This story was too precious not to include in today’s blog-hop. (See more at Keeping Her Cool.) One of our very own Welcome Baby Care Postpartum Doulas shares her own story of bringing her baby home and how she discovered her calling. Yes, our doulas are Superwomen, but underneath the capes are some very fine women who’ve “been there.”
“Bringing Calvin Home”
Calvin was born on Christmas Day. We had lots of hoop-la in the hospital. Loads of attention from the staff (not many patients, festive atmosphere) and many wonderful visits from friends and family. Calvin was an absolute gem. Never cried, loved being held by everyone, the perfect baby. My husband and I were exhausted but very content with all of the love and support we felt there.
Two days later when we brought Calvin home, not so much hoop-la. We drove home on the coldest day ever in Minnesota (since 1943). The streets were deserted, cars were not starting… When we arrived home we were surprised to find out that someone had left our back door open, wide open, and our house was like a freezer. No worries. We were going to blissfully enjoy our sweet little boy’s homecoming. The heat was turned up, space heater on in our bedroom, and the new baby boy was brought into the love and comfort of his family home.
NOT! As I was carrying Calvin into the house in his car seat, he started to cry. And I mean purple baby cry. What was I supposed to do? He’d never once cried in the hospital. I was yelling (screaming) to my husband to find “that damn pacifier” they gave us in the hospital. Pacifier did not work. OK, calm down. Maybe his diaper needs changing. “Honey, will you PLEASE get a diaper, any diaper?!” Yes, I actually thought that unwrapping my screaming baby from the warmth of his snowsuit to change his diaper in our freezing house was what I was “should” do to get him to stop crying. This went on for what felt like hours.
Loving homecoming day 2: Warm house, hooray! Oh, there also was the engorged footballs on my chest with cracked and bleeding nipples, tears that would not stop coming, foul breath, foul body odor, hair that looked like broom Hilda, and an unbelievable thirst and hunger. This on top of piles of dishes, heaps of laundry, and over flowing trash cans. Pretty huh? I thought this was “supposed” to be the happiest time of my life.
Then came the help. Aahhh. Finally. My mother-in-law came to hold my baby so I could get myself “put together”. I was also able to “do some laundry” and “make her some dinner to enjoy with us”. She had a lovely day of bonding with my baby. I, on the other hand, was exhausted, sore, anxious, and really missing my baby. She was so kind as to even give me advice. She was sure I was starving her grandson by breast feeding him; “Oh Honey, that’s so primitive. Why don’t you just give him a bottle?”. Loved the “help”.
Work was great too. As you know, I was lounging at home with absolutely nothing to do but hold my sweet new baby boy. In reality, I was so angry with my husband for getting to go to work. And of course I was working my paying job from home. “Yes boss, I’ll be able to make those calls and work on those presentations while I’m on maternity leave. No problem.” Super Mommy does exist!
This went on for several days (and when I say days, I mean weeks). I was a wreck.
We survived. We got by. We made it through okay.
While pregnant with our 2nd child, I decided that our homecoming experience was not the way it was meant to be. I was on a mission. My experience should not be the norm.
I met other moms in my neighborhood and we vowed to take care of each other. When babies were born, we would swoop in and clean the house, make the bed with fresh sheets, throw a meal in the oven, and even light some candles for the new family’s homecoming. Once the babe was home with mom and dad, we would swing by early to pick up the toddler or preschooler, drop off a yummy lunch, and kiss mom on the cheek asking if everything was going OK. We took turns stopping over to see what needed to be done (we didn’t have to ask, we just knew). We massaged mom’s neck and shoulders. We stopped by target to pick up milk and diapers. We offered loving guidance and support with breast feeding issues, healing issues, and even husband issues. We loved each other. We knew that this was a sacred time. It was a time to create beautiful memories.
For years I talked about my love of caring for families during this homecoming period. If only there was a job for this. I said it many times as I worked outside of our home. One day a co-worker said, “Hey. I think there is job like that. I believe it’s called a postpartum doula. Call my friend. She just finished her training.”
I made the call. And discovered my calling.