Doulas: The Cream and Sugar to a Birthing Experience

You know what I love about coffee? It’s completely adaptable to my desires.

I enjoy having coffee as part of my morning wakeup routine. It gives me (at least, I think it still does) the extra little push I need as someone that doesn’t get the suggested amount of sleep in order to function outside of a sloth speed.
On brisk, dark days I can have it hot to warm my spirits and my hands. Or have it iced to keep me cool when the temperatures rise. I go through varying degrees of coffee drinking. Sometimes I enjoy my coffee teeming with bold flavors, and at others I cave to my sweet tooth by adding some agave and hemp milk for something a little more decadent. The way another person prefers their coffee doesn’t impact the way I drink mine.
Does my coffee need anything to help me through the day?
Well, no, it doesn’t. Black is great too and gets the job done just as much as any other way.
Does adding to it make the experience of drinking coffee that much sweeter?
You bet it does!
And much like these additions are to coffee, a doula is to their client. Does a birthing person need a doula to get through labor and birth?
Well, let’s see here…
Birthing people are fully capable of having their babies without the support of a doula. That’s the awe-inspiring thing about humans. No matter the details that rest between the lines of the story, babies will be born by the people that birth them. They are able to do their own research, if they want to. They make the best decisions for their family and their unique-to-them situations. Even if things get really, really hard people are resilient and make it through. Doulas are there though, to enhance the experience. To elevate their clients to a place where they are heard, encouraged, and supported. They show up for all of it, and the support they offer is tailored to the individuals they work with to provide a unique and customized experience.
So the short answer would be: No, they sure don’t! Doulas can however, make the experience that much sweeter. They are the cream and sugar to a birthing experience.

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Snow is Falling, Baby is Coming

It’s three days before Christmas, a Saturday, and everything’s a bustle with holiday plans. We were set to go out to my dad’s house to get in as much time with my sister and her family while they were visiting from out of town, and then have dinner at my brother’s house later that eveing. When we arrived at my dad’s it was about 9:30 am. My husband Chris and my brother-in-law left to do some last minute shopping, and I stayed with my sister.

Shortly after they left, I felt what I was sure was the beginning of early labor but I didn’t give them much attention. Aside from running an errand, we stayed there visiting—I did a whole lot of resting on the couch. We planned on still going to my brothers. Around 2 pm my contractions were still hanging around and I was having bloody show. I decided that we should skip dinner and go home to get things ready instead. I sent a text to my birth team that though it wasn’t time yet, that I was having signs.
Chris and I got ready to leave—our oldest decided to hang back so he could hang out with his cousins, V came with us.

When we arrived back at our house we straightened up, blew up the birth pool, and got things ready—I was timing contractions more closely at this point. They were inconsistent, ranging anywhere between 6-10 minutes apart. Chris and I hung out on the couch watching T.V. and he made us dinner while V buzzed around the house between watching her movie and playing.
I did a lot of resting over my birth ball and trying to nap. When the contractions didn’t make any changes I decided to get up and move around to try and get baby into a more optimal position. I walked circles around my house, enlisted Vayda’s company in a dance party in the playroom (don’t tell Chris…he thinks I’m weird enough 😉), and ultimately reached for my woven wrap for my belly. I wrapped it across my belly, crossed it behind my back, and put each end over my shoulders. I sat this way while I bounced on my birth ball and tugged the ends of the wrap with each contraction. It wasn’t long after that the intensity of my contractions grew and became consistent and closer together.

My sister arrived and sat in the living room with Chris and I. I was still on my ball watching my contractions which were now 4-5 minutes apart. I kept telling my sister, “One more and I’ll call the midwives”.
At 10:47 pm I called my midwife, Terri and let her know I was ready for her to come. A call followed to Sue, our birth photographer to tell her the same.
While we were waiting for the birth team and my mom to arrive, my contractions increased in intensity and I no longer wanted to sit. I paced around the house while we debated the best time to start filling the birth pool.

It seemed like everyone arrived nearly around the same time.

My mom showed up and I snagged a hug from her while I worked through a contraction.

My mom showed up and I snagged a hug from her while I worked through a contraction.

My midwife, Terri checking my temperature.

My midwife, Terri checking my temperature.

My sister, Ashley put water on to boil for the inevitable emptying of the hot water tank while filling up the birth pool.

My sister, Ashley put water on to boil for the inevitable emptying of the hot water tank while filling up the birth pool.

We ran a hose from the shower in our only bathroom to the room the birth pool was in, which was fine up until I wanted to use the bathroom and the hose was draped over the bathroom door preventing it from closing. After some help from Sue, (because somethingsomething helping stubborn women with tasks in labor somethingsomething…😉) I enjoyed some privacy and was ready to get into the pool.

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Getting into the water was immediately relieving, and I was able to relax a little more. Things were more intense at this point, and the details blend together. I was given the space I needed to labor in peace, but was checked and loved on—I never felt alone. Vayda even came in to check on me and give me the sweetest of her affections.

I found myself having a difficult time letting go of my contractions. The intensity built and lingered, despite my inner encouragement to surrender and melt into them.
Terri told me that it was snowing—I loved the thought of snow falling while my baby emerged.

At some point with the strength of my contractions and the way I could feel my body making changes. I reached down and to my surprise I could already feel baby’s head.
My body took over and without conscious effort baby was heading through what felt like pretty quickly. Kneeling in the birth pool, I was supporting my perineum while trying to pace my body to avoid tearing. I thought with the next contraction the head would be born and I could take pause from the building pressure. Instead, as the baby’s head emerged, the rest slipped along my hand, and as quickly as I realized, I was annoucing baby was coming!

12/23, 12:32 am: We did it! I sat back to catch a breath and revel in everything that just happened. This baby was perfect and I was just so elated to meet this sweet face. Although we chose not to find out the sex of the baby Chris and I were sure we were having a girl. We were wrong and I was so surprised. I exlaimed, “You’re a boy!” and I was overjoyed.

I still don’t even have the words to describe my feelings for everything after. My husband, daughter, mom, and sister had their first look at him and when I saw how Vayda looked at her little brother I felt my heart grow. Loki Allen is everything I never knew we needed.
I stayed in the pool waiting on my placenta. I relaxed while Loki and I acquainted ourselves with each other for the first time as two.

When the placenta came, it was time to move into our bedroom. After Vayda’s birth, Chris learned that cutting umbillical cords is not his thing, so Vayda stepped up to the challenge with Haley’s expert help. Afterwards, Haley weighed and measured him.

Things were winding down and we were settling in. Chris held Loki for the first time and our wonderful midwives drew up and herbal bath for Loki and I, cleaned up, and tucked us in for the night. My mom headed home and my sister stayed the night in case we needed anything. This experience though slightly foggy in my postpartum haze, is unforgettable for all the right reasons. I felt safe, supported and loved and although I had a few choice words in and immediately after labor, I would absolutely do it all over again.

Special shout out to our incredible birth photographer, Sue Johnson for capturing these special moments, and to our amazing Spokane River Midwives for their beyond amazing care. I will cherish this memory forever. ❤️

No-Bake Lactation Cookies

Growing up most of my memories are of me sitting on countertops watching my mom or my nanna while they cooked. The kitchen was a focal point in quality time with family. It is no wonder that I grew up to be equally happy to cook food that others enjoy.
The one difference is that typically in my family, recipes are not written down and if they are they might as well be guarded by dragons. I am not like that though. I mean, I still cook from memory but I like to share recipes with others (maybe a few have dragons...). I enjoy cooking for others and I love for them to be able to take something else away from the experience.

One thing I am often asked for is my recipe for lactation cookies. What I love most about no-bake cookies is how simple they are to put together. They whip up fast, which is great for busy lifestyles, and I dont even have to turn my oven on.

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3/4 c coconut oil
3/4 c cashew milk (or any other milk)
2/3 c coconut sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 c peanut butter
1/4 c dutch cocoa powder
2 c rolled oats
1 c almonds, finely chopped or blended
1/3 c ground flax
1/2 c shredded coconut
1/4 c Brewers yeast

In a medium saucepan combine coconut oil, cashew milk, vanilla, sugar, peanut butter, and cocoa powder over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Add oats and reduce to a med-low heat. Allow oats to rest for 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and remove from heat. 
On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, scoop out into even amounts and flatten with a spatula. Allow cookies to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Transfer to fridge to allow cookies to completely cool and set up.