From Only Child to Big Sibling

As your family grows you are, of course, filled with joy for the new life about to join your cozy family of three. When you brought your first baby home it was a major adjustment for you and your partner. Now bringing home a little sibling means an adjustment for all 3 of you. How do you get your first born ready to be a big sibling?

Involve Them in The Changes

Your child already feels a big shift before the baby even arrives. The addition of new furniture, toys, an entire room dedicated to a human who isn’t living there yet, and the emotion and physical changes their mother is going through.

Find time to make them feel special.

Involve them in the process. Let them pick out a very special new sibling toy, or the first outfit the baby might wear.

Attend a Big Sibling to-be Class

Find a class dedicated just towards helping young children prepare for a new baby.

These classes will often teach children how to hold their new sibling, change diapers, and other ways to be a big help to the new baby. The aim of the class is equally about learning how to care for a new baby, and getting excited about your growing family.

Find Time for Mommy Daddy Dates

It’s important to find special time to spend just the two of you. Come into work an hour late one morning and spend it at a breakfast date with your first born. Or take them to the park after work and have a picnic-style dinner outside. Do a special craft with them where your phone is away, and your focus is on spending time together. We know those cravings could be starting to hit hard- bake cupcakes together.

What you do doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that you do it together.

Don’t Change Their Routine

As mentioned above, so much of their life is changing.

Try to keep your rhythm and routine’s close to the same.

If they are in preschool, don’t pull them out. If they aren’t potty learning yet, wait to make that change. If they are still using a paci or other lovey, let them keep their lovey. Stability is important for young children, so keep the same routine.

Prepare for Regressions

Your child may not fully understand what bringing home a baby means. So be prepared to help them through the process.

Prepare ahead of time for your older child to need more of you.

Be prepared for them to have potty accidents, and possibly sleep less. This preparation can come in the form of a postpartum doula. She’ll come to your home and give you time set aside for you to enjoy your older child without caring for your infant. Or have your postpartum doula prepare a very special ‘big kid’ activity that she can do with your oldest.

We hope the transition from family of 3 to family of 4 is smooth sailing for your family. Preparing yourself and your child can make it an easier adjustment for everyone.  

Thankful For Cesareans

Chances are you have a plan for the birth of your baby. Maybe you’ve been religious about your diet and exercise while pregnant. You’ve been doing all the yoga, Pilates, and chiropractic work to make your body ready to bring your baby into the world.

Even the best laid plans can change. Your plans can change. You can change your plan, or maybe your baby has a plan of their own. After all, the baby holds all the power.

It seems as though people are quick to judge cesarean birth, and I think there is so much misunderstanding about it. This misunderstanding leads some parents to feeling disappointing in themselves, or their ability to birth their baby.

Did you know that not everyone’s body is made for making babies. Your body may be perfect for it, but others have minor problems that make birthing a baby vaginally near impossible.

Some people need cesareans. Some people don’t need a cesarean every time they birth their baby, but some do. Some women need cesareans regardless of their body’s ability to birth vaginally. Some women choose cesarean for a variety of reasons, and none of those reasons are wrong.

Some people question the ‘olden days’ saying “What about in caveman times when they couldn’t have cesareans, or epidurals, or gas, or therapeutic rest! People just listened to their body, and pushed out their baby! Why are we sectioning all these women? First of all it is demeaning to compare cesarean to any cutting, slicing, or sectioning. It is the way these mothers, or babies, are choosing to bring life into the world, and it is awe inspiring. Many people did birth vaginally with no problems, but many did have problems. But childbirth wasn’t as safe then as it is now. In fact it was quite dangerous. It wasn’t uncommon for mom, baby, or both to be lost during birth.

You know what makes birth safer now? It’s medical intervention. It’s inductions, and steroids. It’s testing, and regular doctor appointments to make sure everyone is healthy and on track. It’s also cesarean. Because if your baby isn’t tolerating labor well, they need to be born.

So that’s why I am so thankful cesareans exist. It is amazing that we have this option. Instead of losing your life, or the life of your baby, you can have a cesarean. If your baby’s heart rate drops, you can go into the OR and meet your baby safely. Because who doesn’t want a safe option to bring your baby into the world? 

Why am I Hearing my Baby Cry?

Standing above her crib, you hold your baby who is peacefully asleep. Finally. Snuggled up in her cuddly little swaddle blanket, you know she’s safe and comfortable. So you gently lay her down into her little bed. Eww what’s that smell? Oh. It’s you. It’s ok, mommy funk is totally acceptable, especially with such a fresh little baby. You decide it’s the perfect time for some self care, as she sleeps.

A shower sounds nearly divine. You put your spit-upy shirt in the laundry, turn on the hot water, and climb in. It feels amazing. You close your eyes, letting the water fall onto your hair, and down your face. Suddenly you hear her. Your baby is SCREAMING. The water shuts off. You hastily wrap yourself in a towel, and rush down the hall, dripping water the whole way. You push past her door and find, she’s still asleep. What was that? You could have sworn she was crying.

That was a phantom cry. And although the crying isn’t happening, phantom crying is real.

Some parents, or caregivers of small babies, will hear a baby cry when there is no actual crying happening. Phantom crying happens at the most unfortunate times. Usually when you know your baby is safe and doesn’t need you, so you attempt to care for yourself. While your showering, catching a quick wink of sleep, or cooking, just to name a few. This phantom crying can make you feel like you are going crazy. But you’re not. It is a real experience, with a few possible solutions.

If you’re feeling especially frustrated, you may consider a video baby monitor, so you can see if your baby is crying before you end your task. You may be over tired, and need to enlist the help of a friend, family member, or postpartum doula so you can get real sleep. If it’s affecting your daily life or giving you anxiety, you should talk to your doctor.

Early parenting will probably be stressful, but you should be able to enjoy parts of it. If you’re struggling to adjust to life after a new baby, find your village, talk to your doctor, and get on track to enjoy your postpartum experience.

When it Rains in San Diego

The blue skies above San Diego turn to grey clouds. The smell of musty sulfur hangs heavy in the air. Then without warning the misty rain drops fall to the ground. There are two type of San Diegans, those that love our rainy days, and those who believe it’s a true sign of impending doom.

For those San Diegans who love the rain, they believe it is beautiful and magnificent. They wake in the night to the light pitter-patter of rain hitting their roof, or rain drops falling against their window. Their slumber is only briefly disturbed, they smile, and roll over swiftly back to sleep. When they wake the blue skies are out again. The whole world looks clean, bathed, serene. The birds chirp a little louder, the grass stands a little taller, the leaves on our trees are even greener. Maybe these San Diegans enjoy their cup of coffee outside on these mornings. The world keeps turning.

For the other San Diegans, the rain can be scary. They wake to the thunderous roar pounding on their rooftop. Was the house even built for this storm?” They spend the night gathering up their animals. They check on their children, who are safely and soundly sleeping. These San Diegans do not drift back to sleep, their mind is wandering. “Will the traffic be bad on the 5?” “I hope the rain doesn’t cause any car accidents out there.” Then the rain stops. They pull back their curtains and see out. The clouds part ways, the ground is still glistening with rain. Suddenly a rainbow appears. The world keeps turning.

We often take for-granted just how novel it is to have a rainy day in San Diego. If you don’t live here it can be hard to understand a San Diegan’s relationship to the rain. No reaction is right or wrong- it simply is. Life is about balance. The variety of people in San Diego provide the balance we need. One of the most beautiful part of our city is the diverse group of people who call San Diego home.

My Heart Based Business

My job as a doula and owner of Southern Pacific Doulas here in San Diego, is a heart based business.

It’s so clear for me, that to be a great doula your heart must be in the right place.

My job and passion is to be empathetic and make a genuine connection with people. The relationship I have with my clients is incredibly close. People will talk to me as their doula about deeply emotional topics, things they don’t want to say to their mother, bff, or even their husband. They are comfortable confiding in me, because they know I won’t judge them. They know I will validate their feelings, no matter what the rest of their community or circle of friends may think of that choice.

Not only am I easy to connect with, but I can become a rock for parents during a turbulent time of life.

Not many life changes are both permanent and every changing, but having children is both.

Some people see a doula as their guide during this new chapter. Some people look back at their birth, and wonder how much more challenging it may have been without the presence of their doula.

So with the nature of supporting parents through this intimate time of life, being a doula is heart work.

Being a doula fills your heart.

Seeing parents become strong fills my heart. Seeing women do something they didn’t think that they could fills my heart. Seeing a dad realize his baby is really coming home with them is amazing. There are so many parts of my job that truly fill my heart.

With all of this heart filling I receive, some people think I’m willing to work for free. I can’t offer free work. My time is valuable, and people are valuable too.

My clients deserve a highly qualified doula, I don’t know anyone who deserves anything but the best.

Additionally, it wouldn’t be fair to offer a discount to some clients, while charging full price to others. I understand life happens, and some people are left in situations that they never expected. I also understand that professional support is expensive, but I’m never going to assume that anyone can’t manage their own finances.

This doesn’t mean I’m heartless or uncaring. I recently offered to host a community event benefiting a family who experienced an incredibly painful loss.

One of the reasons I opened Southern Pacific Doulas was to support the community of San Diego.

Supporting the community through strong business ethics, fair practices, and engaging San Diegans in supporting each other. These pillars of my business are so important to me.

So when you ask me to work for free, understand that I am not being insensitive or greedy. I’m being fair.

I’m eager to utilize my business to support families, especially those who truly need my support the most.

But instead of asking me to work for free, ask how can San Diego support this person? How can Southern Pacific Doulas rally other San Diegans into supporting them? And, how can we elevate this family, without degrading them?

After all, even in a heart based business “We need to fill our own cup first and allow the world to benefit from our overflow.” -Steve Maraboli

Why I Became a Doula

Why I became a Doula

I can give you an elaborate story about how I found my calling in life. How I’m pushed to support others. How my life’s mission is to bring joy to not just parents but all of San Diego. But you already know that. Just be being a doula it’s so obvious that I feel compelled to support those who need it.

 

There are so many reasons I became a doula. There are so many fabulous parts of my job. From seeing a couple become a family, to seeing a new parent well supported and empowered. I love my job, it’s truly a labor of love that fills my soul.

Although I love babies, my love for little people is not what lead me to become a doula. Although I love being a business owner, I could have opened any type of business.

I chose a doula agency because I love parents. I love seeing parents making empowering choices.

I became a doula because I love seeing mothers feel supported.

I became a doula because I love seeing fathers feel supported.

I became a doula because I love providing that support for them.

I became a doula because I love helping parents find their network, or being their network.

I became a doula because I love seeing parents make confident decisions.

I became a doula because I love seeing that first empowered decision turn into more.

I became a doula because I love seeing how confident parents raise confident children.

I became a doula because I love seeing happy families.

I became a doula because I love San Diego.

I became a doula because I love supporting San Diego businesses.

I became a doula not because I love children. I became a doula because I love supporting families. Seeing parents be the very best parents that they can be, and supporting them through their journey is amazing. It’s what drives me to be the best doula I can be.

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Do you ever feel like you don’t belong? Maybe as if you’re a little girl wearing your mom’s pearls, and high heels to a PTA meeting. You sit at the table, sipping tea, and listening to other parents. But you’re scared that someone will see you. “Hey I recognize you!” You sink into your chair, high heels slipping off your child-size feet. “Yeah you!” She says pointing, suddenly all eyes turn to you. “I recognize you from the park, where you play with my son on the swing set!” Bang! Suddenly everyone knows. You’ve been spotted! Everyone knows that you’re just faking it. You aren’t really an adult, you’re just a little kid, and you certainly don’t belong here.

Except you do belong. Because you aren’t a little girl. Those high heels fit you fine, because they are yours. The pearl necklace actually sits quite elegantly against your neck. And, no one is pointing. Instead they seek your counsel. “What do you think about having a bake sale?” Someone wants your input.

Sometimes parents find themselves feeling like they are faking it. Everyone else around them seems to know exactly what to do all of the time. These perfect mothers go home to spotless homes, and children who clean their room, brush their teeth, and love brussel sprouts. Thier partner shares housework evenly, and these woman even has time to read a book in a bubble bath many nights a week. The worst part? This woman can wear white for an entire day.

Meanwhile your children run around like wild banshees, you haven’t even found time to sweep the floor in a week, you have spit up stains on your shirt, you’ll be lucky if you get your kids into the bath, let alone yourself.

But the other woman isn’t really that perfect. She is supported, and she might be faking it a little bit. Maybe she has a meal service who cooks for her. She probably has a house cleaner too. Those two tasks alone give her enough time for self care. And that clean white shirt she wears? She just swaps out the spit-up shirt before she gets out of the car for PTA meetings.

So don’t feel like the little girl playing dress up. When you don’t have the answer, or you need help, find it. Build your support network. Make friends. Find meetup groups, or events for kids your same age. Ask Ms. Seemingly-Perfect “Wow, what’s your secret to making motherhood so fun?” No one has to walk through life alone, find your support network. Remember, you can always bring a few shirts so you can feel clean all day long too. The extra laundry might be worth it.

Labor Go!

If you have experienced prodromal labor I do not envy you. Prodromal labor is early labor that can last days or even weeks. Early labor can be so fun and exciting, it means you’ll be meeting your baby soon! However, when those irregular contractions happen for days it may become far less exciting.

The mild contractions can make mother uncomfortable. They happen while she tries to sleep. Imagine being very pregnant, and unable to sleep. Not so fun. Many mothers will be looking for way to get labor moving.

Sure you could walk on the curb, use nipple stimulation, or other lotions and potions supposed to rev up your labor. Or you could do something possibly even more awesome.

You could play Pokémon Go! This does 3 things to get labor moving.

  1. It distracts you!

            Early labor contractions are typically not challenging to work through. If you can give yourself something else to think about, it may distract you from that discomfort. Pokémon Go maybe just enough distraction to help you focus on something other than your contractions.

  1. It gets you moving!

            Many women find walking to be their favorite ways to get labor moving. The stretch can feel good, and open up your pelvis to allow baby to prepare to be born. So take a walk around the block in search of that elusive Abra. How do you catch Abra? I’m not sure, but I think you should try until labor gets going, or you do catch them all!

  1. It’s fun!

            Games are fun! Especially free and lighthearted ones. This is the beginning of your baby’s birth story. Why not have some fun during your early labor?

So pull out your phone and start walking! You’ll either become a Pokémon master, or you’ll be a little closer to meeting your baby- both of those are pretty cool!

In all seriousness, prodromal labor is nothing to joke about. Although there is no remedy, there are several techniques you can use to make you more comfortable. Talk to your provider about yoga, chiropractic, therapeutic rest, or ask what they recommend.

Summer Fears

With summer upon us here in San Diego, we are sure to hear about water safety, second hand drowning, and unfortunately babies left in hot cars. Those are all scary. The fact that they can happen is scary. These events do not mean that you are a bad parent, they just mean that someone made a mistake. As the days heat up, many San Diegans are fearful of forgetting their precious new bundle in the car, and they have good reason why.

A new baby is a change in routine. How many times have you gotten up, ready for the day, into your car, driven to work, you get out, and do your job? Probably a million and one times. Changing the routine to include a preschool drop off can be forgotten, simply because it’s different. It does not mean you forgot about your child.

In fact- if your baby is still itty-bitty you’re possibly pretty sleep deprived. When I’m tired, I’m not myself- I’m going to assume that you probably aren’t either. Some new parents make the entire drive to work, go up to their office, and realize that they forget to put on pants before leaving the house. So it’s not too far off to assume that sleep makes us forgetful. Speaking of forgetful, let’s not forget the very real ‘mommy brain’. Your hormones are going to take a while to go back to normal. Some faster than others, but be easy on yourself.

When I taught in preschool, we called parents. If you had a new baby enrolled, and you didn’t show up for drop off at your normal time, we would give you a call. “Just checking in, we hope all is well in your house today!” A friendly reminder, because it’s sad, but a sleeping baby in the backseat of a tired parent’s car, can be overlooked.

If you are extra sensitive, or fearful, here are some of the precautions you can take.

  1. Leave your purse in your backseat. This will force you to go back there and see your smiling baby.
  2. Leave a note on your window. Sticky notes work great. When you get out of your car you’ll see that note “BABY!” and you’ll instantly remember.
  3. Use some of the awesome products. I’ve seen some great products to remind you, like a tether that goes from your handle to baby’s car seat.
  4. Tie a ribbon to your handle. Similar to a ribbon around your finger- they are pretty good at helping you remember.
  5. Set an alarm on your phone. If you are a scheduled person you’ll probably be out the door at about the same time, so set an alarm for when you would usually be dropping off.

I’m Not Your Advocate

Some people make the assumption that doulas are ‘birth advocates’. They aren’t wrong. Some doulas are advocates. As for Southern Pacific Doulas- we are not, and will never, be advocates.

By definition an advocate is:

“A person who publicly supports, or recommends a particular cause or policy. An example is a lawyer who fights and speaks for their client.”

If your doula were to feel the need to advocate for you, that means you need someone to speak for you. And you don’t. You and your partner have your voice, and the ability to make decisions.  I never want to crush your voice. By advocating I  may push my own vision onto your birth.

That’s not good because it sets me up for failure. We make a birth plan with the knowledge that they may change during your labor. If I advocate for unmedicated birth, and during labor you decide to get an epidural, you may feel like you disappointed me. That means my ability to offer nonjudgmental support is lessened. A changed birth plan may make me feel like I failed you. This may bring past ‘failures’ to your birth. That just wouldn’t bode well for you or me.

So instead of advocating, I educate (if you want it). The education, and ability to make your own choice empowers you, and brings you comfort and security. I leave advocacy out of my agency, and instead I offer nonjudgmental support. I support you, not any single type of birth. Medicated, cesarean, high risk, unmedicated, home, birth center, hospital, a change in plan, or no real plan at all- I will be there to support you.