Today's blog post is the second of a 3-part series written by BFW Grandma, Gini Emigh (Linnea's mom), reflecting on her birth experiences, and how she may have benefited from a doula.
Doula? What’s a doula? By the time I knew what a doula was, my children were already grown. When my daughter became pregnant and talked about having a midwife and a doula, I asked, “What would the doula do?” But now, as I think back about the births and early months of my children’s lives, I see many times when a doula might have been a real treasure to us.
Second Child (1982):
Everything had gone well the first time, so we were all set this time around, right? Nope. It was a hot, southern summer, everything was different, and the adjustment from 1 to 2 felt huge!
Three weeks before my due date my blood pressure was high and my feet were feeling puffy, so I was put to bed. Ted was at work all day and we had a healthy, active two year old. Would our doula have helped us deal with our worries about the baby and helped me get rest while living with a toddler?
Our second son was born just a week after I was put on bed rest. Labor was very short and everyone was fine. Our toddler was more excited about the new farm set he had received than about the arrival of his new brother. We were glad to get home, but I was overwhelmed by trying to give everyone the attention they needed. Two weeks after baby’s arrival, the two children and I had a particularly hard day.
It was a hot in North Carolina in September and everyone was a bit cranky. Ted was at work, and I did my best to be there for our toddler, but the baby was really out of sorts. Nothing seemed to please him. I felt distracted and pulled in too many different directions at once. It would be an understatement to say that I was not managing well. When Ted arrived home at the end of the day, I was beside myself. He picked up the baby and immediately said, “He’s burning up!” It was such a hot day, and I had been so lost in the details of survival, I hadn’t noticed that he was running a fever. I felt like such a terrible mom.
Soon, we were all at the pediatrician’s office being informed that a spinal tap would be necessary to rule out meningitis. It was suggested that we wait outside the building during the procedure. It would take 2 days to get the results of the spinal tap, but if treatment were delayed until the test results came back, it might be too late. So, we were on our way to the hospital and our two week old was treated there with antibiotics. We were told that it was likely just a harmless viral infection, but we were understandably worried. After two days of taking turns at the hospital 24 hours a day, the results came back negative and our baby was recovering well from his bout with a virus. We were grateful to family and friends for their support.
Those first months with two children under the age of three were among the most stressful of my life. There were times that I had to remind myself that our toddler should be the only two year old in the house. I had to make an effort to be the grown up. During those months I had to deal with anger and frustration that I didn’t know were possible in me. I remember making a vow that I would not hit my children. Would a few hours of doula assistance from time to time have made that particularly hard day and the days that followed a little easier?
Again, we survived. But it would have been great to have a doula.