They don’t make doulas for this | Guest Post

So, you’ve received the news.

You need surgery on your right eye. It’s been turning inside and you’ve tried various prescriptions from multiple optometrists, but after nothing helped you went to an ophthalmologist and her expert evaluation was swift and sure.

You’ve had one surgery before, but it was very different than this one, years ago, and you can barely remember. However, after listening to the explanations you feel confident that this is what you need, though you admit to those closest to you that you’re scared and wish it wasn’t necessary. When you give your family the news, they’re very supportive. You tell them you get to go to the hospital and have a long nap and then get to stay home from school for a week.

Oh. Did I mention you’re only 7 years old?

This is the reality for my oldest daughter, Ella, right now.

At first, the news seemed quite alarming and incredibly ill timed. I am attempting to get a new business up and running, while selling my house and still keeping my family well taken care of. Now this? But as we inch closer to that looming surgery date, I’m coming to realize that it’s not about timing. I don’t have control over when things like this happen. All I can do is face them as they come, arm myself with knowledge when I’m able and trust my own ability to handle it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my few short decades on this Earth, it’s that humans are amazingly strong and incredibly adaptable.

I’ve also realized that there’s really no such thing as “good timing” when it comes to your child needing a medical procedure.

My training as a doula has actually helped me a lot in the last few weeks as I help my daughter through each emotion she faces about her upcoming surgery. So, in that sense, I’ve been glad of the timing.

With everything that’s happening in my life right now, I dearly wish to have someone to walk me through all of this. Someone who has been trained and is knowledgeable about the surgery.

Someone to talk to about the tumultuous emotions constantly changing and moving, but always hidden beneath the calm exterior.

Someone to listen, even if they say nothing, and acknowledge the difficulty.

Someone who won’t judge my tears or try to convince me not to shed them.

Maybe even someone to help with the day to day mechanics of keeping a household from falling into chaos.

And don’t get me wrong. I have a family. A very loving and supportive family. I have friends that I talk to on a regular basis. But, well…

They are all living their lives. They are busy. They have their own struggles. Some of them are caring for their own families and working their jobs. And let’s be honest, some of them don’t understand in the slightest what I am going through as a mom.

As my own unique person experiencing this in my own unique way.

Also, in my case, most of them are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. My husband works full time (and then some) and I have more than Ella to care for. I a toddler and a preschooler who need me, a house to keep up, a family to take care of.

Let’s breakdown my reality for a moment: surprising news, intimidating change, doctors’ visits, happy family, lots of decisions… Sound a bit familiar?

I need a doula.

If you know of a Strabismus Surgery Doula, please send me his or her information… Yeah, there is no such thing. But feeling the desire, experiencing the need in my life right now, do you know what it really fuels inside me? My desire to help.

I cannot change my daughter’s need for surgery. So I will use these difficulties and challenges to grow as a person, as a mom and as a doula. Though the circumstances for my changes and the changes a new family faces are different, a lot of the emotions are the same. Being a parent isn’t all sunshine and daisies, whether you’re 7 months pregnant or your child is 7 and facing surgery.

The good news for expecting parents or new families is, there are people who literally make it their job to help and support them through those emotions and the difficult times (and even celebrate the happy ones).

We call them “doulas.”

 

Jen Southern is an affiliated doula with Doulas of Memphis. Her experiences with facing challenges with her own children have helped shape her into the compassionate, understanding, and empathetic doula she is today. 

We are all the BBC Interview Dad

If you’ve been on the internet at all today, chances are you’ve seen the viral video clip of the BBC Interview Dad who was interrupted by his small children while on a video interview with BBC One.

The general consensus is that it’s pretty hilarious, but read the comment sections and apparently BBC Interview Dad is now under keyboard scrutiny all over the world.

He “pushed” his kids away! His kids should have been more important than an interview! His wife (who is apparently also the nanny?) looks so worried! We should be worried for this family! He should have just picked up the kid and moved on! He wasn’t wearing pants! She closed the door and it obviously meant something!

BBC interview dad
Parents everywhere just trying to get stuff done. Solidarity, BBC Interview Dad.

Give me a break. Real talk, parents? We have ALL been the BBC Interview Dad.

Maybe you’re not one of the BBC’s expert on what’s happening in South Korea, but you’ve been the mom (or dad) whose children are perfect angels who play independently and quietly until the phone rings and suddenly MOMMY MOMMY MOOOOOOMMY I NEED A SNACK I NEED A DRINK HE TOOK MY TOY MY TOYS ARE DEAD TO ME AND I NEED YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION RIGHT NOW SO I’M GOING TO HAVE A MELTDOWN.

This is why we don’t answer the phone, btw. Can we just text instead? Pretty please?

Any parent who works from home knows the struggle of trying to be productive and balance kids who don’t always understand that mommy or daddy can’t play right now.

Working from home is awesome and fulfilling and it’s cool to not have to wear real pants all the time, but sometimes it’s HARD and the guilt is real. It’s a fine line, being “there but not there.” You’re hustling to provide the best for your kids and it’s cool that you get to be around them, but it’s not always conducive to productivity and concentration.

We’ve all been the mom whose kid does something unexpected (like interrupt Daddy’s BBC Interview).

We’ve all had that moment of “Oh CRAP!” and bolted across the house or the playground or the groceryto grab our kids and redirect them. I’ve been BBC Interview Dad’s wife on multiple occasions. Keeping the kids out of Daddy’s office is no easy task…in case you didn’t know, kids are FAST. Like, really fast.

We’ve also all been judged based on someone else’s brief glimpse into our lives, and if we’re being really honest, we do it, too.

The stares and whispers of “somebody needs to control their kid” during the inevitable grocery store or restaurant meltdown.

Being judged for how you feed your child, and you can’t win no matter what you do.

Insert any parenting choice here, and you get the idea. We’ve even got fun names for it like “Mommy Wars.”

It’s natural for us to jump to conclusions based on small amounts of information, but nobody likes to be on the receiving end of that kind of judgment and scrutiny.

This parenting stuff is hard enough without wondering what other people are assuming about us when they don’t have the whole picture.

Solidarity, BBC Interview Dad. Solidarity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Do You: Children’s Book Life Lessons

Even before I had children of my own, I was an avid collector of children’s books. I would keep them in my apartment, give them as gifts, and at bookstores you could always find me foraging through the children’s section more enthusiastically than a 6-year-old.  I love them as art, and I love how they can distill life lessons in such a way that even kids can understand. Tennessee has a program called Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, where families sign up to receive one book a month from birth to age 5.  One of my son’s favorites is called Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, written by Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow. The lesson? You do you!

You do you, molly lou melon

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is a book about being your most authentic self no matter your circumstances or what other people say about you.

Molly Lou Melon is a tiny little girl with a big personality and the best grandma ever. By anyone’s standards, Molly Lou Melon doesn’t have a lot going for her: She’s short, has buck teeth, has a terrible singing voice, AND she’s the new kid at school. One thing Molly Lou Melon DOES have going for her is that her grandma has given her some advice:

“Walk as proudly as you can and the world will look up to you.”

“Smile big and the world will smile right alongside you.”

“Sing out clear and strong and the world will cry tears of joy.”

“Believe in yourself and the world will believe in you too.”

Grandma’s advice serves Molly Lou Melon well as she encounters bully Ronald Durkin at school. We never find out what Ronald Durkin’s problem is, but he doesn’t know when to quit! Molly Lou Melon doesn’t entertain his negativity and instead adopts the motto, “You do you.” If Molly Lou Melon cares what Ronald Durkin thinks, the reader never knows. She does her own thing, is her most authentic self, and at the end of the week when she wins Ronald Durkin over, she writes her grandma a letter to tell her she was right.

Whether you’re a parent, doula, new kid, or just trying to get along in the world, you WILL encounter people who seem to feel threatened by your mere existence in their world. Stand tall, friend, and you do you.

It is tempting to be something less than our most authentic selves in the face of disagreement, negativity, passive-aggressive comments, or even bullying from others. The problem? It never works.

Your most authentic self will never be good enough for some people, and making the opinions of others the metric for your worth as a person will always lead to disappointment. 

Being our most authentic selves doesn’t mean we get to do and say whatever we want free of consequence, but it does free us from being beholden to the opinions of others. Molly Lou Melon doesn’t go out of her way to impress anyone; instead, she stays true to herself and in the end finds acceptance and is able to share her gifts with those around her. What if she had hidden and pretended to be something else, or made her life about impressing Ronald Durkin? I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad that wasn’t her story! And you know what? It doesn’t have to be yours, either!

you do you, molly lou melon

 

Take a page out of Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon: shine bright and give the world the best version of you!

Facebook mom groups: What you should know

Like anything else on the internet, Facebook is one of those places that can work to your benefit or to your detriment, and Facebook mom groups are no exception. Facebook mom groups come in lots of different varieties. There are ones centered around a particular parenting philosophy, some that are location-based, while others are centered around specific interests like babywearing, cloth diapering, or breastfeeding. Let’s talk a bit about some benefits and caveats of participating in Facebook mom groups so you can get the most out of them without them taking the most out of you!

facebook mom groups

Facebook mom groups: some benefits

Community

Let’s face it, motherhood can be isolating, especially in the early baby days when naptime is king and it’s not always worth it to put on real pants to interact with real live humans. That doesn’t mean that we inherently want to be alone, so many of us turn to Facebook mom groups for a sense of community. If you join local groups, it’s a great way to make new friends and connect with moms who are in your age and stage. Interactions online can lead to in-person playdates and can help you cultivate friendships that go beyond the screen.

Commiseration

Tried to get out of the house today but the toddler threw your keys in the toilet while you were nursing? Is your baby teething and more grumpy than usual? Spouse being less than understanding? Are you up at 3am feeding…again? Pregnancy isn’t what you thought it was going to be? Chances are, if it’s happening to you, it’s happening to someone else too, and they’re only a post away. Facebook mom groups can be a great place to commiserate about pregnancy and mom life. There’s something cathartic about sharing your wins and woes and knowing that you aren’t alone so even when you can’t get away, you can dig deep and make it til wine-thirty because someone else is there sharing that experience with you.

Crowdsourcing

If you’re new to town and don’t know the mom scene, Facebook mom groups are a fabulous way to crowdsource your world. Need an OBGYN? Pediatrician? Don’t know where to find xyz random food item? The best place to go for storytime on Tuesday? Ideas about what to make for dinner? Special needs resources? Hairstylists? You get the idea. Mom groups are also a good place to troubleshoot parenting problems. Why spend hours on google looking for what you need when the Facebook mama hive mind can tell you in an average of 15-30 minutes?

Facebook mom groups: some caveats

Advice Roulette

When you ask for advice in Facebook mom groups, it’s like playing a game of Advice Roulette. While asking for advice online can often lead to helpful suggestions and solutions, keep in mind that the members of these groups do not have a full picture of your relationships, your health history, or your baby’s health history. The advice that they have is limited and may be misinformed or lacking in evidence. Some people give unintentional medical advice, some advice is sales in disguise, and other advice can be downright harmful for your situation or you as an individual. You haven’t lived in a Facebook mom group until you’ve seen a rash photo or the very NSFW contents of a diaper as you scroll down your news feed, right?! If you’re a die-hard crowdsourcer, ask away, but remember that the advice of other moms online is never a substitute for a medical professional or your own intuition as a parent. 

Illusion of Safety

Even in closed or secret groups, Facebook mom groups are still a microcosm of the internet and the internet is not a safe place. When you spend enough time interacting in a Facebook group reaping the benefits of community and commiseration, it’s easy to let your guard down and share things of a very personal nature online. Remember that once you have put that information out there, you cannot control what other people do with it, so proceed with caution! Things shared online can have real in-person consequences, and they aren’t always pretty.

The Drama Llama

commentsGood old Facebook mom group drama. It’s like reality TV at your fingertips! It’s easy to hide behind the keyboard and get caught up in online drama, and we’ve probably all done it at one time or another. However, much like the sharing of personal information, remember that the internet is not inherently safe and words typed can have beyond-the-screen consequences. With some old-fashioned restraint, you can manage to avoid the drama and still receive the benefits that Facebook mom groups provide.

Happy posting, everyone!

 

The Doulas of Memphis Difference

March 22-28 is World Doula Week, and this week on the blog Doulas of Memphis is taking the World Doula Week Blog Challenge hosted by Louisville Area Doulas! Today, we’ve been challenged to tell you all about something that makes us different.

Doulas of Memphis Difference

If you spend any amount of time on our website, you’ll see that we are different. We’re an agency and that’s different. Our birth doulas work in teams and that’s different. We go on call from the moment you sign your contract and that’s different. We can provide round-the-clock postpartum care, we have the most availability, we have uniform training through ProDoula, we’re not an advocacy group, we’re building sustainability through our business model, we’re invested in our community, and yeah, that’s all different, and yes, we’re proud of all the things we have to offer you. But…

All of that is great, but it isn’t what makes Doulas of Memphis the best doula services in Memphis. We are the best doula services in Memphis because our business is built not around an ideology, but around YOU, the client.

Traditionally, has been approached from the framework of helping women achieve greater success in their attempts at natural childbirth, also known as unmedicated childbirth. You hire a doula to help you bypass that epidural, unless of course something happens and it becomes “medically necessary.” There are studies that suggest doulas can help lower the cesarean rate, decrease interventions, and promote shorter labors. The problem with those studies is that they are just that- studies that look at populations and not individuals.

We are grateful for the women who have come before us to put doulas on the map and to get the word out about what we do. We work to carry on their tradition of supporting women through birth and the postpartum period, but Doulas of Memphis was founded based not around an ideal of a birth without interventions, but around the support that modern women in Memphis are craving.

The truth is that the vast majority of women in this city are not having the unmedicated vaginal deliveries that the doulas of the past traditionally supported. We feel at Doulas of Memphis that if we base our support around that standard, we are doing women a disservice.  A woman who wants an epidural, chooses a “wait-and-see” approach to pain relief,  chooses an elective induction, trusts her doctor and values safety over the experience,  or chooses a cesarean birth can benefit from the support of a doula equally as much as someone who wants a natural birth.

Our clients come from different backgrounds and have different values and expectations surrounding childbirth, and we value them all. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again:

We’re not here for an experience. We’re here for YOU.

We’ll never hang up the phone or leave your side because you choose an epidural. We value the doctor-patient relationship and believe you are capable of choosing the birth team and making the choices that are best for you. We leave your clinical care to those who are most qualified and keep our focus instead on your emotional well-being. We aren’t invested in your parenting choices, whether you choose to circumcise or not, or if you decide that it’s best for your family if you take a more scheduled approach. We’re invested in YOU, the client. You, the woman who is more than someone giving birth or a mom with spit-up on your shirt after a rough night.  We are invested in getting to know you as individuals so that we can be the best doula in Memphis for YOU.  

If you’ve never considered hiring a doula in Memphis because you thought they were only for a certain type of birth or parenting style, we’d love for you to reconsider and  give us a call! We want to hear from you and learn about your needs and how we can support and serve your family.

That’s the Doulas of Memphis difference. We hope to hear from you soon!

To read blogs from other contributors to the World Doula Week Blog Challenge, visit http://louisvilleareadoulas.com/blog/2016-world-doula-week