#19 Kirby Hood Birth Photographer- Infertility, Loss, IVF, Step Parenting, Weight Discrimination – The Matrescence Podcast
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Kelly: Birth of a baby is a defining moment in a woman’s life.
Bree: But what about the birth of a mother?
Kelly: That’s right when a baby’s born. So two is a mother.
Bree: This transition from woman to mother has a name it’s called Matrescence
Kelly: mental state is as powerful and irreversible as adolescents, and yet few women have ever heard of it.
So let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about it. Each episode, we will bring you honest and thought provoking conversations, evidence-based research and knowledgeable guests in order to help you merge a more powerful and aligned version of yourself.
Bree: So join us, your hosts, Kelley and. As we attempt to make sense of Al Matrescence journey and to help you make sense of yours.
in today’s episode, Kel sits down to interview Kirby hood, who is a birth photographer, videographer doula, and more in the Brisbane birth community. Now Kirby actually captured Emmy’s birth and you may have already seen some of the images and the video on our Instagram page. She’s truly incredible at her craft.
Now, Kirby had quite a unique experience of Matrescence because her introduction to motherhood began when she became a step parent to a beautiful two year old girl, while attempting to navigate this co-parenting journey. She was also on her own journey to try to conceive, as you will hear this included multiple devastating losses in fertility treatments.
Now, somewhere along the line, Kirby discovered her passion for birth work and made the transition into this space. And we’d discuss how she feels about being a birth worker who has not yet given birth to a live baby herself and what kind of conversations she has with women about that and the feelings that it brings up for her around her identity as a mother.
We do discuss how this has shaped her Matrescence journey, whether she feels that she has experienced Matrescence and what it was like for her, because so many people come to parenthood through step parenting, and we were really interesting to explore what Matrescence looked like for them. Now we do not get the terminology a hundred percent, right?
In this episode, Kirby has given birth. She is a mother and we were careful to check in with her beforehand about what felt good to her. Now, if you feel differently, that is okay too. I don’t think there’s a perfect way to have these conversations, but we wanted to have them any. Now Kirby is finally ready to embark on another IVF journey after facing many barriers relating to her weight.
So throughout the episode, we also discuss how fat stigma affects the experience and options for birthing women. So it’s a super interesting conversation and Coby was incredibly generous with sharing her experience vulnerably throughout the episode, we do discuss infant loss. So this is a content warning, and we do encourage you to be discerning about whether you feel ready to listen to these types of conversations.
If the episode brings anything up for you, there are plenty of good support services available to you. And we will include links to those in their episode notes. Now, at the end of the episode, we did ask Kirby to share some resources with us, but in true fashion, we got a little bit off topic and we didn’t really get to the point.
So I did want to share too quickly with you. And that is two Instagram accounts. The first one is fat positive fertility, which really talks about the health at every size movement and the weight discrimination that women face in pregnancy and beyond. The other one is unexpected family outing. And that one deals with infant loss in an incredibly beautiful and insightful way.
So again, we’ll include links to those in the episode notes. Now throughout the episode, there are some noises. We are recording in a closet. We are not a professional production around here. So you can hear a little Emmy snoring in the background and Kels, eldest boy was either eating a bowl of cereal or playing the triangle kitchen in the kitchen.
I’m not really sure which but if you just roll with it and persevere, it is a beautiful conversation and we hope that you enjoy listening to it. As much as we enjoyed facilities,
Kelly: today’s guest is Kirby hood. Some of you will know her as olive juice lifestyle. Now Kobi was the birth photographer for Bree. And she’s going to talk to us today about her story, which is what we’re all about at the Matrescence podcast. So Kirby let’s start. Give us a brief rundown on who are you? Who’s your family and what work you’re doing in the birth.
Kirby: Thanks girls for having me, how exciting I am Kirby hood and I am 32. I forget now how old I am. I have to count. I am my stepmother and a wife and our daughter is 15 years old. So we’re at the other end of Matrescence. I’m finding hindsight, but like yourself Kel. Now I’m looking back. It’s oh, this is weird.
Yeah. Yeah. All right. I’m a birth worker and I have finally figured out where my soul belongs and it’s with birth. So if I look back at my whole childhood, all my jobs, all my things, they have all gotten me to here. Did you want me to tell you a bit about that? I’d love
Kelly: to hear that story because that intensity over the last few years, where it’s really focused on birth was a winding road.
As many careers are. So tell us that winding road
Kirby: to get to funny with hindsight, because I look at my childhood now and I would line up all my teddies and perform to them or teach them. I thought I wanted to be a teacher when I was a child. Now there’s no way in the world you would ever get me to do that.
However, I always loved children. So then I did early childhood education for some work experience realized I hated. That was just like why do I like children? Why am I drawn to this what’s happening? Life evolves things happen. I was about 20. When I met my husband, Alex, he was firefighter worker and we met in a rural mining town.
Kelly: you, you did grow up in regional Queensland,
Kirby: sorry, born and bred in Mount Isa and very Outback without dressing out back. It’s confusing for people. They’re like, wait she’s country. Yes. Yes, she is. You can be hippie and country. You can be all kinds of stereotypes, right? So yes you can. So we met in Outback.
Nevo is called, so that’s about 96 kilometers inland from MCI. So it’s still a bit coastal, a bit country. I find it was our happy medium of us actually, because Alex is born and bred from Brisbane. And I’m born and bred from the country. So we came together as that. Alex had a, she thinks she was nearly two at that stage when we met and then.
He actually left foot world because it was too hard to be a parent and not have your child with you. For him. It was too distressing for Georgia. It was too distressing for Alex. So he said, I really like you, but I have to go back to Brisbane. And I was devastated because he was like the love of my life and what was I doing?
And I was like, please let me come, let me follow you. He was like, you’re going to hate Brisbane. It’s not for you. Like it’s busy. It’s people, it’s all the things. And I was like, let me decide that dammit don’t you don’t make the decision for me. So I went down, it was in Zack day weekend. Met his family.
Yeah, look, it was horrific, but it all worked out. I moved to Brisbane, destroyed my mom’s heart. I think because mum was a single parent and I’m an only child. So mum still tells Alex that he stole me away. Hopefully she’ll live here one day. She’s still back home. Yeah. So looking back now, my first birth was in 2007 and it was a really good friend of mine.
And unfortunately her daughter actually passed away at four days old. So from that point forward, I realized the power of photos because I had taken a thousand for her. Just with my little $99 digital camera, thought I was the Duck’s nuts and she didn’t get to keep her baby obviously.
And those photos, they, they meant the world to her. She had over 96 photos, video sound recordings of her baby crying, just noises and things. You can’t get. So that shaped me from there, but I still didn’t know I was a photographer at that point. Still didn’t know I was a birth worker from there. We fast forward a little bit.
We moved to Brisbane in 2010 and Alex and I both worked together. So I was an admin, working sales, all kinds of office, boring stuff. I hated it, but I was really good at it. So I thought that’s what I had to do. I remember I went for a reading. I love this lady, her name’s Julia Long short story. She’s on the gold coast.
She’s amazing. But. She said to me, oh, what do you do for work? And I explained to her, I’m in sale. She said, that’s not the job for you. You hate small talk. And I remember being devastated and my good friend had come with me for this rating as well. And I left and was like, what does she mean? I love my job.
I’m great at my job. Like I sell 6 million plus a year. What, and it just threw me or what else could I want to be doing? And I was still always drawn to children and it just confused me all my friends have been having babies since 2007. And in the country, I find that women have their babies young.
Yeah. And then in the city, I’m finding that women are having their babies. Now when I’m 32, it’s normal. But for me, when I was 22, The thought of waiting till 32, 33 35, even to have your children was like barbaric. What? So my friends all have teenagers from the country and my city friends all have babies and it’s all over the place, but it’s still quite amazing.
And now that I’ve discovered what Matrescence is, it’s helped me process a bit of everything because obviously Georgia, I did not give Georgia life. Life gave me Georgia. And she, I just love that kid. She is the best thing that I think I tell Alex, I love him more than him Pawnee, but whenever he, whenever we’ve had an argument or something, I’m like, you know what, I’m staying for Georgia.
I can’t get custody of Georgia. It’s not very fair, but Georgia 15 now. And she’s actually got me too. Do some paperwork and it means if anything happens to her dad, now she gets to stay with me. Which is lovely. Yeah. Which is really big look,
Kelly: Christian. I have so many, there’s so many pathways to take because even that complexity of shared parenting and custody, et cetera, is huge.
What’s really lovely about this story is your journey to Matrescence, which I do want to unpack a little bit further as well. Because along the way, you have also been on the path to try to conceive, and I learned a new acronym today. So for those of you out there TTC, which is
Kirby: trying to concede to conceive,
There, that journey, I think it’s a good time just to ask you a little bit about that, because you have been mothering going through Matrescence of your own and also seeking
Kirby: the birth of it. Yeah. Correct. And, A few years ago, Georgia had a brief time where she went and stayed with her mum full time.
And we didn’t have Georgia for about 12 months in our life. That’s I had to really unpack a lot of stuff. There went to therapy, did a lot of work, and I described it to the therapist as if she was dead. And she was like, wait, is Georgia still alive? And I was like, yes. Okay. You don’t own Georgia. No one owns Georgia, but Georgia.
And then we got to really like nitpick and work out that I was actually just fearing the loss of the role of mother. And now I’ve never tried to take her role as mother cause she has a mother and she lives a suburb over from us. And without her, I wouldn’t have her. So that respect for me has always given.
We personally don’t get along very well, but that’s totally fine. And Georgia has now learned how to live with parents that don’t get along and that’s George’s path. And she’s taking it pretty well. I would say she’s doing so good. She’s ah, she’s 15 cleared. Her acne loves life. Doesn’t like going out. It was just perfect for me.
She loves the Saturday night at home, which is great. She just loves, she loves love. Like we do. We love big in our family. It’s I’ve always been told I was too emotional. Tone it down to why are you crying? Stop crying. Like I could cry at the drop of a hat. However, I’ve always seen it as a weakness in myself.
And now I’m starting to see it as a strength because not everyone can tap into emotion, like I can. So I’m trying to, somebody taught me about shadow sides and your shadow self. Do you have much experience with that? So it’s like the dark side that we don’t like to admit. So like when we’re a bit needy or.
When we’re a bit embarrassed of how we wouldn’t admit that we did that to our husband or something. Do you know what I mean? Like the side we hide. Yeah. So it’s learning to love that side because this bright side is fine. What’s the dark side of Kirby. And do I love her? No. So I’ve had to break that down and get to love her.
And now I’m actually starting to love myself and it’s really quite bizarre. Like I’ve lost 73 killers, so I’m flipping all over the place, but, okay. It’s your story? So I’ve lost 73 kilos, 2014. I’ll flip back though. Sorry, 2012 Alex and I got married and we went off contraception. So I was on the pill for PCO S have a bit of endometriosis and it was just ignored.
So PCO S polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis is the lining and et cetera. I was diagnosed with PCRs at 14 told you wouldn’t have children. Like it’s a big statement to make. I remember my mom crying. I was like, who cares? I don’t get my period. This is great. What do you mean? This is a problem.
All my friends were like, oh, we can’t swim. And I’m like, yes, go live your life. I didn’t understand a word of it. They give you the fake hormone of the pill. You go on it. If the roller coaster of the unloading it’s that I describe it as the pill that puts your fertility to sleep because we’re taught not to know about it.
Don’t talk about it, hide it. It’s disgusting. Why would anyone want to know about it? Lo it’s amazing. We bleed every month. We self-sufficient, we clean out our bits. We do our stuff. We rest. Why aren’t we teaching people? They should be resting. Like it just goes on and on. So now that I have a daughter who is going through.
All that stuff. And I’m now finding that I’m like, oh, look at Marty bodies, look at cups, look at this, look at that. But I’ve never done it for myself. So I’ve learned that I can’t do for her until I’ve done for me.
Kelly: It’s learning to respect our cycles as women. Right?
Kirby: Yeah. And I’m finding that in Matrescence nurse.
So I drink V it’s embarrassing. Hate it, but I own it. Would I let Georgia drink fee? No, I would not. So what I do to me is not what I would do to my child. And I think we need to cheat treat ourselves like our inner children, because we wouldn’t do it. Otherwise we wouldn’t just crack open a beacon in the morning because that’s what we do.
If Georgia did that, I’d have a car and I’d be like, oh my God, it just wouldn’t. So you got
Kelly: married, got married and you decided that regardless of what you’ve been told, you would like to go on the journey to try and conceive. Yeah.
Kirby: Yeah. My husband is five years older than me, so he had always, he, I think he was 26 or 25 and we met and he had always said, I’m not having kids after 30.
That’s the ships getting packed up. He already had tried for a vasectomy. But because he was so young, everyone had told him, no, hence I’m now like grateful, but yeah, I guess it wouldn’t really matter because now that we’ve found out what his issues are as well, there’s some male factor infertility, some female infector infertility.
It probably wouldn’t have mattered if he had, because the way we have to move forward in our fertility, Would be the way someone with a vasectomy would move forward. So we started trying, we were married August, 2012, and we started trying, I think a couple of months before that, I was picturing the, I don’t really want to not be able to drink at my wedding, but I really want to, have a baby and get all this stuff ready.
And I was a naughty smoker and I dropped all that because I thought if I was pregnant, I wouldn’t do that. So just don’t do it now, and then I was quite overweight and it turns out it was a hormone issue, but of course in the world we are now I was recommended to have my stomach removed.
So I had the gastric sleeve surgery in 2014 and I went on to lose 73 kids. I’m now just a walking bag of skin, which is lovely. No one told me about that part. However, I’m still seen as overweight. So even though I’ve lost all this weight and I’m so healthy now, and I’ve changed and I’ve done all the stuff, I’m still visually considered obese.
Some people even say to me, oh, wow. How big were you? Like they see me now. I’m abroad girl. I’ve got fat. I’m not fat. And they say all the time, oh he must’ve been like bigger than a house. And I’m like, dude, can you, your words shut up. Wow. So we went on to try. We had no luck. I wasn’t sure what was happening now when you get married, I was obsessed with everything wedding like you do. So for my mum, when I’m entering the stage of trying to have a baby, it’s gone from watching all the say yes to the dress. And now I’m saying. Okay. I want to watch one born every minute. And that goes from there. And then little things start coming back to me and I’m like, hang on a second.
My aunt, when I was about nine, she got my grandma to photograph one of her vaginal births and she printed all of the photos. They were all obviously not edited by photographer and it was grandma doing it. And she actually sent them to me last week oh, wow. Yeah. That’s so interesting. I’ll have to ask her.
She’ll let me share them because,
and I remember sitting in the laundry room, like flicking through as a child, just watching this look what her bum hole does. Look at how she just opens. Wow. This is incredible. What is this? But it was like, the aunts would always be like, Kirby. Why are you sitting in the lounge room?
Like a weirdo for in your aunt’s book? She had a baby. I’m like why is it in the lounge room? So that really shaped me now that I look back. It just fascinated me and I am the second oldest of many cousins. My mom’s the eldest of nine. So our family is rather large and they’ve all got to,
Kelly: so you had a lot of kind of birth experience in terms of welcoming new babies, it being talked about.
So that normalization even attending your first birth, quite young, correct. Very unusual. Yeah. Really unusual. So in terms of a timeline that 2012 period, you moved to Brisbane, you get married, you try to conceive gone
Kirby: where everyone’s before. Yeah, so probably, yeah. And I already knew I had PCLs right. We didn’t test Alex at all.
Cause he has Georgia. That’s walking, living proof that he could, he works. Yeah. So w and Alex is also a medical foam, so he’s got white coat syndrome just means any time, anything medical, even if it’s just a blood pressure check, he will, he sweats loses all. Yeah. It’s bad. Yeah. We left him B and I started Clomid.
We went on a journey, got referred to some specialists, private in the city. Everyone just said, lose weight. So I thought, fine, I’m going to shut you all up again. I have this complex that I’m not good enough again, I’m not good enough. And I have to change to be better because the way I am now can’t be accepted.
So I went on, had my stomach surgically removed after many attempts to lose weight, the old fashioned way that everyone hangs on about, eat less, run more. It doesn’t work. There was a hormonal imbalance. I believe the Western medical system. Isn’t very good with hormones. Yeah. So again, their fixes the pill and some blanket things we went on to try.
We actually never had a successful conception, I think until 2006. And that was through IVF. So we had done Clomid, which is where it induces ovulation. We did a blood test every day for 19 days until I ovulated. And then we had all Karen call up and say, okay, great. Have sex on Tuesday. Like it, yeah, it was crap.
And I remember being so obsessed with babies and mum had just thought that I’d jumped from the wedding planning over into baby crazy, but I guess I’d always taken photos cause my mum loves taking photos. So I guess I’d just always been in it. She’s not as good as me bless her cotton socks. But she’d always taken photos, more of landscape rocks, walking adventures, things like that.
So it was very important. We always had photos in our house. They were just home once we couldn’t afford to pay anyone to do them. But it was important and I started to work out. Okay. I’m not just crazy. I’m not just in that stage where I personally want a baby, something is actually speaking to me. So my childhood was telling me, wait, you’ve always loved children.
Then you did children work and you didn’t like that. And then you did this and you didn’t like that. And then, everywhere I went, there were pregnant people. And I thought that was just my infertility driving me. Absolutely bat shit crazy. Like I would cry. I would sell something on marketplace. A lovely family would come to pick it up, but they’d have a newborn strapped to them or I’d see some druggies at the shop with the kids with nurseries.
Henry would cry more. Yeah, you just couldn’t win. So I my head in the sand became management in my role at work just got deeper, deeper, deeper into IVF. I pretty much just wanted to keep that career going to get to maternity leave. Still didn’t understand I was a birth worker still was not even on my way.
Still loved photographing, still love doing birth. Just didn’t understand how it could ever be accepted or even a paid profession. Yeah. It was not cool. In 2007 to have a glam team coming into make it look beautiful. So when I started doing it, I’d say I’m a birth photographer and people would say, sorry, what a bird?
And I’m like, you heard exactly what you thought birth coming out. Oh. But why would you want to pay for that? Or people pay for that. Yeah. Why would you even want to see that? I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard it all. And I’m like, ah, so in one way, I’m torn with my own fertility and I’m going against everything else.
That’s getting thrown at me because that’s just my fascination with being a mum because I wanted to be a mum. What I’d failed to recognize was I was already a mum. I may not be George’s biological. And I will never take her role as mum. She does not call me mum I’m Kirby. But when that child is not with her mum, I am acting that role.
Yeah. And as uncomfortable as the conversation can be shaped, I, sorry, I can hear him. Snoring. Cute. Don’t you do
Kelly: snoring snowing is part of the loud. It’s not a fake noise. It’s a real noise.
Bree: And if I wake her, she’ll be more noisy. I don’t know why I was stopped briefly at the end. Do you want to ask Kirby about Alex’s experience of George’s birth could be interesting when you talk about your visions for what you want your birth to be like, it could just be an interesting
Cause it’s polar opposite to how it will be forever. Kevin and
Bree: are always searching for men’s perspective on that. So anyway, I just thought since we’re interrupting anyway,
Kirby: it’s snoring. Yeah. I went on to do IVF myself and we became pregnant. So
Kelly: just one question, cause this is going to be a really important part of the story.
Were you already doing birth photography as a paid profession at the time you can save yourself or did this come after it came
Kirby: after I was still doing it for free. Okay. Yeah, I know. Can you imagine or die? My first paid birth was $250 and I never met the woman. Yeah. We met online and I showed up photographed her birth and now she’s one of my really good friends.
Amazing. And she’s now got three babies and I’ve been there for pretty much all of them. It’s pretty spectacular. Yeah. But it was just still so confused, everyone’s saying, no you can’t do that. That’s not a joke. And now you’re only obsessed about babies cause you can’t have them.
Kelly: Yeah. So that’s there were attaching your journey of trying to conceive to what you were doing at work. And there were parallel activities, but they could only see them as intertwined.
Kirby: I see them as my desire to be a mum and I’m like, it’s not. So we go on, I became pregnant in 2016, the help of some IVF.
And we went on, unfortunately we lost our baby. We’ve gone on to have quite a lot of miscarriages, well above the three standard before you’re diagnosed. So I am diagnosed with reoccurring miscarriages which there is no known reason or help or anything. Sorry, known reason. There is a known reason I do have antibodies which just fight the baby basically.
But now that I’m aware of that we can move forward with IVF. Again, I just need to take low dose aspirin and be guarded with them, actually watching that this time. So while this was happening, one of my miscarriages was very public at my workplace. So I was wearing a skirt. It was a white showroom floor and I hemorrhaged at work.
And I remember it so clearly because my mom knew I was pregnant, but my best friend didn’t and my best friend lived with my mum lives. And she had popped around to see my mum and have a coffee. And my mum ring me at work and was like, I can’t do this. I’m sitting here staring at your best friend. She needs to knock.
And I was like, mom, we’re not telling, like the old 12 week weight, blah, blah, blah. Eventually I caved in, I told her, so I quickly ran into a meeting room, FaceTimed my bestie and was like, yes, it’s mama. Go and enjoy that now with my mum, because I am with child 10 minutes later, I miscarried and I still to this day, I’m like, if I hadn’t of told people, then maybe no, let’s break that right here.
Right now, if you lose your baby and you can’t continue on with that pregnancy, you need everyone. Yeah. If not the whole world help you get up and go again.
Kelly: This is another one of those stories that we tell ourselves, which we have to break that stigma
Kirby: of saying that. Yeah, just like hiding our cycle.
How dare we hide our early pregnancy? Because you need people. I had a heartbeat. That was my baby. Yeah. We had gloves. There’s names like that. You can’t tell someone that about how far along. It doesn’t matter if I was only eight weeks, that was eight weeks of, especially for IVF, that baby was put in there from the minute I knew it was in there.
We’re pregnant until proven otherwise, which is another term you can learn. It’s P U P O. So when you have your IVF transfer your Popo, oh, she’s pregnant until proven otherwise. So just means for two weeks, the medical team get to consider you as pregnant until your blood tests where you are either confirmed or negative.
Yeah. So that’s another one for you. Yeah. We went on to have that very public miscarriage and then I started to get treated differently at work. So I was getting left out of management meetings. I was like, I’m not doing this. So I found a new job. And that was really hard because I really loved that job.
Remember the psyche could tell me it wasn’t for me. And I was like, Hey, I’ll prove you wrong. You won’t tell me. So I’d kick. And I went on found a new job. And to be honest, I just woke up one day and said, I’m going to start a business. That’s going to record all of juice, lifestyle photography. No, actually it was all of juice creations.
Huh? See, we learn when we learn. Yes we do. So all of juice creations. Now we had bought a house on Macleay island and we, the whole plan was to re get into the housing market, reduce our income. So I could be on maternity leave, XYZ, blah, blah, blah. So by this stage, we’d moved to the island. It was our fourth pregnancy.
We lost our baby again. And I just felt like if my world fell apart, like you could do it once you can do it twice. Third, are you freaking serious? And then fourth year, just this is a mean joke. Come the freak on we’ve now spent over 20 grand on army. Our life is now reduced to Karen telling us to have sex on Tuesday.
It’s shit. And at the same time, we have a beautiful little girl that’s living with us that I’m trying to give the best, happy little life. And she was week on week off with us. So one week I would really focus on my IVF and my self-care. And then one week I’d really focus on Georgie and getting her to school and all the things that come with children.
Yeah, it was just really hard. And I just stood up one day and said, I’m going to start a business. My husband was like, you do your boo. Yeah, I’d sold Tupperware. I’d done Sensi before. If there was a pyramid thing on trot it, cause I was, I think I’m still a bit like my grandfather, he was always going to get rich, he moved to Mount Eliza to get wealthy in the mines.
Yeah. It never happened yet. Not in kids. He was screwed
Kelly: as a bit of a distraction along the way to the road,
Kirby: to Raina’s bedroom house, by the way that they still live in. So that, that all came about. And I just started all of juice. And to be honest, I did births for a couple of hundred dollars and I’d beg to get into home birth because they really fascinated me.
And I didn’t know why now I know why. Tell me all
Kelly: of juice. I would love to hear the story about where the name came
Kirby: from. It’s by single mom. And when I would have school holidays, I’d go to grandma’s. But to do that, we were about eight hours away from
So we were about eight hours away from Mount ISO and I’d get on a Greyhound bus and go on school holidays. Mum had wave off to me now, instead of embarrassing me, she’d just mouth, all of juice. So if you say all of juice without speaking and I’ll do it now, it looks like I love you. Oh, so that was my mom’s single mum way of not embarrassing me as a teenager dropping me to school.
My mum loves love, and that’s definitely where I’ve gotten it from. So every Valentine’s day she’d send me balloons to school. Teddy bears that sing their praises and love and all the kids would be like, this is so incredible. So my mum definitely loves me. And there’s no doubt about that for me to go on there.
I remember the day a quarter, I’m like, mum, I’ve started a new business. I’d appreciate it. If he could like my Facebook page share with all your friends, all the stuff. And I’m sure she was like, oh God, here we go. But I had lost again another baby and was just like, Nope, not doing this anymore.
Kelly: So that’s beautiful that olive juice for you is that intersection of love in all forms. Correct. And that’s available anywhere.
Kirby: Anytime. It’s amazing. It’s a free drug guys. You should try it. Oxytocin addiction.
Kelly: Absolutely. So your journey to conceive and trying to conceive has been a very long and complex one.
And you birthed the business alongside, which has given you access to being a birth worker and being involved in lots of different people’s journeys, yours. You’re currently looking again now to reenter this there’s been many barriers thrown up against you, and I’m asking you this, because I think there are people out there that I know there are people out there who are facing the same barriers that you are around this journey to conceive.
And I’d love to hear what the journey that you’re about to embark on again is. Yeah. And
Kirby: yeah. Yeah. So there’s some new rules that have come in about bulk bill IVF. So if you don’t know much about bulk bill IVF, it’s a government funded round of IVF. They give you criteria that you have to meet.
However, it is still a full paid round. The government are paying the gap. Guys, it’s still the same. So that fertility specialist still actually gets the whole amount that you would in a private cycle. It’s just, the government are helping. So it’s still about for us. It was three to 4,000 out of pocket. My mom had gotten a personal loan for one room.
We had done the same saved, like I would iron at nighttime for people I’d say at iron, for the wealthy work all day, do Georgia juggle it all. She would be helping me deliver people’s ironing six years old, in the car, we’re home at seven o’clock, but don’t worry. We’ve got to go now drive off seven baskets off to people that we’ve done, like she was a part of it and she did right.
Little messages and cushions. Like you’ve got this and she’s just always been a cheerleader for me. It’s quite funny to see how much she became a rock for me without realizing she’s. I just love this kid. I wished w I can’t wait for the world to get to know Georgia, because right now she’s still 15 and it’s hiding and that’s totally fine because I definitely did the same, however, I know she’s going to.
People love her already so much. Now she’s just going to own the world and with the wisdom given to her at this time, too,
Kelly: how long do you think it took for you to really lean into that? I am. I have a role as a mother. Yeah. That turns your own
Kirby: McKesson. 12 years of parenting Georgia. No. 10 years of parenting Georgia.
She was two when I, yep. So she was about 12 and that it was the therapist when she said, sorry, George’s somewhere else right now. She’s say gone on a European holiday or she’s over there with another biological parent, wherever she may be. She’s not gone. You’re still that person. And that’s when I realized I actually am a mum and the stigma hasn’t allowed me to feel that way.
So I do remember my first mother’s day, someone gave me a bunch of flowers and someone else said, why do you get flowers?
Kelly: Oh, polarization in the world, isn’t it? Yeah.
Kirby: And so of course I thought I wasn’t a mom cause I didn’t give birth to it. However, now I support so many women, especially like C-section moms or instrumental delivery moms who still think they didn’t birth their baby.
I think I get to really help those women now because I’m like you did. Yeah. And we break it down and we learn why. And because of my therapist, with my interaction for my child, I now can help people put that in. So maybe I’m feeling like all these losses had to happen for me to be this amazing dual photographer that’s evolved.
Kelly: language is so important because that whole acceptance of self and others and through this process of helping other women realizing that you’re seeing others places. Their language on them about you didn’t do it this way, et cetera. And being able to create that space gives you that amazing ability to hold space.
Have you ever had a client ask you about your birth or you being a birth worker who has not had a biological child that they, that society recognizes because we understand that through your losses, you absolutely had a baby in pregnancy, but this is where we come back to that language of society, which is very
And now I will be detailed here. Ladies. I have sat in my shower and held my little gestation baby sack in my hand. So for me now something’s happened whether I have accepted that I’m a mum for Georgia yet or not. I now know I’m a mum just because I’ve lost. So that hasn’t changed. I no longer even care what people think about my relationship with Georgia, because that’s up to me and Georgia.
And it can confuse people. Sure. Because it looks weird. How can you love a child so much that didn’t come from your body?
Kelly: But I do that. That’s only weird for people who actually have no one just ability to see through the eyes of another, because in our society, this is real there. The percentage of people who have complex family dynamics.
And as you say it, it’s actually about love
Kirby: and acceptance. Yeah, it really is. And I do, I just love that kid so much, and she’s going to be the best big sister when our time finally comes. And she’s worked through this journey and every loss I’ve had, she’s had to sit there and watch me cry.
She’s had to help open the door, receive all the flowers that come through and the staff. So she has lost siblings. And she’s torn between one house where she has lots of siblings in one house and numb in another, in infertility, in the other it’s weird, one day she an only child and then the next year was co-parenting with a bunch of siblings.
Kelly: So your journey to being birth worker, obviously having experienced with a loss so early in life as well would have really shaped that. And one of the conversations we’ve had with other birth workers is how do your clients choose you and how do you choose your clients? And that really shaping of that identity, you put out there because you’ve been a photographer for a period of time, but really moving more and more towards the birth was
Kirby: So deep.
And now that we’re going, so we will be starting another round of IVF. I’m hoping by November. Our next appointment is August 10 and we have found now. Specialist who will take me on no matter what size I am, because they’re happy for me to sign that. It’s my risk to take it. Not anybody else’s and yes, they are a medical licensed professional.
But if I sign this, that removes the blame on them. So it’s really that simple, right? Yeah. They’re my risk
Kelly: to take, because I think that’s something that’s again, more of a logistical thing, but one of the things about IVF is that there are so many preconditions that, that the rules put in place and you’ve had to fight to find, and to overcome those barriers to say, it’s my choice, my body too, to have this baby.
Kirby: And I have had bad experiences with a fertility specialist that didn’t read my blood tests and I lost all of those babies because they didn’t read the blood test. Now human error happens. Is there room for it in birth? Not forgivingly no, unfortunately. Cause you’re talking about such an emotive subject.
And you can’t put a price on things. And I actually went down the opera path reported, had them investigated. They were suspended for brief time. Then they were sat in with consults. Good. Cause I have to go to bed every night and close my eyes without a child in my arms. So if you follow me on my socials, you will get to learn that I’ve got these two little dogs and they were actually purchased at the exact time.
Both of my longest pregnancies occurred. So to me, they’re my little babies. Cause I got to nurture them as puppies when I was supposed to be pregnant and nurturing someone else. So it’s very symbolic for me, my little poodles, my Georgie. I do believe my time will come. I do believe it’s coming. Because I’m not going to give up.
Kelly: Absolutely just get out. And in terms of the spectrum of services that you offer, you have the doula, the birth photography, the newborn photography, and now the placenta encapsulation. So what’s really exciting, obviously, as you’re dabbling in all these areas and that broad acceptance that you bring to every birth, then no matter what occurs with you from your life experience.
Kirby: And I think it’s a bit of my character. I refuse to be, I refuse to accept nos, which can be a downfall, but it’s also a great strength because I refuse to give up. Yeah.
Kelly: Which is really important. That’s your journey? Tell us about hoodie. Yeah. And he’s because he’s been on this journey by your side the whole time.
Yes. And he also was at George’s birth, is that
Kirby: correct? He was Georgia was a C-section birth. George’s mom was very unwell and had to stay in hospital and actually. Yeah. Hoodie bought Georgia home from hospital and the mum stayed in hospital. That just wouldn’t happen now to start with, can you imagine if I had to stay in hospital for three weeks without my
Kelly: newborn, that is actually such an interesting story.
How it feels like we’ve actually regressed, right? Because he was able to take the baby home and be confident. He’d go, dad, you got this.
Kirby: Yeah. So I talked to him, I’m like, for years, I always said, you’re going to know everything. You are going to be better at this than me. And now he’s now we’re riding the same bike, except you’re going to be better than me.
Cause yeah. It’s been 15 years since he’s held a newborn baby, yeah. That’s his amazing, yeah. I can’t wait. Hoodie is definitely a hands-on dad. He is the one that fights me for bath time and he is hands-on to the core, picking her up from school, dropping her off. He is a large man with a really big beard and he has let her braid it and paint him.
Many times, but that’s beautiful.
Kelly: So as you go into this now, next phase of your journey and every birth that you’ve attended your lives are intertwined with the parents, the family, and those children. And one of the great things about bringing your story to light is to actually rally the village. And because people who do falling on socials get snippets of this.
But I feel because I’m a scaredy
Kirby: cat, and I’m always like, I still can’t believe that people want to hear about my life. Like really, it’s not that interesting, but apparently it
Bree: is. It is.
Kelly: And there’s so many, any of the obstacles that you’ve faced through your journey and challenges and opportunities, and also beauty that are things that are unspoken.
Yeah. That we, and that’s where we want those stories, the language, because. The world is full of complexity and our journeys are winding roads and yours has had, above average complexity in it, on your journey. And you’re still very much in that right
Kirby: now. I think of it. I looked back now and I laugh because I remember thinking, okay, I’m plus size.
So what will pregnancy look like for me? And I learned about B bellies, do you know what they are? So that’s a pregnant belly, that’s a plus size. And it often ends up with the shape of a B oh. Cause we have that nice fat roll near that. Oh be Billy. I’ve never heard that. Correct. So we show differently.
And people then, and I’ve watched it because a very close family member of mine was overweight and she had it pregnancies when she was at her heaviest and she worked at Bunnings and someone would say can you pick that paint in it? And she’d be like, can’t you see? I’m eight months pregnant.
And they’d be like, no, we just thought you’re fat. The stigma there for fat shaming. I never realized quite how passionate I would be about that because I used to hate myself. So I thought that I did deserve this stuff. I did think the stuff that they sold to me I’ve had doctors that say they’ve openly admitted that they haven’t given me enough anesthesia and anesthetic, sorry, while doing egg collection, because I chose this life.
I chose to be overweight.
Kelly: Wow. That’s yeah.
Kirby: And you’re like, how do you even live with yourself? You don’t get to decide what’s comfortable for someone or not. And now I see it in birth. I see women I’ve missed a birth and it still breaks my heart. And we still talk about it with the parents, always like that.
I popped literally as the baby was coming out, however, it was the first time baby. They sent her home with two Panadol in emergency. Like you’re not having this baby. It’s the first time baby. You’re going to take days. The baby was born in she was minutes on the bed from a wheelchair. So I learnt fast that birth can’t be picked.
Yeah, you can’t pick it. And the deeper I get into it, the more hands-off and I never would have thought that I would talk about free birth and I actually really read lots of stuff on free birth now, because I’m nearly at the category where I’m like, you really don’t need anyone. Like not even me, the doula, you can
Kelly: do it.
Yeah. And what we’re really talking about there is being in tune with yourself and you being in control and being able to make informed decision-making on your own body and your own birds.
Kirby: Yeah. And it’s taken me getting burnt myself, like many to realize you can speak about this.
Kelly: Would it be, what do you want your birth to look like right now?
And that’s right now?
Kirby: No, it does. Because I’m telling you what, 10 years of trying to conceive. I have had the nursery planned where I was going to have a little photo shoot down, and then we’re going to have a little fishing rod and they were going to be like hoodie, and they’re going to have little Viking shoot.
And they were going to, I’ve seen all the themes. My nursery has gone from Scandi to nautical, to, the nursery hold in your brain. When you’re trying to conceive you just this is going to happen. So same. Yes, I have planned that birth and I still plan it to this very day. We’re currently filling my bedroom with pot plants because that’s what I wanted my space and hoodies.
He’s very on guard. He’s been hurt deeply by this and they all assume that men don’t suffer from losses, but let’s not forget every time I laid on the shower floor and birth. Yes, stillborn. He also had to sit there and just hold my hand. There’s no anti-natal class for what to do. If you lose your baby, we only talk about how to get it out.
And even then we talk about that lightly.
Kelly: I’ve got shivers on my spine about this, because I think it’s just unspoken in general. It is. And we’re still at the point of not even understanding how men feel about it. When a live baby is born, let alone how they deal with loss
Kirby: and the conversation she’s almost hurt more than me.
It’s just that socially, it was more acceptable for Kirby to be the crying one. How dare he have feelings? And it
Kelly: raises an interesting point because you have to continue to have hope and feeling that anxiety
Kirby: daily, because even now in the house currently doing IVF again, such a mental prep for me, it’s like, everything is when the baby comes.
Like we’re talking to the doctor about her baby, just little things. So it’s all baby, again in our house. And he is still guarded, but this may not happen. And I’m like, no, you can’t talk like that. It will happen. So we are definitely still working through stuff it’s hard every day and it definitely has taken the fun out of our marriage.
We got serious, real fast. We got good at saying mean things and IVF I’ve watched split families because they can’t conceive. And I have openly had arguments with my husband where I have said, if you leave me at 35, or cheat on me with somebody else, and I’ve wasted my maternity years with you, I’ll kill you.
I will hunt you down and then find you,
Kelly: look, I always say to my husband, only one of us is leaving this marriage alive. It can be sooner rather than later. If you’re one this morning, it’s a joke. But I think it’s that thing. Like our relationships are so hard, even without the extra barriers you’ve been putting away.
So you have to be all in, correct. You can’t be like, what if it’s we’re all in, no matter what happens, we’re in this together. And I really hear that coming through in the support that you get from both him and Georgia, which is fantastic and well-deserved. Thank you. So today we have touched on so many things, loss, IVF, pregnancy, being shaming, pregnancies outside the square, the work that you do with women, and why you able to hold so much space on such a variety of non-judgment because whatever their birth is, you’re there for them.
Kirby: Yeah. I walked into that first birth not my friends in 2007. The more later ones where I started to actually tap into the fact I wanted to do this as a career. I remember walking in and being like, oh, my vagina looks like that too. We don’t have Patria offs where we all can, like glance I’ll make package.
And what do they got as girls? We may show each other, our breasts like change our shirts in front of each other, but I find the bottom half of our body is never shown to anyone. And for me to first see a vagina, I was like, yeah. Okay. I’m normal. Mine looks like that. So it’s the accepting of that. I’m not alone.
Yeah. That I to have. And that my two buddies, he does that. So it’s a
Kelly: good point. So you have been the observer of so many births. Who do you want at your birth and you don’t have to name names more? What is the village that you want to assemble? Yeah, definitely for that birth.
Kirby: And what would that look like?
I will probably end up with two duelers. One, I will have a very specific focus for postpartum because I’m not. I haven’t experienced post-partum and I guess my weaknesses, I still doubt myself a bit. So even the women I support now, I will often say, I am not your best postpartum support. And I would strongly recommend we team up with someone else who really is so good at that.
I don’t cook and you want nutritious meals. I know all the stuff you need. I just can’t do it. And I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t arrived yet that I feel that doubt. And that comes back to that question. I haven’t been hired from people because Georgia isn’t from my body. So I do watch people get confused.
Cause obviously I speak as Georgia is my daughter. I don’t say stepdaughter. We don’t. Yeah, we don’t have names like that. So when I say, oh yeah, my daughter, or it’s been a while for me, George is 50. They will say what was it like when you breastfed? And then I have to go remember guys, Georgia’s not biologically my child, but I also
Kelly: think it’s about knowing, like we all have super powers and we all have areas where we’re not as strong and correct.
It’s like staying in your superpower area because it’s alignment of your, where your head and your heart is at. So whilst you know that the postpartum care is incredibly important, it’s maybe not where your head and your hearts
Kirby: at and how many categories, I would love to specialize in IVF world.
Obviously I’ve lived in breeds IVF, so I can really relate to however
I think that people with IVF doubt their ability to birth, because they have doubted their ability to conceive. And for me, that’s where the full circle has come. Yes. I thought my first pregnancy in 2016, in fact, I booked an OB. And now knowing what I know I was set up for a C-section. So I think I’m now thinking my last baby for not coming through.
Kelly: It’s an interesting point because my understanding broadly is that as an IVF pregnancy, the default position will be, there will be a cascade of intervention, high risk. So with you, you will have to overcome barriers to choose to birth the way you
Kirby: want. Correct? Because I don’t believe IVF isn’t means you’re high risk.
It does not automatically mean you are high risk. You needed help putting a baby. And yeah, your fertility specialist leaves you at six to eight weeks pregnant. They’re done. Yep. They’re like, see ya onto the next one. You lose your baby call. They’re like, sorry. There’s nothing we can do. Like we only put the baby in there.
We can’t do anything else. So then you go to the public hospital and they’re like, yep. Just go home and pass your baby. You like, excuse me. Yeah. So in a
Kelly: sense for you now know that having been through the process, you can go, I get to choose to birth the way I want and I can’t
Kirby: wait. So you’re going to have a postpartum doula.
You’re going to have postpartum doulas. I’m going to have a birth photographer. I’m going to have a videographer. I’m still undecided. If they’re going to be the same person I have already spoken to my birth photographer. Yes. Because I’m that person. I
Kelly: tough gig this photographer of birth
Kirby: photographer, just saying I know, right pressure.
That would be like the pressure I felt for breeze film. I feel sorry for whoever was photographing my bed. I’ll be like, don’t you feet. You’re my apron. I do not want to see any of that yucky skin. Yeah. It’s going to be so much fun. I’m lucky my team. Oh gosh. But yes, I planning a home birth given that I don’t have, I’m not dangerous.
I’m not stupid. I will, of course, if I have all the high-risk issues that come with a pregnancy as the pregnancy evolves, yes. Then I will go that path. However, if my body does exactly what I think it’s going to do and that’s do exactly like it’s supposed to, I will avoid as much medical intervention as I can.
And I will be even doing that from the very minute I’m pregnant on who I see what tests I have, what scans I go for, because now I know everything is actually an option. And it’s usually not just an option between this or that. It’s usually a good couple of options you can pick from. Yeah. So now that I know all this, yeah, I preach it.
I’m the one in it. I don’t drink much. So when I go to a beer garden, I get a bit happy. And obviously I’m in there with all these men. So I’m like this is my perfect platter. And I’ll like, go, excuse me. Have you had babies? No. Okay. When you, when your wife is pregnant or when your partner is pregnant or whoever they may.
You cannot assume genders these days, I’ve got to get better at my terminology. You need a doula, you need her to have this stuff. Don’t tell her she’s wasting money. Just listen to her. I like shake them.
Kelly: Yeah. We’re all become these the soap box. We correct. And look for anyone who’s been to issued at your place.
You have the most magnificent setting for a home birth. So starting with that as your places. Yeah. Yeah.
Kirby: There’s three rooms. We’ve nailed it down to. I’m pretty sure though. Just knowing the midwives that I want to work with and how they do things that they’ll be like, Nope, you’re in your bedroom. Yeah. We need you to be calm.
Kelly: Are there any resources that you’ve spoken about today and we can put them in the show notes that you would like to share, because I do feel that there are some resources which will help if someone is embarking on an IVF journey facing some of the barriers so we can share those. But is there anything off the top of your head that you’d like to share with the listeners about those resources that you found most?
Kirby: strongly recommend talking to people who have had IVF. Darn it been through it. Happy to talk about it. It’s almost like you need a little IVF doula, like a buddy in the same sense of when you’re going through birth, where dads look at me or when mom’s look at me for reassurance that this craziness that’s happening here right in front of them is actually normal.
Because as Brie can say, I’m the sicko that smiles in the corner when it’s getting louder, I’m like, yes, make more noise, roar the baby out. This is great. More action. The better. Yeah. I find that if people could go through IVF with that little face, that’s not a medical provider that would be, everyone deserves a support person.
Support needs to come from the minute we’re trying to conceive the minute where TTC,
Kelly: that’s a fantastic place to start. Everyone deserves the support from TTC.
Kirby: We don’t think we do. We hide it. No, we hide that first trimester and I’ve never gotten out of the first trimester. So for me, I’m like, oh gosh, what’s second and third going to bring me.
Kelly: look, that’s always been my thing of like the crazy older woman that grabs people and say, look, you might not be thinking about having a baby yet, but if you are, let’s start the conversation now, not after the 12th week, because it is too late. Let’s start
Kirby: now army school. I remember getting some fake boobs put on the table and we learnt how to feel for lumps.
And Georgia has had none of that. None. I’m teaching her that. Interesting. Why are these conversations not happening if breast cancer is on the rise? If this is on the rise?
Kelly: Yeah. I think that is a whole nother conversation around how we’re talking to our daughters and how we’re producing parents of the future, because I also have sons and there’s conversations around that.
But for today’s conversation, I would love to have you share where can people get in touch with you if they would like to follow along with your journey? Yeah. Beautiful sushi for some
Kirby: of the work that you do. I would love to have everyone engage me, even if it’s just in a chat chats. I love to talk, as you can tell chatty Cathy I hang out mostly on Instagram, Facebook.
I don’t tend to favor much. They don’t like my content. I get shadow banned a lot. I tend to hang out on Instagram. It’s just a little bit more accepting of my content and yeah, I’m on there often. Perfect.
Kelly: So at olive juice lifestyle, we will put the links in the show notes. I would love that.
And we will follow along on your journey. Thank you so much for your sharing your vulnerability today because it has just covered so many topics that I know are real and we don’t talk about them and
Kirby: give the surface. Like we haven’t even
Kelly: cracked deep into these. I know. So if if any of the listeners have the topics they want to go deeper on for a future podcast, I am pretty sure we could convince Kirby to come back on or we may have the opportunity to invite someone else.
So thank you. That’s wonderful
Kirby: for your sharing. I love it.
Kelly: Thanks for joining us for today’s conversation. If you want to hear more like this, don’t forget to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode. If you’d like to know more about anything we talked about, or you heard on the podcast today, check out our website, http://www.birthofamother.com.au. You can find us on Instagram at Matrescence dot podcast, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Kirby: that I use.
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Kelly and Bree