Letter to My First Born While Expecting My Second

Almost eleven years ago your father and I decided we wanted to start a family.  We knew it wouldn’t be easy as I have PCOS.  That didn’t deter us.  We knew it would happen when the time was right.  After years of trying, it didn’t happen.  We finally decided we needed help. We tried multiple doctors, alternative medicine, and drugs.  Finally, after 8 years of trying, when we had nearly given up, I saw those 2 magical blue lines, announcing your existence.  My pregnancy was not easy but I cherished every moment, knowing it could realistically be the only time I’d ever get to experience pregnancy.

Then you were born.  And you were perfect!  Smart, beautiful, precocious, and stubborn!  We doted on you.  You were the miracle we’d worked so hard for.  We were so proud of this amazing being we’d created.  You clearly preferred your daddy which broke my heart a bit but didn’t lessen the love I felt.

Now as you near your second birthday, we’re unexpectedly expecting a sibling for you.  We were “trying” to get pregnant again but didn’t really believe it would happen again, especially so soon.  You are so excited for the baby growing inside me.  You lift my shirt and kiss baby hello.  You’ve also become increasingly cuddly with me.  You’ve never wanted to cuddle with me unless Daddy wasn’t available.

As we cuddled the other night while Daddy was taking a bath, I was overcome with love and guilt!  I love you so much and I am thoroughly enjoying the snuggles that are now so freely given.  But I feel guilty because just as we’re starting to solidify such a wonderful bond, I’m bringing another baby into the family who is going to steal a good chunk of my time away from you.

In a few short months, you are going from my whole world, to sharing the spotlight with a new love.  I can’t help but wonder if I’ve spent enough time with you.  Were we selfish in having another child so soon?  Will you feel cheated later on?

I can’t answer those questions, but I can make you some promises!  I promise that you will still get alone time with Mommy, Daddy, and even both of us at the same time.  You will always be the miracle who made us a family.  I will always hurt when you are hurting.  I will always smile when you are happy.  And I will never love you less than I did the day you were born.

International Women’s Day: The Epitome of Strong Women

March 8 is International Women’s Day.  It’s a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.  We at Birth and Beyond would like to celebrate two women who have been incredibly influential to thousands of women worldwide:  Randy Patterson and Debbie Aglietti.

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Randy and Debbie own Northeast Doulas, a full service agency serving the Peekskill, NY area.  They started a diaper drive to help families in need.  The diaper drive has turned into events to assist families all over the country.  In addition to providing services and diapers to families, Randy and Debbie have been instrumental in elevating the doula profession through their certifying body, ProDoula.

In creating ProDoula, they have revolutionized the way doulas are trained.  They created a consistent curriculum for labor, postpartum, business training, placenta, and childbirth education. They teach non-judgmental support, relationship building, and most important, how to run a successful business.

Since being introduced to ProDoula around a year ago, my life has changed dramatically.  My business practices have improved and my client base has grown exponentially.  I am more confident in my personal and professional life.  I have seen the example Randy and Debbie have set and try to make them proud every day.  All of this, without ever meeting either of these ladies in person!  This is just from attending trainings from their representatives and interacting with them and other members of the ProDoula family online.  These women have greatly improved my business, my outlook, and my role in taking care of my family.

These “strangers” feel like a part of my family.  I know that if I ever needed advice, either one of them would chat to me on the phone and assist me to the best of their ability.  To feel that level of support, and to know that I have a whole team in my corner (the whole ProDoula family), makes me feel unstoppable.  These ladies challenge me every day to be better and to never stop growing.  Randy and Debbie are constantly asking us the hard questions and calling us out on our bullshit.  That may sound harsh to some, but it is out of love.  Randy and Debbie honestly want each person in the ProDoula family to be the best they can be.  They empower and inspire me.

So to Randy and Debbie, and all of the people whose lives they’ve touched, directly or indirectly, Happy International Women’s Day!  I hope you all share love and support to all of the amazing women around you today.  Thank you for being such an awesome part of my life and success.

Staffing Announcement

It is with a heavy heart and good wishes that we need to announce that Tammy has decided to leave Birth and Beyond. Her absence will definitely felt. She has accepted a new job that better matches her family’s current needs. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Meal Planning Now Available

I made an investment in you, our potential clients, yesterday! ProDoula recently hired a chef to help us be better postpartum doulas. Chef Joe created a meal planning template that I purchased yesterday. It will help your postpartum doulas be able to shop and plan meals your family will enjoy. This will now be available at no additional cost with any postpartum contract.

Another offer from Chef Joe is to take the meal planning worksheets and create recipes for your family. This feature does have an added cost. However it would be money well spent to have a menu and recipes created specifically for your family.

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Postpartum Support

Want to hear a heartbreaking statistic? 10-20% of new mothers in the United States experience moderate to severe postpartum depression with up to 50% experiencing mild depression (Illinois Department of Public Health, 2012). One of the most common reasons is lack of support. In Malaysia, where there is an emphasis on supporting postpartum mothers, the reported rate of postpartum depression is 3.9%.

Not so long ago in the U.S. the tradition was that a woman’s mother or mother-in-law would come to stay for a few weeks or even a few months after the birth of a baby. This helped the new mother to concentrate on bonding and caring for her infant while the grandmother was able to keep up with household chores (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.) and to care for the new mother (making sure she was eating, sleeping, bathing, etc.). Our economy makes this tradition mostly a thing of the past. Quite a few grandparents are still in the workforce which makes taking a month long vacation difficult. Most partners have to return to work within a few days after the baby is born because of an unpaid maternity/paternity leave or lack of leave allowed by a job. This leaves a new mother, still physically healing, hormones surging and waning, and emotionally raw, alone.

Even if she is not a first time mother, this can be a scary time. She is still trying to learn the cues of this new child while trying to bond. If she’s a first time mother, she may spend most of her day wondering if this or that is normal. If she is not a first time mother, she likely has another child she’s trying to care for as well.

So how can we help? When you go to visit a new mother, after you’ve snuggled that new baby you came to meet: start a load of laundry, load the dishwasher, bring a crock-pot meal, take an older sibling into the backyard while the mom and baby take a nap, ask the mother if she wants to take a quick shower while you change the baby’s diaper, etc.

What about moms who don’t have friends and family available? Consider a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula is trained to support growing families. They are well versed in what are normal postpartum changes versus what requires a call to a care provider, newborn care, breastfeeding support, and emotional support. A postpartum doula’s role changes from client to client. Most postpartum doulas offer day hours and overnight hours. Overnight shifts generally mean giving baby a bottle when he or she wakes or bringing the baby to the mother to breastfeed. Then the doula soothes and puts the baby back to sleep enabling the parents more sleep.

Doulas also offer non-judgmental support. That means your parenting philosophy becomes the philosophy of the doula while he or she in in your home. Whether you choose breastfeeding or formula feeding, cloth or disposable diapers, schedules or baby lead sleep/feeding, your doula will support your choices. If you aren’t sure what your options are, or which option fits your family best, your doula can also provide you with unbiased information about your options so you can make your own decisions. A doula’s goal is to provide whatever support a new parent needs. By providing mothers and their partners with the tools they need, parents feel more confident in their parenting and are therefore more effective parents to their children. A doula supports new parents to empower themselves through their choices.

Birth and Beyond would love to contribute to postpartum confidence for new parents. Call or email today to see how we can help you.