Having a baby surrounded by parents, in-laws and friends is … still hard. Having a baby in a city you just moved to, with few friends and no family around is … overwhelming, isolating and feels impossible.
That’s where Maggie H. found herself just before Thanksgiving 2015, as she ushered her first baby, Kaia, into the world, just 10 months after moving to Portland from Brooklyn, New York. Her parents live in California, and her husband Peter’s parents live in Philadelphia.
Maggie had been induced, and contractions were unusually intense, leaving her with severe abdominal pain for weeks. “I was crying every day,” she says. “I had so much anxiety about breastfeeding. Was she latching? I didn’t want to hold my baby because it put so much pressure on my stomach. Did this make me a bad mom?”
Peter’s parents suggested a night nurse. Maggie, a self-described “tough midwestern girl,” says she resisted the idea. But five days after returning home from the hospital, she relented. Through word-of-mouth, Peter found Bridgetown Baby. Mercifully, Maggie says, they sent postpartum doula Emily Darley Hill over that night. The relationship extended for four months of periodic overnights.
Maggie says Emily and postpartum doula/IBCLC lactation consultant Merriah Fairchild “literally saved my life. They were so knowledgeable and safe and warm. I knew I could trust them. They helped me feel empowered, like I was owning it.”
Emily and Merriah helped Maggie learn how to breastfeed Kaia despite her sore abdomen. Maggie also learned how to swaddle her new daughter and wear her in a sling. She went from getting one hour of sleep at a time to four. The doulas did laundry, cleaned and engaged in a friendly competition of who could bake the best chocolate chip cookies.
Now the family has a broader support system and “mama network,” but at the time, Maggie says Bridgetown Baby was a lifesaver.
“It’s just an incredible way to support yourself and your family during a difficult time. It’s beyond worth the money,” she says. “You can’t put a price on sanity.”