Mother Run: Emily Frigo of Wise + Wild

Emily and her four kids--ages 7, 3, 2, 1.

Emily and her four kids--ages 7, 3, 2, 1.

    Balancing a thriving, on call business while raising four kids (and homeschooling!) is no easy task, just ask Emily Frigo from Wise + Wild.  “Just last night, I had asked a tarot reader ‘how do I balance business and motherhood,’ she said I’m doing pretty good, ha, so that was reassuring.”  

    Wise + Wild is a doula and birth photography business owned and run by Emily.  She mixes her passion of supporting women through their birth while also using her amazing photography skills to capture beautiful moments that mothers can cherish forever.  The name Wise + Wild was chosen because Emily believes that “everything surrounding birth is a balance between being both wise and wild.  Wise represents using modern knowledge so that we can feel confident in making the choices and wild draws in our primal, instinctual parts of our minds, bodies, and souls so that we can feel deeply connected to ourselves.  Combining both instincts and science together tend to make families feel empowered and in control of their birth journey.”

    Before she wore the many hats that make up Wise + Wild, Emily worked as a barista and a full-time nanny before deciding to stay home and focus on mothering during her child’s second year of life.  The stay at home life was not all she had imagined and soon she found herself isolated, bored, and spiraling into depression.  “I don’t love anything more than being a mother,” she says, “but I had lost my identity.”  

    Finding your identity after embarking on motherhood can be a tough and long process.  

In her happy place, behind the camera!

In her happy place, behind the camera!

After being gifted a camera during her first child’s first year, she began offering photo sessions to other families, but the joy in the work never came.  “It wasn’t until I started supporting births as a doula and watched these phenomenal birth stories unfold, that I combined my passions and started offering birth photography...and that is where I found my ‘happy place.’”  

    Describing herself as being “naturally an over-thinker and an over-planner”  she obsessively discusses the pros and cons of all decisions she makes and embarking on an entrepreneurial journey was no different.  “Since the beginning, my biggest struggle has always been self-confidence.  I’m always fighting with Imposture Syndrome.”

    Emily has always been fascinated by birth.  “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been intuitively inspired by the childbearing year.  Even as a child, when I’d be near a pregnant woman, I’d experience these waves of energy that I couldn't explain.  But it wasn’t until I started witnessing birth trauma in communities I was involved in that my connection to birth turned into advocacy.”  The journey into birth work has been a “slow and steady one.”  While some people may be able to point out the exact moment they realized what they wanted to do, for Emily there has never been a single defining moment, “just small reminders to continue down this path.”  While she loves being a doula and helping other families, her favorite birth stories are those of her four children, saying that “each birth has changed me for the better, gifting me so much wisdom and compassion.” “I have carried ten sweet babies in my womb,” says Emily, “four of whom are living today.  Each child holds a special part in my heart, including the ones I’ve lost too early.  My living children are ages 7, 3, 2, and 1.  They really stretch me to be a better human, I always learning from them (especially about patience)!”

    Supporting women through being a doula and taking birth photos is not all that Emily has to offer.  She has an impressive list of qualifications from Birth Doula, Stillbirthday Doula, Birth Photographer, Childbirth Educator, Placenta Encapsulator, herbalist, and Reiki Master.  She recently made the step to begin the process of becoming a Midwife.  “I always knew I would grow into Midwifery,” she says, “But I wanted to take it slow, to allow the journey to unfold naturally.  One recent morning, as I sat under the rising sun, I intuitively knew that it was time to enroll in school. Midwifery is a long journey, I’m just taking it one day at a time right now.”

    When it comes down to the balance of mothering and business, a never ending struggle I’m sure we can almost all relate to, Emily says that “I’m really hard on myself...It’s not easy for me to turn ‘off’ work and that’s probably intensified because I’m always on-call and must be ready to attend a birth at all times.  I push myself to wake up before my kids do, to spend time with myself before the crazy begins. Sometimes I answer emails and other business stuff, but most of the time I simply drink coffee on my porch in quiet.  When they rise, I try to be fully devoted to them, this is when we focus on each other and our homeschooling.”  While she has struck a pretty amazing balance between work and family, she couldn’t do it alone and is thankful for her husband who takes over when he gets home and allows her to get some work time in.  

    In a society that often paints the intricacies of birth as sterile and even shameful, something to be hidden away and not discussed or shown, Emily’s family has taken a different approach.  Her four kids are “absolutely obsessed with birth and anatomy.  They find birth so magical and women so powerful.  They are always asking about birth stories, to look at pictures and videos, and to learn about bodies.  I hope this helps raise them into truly respectful adults, ones who look at women as powerful and equal humans instead of just property.”  It is parenting like this that will hopefully allow the next generation to be more accepting and open about the birthing process as a whole and maybe begin to move away from looking at birth as something clinical and medical and instead see it for the amazing, personal experience it can be.  

Wise + Wild, the perfect mix of intuition and science.

Wise + Wild, the perfect mix of intuition and science.

    Doulas do not just help with the birth itself, but can also be an amazing resource in the postpartum period.  Emily says, “birth trauma is in the eye of the beholder, so sometimes even the most intervention-less homebirth can be traumatic,” something I can agree with from personal experience.  “The postpartum period is just as important for long term health as birth. Research has shown that the more a woman is part of the decision-making process during birth, she will be happier about the outcome, no matter what happens.  It’s important that families feel like they are in control of their birth, which will help facilitate a more peaceful and bonded connection during their postpartum and beyond.”

    A common misconception is that doulas and homebirth go hand in hand, but in reality anyone can have and benefit from one.  Emily believes that “every woman, in every birth situation, deserves to have a doula present...Studies show that doulas help women have more positive birth outcomes.”  While she agrees that it’s “not easy to step out of the hospital model of care, we are a society so conditioned on birthing in the hospital, it’s easy to ignore that women have been birthing in the comfort of our homes since the beginning of our existence.  It’s important not to allow fear to get in your way.  Research confirms amongst low-risk women, planned home births result in low rates of interventions without an increase in adverse outcomes for mothers and babies.  And while some interventions are necessary for the safety and health of the mother or baby, many are overused, are lacking scientific evidence of benefit, and even carry risks.  If you’re looking into birthing in your home, I recommend reaching out to your local homebirth community!”

    While our businesses may differ, our journey to balance to home and work are the same.  What’s Emily’s advice?  “Owning a business while mothering our children is not for the faintheart.  It takes balance, it takes patience, and it takes forgiveness.  But you’ve got this.  You can do this! And please, make time for self-care...don’t allow yourself to be neglected.”

 

Connect with Emily:

On the web at http://www.wisewildwell.com

On Instagram @wisewildwell

 

Additional reading provided by Emily:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jmwh.12172/full

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647727/

https://www.jpmph.org/journal/view.php?number=283




 

Thanks for reading!

Yours in business and motherhood,

Brittany