As part of my doula service, I provide two prenatal visits, attend my clients' births, then make a postpartum visit to debrief and hug, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.
I encourage my clients to call or email me frequently - for years (yes, I really mean that). I'm often on the phone for a few hours each day, answering clients' questions, brainstorming, or providing support and encouragement. I encourage my clients to text or call me whenever a question arises during pregnancy or postpartum, which is SO much more helpful than asking them to store it up for visits. We're able to work through each concern in the moment.
Please don't be shy about getting in touch. It makes everything smoother in the long run.
Recently, I checked in with a former client to see how things were going (three years after she gave birth to twins). "Any words of wisdom?" I asked.
"It doesn't get easier, it just gets different," she said.
I've been a mum for more than a quarter century, and I've cared for enough families to fill the Queen Elizabeth Theatre...and I've talked about parenting at length with so many people. But this woman had summed it all up in just a few words.
Change comes in ever widening spirals. Change comes daily with a newborn, then weekly...then monthly...then yearly, as she grows. The physical and emotional challenges of raising children are dynamic. "Someone keeps moving the goal posts!" said one client. "Did they cover this prenatal class!? I can't remember anything anymore!"
Who knew that flexibility, creativity and spontaneity (along with a whole whack of family and community support) were the keys to successful parenting? In the beginning, we thought we just had to learn the basic rules of "How to Parent" and everything would be smooth sailing! Boy, were we wrong! It's all about rolling with the changes.
But you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You are not alone! Someone else is going through the same thing...right now...
So, give me a call. Whatever you're dealing with, I've probably heard from another client who is struggling with something similar, just this morning. And maybe, you might just want to connect with her. We can support each other through the daily changes and challenges of mothering.
Just this week, I was standing in the rain on Granville Street, discussing a woman's overabundant milk supply. Then, an hour later, I received a call (when I was in another store) about another baby gagging and spluttering on his mum's gushing breast milk.
Then, the next day, I was sitting in my parked car talking with another client about how to increase her low milk supply, just before receiving a call from a different client to ask about donor milk.
Various solutions, including the Human Milk 4 Human Babies Facebook group (community milk-sharing), the local BC Women's Milk Bank, and my favourite lactation consultants popped into my mind. Personal connections were made...and they were off!
Yesterday, a mum called looking for some support dealing with the changes that happen around six weeks. She had found her rhythm a few weeks earlier. Feeds had been going well, sleep had become more predictable. Then...wham! the six week growth spurt had begun. Her baby had become more alert and started to sleep less. She was having to feed more to increase her milk supply. The goal posts had moved!
We talked. We both made tea while we talked, and we talked some more.
I'd better call her again on Monday to check in, and encourage her to go to her local community mum's group.
Every time a client calls me with a mothering question, it increases my ability to support the next woman. Each woman teaches me something completely new. I encourage her to share her experiences at the local mum's group or La Leche League meeting. We each strengthen the chain of women helping women. We support each other through the daily changes.
I won't tell you what to do when you call. None of this parenting stuff is black and white. I'll just help you add to your mothering tool chest, share recent research, brainstorm.
But, above all, I'll just do my very best to listen.
I'll do my best to share the wisdom that I've learned from my clients, as well as my years as a mum and grandmother, and being a doula.
Yes, there will be times when I won't have the experience to address your particular problem. But, at the very least, I'll know someone - maybe a professional, or maybe even another mum, who will be able to give you the tools to help yourself.
And then, I'll remind you that each day will be a mix of joy and tears and laughter. That's mothering. It's always changing, it's always challenging. It's never boring.
My client was right - "It doesn't get easier. It just gets different."