Category Archives: Uncategorized

When Dads Hit the Deck

I specify dads in this situation because, as to date, my only experience with people fainting, or nearly fainting, in Labor & Delivery has been with expectant fathers. So far, there haven’t been any instances of grandmothers, same-sex partners, sisters, etc. who have gone down for the count. I will post any differences should the situation arise!

Throughout our prenatal consultations, I try to gauge dad’s comfort level with blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids he may be faced with in L&D. If dad’s are particularly squeamish, and I know that ahead of time, I take extra precautionary measures. I also encourage these dads in particular to stay by his partner’s head during pushing time. Sometimes, though, these dads get curious, and are not prepared for what they see…

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(The dad pictured above did not pass out, but Tiffany Farley captured the “I’ve seen too much” faces perfectly.)

So far, in every circumstance when dad has been feeling too woozy to stand, it has been during the same point in delivery. The seem to make it past “peek-a-boo”, past early crowning, but then right at the end of the “ring of fire” is when, all of a sudden, they go weak in the knees. I can’t say I blame them; if you aren’t expecting it, it is quite a phenomena to see the human body go through so much. Mix that in with not sleeping, barely eating, and being on such an emotional high for so long, it’s no wonder this happens so often.

What do I do when dads hit the deck? My main focus is still mom, so while I guide her through contractions, and help her through those last few pushes, I am also having dad sip on orange juice, nibble on saltines, and am continuously flipping over the cold cloth I am holding on his neck. As long as he is able, I try to snap him back into action for the last push. I let him rest until that point, but the excitement of meeting his child usually provides enough adrenaline that he doesn’t pass out again.

Once the baby is born, I then have dad focus completely on his new bundle of joy, and his partner’s upper half. I focus on mom for the after birth procedures. In my experience, dad is too overjoyed to notice the birthing of the placenta, fundal massage, stitching, etc.

One of my favorite things about being a doula is helping bring couples together during such a joyous time. There are still plenty of ways to get partners and other key labor support people involved if you think they fall into this category. I work tirelessly to make sure everyone has a place and a job in L&D.

Did your partner go down for the count? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below!

Infertility – Our Struggle Part VII: HSG & Semen Analysis

QUINOA

First things first, let’s chat about the semen analysis. Basically, there are two options with this one. One can release the swimmers in a cup at home and hold it under their armpit for the duration of the drive to the184 facility (only if you live within 30 minutes). Or, you can get intimate in the bathroom at the office, and, like a runner handing off a baton, pass it, hand-over-fist, through a secret window for analysis. Easy peasy, though probably a little embarrassing to give an orgasm to a random stranger. I won’t go into detail about which method the hubby went for, but he got the job done, and that’s all that matters.

As for the HSG, or hysterosalpingogram,  I was prepared for the worst. I swear, every woman I spoke with who went through the procedure had a story worse than the last. I had it in my head that it was going to be incredibly painful, and I was going to be strung up in bed for two days or so afterwards. To my pleasant surprise, this wasn’t the case for me. It was certainly uncomfortable, but not painful like I was expecting it to be. The procedure was also a lot quicker than I expected. I spent more time filling out paperwork and waiting than anything else. The procedure consists of shooting radiographic contrast, or dye, through the vagina, cervix, and (if they are not blocked) fallopian tubes. X-ray pictures are taken as the dye is slowly inserted to check for blockages, polyps, tumors, scar tissue, etc. In the radiology room with me was my doctor, an x-ray tech, and an x-ray tech student. I am all for having students in the room during these types of procedures (how else are they going to learn?), but I am extremely grateful my doctor was there to calm me down from all the questions she was asking. For example:

Student: “Is it ok that she’s still shedding a little?” 

Tech (to me): “Do you still have your period?”

Me: “I thought it stopped yesterday. Is that ok? Is that bad? Should I reschedule?”

Doctor: “It’s totally fine, you can relax.”

Student: “Is this normal?” (I can’t see what she is pointing at on the screen.)

Me: “Is what normal? Is everything ok?”

Doctor: (Pointedly to the student and tech) “Everything is fine, we will be done in the next two minutes.”

Student: Whispering questions somewhat loudly to the tech, as I clench up.

Doctor: (Puts her hand on my knee) “Please. Try to relax – almost done.”

And then, it was done. Everyone exited the room and I headed to clean myself up. I took my time in the bathroom, as I assumed I would leak for a while. I strapped on a pad, just in case, and off I went. Until…I was stopped dead in my tracks. As I was walking down the hallway, the liquid started pouring out again. You know when there’s something embarrassing going on in your body, and if you just acted normal about it no one else would know? Well…I wasn’t so tactful to remember that. Instead, my instincts told me to frantically grab my crotch, flail my other arm at the wall, and start desperately searching around for a bathroom. Finally I found one, and gained my wits back. What goes up, must come down, right? I made it to the car, spread out some just-in-case napkins over the seat, and drove home with a smile on my face – not just at the memory of the scene I must have caused in the crowded hospital, but because we were finally about to get some answers. Which leads me to the next chapter in our series: Infertility – Our Struggle Part VIII: Our Diagnosis.

Where the Heck I’ve Been Lately…

First of all, I just want to say thank you. I am blown away by the amount of people who still check my website and blog daily, even though it has been so long in between posts. Thank you! I just wanted to write a brief entry to let my readers know that I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. Quite the contrary, actually. I’m more grounded, alive, and focused than ever…

It is no secret that my husband and I want to start a family. This feat, however, has not been easy for us. February marks the fourth year we will be dealing with infertility, so a few months ago I made a choice. I chose to make any and every sacrifice to take the steps to start our family. I made the choice to give up some “me” time to focus on how to make our dreams a reality. The hardest choice, though, was to put some aspects of my business on the back burner. Like keeping up this blog, for instance. Is that exactly fair to the community who has been so supportive of me? Not at all. But it is a (slightly selfish) decision I made to help get us on the right track.

So what has been taking up most of my time? Work. Four jobs, to be precise. I usually work at least two jobs per day, and have zero days off (except this week for Thanksgiving, which was LOVELY!). I work anywhere from 70-90 hours a week, and am slowly trying to help build our IVF bankroll.

Don’t feel sorry for me, though, because I certainly don’t. It’s amazing how focused you can stay when you have a goal set, and an end in sight. And, another great thing…with the way my schedule works, I am still able to take my doula and lactation counseling clients – so, while you may not see me posting regularly, rest assured my clients are still well taken care of. And, at one of my jobs, I get to help families become properly protected with a product I truly believe in, which has been so rewarding. And, at another job I get to work with some of my best friends. And, I still have time for an occasional romantic date night. And, I still have time to enjoy a home cooked meal with my family. And, I still have time for a weekend brunch or wine tasting with my girlfriends. It’s really amazing how much time you actually have in a day. One thing I’ve always done for myself that I haven’t been able to do much of lately, though, is go to the gym. But, hey, I will figure out a way to work it in there at some point. Until then, I will just be a little rounder :)

So thank you for staying tuned in. I am in the process of figuring out ways to keep this blog alive despite being so busy. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated :)

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Above is some evidence that despite my hectic schedule I still have time to do most of the things I love <3

 

 

Infertility – Our Struggle Part VI: Day 3 Testing

Our StruggleAs mentioned in Our Struggle Part V, I assume there are not too many guys who will want to read this one. I have no way to describe it without being explicit, and it will certainly make some people uncomfortable. This is also a short entry because although it sounds like a lot goes on, it is really a short appointment. So, woohoo, here goes:

Day 3 refers to day 3 of your menstrual cycle. As soon as your flow begins, you call to schedule your appointment. So, on day 3, I loaded into the car, cramps and all, and headed down to the RSC New England. I wasn’t really nervous, more excited to finally be getting a diagnosis, really figure out what was going on. And, ultrasounds aren’t that scary, right?

I sat in the waiting room and downed some water. I failed to mention that at the previous appointment when I had blood drawn I passed out. It was a very brief episode, and I think it had a lot to do with nerves, not eating, and not drinking. So today I had some breakfast, and was drinking water by the bottle full. Today blood work was to test for pregnancy (I wish), FSH, estradiol, thyroid, and prolactin levels. After the blood work I was sent to have my ultrasound. And this is where the shock was factored in…

I was given a johnny which seemed a little strange to me. Why would I need to be naked for an ultrasound? The nice, sweet, caring, pleasant U/S tech, who also happened to be training someone that day, asked me to go behind the curtain and change into the johnny. I complied, and came back out:

“Honey, do you have a tampon in?”

RED cheeks. I’m talking RED. “Erm, yes.” I replied timidly.

“Oh, ok, no problem, there’s a wastebasket behind that curtain.”

At this point, my confusion level was at an all time high. “It must block something they are trying to see. Just get on with it, Mary” I thought to myself. Yank, out goes the almost dry tampon. (Wondering how many ladies just cringed at the thought.) My eyes darted around the small space, looking for a tissue or something to wrap it in.

“Everything ok?” The tech asked politely.

“Oh, ya, just…looking for a tissue or something.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, honey. We will take care of it.”

Gross. “Erm, ok” I chucked it and wobbled out.

“Ready?” She was smiling and holding what looked to be a large, misshapen dildo. The woman she was training was asking her questions, and my mind was starting to race. “Lie back and try to relax” she said, still smiling.

“I’m sorry, I think there’s some confusion. I’m here for an ultrasound.” (As usual when I am really nervous, that whole statement came out as one, rushed word.) Where was the jelly they lather on your belly? Where was the flat-headed ultrasound wand?

“Yup, Mary Choquette, here for your day three ultrasound to get a follicle count and check out your uterine cavity. We are ready!”

Day 3

In it went. Certainly not the most comfortable thing in the world, but I wouldn’t call it painful. I would compare it to a pelvic exam. Wiped a quick tear of embarrassment/shame/why me? away, and I was on my way to wait for the next part of my testing. Which brings us to the next chapter: Infertility – Our Struggle part VII: HSG and Semen Analysis.

Birth Without Fear Boston Meet-Up Recap

Last Saturday I attended the Birth Without Fear Boston Meet-up, featuring January Harshe. I wanted to attend the conference to gain insight as to how to be a better support to laboring women. What I got out of the conference was so much more…

The conference began with January giving a detailed account of each of her five births. Each birth story was very different from the last, and only one of her births was as close to a perfectly executed birth plan as she could get. She had me engaged in her every word; I found myself laughing one second, and had tears streaming down my face the next. She really has a way of captivating her audience – even over the gentle yells, cries, and laughter of a room full of happy babies. At one particularly poignant part of her story, I gazed around the room. I was curious to see if other people were as affected by her story as I was. I saw women rubbing their round, pregnant bellies, enthralled; I saw women burying their face in their hands and wiping away tears; I saw women nervously clutching their babies, holding them so close; I saw women who had been through similar struggles, nodding their heads very enthusiastically with a look of pained sympathy as if to say “yup, I remember how terrible that was”. It was quite touching, and a nice vacation from the “mom-bashing” I have seen so much of recently on social media.

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After January shared her birth stories, she opened the floor to a Q+A session. After a slow start, moms started opening up about their own experiences, and asking for guidance. As most of the women were local, there were a lot of “I need to get your information at the break” and “we have a support group for that” and “talk to Dr. XYZ about that” and “you have to join the Facebook group ABC” etc. That is another reason why I think this conference was ingenious – because almost everyone was local, we were able to network and find solutions together for specific issues. Well done, January, well done.

After the Q&A we broke for lunch – at which time I introduced myself to Heather from Cookies for Breakfast. I spotted her right away in the morning, but didn’t know how she felt about being approached by her followers. Turns out, she loves it, so feel free to introduce yourself if you see her :) After I ate I checked out the vendors, grabbed my tea (after ingesting so much red raspberry leaf tea I don’t think it will even be enjoyable again, haha), and started to silently panic about the afternoon session. Why? Because we were about to participate in the Earth Mama Angel Baby Harmony Circle – which is designed for people to be able to share their birth stories in small groups, share why they were at the conference, and squash their fears together in a small, supportive group. So, why the panic? I didn’t have a birth story to share. I couldn’t introduce myself as “Mary, mother of…” and was overwhelmed with pity for myself. I tried to remind myself of why I was there: to gain insight to better support the families I work with. I wondered if that would be enough to get me through the circle; I wondered if I could skip my turn and just be able to focus on everyone else; I wondered if people would think it was weird for me to be there without having any children of my own; I wondered how I was going to get through it. I took a gulp of my tea, which went down like a golf ball, took a deep breath, and headed over to Table 1.

Hearing my table mates’ stories was incredible. While certain people could say “me too” to certain parts of other people’s stories, it was amazing to me how different each experience was.  From traumatic miscarriages, to the perfect homebirth, to VBAC accomplishments, to lacking confidence, to feeling alone, to mistreatment in childbirth, to postpartum depression, to trusting instincts, each woman shared her story, and hopefully felt supported by the community. The woman who spoke before me certainly deserved a hug during her story, but I was so paralyzed by my own fear that I just couldn’t make my arms work. It is really my only regret of the day; that my moment of selfishness may have caused a woman to feel less supported than she deserved. So, I decided I was going to skip my turn, that today wasn’t about me, and we were here to support birthing decisions. But then the sandbox was handed to me…

Everything I was going to say suddenly sounded silly in my head. Other women in my circle had already opened up so much, sharing intimate, extremely personal aspects of their life. So, I leapt into my introduction: “Hi, I’m Mary and I am a childless mother”. The simultaneous “awwwww” ran me over like a bull and I fell apart. But, the caring women I was surrounded by instantly picked me back up. On either side of me I had women hugging me; from across the table an encouraging nod to proceed with my story. I was safe here; I had the support of women who had gone through their own struggles. So, I fumbled through a severely condensed version or my story and why I was there, and was very happy to get back into the role of supporting rather than being supported.

When the conference was over my doula friend Jen of The Supported Birth, her daughter, and I waited patiently for our turn to meet Mrs. BWF herself, January. We were of the last three to meet her, and it was so worth the wait. At one point earlier in the day January warned that anyone who stood near her would get pregnant…so naturally I stuck my uterus out as far as it could extend in hopes that I would catch some magical baby dust by standing so close. It was certainly refreshing to speak with someone else so passionate about changing birth for the better, and empowering women during such a joyous yet confusing time.

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After the conference, I was able to enjoy some time with my friend, and soak up some sweet, growing, happy baby time. It was a nice decompression after a very emotionally strung day. Jen was able to snap some candid pictures of our time that I will certainly treasure <3

Do you have a birth story to share? Do you want to be supported by local women who have gone through a similar experience? Look for a Birth Without Fear Meet-Up in your area.

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Top Five Tips for Babysitting an Infant

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I had the absolute pleasure of babysitting my friend’s infant, Macie, when her momma returned to school from her maternity leave. Macie Mondays quickly became my favorite day of the week, and I made sure to give her the best care I was able. I learned a lot along the way, and thought I would share my top five tips for babysitting an infant:

1.   LISTEN to the parents. They spend the most time with the infant. You DON’T know best when it comes to someone else’s child, so listen to what they have to say. What may have worked for you and your children, or a family you’ve babysat in the past, or your nieces and nephews, could be the worst thing in the world to that baby.

2.   FOLLOW the parents’ schedule. Parents give you a schedule for a reason. Usually because they have tried numerous different scenarios, and this is what works best for them and their baby. Is it going to vary slightly? Sure. You have to adapt, and read the child’s needs. But don’t forego a nap at a scheduled time because you want to catch Oprah at 3:00 and you don’t want to be disturbed.

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3.   PLAY with infants. And READ to them. And TEACH them new things. Are they going to throw a ball back to you? No. Are they going to understand how many red circles can be found on a page? Probably not. But, they are learning, rapidly. Their brains are growing so much, and they are making connections and learning about the world around them. So give them the best chance at a good start by interacting constantly. For more tips about reading aloud to your infant, please check out this link.

4.   REALIZE that you are being trusted to care for the single, utmost important, precious gift in the parents’ lives. Whatever they say, goes. If there is a reason you need to stray from their guidelines, be honest and tell them why. If they aren’t comfortable with something you want to do, you HAVE to listen. Caring for their child is not a time to be selfish, and they need to be able to trust you. If they say no TV, don’t turn it on. If they say you can’t drive with their baby in the car, surrender your keys. They are the parents, and they make the rules. This message applies VERY WELL to all you grandparents out there, too ;)

5.   LOVE that infant with everything you have while they are in your care. During a stage where they are learning so much everyday, they have to know how loved they are, how special they are, and what a healthy, loving relationship means. And they are just so cute, how can you not <3

Do you have any additional tips for babysitting an infant? Please feel free to leave them in the comments!

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Seriously, how freaking cute is she?! :) Not to mention smart, expressive, happy, curious, interactive, beautiful, fun, energetic, and the list goes on and on and on <3

 

 

Infertility – Our Struggle Part V: The Initial Infertility Consultation

Part V

After receiving the information from my mama about the resources available, we decided to go through The Reproductive Science Center of New England. From this post forward, please note that this is OUR story. Your experience could be completely different: I am just going to go through our personal situation…

Before you can even set up an appointment, you have to complete a very extensive family history, conception history, and personal history. Jimmy and I faxed (I know, seems archaic now) our copy over, and got ready for the big day. I had all my charts ready, including temperature, ovulation predictor kit (OPK) outcomes, sexy time, period start and end dates, etc. The night before our consultation I was so nervous I could barely sleep…

We sat in the waiting room together: anxious, apprehensive, scared, and both secretly annoyed we had to take the time out of our busy schedules to be there.

“Why can’t we be like everyone else? You have sex, get pregnant, and deliver a baby. Why is this so hard? What is WRONG with US????”

We both sat with our thoughts in silence. A couple walked out from their appointment. They were much older than us, and looked almost startled to see us there. In my own mind, I figured they were probably wondering what the hell a twenty-four-year-old kid was doing in an infertility office. She spoke with the receptionist about configuring her treatment schedule around her work and travel schedule. As bad as this may sound, also racing through my head was the thought that this woman was the typical face of infertility. I came to the conclusion that she chose to make a great career, and now in her early 40’s she was realizing that something was missing. So why, at 20 years her junior, was I going through the same situation? Rather than seeing her as my infertility sister, as a woman sharing this dark journey and going through a struggle so hard, I saw her as a threat. I figured that she, just like everyone else, would get pregnant before me. And, since she had made this wonderful career for herself, she would be able to pay for anything she needed. Before I even had a diagnosis, I was wallowing in the potential reality that getting pregnant may never happen for us. (Do you see how crazy infertility can make you? Re-reading that now, it seems even more irrational. I was still in the “can’t-be-happy-for-anyone-else” “just-feel-sorry-for-myself” DARK phase. Again, thank GOD that stage passed!!)

“Mary Choquette?”

Hearing my name snapped me back to reality, and the nervous sweat began. “Look at that,” I thought, “I’m already to blame for this mess. Why not call Jimmy’s name?” the irrational thoughts continued. We were brought back to the doctor’s office. She was a lovely, bright, young  Reproductive Endocrinologist doctor with a warm, friendly smile. And, after the introductions:

“What brings you in today?”

Still defensive and angry, this question annoyed me to my core. Why the F**K did she think we were here? New shoes? A pedicure? I struggled to find an adequate response. I explained that we had been trying to get pregnant for almost two years. Jimmy interjected that I was exaggerating. (Jimmy was in a “denial” phase during my “angry, why me” phase. So guess what? I was angry with him, too.) The daggers I shot with my eyes pierced through him. “I apologize. We have been trying to get pregnant for 1 year and 10 months,” I laced the sarcasm so Jimmy would understand my frustration. He rolled his eyes. The doctor broke up what was about to be a public marital dispute by apologizing to us for our struggle:

“Wow, that must be really hard for both of you. I am so sorry to hear that.”

Her apology stopped me in my tracks. “Thank you! It has been really hard!” My eyes welled up with tears. Sometimes, you just have to hear that your situation sucks.

The doctor then started taking us through the different treatment options, and a “normal” calendar of events. In their office, the first step is for both partners to be tested for infectious disease: routine blood work that we could take care of that day. Perfect. Next is day three testing for the women. This is where I stopped her: “We were hoping to take care of the semen analysis first. The day three testing sounds more expensive and extensive, so we would prefer to take care of the easier test first.” She smiled politely. Looking back the smile reads: if you are worried about the cost of this test, you really have no idea what you are getting yourself into. She went on to explain why they test the women first, and that this was their office policy. This was the first of many times that I felt I was a part of a business model, rather than a patient. But, if I wanted to continue with treatment, I had to follow the rules. And, before I could move on to day three testing, I would have to have a pap from my OBGYN and a physical by my PCP. Once they received that information from each doctor, I could schedule my next appointment. (For me, this meant I had to actually find a PCP; I hadn’t had a physical since freshman year of college, from my pediatrician.) This really pissed me off because I was expecting my period and knew I wouldn’t be able to make the appointments and get the results in this cycle. Great, more waiting around…

We finished up with the doctor, and were taken to meet “our” nurse. We filled out more paperwork to have blood drawn. At this time, I had steam coming out of my ears. Jimmy didn’t bring his wallet, so he didn’t have his ID or health insurance information, so they wouldn’t allow him to have his blood drawn. To me, this was a slap in the face. Because during this time I took everything personally, this meant that he didn’t care enough about our treatment to even bring his wallet. It meant that he didn’t understand what I was going through, or how important it was to me. It meant that he didn’t want this as bad as I did, and essentially I was wasting my time because he wasn’t ready. I was so hurt! I angrily had my blood drawn, and insisted on a silent ride back to work. Ya know, just to make sure he knew how upset I was. Yes, over the wallet thing.

Seriously, infertility makes you CRAZY. Like, insane. It is every thought. It breaks down an otherwise healthy marriage. It changes you as a person, and transforms you into someone you don’t want to be. It is isolating, confusing, and really just fucking sucks. If you let it. And, I totally let it. If you’re going through it, try to find healthy outlets. Try to learn from my mistakes, and find other things that make you happy. It REALLY isn’t worth it to be that miserable, and certainly doesn’t help your chances for conception.

Up next: Infertility – Our Struggle Part VI: Day 3 Testing. My guess is that guys are not going to want to read this one, unless you want to know what your partner is going to have to go through. To say the least, I was a bit surprised!

How was your initial infertility consultation? Please leave a comment below to share your experience!

 

 

A Story of Friendship, Loss, and a Sweet One Year Old Baby Boy

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While I met Lauren about six or seven years ago through our, then fiancés (now hubbys), it was really a tragedy that brought us so close together. I reached out to Lauren after reading a Facebook post requesting prayers to get her through a really tough time. Lauren and her husband Pat suffered a devastating miscarriage (you can read about it through Lauren’s eyes here). After all of the struggles Jimmy and I had getting pregnant, I couldn’t image seeing that + and then having it taken away so prematurely. I checked on Lauren frequently to see how she was doing, and tried my best to let her know I was here for whatever she needed.

From that point on, we have talked almost daily. We can be unabashedly ourselves without fear of judgment or ridicule. We offer each other advice, support, and gentle slaps upside the head when the other is being a little crazy. This also means that we tell each other WAYYY TOOOO MUCHHH. So, when Lauren had exciting news to share with me, she was a little nervous because it was during my “I can’t be happy for anyone getting pregnant/poor me/why not me/my life is just so horrible” phase. To her surprise, when she told me, I cried happy tears. I was so ecstatic that my friend who had suffered so much, was now getting the blessing she and her husband deserved. She helped me get out of a time so dark and lonely, and for that I will be forever grateful.

It was also during this time that began my Baby Planning/Maternity Consulting education. I was learning a lot, and sharing anything I thought may be helpful with Lauren. Then, one day, she called and told me that her friend who she had wanted to be her doula was also pregnant, and she would probably not be able to attend her birth…

“I’ll do it!!!!” I blurted excitedly.

And, from there, the planning began. I hopped onto DONA later that day, and made the arrangements to attend my training before her birth. We set up appointments, I helped her through bed rest, and did my best to really understand her birth wishes. And then, on June 6, 2013, Lauren and I learned first-hand that you can come up with an iron-clad birth plan, but sometimes outside factors can change everything. For example:

  1. Sometimes, even on your first baby, labor can be so quick!
  2. You can be unsure if your water has broken.
  3. Sometimes even the “Spray Tan” or “Leather Pants” episodes of Friends isn’t enough to get you through a mean f*@#ing contraction.
  4. Sometimes epidurals don’t work in time.
  5. When your epidural doesn’t work, you STILL have the strength, stamina, and perseverance to push your baby out. And it’s amazing. Women are freaking amazing.

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    Photo credit, Tiffany Farley

  6. Sometimes, in spite of staying at the head level, dad’s see things they were not expecting.
  7. Sometimes scary things happen during delivery, and mom and baby are separated.
  8. When mom and baby are reunited, God, it is just. So. Good.
  9. Sometimes, nine months after a baby is born, you can be sitting in your Lactation Counselor training course, wishing you knew then what you know now.
  10. You can be sitting writing a blog post a year after a sweet baby boy is born, crying at the memory, feeling so blessed to have been a part of his birth story.

While I am sad that I won’t be able to attend this little man’s first birthday party (as I await another birth), I hope Lauren and Pat know that I celebrate the life of this sweet, curious, entertaining, happy, smiling, bright little boy every single day. <3

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HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY LANDON!!!

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Posted with permission. Any of the lovely, professional images were taken by Tiffany Farley. To see more of her images, please visit her website.

A Year in Review

Today is my first MCMaternity baby’s first birthday. Where the HECK has the time gone?! I can’t believe I am lucky enough to have been doing what I love for a year. And, I can’t thank the families who put their trust in me to be a part of their birth stories enough. Without people believing in what I do, there would be no MCMaternity. So again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

What has this year looked like? Below is a little summary of highlights:

  • Completed my DONA International Doula training workshop in Albany, NY
  • 7 vaginal deliveries
  • 1 Caesarean section delivery
  • Helped an additional 5 families prepare for birth (education, birth plan design)
  • Became a Certified Lactation Counselor
  • Took classes in childbirth education, reflexology, and breastfeeding
  • Had my services auctioned at the AGC Scholarship Foundation Gala for Hope

What do I have planned so far for this year?

  • Twins! Multiple sets of them :) :)
  • Experience with same-sex couples
  • Infant CPR certification
  • Learning more tips for the blog, first-hand, by babysitting my favorite 4 month old baby girl

What are my goals for this year?

  • Help a lot of people
  • To finish all certifications I have started
  • Figure out better ways to market myself
  • Write more blog entries
  • GET PREGNANT. For crying out loud.
  • At least 12 deliveries. At LEAST.
  • Complete the “Packages” section of my website
  • Learn more about the business side of business
  • Find a good, reliable back-up doula (anyone interested??)

Long-shot Goals (if I make enough revenue to support):

  • Start the process of becoming a certified Childbirth Educator
  • Become a certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (that’s right, folks! It’s time other people hop on board the placenta-loving train!)

I am very excited about this coming year. Now that I have some great education and first-hand birth experience under my belt, I certainly need to learn more about the business side of this business. Have suggestions? Don’t be shy! I thrive off of constructive criticism, and I created this website for you. Let’s make this business work, together :)

Interested in joining my team? Contact me. Know of anyone who could benefit from my services? Please, let me know. Want to give my services as a baby shower gift? I have the certificate ready :)

And, if you see this handsome, happy little one-year old (who absolutely ADORES his older sister), wish him a Happy Birthday!

Posted with permission

Posted with permission

 

What Does a Doula Actually…Do?

Recently, I was able to meet up with my brothers for lunch in Boston. It was a beautiful spring day, and amongst the lively conversation, my business came up. We discussed how I was searching for ways to make this a thriving business so that this is the only job I have to do, and still be able to provide for my family. And then, my brother shed light on a fact that I had not thought of:

“What does a doula actually do?”

He told me that he often shares with people what I am doing, but when they dive deeper and ask him questions about it, he is unsure of how to respond. He usually says something like “she does stuff with pregnant ladies and their babies” and the conversation usually dies there.

Well, I am certainly glad that this has been brought to my attention. Because if my own brother is unsure of what I do, who else is wondering?

So, here is my best way to describe my role as doula: I provide labor, delivery, and immediate postpartum support for any family who wants it. To delve deeper, I first meet with potential clients for a non-binding, relaxed interview**. Next, I meet with my clients at least twice (but as many times as the mom/couple wants) to better understand their birth wishes. I help them design a birth plan, and explain medical interventions that may arise, and what their options would be in those situations. I touch upon L&D terminology they may hear, so it is not so foreign during a time of high stress and emotion. I educate the family about the birthing process, but do my best not to overwhelm with information. I show them prenatal exercises that may be helpful, and demonstrate comfort measures that may be used during their labor. I really try to get to know the mom/couple so that I may best understand their wishes during this beautiful time.

When it comes time for labor, I am on-call and ready to go any time of the night or day (just ask ANY of my clients :) ). I come to the hospital, birthing center, home, or wherever you have decided to labor and provide continuous support throughout. When desired, I do everything possible to get the partner involved in mom’s care. I demonstrate what the partner can do to help, and then take a back-seat and allow them to enjoy the experience together. My support throughout labor takes on many forms. Some that come to mind are relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, making sure mom and partner remain hydrated, coaching helpful movement, providing massage and/or reflexology, and understanding when, and coaching how, to change labor positions. When necessary, I also facilitate communication between the family and medical staff. I will never speak for you, but rather make sure you understand the information being presented to you, and refer you back to your birth wishes during times of high emotion.

PWP Photography by Fiona Johnson

PWP Photography by Fiona Johnson

When it is time to push, I take on whatever role the couple wants. Those roles include (but are not limited to): leg holder, coach, counter, encourager, hand holder, gentle touch provider, hydration coach, photographer (though quite amateur!), re-focus-er, masseuse, breathing control, reinforcement for a tired partner, mirror holder, cold towel dabber, intervention explainer, and, on rare occasions, placenta courier…really ANYTHING the couple wants or needs I will do.

PWP, Photography by Tiffany Farley

PWP, Photography by Tiffany Farley

My care does not stop here. After delivery, if mom and baby for any reason need to be separated (emergency or routine), it has been my observation that her partner stays with the baby. Well, after delivery mom still has work to do. I stay by her side, and support her through fundal massage and placenta delivery. In the rare transfer of baby to NICU, I stay with the family as long as they want, support breast milk expulsion when desired, and help the family communicate with medical providers. When mom and baby are not separated, and the Magical Hour can be observed, I often become photographer to capture tender moments between mom, baby, and partner. If desired, I also facilitate breastfeeding support to help embark on a positive breastfeeding journey. I usually stay up to an hour after birth, but I take my cues from the family on when to exit so they can bond together, uninterrupted.

People often assume that I only work with women who desire to have natural home births. This is simply not true (although women should know their amazing bodies are certainly capable of this feat). If pain medication or medical interventions are desired, that is perfectly fine. I adapt my care to the desires of the family. My main goal is that the family has a positive birth experience, however that may be.

I hope this entry has shed some light on what I consider my role as the doula to be. I also hope dads and partners understand that my role in no way diminishes theirs, if anything I strive to get you more involved. Below are some tidbits from clinical studies from the DONA International website for people who choose to work with doulas. If you have any more questions, please post them below and I will be happy to answer them <3

Information from DONA International

Information from DONA International

**It is EXTREMELY important for the doula you chose to be a match so you can feel comfortable with the whole experience. If I am not the doula for you, I can provide you with a list of referrals, with no hard feelings at all.