Archive for the 'doula' Category

The secret weapon

Every once in awhile, someone will ask me this question:

“Is there anything you didn’t know about birth that you wish someone would have told you ahead of time?”

By the time I was 39 weeks pregnant with Animal, I was 100% sure that I knew everything there was to know about labor and birth. I had read everything I could get my hands on–books, articles, research studies, websites, etc. I had talked with countless women who were experienced in natural childbirth. I asked my midwife everything under the sun.

In the last month of pregnancy, I had covered one wall of my bedroom with pictures and descriptions of every position and comfort measure known to woman. I wanted to make sure I could easily reference these during labor. (And I did!) I walked a lot. I leaned on counters, sinks, and on my bed. I sat on the toilet to relieve the pressure of a 9lb baby impatiently pressing down into my pelvis. I sat on the birth ball and rocked. I slow danced with B. I swayed and moaned and hypnotized myself. I found my rhythm, my unique ritual. There were no surprises.

Until a few moments after my baby was born. Until the afterpains came.

I knew that there would be some mild-ish contractions, to expel the placenta. I knew there would be some cramping, as my uterus tightened up. I remembered the aching I felt every time I breastfed my firstborn. But in no way was I prepared for the pain that immediately followed birth. I later learned that afterpains can be more intense as you have more babies. I really had no idea that they even existed, considering I had been completely numbed from the epidural during my first two births. I wonder sometimes if the terrible cramping I experienced was due to the Cytotec my midwife gave me orally immediately following the birth. But what I really wonder is why I did not find these afterpains mentioned in any of the books I had read. Maybe everyone thinks, “Hey, you just went through the pain of childbirth, and now you have this beautiful infant on your chest and you’re so wrapped up in the bliss of Babyland that you just don’t notice too much.”

Well I did. That’s for sure. It hurt so badly that I wanted the baby off of me. In the video we took, you can hear me saying “This is so unfair! My baby has been born and I’m still having CONTRACTIONS!” For me, the contractions were all well and good when there was a baby coming out of the deal. But at that point in time, I really didn’t give a flying fuck what was going on with my uterus. It was terrible.

Somewhere along the line, someone (God bless your soul, whoever you are) brought in a hot rice sock and placed it on my lower abdomen. The relief it brought was amazing.

That rice sock got some serious use. Not only did I use it for the first week or so before EVERY nursing session, I also used it to ease the stiff neck that plagued me from trying to learn how to breastfeed. Later, I would wrap it around my breasts to encourage letdown while I pumped. I utilized it again and again during TWO boughts of mastitis when I came down with influenza and was bedridden for two weeks. The thing was a savior to me.

And so, I want to make sure my clients have the option of a rice sock. Since I don’t have the funds to go buying the fancy schmancy version, I searched the web for tips on how to make my own. Almost everything I read told me to use an old tube sock. Fill it with rice, tie up the end. Voila. Well folks, there is no way I’m pulling out an old sock for my clients to use on their most tender parts.

And so, today, I visited the thrift store and picked out some scraps of material. I came home, lifted the sewing machine that my mother-in-law gifted to me, and took it out of its case. I opened up the instruction manual, carefully following the directions on how to wind the bobbin, thread the machine (wow! complicated!) and sew a straight stitch and a blanket stitch. I cut the material, figuring out how exactly it would work. I sewed. I filled the long rectangular pillow full of rice. I sewed it shut. I SEWED. Amazingly, this thing came out looking really, really nice. I bet you would never guess that I don’t actually know how to sew.

All I can say is that I am totally addicted. And still, the thought of me sewing makes me crack up. Every time. Damn, I’m domesticated. And proud!

A typical morning

Last night at my Childbirth Education classes, the instructor mentioned something about how nearly every other culture besides ours adopts squatting stances. American’s don’t squat, we sit. We’ve lost the ability/muscles to squat for long periods of time, which is one way in which we lose during childbirth. Squatting opens up the pelvis and allows more room for baby to come through. Anyway, she mentioned that if you observe small children, they are constantly squatting. They squat until we teach them not to, by giving them a chair to sit in. This tickled me, because my little Animal squats all day long. Here is this morning’s example:

A doula dilemna

I have a dilemna. Or at least I think I have a dilemna. I might just be paranoid.

Here’s the deal:

Remember how I told you that I have my first doula client? The lady who is due in April? Well, I initially met this woman at church. Yes, I know. I don’t go to church. But I did for awhile, last summer. My Dad is a pastor, and while I was on my big search for the ultimate truth, I attended his church regularly. My kids also attended a lot of church sponsored activities. This all came to an end a few months back when I finally made the decision that I am really truly not a Christian.

Once, while talking to this woman, she said something to me about how “the Body Shop supports gays.” At first I thought it was really strange that she would say something like that to me, considering that I have no qualms about homosexuality. But then I realized that she really didn’t know anything about me at all. Just that my father is a pastor and I’ve attended her church.

Last night, I spoke with her on the phone to set up a prenatal appointment. We got off subject for awhile and started discussing my recent move. To understand the conversation, you’ll need to know some facts.

-The island I live on is huge. On the north end, you’ll find a navy base. The majority of the population is conservative, Republican, and religious. There are churches everywhere. However, on the south end of the island, it’s a completely different story. One of the towns there is named “Freeland.” It was named this for a very specific reason. Back in 1889, “three visionaries formed The Free Land Association for the purpose of establishing a utopian culture where their communal socialistic ideals could be promulgated.” In other words, a commune. “Literally, in the eyes of its socialist founders, the land of the town was to be free for all people.” (These are not my words, which is why I have put them in quotes, although I am hesitant to site my source, since this will give away my exact location and hey..there are too many internet stalkers out there for me to be comfortable with that.)

So anyway, the south end of the island has kept up its reputation of being populated with hippies. Which is the EXACT reason I’ve moved here. This is my place. This is exactly where I belong. This is me.

Anyway, I’m on the phone with my client, and she says “You need to be careful over there. I’ve heard so many terrible things about the people, and what goes on in the schools and such.” I asked her what she meant and she said some things about “the area being VERY liberal” and the churches being sparse, empty, and dead.

Also, on her initial paperwork I had given her, she indicated that she felt that prayer during labor would be a great support to her.

I don’t even know how to handle this. I’m not a Christian, I’m not even religious, I’m as liberal as it gets, and I am certainly NOT going to lead her in prayer during labor. I have heard that many women choose their doulas based on their religious affiliations, and feel more comfortable with someone who holds similiar ideals and beliefs. She has obviously got the wrong idea about me, and I am afraid that these assumptions about my faith (or lack thereof) will eventually be revealed as false and she will be disappointed and feel betrayed or misled.

In a way, I feel that my spirituality is my business and it really shouldn’t matter. And yet, the last thing I want to do is upset this woman.

So what do I do? Do I find a way to tell her that I do not subscribe to Christianity? Or do I continue to play along?