My passion of birth and babies began when I was 11 and my little brother was born at home in our living room while my sister and I watched. It was so amazing to see this little being come into the world and to see how much he depended on us to look after him. It wasn’t all smooth sailing; he was a colicky baby and my mom and I were the only ones able to calm him. So I would get home from school and sit in the rocking chair in our kitchen cradling this tiny infant while my mom made dinner. As a teenager, I loved spending my evenings and weekends playing and looking after little kids and was highly sought after as a babysitter.
Fast forward a few years to the pregnancy and birth of my eldest daughter. I read every book I could find hoping that I could “perfect” birth and parenting. I was especially excited to breastfeed my child and had no idea how difficult that road would be. The first 6 weeks of my daughter’s life was spent driving an hour and a half to specialist appointments to treat vascular pain from Reynaud’s syndrome, plus dealing with nipple shields, mastitis, yeast rashes, creams, ointments, and hours and hours of tears. Eventually I prevailed. She became a champion nurser and we had a wonderful nursing relationship that lasted 19 months.
I was just as excited to be pregnant with my second and naively thought that everything would be easier. My son was born at home after a fast but uncomplicated labor, but nursing him, to my dismay, again proved challenging. An undiagnosed tongue and lip tie, coupled with a flare up of my Reynaud’s syndrome made breastfeeding again incredibly painful and challenging. He also developed nipple confusion and he and I struggled for 8 weeks to get a good latch without a nipple shield. Shortly after we got our breastfeeding challenges sorted out I was diagnosed with Post-partum Depression. Fortunately my doctor was wonderful and we got it under control fairly quickly.
My third pregnancy took me quite by surprise and was very uneventful. The birth of my youngest daughter, again at home, was beautiful and flawless. However, several hours later I suffered a severe post-partum hemorrhage and was rushed to hospital. During my long recovery, I learned my greatest lesson of post-partum care: Supporting a new mom is the best way to show that you care. I had so many friends and family step up and help us get through this difficult recovery time. I will be forever grateful for all they did and it was this experience of immeasurable gratitude that lead me to become a Post-partum Doula so that I can offer other women the same care and support that I received.