Do you believe that to be true?
If you are a mom, I bet you do. So how can we share this truth with the next generation of moms-to-be?For me, starting the process
For me, starting the process of doula certification with Madriella is my first step into this journey. Last night I met with a group of amazing women at the Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project, each of us starting this journey, each of us with a heart for sharing with others.
Some will pursue the Labor Doula route…supporting and empowering moms in labor as they bring forth their newborn. Sharing positive reinforcement for the task ahead of them, teaching them techniques for getting the most from their labor by sharing pain-relief techniques, encouragement and so much more. They can share information so that you have a voice in whichever birth environment you choose. They offer a right hand to you and your partner so that you can have the birth you want.
Some will pursue a further step and become a Postpartum Doula as well…When a new mom, especially a first-time mom, heads home after the birth of her baby, she is walking into territory that can be overwhelming. In hospital there is round-the-clock staff that can offer assistance if needed, but at home, we are often left on our own to seek out information we may need, learn how to adjust our routines to include this new life that has needs of its own, etc. A postpartum doula is there to make your transition easier. They are trained to help you find information and services available in your area; to help you sort thru all of the well-meaning advice from friends and family with evidence-based newborn care and feeding information and skills, as well as information that can help you emotionally as well as physically as you move from the birth experience into motherhood. They may sit with your baby so you can get some sleep or grab a shower and relax a bit. They may provide care for siblings so you have more time to devote to getting to know your newborn. They may help prepare a meal or healthy snacks. They will not give you medical advice, but can help you determine what you need and help you get in contact with someone who can help medically.
Some will want to be a doula encompassing every aspect of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care, which sadly could mean supporting the grieving mom who has suffered a loss during pregnancy, stillbirth, or anytime postpartum. A Bereavement, or Pregnancy/Infant Loss Doula is there because no woman, no family, should have to walk thru their grief alone.This support could come in so many forms…helping a mom get photos of her baby, select burial services, create a keepsake box of memories, bathe and dress the baby, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a warm hug…they will offer support and care after the sympathy cards have stopped and the quietness settles in around you.
That is my daughter’s grave marker. No parent should outlive their children. My first pregnancy was about as textbook and normal as they come, resulting in a healthy baby boy. My second pregnancy, however, was quite different in terms of outcome.
No parent should outlive their children.
Somewhere during the span up to 18 weeks gestation, I contracted CMV (cytomegalovirus). There are varying reports, but the consensus was/is that the virus can cross the placenta 30-50% of the time. I was in that grouping. Also discovered a bit later on, I had full placenta previa. Despite bedrest and extreme limitation of tasks, I got up one night to go to the bathroom and my placenta ruptured. We were transported to the hospital and I was given a blood transfusion due to the amount of blood I lost at home. At the time I recall thinking it was an odd thing as they had what appeared to be compression socks over the IV blood bags to increase the flow into me and I had never seen that before. We had to receive several bags of blood before I was taken in for the emergency c-section. They were more concerned with saving my life at this stage than that of the baby we were already told would most likely not survive the pregnancy.
They were more concerned with saving my life at this stage than that of the baby we were already told would most likely not survive the pregnancy. She was “collecting fluid” in what they called 3rd spaces, or in-between her organs (non-immune hydrops). We spent those weeks between 18 and 26 wondering every minute of every day if our daughter was still alive or would I have a stillbirth.
To say it was the hardest weeks I had had in my life up to that point is an understatement.
At 26 weeks gestation, due to the placental abruption, our daughter was delivered by emergency cesarean and we were able to meet her. She weighed 2.7 pounds at delivery, despite having what measured out to be approximately 1 1/2 cups fo fluid removed from her tiny 11-inch body during the cesarean section. As soon as I could safely be moved from recovery, approx. 2 hours after her birth, I was able to see her for the first time. My husband spent those hours with her and I am so thankful for that. The prepared me for our first visit together, letting me know she had various ‘attachments’ to machines and some bruising due to her thin, fragile skin and the tapes and such needed to have her connected to said machines. She was, however, breathing completely on her own, without needing the tube physically connected to her. They had her tented in an oxygen-saturated incubator/warmer to ensure her breathing was easier.
Our daughter was absolutely beautiful, not that I am the least bit biased. She had dark eyes, dark hair showing lightly on her head. She wrapped her tiny fingers around her daddy’s pinky when he stroked her hand.
Our daughter, Stephanie Michelle, would live for a total of 13 hours. In the end, they would come to our room and tell us her heart rate was dropping very quickly and did we wish intervention. We did not. Intervention was not an option for her on any level, it was only to prolong her apparent suffering on our behalf and would keep her with us only minutes longer before her passing into Heaven. Getting me moved after the huge amount of blood loss and trauma from that and emergency procedures to delivery our baby girl took time. When we arrived outside the NICU our doctor, the NICU doctor caring for our daughter, and the 3 nurses we had had the past 13 hours met us outside and explained what we already knew. She had passed. They were finishing up cleaning away those various lines and tubes and placing her into another nursing bed so that we take her back to our room with us. Inside the NICU we were met by the nurse who had been in our cesarean operation. Pregnant herself, crying right along with us, her and the other nurses who had been there from the start of Stephanie’s birth and time in the NICU had stayed over their shift to continue caring for her. We all knew she wouldn’t last long with us. They didn’t want us to meet new faces when the time came to say good-bye. They shared in our loss and our grief and that simple act touched my soul in ways I will never be able to put into words.
That moment, that depth of compassion has stayed in my heart for the past 27 years. Every moment of that experience is burned into my spirit so deeply, I can call up the joy of the pregnancy as easily as I can the deep pain of those last moments. The compassion of those NICU nurses is something I have been blessed to witness a few more times in life…as I see caring women reaching out to one another during times of heartache and loss. It does indeed take a special heart, a deep calling straight from God Himself, to voluntarily place yourself into that position on a daily basis as your career.
Angels. These types of people are nothing less than angels.
And we need so many more of them.
My story doesn’t end there. We went on to have 8 more children, all healthy and all my deepest joy. I joke that it was purely out of my stubborn nature that I didn’t give up on having more children after such a heartbreak at a young age (I was only 22 when we had our daughter there). What it really was though, I believe, is that my hearts calling was to be a mother. Of course, I was already a mother to our then 3 year old, and despite the loss of our daughter to Heaven, I was a mother of 2 children. My husband and I had spoken so much about wanting a large family. I had moments where I felt I had somehow been less than a woman to complete my pregnancy. I had moments where I felt guilty of losing the daughter he wanted, I wanted. I picked apart every day of that pregnancy in my memory for a good solid year. What did I do? Where had I gone that I picked up that virus? What should I have noticed sooner? Would ‘noticing sooner‘ have meant a different outcome? Should the doctors have simply taken me for the emergency cesarean rather than wasting time getting blood back into me so I could withstand the trauma of surgery?
Those thoughts…so many more thoughts…all hit you in the weeks and months that follow a loss of any kind, but as women, we tend to take pregnancy loss much more deeply and personal. It is our bodies that have somehow done something wrong in our eyes.We were the ones instilled with the gift, the duty, of bringing life forth into this world. When that gift isn’t delivered the way we feel it ought to be, we feel total, sole responsibility.
Why am I pursuing doula training? Because I believe I have the heart for it.
Obviously I’ve got the baby love down, lol. A doula can be there to help you thru those emotional rollercoaster days regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy. They are a friend who truly understands and can offer you the support and encouragement
A doula can be there…I can be there…to help you thru those emotional rollercoaster days regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy. I can be that friend, perhaps even mentor, who truly understands all the aspects and feelings of pregnancy…the birth experience, those first weeks with your newborn, and, if The Lord calls another one home, those days of sadness and grief.and can offer you the support and encouragement
the birth experience…those first weeks with your newborn, and, if The Lord calls another one home, those days of sadness and grief.and can offer you the support and encouragement
those first weeks with your newborn…and, if The Lord calls another one home, those days of sadness and grief.and can offer you the support and encouragement
and, if The Lord calls your baby Home, those days of sadness and grief.and can offer you the support and encouragement
And they…I… can offer you the support and encouragement, the real information, the connection to resources, and the voice you need to craft your vision into reality.
I am beyond excited to begin my training. As I believe those women in my class last night as well. We have an entire community that needs us to be there, to strengthen, uplift, and empower them and help them find their voices.
I am so appreciative of The Madriella Doula Network and the training I am receiving locally thru the NEMS Birthing Project. And I am doubly blessed to be able to receive further certification under StillBirthday as a pregnancy loss/bereavement doula. The first in our state. I am excited to be able to pave the way and encourage more to step into this path one day.
We will be Doulas.