My doula-work hiatus is almost over; I am officially on-call again after a six month break! Adding another little life to our family has given me some fresh perspective on the whole process, from fertility to pregnancy to birth and postpartum. Moving forward, I feel more equipped than ever to assist other women and their families through every facet of childbearing.
After 15 months of trying to get pregnant, I experienced again the heartache of infertility (it took us the same amount of time to get pregnant the first time). I did learn a lot about my body through the process, though, through charting my cycles with my husband using the Creighton Method. In time, I was able to get my hormones back in balance through natural progesterone cream and eventually a stronger dose prescribed by my doctor. I also believe that acupuncture and some traditional Chinese medicine (with Pat Faivre) was a huge factor in optimizing my fertility.
In total, we have spent two-and-a-half years trying to conceive, and though those have probably been the toughest years of my life, I'm grateful for them. I feel like I'm better able to empathise with other women who struggle with infertility, and I now have a whole slew of resources to offer them. And I can't help but think that if we got pregnant any other month, we wouldn't have a Lucy or an Augustine, and I can't imagine our family without them.
Augustine (3 months) and Lucy (4)
About 36 Weeks Pregnant with Auggie
With my first pregnancy, I was in the 1% of women that just loved being pregnant (that the other 99% of pregnant women hate). I had no morning sickness, felt more beautiful than ever, and savored every miraculous little kick inside my belly. I still enjoyed being pregnant this time around, but it was a lot harder on my body. Maybe it was that I was four years older? Maybe it was the fatigue caused by chasing one child around while growing another inside my body? I still had pretty mild pregnancy symptoms, but between daily back pain and sheer exhaustion, I gained an appreciation for why most women just want pregnancy to be over.
Auggie came a week later than Lucy did (39 weeks and 38 respectively), and I also had a lot more "false labor" this time. So I was able to experience the waiting game that almost all pregnant mamas play (even if it was only for a week). Not fun! But like the fertility struggle, I'm now able to empathise a little more with those mamas whose babies just want to take their sweet time.
Oh wow. I could write so much here!! But I'll focus on two things: having a homebirth vs. a hospital birth, and having a doula.
I am so grateful to have given birth twice, once in the hospital and once at home, because I really feel like I can relate with moms who choose either. If you would have mentioned homebirth to us the first time around, I would have laughed and said you were crazy. The hospital was where we felt safest, and so it was the best place for us! Just like it is for so many other families. This time we felt more comfortable at home, and so that is the route we took. They were vastly different experiences, albeit both miraculous and life-changing in so many ways! And having the intensity of those labor surges so fresh in my memory will no doubt help me to be the doula I need to be for the laboring mamas I will be serving in the coming year.
And having a doula was amazing (understatement). What a blessing it was to experience the other end of doula care!! Katie Seelinger was truly an embodiment of the word doula (servant). She helped me through some of the craziest contractions of my life; I remember her touch (not even intentional touch! I think it was her knee gently touching my leg or something!) literally made those contractions hurt less. Her close proximity, encouraging words, and just her presence was a God-send. She was also helpful in many practical ways! When you have a homebirth there is kind of a lot to do. It's like you're hosting an event in your house, but you are physically unable to be the hostess. Katie was my hostess. She cleaned, cooked, took some killer photos, and took care of anything else that needed tending to, so that I didn't have to worry about the details. Having her there also freed Greg up to support me more fully, and eventually enabled him to spend some time bonding with his new son. Thank heaven for doulas. Wow.
Our team! Nurse Karen, Midwife Steph (in green), doula Katie, me and Auggie, Greg, Lucy, and sister Katie
Postpartum is not fun for me. Actually, I hate it. Hormones are raging, sleep deprivation is at a maximum, boobs are engorged, and perineal stitches are killing. I realized after I had Auggie that my prenatal curriculum for my clients was way too lacking in the postpartum preparation department! So incorporated into my final prenatal agenda now, is some crucial and practical advice for getting through those first crazy weeks.
We were all sooooooo sleepy thanks to our five pound bundle of joy :)
So here we go! I'm so grateful for having a break from doula work, and for the experience of growing our family by one little member. But I'm excited to jump back in! I have learned so much, and am so excited to share the journey with whatever mamas come my way :)