Carmen and Anand’s Story: Managing Multiples & Reflux

by Kari Hastings

Photo credit: Clicks by Suzanne

Photo credit: Clicks by Suzanne

When Carmen and Anand’s twin daughters made their debut in October 2016, the couple got initiated into baby land – times two. “Neither of us had any experience with babies, like zero,” Carmen says. “The first time Anand held a baby was when he held our girls.”

Going from zero to 60 overnight was intense, and both Carmen and Anand say they couldn’t have done it without Bridgetown Baby’s Welcome Home and overnight packages. Carmen had a cesarean birth at 34 weeks. Her babies, Anais and Amara, spent 20 days in the Neonative Intensive Care Unit, which she describes as “baby boot camp.” “We learned a ton from the NICU nurses,” she says. “But it’s different when you’re home with them, and you have to figure out what to do.”

Anais, born at just 3 pounds 12 ounces, had significant reflux issues and screamed in pain after every feeding. Bridgetown Baby postpartum doulas Merriah Fairchild, Rose Otter and Catherine Akerson Bailey all worked with the twins, demonstrating how to get them to breastfeed and bottle-feed at the same time, and how to massage their tiny bellies to relieve pressure, burp them and wear them around the house in a wrap. The doulas also assisted with practical things, like setting up an organized bottle-feeding system and figuring out which bottles and nipples worked best.

Anand says having their input was calming

“I’m a research-oriented person,” he says. “I do a ton of reading and look up everything online. I was able to just let go, save up my questions and ask the professionals when they showed up every week. It really helped our relationship with the babies and our relationship with each other.”

Carmen says the “overnights” were the best.

“Those overnights were a godsend,” she says. “We just bought it like it was another resource. It’s really not a luxury item. It’s a need to have, not a want. Merriah would leave the next morning, and the babies and I would be happy and rested, the kitchen would look great, lactation cookies would be baked and breakfast would be on the table.

“The biggest gifts they gave us were confidence and peace of mind. Our postpartum doulas really were a bridge to our new life.”

Julia's Story: Navigating Anxiety and Postpartum Depression

by Kari Hastings

Photo credit: Leah Biado-Luis Photography

Photo credit: Leah Biado-Luis Photography

Julia T., mom of Emma – born in February 2016, remembers her most vulnerable moment with Bridgetown Baby’s Emily Darley Hill. It was morning, and Emily was dropping in for one of their scheduled visits. Anxiety and postpartum depression had taken hold of Julia in the middle of the night, overwhelming her with feelings of negativity and a pleading question, “How will I ever feel better again?” When Emily arrived, Julia crumpled onto her couch and cried, “I just want to be a good mom.”

Although Julia had a good support system – a mother and sister living within blocks, plus many nearby friends – she says Emily’s support as a postpartum doula pulled her through that dark time and helped her find her footing as a new mom. “Emily normalized what I was going through,” Julia says. “She assured me I was going to be OK, and for me, that was huge.”

Emily connected her with a therapist who specializes in postpartum issues, and a neighborhood moms support group. Julia, who had a planned C-section, bought three Bridgetown Baby packages – a breastfeeding package and two home-visit packages.

Julia says knowing she would have a weekly doula visit was a lifesaver. “Emily would take the baby, wear her around the house in a wrap, clean, do laundry, cook, do food prep for the week, and my husband and I would just relax or sleep,” she says. “She would rub my feet, listen, give me advice, just anything I needed.”

Setting up Bridgetown Baby services in advance of her birth was one of the smartest things she did, Julia says. “I’ve struggled with anxiety in recent years, so I wanted to line up that support ahead of time,” Julia says. “I’m so glad I did. Emily was the sweetest, most calming presence. You can have the best family and friends in the world. The difference with a doula is that it’s their job to help you. There’s no guilt associated with it. They’re professionals.”

 

New Family Stories (aka The Lovely, Messy Truth)

For expecting parents, the days after your baby is born stretch ahead like a blank expanse. You probably have some idea or hopes for what it will be like, and perhaps some war stories shared by friends who have kids. But overall, it's a bit of a mystery. And then, suddenly, you're on the other side with a new human and it's nothing like you expected. The good parts are unimaginably blissful, and the hard times are beyond what you ever thought you could endure. Nothing can really prepare you for the intensity of the postpartum period, and that can feel scary and lonesome.

But know this: you are not alone.

Isolation is one of the toughest parts of parenting in America. When you're alone with questions, and a new baby whose life has been entrusted to you, it's daunting. Our mission as postpartum doulas is to build a bridge of support for new families, to help you find your own strength and capacity, but even doulas have to go home sometime. We want you to know that you are never truly alone in this parenting endeavor. You are surrounded by love and community, even in the dark, wee hours. To that end, we have launched a new project for this year, with a focus on sharing stories from the postpartum zone: good things, hard things, mundane moments. And, because we are passionate about our work, our stories talk about how postpartum doulas can support families in many different ways. Every family deserves postpartum support.

We are so excited to share the first installment in our New Family Stories this February. They are compiled and written by the talented and brilliant Kari Hastings. Please let us know what you think, what you want to hear about, if you'd like to share your own story. We would be so honored.