In college I was taking a seminar on Latin American Thought – basically a philosophy class with the added twist that we were required to read and speak in Spanish – taught by a feminist. I loved it, but it was hands down the hardest class I’ve ever taken. At one point our discussion turned to the subject of genius, and how there are so few women recognized as geniuses in our history. The class discussion turned to the possibility that female genius is childbearing. Despite my fluent Spanish, I was struggling to follow, but the suggestion that childbearing is genius struck my 21 year old self as false. “How can childbearing be genius?” I questioned. “The male contribution to babies is hardly considered genius, and how demeaning to women to say that we cannot contribute intellectual genius to the world. That our genius is limited to a biological function.” My professor was respectful of this viewpoint, though perhaps she was surprised to hear me talk in class. Read More
Since I am an Amazing Parenting Expert and know Absolutely Everything About Parenting, I thought I would enlighten you all. Here’s a list of absolutely crucial tips that you can keep at the ready as you go about the next 18 years of parenting. You’re welcome.
#1 When making PB & J sandwiches, always put on jelly first.
As you all know, PB is sticky and cannot be easily wiped off of a knife. By putting jelly on first you make it a 1 knife job. Fewer dishes for the dishwasher (unless you usually just lick the knife and put it back in the drawer. It’s ok, I don’t judge.)
#2 Changing poopy diapers is not the worst thing about parenting.
The uninitiated often assume that poopy diapers (or getting other bodily fluids on you) must the THE WORST part of parenting. Really, really not.
#3 Parks are not as fun as you think they are.
Once in a while kids will have fun at a park or playground. Usually they don’t. It’s either too hot or too cold. There are no kids or there are too many kids. The equipment is either too boring or too scary. Best case scenario, though, you end up pushing your kid on each swing for an eternity (each swing), and you want to dig your eyes out with spoons from boredom.
#4 Never, ever, ever brag on your kid.
While it is really annoying to everyone but your spouse and the grandparents, the real problem is that the moment you brag about your kid they will immediately stop doing whatever it was you bragged about. So whether your kid sleeps through the night, plays by themselves, or is a world class nose picker don’t brag because it will curse you (except for the nose picking thing, maybe bragging would stop it. Hmmm…)
#5 There is life after birth and breastfeeding.
Obviously it’s my job as a doula and childbirth educator to prepare couples for those first days and weeks, but honestly, that’s only the beginning. After you get that baby out and latched on, there is more. More days and nights and days. Loving, feeding, disciplining, and playing. So whether you get the birth of your dreams or nightmares, it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning of the adventure.
Supporting my first doula client through her birth and initial latch with baby was such an emotional experience. I so wanted her to have a great birth – to get what she wanted and in the way she wanted it, so I was thrilled when she was able to have a natural birth like she had planned. We worked hard to get baby to latch with a lot of help from the nurses and settled everyone in to rest. I started to gather my things together to go, and I was struck with the realization that my part was almost over, but her life as a mom was just beginning. There was so much for her to learn and experience that I had not prepared her for, nor could I have prepared her for it.
When clients hire me as a doula, they sometimes ask what kind of a doula I am (which is a little like asking what kind of a mother I am. Um… the good kind?). Here’s a little story I think illustrates Doula Meg.
A mom called me at around 34 weeks at a the recommendation of a mutual friend. Pretty late, but not unheard of. We really hit it off over the phone so we set up a time for us to meet in person along with her husband.
On Sunday afternoon, I knocked on her door and was invited in to their kitchen. She, her husband, and I sat around their kitchen table chatting. She asked questions, I answered, I asked, she answered, etc. Her husband though, was completely silent. Completely. I had been warned by both the prospective client and her friend that the husband was not in favor of natural birth. Talk about an understatement. I felt like I was sitting next to a glacier.
After about 20 minutes more of conversation with the mom, I finally turned to the dad and looked him straight in the eye.
“Dad. There is no way Mom is going to be able to do this if you are in the room for her whole labor, being the ball of anxiety and doubt that you’re being right now. So, if you’re going to support her in this, you will either have to change your tune or leave the room when your baby’s born.”
Now, I’m not going to lie – I felt pretty nervous saying this, but I’m the kind of person that has to not only acknowledge the elephant in the room, but name it and deconstruct it before I can move on with my life. So, I named the elephant.
Fortunately, Dad responded by explaining some of his anxiety and how he was feeling about Mom’s choices for the upcoming birth, which was her third. Before I left, Mom gave me a check for my deposit and told me that the second I called her husband out she knew I was the right doula for them.
So, that’s the kind of doula I am. I name elephants. Usually this is during pregnancy, once in a while it’s during labor, often it happens during post-partum visits. I love you, I’m there for you, I support you, but gosh darn it, you’re going to hear the truth from me. Bring on those elephants.