Category Archives: Doula

Lulling in the Sunshine

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Business has been booming. But in between all this, I have found a ray of sunshine to bathe myself in. Figuratively and literally.

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I have been utterly enjoying my daughter. I don’t know if it is her age and how delightful she is, or her smell that I find so intoxicating. Or if it’s the funny things she says. I feel like I can’t get enough of her.

Like today, we went to the grocery store. When we arrived she realized we had forgotten to bring her little shopping cart she likes to push around the store. I promised her that we could get her a little treat from the store as compensation. So we are in the frozen food aisle. To the right, there are buckets of ice cream. To her left are boxes of cookies. And the store manager is stocking shelves.

Gabrielle’s face lights up and she says to me, “Mommy! I know what I want for my treat!”

–I’m thinking, oh no! Cookies or Ice Cream?–

She says, “I want a stick of celery of my very own!”

“You sure are a Pender kid, Gabrielle.” I say to her smiling. The store manager is trying to muffle his laughter.

We get her a stick of celery and she gnaws it all the way to the till. Yum!

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We have salad greens sprouting and the peas are finally uncurling and popping through the soil. But tomorrow is April and it feels like we should be more ahead in the garden than we are. Maybe last year the weather was already warmer. Today was the first day the deck was warm enough for a t-shirt. Gosh, it’s only March. What am I complaining about? And I’m really not.

The bees aren’t either.

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I’ve been getting up early to run as the sun rises. It is so refreshing and starts off my day quietly, which I love. And it allows Marc to have the afternoons after work to build his cedar strip canoe.

When I was a kid, my brother was really into dinosaurs. He learned all about the different kinds, and what they ate, and what time period they lived. And through osmosis, I learned a lot about dinosaurs too.

We learn by the people around us and I am very fortunate to have a husband that is always learning something new. Right now, he’s learning how to build a canoe. Through osmosis, Gabrielle and I get to learn some of the steps too. As Marc drafts his canoe station molds, Gabrielle “drafts” her molds too, trying to imitate the lines he draws with careful precision. One moment, she is drawing plans for her canoe, the next she is hollering that hippo is having a baby!

This is a real conversation that recently happened in our house:

“Mommy! Come quickly, Hippo is having a baby!”

“Mommy! I can’t find the basket for Hippo’s placenta! Where is it? It’s coming and I don’t have a basket!!”

**Me looking at Marc with my hands raised like, Where does she come up with this stuff.**

He misinterpreted my gaze and retorts, “I don’t know where the Placenta Basket is!”

Happy April friends.

A Birthing Day

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Gabrielle turned Three amid much excitement.

Yes we all know it was her birthday and I think she’s amazing etc. But what about the mama who did the birthing? My birth story is Here. And you can read about the whirlwind in which she entered the world.

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But she is not a whirlwind child with a flair for the dramatic. She is often a wise old soul who prefers quiet (unless it involves a drum and a harmonica.) Nonetheless her birthday, since I pushed her out, has been filled with drama.

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Last year I had a baby born 5am on her birthday and I rushed to catch the ferry so I could attend her birthday party.

This year I left the house at 6am to go to a woman in labour in Pender. (Not where babies are born as there are no medical facilities near by.) And I almost caught my first baby. Thankfully the doctor arrived 15 minutes before the baby.

My favourite moment in this precipitous labour was after the baby was born and placed on mama’s tummy, the doctor looked at me and said, “What do we clamp the umbilical cord with?” And the husband said, “I know! We can use shoelaces!”

So we did.

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I got home at 11am and got to spend the rest of the day with my beloved baby who is no longer a baby but nearly a “grown-up,” she tells me.

I have started my journey as a doula two years ago and every year so far, I get to attend a birth on the day I too was in labour. It brings my own experience flooding back to me. It reminds me how sacred the process is, bringing a life into the world. And I witness these beautiful strong women and their determination and courage.

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Happy birthday my love. And Happy Birthing day to the other incredible women who let me into their space.

Hallowe’en. (Yeah I’m a bit behind.)

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Hallowe’en day started off pretty normal. Piglet was hosting a tea party and invited Roo and Pokie. Tigger hogged the dainty cup and slurped the tea rudely. Typical Tigger. But we all have those friends and love them regardless.

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Then Gabrielle forgot she had to go for a drive to the store and pick up some broccoli. She fastened Pip in her car seat which happens to also double as a chinese food take-out box. And said she’d be back soon.

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Next it was pumpkin carving. Gabrielle has become quite efficient at separating the guck from the seeds. And pretending the pumpkin was a big pot of soup which needed copious stirring. Then the attention span was gone and a tricycle ride was in order.

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She zoomed.

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And she confessed that her red shoes made her go faster. I told her Red does that.

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Then the phone has a camera on it and that’s fun.

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We put our pumpkin outside with a candle. And Gabrielle informed me that the mustache actually looks more like a mouth. On a walk a couple days later, we found a pumpkin and she said to me, “Look Mommy. That pumpkin over there has a way better mustache than yours!”

Thanks Babe.

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And there were pumpkin tarts. But also, shhhhh! There was Christmas music….

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And there was a spunky little giraffe who we decided to call Gabriaffe. Gabriaffe was very fond of her tail. And candy.

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After such a long day of toiling, Gabriaffe was ready to retire.

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Unfortunately for me, my work was just getting started. After tucking her to bed, I jumped on a ferry and ended up sleepless for a bit.

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After a bit of sleeplessness from work, I am always entirely sick of granola bars, protein bars, and nut mixes. I just want some real food. A real meal with some veggies. I left the hospital and drove to my friends’ place where I stay to catch up on sleep and wait for the next ferry home, and there in the fridge was this delightful dinner just for me!

I know I talk on and on about all the support a doula needs to take care of her little one, and compensate for the days missed, but I must say it again. I am so grateful for my friends and family who support me through this. You make it so much easier to do what I love!

 

When Life is Crazy, Smile and Caffeinate.

**This story does have details of a birth I attended but I do have permission from the mother to share what I share here. Doula work maintains strict confidentiality and this is very important to me, thus I mention here that I only share anything with explicit permission from the family involved.**

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The rest of my week before Wednesday was a bit boring. Sorta’ ho-hum. Nothing to report. And I was getting bored during the days as I was waiting for a baby to come.

Then Wednesday hit.

Wednesday morning, Gabrielle and I trundled off to playgroup and we were playing babies when I got a text saying,

“Sooo, my water just broke.”

I said to Gabrielle, “Brie we have to go now. Please come and put your shoes on.”
She looks up at me and says, “Is there a baby coming?”
“Yes. Come on.”
“OK Mommy.” She slips into her shoes and runs to the car.

Such a good doula child.

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I phoned my husband and said, “There is a baby coming.”
He said, “I am on my way home.”

He almost beat me home. I grabbed my pre-packed bag and was at the ferry terminal 15 minutes later. It was seamless and beautiful. I was so thankful for Marc and how he supports me in this difficult career.

I drove off the ferry, for approximately 3 minutes and my car died. My car died…. Like putt putt putt putt, nothing.

So there I was, stranded on the side of the highway, and I was supposed to meet my girl at the hospital in 45 minutes.

I phoned a friend who came and got me. We left the car on the side of the highway while we booted it to the hospital. I arrived only 2 minutes after I was supposed to be there.

After checking in with the couple, I went with my friend to the car and phoned BCAA. They came to tow the vehicle. The tow truck driver couldn’t find us. And then the cell phone died.

The cell phone died!

Like all of Rogers system Canada wide went *sploosh* into the toilets. How will this couple about to have a baby contact me? How will the tow truck driver find us?

I use my friend’s cell phone who is with the other phone company. I start phoning the midwife to forward a different phone number to her. Her phone is down. And the phone I’m using has 5% battery life left.

The tow truck driver pulls up after an hour, but he is at the wrong highway exit so my friend takes off running down the highway, trying to catch him. Then I get a miraculous text to my phone. It says:

“Amanda, your boat has come off the mooring buoy and it is about to float down the channel. You need to come get it!”

I look at this text, consider everything else that is absolutely chaos in my life at that precise moment, and I start laughing.

Hysterically. Laughing.

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Like a maniac. Then my friend comes back with the tow truck driver and sidles up to me subtly and says, “I thought that tow truck driver was going to kill me. We are not getting in his truck, ok?” Oh, creepy tow truck drivers….

Now I’m madly trying to contact someone on 4% battery life, 2% battery life, 1% battery life, to rescue my boat.

My car gets towed, I borrow my friend’s car and go to the midwife’s house because she has a pager that we can use instead of our cell phones. I get there and shortly after, the hospital calls her and says there is a woman in roaring labour here and could we PLEASE COME HERE IMMEDIATELY!??!!

We zoom down to the hospital. Then I am at the labour from 7pm until 7pm the next day. 24 hours later and lots of great times, we have a baby! Yay!

In the midst of that, Marc and Gabrielle have come over to Victoria and because of a miscommunication, no one picks them up from the ferry for two hours. (I had my friend’s phone who was supposed to pick him up from the ferry.)

The birth is done. The baby is healthy. I go back to my friend’s place to sleep. The next morning we try to piece back together everything that broke in the sum of two hours.

The car has a broken timing belt. The engine is fried. Car shopping time.

The boat is apparently unscathed which is a miracle. Perhaps unscathed is too strong a word. It is not taking on water. It looks intact, but we are getting a diver to assess the damage below the water line.

The cell phone situation is sorted. Just in time for the next birth.

We were finally all set to head up to my parents’ place for turkey. Then there is a family emergency that lands us in the emergency room again. It did not involve our immediate family, thankfully, and everyone is fine now. That set us back another number of hours.

Right now, the turkey is in the oven. Stuffed full with beautiful stuffing. And I am ready to have my turkey and eat it too. Because it sounds like I’m going to be busy pretty soon. And oh yeah, to buy a new car…..

None of the things that happened were the end of the world. No one was ever in danger. It was mostly just stuff and unfortunate circumstances. But I wanted to say that in the midst of this beautiful Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful for the village that supports me in the boring times and the adventurous times. I’m thankful for the family that will go out of their way to help. The friends who give everything (including car and cell phone) to support what I do. And all the friends who simply sympathized with me via. text while the world kept spooning me each bitter mouthful.

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The Ideal Doula (irony included)

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The Ideal Doula? Is there such a thing?

Who is the ideal person to be a doula? Someone who has kids? If they have kids, then they need to find someone to watch them for more than 24 hours while they are attending a birth.

If they don’t have kids, then they have a regular job which may not allow for someone to say “Uh sorry, can’t come in for a day or two or three because I’m at a birth!”

The Ideal Doula is a person with an excellent support system, in my humble and tiny opinion. Let me tell you about my awesome and lovely and beautiful support system.

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In no particular order, first there is Nannie. Nannie and Grampa live a ferry boat ride and an hour and a half drive away. But they are so lovely about being flexible in their schedule to accommodate my need of “Please take Gabrielle….when? Um, now!” This works out and I know she is happy playing with Nannie for a couple days if need be.

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There is Daddy. Marc works Monday to Friday and if he takes time off, it costs us money. His work is extremely flexible about it if there isn’t another option. And Marc is a supportive partner who really believes in the work I do. (Thank Goodness!) Often we consider him the last resort but they have so much fun together petting slugs in the woods (while identifying all the trees) or digging up potatoes (picture above) or riding her tricycle.

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We also have the good fortune of having Marc’s parents live on the same small island as us. Some people may not like having their in-laws so close but for me, it could not be more ideal. I try to be sensitive not to take advantage of this kindness, but when we work around my mother-in-law’s work schedule, having her take Gabrielle is always such a nice option. Then Gabrielle gets to sleep in her own bed and gets to play with Gramma while Marc works.

I have a couple other friends that will take Gabrielle if all else fails. And those friends are treasures in themselves.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I would say, especially if your mama is a doula!

Thanks so much for my family and friends who support me in this pursuit.