If Only I Had A Doula After My Linden Was Born.
While I had a faint idea of what a doula was, I thought they only assisted during the labor process. I never knew postpartum doulas were a thing. I shrugged off the idea of hiring our own doula during my pregnancy, and while I have no doubt our birth journey would have been impacted positively by the presence of a doula, I really could have used one in the days and weeks following Linden’s arrival.
My son Linden came into the world on a sunny July morning in 2014. Due to a mild case of pre-eclampsia, I chose to follow my doctor’s recommendation to be induced. Our delivery ended up in an emergency cesarean, but my doctor, nurses, and anesthesiologist all made me feel so comfortable and safe. Despite one skipped pain medication in recovery, everything went smoothly and in two and a half days we were on our way home with our new baby boy. It really all started to go down hill from there…
Fear and anxiety about motherhood immediately set in. Breastfeeding was hard and exhausting and Linden would just never stop crying. I nursed 24/7, around the clock, and I still stressed that he wasn’t eating enough. 3 trips to the pediatrician (over an hour away in each direction!) in 5 days, a tear-filled phone call to the lactation department at the hospital, and a few LC visits to our house later, we still weren’t getting the hang of it. My husband had recently enrolled in a very rigorous nursing program and he was only able to be home with me for 2 days before diving back in. He’d be up for school at 5am and then home at 3pm only to study until 1 or 2am. Our oldest son Toby started kindergarten a week after Linden was born, and that meant getting him to and from school. All of a sudden it felt like I had the weight of the world on me. I cried from guilt over breastfeeding, I cried for companionship, and I cried out desperately for some confidence. I was so stressed out and anxiety ridden that I couldn’t even bring myself to eat or drink most days. I had a great support system nearby, but everyone was so emotionally invested in us that they weren’t able to give me non-judgmental advice and support. I felt so alone, despite having so many around me.
It was my own experience that made me seek out becoming a postpartum doula. I knew what it felt like to be overwhelmed, unsure, and alone. Had I had someone to sit with me while I nursed Linden non-stop, or someone to help me find my groove with pumping and feeding, someone to help keep me hydrated and fed… I truly think our outcome would have been different.
While I didn’t have a traditional postpartum doula to help me navigate these new experiences, I did have a friend who I swear acted as my doula from a distance. My friend Caitlin and I met through blogging and despite having known each other for years, we have never met in person. She lives in Maine and I’m in Nashville. We’ve been making plans to meet, but despite never hanging out in person, she’s the one I text morning, noon, and night. She had her daughter Amelia just 12 days before I had Linden, so we experienced pregnancy and motherhood together. She’s the one who listens to me when I think I can’t take another second of it, and she vents to me when she needs to release. She’s never judged me, and vice versa. We’ve both made decisions that are opposite of one another, but that’s never impacted our relationship. That type of support and compassion is exactly what I offer my own clients.
Experiencing the world with postpartum depression isn’t exactly something one would call fun, but I’m grateful for my experience. While I know a postpartum doula would have done a world of good for our family, I feel even more capable and confident in my ability to serve families in their parenting journeys based on what we’ve overcome ourselves. At least I’ll know who to call next time around!
Authored by Kaelah Flynn