Mother Interview: A Beautifully Healing Birth

vaginal birth after cesarean VBAC birth storyName (Age): Charity (34)
City: Dexter
Birth Location: St. Joseph Mercy – Menon, Miller & Midwives

 

SRS: When did you decide to hire a doula? Was it always in your plan, or was there a moment when you decided?
Charity: With my first I wanted and planned for an unmedicated birth but ended up having a c-section due to him being breech. So when I became pregnant with my second, just 5 short months after my first was born, I knew immediately I wanted an unmedicated vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)! I knew hiring a doula would greatly increase my chances of that VBAC.

SRS: ring sling VBAC newbornWhat was the single most helpful thing a part of your birth team did for you while you were in labor?
Charity: Have confidence in me that I could have an unmedicated VBAC! 

SRS: Did you seek out a specific care provider when you knew you wanted a VBAC?
Charity: ​I didn’t seek out a specific care provider as I was already with a midwife.  I did take a class with Beth about VBAC’s which was extremely helpful!​

SRS: What two things do you wish you would have been told before you were pregnant?
Charity: Your baby only needs YOU! Be confident in yourself as a mother.

SRS: What do you wish no one would have said to you while you were pregnant?
Charity: You’re pregnant again? Wow, that was quick!

SRS: What is the most indispensable thing that you have needed as a new mom?Charity: Help with everyday household needs!

siblings meeting birthSRS: What were you not able to do while pregnant that you couldn’t wait to do again?
Charity: Sleep on my belly!

SRS: What was the biggest surprise with the immediate postpartum time?

Charity: How quickly I adjusted to having 2 little ones. And how much easier nursing was the second time around.

SRS: What other life event should have a “doula”?
Charity: Death.

 

 

Mother Interview: Really Drawn Out Change of Plans

We’re going to start doing small interviews with our past clients, not necessarily about birth, but about some of the little things surrounding birth.  What was hard, what was the best advice you received, etc…  We hope that in sharing these candid little parts of pregnancy and new motherhood, we can normalize this experience for everyone.  We so often only see the most beautiful parts, or the hardest struggles, of  this major life change.  There is so much more!  All titles for the interviews are chosen by the mothers themselves.

This is MY interview!  Nothing profound, just a casual chat.  If you would like to be interviewed, please let us know, we would LOVE to hear from you.  We hope to have a new interview every month or so. Love, Katy

Katy and Ross get to know baby ZOG

Love at First Sight

Name (Age): KG (31)
City: Ypsilanti
Birth Location(s): Home Birth Transfer to University of Michigan Hospital

SRS: When did you decide to hire a doula? Was it always in your plan, or was there a moment when you decided?
KG: I actually didn’t call on a doula for support until about 36 weeks. I had people who were attending who would be great doulas, so it wasn’t until about 36 weeks that I realized I needed one of them to “take the lead” in managing all the little things that doulas do.

SRS: Who did you have on your birth team?laboring, support, labor
KG: My partner, Ross, my midwife, Beth, my mom (who has worked as a Birth Assistant), and Grace, my best friend (also a trained Doula).

SRS: What do you wish no one would have said to you while you were pregnant?
KG: Are you sure there aren’t twins in there? And all the horror birth stories. All I could think was: Why didn’t you have a doula!

SRS: What 2 things do you wish you would have been told before you were pregnant?
KG: Oh geez… 1. This is probably TMI, but, vaginal discharge! I know a woman’s body goes through all sorts of changes, but man. It wasn’t gross or anything, just like glue! Ugh. 2. I didn’t realize that pregnancy would affect my appetite so much. I didn’t have any interest in food for most of my pregnancy. I didn’t have terrible “morning sickness” but did have mild nausea the entire pregnancy.

SRS: What kept you up at night during your pregnancy?
KG: Insomnia. Which I learned was normal during my late night researching because I couldn’t sleep.

SRS: What were you not able to do while pregnant that you couldn’t wait to do again?
KG: Drink a nice strong beer!

SRS: What is the most indispensable thing that you have needed as a new mom?
KG: Baby carriers. The Moby wrap early on, and my woven wrap into toddler-hood. These are indispensable when trying to get around or get anything done with an infant. At 2 years old, Z also still loves to fall asleep being all wrapped up.

SRS: What was the hardest part about your postpartum time?
KG: Depression.  This was also great, because while depression is hard, I had never been told I was depressed.  Postpartum exacerbated my symptoms, but also helped me see I have been suffering years.

SRS: What was the biggest surprise with the immediate postpartum time?
KG: How much I actually knew about what was best for my baby. Trusting my instincts hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

Embracing Doulahood While Waiting for Motherhood

U of M hospital doula

Me and my doula bag. 3:00 am at Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital

Often times when people learn I am a doula they assume that I have children of my own. There comes a point in interviews with potential clients where the question of my personal labor/pregnancy/baby  experience comes up. Until recently I have felt sheepish about admitting that I am not a mother yet (as if it is something to be admitted to). Maybe it’s because I am afraid of not meeting people’s expectations.  At the same time, I am not embarrassed that I’m still waiting to become a mother, nor do I think that it diminishes my skills as a doula. I don’t feel that becoming a mother would automatically make you a great doula (though lots of doulas are fantastic mothers), just as experiencing loss doesn’t automatically make you an effective grief counselor.

Top of the Park, doulas, Ann Arbor

Doula non-mom, doula-mom and sleepy doula-toddler enjoying an evening on the town.

There are many doulas who are mothers and who find doula work through motherhood. It makes sense. Sitting in my doula training, many of the women in the room had come to the training as a result of a wonderful birth experience with a great doula who inspired them. Sadly, others had found their way there through traumatic birth experiences and were motivated to never let another family go through the same. I had neither. I didn’t even know anyone who was pregnant at the time. I was there because I have always felt pulled toward work that allows me to walk with and support others as they navigate major life transitions. I thought this doula thing might be my way to do just that. It has been.

I’m very intentionally not a mother yet, but I love being a part other people’s journey toward motherhood. I mean the whole journey: the dreaming/visioning, the multitude of choices,  the drama of labor and birth, and the finagling that comes with adding another demanding person to your family. Right now not being a mother is allowing me to fully be a doula. I can drop everything and go to a birth without worrying about childcare. I have all my mothering energy and time to devote to my clients. I have skills now that I can use today to help ease the transition to motherhood for other women; a cool head, an open heart, a calm presence, and an ever deepening well of knowledge about the childbearing year. I can “hold the space” for mother and partner as they make decisions about how they want to go through labor and birth. I can offer alternate sources of information, coping techniques, and a nonjudgmental ear.

I really look forward to being a mother some day, but in the mean time I have the privilege of working with families as they bring another tiny human into the world.

Doula, date night, ann arbor

Me and my honey at the Moth Mainstage. Enjoying being “just two” for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lactation Peanut Butter Balls

When I was newly postpartum, a lovely friend brought me these amazing lactation friendly peanut butter balls that were so nice to have around and just grab when I needed a snack.  I scoured the web looking for the recipe that matched.  I found this one at TheBabyGoat.com and it is amazing!

lactation oatmeal peanut butter balls

The tiny ones are for the toddler 🙂

I have changed it A LOT though over the past year a a half, and have added even more nutritional yumminess!  I have also doubled the recipe (sorta).

edited version:
In stand mixer mix: 

  • 2 cups dry rolled oats + 2 cups finely ground dry rolled oats
  • 1 cup ground flaxseed and chia seed (in whatever ratio you like)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, and/or hemp hearts
  • 4-8 tablespoons brewer’s yeast (optional – though a GREAT source of nutrients and protein)
  • 1-2 tbsp turmeric and/or cacao powder. (optional)

Add, while mixer is running: 

  • 1-2 tbsp vanilla or almond (or both) extract
  • 2/3 cup honey – mix well

mix in:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4-1/2 cup room temp butter (depending on how okay you are with eating lots of butter 😉

At this point add peanut butter until it holds together to be able to form balls.

I then add:

  • 1/2-1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped nuts

Roll into balls, put into bowl, eat all the time! (or as I all too often do, don’t make into balls, eat with spoon out of mixing bowl every time you walk by the kitchen…)

These are so yummy and addictive.  They are chock-full of healthy ingredients, so you can snack guilt free.  Enjoy!

My Milk Obsession

There are so many weird and unusual things that I now think about constantly that would have never crossed my mind before having my son. Poop. The color, smell, texture, quantity of the gross stuff. Its always on my mind. Has he pooped? When did he poop last? I’m always concerned. Having said that (Oh gosh, did I say poop again?), the single thing that gives me the most pleasure, pride and strife (and is directly related to poop) is my milk supply. I am certifiably obsessed with it.  To think that I am solely sustaining another life through my breasts is amazing and terrifying. What if I don’t have enough milk? Is he getting the fore milk instead of the hind milk? How is his latch? Am I exposing myself too much when I feed him in public? Is my diet good enough to provide the nutrients he needs to grow and flourish? etc, etc, etc.

Sometimes I sneak out to my deep freezer to look at the stash of milk I have frozen. My soul fills with such pride and accomplishment staring at all the little bags of frozen milk. Every so often I will count how many ounces I have left, always fearing its not enough. I feel like a hoarder. Never wanting to give any of it away but also knowing I will eventually need to use it. I’m so hesitant to use any of this liquid gold that I would get up 10 times a night to feed my son vs having my husband take a shift with a bottle of the frozen stuff. He asks me constantly what I’m saving it for if its not to feed the baby. On occasion, when I pump during the day and my husband is home, I’ll run out of the room with a half bottle of milk in my hand exclaiming, “look how much I pumped!”. A huge smile on my face as if I just climbed Mt Everest. He never seems as excited as I feel at that moment. How can milk bring me so much joy?

Everyone swaps stories about how they have an oversupply or under-supply. “I make so much milk my baby can’t drink it all! I have to donate it!” or “Whats that herb, funkygreek? I heard you can increase supply” or “I’m back at work and I barley can pump 2oz all day!”. Its a constant topic of conversation.

The one thing that puts everything in perspective is at night, when I put my son to bed. I stare down at him, latched on, like there is nothing better in the world. He makes soft, sweet sounds and I feel my milk filling him up with nourishment and love. I am there for him in a way no one else in the world an be. My milk will sustain him for as long as I am able and those moments are to be cherished. All the worry and concern diminish when he pulls off my breast and looks up at me with a big smile, milk running down his check. He is satisfied and so am I.576315_4195781646455_117146974_n

Stretching

This was originally posted to my personal blog in June 2009. My daughter is 4 now, and she still thinks my belly is the best. 

Ever since I hit puberty I’ve had these little indentations on my skin, right at the base of my spine. I used to run my fingers over them, unsure of what they were, intrigued by the texture of my skin there. I remember being on the beach and a boyfriend asking about them, but I just shrugged and said it’d been there forever. I never thought much of it until I got pregnant. Right around the seventh month of my pregnancy a little pink scar appeared, to the right of my belly button. A stretch mark. I cried. Over the next couple of months they fanned out covering most of my belly. They appeared like flames on my breasts. I noticed them appear on the tops of my thighs, and I even got a few behind my knees. I’m not overweight, I drank plenty of water and ate a very healthy diet, and I moisturized. Even so, I soon found myself with what felt like an entirely new body, one that I regretfully admit to have mourned in those first few months.

In those early days I scoured the internet for the secret to removing them all. I wished them away. I even took a mental inventory of my life, wondering what I had done to deserve them. I found websites dedicated to normalizing a mother’s body- because it is, in fact, normal. Some days it would help to see other mothers and I would feel inspired and confident, but other days it would depress me to think about it all so much. I’m self-conscious even admitting that I dedicated so much brain space to this, considering the beautiful new baby I had next to me that whole time. Over time, I started to think less about them. I worked on accepting them. I fell madly in love with my child and with motherhood, which only helped. My partner would run his fingers over them and tell me he loved how soft my belly was now. They faded and my belly shrunk, and I started to feel more like my old self. However, I still have days where I feel dissatisfied, despite my efforts to be totally accepting and to “own” them as evidence of my strength and growth.

Recently my daughter started giving “schmoozles”. Some people call it “blowing a raspberry”. Basically, she lifts my shirt, puts her mouth next to my skin, and blows air against me making a surprising noise. This makes her giggle like crazy. She’s learned to say the word “belly”, and loves to point to her own and find other people’s bellies hiding under their shirts. I have to say though, she seems to like mine above any others. When we nurse, she often smiles and says “belly”, pushing into it and giggling. She touches it softly when she’s falling asleep. She smooshes her face into it and looks at me with nothing but love and fun in her eyes. There’s no judgment. She loves my belly. I love that she loves it. It was her first home.

I effortlessly see other mothers as beautiful just as they are, although I’ve found that it’s something that I have to work at in myself. I think this is a reality for many women. I guess now I feel like I’m still mourning, but I’m not mourning my scars. I’m mourning the fact that we live in a culture that nurtures an unrealistic and superficial ideal, openly criticizing those that don’t fit into that criteria. It doesn’t help that we often compare and criticize each other, seeing other women as competition rather than part of a sisterhood. That’s not the world I want to live in, and I think that now more than ever I have a responsibility to help change it for the better. If not for myself, then certainly for my daughter. I don’t have the secret to acceptance and self-love. I will say, however, that I’m grateful for each of my scars. They help me to think about my life in a more honest, less shallow way. They free me up to believe in my true worth, and the worth of others. I’m only a better person because of them.