Video consultations can be very helpful, especially in the early weeks postpartum. Newborns are still unfurling and parents are a bit wobbly themselves. Still I cherish the experience of a good ole two-hour visit in the home. There have been some moments that have felt especially soulful.
• I had been the doula for M and G’s first child so I was happy to visit M after their second baby was born. Although there were a few breastfeeding adjustments, it was mostly nice to see the family, make her some tea and a PB &J sandwich for her toddler.
As the infant nuzzled in a sling and her toddler mashed the sandwich, M said she wanted to share something. Then she sat down and started singing. It was an unadorned, honest song she had written about her firstborn. That sweet moment… with the kids, the mashed PB&J and her singing in the kitchen… was a special poetry.
• With their first baby, E said breastfeeding was going well though she’d have to wean soon at four months. This surprised me. She’d wanted to breastfeed for a year. There were no health issues for either mom or baby, the set up at work seemed supportive. We arranged a home visit to answer her questions.
I visited their house, a place they had just moved into and were still in transition. E described that breastfeeding had just become too uncomfortable and that’s why she could not keep it up. As she sat in the chair in their bedroom, I could see the problem. It was the chair. It was not the latch.
We switched the chair, added a footstool and back pillow. What a difference! We also reviewed how to make a comfortable set up for work. Months later, I received a holiday card. She was still breastfeeding her daughter at one year.
• R was, and probably still is, an excellent advocate. She listened well, asked insightful questions and gave herself time to ponder the options. R had been presented with many doubts and ‘better ideas’ throughout her pregnancy and labor mostly based on her ‘advanced’ age. She used many of her negotiating skills during two full days of labor. Ultimately, she had a low intervention birth that had been the heart of her concern.
A week later, we sat in her bedroom in her third floor apartment. With a view of the ocean and an approaching storm we drank tea and listened to the rain. She sighed deeply and said “Here. We. Are”. Yes. Here she was… at home with her baby on her chest, needing only to nap and snuggle.
Even during a pandemic, it’s still valuable to reach out and connect, though not by touching hands. I hope all of us as friends, parents, grandparents, and neighbors will remember to listen for and nurture these pauses. There are moments when there is no news and there are no answers…its just being in a place together. What will unfold in those moments?