thoughts from a 41 week pregnant doula

I’ve never enjoyed being pregnant. I’ve known a lot of women who do. They feel good and healthy, and love the kicks and are wonderfully amazed at each new stage and step of the way. Their biggest complaint is at 39 weeks when it’s a “little harder to sleep”. I stare at women like this in utter bafflement. As a doula, I meet many many pregnant women. I encounter many types of pregnancies, labors and personalities. As a doula I meet women in a very unique time in their lives. And as a doula, I will admit to all of you that I hate being pregnant. Literally, when I think of being pregnant, a feeling of dread comes over me. Long before I ever was pregnant with Harper I always assumed I would love being pregnant. I would enjoy all the movement and embrace all the changes. And then I got pregnant. And quickly learned I did not like it. Needless to say, I was really disappointed. I had hyperemesis until about 16-18 weeks and was on medication [and the same has been true for each of my pregnancies], my sacrum and pelvis throb for the majority of the second and third trimester [yes, I go to the chiropractor, do yoga and lots of strengthening exercises to help stabilize and support which helps] but I just have a general feeling of ickyness that lasts until my babies decide to be born which each time have been over a week past their due dates [and yes, I know it’s an estimated date]. I made it through 41+ weeks of pregnancy...

Yellow Ribbon

Living in a military town, I sure am pretty oblivious to the ways of the military. The Air Force stationed my dad here in the 70’s and Colorado won his heart. 15 years later after getting out, moving back to Indiana, getting married and having 2 kids, he moved our family back. Although I couldn’t tell you what ranks belong to which branch or if a commander is higher than a general, I do know that military families sacrifice a lot. But now having worked with families whose husbands are deployed during the pregnancy or birth of their child, I understand on an even deeper level. I’ve had the gift of helping quite a few mommas bring their babies into this world while daddy is far away or the upcoming deployment is a dark cloud in the distance on such a happy day. The staticky, sometimes pixelated connection to a daddy in a far away land. And 9 months later, meeting his Avalie for the first time. And huggin that hott wife of his. 😉 [Photo by Jen Lints Photography] There is no difference missing the firstborn than missing your second, third or fourth child. Each baby is a precious, unique and special gift and something a father wants to be a part of. I can’t imagine it ever gets easier. [Jen Lints Photography] Tears normally come during labor and birth, but my heart physically hurts when a momma says to me while crying, “this isn’t right, he is supposed to be here.” And I know my hug is a poor substitute for his. I always say a prayer...

summer

Remember last summer? I’m sure you do. I’m sure you remember the pool and beer and sunshine and friends and hiking and vacation and all the good stuff summer brings. I remember babies. I remember hospital rooms and homes. I remember being woken up in the wee hours of the morning. I remember hearing little ones cry for the first time. I remember holding many a momma’s hand. I remember a breech vaginal birth. And 3 others where we barely made it to the hospital in time. I remember barely making it to a couple home births. I remember one momma shouting from the mountaintops “look at my baby! He is amazing! He is beautiful! So many newborns are ugly, but look at him!” This momma will probably forever remain the most “high” from an unmedicated birth I will witness. She told everyone in the room to rob a bank if they couldn’t afford a doula. So if you wanna top her, you better get creative. I was there when a momma made the call to her deployed husband in Kuwait “Babe, he is here! I did it with no pain medication, I wish you could have seen me!” I have vivid memories of my first mommas who needed c-sections. I remember many sad and happy tears shared between me and these families that so graciously allow me into such a sacred time. I remember being pretty tired. I remember an emergency c-section where I ran next to her bed with her as far as I could, she continued on passed the OR doors, and then within minutes I...

year 1

It’s been a year since this journey began. I always prayed that what I did when I grew up had meaning and purpose. I never in a million years thought I would be this blessed. I can’t count the times I’ve smiled, nodded and whispered to a husband with the deer in the headlights look “it’s ok, she’s ok”. Or times I’ve driven 3x the speed limit to get to their house or hospital. I’ve been with mommas who were in labor for 27 hours. I’ve been with mommas who were in labor for 2 hours. I have held hands and cried with mommas whose labors went nothing like we planned. I have rejoiced with a mom when she is finally complete. I’ve fallen asleep sitting at the foot of the bed, with my head by their feet. I have been a doula to a doula. I have told a mom she needs to get an epidural. And the many times I have come home to John after a long or hard birth and the second I see his face I start to cry. And many, many times I tiptoe into my kids’ rooms in the middle of the night when I get home, kneel by their beds and watch them sleep and twitch. I’ve cut an umbilical cord. I’ve been seen as a part of the team by some health care professionals, while others never even acknowledged my presence. Or the times the nurse has been our lifeline, our saving grace. And we hug each other before leaving. And when an OB looks me in the eyes, shakes...

3 for 3

I got thrown into the grown-up deep end part of the pool recently with doula stuff. I had 3 births in 3 days and one of those births was over 24 hours long. Another was a VBAC mom and originally planning on having a home birth and last minute changed her mind. And the third was a home birth. I saw so many different situations and things play out that my mind was pretty full and tired by the time I drove home from the last birth. I learned a lot. Some funny and some more serious. But all important. 1. Always bring your bag like you are in it for the long haul. Since the first mom was 7cm I thought I wouldn’t need all of my stuff. 36 hours of having my contacts in and none of my snacks I love so much didn’t do me any favors. 2. Never be afraid to ask for something. The worst they can say is no. I did get to do help these moms by being bold [and oh so polite] by asking straight forward for something. 3. Some things and some births are just hard. No one did anything wrong and sometimes things just go nothing like you planned. 4. Always always have caffeine nearby. 5. Keep honey sticks in your doula bag. All 3 births had a situation where they were needed. 2 moms needed that boost of energy and one poor momma passed out. I kinda bought those with the idea that they would go bad before I ever used them… 6. I couldn’t do this job...

name change

Natalis na:ta:lis; nah:TAH:lis noun 1. a day of a person’s birth 2. birthday origin: latin; in use throughout the ages/unknown descendants: English: natal As you may have noticed, I changed my business name from Cocoon Birthing Services to Natalis Birthing Services. There has been a discrepancy with my name, as there is another doula business with a very similar name in the state. They asked me to consider changing my name and although I was very disappointed, I realized it was the best decision for myself. Just like the origin of the word, birthdays have been around since the dawn of time. Women have been giving birth and this new life that comes forth has been celebrated. But it isn’t just the birth of the baby. It’s the birth of a mom. And a dad. And a family. With this new life, comes a completely new beginning. A birthday isn’t just the birth of a baby. Yes, that is what we celebrate, but it is so much more. I get to be a part of birth days a lot. I get to see the transformation of a pregnant women become a mother with her baby in her arms for the very first time. I see grown men pump fists into the air and hear their voices crack as they call their families and share the news. I watch little ones’ eyes get huge eyes as they become a big sister or brother and meet baby. I witness pure pride in grandparents’ smiles. I see this transformation on a regular basis and it is magical. Birth days are magical. And as...

new year, new opportunities

2012 didn’t turn out the way I thought it would for doula-ing. It all started in October, with my first birth I with my intern and I missed it. The midwife only got there 10 minutes before the baby was born. Then 2 weeks later another birth I was supposed to attend was missed because she had her baby on the side of the road on the way to the hospital. The third ended up being an emergency c section. The forth, I was there for, but barely. She was a first time momma, labored all through the night and by the time she called the midwife she was already 9cm. So, with this new year, I knew my first 4 births had to be a fluke and that I would actually get to be at a birth. I would get to help a momma during her labor.   In the wee early morning hours of January 9th, I got called to the hospital. Me, my mentor [Candace], this momma and her husband worked through her unmedicated labor and I watched in awe as her body changed and she talked to her baby-her tiny partner-throughout the process. I hope I will never loose sight of the beauty of labor and birth. But honestly, I don’t know how I could. Her labor and birth were picture perfect and I can’t even tell you how much I learned. Watching the baby emerge from her body and the shouts of pain that were intermingled with laughter and cries of joy still give me goosebumps. As I left the hospital, the air was...

hardwired

I’ve recently read a fantastic book on breastfeeding. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to breastfeed. Or to anyone who doesn’t know what they want, because it will encourage you and help you to believe in yourself that you can. One of their biggest points that they drive home often throughout the book is that babies are hardwired to breastfeed. That instinctually they know how to do it and although it is a learned skill, it is within their physiology to breastfeed. A friend of mine has been caring for a newborn for the last week until he goes to his adoptive parents. She took him out last night and forgot a bottle. A friend of hers, who is breastfeeding her own toddler, offered to try to feed him. The newborn latched right on with no problems, no confusion and ate like a champ!!! I’ve heard of this happening, but have never known a baby who did it! I thought that was really awesome and is such a good representation of how a woman’s body is designed to take care of new life and a new baby is designed to accept and depend on that. I think pregnancy, birth and postpartum and breastfeeding are so fascinating. I’m sure this doesn’t excite most people. I guess it’s why I do what I do, huh?   To take a look at the book, or their website, go here....

1st birth…kinda :)

2 weeks ago I attended my first birth with my mentor. It was the momma’s 5th baby and after having had the previous 4 come prematurely, she was beside herself when she actually passed her due date! I got a call at 5 am, saying it was time and I got there within 30 minutes. When my mentor opened the door, she simply said; “Well, we missed the birth. The midwife only got here 10 minutes before the baby was born.” I kinda laughed, having half expected to miss it. I have friend who has 7 children and her midwife has missed 3 out of 7. I was welcomed into their bedroom anyway and got to see this tiny newborn engulfed in her momma’s arms. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to what a beautiful thing that is. Since everything labor and birthwise was done, I observed the midwife measure and weigh the babe, give her shots and write all of her stats down. I was very intrigued by what she was doing, since as a midwife assistant, I’ll be doing those same things. Well, let me clarify. I will be giving no shots or doing any measuring. I will be writing down what the midwife reports to me and handing her the supplies she needs. It was about 7 am at this point and the sun was coming up. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move in the hallway. I looked over and their oldest, a daughter, was standing in the doorway with wide eyes just staring at me. I smiled at her...

When I grow up.

I’m 30. I went to college right out of high school and got my associates degree exactly 2 years later. That was the easy part. I took all the general classes, applied myself about 50-60% and passed. [I did apply myself to partyin’, my crazy boyfriend and my even wilder friends 100%, though] I struggled with what I wanted “to do when I grew up”. It made it especially hard that my bestie/roommate never faltered from her major. She knew exactly what she wanted to do. And she is doing it to this day. I wavered from nursing to teacher to counselor to “screw college”. And that’s kind of what happened. My junior year rolled around and I was in school for maybe 2 months. I had no steam, no drive, no desire. I quit school. And I don’t quit many things. For the next 7 years I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was still drawn to people. I still wanted help others. I still knew that whatever I picked I would work a lot and get paid a little. I’ve known that all my adult life. Then I had Harper.girl. The pregnant/birth/feeding/raising a baby thing changed my life. I cried a lot. Was exhausted. Hated breastfeeding at first. But with all of those hard moments, came the most accomplished, proud and triumphant moments of my life. I actually had times after a good feeding I would high-5 Harper. When I got all of her fingernails and toenails clipped, bathed her and got her perfectly clean, I would say “Boooo Yaaaaaa! In...