Somewhere Over The Rainbow: A Birth Story

It is absolutely surreal to me that, at this time 5 weeks+3 days ago, I had just given birth.  First of all, thank you for receiving my last blog post so graciously. I was a little unhinged, so y’all have … Continue reading

Baby Button Needs You To Stop Praying For Him Now

8 weeks ago, I wrote a story about the journey our baby was taking us on, and how we were praying that my body would survive being pregnant just 7 more weeks to give him the best chance. So many of you responded in love and prayers and genuine care.

I truly believe it worked because my body proceeded to need a total of 3 amniotic fluid drains, plus a dramatic 3 night stay in the hospital because I was having very real contractions every 5 minutes…and then suddenly everything stopped. I went home. Life has resumed at an almost-usual routine for the last 4 weeks. Baby Button has grown big and strong, we have a safety-approved place for him to sleep and travel, and my mom made it here without complication.

So now? I need y’all to stop praying. I turned the corner on 38 weeks yesterday, and I am done.

I know every third-trimester mother says that, but I don’t think you understand.

I am “answering questionnaires for concerned psychiatrists/sense of humor completely gone/collapsing into tears for no reason at least once a day” done.

I have survived the Apocalypse. I have lived in fear of the government and deportation. I have moved houses at least as many times as I’ve had birthdays. I’ve seen a childhood friend die right in front of me. I have endured losing a relationship with my father 2 months after it began. I have gotten lost in Europe, lost a baby, lost jobs, and been one paycheck ahead of financial disaster for years.

But 9 months of pregnancy, one of life’s greatest mysteries that I was looking forward to the most, is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel needy. I feel weak.

And so I feel lost. My identity is shifting. I’m the girl who writes about all the crazy shit that happens to her, and still manages to make people smile. I’m the Chandler Bing, I’m the Spartan who keeps on trucking, I’m the one who has heard time and again, “Wow. Looking at you, listening to you, I would never have guessed that you survived all THAT. You’re amazing, and you should probably write a book.”

My shit has always been a little messy, but it was my mess, and it made me stronger.

Now? After being pregnant and sick and worried and unprepared for 267 days in a row (including being displaced from home for 60+ days in a cramped house with 4 animals and 4 in-laws out of that)?

All I want is to go to sleep, and wake up in my own bed with a fresh mani/pedi, a killer haircut, a multi-ethnic buffet, and an impossibly adorable baby who never cries longer than 5 minutes or makes me question whether I am mentally and emotionally capable of becoming a mother in the first place.

I feel gross for even admitting it. Because I can see all you ladies who have been moms for years, who are laughing at my innocence and thinking, “Just you wait, honey, it gets worse.” I can see all you ladies who have been thinking they’d like to get pregnant, and now I’ve just ruined it for you. I can see all you ladies who had magical unicorn pregnancies with babies made from Jesus’ eyelashes, and are secretly judging me for being so dramatic and non-sacrificial.

And honestly, I’m going to play the Pregnant Bitch card and say up front: I don’t need to hear from you right now.

The only thing that keeps me typing so vulnerably is the off-chance that maybe some lady will read this and think, Thank GOD I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll wait one more day before checking myself in to the closest institution. Hi, Carly. I’m your new messy mama friend. Let’s keep talking.

13 days or less…

 

Next Time

At this time last year, I was four days late. My breasts were sore, my appetite had changed; something new was going on.

My husband and I welcomed our first pregnancy with shock and awe. We hadn’t planned for it, we weren’t ready – but really, can you ever be?

6 weeks later, our baby was gone. We hadn’t planned for it, we weren’t ready – but really, can you ever be?

I still can’t believe it’s been almost a year. A year of walking through a strange fog of grief that only someone else who’s experienced it can understand.

We haven’t tried again. We’re afraid. We want to be secure in finances and housing and knowledge about child-rearing – but really, can you ever be?

Ever the optimist, I have hope that one day soon, our life will hear the sounds of a newborn cry morphing into the pitter patter of little feet running down our floor.

And once it does, this is what I want to do.

1. Next time, I want to tell my husband the news a little more creatively.

As much as he loved the news, I’m sure he will appreciate being told in a way that doesn’t involve being woken at 6:30 on a weekend to have a pee-covered stick shaken in his bleary face.

2. Next time, I want to tell more people in person.

Technology is great for sharing news, but there’s just something extra special in seeing a loved one’s face explode with joy in #realtime.

3. Next time, I want to tell people early-ish.

We announced our pregnancy to our world just shy of 8 weeks in. A foolish thing, some might say, but I believe something unexpectedly bad can happen to a pregnancy at any time. I’m not jinxing anything if I share early. It was a life saver for me to be able to use my blog and Facebook as a platform to document every high and low of my 9-week pregnancy and the weeks that followed. Every time I made an update, I knew I had people waiting to support me with comments, prayers or even just silent heart emoticons. Friends appeared out of the woodwork with their own stories of loss, that I might have never known otherwise, and I value that more than keeping secrets for taboo’s sake.

4. Next time, I want to ignore my phone a little more.

“Hi! Welcome to the MyPregnancy App! Today, your precious baby is the size of a raspberry. Make sure you avoid soft cheese and raw fish. Watch this video of computer-generated genitals emerging from your cartoon baby’s abdomen!”

*An hour later*

“Sweetie, your baby is *still* the size of a raspberry, and probably will be tomorrow as well. You know how at sometimes you keep checking the fridge in hopes that new food has magically appeared? Same concept here. Go take a nap.” – what MyPregnancy App should have said.

5. Next time, I want to finally become a fashionista.

I am not fashion-conscious. At all. I am the reigning queen of hand-me-downs and thrift store bargains. There’s nothing wrong with that. But my queendom has been established for more than 10 years. I’ve been out of high school for only 8 years. Yes, if you do the math, that’s a problem. But not one that I can justify changing until I literally cannot fit into those clothes anymore. And there’s never been a cuter time to be pregnant, Pinterest will tell you that right now. Hang in there, holey wardrobe. Your time is coming.

6. Next time, I want all the photos.

One of my good friends took my wedding photos almost 3 years ago. I booked her that same day to take all my family’s photos for all time ever. But before that, I want baby shower photos, I want maternity photos, I want labour & birth (YES, birth) photos, and I want newborn photos.

This will be my “rainbow” baby, and I want to soak myself in their presence, just once, before I’m too tired to function and staring at a tiny stranger who’s changed my whole life.
I want to revel in every glorious inch of those days before and after because I’m making up for lost time.

I know that the world is already flooded with baby photos that everyone else is sick of, but you don’t understand. It’s my turn. You don’t have to look at the pictures, but don’t you dare deny me the joy of sharing them, just like I’ve shared every single other difficult step it took to get me here.

7. And finally, next time…

…even if I don’t accomplish everything on this list, my baby will still be here, and I will still be a good mom. Because Love conquers Lists and Fashion and Pregnancy Apps and Photography.

And I’ve got Love in spades.

This New Year

On this day in 1999, I was fearing for my life.

Before The Walking Dead or Katniss Everdeen had even been thought of, I was preparing for my world to become apocalyptic. I was 12.

15 years later, Y2K still hasn’t happened. The Mayan calendar didn’t really mean much either. However, we face our own little apocalypses each year, don’t we? They have nothing to do with ancient prophecy or computer malfunction. They just happen without warning, and change us forever. But if you’re reading this, you’re still here. You’re a God-blessed survivor even if you don’t feel like one.

I’ll be honest, 2014 was a rough one. Misunderstandings, loneliness, lost jobs and a lost babe, confusion and clarity alternating like a roller coaster ride.

Occasionally, the darkness cracked and some light peered in. It’s why I’m still here too.

Can I tell you about them? Can I give you some hope? Will my thoughts mean anything to you?

Tell you what. Keep reading, and when you get to the bottom, you’ll see a link to my best friend’s site, where she’ll also be reminiscing about the positive things that happened in her life this year.  I am so thankful for her. Best friends for at least 20 years now – the kind of friends that drop everything and get on a plane to go be with each other when there’s a crisis.
We are women forged by fire, but rather than sacrificing ourselves to be burned up, we’re going to allow our hearts and minds to flow and curve like water, quenching the heat, refreshing our souls, going forward.

Don’t let your hearts remain stagnant or burnt. Winter is here, but Spring is coming. Join us. Tell us your stories of 2014, and what your dreams are for 2015. Alone we are enough, but together we are stronger.

~

This year, I witnessed another precious little girl-soul come into this world. She took her first breath in the glowing light of an early July morning, in her own nursery at her parents house. A holy moment.

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Soon, my goal will be accomplished through a little piece of paper that says “Carly Hutton, Certified Birth Doula” so that I can keep drinking in those holy moments, keep helping those other women forged by fire become mothers – even if I never become one myself.

~

In September, I was a bridesmaid for the first time. It was easier than I thought it would be. I put on a purple dress, did my makeup, and ripped only 2 pairs of panty hose while someone else far more capable did my hair.
My former roommate and bride of the day gave me a pearl necklace and earrings that she made herself. Treasure, only gained by letting a granule of sand itch the shit out of you until you’re pure.

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I witnessed 2 of my best friends commit their lives to each other. They sang their vows and yet they still wanted ME to sing a song for them. So I did. It was called “Dancing in the Minefields” because that’s not only what marriage is, but life itself.

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That day was the most I’ve smiled since I lost our baby. I mean, I kinda legally had to for photogenic reasons, but it was the first time I WANTED to.

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I passed my 4-year anniversary of blogging, and at least half of my 200 followers are real people.

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And finally, we moved back to the town where I grew up. I did enjoy most of the Vancouver experience, but home it was not. Too much water; my fire almost went out.

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Here in Smithers, I am known. By the people, by the snow-capped mountain, by the back roads and the river wild.

And? My new house has a bathtub.

~

It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s only a matter of one day’s difference, and yet, it holds so much shiny promise. All the shit we’ve gone through recently, we can finally say, “That happened last year.”

I used to be the kind to make resolutions. Not anymore. But for the sake of being traditional:

In 2015, I resolve to lose weight.

The weight of condemnation and shame and guilt of decisions past. The weight of trying to be liked by all and keep everyone happy. The weight of perfection. I want to lose it. And if, in doing so, it prompts me to live a healthier life that actually affects scale, then so be it.

And in 2015, I resolve to be the 7-11 in Smithers on Christmas Eve.

It was the only place open and serving food past 6pm when my husband, my mom and I were starving. Hot dogs never tasted so good.

No matter what store it is, though, I always feel a spark of hope rise whenever I see a glowing red OPEN sign. Knowing that I’ll be able to get what I came for, what I need, today.

That’s how I want others to feel when they see me. Open. Mind, heart and arms, ready to do messy, beautiful business at any given time. Never turned away.

As this year ends, I have high hopes for 2015.

Hopes that suddenly, everyone will have an a-ha moment. An a-ha that realizes we need something else. Something different. An a-ha that knows we are meant for more than what we have been content with living.

Hopes that, this new year, shooting up schools and shooting up veins will no longer be the go-to solution for long unanswered cries for help and understanding.

Hopes that, this new year, the Battle of the Sexes will run out of ammunition.

Hopes that, this new year, we will see through skin colours, to the hearts and minds that brew underneath. Every culture and race has its heroes and assholes; let’s stand up and recognize. I repeat: PEOPLE ARE MORE THAN THEIR SKIN AND REPUTATION AND STEREOTYPE. CHECK. YOURSELF.

Hopes that, this new year, toddlers and teenagers on the brink of dreams and inspiration – adults burned low on chips and bills – elderly melting on the ice floes of their last lives – will all be valued and held accountable and loved for who they are.

Hopes that, this new year, the corrupt will be exposed and the honourable will be exalted.

Hopes that, this new year, these words will ring true:

“And in despair, I hung my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said.
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men….’
Then rang the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Let it be so.

:: A Year in my BFF’s Life ::

Behbeh Love, Part 1

As you might be aware, Father’s Day has always been rather…unpleasant for this lady. Last year was all right because, for the first time, I had someone to call “Dad”. Someone to hug, give a gift to, and spend the day actually not thinking about my real dad.

My hobbit-y little F.I.L.

My hobbit-y little fatha-in-law

This year, however, everything changed. My husband, Mr. Steve, found out that he’s going to be a father.  

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That plus sign is no joke.

The recently downloaded BabyBump app on my phone has encouraged me to start a Pregnancy Diary, “even if you can only write down a couple sentences a day.”

Clearly, my technology hasn’t been stalking me nearly enough, or else they’d already KNOW that not only do I NOT need encouragement to start a Diary about my Pregnancy, but that I have a thousand things to say about it already. A couple sentences my steadily expanding ass.

First things first. How it happened. Well, one night, Steve and I felt a little frisky and before you know it– JUST KIDDING. Here’s how it really happened.

I was 4 days late. And I only knew this because I have ANOTHER app that helps me keep track of this banal and depressing information.

Looking at App on a Normal Day: Oh yay, 5 days of freedom and joy left, wooooo.
Looking at App A Couple Weeks Ago: Hmm. Strange?

We are one of those couples who is VERY attuned to my cycle, and prepare to batten down the hatches on a regular basis. We have no idea how those “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” people exist.

So we decided that I would take a home test on Father’s Day. We had some leftover from a bulk Costco purchase, because– like I said — we’re a little jumpy.

Verbally, we had decided on my taking the test the morning of Father’s Day Sunday, before we went to church.

Saturday morning, I took the test without telling Steve. Partially because I was 90% sure I was going to get a positive and I wouldn’t be able to focus in church AT ALL with that fresh information – but the other 10% just wanted to get on with my life if it was a negative.

I’ve taken at-home tests before. I’m used to peeing all over it and my hand, and then waiting 3 minutes for the result to appear in the window.

However, this time, from the very SECOND the stick got wet, it turned into a plus sign. I had three thoughts: either I had peed on it wrong, or it was old and faulty, or I was SO SO SO SO VERY OBVIOUSLY WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT having a baby.

After washing my hands, I texted Emily, my friend and nurse who had her first baby last summer. She reassured me that I was indeed pregnant, and that she was so excited for me.

Me: Wow! Okay! I guess I should tell Steve! This is crazy!
Emily: WHAT? You told ME before you told STEVE?!
Me: Well, I wanted to be SURE before I completely change his life! He’s still sleeping!
Emily: Well, wake him up right NOW!!!

So, with surprisingly sure steps, I clutched the pregnancy test in my hand and climbed back into bed, sandwiching Steve between myself and Walter the Cat. I was sure he would feel my heart pumping out of my chest as I spooned up against him.

Apparently, both Walter and I were pretty fidgety, because after a few minutes, Steve very sleepily mumbled, “It’s Saturday morning, my only morning to sleep in, and my two little ones are keepin’ me awake…”

He’d practically opened the door for me.

I pulled the pregnancy test out, and said, “Actually, you have three little ones now.”

To be continued…

Part Two

i don’t know any tricks, but i’m feelin 26?

Wow, what a month. I didn’t mean to take such a hiatus, but life totally gets the blame here. She took me, made me happy, gave me rest, warmed my heart, kicked me in the crotch, said sorry about that, made me laugh and sent me on my way.

I could tell many stories about all of that, but I figure the best way to not bore you to death is to use point form, complete with bold headers and cutesy pictures. Are ya ready? Vamonos!

1. Second Honeymoons Are So Worth It

We did it. We drove the crap out of that road, stayed the crap out of that castle, visited the crap out of our Calgary friends, slept the crap out of our fluffy King-sized beds I never wanted to leave, pictured the crap out of our new camera, and we honeyed. the crap. outta that moon.

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2. I’m Kinda Full Of It

You see the title of the post I wrote before this one? “Aging with Grace,” I called it. Well, apparently, I need to go back and do my homework because two weeks ago, I turned one year older and I’ve been nothin’ but trouble ever since.

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3. There are 6 more days until Halloween.

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Which essentially means that I only have 5 more days to change Walter’s mind about this. If you take note of the body language, he’s clearly not happy. In fact, you’d think you had truly burdened him with the weight of the world and it physically restrains him from being able to move. The only thing he can do is give you dead eyes that speak of betrayal.But since we are good parents, we’ve decided upon the art of trickery. We sprinkled this costume with catnip and let it lay among Walter’s toys and mutilated bits of furniture. It won’t be long now. The twain SHALL meet and it will be glorious.

4. Eva Sofia is one of the most precious things that has ever happened to me.

If you don’t remember her, have a look at this and read the story of how I was given the special privilege of bringing her into the world 7ish weeks ago.

This past Thanksgiving weekend, she came to see me and everything was wonderful. Mom and Dad looked pretty well rested and happy and in love with their girly. They let me take a few family photos that I am just in love with…2013-10-14 08.30.34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My heart is officially a puddle on the floor.

5. My mom is a badass.

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Aaaaaaand this is all you need to know that.


6.  Money can make Weddings Beautiful and
Marriage Difficult.

It’s been a long, hard week, to be honest. On my wedding day 13 months ago, when everything was smiles and kisses and flowers and laughter, I didn’t know there would be weeks like this. Weeks where it feels like I’ve been looking for work forever. Weeks where it feels like I’m not the right person to live down here, where I don’t fit in, where I don’t seem to meet the standards just by being myself. (I have been blessed enough to interview with LUSH this week and get a call-back for a 2nd interview right away, but now I’m at the waiting stage and it is trying to kill me.) Weeks where Steve and I forget that we are partners, allies, in this together. Thoughts get thought, words get said, actions are made, and sometimes you worry that it can’t be fixed. Yesterday, I thought, Oh God…he’s finally had enough of me…one day, I’m going to be a lonely old woman – nope, not even with cats to surround me! – and I’m going to look back on this week and say, “Yes. That was the beginning of the end. How did I not see it?”

Ever worry that it might be ruined?

Yeah, but it’s not. Not today. Not this week, not this month and I’m banking on not this year.

And does it make you wanna cry?

Yes, and I do. And I pray and I fight and I kiss and I make-up and I fall in love again.

Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame,
Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned,
But just because it burns doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
,
You’ve gotta get up and try, try, try.

P!nk, my girl, you have created the marriage anthem and I don’t care what anyone says about that.

The truth is, there will probably always be a reason to be upset. At your partner, at life, at yourself. I have been all three this week. But it will drain your life, your joy away, and change nothing. So I am determined more than ever to do that whole thing where I stop believing the lies are true and the truth is too good to be true.

I am loved and so is he and we will carry ever on.

7. HOW IS BREAKING BAD SO AMAZING?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!???????

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Like. I just. Can’t.

We are in the early stages of season 5, and I am in the early stages of having a heart attack. These characters have completely sucked us into their world — and miraculously, I have continued on through all of my internetting and NOT YET BEEN SPOILED BY HOW IT ENDS.

Like, the other day, I was at the LUSH hiring fair, and all I overheard another applicant say was, “Breaking Bad Finale,” and I interrupted him, saying, “LALALALALALALALALALALA NOT LISTENING DO NOT SAY ANOTHER WORD PLEASE.” And he was like, “Um, I’ve actually never watched the show, it’s just all my friends are talking about and I don’t know why.” And I was like,

“Oh.”

That’s what Breaking Bad has done to me. It makes me LALALALALALA at complete strangers.

8. I Now Know Why People Make Fun Of Me For Being Mexican

HAPPY WEEKEND!!!!! XOXOXO

The Story of the Bumpy Doula

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I told Steve that I always struggle with opening my first paragraph for a blog. Without looking, he typed this and said, “There’s your opening.” I am keeping it because, really, I got nothin’ better.

And it’s also a pretty accurate assessment of how my brain has been processing information over the past few days.

adoinagona jaiodfoadn —summer is ending–aodinoianfgnaglna

adoiffoaner,m \ujq4  aolarn adfmalmd dnf — i helped a baby come into the world last weekend— woaeb affgl hqoh4rn  NEOINRLNnfaoanre aoln

oain voaijer,qnoi232nmzao\l —i am turning 26 in, like, 4 weeks—aoeif aeo iu0jJLHN0P49J

A QIEJ N\LKSM opMDF;LOAOJKR —WAIT, WHAT? I HELPED DELIVER A BABY?!? WHEN? HOW? WHO GAVE ME THE CREDENTIALS FOR THAT?!??

So basically, in the midst of everyone’s else’s “back to school” mode, I’ve been more in a “back to bed” mode. And then a “back to last week” mode.

Labour labour labour labour labour labour labour labour BABY.

*world changes*

Tears. Gratefulness. Shock. Excitement. And an overwhelming desire to make this act of birth, this event in history, this sanctuary moment, my life.

Now comes the delicate balance of telling my story without telling their story for them. A big part of being a doula is public relations – diplomacy – respect of confidentiality and privacy.

The best way I know how is to tell why I want to doula my way through life. The literal butterfly transformation I went through to go from being unready and fearful, to feeling unstoppable.

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Steve and I drove to Kelowna for the very first time on Emily’s due date the weekend before last. We spent a day exploring the hot but gorgeous landscape, and wondered why we’d never trekked here before. (aka we are definitely going back!) As we walked along the vastness that is Okanagan Lake, I wrestled. The fact that Steve was about to leave me here, for who knows how long, so I could face the unknown with Tomily was becoming more and more real to me. We had not even been apart for a night since we got married last September, and, not anticipating the heat, I had packed poorly. I was hot, I was overwhelmed, I wanted to throw up.

So I let the heat go to my brain. My heart began pounding, and I started eating.
Like, a lot. With gravy on all sides.
Already uncomfortable clothing became unbearable.
Thoughts raced through my mind: I feel so gross. How can I be a good doula to Tom and Emily when I can’t even take care of myself? I miss Steve already. Please, baby, come soon.

Baby did not come for 6 days.

For the first 2 days, this girl’s intestines were in such a knot that nothing came out, if you know what I mean. TWO DAYS. And I got a spider bite while I was sleeping. And something strange appeared on my nose that wasn’t a zit and wasn’t an insect bite and wasn’t a sunburn but it hurt and it was itchy and it made me look like a lush.

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I felt like a frumpy, grumpy, lumpy, bumpy doula, all right. And then I thought…

Maybe this is a little glimpse of what Emily is feeling. I took my discomfort and tried to mentally multiply a 9-month-baked baby in the mix. Suddenly, my problems didn’t seem quite so…constipating? Yeah. I know. My point is that I had to choose to rise above myself, to see that Emily needed Tom and I to understand what she was going through so that we could help her.

I started taking care of myself so that I could take care of her. I portioned my food properly, adding a healthy dose of curry and apples to smooth things along. I went to a thrift shop with Em and picked up some lovely CHEAP-ASS clothes that I could breathe in. I also invested in a proper bathing suit so that I could join Emily on our lake outings. (Yep, I am that person who went to the Okanagan in late August and didn’t pack something to swim in. *facepalm*) I took a pen and paper each morning/evening to write out all my feels from the day and dreams from the night so that I could get it out and let it go. I made contact with good friend Candice who is also a seasoned doula. She literally became my mentor through text message and saved my life. (Later, we also learned that she had a hand in helping Emily’s older sister give birth a few years ago, yet she didn’t know Emily at all! It’s a small globe, friends.)  I started to feel a lot better.

And then the contractions started. And they didn’t end for 2 days.

If I hadn’t spent the previous 4 days in misery and then applied self-care just in time, I don’t know if we would have made it. I mean, I think we would have, but not with nearly as much grace and content.

Without going into too much detail, I have to say that Tom and Emily amazed me, even more than I expected to be amazed. Tom never left her side, and rode the wave of every single pain and emotion with the ease of a pro. More than once, I had to hide tears as I witnessed such love and encouragement being poured onto this woman trying to complete one of the biggest jobs of all time. And if the stereotype about labouring women losing control, snapping and becoming violent towards the nearest person is true, she challenged it. Even through excruciating pain, she calmly made it very clear to us what she needed and she always added a “please” and “thank you.”  #tomforpresident #emilyforsainthood

As for me? Well, as soon as it was “go time”, something deep and hidden inside my soul broke out and kicked its way into high gear. Suddenly all of my book learning and researching and gaining resources and talking talking talking turned into warm, hard instinct. I became absolutely sure that Emily could and would have this baby no matter what, and that I, along with her husband, was going to do my damnedest to get her there. Screw the heat, screw the tired, screw the fear, screw the unknown, screw the feelings – I put on my scrubs, walked into that hospital, made sure I knew who the nurses were, that the nurses knew who I was and what I would be doing there (thankfully, mom and dad had prepared a printed birth plan with my name and title on it!), unpacked our stuff, found the fridge & ice machine, made sure the shower was working and had plenty of towels, set up Emily’s items of comfort from home that she wanted to visualize, and then ran to her side every time another contraction came on. Let me be clear: I was not there to replace Tom – I wanted there to be no reason Tom needed to leave her, except for the occasional bathroom break. That was my job. Not the doctor’s, not the nurses’, mine.

For the past 4 months, whenever I’ve had someone ask me what a doula is, I got into the habit of saying, “It’s like a birth coach. An objective third party member that’s not hospital staff. Someone hired to help the parents and encourage them, to talk them through everything that’s going on, as birth – especially the first time – can be pretty scary.”

I can’t believe how wrong I was. I mean, I was right, but there is so much more to it than that.

Do you think that when you’re in the hospital and labouring that a nurse is going to be hanging around outside your door just in case you need them, around the clock? They’re not. That’s my job.
Do you think that when you have a contraction, your life partner is going to be able to squeeze your hips to relieve pressure, all the while soothing you with warm water? They’ll try, but they can’t. With my help, they can.
What if you’re hungry or thirsty, but you don’t want to be left by yourself? You can’t order room service in a hospital. But I can go get it for you, whatever you like.
What if your shoulders need rubbing, but one little spot in your foot is itching like crazy and you’re too tired and sore to do anything about it? Bring in the birth partner, let’s get you taken care of.
And about the room you give birth in…it will probably be pretty nice and comfortable, with the option of dim lights and mobility. However, there were at least 5 other women giving birth in the ward that night, one being right next door; we had to turn up the Bob Marley just so that we wouldn’t be distracted by the sounds of their labour going on around us.

“Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be all right…”

That’s the battle song of a family giving birth right there.

In all reality, the nurse (and she was wonderful) came into the room of her own volition, unless I asked sooner, every 45 minutes. The doctor only came to the hospital after 10cms of dilation had already been completed and the pushing stage was about to begin. That’s a lot of time and space to go through being just you and your partner, whether you’re the pregnant one or with the pregnant one.

So my question is, why doesn’t everyone want a birth partner?

*gets off of soap box*

I will admit that when Emily started to push, I started to swallow a little harder as it occurred to me that at any moment, I was going to witness a small human being come out of a big human being. I hadn’t slept, I had eaten little, and I started telling myself, “You will not pass out. Stay strong. Do you want to be known as the Fainting Doula, DO YOU? I didn’t think so. Now stop shaking, get up on that bed and let Emily lean on you until the contraction passes, got it?”

I got it. And when I saw that little girl’s face appear, with her smooshed nose and gorgeous lips and perfect ears and crimpy hair, time stopped.

God opened the door, light poured in, and Love said, “You see this? That’s me. I know you’ve been looking for me for a long time; well, here I am. Soak me in. I’m here for the taking.”

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Why do I want to be a doula?

The way I see it, Life is hard enough as it is, and I have been searching for years for something that will make it a little easier for someone else.  Tom & Emily told me later that they couldn’t have done it without me, that my presence made their experience and transition into parenthood so much easier. So even if Eva Sofia is the only baby I help bring earthside, knowing this is enough for me. Knowing that I’ve finally found my calling, my purpose for being put on this earth, is enough to make me cry at a moment’s notice.

3 days ago, my entire life changed. It became more holy, more blessed, and more wholly blessed. And I’m so thankful. Long live Eva Sofia, long live the doula heart and long live the grace of God to make this place a little better than it was before.

Here Comes Baby!

Nope, not mine.

Neener neener neener.

So, for the past 36 hours, I have been a little jittery. Can’t eat, can barely sleep, and when I wake up, my neck refuses to move. My phone has not left my side.

Let me tell you why.

Soon and very soon, a little lady is going to make a scene for my dear friends Tom & Emily. And they have graciously allowed ME to be a part of their birthing experience, as the assisting doula. My very first time “having” a baby could be tomorrow, could be next week, could be any minute now. And there are just some things I need to chat about.

Last March, when I decided to start the journey to become a doula, I had no idea where it would take me. The people I would meet, the knowledge I would gain, the emotions I would feel. And now, here I am, on the cusp of the real thing. All the videos, books, stories and teachings have led me (and us) to this moment.

Are we ready?

I personally think Tomily are. They have taken full intentions to be informed about the pregnancy and birth of their little one – to the point of teaching me a few things as well. With Tom’s love of books and Emily’s practice in nursing, they are a dream team. Of course, they are bound to be nervous and afraid. They will make mistakes along the way, just like everyone else does. But knowing their story and where they’ve come from, I have full confidence that Baby Girl will never want for love and a helping hand through this world.

Am I ready? Only God knows.

Throughout this whole journey of learning, I have had my moments.

My blubbering “omg birth is such a beautiful, amazing, miraculous experience, look at those little fingers and toes, so perfect, i want to love all the babies in all the world” moments.

And my “hahaha EFF no I am never doing that, kthanxbai” moments.

Which, I’m sure, is nothing new. But, to me, everything is new. I am literally about to see and do something I have never seen or done before, and I have no idea what to expect. Videos don’t count, stories don’t count. For me, for Tomily, for this little one, everything is a clean whiteboard that will have a completely unique experience drawn into it with permanent marker. And somewhere in that piece of art, I’ll be there.

I would like to be a splash of green and a hint of purple.

Green because I want to see growth; in myself as a doula and in Tomily as partners and now parents.

Purple because this is a moment of royalty. Tom and Emily will become the King & Queen of their home, with a Princess in their arms. Even I, the slave (which the word “doula” is originally derived from), will become more than that.

I have the strong feeling that all of us will be changed in an instant. Purple and green all over the place.

And so while I may not feel totally ready, I’m ready to get ready. To face the moment of truth, where Heaven kisses Earth and says, “Here is another gift. Peace be with you.”

I can’t wait.

xo Carly xo