Photo: My mom, Liz, with my newborn baby, Shane, in January 2007
“All you need is one person, just one person who trusts and believes in you, and then you feel you can do anything.” Esther Wojcicki
Here is a little story about how postpartum support was important for me.
My first son was born on December 20th. He was not supposed to be a Christmas Baby because my due date was January 5th. As it was my first baby, I really didn’t expect him to come early. The truth is due dates are just guesstimates. Babies come when they are ready and nobody really knows when that will be exactly.
My mother flew from California to Florida on Christmas Day to be with me.
Her original flight was booked sometime in early January with the hopes that she could be with me in labor. However I had an unexpected emergency c-section, so she changed her flight and came as soon as she could.
My family in California celebrated Christmas on December 24th, so that my Mom could come and be with me. Thanks guys. I love you.
When she arrived she said: “I am your servant.” Cue my heart melting with love. Thank you Mom. I really needed that.
I learned later that the word “doula” derives from ancient Greek, meaning “Woman’s servant.”
Over the next ten days she did everything: cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning up the house, changing the kitty litter, playing with the cat that she somehow taught to play fetch with a fluffy ball, driving me to my doctor and pediatrician appointments, bringing me snacks and drinks while I was breastfeeding, sitting and talking with me, listening to me as I grieved the loss of the birth experience I’d hoped for, comforting me, holding the baby while I showered, rocking the baby to sleep while I took a break, keeping me company as we watched TV, and just being there quietly so I was not alone.
Her presence meant so much to me.
She truly was my doula and my postpartum support.
I was in a really sad and scary place because the c-section was totally not what I had wanted. There were 17 staples holding my belly together. I was trying to recover from that physically and mentally while also figuring out how to be a Mom and take care of this tiny human that relied on me 24/7.
There was one very specific moment that I will never forget while I was breastfeeding. I was getting the hang of it and we seemed to be doing okay, but I had this nagging fear and concern that so many new breastfeeding mothers have: How do I know I’m making enough milk? How do I know that my baby is getting enough?
I told my Mom about this concern. She looked at me straight in the eyes and said to me:
“Christie – YOU ARE MAKING ENOUGH MILK. Look at your baby. He’s completely satisfied and content.”
She was right. My doubt and worry was really unfounded. He was happy. He was feeding 8 – 12 times a day or more. We were changing dirty diapers regularly. He was just perfect. There was absolutely nothing to worry about.
Hearing this from another person was powerful. Her words validated me so much. Her words really confirmed what I really already knew.
You are doing it. You’ve got this. You are an amazing mother.
Her belief and trust in me helped me to believe and trust in myself as a new mother.
Although she is not in my life anymore, to this day I am grateful for that moment that she gave to me.
Postpartum support can come from family, friends or a doula. Our doulas are here for you to be that one person who believes and trusts in you when you need it.