The warmest hello! My name is Rhowena Adolfo Patel, in this life (so far) I’ve experienced more than most will in a lifetime, while still being filled with seeking, curiosity, and wonder of the beauty in the unknown and all the possibilities of life. Here is a small, but not short, snippet into my life and the birth of Healing Mama Co.
When your fiancé says “this is not how I imagined married life to be like!” you take that as a cue to immediately pay attention. I respond with “oookaaaayyyy???? what does that mean?” Here’s how the rest of that conversation went:
Him: We work 6 sometimes 7 days a week and we only see each other at night and in bed. This is not how I thought it would be like! I mean my parents left India and your parents left the Philippines to come to Canada for what they thought would be a better life for them and their family....
Me: Ok, so what are you saying?
Him: Don’t get me wrong we definitely do have a better life being born and raised in Canada but who said that Canada was “OUR” better life???
Me: If you’re saying what I think you are, I CAN BUILD A FINANCIAL PLAN FOR THAT!
Little did we know that this conversation was the start of an epic journey that would be “OUR” better life together. This was during the summer of 2013 just before we got married later that year on October 26th. On top of planning and executing an epic double wedding, serving breakfast, lunch, and a jam packed reception; we were also planning our next steps in finding “our” better life. To jump start our exploration we chose to have a 2 month honeymoon across 7 south east Asian countries - starting in South Korea then to Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and ending in India. It was my first time backpacking, it was his 2nd time but it was both of our first’s to travel for more than 4 weeks. To this day we highly recommend couples to backpack together. It’s a great way to really take life by your own rules and navigate your eb and flow together as a partnership. Everyone in our life thought this was a crazy but amazing honeymoon idea. I mean, who thinks about going backpacking as a romantic getaway. Most people would opt for a week in a hut on the water by a beach, which we definitely indulged in through luxurious accommodations every couple weeks to give us the honeymoon vibe but we mostly stayed in hostels. What everyone didn’t know was that this was our first “recon” into where we might move to. Malaysia was on top of our list, at this time, of places to potentially move to. You see, in our vision of life together it involves being able to rely on less income but with some comforts we want and living without the majority of the conveniences we’re used to; but most importantly to spend the majority of our days together rather than working. That was the question that drove us “How can we spend more time together than apart?”
The biggest take away from our honeymoon was that the places and countries we researched and learned about would never be equal to actually going to that country and experiencing it first hand. The energy of a country, its people, its community, its religion and politics, its landscape; cannot be experienced through reading and can ONLY be experienced by exploring. So, this fuelled the next step in our plan - we need to travel the world in order to really find “our” better life and so that’s exactly what we did. Fast forward to 2015, after purging/selling/giving away 75% of what we owned and packing the remaining into 8 boxes in my in-laws basement we officially left on January 7, 2015 from Toronto, Canada with just a backpack (a massive one, 50 lbs to be exact). We started our adventure in Belize, Central America worked our way down to Argentina, South America; crossed the Atlantic on a cruise ship to Portugal, worked our way across Europe and the U.K moving east to India and down to the Philippines. This took us to 43 countries over a 22 month period. We checked off so many experiences from what you would consider a “Bucket List”, experienced firsts that I couldn’t even dream of, explored people and places that I didn’t know existed; and came out of this with an evolved lens and perspective on EVERYTHING. Oh, and did I mention a baby!
We were living in the Philippines when we chose to start trying to create a family. We were fortunate to have been able to conceive on our time and in our way. At 4 months pregnant we chose to leave the Philippines to come back to Canada to have our baby. Here’s something that I did not realize the importance of until I left, that was Canada’s universal health care system. The best way to appreciate anything (the good, the bad, and everything in between) is to be away from it - needing it, wanting it but can’t access it - then coming back to it, still fully intact and welcoming with open arms. Within 2 weeks of arriving back in Canada, we had a midwife team and we had our first ultrasound.
At 7 months pregnant my girlfriend made me what she called her “Mom Must Have Bag” because a girlfriend of hers made one for her - she was also a first time Mama. It was filled with some items I had NEVER heard of before, like Witch Hazel. At that moment it occurred to me that in all my baby preparation I had not done any preparation for myself!
Needless to say, at 8 months very pregnant I started researching solely for me and what I’d be going through during labor and my postpartum experience. I scoured the internet for “labor kits” and “postpartum kits'' and was disappointed by the cost to quantity ratios of these “kits”. By this time, I had a list of items and products that I thought I’d need. I found companies that made amazing trusted products and I found companies that sold premium or luxury “kits'' but there was not a single company that had it all. From the most practical like adult diapers, prunes, or mesh underwear to the most “nice to have” like an upside down peri-wash bottle, organic nipple cream and everything in between. It simply did not exist and it boggles my mind that after centuries of babies being born that this was still such a struggle to find everything. I asked myself “Where was the “Wal-mart” for my care and well -being?” This was the beginning of what would become Healing Mama Co.
But, first let’s have a baby. Our son was born in April 2018 at home in our bedroom (My husband's childhood room) during a freak ice storm. By this time I had started creating relationships with vendors, producers, and suppliers and had a bookshelf full of products on hand for our labor day and postpartum weeks. I was officially the first test Mama of what would be going into our future labor + postpartum kits. After having backpacked and living on significantly less, it was tough for me to see all this “stuff” but I almost immediately realized that this was a time in life where being a minimalist was not applicable or necessary! The act of physically and mentally bringing a human being into the world requires an unfathomable amount of support and an even bigger list of care. Without any doubt or hesitation, mine and my husband's experience during labor, delivery and postpartum was as smooth as humanly possible simply because we had everything on hand. He was confident, prepared, and assured of what was where and when to provide it to me and I was able to shut off the entire world and focus on my healing and bonding with our new baby. We 100% found this to be THE MOST challenging experience we have ever gone through. This is coming after running for trains carrying 50+ lbs, or having our bus breakdown at 1:30 am, having to stand for 4 hours straight with little to no sleep and then walking around finding a place to stay (one of our most challenging travel experiences). Having a baby tops it all!
But through all the challenges I did not experience unnecessary pain or discomfort (at least not for an extended period of time) because what I needed was only a few steps away, steps to finding a way to soothe the pain or the steps to relieve the discomfort. I knew I needed every mom to have this experience and for every partner to have the confidence, “know how”, and preparedness that is possible even for first timers. By the summer of 2018 I started testing prototype labor + postpartum kits with people that I knew that were having babies. Their feedback fuelled new iterations of the kit and new perspectives of what to provide. But by October 2018 I was tired and I honestly didn’t think I could bring ALL OF IT TOGETHER. New mom-hood and building a business was exhausting and oh, did I mention we knew that we’d be spending at least half of our maternity leave backpacking with our baby. Yup, that’s exactly what we did! I decided to put everything that I had been working on, on hold and just be with my boys as we traveled through 7 countries across the Mediterranean. So, when our son was 8 months old on January 9, 2019 we packed everything we’d need into 2 carry-on backpacks + 1 diaper bag and jumped on our first plane together as a family. Yes, that’s correct we backpacked with carry-on ONLY no check-ins. This saved us so much time but more importantly money. If it wasn’t for the families we met while we backpacked together the first time, we would not have the confidence to take on backpacking with an infant. Yes, it was significantly different this time around but completely brand new in so many amazing ways! We started in Israel, then to Cyprus, Malta, Sicily, Spain, Morocco and ended in Portugal all within 6.5 months.
Here’s what kept occurring during our travels: finding/learning about new items or products that people used during labor and afterwards, wondering could I add this to the kits? Could I bring this to North America? And on, and on, this kept happening. By the time we got back, July 2019, I still was not 100% convinced about bringing Healing Mama Co. to life but by November the universe forced me to make a decision (another story for another day) and Healing Mama Co. WON! So, on December 1st, 2019 I officially launched Healing Mama Co. and our first collection of 5 Labor + Postpartum Kits. I knew we had the most thorough, the most practical, and the most thoughtful kits on the market! The successes and set-backs we’ve experienced, so far, has been a profound and incredible journey; one that I am fully devoted and committed to. Having built an organization that is founded on:
- Providing Parents-to-Be with Peace of Mind, Confidence, and Savings in time, money and energy
- Being an inclusive collaborative community
- Bringing together trusted brands, items, products, and resources into a simple to navigate family home (our websites+shop)
- Supporting the most vulnerable parents-to-be and communities that we can through our Healing Hope Program
With all that being said, Healing Mama Co. has chosen to completely redesign and relaunch our Healing Mama Labor + Postpartum Kits into the brand new HEALING MAMA LABOR + POSTPARTUM SYSTEM. Our New Labor + Postpartum System will revolutionize, clarify, and simplify the labor, delivery, and postpartum experience for both Parents-to-Be. Our System will break down when and how to use your labor + postpartum items into simple to use and navigate instructions, packing cubes and pouches; all packed into a beautiful weekender bag that can be folded down to fit into the palm of your hands. All, while providing you with proprietary hands on, practical guidance and advice from our incredible Healing Mama Panel Of Healthcare & Wellness Experts along with checklists/guides, tips, and inspiration all contained within the Healing Mama Guide & Personal Journal that comes with every single Labor + Postpartum System. We have eliminated almost 70% of single use packaging and replaced it with reusable packaging, with the exception of specific items for hygienic reasons. We'll also be introducing our brand new Rejuvenation Postpartum Systems designed for Mamas that are past the 6-week postpartum mark - in our words "Phase 2 of Your Postpartum Journey".
We will now be focusing on 3 core Systems for Mamas-to-Be + 2 Postpartum Systems and 1 for our Birthing Partners:
- The Essential Labor + Postpartum System
- The C-Section Labor + Postpartum System
- The Ultimate Labor + Postpartum System
- The Essential Birthing Partner Labor + Postpartum System
- The Essential Rejuvenation Postpartum System
- The Ultimate Rejuvenation Postpartum System
While also introducing the Healing Mama Bundles and expanding our list of Add On items. All this will allow our Mamas-to-Be and Birthing Partners the ability to truly customize their Healing Mama Labor + Postpartum System so that it fits them perfectly!
And by the way, the short list of countries/cities we’ve thoroughly fallen in love with and are still planning a move to are:
- South of France - Marseille
- South of Spain - Alicante
I have no idea how this life will continue unfolding. What I do know for sure, is that, it is not about being superhuman it is just that, being human is so damn super!