Kendra of KarysMa Birth is a mother-writer-teacher-doula-jewelry designer with a longtime passion for birth. She says “I have always been fascinated by birth and motherhood. I read Ina May Gaskin's books like some girls read The Babysitter's Club, although I read my share of those too.”
She lives in the Portland area with her husband, Steve, and daughter Karys. “My husband Steve is the yang to my yin and the love of my life, and he balances and buoys me. My daughter Karys turns seven in October, and we're expecting our second daughter in January 2017.”
She originally planned to go to midwifery school after high school, but a trip to Mexico during her gap semester lead her toward a ten-year career teaching eighth grade English.
In 2010 she attended a summer intensive called the Blue Ridge Writing Project, which she says helped her being to see herself as a writer again. “I'd always used writing as a way to process my emotions and experiences, but after BRWP, my students and I began writing regularly and intentionally together. It was a magical shift in my teaching life,” she explains.
Although she enjoyed her teaching career, when her family moved from Virginia to Portland, Kendra wanted to find work that was more flexible and left more time for her family.
“I kept hearing the word "doula," and I realized that, along with being a teacher and a writer, I wanted to be a doula, a trained helper of mothers. I became a certified birth doula in January 2016, and I have recently begun training as a childbirth educator. I believe that a happy, healthy mother is central to a happy, healthy family, and being happy and healthy starts with feeling supported and appreciated before the baby is even born.”
In addition to serving as a birth and postpartum doula, Kendra creates custom birthing necklaces, and writes regularly for the La Leche League Blog, New Beginnings magazine, and Portland Moms Blog. She is also offering her first birth story writing workshop in November at Birthing Stone Doula in Beaverton. “I've finally found ways to be involved in my passion for birth in a way that fits in with my changing family while drawing on my strengths and talents.”
As you might expect from someone with so many passions and interests, Kendra cites several mentors as having an impact on her work. “My writing mentor, Chauna Craig, is a talented writer whom I met through the Association of Writer's and Writing Programs' mentorship program. My marketing and branding mentors are MOBs Emily Roach-Griffin and Gwen Montoya. My doula trainer, Therese Hak-Kuhn, has had a powerful influence on how I view my role as a doula, and MOB Tiffany Decker of Birthing Stone Doula has helped me so much with the logistical details of being a doula. I'm also inspired by other moms, especially the amazing ones who balance entrepreneurship with motherhood.”
She says her biggest struggle as a business owner involves remembering to think like a business owner. “I love volunteering and giving freely of my time, knowledge, and resources, but I have to balance that with doing the activities that are going to bring in the money I need to sustain my family. It's been hard for me to decide what things I do as part of my business and what things are hobbies or interests,” she explains.
She advises new business owners to try new things, but not get so involved in learning a new skill that you stop moving forward with your business. She also says, “Don't allow impostor syndrome to tell you that you aren't doing anything special or valuable. Only you can do what you do the way that you do!”
Kendra’s mission is to help moms realize they aren’t alone, so her ideal referral is a mom who sometimes feels alone or not good enough. “There are resources and support to help you through the darkest days and other moms who will celebrate with you when you are soaking up the joys of life.”
She says coming through the other side of birth trauma, postpartum depression and anxiety and using her experiences as a springboard to helping other moms is her greatest accomplishment.
When asked why she chooses to be part of the MOB NW, she replies, “I love how diverse the moms in the MOB are. There are moms with many different passions and specialties. There are moms with young children and grown-up children. There are single moms and moms with partners. I love interacting online with MOBs, meeting these amazing moms in person, finding ways to collaborate, and fostering friendships. It gives me a sense of belonging that I was missing before I found the MOB NW.”
Kendra loves working for herself because it gives her the freedom and flexibility of working where she wants and when she wants. “I get to follow my curiosity and try new things while being at work.”
If you look at Kendra’s website and branding, you might notice a theme! “I love rainbows; in fact, our wedding was rainbow-themed,” she says.
She is offering all MOB NW members 25% off her Write Your Birth Story class. To register, go here.
You can find Kendra online at: