I should start this post by explaining what that means because most people I speak to don’t know so people who read this may not either. Doula is an ancient Greek word that means female servant but today it is a woman who supports women in birth. Unlike doctors and midwives they provide non medical support in the form of encouragement, information, massage and advocacy to ensure the woman’s rights and decisions are respected. They support women before and after the birth so they are a familiar face all the way through and help them when they get home with breast feeding etc.
I decided to get into this after my birth. I was very lucky to be part of a program in which I met with the same midwife all the way through and she was encouraging and respectful and helped me with different positions and massage. I also had a very supportive family around me and although I didn’t end up birthing Nina how I would have liked I always felt well cared for and respected. After the birth I could debrief the experience and share my disappointments. However most women around the world don’t. They often have a different health professional for all their prenatal visits and then someone else on the day of birth and no support when they get home. Or they can have a doctor who takes over the whole process for them and doesn’t treat them well. I have began speaking to many women who have talked about their births as really negative experiences, my mother in law informed she was told to be quiet during her labour. Some women have no family and go through the process alone. A doula can be someone to support women in these situations and research has shown women with doulas are less likely to have medical interventions, feel more bonded to their child, are more likely to breast feed and are more satisfied with their birth experience. I particularly feel that a doula would be a good support for women in Peru where birth is still very much treated as a medical procedure where most women have caesars and women who do have natural births are forced to stay one their bed with their legs up. This position works for the doctor but not the women who would be better in a position such as squatting where she is working with gravity.
Since the beginning of this journey it has felt like a real leading. When I first started thinking about this I mentioned it to Gemma in passing. Without knowing almost anything about she just said, “Mil I think this might be a real calling for you”. When I dropped her home that night we told Jane who said, “You know, I have heard the word Doula twice. The first time yesterday when reading the Sojourners magazine whose theme this month is the politics of birth and now.” So I read the magazine and they woman who was writing about becoming a Doula described almost exactly how I felt about it. She says, “my faith has brought me to a place where justice meets the delivery room”.
So I came home and found a course on the internet that I can do over a few months or a few years, however long it takes doesn’t matter. I have to do a practicum though which I got a bit nervous about, thinking I wouldn’t know how to do that. I gave it to God though in hope that something might come up. That week by chance I met the only other Doula in Alice Springs who was very encouraging and a woman who works at the indigenous birth centre who said many of her women give birth alone and could really use the support of a Doula. After that I knew it was right. So last week I down loaded the course and I have begun. I absolutely love it and I can’t wait to actually get started.
It’s been forty degrees or over for the last three days and more of the same predicted for the rest of the week so it’s hot hot, hot.
Ryan and Libby have arrived and I am very happy to see them. Marilyn and the girls have also returned from Adelaide so things will be a bit more lively around here.
Nina’s sleep training is going pretty well. Heated up a little too. Basically now she has no more dummies or singing she has to learn to fall asleep by herself (and around 7pm). We just sit beside her until she falls asleep. I thought it was going to be horrendous but it hasn’t been really. She usually wines a little for about 10 mins (which she did anyway if we bounced her to sleep maybe even longer) and then falls asleep. She also only gets one night time feed now and she has to stay in her cot until 6 in the morning. Again I thought it was going to awful but on both nights she has woken twice. The first time she got her feed and the second I just got up and rewrapped her and sat with her and she fell back asleep within five minutes. She’s woken at about 5.45 but just played in her cot until we get her up at 6. Napping has been a little harder. We decided she has to have three naps a day for at least 1 hour and half. She usually goes down pretty easily, again 5-10 mins of wining but then wakes about 50 mins later. Then I go and sit with her but unfortunately it takes about 30 mins of wining before she falls to sleep again. I do still pick her up for a hug if she gets very upset but thankfully that’s rare. It wasn’t an easy decision to make we really had tried to not have to do anything like this but we have reached my limit. We have also become convinced that she really needs to sleep more for her own good (and ours). She doesn’t love this but we have done it as gently and gradually as we can and as said she has actually gone okay and we are all happier when we are awake for it. We also figure that over Nina’s lifetime there will be many times when we are going to have to make her do things she doesn’t like eg eat veges instead of chocolate or go to school, it will never be easy I assume but we are all going to have to get used to it.
In other ways she is going well too. She laughs and rolls and swims and plays with toys. She is fascinating to watch. She has a fancy new pram which she seems to like and I absolutely love as does my back.
I start teaching again next week and yesterday I went in to meet with the guy who will be working with me. I have enjoyed thinking about thing apart from Nina. I just hope that the late night won’t be too heavy going.
I think that’s about it.
And it is the mot beautiful sound I have ever heard.
Iwatched the sun rise this morning. It really was rather pleasant watching the day dawn and the colours change and listening to the world wake up. Obviously our sleep plan didn’t go so well last night.
We are currently trying to train Nina to go to sleep in her cot and more often. Up until now she has either fallen asleep feeding or being bounced by Martin or I. This has now become fairly heavy going and also not good for her in the long term. So we got some DVD’s and books about sleep and after discovering we were doing pretty much everything we shouldn’t have we have come up with this plan. Basically it involves watching quite closely for any signs of tiredness eg rubbing her eyes, ears, winging, tensing up her body. When we notice these to wrap her up and put her in her cot straight away. Then we rub her, sing to her until she falls asleep. She also likes to have a dummy. At first she would cry a little bit for about 20 mins at least whereas now we are mostly down to about 5-10mins. If she gets very distressed, which she does sometimes, we pick her up and comfort her and then put her back down. We also need to ensure a bit of a routine before sleep eg having a bath and a massage then a feed and then down. They say she should be sleeping about an hour and a half every hour and a half in the day and then 10 hours over night with one wake up. In my wildest dreams. It is more like one hour every two and a half hours with 10 hours over night with two wake ups. Which isn’t too bad really. It is mostly working although sometimes (like last night) she completely loses it and then we cave and bounce her to sleep. We probably shouldn’t but it’s just too hard otherwise and we are tired too.
I never realised that sleep isn’t something that comes naturally eg a baby is tired therefore it sleeps. It seems they have to learn that too and then more tired they get it actually becomes harder to put them to sleep. Routines help them cue into what they have to do. I guess it is the same as adults. We all have some sort of night time routine to cue us into sleep eg dinner, showering, washing teeth etc. We also like it dark and quiet and often take some time to get to sleep even if we are tired. I find it quite interesting actually. I guess that’s what happens when you begin to value it so much.
I am going to review all the books that I read again this year. I did that in 2009 but not last year as I was bit preoccupied with other things.
The first book of 2011 is the Book thief. It was brilliant. Set in Nazi Germany, it’s a story about a young girl who steals books amongst other things. What is unique about it though is that it is narrated by death. When I was first told that I thought it would be a bit weird, I didn’t think I’d like it but it was done so well, it was fascinating. It’s a story about death and suffering, about compassion, about books and words and their power. It’s a sad story but doesn’t knock you down completely, there is something uplifting in it. It made me feel grateful for life and drew me to mindfulness, this quote especially,
People observe the colours of the day only at its beginnings and its ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, which each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colours. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make a point to notice them.
I used to think that we had come a long way in our treatment and understanding of people with a mental illness but today I am not so sure. I was visiting a friend this afternoon in the mental health ward at Alice Springs hospital. On the door it says that all patients, staff and visitors must be treated with dignity and respect however it seems a few of the staff members have failed to read the sign. My friend is being treated with complete disregard for her dignity. She was dragged into a locked ward, and she has the bruises to prove it, because she got a little angry because she was being patronised and treated like a child. Now, they have drugged her up so much with medications (for an illness that she doesn’t even have) that she can’t think or even speak properly. I was reminded of a poem that another friend wrote about how people with mental illness are not allowed to experience the normal human emotions. If they are sad, they are depressed, if they are angry, they might get violent, if they are confused they are psychotic. It’s not fair. My friend has truly suffered enough and she has come out the most gentle and kind person yet she is being treated as if she is a danger.
Woke up at ten to six to a crying baby. Gave her a feed in bed and got up at about 6 to change her. Then I tried to do a few things while Nina sat in her bouncer. At 6.15 Martin got up so I went back to bed for an hour. He woke me up at 7.15 with some coffee from the awesome coffee machine and toast. He left and 8.00 and then it was Nina and I. She played on her tummy for a bit, kicked on the mat with her nappy of off, put all her toys in her mouth and had a short nap. I tried to start planning some of my classes. I actually did get a little bit done but not much.
At 10.00 I drove Malley and the kids to the airport. They are off to Adelaide for a week so things will be a bit quiet around here. We then went to the pool shop, got the water tested and did some chores in town, each time getting her in and out of the car. Back in time for lunch and another short nap for Nina. Spent the afternoon bouncing Nina, feeding Nina, changing Nina while watching movies.
Martin came home about six. We cleaned the pool, bathed and massaged Nina, cooked dinner and finally managed to settle her at 8.30. We ate dinner, I quickly checked my emails, wrote this post. Now I am going to have a shower myself and go to bed.
Being new parents is exhausting.
I have decided that my New Year’s resolution is to be more mindful. That is to be more aware of what I am doing rather than just being on automatic pilot all the time. I want to be more in the present moment and to be grateful. With a new born baby it is hard to find time for long quiet times with God or reading the Bible etc so one must be more aware of God in everything. To change Nina’s nappy in worship or to hang out the washing or rock her to sleep in constant gratitude. Nina is a person who lives in the present. Who is curious about everything around her so she is a good companion for this journey.
Today I am very grateful for 10 hours sleep with only one wake up. What a baby I have.
Usually at this time of year I do a bit of a summary of the year that was (I didn’t last year as I was too sick to get to the blog). I think there is really only one thing to say about 2010 for me. Nina! Last night Martin and I actually tried to think of things that happened last year that weren’t related to her. A few lame things were mentioned (not really worth mentioning again) but for me pretty much everything her. So 2010 was the year that Nina came into our world. I carried her in my stomach for 9 months and she made me sick and uncomfortable and that was before the journey of trying to get her out but she is all worth it. Getting to know her this year has been such a joy over the last 4 months, even if it’s exhausting.
In fact so exhausting that last night was the first New Year’s Eve that I can remember actually being in bed before midnight. Martin and I got some yummy take away from the noodle box, had a candlelit dinner and reflected on the year (Nina kindly went to sleep early enough for us to do this). Then we watched “tomorrow when the war began” and (like a lot of others on the feed it seems) were in bed at about 10.30. At about 2am when Nina woke we said a quick Happy New Year to each other and then went back to sleep. It wasn’t the most exciting New Year’s Eve but it was really, really nice. I think I really needed a break from the hecticness that NYE usually is.
Happy New Year Everyone. I hope you will all be abundantly blessed in the year to come.