I was self-employed as a web and social media editor when I had my son, but I hadn’t been working my contract position for a year before he was born, so I was not eligible for Employment Insurance/Maternity Leave. I had banked some hours, and my contract employer gave me two weeks paid leave, but if we wanted the income (which we needed), I had to return to work when my son was six-weeks-old. I was fortunate that I could do my job from home, but it was still a huge struggle to get the work done while caring for an infant, not to mention do any semblance of housework.
My doula connected me with a woman who taught me how to use a baby carrier, and she found me one I liked. We hired this woman to clean our house, and as luck would have it, she used to be a veterinary technician. This came in very handy, as we had two cats and two large dogs who needed attention I simply couldn’t give them. Because they were large, not everyone was comfortable with them, either, but she was. When she came over to clean, I knew I could stay in the room with our baby and rest, and that she could handle them and even let them into the yard and back inside.
Through all of this, my mother was also coming once a week (and she continues to this day). Without a doubt, the only reason I was and am able to keep doing my contract job while being the mom I want to be is because of my mom. She would come and get us caught up on laundry, dishes, walking the dogs, changing cat litter, helping me take the baby to appointments, you name it.
When even her help once a week wasn’t enough, we hired a friend of ours to come for a few hours a week. If I was with the baby, she would walk the dogs or do housework. If she could take the baby to play or for a walk or to snuggle, I would do my contract work.
When I look back and reflect on all of the help I received, I know exactly why I am so passionate about helping other moms and what services I want to offer as a postpartum doula. I was fortunate in that I never experienced postpartum depression or anxiety, and I look back on my early days and weeks and months as a new mom with fondness. I know there were challenges, and we sometime romanticize the past, but I really enjoyed being a new mom, and I know I was able to enjoy it because I had help and support taking care of everything else so I could focus solely on me and my baby. The stressful moments I do remember are almost always a result of me being pulled in other directions when what I wanted to focus on was my baby.
When I met other new moms, it became clear a lot of women did not have the support I did. There were a variety of reasons behind this lack of support; Many felt like their husbands didn’t understand how hard it was being a new mom home taking care of a newborn. In some cases their family wasn’t close by to help and in other cases the family was close by but they didn’t have the relationship where they could ask for help. Friends of theirs who didn’t have children didn’t understand why they couldn’t just meet for lunch or go to the mall with them. Some felt pressure because they were home all day, so they felt like they should be doing all the cooking and cleaning. An over-riding theme was loneliness and isolation. When you are up all night with a cranky baby, you feel like you are the only person in the world up all night with a cranky baby. When you spend your day keeping a newborn alive and happy, all of a sudden it can be supper time, and you haven’t left the house. Babies can’t make much conversation, and this can make for long, lonely days, where, again, you feel like you’re the only one feeling this way. As I talked with more moms, we quickly realized that we had all been there, and it really helped knowing we weren’t alone in our struggles.
I became passionate about connecting with other moms and finding ways to help and support them. I knew I wanted to make it more than a hobby, so I searched for training that both resonated with me and worked with my life as a mom who was at home with a toddler and working a contract job. The training I chose was postpartum professional training through Newborn Mothers Collective, and now I am the only postpartum doula in Warman and area providing in-home doula support, programming, and birth story books to moms in all stages of motherhood. Motherhood can be hard, but you aren’t alone. I am here for you.