Cultural intelligence, healthcare experiences & why it matters to Mabel

When we began forming Mabel as an early idea, we knew we wanted to create an inclusive service to help everybody, especially people of colour, navigate healthcare systems. In my experience & my friends’ collective experience, being a person of colour can lead to some challenging encounters when receiving healthcare.

I’ve been reflecting and thinking about where, in some instances, cultural intelligence would have at the very least been a sweetener. My recent experience is light-touch compared to some that my friends have gone through. I saw a doctor last year who asked me to confirm once more that I am unable to have children. After I did, he immediately followed up with, ‘Where are you from?…oh you’re English, you don’t look English’. I cried for a few reasons after leaving his consulting room. One of them was because of that jarring & inappropriate moment where I was asked to confirm where I am ‘from’ for seemingly no purpose*. 

In the early stages of building Mabel we decided to create a service for women with an option to speak to a Mabel Advisor from a similar cultural background. Mabel is a young company but we will reach these goals in terms of diversity. We want to create a space in our appointments where potentially difficult discussions about medical conditions feel like opening up to a cool aunty, cousin or good friend. When talking to those close to you, the layered context of your cultural background is understood as part of the full picture. I didn’t know how to put into words what it was I was looking for until I came across the term ‘cultural intelligence’.

At Mabel, cultural intelligence & cultural agility is embedded in all that we do.  Even if your Mabel Advisor is not of a similar cultural background to you, you will still feel safe & welcome during your appointment owing to the fact that emphasis is placed on your Advisor’s high degree of cultural intelligence & cultural agility. We ensure everybody feels safe & welcome.  We are confident that our Mabel Advisors will ensure your needs are met & supported in the kindest of ways.

Featured in the picture with me is my lovely dad, cheeky little brother Louis & my glamorous grandmother slaying it in her sari. 

We have an inclusive service, open to everybody. 

Book your appointment with us today: https://mabel.digital/book-now/

Fur babies & fertility

Some people use puppies as a trial run before they have their babies. My story of getting our rescue dog, my first ever pet, is inextricably tied to me finding a pathway to healing after an infertility diagnosis. I wanted to share it in case it could be of help to you or somebody you know.

My diagnosis timeline is as follows: January 2020 I raised concerns with my brilliant gynecologist, February 2020 waiting for test results, March 2020 a delay in waiting for answers owing to covid, in April 2020 we got Yannis & May 2020 it was confirmed that I am unable to have children naturally. 

I could see that my husband, a huge empath, was struggling a lot under the first wave if Europe’s lockdown & the increased severity of the global pandemic. It was my idea to foster a rescue dog. Then Yannis came into our lives. He came from a shelter, aged 5 with a traumatic back story. I thought helping an animal in need would be a positive way to spend our time & focus. Little did I know how transformational he would be for us. We are what is known as ‘foster failures’! I’ve heard dogs being described as having ‘happy hearts’ & Yannis certainly shares that with us.

Timelines suddenly become so important when your fertility journey is not going as planned. For us, what we had loosely planned (we tend to live life this way), was for us to have our first baby in 2020. When we were told this was not going to be possible, we started doing the calculations to figure out when we could start parenting. We always wanted to adopt & have begun this exciting journey. What Yannis brought to us as a rescue dog with a lot of needs, was a new bond in our relationship. We built confidence in our as a family unit, as parents to this pup with issues.

Dealing with the impact of a diagnosis is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. For me, finding joy in learning about helping a little dog in need helped my personal healing. I’m a huge advocate for having a dog but I know this may not be possible for everybody. If you are struggling with something relating to your health right now, I encourage you to find a positive action to take. This could be implementing more daily walks, reconnecting with yourself or friends in a deeper way, or picking up something creative that you used to do when you were younger. 

Mabel’s service is designed to not only help you with your concrete diagnosis, but to help you open up with your feelings surrounding issues concerning you relating to your health to help you find the confidence to take the next necessary steps. We chose our Mabel Advisors on the basis that they are exceptionally compassionate, understanding & kind communicators. 

Book your appointment with us today: https://mabel.digital/book-now/

The value of support networks when TTC

I come from a large Irish family. 4 siblings, plus a wonderful Mam & Dad. On my Dad’s side of the family I have over 30 cousins (a standard Irish family!). 

There are a lot of nurses. My Mam & my 2 sisters are nurses. My Aunty is a nurse & my Dad’s brothers are all married to nurses. 

My Mam had 5 children, one of my sisters has 2 boys & my other sister has a baby too. When trying to conceive an unnecessary pressure starting building in my mind. Both my sisters had their babies within 2 months of trying. My Mam had the 5 of us. A hidden pressure developed in my mind. I was telling myself that I had to become pregnant immediately like they all did. Nobody put this pressure on me but myself. 

I have been told my whole life that I have “great childbearing hips” that I am “fantastic with children”, and I will make a “wonderful mammy some day!” I always loved hearing it but as I had no interest in getting pregnant during my 20s I always just smiled and laughed along with it. I then met my wonderful partner, bought a house and was ready to take that leap to use the “childbearing hips” my Mam always talked about. 

I believed that I could get pregnant straight away, however, for me it took 6 months. In that 6 months, I did not tell anyone that my partner and I were trying because I did not want them to know that unlike my family my body was not “performing” as it should. I told myself I was a failure month after month, and it was a lonely journey. I thought I would be judged and be told – “don’t worry it will happen eventually, just stop stressing”. Possibly the worst thing anyone can say while you are trying to conceive! I was the only one that thought I was a failure, it was an anxiety I had created for myself.

In saying all of the above, I did have a wonderful ending and I am now pregnant with a little girl due very soon. The only time that my family found out that I was trying for a baby was when I ended up having appendicitis as I cried down the phone to my sister telling her I thought it was something sinister. 

Reflecting back on that 6 months of trying to conceive, and keeping all my anxieties to myself I don’t know what I was thinking. I am so lucky to have a wonderfully supportive family, and I know that their clinical, lived knowledge and experience would have greatly improved that time for me. 

Here at Mabel we want to provide a space for women to discuss their worries and concerns in a kind, caring, and empathetic way. 

Gráinne’s journey to pregnancy

I feel so fortunate to have been able to conceive naturally. Reflecting back on that time now with our baby on the way, I wish I had discussed my attempts & failures more. That’s my intention with this post, to help other people on their journey.

We began trying in April 2020. After stopping my contraception, my doctor advised that I could start trying for a baby immediately, adding that ‘a lot of women get pregnant the first month’. This was the first bit of pressure pinned in my mind. I have a background in nursing, so I thought I might be immune to the pressures everybody else felt in my journey of trying to conceive, but I was wrong.

I got negative results for the first few months. I didn’t realise how heartbroken I would feel when I was trying & receiving negative results. I started to get concerned but remained determined. I was impatient & caused unnecessary stress myself  in thinking that something was wrong. Ringing in my head was my doctor’s advice to not come back to him until at least 6 months of trying, which added to all the emotions. I asked myself unhelpfully “are me & my body performing?”.

By August, my ritual had become obsessing over every little thing or movement. I had a light period & didn’t even bother to test because why waste the money? A few days later I felt sick, the room was spinning. I was nauseous, & I had stabbing pain in my right side. My mind was racing & bringing up worst case pregnancy scenarios ( having a clinical background isn’t helpful sometimes!) It turns out I had appendicitis. After my surgery I contracted pneumonia, so I was on pain relief & antibiotics for 10 days. This was not part of my grand plan!

My partner & I decided to stop trying until 2021 as my body had been through enough. I began a strict regime of exercising twice a day, drinking lots of water & gave up alcohol. I did this to give my body a break, not to assist with conception. In late October, I started to feel nauseous & my boobs were sensitive. I had stopped tracking my cycle so I just thought it was my usual PMS but my period did not arrive.

I did a test & I saw the 2 lines! It was a wonderful shock.

I am now in my third trimester, but I will never forget my journey to how I got here. 

My 2 sisters & mam only found out I was trying when I was diagnosed with appendicitis. It was like I was ashamed to tell them. They are all nurses & all have birthed children so their knowledge & experience would have been amazing. However, for some reason, I felt they were too close to me. I didn’t want them to know. I wish there had been something like Mabel to assist me during those times. I wished there was a service for me to call an objective expert to discuss my anxieties & give me proactive tips. This is one of the many reasons I created Mabel.

Making Mabel, making lemonade

2020 – the first year we learned to live through a global pandemic – was full of uncertainty & collective pain. It was also the year I received my first significant & serious health diagnosis. I was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency (symptoms similar to premature menopause) & infertility whilst trying for a baby at age 33. I was confronted with 3 avenues to explore: my long term health, the root cause of my issues & the prospect of not being able to have children naturally. It felt like so much to unpack. I am proud of how I handled working through the uncertainty which led to an eventual diagnosis. It was not a linear path or straightforward experience, & part of it will always remain with me. My journey to healing inspired Mabel’s creation.

I am grateful to have supportive family & friends. I am privileged as within my immediate family I have doctors & nurses who make themselves available should I want to call them about issues relating to my health / diagnosis. Before receiving a confirmed diagnosis, in between my appointments, they help me understand things such as; why a particular blood test has been requested, what the impact of low hormone supply means for me long term, or if I just need a pep talk before going to see a specialist. I had this at my disposal through sheer luck. My network made me feel reassured, valued & supported. This strengthened my armour. This feeling is what we want to create for you with Mabel’s appointment service.

Do you ever dread booking that follow-up or have you ever left a doctor’s appointment feeling overwhelmed? We designed Mabel’s appointment service to help address this issue. When speaking to your Mabel Advisor, you have the option to request practical tips for your follow up appointment, this will most likely be some pre-prepared questions. A chat with a Mabel Advisor will also help you fill in any gaps in communication and deepen the understanding you have about medical conditions. 

I dedicate these words to my beautiful, kind & bold friend Alley who continues to help me in so many ways & is always shining bright.

Clementine, Co-founder

To make your appointment with Mabel, follow this link: https://mabel.digital/book-now/