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A Winding Journey

This is a tough blog to write but it’s time. With a heavy heart, I want to share the tough news with you that Baby Botanica is closing. If timing is everything, then there could be no worse time to open a small business geared toward pregnant people and tiny babies than 2020. The fact that we had such a beautiful and successful first four months opened, from November ‘19 through March ‘20, makes this inevitable closing more bittersweet. 

For those of you who like specifics, let me elaborate on my reasoning and timing:

  • The beauty of Baby Botanica was both the planned and more organic gatherings that occurred in our space throughout each day. This was the vision after all: a space to grow, learn, and build community. At this point, and for the foreseeable future, having groups of more than a few people is simply not possible given the size of our space and the need for social distancing. Plus, we have only one exit/entrance and one bathroom which makes both spacing and sanitizing difficult. Further, infants and young tots cannot use masks. Essentially, we cannot protect ourselves as is needed in our physical space while also honoring what made Baby Botanica so uniquely communal and inviting.
  • As importantly, the data about pregnant people’s risks for and increased symptoms with Covid is all over the place but disconcerting, as is the information regarding placental impacts and vertical transmission. Of course, pregnant people and people with newborns make up the bulk of our clientele.  And while we also had many classes, groups and events geared toward older children, teens, and non-pregnant adults, as well as care professionals who saw individual clients, we cannot sustain a business on these offerings. Further, as a doula and a childbirth educator, I’d be straying from my particular passions and hopes for Baby Botanica.
  • If someone could say we’d be able to open again in January 2021 or even later in the year, we’d simply push pause and reopen then. But without a vaccine, herd immunity, or a sense of second or third waves, that is unrealistic. So long as this pandemic surrounds us and affects us, imagining a wellness space  is nearly impossible, financially, logistically, and emotionally. 

So there you have it, dear Baby Botanica community. I am so appreciative that you all were a part of this winding journey from the days our doors opened and then through the last six months of online offerings. My team of care professionals are truly the most extraordinary people I know, and they have engaged and pivoted time and time again to continue to serve all of you both physically and virtually. (I also happen to have had the kindest landlord in the world at Clock Tower Commons in Brewster who allowed me the time and space needed to get through the last many months after being denied a government loan.)

So what is next for Baby Botanica? Well, for now, Baby Botanica will transition to Baby Botanica Birth Services which will include my birth doula services and private birth education. My new website will also have an entire page dedicated to my current team, so families can turn to Baby Botanica online to search for care professionals who have been well-vetted, are trusted, and who hope to continue serving and educating this community. This list will grow and evolve to include area practitioners I love and respect, including doulas, birth and postpartum educators, fertility experts, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, mental health professionals, yogis, fitness experts, lactation specialists, sleep gurus, homeopaths, midwives, and more, all of whom specialize in growing families. Further, Baby Botanica’s social media will continue to share news of both what I offer as well as what other area wellness spaces and professionals are providing physically and online. Additionally, you can continue to find my blog on the new website. So stay tuned for the relaunch of Baby Botanica this September, and until then, classes, groups, and events will remain online through Zoom through August.  Finally, a couple of care professionals will continue to see clients for private sessions in our physical space through a portion of September (as you’ll see on our Instagram and Facebook feeds).

Since I have kept it pretty real in my blogs thus far, and since many of you have kindly reached out to see how I’m doing, a word or two about how this surreal closing resonates with me.  Clearly, surrendering a space that I poured everything into and loved deeply and felt such pride in is not easy. My stomach hurts each time I walk into the space, and some tears have been shed. 

But I am an optimist and resilient, and have come to embrace the following: 

  • My family is safe and healthy in our oasis in the woods, and I have enjoyed the time to snuggle tan babes in the morning without rushing off to work (see exhibit A above), to cook healthy meals, to hike with my dogs longer and more thoughtfully, to plant flowers, and to sit on the porch with my husband. 
  • Racism is and has always been rampant in our country; this Spring and Summer were brutal. I don’t forget what a privilege it is to send my children into the world without worrying about them being beaten or killed for the color of the skin. When I had my babies, I went into childbirth safer than Black people, simply because I am White. I feel sickened by and privileged due to and ever-aware of these completely arbitrary bits of luck. I cherish (and resent) the security my race as well as socioeconomic status has arbitrarily afforded me, and remain humbly dedicated to using this knowledge to be an antiracist activist working to keep BIPOC safe, including children, families, and birthing people.
  • Many small businesses and start-ups have had to shut down. It absolutely stinks, and Baby  Botanica was at least new enough to not be a major source of income, and thus our family was not catastrophically affected. Perspective is key, and I am well aware how many business owners and families are struggling mightily to pay rent, have a roof over their heads, and pay medical bills. I don’t take for granted for one second that I don’t have to worry about these things.
  • My dedication to and love for childbirth meant/means that throughout the height of this pandemic and now the space closing, I could and will continue to educate birthing families and serve as their doula. This work sustains me, and I cannot wait for the (many!) births I’ll attend this Fall and Winter.
  • Lastly, I met all of you! Oh, you have taught me so much about family, community, and life. However briefly Baby Botanica lasted as a physical space, it meant something to you, to me, to us. And my team members have inspired me and will continue to push me to grow as a professional in hopes of achieving their level of expertise, selflessness, dedication, and wisdom.

So THANK YOU for being part of this journey. I love you all, hope very much our paths cross again, encourage you to continue to seek and better your community, to always learn and grow, and (this must be said) VOTE!

With endless gratitude, 

Jeni

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2 Responses to “A Winding Journey”

August 20, 2020 at 9:53 am, Elise derevjanik said:

Hi Jeni!

I just wanted to send you my well wishes as you go through this process. I have been following along wondering what you would end up doing With baby botanica and.feeling sad that the work it was meant for just doesn’t fit in with the way we have to do things in a pandemic. As we both know the intimate way we want to care for families has been compromised. Thank you so much for opening the space and vision for the community. You did an amazing job with it and I have no doubt your next chapter will be great. I met you once there during a birthworker meetup,( I am a perinatal mental health counselor). You are wonderful at what you do and your commitment, passion, and skills for helping families shine bright. All my best to you!!!!!!

-Elise Derevjanik

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August 21, 2020 at 8:06 am, Jeni Howe said:

Thank you so much for your kindness, Elise. It means the world to me. xo

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