Birth Stories, Uncategorized

Dear Levi

I’ve been writing this letter in my head for a year. The day you were born, I left the hospital and bought a giant cup of coffee. I didn’t go straight home like I usually do after a birth, but instead I took my coffee for a walk. It was a perfect October morning, golden, crisp, and full of promise. I made my way down the trail holding my coffee close and I passed so many people. There were old ladies power walking and young men out running their miles and it boggled my mind that they were going on with their lives as normal, not knowing that everything was different that day because you were here.

You were born and everything changed.

I watched your mom and dad fight for you through hours and hours of Chopped reruns and even more hours of pushing. I watched them make their way across the bridge that leads from “childless couple” to “parents.” It’s a really long bridge, Levi. It feels like it stretches forever and when you finally see the other side, you realize you’re close, but you’ve still got obstacles to overcome before you’re across. Levi, they overcame so much to bring you here. I hope someday you get the chance to walk over that bridge yourself so you can really understand how much they offered up for you.

I will never forget how long you took to get here. Buddy, you put us through the ringer. Your sweet mama was incredible. I’ve seen a lot of women have babies, but I’ve never seen someone so polite, so thankful, so considerate of everyone around her while she was working her hardest to have a baby. Your dad was precious to her. He was steady and comforting. He never stopped believing in her, not once.

When your mom got especially weary, there was one moment when she doubted herself. She had been pushing for hours, working desperately to bring you into the world, clawing her way across that bridge, and she asked us what she was doing wrong. 

Levi, there may come a day when you feel the same way. There might be a time when you’ll be doing all the right things, but they’re not achieving the effect you’re working toward and you’ll end up feeling discouraged and you’ll start doubting yourself and your abilities. I want you to remember what your dad said to your mom when she was in that place. 

When your mama asked us what she was doing wrong, your father replied,

Nothing. You are perfect.

And he was right. She was, in that broken and beautiful moment, completely perfect. So, when you feel lost and hopeless, I hope you remember the words spoken over your mother and over you in the moments before you were born. I hope you remember the deepest truth of all: that when there’s struggle, radical love is always the answer. Radical love is always the truth.

After your dad spoke those words, your mama mustered her strength. She accepted all of the help and love offered her, dug deep, let go of expectations and control, and delivered you into the world.

I see a lot of babies born, Levi. I don’t usually cry because I’m so busy taking pictures, getting cool cloths, and assuring moms and dads that yes, babies are normally that blue. But I cried when you were born. It might be because you’re my nephew, but I kind of think that it’s because your mom and dad showed me what it looks like to partner together to get over that bridge. Honestly, I’m crying now as I remember it. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing and I’ll never stop being grateful that I got to be there when you entered this wild world.

Levi, you are a light. You are important, loved, and wanted. You are prayed for and adored. You are here for a reason. My wish for you on your first birthday is that you would be strong like your mama, gentle like your dad, and always remember the power of loving people right where they are. 

Happy birthday, my sweet friend. I’m so glad you’re here.

This letter to one of my doula babies is a little snapshot of my doula heart and mind. It shows how I see my clients, how much I value the privilege of being at their births, and how much I treasure the little moments I get to experience. This letter is shared with permission from my clients who are part of the Bright Birth family and also happen to be members of my actual family. Levi turned one right before Halloween and I’m so grateful to share my experience of his birth.

Uncategorized

Update to Services: Virtual Doula Support

The current outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has radically changed our childbirth system, making it impossible for doulas to be physically present during most hospital births. However, doula support is just as valuable as ever. In fact, one might argue that doulas are needed now more than ever. In a time when expectant parents are anxious, navigating policy changes in their hospitals, as well as in their state and local governments, managing potential changes to income and daily living, and filtering through the onslaught of incoming news and recommendations, the guidance of a seasoned doula provides irreplaceable calm in the storm. When so much is out of our control, it is imperative that expectant parents have access to birth professionals who can answer questions, provide training, teach coping techniques, and be a voice of confidence and comfort in the birth room. While nothing replaces the physical presence of a doula, virtual support is the next best thing! 

It is so important for me to emphasize that you are not alone and do not have to navigate this time by yourself. I’m happy to say that I already offer distance support and can vouch for the benefits of virtual doula support. At this time, I’ve created a special Virtual Doula Support package at a reduced rate of $300. (My traditional birth doula packages range from $500-$700.) The Virtual Doula package offers more comprehensive support than my Distance Doula package, including more extensive prenatal support and is perfect for expectant parents delivering under the current Covid-19 restriction. The package includes the following:

  1. Up to three virtual prenatal support meetings during which I will help you navigate the current birth environment, create a birth plan, advise you and your partner on comfort measures and positions, provide extra training to your support partner, and more.
  2. Email and text support, including unlimited on-call access beginning at 38 weeks of pregnancy.
  3. Pdf files of labor resources and a concise labor guide for quick reference.
  4. Virtual support for the entirety of your labor, method to be determined by the client and doula after contract signing.
  5. Virtual postpartum meeting at 7-10 days after delivery as well as text/email support for up to four weeks after delivery.
  6. Access to resource list of virtual and Telehealth postpartum support.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty due to Covid-19 but would still like doula support for your birth, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My deepest desire is for all families to have the best birth experience possible and am happy to make payment arrangements as needed. I’m here for you always, but especially in this current climate of change and unpredictability. 

You may not have the birth experience you always thought you’d have, but together we can ensure that your birth is beautiful, enriching, and empowering. Though so much has changed, you still have options and the ability to take the lead. If you’re looking for a partner to accompany your family on this wild ride, I am happy to be your huckleberry. I know you can do this and I’m here for you every step of the way!

Love and light,

Mary Susan Delagrange CD(DONA)

 Let choice whisper in your ear and love murmur in your heart. Be ready. Here comes life.

Maya Angelou
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World Doula Week 2020

It’s World Doula Week and what a world we’re in! Many doulas are finding it difficult or even impossible to support their clients in hospitals, as visitor restrictions are incredibly high due to COVID-19, and understandably so. I find myself on both sides of the issue, 100% dedicated to staying home, flattening the curve, and not contributing to the problem, but also 100% convinced of the necessity of doula support for laboring families, especially now when so many of them are fearful and anxious. It’s a real conundrum, one I haven’t made peace with yet, if I’m honest.

However, I’m practicing what I’ve been preaching to my clients: Control what we can control and let the rest go. I am not the person in charge of hospital policies and have no control over whether I’ll be allowed in with clients. However, I can control my response to the situation and do my part.

The truth remains that doulas fill the gap. In normal, non pandemic birth situations, doulas are imperative because we’re able to stay with our clients for their entire labors. Unlike midwives, doctors, and nurses who have many other tasks and patients they’re working with, your doula sticks with you and doesn’t leave your side…unless she has to go to the bathroom. We’re not that good. 😉

It has struck me that the gap has widened now and we doulas have to adapt and be creative in order to fill it. But we’re still here. We’re still eager to serve, willing to do what it takes to help our clients achieve the most beautiful, peaceful, empowering births they can possibly have.

So, what does that look like, boots on the ground?

It looks like a ton of phone, text, and virtual support. It looks like more time spent sending resources via email, meetings being held on online platforms, and lots and lots of phone calls and listening. It looks like time spent reviewing resources and best practices, taking time to stay on top of developing reccomendations and hospital policies. It looks like constant reminders that we are never alone. It looks like reevaluating goals, sacrificing plans, and collectively coming to terms with what that will require of us.

But here’s what I know: there’s nothing stronger than a birthing woman. No force is equal to that of an empowered woman working with her body to bring a new soul into the world. There is nothing quite as striking as the intensity of a loving partner, steadily supporting a fierce, warrior mama.

We’re all being asked to dig in and be a little bit stronger than we thought we could be. And while that’s a little bit scary, it’s not impossible. The strength to move forward, to push through, to do the hardest things imaginable…this is the innate strength of birth. That’s what birth is! At its core, birth is this epic journey that pushes us beyond our mental limits to achieve the unimaginable. It lies within all of us to do the hard things. We’re all in labor, to some extent. Everyone in the world is waiting, sacrificing, expectant. Our lives are not our own anymore and just like a pregnant mother ready to deliver her child, we need to harness our strength, trust the process, and surround ourselves with people who will support us when we don’t think we can go on.

I’ve always said doulas are the cheerleader/coach in your pocket ready and waiting to guide and encourage you on your way to birth. It’s never been more true than it is now. Doula care may not be what we want it to be right now. Believe me, we desperately wish we could be by your side. But doulas are adaptable. We are creative, we are problem solvers, and we’re quick on our feet. Most importantly, we’re here for you. Physical distance doesn’t negate what a doula can do. The physical presence of a doula in your birth room is irreplaceable, it’s true, but the role of doula is not limited to physicality. We support birthing women as whole people, respecting the intricate tapestry of mental, emotional, and physical factors that are at play in birth. We provide resources, help ask questions, assist in navigating the medical world, and most importantly we speak truth, encouragement, and empowerment. We are the voice saying, “You can do it. You were made for this. I believe in you.”

Doulas are still necessary. When you need us, we’re here just like we’ve always been.