interested. But at the time, I was lonely, and I wanted to practice my English. Also I was telling myself, Sunmi, you don’t have to meet a guy who you can only get married to.You can just meet guys just for fun, even just for the short period of time. Who cares? Who knows about the future? Just let it be, just let yourself go, just go hang out with him.

Yeah, you can just go out for fun. It’s scary though, still.

I started hanging out with him for about two months, then he left to Canada. But he was visiting his family for a month, but the whole month I was waiting for him. I missed him. I was counting the days, counting the time, and then when he came back, I said okay. This is okay, it’s okay to fall in love this way, even if he is going to leave, let it be. The period of time that I am going to meet him, if I feel love, if I make good memories with him, that’s all that matters. I had two boyfriends before when I was in university and it didn’t go well even though I thought I was going to be married to them. I didn’t get married to them. We broke up. Even married couples they divorce.

That’s the thing, you’re right, you cannot predict life.

Exactly. That’s the moment that I said, let go, just don’t get obsessed with it, just enjoy, you love him now, so let’s see where this takes you.

And now you’re Canadian. Look at what happened!

Yes, now I am Canadian living in Ottawa. And then he was very interested in this health field actually, so he brought up this school of naturopathic medicine.

“What is that?” I had no idea about this.

He said, “There’s a clinic there where you can practice after you finish, you know, the school teaches you how to become a doctor without using pharmaceutical medicine.”

“Oh that sounds amazing.”

We applied together, we got accepted together, we came together, but he didn’t start. But I did.

He had an opportunity to start the business, so I said let’s put the eggs in a different basket. The school is not going anywhere, if the business doesn’t go well you can start the school anytime. To do that he moved away to Montreal and I was left in Toronto. I was so lonely, I was crying every day, I was calling him, “I don’t want to do this,” you know because it was so stressful.

We learned everything the medical school students learn on top of that, we learn all the natural remedies, botanical medicine, acupuncture, homeopathic is one of them and a lot of intensive nutritional courses. My English wasn’t 100%. I think I only understood 70% of what everything was said in class.

So you had to try that much harder.

So I recorded every lecture and I subscribed after and I typed the notes again. I had to work twice the amount of time that everyone else. I would miss out so much, I would think, “What did she say?” So I recorded every single lecture. And reading takes way longer time than everyone else, these guys would read 20 to 30 pages in one hour, I would take 5-6 hours. One period of time, I was sleeping with this recording file on so my subconscious brain records what is said.

Somehow, I got through it. It was four years. I don’t know how many times I cried.

I know, it’s hard.

And his business it didn’t go well, it didn’t go as he expected so after a couple of years, he came down to Toronto.  You start something, it doesn’t work well, there is a cost to it.

You paid because of the distance between the two cities, the effort to stay in contact. The cost of energy to work so much on a small business because you put in more time than at a regular job and then the actual money.

You spend your own money to survive. It costs money to maintain, for my practice, I have to pay for things that come out regularly out of your bank account.

And then he got a job at Costco and that’s why we moved to Ottawa. I finished my school and he was promoted, so he transferred to the headquarters. Timing was good, but we had to move from Toronto to Ottawa

Tom was like, “Um Sunmi, we have to move to a different city, are you okay with it?”

I told him, “I flew half the globe following you. Moving from this dot to this dot doesn’t make any difference to me.”

Even the marriage, a lot of disappointment comes from expectations about your husband or your wife. I formed that expectation in my own head without telling anyone. My husband is not a mind reader, he does not know what kind of expectations I am forming in my own head with my own laws and experiences, he is living in a different world. He is a man, he has different experiences, different expectations, different logic. When you form the story of your life with your own logic, but I expect him to know what I want without telling him “You should know what I want. Why don’t you do this that I really wanted you to do, that I never told you to do, so you should do this.” This is a conflict. I keep telling myself, “explain to him if this is what you want, explain to him. Don’t form unfair expectations in your own head and expect him to know.” Expectations forms a lot of conflicts in different types of relationships that’s why I was telling myself.

What you need to do when you come to a new situation when there is a misunderstanding is just accept that’s who they are.

What was it like to decide to babywear, was it even a question of doing otherwise?

I just feel like he wants to be carried, that’s how he sleeps the best, I feed him to sleep and I try to put him on the bed, time for me. But then he wakes up in ½ an hour, but if I carry him, he sleeps for 2 to 3 hours no problem. There must be a reason he feels more comfortable on me, that’s what I was thinking.

That is a Western thought. That you need to grow up. In order to be strong, you need to impart strength from a very early age.

That is way too early, they just came out of the womb.They trust the world better, it shapes their brain in a different way.

And what about other things, what was hard to get used to in Canada?

Metric system is a real struggle. In medicine, I use EMR an electronic medical recording system. And then would record weight in kilograms and height in inches. Stuff like that. And I don’t have sense in miles and inches and pounds.

And buying. Okay I am a big online shopper. When I was in Korea I was buying the stuff online and there you buy online, it gets to your door the next day. If it takes long, the longest time would be three days. People would get mad because Korea is such a small country. The whole size of Korea is 1/3 of Ontario, like a Giant Toronto. We have 55 million people living in a tiny country, it has good logistic systems like high speed internet because land is so small, population is so concentrated those infrastructures are so easy to layout. Subway system is like a spider web. Here I order something and “WOW it take a two weeks to get here, sometimes a month!”

What things did you find were weird about Canada and Canadians?

Not saying things that you see. I mean things that even you see obviously, like someone walking around with something on their face, you wouldn’t say anything because you were afraid of offending that person. That would be very rare in Korea, someone would definitely come up to you and tell you had something on your face and then they would just walk away. You would say, “Oh thank you!” That would be the end of it. We wouldn’t think twice, if I say this would that person be ashamed.

So the person receiving the comment, they would not get offended about that.

Some people complain about that culture too because we can be very blunt and very frank. First thing, if I gain weight, then you saw me and it’s been awhile, “Oh I see that you gained some weight!” Some people hate that. “What happened to your face, you have some acne going on. What happened.” Here they never say it, even if you have a zit right on your forehead, they don’t say a word. That’s the biggest difference I felt.

I like learning about my country through the eyes of others. Thank you very much for bringing me into your home, Sunmi, and telling me about your journey.

Sunmi and I originally met October 15, 2016, and we spoke for about four hours. This article is a condensed and edited version of our interview. Her story, like many, was so interesting it became a three part series. The first is called Growing up Korean. The second article is called Becoming Canadian, where she shares how she moved to Canada and then stayed.

Sunmi Cha is a full trained and license naturopathic doctor in Ottawa. Visit her website here.

Travelling? Here are Canada’s most child friendly museums

A generation ago, the idea of bringing a baby to a museum would cause even the most daring of parents to break out in a cold sweat. All those priceless artifacts and tight rooms! But the world of curation has come along way and modern museums are now being designed around the needs and interests of young visitors, including tiny ones. And even heritage properties are being refurbished to make challenging spaces more user friendly for all visitors. The shift from “see and don’t speak” to “touch and talk” is perfect for babywearing parents, who can take advantage of their free hands to help children interact with exhibits, confidently explore outdoor exhibits with uneven terrain, and introduce babies to a new world of learning, stimulation, and entertainment.

 

 

 

Here are some of Canada’s most remarkable, child friendly museums – perfect places for celebrating Canada Day or just for passing the time on a quiet afternoon.

  • L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, not far from St John’s, Newfoundland, is a spectacular open air museum that has areas for kids to run around.
  • The charmingly named White Elephant Museum in Makkovik, Northern Labrador, may be a few steps off the beaten track but this small former boarding school, nursing home, and dispensary is just the right size for children to absorb history without the need for a tiring long visit.
  • The Highland Village Museum of Iona, Nova Scotia, is part open air, part indoor museum made up of several heritage buildings celebrating early settlers. Babies will be captivated by the farm animals who wander over to say hello at the fences.
  • Science East in Fredericton, New Brunswick, has free weekly programming for children under 5 as part of their Little Explorers program and will bring out the mad scientist in any visitor.
  • After a picnic at the beach, Prince Edward Island’s Cape Bear Lighthouse and Marconi Museum is the perfect way to get in touch with the area’s Maritime roots.
  • The Children’s Museum within Gatineau, Quebec’s Canadian Museum of History isn’t just a hands-on museum – it’s practically a play park, with lots of ways to burn energy. The onsite IMAX theatre has plenty of family friendly offerings.
  • London, Ontario’s Children’s Museum features special programing for babies, including a music program for babies and toddlers, and baby-focused play dates that focus on exploring the museum’s materials.
  • The Children’s Museum of Manitoba features “Tot Spot” just for toddler visitors and virtually all the exhibits are touch-friendly.
  • Saskatchewan’s Children’s Discovery Museum has an animal clinic where kids can explore the world of being a veterinarian and a replica campsite – perfect for blowing of steam on a snowy winter’s day.
  • The Creative Kids Museum inside Calgary’s Telus Spark Science Centre has a toddler play area that includes a sensory rich crawling area for babies.
  • The Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria features “Old Town”, letting kids take a walk through yesteryear and explore shops and cinemas.
  • Whitehorse’s McBride Museum of Yukon History offers storytelling, films, and even pub themed trivia nights (perhaps best for parents – everyone deserves to have fun at the museum!)

A different kind of mother’s day – Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Pregnancy and Infant Loss – today, tomorrow, forever

As Mother’s Day approaches, it is important to remember the mothers who are not able to hold and care for their children.  Although the majority of pregnancies end with the birth of a healthy baby, it is estimated that one in four pregnancies1 ends in miscarriage (loss up to 20 weeks of pregnancy), and approximately 7 in every 1,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth (loss after 20 weeks of pregnancy).2

With this level of frequency, it is very likely that either you or someone close to you have experienced this traumatic event in their lives.  Other families and individuals experience the devastating loss of a newborn.  Mothers come in all forms – the ones who are able to hold their children on earth and the ones who can only hold them in their hearts.

My husband Rob and I decided to start a family in 2013.  We experienced a miscarriage at 10 weeks with our first pregnancy.  This loss made me realize that becoming a mother happened the moment I found out I was pregnant. The plans, dreams and hopes for the future were dashed at our dating ultrasound when we were told that our baby had no heartbeat. We were fortunate to become pregnant again and I gave birth to a healthy, happy son named Gabriel in 2014.  In 2016, we decided to add again to our family. We passed the 12 week mark and I breathed a sigh of relief.  After a routine ultrasound at 19 weeks, we found out that our son Aaron had no kidneys and that there was no chance that he would survive after birth. We were devastated, but after hearing his strong heartbeat and seeing his profile that looked so much like Gabriel, we decided to continue the pregnancy.

Lorraine Rigby-Larocque spoke at the first Babywearing in Canada conference that took place May 2015. During her session “Losing a child: Coping today, tomorrow and forever,” Lorraine shared her personal experience with loss. Lorraine’s son Kevin was stillborn at 29 weeks gestation over 20 years ago, and she also experienced eight miscarriages and survived cervical cancer.   Lorraine experienced contractions early into her pregnancy with Kevin, who was her third child, and was in and out of the hospital.  At 29 weeks, Lorraine went to the hospital because she could not feel her baby moving.  Sitting in the ultrasound room alone, Lorraine heard the dreaded words, “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.”  From the session, Lorraine said, “I needed to give this baby the same effort that I gave to my other babies.” So she decided to give birth to Kevin without medication as with her other babies.

Lorraine’s story of loss, though 20 years ago, is achingly familiar to anyone who has experienced pregnancy or infant loss.  The universality of loss really struck me as I listened to Lorraine’s story of loss from over 20 years ago.

When we decided to continue our pregnancy, we were referred to the Perinatal Hospice at Roger Neilson House.3  Like Lorraine, I wanted to give Aaron a similar experience that Gabriel had while I was pregnant and during his birth.  Lorraine’s words in the session are the words of a mother who knows the intertwining joy and sorrow that occurs during the birth and loss of a much-loved child.  It’s the loss of dreams for the future, when you find out that your baby has slipped away during pregnancy.  It’s a moment of such joy when you meet your baby, but also a moment of such sorrow when you know that the moment is fleeting.  It’s meeting your beautiful baby, counting their fingers and toes and trying to memorize every little detail.  The moment you meet your child is something that you never forget.

Our son, Aaron Isaiah Robert Peters Samulack was born four weeks early on Father’s Day, June 19th 2016. We spent 100 precious minutes with Aaron. It was sad and it was hard, but it was beautiful.  He was a beautiful little boy with strawberry blonde hair and lovely lips.  One of the things that Lorraine said in her presentation about after the birth of Kevin that really stuck out to me was “My body felt empty, and my arms felt empty, I just felt empty.”  Lorraine arranged a funeral service for Kevin, as we did for Aaron.  She described having to go to a music store to pick out just the perfect music for the service only a few days after birth.  Her breasts were leaking milk; her body was empty and longing for her baby.

I remember walking around the cemetery with my dad, only two days after I gave birth to Aaron, looking for a plot in the baby section.  It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the birds were singing in a tree that overlooks Aaron’s final resting place.  My breasts were swollen with milk and I still looked very pregnant.  On the inside, I felt so empty.  I look back at photos from the funeral and internment and I still don’t know how I am making it through the dark days that have followed Aaron’s birth and death.

Lorraine said that one of the things that helped her most after the loss of Kevin were cards and messages from friends that acknowledged the loss of Kevin and her subsequent pregnancy losses. Sending a card on a special date like Mother’s Day to acknowledge that our babies existed is sometimes the best thing that you can do to help heal our hearts.    There are no magic words that you can say that will make the pain go away.  However, acknowledging our losses is not going to make us sadder.  We have not forgotten about our losses and we hope that our friends haven’t either.  One of our biggest fears as bereaved mothers is that our babies will be forgotten.  Though their voices do not echo in our homes, our babies will live in our hearts forever.

Just like with our family, Lorraine has keepsakes that she treasures to this day: ultrasound photos, a clipping of hair, handprints and footprints tenderly captured by a compassionate nurse.  These are the things that transcend time, things that bring us closer to our babies. These items we can hold and cherish remind us over and over again that our babies were here if only for a moment.  In the Ottawa/Gatineau area, volunteer photographers from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) do an amazing job of capturing these moments for individuals/families facing the loss of their baby at birth.  Veronique Lalonde, the NILMDTS coordinator for Ottawa/Gatineau was contacted by the palliative care team at Roger Neilson House take photos when Aaron was born. She was so kind and compassionate and captured photos that mean the world to me.  I look at these photos often and they help me remember what Aaron looked like – his beautiful lips and his tiny feet that danced so often while I was pregnant.

It was important for Rob and to take our experience and use it to raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss in our community when we learned out about The Butterfly Run. The Butterfly Run’s purpose is to remember our children, and for parents who experienced pregnancy and infant loss. It was created by three bereaved mothers in Quinte, Ontario, in 2016 to raise awareness and help other individuals/families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. The Butterfly Run is growing; it has already taken place in Belleville and Peterborough this year, and will take place in Ottawa in October.

On Saturday, October 14th 2017, we will be walking or running to raise awareness for all types of pregnancy and infant loss at Aaron’s Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau. There will be a 1 mile family walk/run and a 5 km walk/run. All proceeds from Aaron’s Butterfly Run will go to the Perinatal Loss programs at Roger Neilson House through the Ottawa Senators Foundation.  This run is for anyone who has experienced pregnancy or infant loss and for those who support them. Thank you to the women who have come before me like Lorraine who are bringing awareness to pregnancy and infant loss.  Our babies will not be forgotten.

 

Rachel Samulack, Aaron’s Butterfly Run Ottawa/Gatineau Organizer. All proceeds from Aaron’s Butterfly Run will go to Roger Neilson’s House.

Rachel would like to thank Débora Rodrigues and Babywearing in Canada for her support and her sponsorship of Aaron’s Butterfly Run.

_________
Footnotes
1. Bill-141 was passed in the Ontario legislature to provide $1 million dollars to train health care workers in bereavement loss, and conduct research. One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. For more information on Bill 141, read this article.  ↩
2. This article by Maclean’s illustrates how important grieving is to the parents as attachment begins in utero. Seven out of 1,000 babies born in Canada are stillborn. Read more here.  ↩
3. Roger Neilson House is an eight-bed pediatric residential hospice which offers compassionate care and bereavement services in collaboration with the Children of Eastern Ontario’s (CHEO) palliative care team. This amazing facility is located on the grounds at CHEO and provides a home-like environment to children who have a significant risk of dying before reaching adulthood. Perinatal hospice is also offered to families or individuals whose babies are likely to die before, during, or shortly after birth. Individuals and families who receive the heartbreaking news that their baby may not survive very long after birth may choose to continue their pregnancy and celebrate their baby’s short life.  Specialized care and support at Roger Neilson House is offered that includes counselling and emotional support; assistance with making medical decisions about their pregnancy, delivery and their baby’s care; assisting with memory making (such as photographs) and ongoing bereavement care. Roger Neilson House also offers a Perinatal Loss Support group, which is for families and individuals who have lost a pregnancy over 20 weeks or a baby shortly after birth. Visit their website to learn more. ↩

Vote Best Babywearing Group in Canada

In 2017, we held Canada’s very first Babywearing Educator Awards.

Best Babywearing Group – sponsored by manduca

***WINNER**

Renfrew County Babywearing Group

  • Meagan is so enthusiastic about babywearing, and shares her passion about babywearing, and her compassion for new parents with the community.
  • As a military spouse and new mom, Meghen started the Renfrew County Babywearing Group as a way to create connections between moms in the community (the military is one of the largest employers in the area), and give parents tools to comfort their baby, improve postpartum adjustment, and get things done.
  • The Renfrew County Group reaches out to baby wearing folks by showcasing where our online moms can meet and connect in person by pointing out events where folks are babywearing, and how great it is, or just to say “Hi! I see you.  You’re doing a good thing.”
  • This fosters a greater sense of community when the moms connect back and say “Hey I was there, that might have been me!” Through the Renfew County Babywearing Group, you can borrow  carriers which helps people find what works for them.  Meagan’s enthusiasm as group leader, and positivity about babywearing really shine through!

Link to facebook group.

 

Nominations also included:

Babywearing Calgary

  • There are at least two meetings a month, but often more. One in the south, and one in the north. As for accessibility, meetings are close to transit options. That said, we have pretty good public transit here, so there’s that. Big kids (siblings) are always welcome too, which is fantastic. An effort is made to make the meeting spaces kid/family friendly.
  • For me it’s the genuine community. I find it open, non judgemental, and full of great people with great resources happy to help.
  • No drama, no judgement, no guilt. That is pretty rare on Facebook, particularly mom groups. So this is a gem!
  • The lending library is free, there’s no cost. It’s one of the biggest and most diverse you’ll find. The ease of use and accessibility is nuts.

Link to facebook group.

Babywearing of Algoma

  • I’d like to nominate Babywearing of Algoma for Best Canadian Group. Although we are a smaller community, we do big things in our area.
  • One of their strengths is providing a way for moms to take their online connections and conversations enabling them to meet in person. Our group leaders run monthly ‘Carrier Connect’ meetings and get togethers, are always there to answer questions. The ‘Carrier Connect’ meetings allow for those new to babywearing to learn all about the options for wearing without having to purchase multiple carriers. This helps parents find the one that works best for them.
  • Our gatherings are very social and many new friendships are formed. Our leaders also step out into the community at other mom and baby events, hosting a table to connect with as many new moms and dads as possible.

Facebook page and link to facebook group.

Brantford Babywearers

  • Rachel has gone out of her way for five years to lead and educate new wearers in Brantford, Woodstock and Oakville.  She is an outstanding educator with no bias towards carriers or brands.  Brantford Babywearers made me feel confident in what I was doing. I enjoy having the support from other moms and being able to ask thoughts and experiences with different carriers. The meetings are fantastic and the lending library was a life saver.
  • I like how real everyone in this group is about their experiences with different carriers without pushing their bias at all. The meeting I was able to go to was really inclusive and relaxed. For me this is a big thing because I get easily intimidated. The online support is amazing, especially for the pictures when you can ask, “Hey does this look right and if something doesn’t there’s no judgement, just help and encouragement. It makes it easier to reach out and ask for help.
  • Personally I also appreciated that Brantford’s lending library was so diverse – it really allowed me to try a lot of different things before I bought. Given the size of the community, and that many of us have to use online venues for buy sell trade, I found this to be a valuable resource. It’s a lot of work to maintain the library.

Link to facebook group.

Honourable Mention

Windsor Babywearing group. This submission was received after the nominations closed, but the replies were so heartfelt for the work this group does in their community, I decided they deserved a shout-out here.

  • They’re are absolutely fantastic and provide so much knowledge and information regarding so many carriers. It’s incredible they take so much time out of their lives to run this group. When I joined, I quickly learned how inviting and generous this group is. Such a nice community.
  • They are so amazingly helpful and knowledgeable. They’ve brought together such a wonderful group of babywearing mom’s that feel like a second family. We are truly blessed here in Windsor to have such a great babywearing community.
  • This is such an amazing and supportive group. It is composed of a few experienced and passionate local moms who not only run babywearing play dates but run a lending library on their own time. The offer play dates where you can meet up with other like minded moms where you can try on various different carriers and learn the ins and outs of what may work best for you. If you can’t make a play date they open their homes for one on one learning sessions as well. In person, online, you name it they are there to answer any questions you may have! I am so thankful to have a local group that is so welcoming and not only passionate but knowledgeable as well. Thank you to these fabulous ladies (Danielle, Nikki, Georgina, and Sarah)

 

VOTE Canadian Babywearing Educator 2017

2017 we held Canada’s very first Babywearing Educator Awards.

Best Babywearing Educator – sponsored by manduca

We had over 20 nominations for best babywearing educator for the 2017 awards and choosing the best of them was a challenge! I was hoping to have three strong contenders and instead ended up with four – there are so many helpful people in Canada!

***WINNER***

Cindy Larrivée, Portage Double

  • Elle m’a apprit une multitude de choses et est toujours la quand j’ai besoin d’aide ou des questionnements. Merci pour ton grand cÅ“ur Cindy. She showed me many carrying options and was always available when I had questions or needed help. Thank you for your big heart, Cindy.
  • Cindy give us the real information and really addressed our needs.  Because of her I can carry my baby the way I always wished.
  • She helps both moms and crafters achieve a better safety in babywearing.

Meet the other 2017 nominees:

Diane Pepin, Mother’s Helper

  • Diane introduced me to babywearing. She taught me how to use several different slings, gave me a video, and printed information with web links. She trained me to help her at baby events with demonstrating and sharing information, as well as hooking me up to speak to a class on parenting and family at a high school.
  • This woman cares not only about what she does, but the women and men she is helping.  As she was helping us through our babywearing journey she would offered many solutions to suit our needs.
  • When ever I called her in a panic because my wrap wasn’t just right she would talk me through it in such a calming manner that was not only respectful but built me up.  It is because of her that I am such a big advocate for baby wearing.

Dr. Jill Bailey, member of Orangeville Babywearers

  • As a local birth doula I connected with Dr. Jill who reached out to me about helping to build a babywearing community in our town (Orangeville, ON).
  • Dr. Jill has been a local go-to resource for so many moms in our community and has been a guest at our “Mom & Baby Socials” multiple times.
  • She is encouraging towards all parents in her approach, is extremely knowledgeable, and is a passionate babywearing mom herself. It would be an honour to be able to celebrate her efforts in our small town.

Jennifer Wadleigh, Calgary Babywearers

  • Jen was a complete stranger to me and set me on a path to helping me survive motherhood. I was a nervous first-time mom to a very tiny and very vulnerable preemie and Jen came to my house to help me find the right kind of carrier and the right way to carry.
  • She was so generous with her time and her knowledge, which made me feel so comfortable and confident. My daughter was 8 weeks early and just over 4 pounds when she came home. She needed to be carried constantly – she was cold and so small and really needed the extra love. Babywearing helped me give that to her while giving me the freedom to do more than just sit and hold her for the first two months she was home.
  • The time Jen took with me helped me be totally confident in the way I was carrying her and I will be forever grateful. She gave me a huge gift in being able to meet my daughter’s needs and my own.

Honourable mention:

Corwyn Warwaruk, West of the 4th

  • Corwyn is one of the leaders in our community for safe Babywearing.  He helps anyone who asks, with no strings attached.
  • He is happy to teach anyone how to wear their baby in what they already own. He can make the best out of any carrier and help a parent use it properly, safely and comfortably first baby and caregiver.
  • He gives back to the community and is overall an amazing person, daddy and friend.

VOTE!

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
Start date 20-01-2015 03:59:19
End date 26-05-2017 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Who would you choose as the best Canadian Babywearing Educator 2017.

    Babywearing Redux – Sunmi Cha

    pod 6

    Sunmi Cha is a Canadian originally from Korea. I was privileged enough to be invited into her home and hear her story. She wore her siblings growing up, to read about it click here.

    What is it like to start babywearing again?

    I was actually surprised that there’s a school of people that invest themselves in all these wraps. I did not know much about it.

    I have watched a Korean documentary called Secret of traditional parenting.1 It was talking about how good it is to wear their baby. So the baby can observe the environment, learn social interaction from you, from being on your back all the time and it gives you lots of mobility. And you know babywearing, we all know how many benefits it offers. So it talks all about it. And the documentary was talking about how popular the podaegi is in Europe right now. How a lot of moms are looking into podaegi. After watching the documentary, I thought it is the best carrier in the world that’s why other people are looking into it.

    In Korea sometimes there is propaganda happening. They try. By telling you that this part of our culture is the best, we are smart people, what we have is blah-blah-blah.

    I think the podaegi is genius. It’s very practical. You took a blanket and put a strap on it. It is practical because it offers torso support instead of relying on the strength of the shoulders.

    This comes in different length. There is a shorter one, this is a medium length one. Because every woman is of different height. Because some women are pretty petite.

    It’s the height of it, I didn’t know, oh what I am learning!

    It hides your figure, mothers feel more comfortable they don’t have to worry about what they are wearing underneath. And traditionally, Asian women they don’t wear revealing clothes, they are very conservative. For that it really helps, you don’t have to worry about what’s showing, about what’s not showing.

    But the thing is, it’s pretty thick, but I was using it in summer time, I was carrying him in the front and lights outthis doesn’t stick to your skin, and somehow it felt really breezy and cool.

    So you found it insulated against the hot weather?

    Yeah, so he loved it. He was falling asleep in it. I couldn’t use the other, the Boba wrap. It [the podaegi] was so easy, put it on and wrap tight, that’s it.

    Now there are many different versions, you can attach the strap on an angle and wrap it around your shoulders.

    The thing is that these are really cheap. I paid $35.

    That’s really affordable. So you came to Ottawa, set up your practice and started your family. So he’s four months old?

    Yes, he’s four and a half, he’s 20 weeks.

    When I got pregnant, my sisterhip seat from gmarket website wanted to give me a gift, what could it be? So I told her to send me a baby carrier. I saw my sister carrying the baby all the time, she used the Ergo hip seat. My sister was using it and she found it very useful for a toddler especially because the hip seat part is so convenient. So I searched Amazon and they didn’t sel lthis specific one here and I read that they only released this in Korea.

    I didn’t know Ergo made them, it must be only for Asia. They have products that are not available here.

    Only for Korea. I thought, “Is it because it is less safe?” Is this why they don’t release in Canada?2

    It’s perception. It’s a different market.

    But the podaegi isn’t expensive, so why so few use it?

    It’s the fashionable perspective. I was wondering why don’t they use better looking fabric?

    When I was looking to buy podaegi. I searched hard to find something neutral, no bears or dots, or super colourful. Like bright blue, or bright pink I didn’t like it. I still couldn’t get rid of the monkey, but this is acceptable. I didn’t like the ones that are made of so infantile looking fabric, I chose this one because of that.

     

    damn monkey1

    I sometimes write on Korean online community. I asked there why people don’t use podaegi much. People said that it is partly because of the look and some said they found that structured carriers are easier to use. There were lots of new carriers were on the market that I wasn’t aware.

    So people use more of their structured carrier. Ergo is very popular.

    Ergo is everywhere. What about wraps?

    That was another thing versus a wrap. Wraps are so beautiful, they use different colours. A lot of moms collect the wraps because of its beauty.

    I got the woven wrap, the purple one. I was surprised at the price! It was over $200 for a long strand of fabric. I sew, so I tried to make it on my own and went to a fabric store. I tried to search for fabric that was similar to what I saw. I read online that I am supposed to look for jacquard woven and diamond woven. I asked the people at the store but they had no idea. Every fabric is woven was what they said!

    Every fabric is woven. Except for knit. Exactly.

    It wasn’t very helpful, but they had lots of items in the sales stash, rayon, 100% cotton. It was summertime and I had a Boba wrap, it was too hot. I was looking for something that was lighter fabric for the wrap and also that it breathes. I was looking at pillowrayon, though I realized that rayon is synthetic, even though it is made from natural pulp. Okay so no rayon.

    I wanted to buy something with a one way stretch like Wrapsody hybrid. So I bought 5 meters of fabric with a one way stretch. I made half of it into a ring sling and then I tried to wrap him with the other half. This fabric was too slippery and wasn’t easy to pull, it was awkward to put it on. It wasn’t as soft as a woven wrap, it was bulky, so I made the rest of the fabric into a pillow cover.

    Oh that looks beautiful!

    I also got this carrier cover from my sister.

    Oh whoa – look at that! It’s got ears on the hood! It’s so cute, I love it. It’s got little pockets for your hands.

    This attracts good attention when I put this on him and go out. It’s a whole set with ergo hip seat. I use the cover all the time.

     

    carrier cover

    Sunmi and I originally met October 15, 2016, and we spoke for about four hours. This article is a condensed and edited version of our interview. Her story, like many, was so interesting it became a three part series. The first is called Growing up Korean. The next article is called A journey to Canadian, where she shares how she moved to Canada and then stayed.

    Sunmi Cha is a full trained and license naturopathic doctor in Ottawa. Visit her website here.

    Footnotes
    1. The first installment of the documentary of The Secret of Traditional Parenting can be found here. Here is the link to the second and third installment.↩
    2. The Ergo hip seat is available for sale on Gmarket in Korea.↩

    Babywearing — it’s about the village

    I hear far too often from experts in the fields I study as a babywearing educator that the mother is the natural biological environment for the child. Do you know how isolating this is? It places the entire burden of parenting on one person’s shoulders.

    Well. We’re not in the 1800s anymore. I want us to start looking at the whole family when discussing parenting, all kinds of families and not leave it to one version that is so dated. Partners, husbands, wives, family members, friends — they are all important.

    webpic-irinas-dhTake Irina Christofferson, her foray into parenthood was long, difficult and filled with the murky journey through fertility treatments. Without her husband’s support, she would not have even made it to motherhood.

    “This is my husband wearing our newborn twins. It took so much sweat, blood and tears to have them (they are IVF), that he wanted to be as close to them as possible, and babywearing made it possible!”

    Parenting can be isolating and overwhelming – it is embedded in our culture. For example, when we have children, we become this new class of person – the parent. We are no longer welcome in all places anymore because we have a baby. There are playgroups, family restaurants, family festivals, and more. Mothers in particular are disconnected from their jobs, and the life they had before their baby was born. And then there is the truth that our friends are busy still trucking along with their lives, going to work every day and may not want to bother you. Though unintentional, many new mothers feel abandoned.

    I have this strange philosophy in life. I call it the “We all suck theory.”

    We all suck at something. We all have moments of giant enormous suckitude where we just cannot figure things out, where we just cannot cope, and where sometimes, we just want to bawl our eyes out.

    webpic-food-for-villageBut that’s okay. Because then moms can stop being the only one. We can depend on more than just ourselves… and this weakness, this time where we suck? Guess what, it becomes our strength.

    Like what happened with Laurel Berubé recently. A friend of hers called her up tears. This was her moment of true “I am sucking right now. HELP!”

    What did Laurel do?

    “I packed up my two and headed to her house. Wrapped her littlest and got him to sleep and transferred him. She got a break and could eat, our older two played together. We got some adult conversation.”

    It isn’t just the mother who is the natural biological environment for the baby. No longer does a mother simply have to set her mind on what she wants, and just do it. There is space now, for everyone.

    web-pic-kristins-mom

    For Kristen Beaudry, her help and sanity has come from family. “This is my mom wearing my son in the Tula when only Nana snuggles would do. My 2 sisters have also worn my infant daughter in the Tula when I needed a break.”

    What do parents need? To take the time to learn new routines and find a new flow. To feel useful and competent. To be able to connect with friends and family. To participate in their communities. To acknowledge their emotions and have them validated in turn. To be properly supported and loved.

    This year at the Second Babywearing in Canada Conference, Kathy Venter came in to talk to us about supporting maternal confidence. She very clearly mentioned the importance of the father –dads should be carrying and using kangaroo mother care as often as possible and as soon as the child is born. This biologically primes their brains to parenthood. Kathy also spoke of the importance of the family, and the community with respects to breastfeeding success.

    One of the main benefits of babywearing is to allow parents to continue to participate in their various communities. It reduces isolation. And the best thing about a baby carrier? Anyone can put one on.

    As far as I am concerned, the natural biological environment for any baby are humans. It takes the village to raise a child.

    Canadian Tribute: BWIC West of the 4th Custom

    babywearing-in-canada-conference-2016-50-cotton-custom-woven-wrap-west-of-4th_sdm_1429

    Winner is Casey Lee Cox with Canadian Tribute!!

    Out in Red Deer, Alberta, there is a little wrap company known as West of the 4th Weaving. This year, I was extremely lucky to have West of the 4th Weaving agree to create a custom colourway for Babywearing in Canada. Working with them was amazing, West of the 4th is made up of the husband and wife duo of Nancy and Corwyn Warwaruk.

    webpic-planning2When I approached them to see if they would be interested in making this year’s custom wrap, they immediately said yes.

    Corwyn soon began with talk of weft by sending me pictures — pictures of spools!! — asking me if I wanted to do a cotton or flax weft. The flax weft is a light grey, imparting a bit of silver twinkle to the final wrap, and the cotton brings a brightness in with the white.

    TWO gorgeous choices, how could I even decide?  So I chose BOTH. Yep, that’s how things run when you just can’t resist babywearing porn.

     

     

     

    Soon after, Nancy started working on the wrap’s design based on Babywearing in Canada’s colours, red, white and black. When I asked what was her thought process, this is the answer I received:

    “Nancy looked at the elements of your logo and dissected out the primary elements. She wanted to design the wrap to be truly Canadian so that when some one saw the design they would immediately think of our country. The red back ground represents the red of the maple leaf, and the general placement of the white makes one think of the blend of red and white of the Canadian flag. The black element represents the outline of the babywearing person. The blend of the white and the black makes one think of the babywearing person in the logo.”

     

    webpic-planning1      webpic-colourway2      web-colourway1

     

    With this thought in mind, Nancy’s design quickly moved from conception to reality.

    webpic-weaving3       webpic-weaving4

     

    There is something just magical about working with a weaver on a new carrier. It’s a combination of your vision, and their interpretation. It can be pretty overwhelming to see your baby brought to live in the caring hands of a weaver — especially with a pair like Nancy and Corwyn at the helm. The communication was fabulous and to receive pictures of Nancy looking meditative and zen as she readies the loom to create a piece of wonder, is beyond words.

     

     

    There’s nothing better than being than wearing a baby wrapped and keeping them close through our hot Canadian summers and cold winters. What do you believe you should call such a wrap? That sums up this country, warm summer days and cold winter nights.

     

    babywearing-in-canada-conference-2016-50-cotton-custom-woven-wrap-west-of-4th_sdm_1473

    Can you picture yourself wearing your babe in this wrap?

    The winner of the naming competition gets first right to purchase. There are only EIGHT wraps available, four flax blend, four cotton.

    Each wrap comes with a Babywearing in Canada Conference bag, and a limited edition certificate stating which wrap you have purchased, and in which length.

     

                        webpic-final1             babywearing-in-canada-conference-2016-100-cotton-custom-woven-wrap-west-of-4th_sdm_1436

    Official 2016 #BWICweek events

    Babywearing in Canada week takes place from May 21, 2016, to May 28, 2016.

    Here are the official events registered to date.  Each event will qualify the planner for entry into our giveaways – and you can register up to three.

    Prince George BC
    Event planner: Char Duncan
    Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park: Just a walk in the park for fresh air and Babywearing!
    Date: May 21, 2016
    Time: 11:00 am to 12:00 pm

    Medicine Hat AB
    Event planner: Holly Mitchell
    Echo Dale Regional Park
    Date: May 28, 2016
    Time: 11:00 am
    Join the event!

    Grande Prairie AB
    Event planner: Jessica Matwiiw
    Muskoseepi Park
    Date: May 26, 2016
    Time: 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
    Group affiliation: Grande Prairie Lending Library

    Red Deer AB
    Event planner: Amy McMillan from Live, Love, Carry on
    Heritage Ranch and Kerrywood
    Date: May 25, 2016
    Time: 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
    Group affiliation: Event page on FB

    Dauphin MB
    Event planner: Dauphin Babywearers
    Vermillion Park
    Date: May 26, 2016
    Time: 10:30 am – 11:30 am
    Group affiliation: Event in closed group on FB

    Collingwood ON
    Event planner: Laura Rice
    Sunset Point
    Date: May 25, 2016
    Time: 2:30 – 3:30 pm
    Event information: Come on out for a special meet up for all care givers. Big thank you to Naledi Stones from Georgian Bay Area Salsa Babies for setting up this event as well as teaching us how to Salsa dance with our little dance partners snuggled close.

    Ottawa ON
    Event planner: Melissa Nadeau
    Mer Bleue Conservation Area
    Date: May 26, 2016
    Time: 10:00 am
    Event information: We’re a bunch of moms who had their babies at roughly the same time, and have been getting together weekly for walks before heading off to a local coffee shop.

    Ottawa ON
    Event planner: Andria Patterson
    Private home, Orleans ON ( a borough of Ottawa)
    Date: May 27, 2016
    Time: 1:00 pm
    Event information: A bunch of moms with April Due dates getting together to share stories and learn about babywearing.

    Rick Goodwin – BWIC Conference

    Presentations: Counting us in & All father’s are sons

    Rick - 2016-sm

    Rick Goodwin is the founder of Men & Healing, and has worked as a social worker, educator, program manager, and has previously taught social sciences and social work at the college and university level. In addition to managing Men & Healing, he conducts training workshops for professionals on issues of male sexual trauma, family violence and trauma recovery across Canada, and in the USA through the organization 1in6 Inc. He will be presenting at the Babywearing in Canada Conference – have you purchased your tickets?

    Rick’s accomplishments include:

    • Founder of Men & Healing.
    • Past co-founder and Executive Director of The Men’s Project.
    • National Manager to 1in6 Canada from 2012-2015.
    • Facilitator of a group trauma treatment program for men.
    • Various speaking engagements at national and international conferences on men, violence against women, and trauma recovery.
    • Co-authoringMen & Healing: Theory, Research and Practice with Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, a guidebook (2009).
    • recipient of theAttorney General’s Award of Distinction for his work in “developing and implementing innovative victim service programs” (2007).
    • Awards recipient fromThe Canada Council to the Canadian Mental Health Assocation.
    • Serving on the National Victims of Crime Advisory Committeeof Justice Canada as an Advisory Board Member to 1in6 Inc. (USA).

    Come listen to Rick speak at the Babywearing in Canada Conference at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre. Ticket are available here. Follow this link for more information about the conference program.

    Count us in: The statement case for fathering.

    Presented by Rick Goodwin, MSW, RSW, Principal, Men and Healing

    May 20, 2016, at 4:00 pm
    Babywearing in Canada Conference
    Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre

    Since time immemorial, the domain of parenting has fallen to women.  We are now at a time when both fathers and mothers can readily handle the workload of parenting, just like the role of being the breadwinner.

    Or is it?

    In Counting Us In, Rick will explore the perceptual and practical barriers still with us in order to help articulate the path of full father involvement. Delving into his personal reflections as a father, his clinical role in managing Ottawa’s Fathering program, and examining key issues in the public discourse, Rick will weave a compelling case statement on how we can remove the obstacles for full fathering involvement.

    Rick is also offering another session, listed below.

    All Father’s are sons: Examining the integrity and legacy of fatherhood.

    May 21, 2016, at 12:30 pm
    Babywearing in Canada Conference
    Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre

    In order to understand how boys become men, and how men become fathers we need to examine how does the role of one’s past, particularly the relationship with one’s father, influence how a man takes on the narrative of being a father. How does the work of historic integrity (resolving the issues from our past) interplay with emotional integrity (our relationships in the here and now) as well as emotional legacy (what we gift to our children).

    Utilizing key themes from male-centred psychology and demonstrating its components through selected readings from literature, participants will be encouraged to reflect on aspects of their own narrative.  Recognizing that our vulnerability is strength, and that we can all transcend our personal histories no matter what they may be, this workshop will argue that meaning-making that can strengthen men to embrace their role of fathers -the best job on the planet.