Kate Farkouh, RN
Tell us about your own journey and how your experiences have changed the way you look at motherhood and parenting.
Before I went into nursing I tried a few different careers. While I'm grateful for the experience and skills I learned from those jobs, I knew I wanted something more. As cheesy as it is to say - I knew I wanted to make a difference somehow. I wanted to positively affect people's lives. I had some exposure to a few health crises' with loved ones which sparked an interest in health care. I enrolled in nursing school at Keyano College in 2009, and I truly believe that I've found a career that has given me so many opportunities for learning and growth.
When my husband and I moved to Calgary in the Fall of 2016, we shortly after found out that we would be expecting a little person to join our family in Summer 2017. I had all of the feelings about this - mostly terrified. We had just moved to a new city, had started new jobs and didn't have any family nearby. I had heard stories from my friends and coworkers about their experiences but I really had no idea how having a new baby would affect me.
Having those real, unfiltered, non-judgemental conversations with my closest friends meant all the world to me. Being able to just say what I felt I needed to say or explain the way I was feeling at the time; knowing I had full support and love backing me through some tough situations.
I remember the feeling of being genuinely supported well. I want to be able to give my clients and their families that same feeling - that even though being a parent is often difficult, you don't have to be alone in your journey.
Tell us a little about your nursing career.
My nursing career started during an undergraduate nursing job followed by a preceptorship on the Maternity ward working with new parents and newborns. After graduating from Nursing School in 2013, I wanted some general experience before focusing on Critical Care. Most of my career has been in Fort McMurray which has a relatively large population of young families with children. I also had the opportunity to work in a larger hospital in Calgary that specialized in pediatrics in the south of the city.
I love working with kids. I love watching a child's interpretation of the world. I find it humbling and fascinating to watch them take the world as it comes, and figure out their place within it.
Working with kids is so fun because they're so pure and genuine in their feelings and expressions. It makes me reflect and refocus on what is truly important. I love being a part of helping families grow and learn together, shaping young people's life starting at an early age.
What are the two most important lessons you've learned working with moms, babies, and families?
That every family is different and no one practice will be effective or of value for every family. It's important to build a rapport with our clients to tailor our advice and education to fit every child and family. This is why I feel it is so important and valuable to utilize my skill as a Registered Nurse to assess the individual needs of each family to provide a specific plan.
The other important lesson is to be flexible - I have learned to listen to my clients (children included) and that even if best-laid plans are made, there needs to be room to adapt. Setbacks are normal in learning and growing, and all of us need to remember to learn together.
If you had one bit of advice to give to a new parent, what would it be?
You don't have to suffer through! Parents need to give themselves more credit - everyone is trying their best and is allowed to make different choices and follow different paths. These are not failures, and they are a part of growing and learning. Be patient and give you and your child time to meet your goals. We all just want the best. The best for our children, the best for our loved ones but especially the best for ourselves.
Self-care is a big challenge for parents. How do you maintain your own energy and outlook?
Self-care is such a tricky concept to figure out. I thought I had a good idea of what self-care meant to me but I struggled between being "productive" and "lazy". Finding the little things that make a day more enjoyable - whether it be a bath, watching your favourite reality TV show or reading a book. Allow yourself to take time for yourself, even if it's only for 5 or 10 minutes at a time - allow yourself to have joy throughout the day. Just those few moments can provide a quick refresh to power through the day (or night!).
For me postpartum, I identified that I best took care of myself if I could sleep. I experienced postpartum anxiety as well as postpartum depression, with my symptoms being often dependant on the amount of sleep I got. My sweet baby was a terrible sleeper but I didn't realize that all the things I was doing, that made sense to me, were actually inhibiting quality sleep for her - which started to affect my quality of life (as well as hers!). I read the books, I researched the articles, forums, and websites but I just couldn't get her to sleep well on her own. After reaching out to friends who had struggled with sleep and their babies in the past, I was led to hiring a sleep consultant. This gave me tools and skills to help me and my baby get better quality sleep. As with anything, it was a process, but having the extra support helped me find a groove and routine which worked for my family.
Giving myself the gift of sleep has allowed me to focus on and recognize needs in other areas. Whether that be relationships with my friends or husband, fitness and health goals or just getting back to the quality time with my fur babies - Arlo and Gomez.
Is there anything we've missed that you'd like to share with Mama Coach clients?
Fort McMurray is a unique community that I am proud to be a part of. I'm excited to create and grow a format for people to join in and share their experiences without the fear of judgement or ridicule.
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