I became interested in babies and mothering when I was 2 years old.
Watching my mom tell stories to a preschool class, I saw how happy and inspired she made all the 3 and 4 year old children in her care. It seemed so easy for her to keep them safe and captivated, and I decided then that I wanted to be a MOM. I spent my childhood watching other mothers and learning what worked and what didn’t. As a teen, I was more interested in finding the “one” than just dating. After working in an inner-city youth program I enrolled in college for Early Childhood education. I went from babysitting to nannying and then started specializing in newborns and toddlers.
I worked in schools and day care centers always learning and always caring so much for all the humans - big and small - that I got to work with. I was in my early 20’s when I found my someone and became pregnant. We were so young, but so determined to care for the little being inside of me in the best way possible. I spent so many hours reading and studying, talking and listening about pregnancy, birth, and childhood.
My first pregnancy didn’t go as I would have planned. There was a lot of stress in my life and my new husband and I were really struggling financially. My morning sickness lasted all day everyday. I had issues with becoming over stimulated - no highway driving, movies, restaurants for me. Everything made me feel nuts! Then the last trimester came and with it I added sciatica pain and dizziness to the long list of discomforts. I didn’t like my OB, he made me feel whiny and incompetent. This long pregnancy ended in a surgical birth that also left me feeling incompetent. My OB insisted I had no choice because my baby was breech. I did not enjoy the birth and went on to struggle with nursing and postpartum. My baby blues stuck around. I had some help from a few lactation consultants over the phone, but I couldn’t afford a specialist so my husband, my son and I did our best to cope, mostly alone. I gave up nursing when my son was 2 months. There weren't many people talking about postpartum mood disorders then and I didn't really know where to look for help. So we struggled and I made my own way through. It is funny that even with how hard that pregnancy was and the 9 months following I am still overwhelmed with joy when I think of growing my first amazing child. I wish so much had been better, but there was so much wonder and joy anyway.
My second pregnancy came just a couple years later. I was so determined to make it different. I started by taking more control. I listened to the medical experts, consultants, and our family, but I (we) made our own choices. At the time you could not have a vaginal birth after a surgical one. Malpractice insurance would not cover it, so a midwife-assisted homebirth was out of the question. It made me really nervous to think about having another surgical birth so we researched. I read medical journals and articles I talked to nurses, midwives and doctors. I learned how small my risk was for serious complication and was comforted by the fact that if there was an issue I was only 8 minutes from a great hospital. After much consideration my husband and I decided we would go at it alone. That was also scary, but we felt an unassisted birth was our best option. I did just about everything different this time. I ate so much healthier, I drank gallons of herbal tea and water, I did yoga and carried my two year old in the sling while I walked for miles every afternoon. It worked too! I had energy and joy. I hardly had any morning sickness. I spent so much time outside with my son playing and laughing and growing. There were still tears and lots of them! I am a very emotional pregnant woman! We had more financial stress in our life and were even without a place to live for much of the pregnancy - but this time I did not let the stress take over. I found peace and meditation I nurtured my family and that gave me strength. Gabe took his sweet time arriving. I was pregnant for 43 weeks and then we had about 36 hours of labour, but I hardly pushed at all and he came out healthy and huge! It was such a relief to already be home. With my first baby, I felt like being a parent didn’t start until I left the hospital and got home. There was this interim of time there that felt so weird - like I had a baby, but he wasn’t mine yet. This time he was mine from his first breath. I showered and changed clothes and felt refreshed and strong. I would like to say that this postpartum was completely different from the first time around - but I can say it was better. The complicated feelings were not new and therefore easier to work through though. I do believe eating healthy and exercising really helped. My postpartum issues were a bit more dynamic this time, but instead of lasting 9 months I started feeling better around 3 months. I was not able to develop a nursing relationship with this son either, but my experience and knowledge helped me know when it was time to switch to formula and feel ok-ish about it.
After having Gabe in 2002 I started working more with pregnant women helping them find a way to take all the books and advice and make it personal. Sometime in there I was asked to attend a birth. This is where that word from my childhood - “mom” - was truly realized. I was finally able to put it all together and define it. What I stated at 2 was and is still true. My calling is to be a mom. That is what I am called by sons, but the job is the same when my clients call me doula and my loved ones call me friend. My joy is found when I nurture, clean, feed, trust, explain, teach, hold, and listen.