I remember standing in the bathroom alone,
just a week after my bouncing baby boy was born. ..
I was going to take a shower, so I had taken my clothes off.
I looked in the mirror and just started crying.
My body was not the same.
I mean, I kind of knew, but this was the first time I'd really looked.
There was my scar, still red and my flabby mess of a stomach, and my face, I was just so tired.
"Is this my life now?" I thought.
"Whose body is this?"
Scared and messy...
A trickle of blood ran down my leg, "crap!"
I wiped it up with a bit of toilet paper.
Then my eyes went back to my stomach, I poked it.
"Is this normal?"
I seem to have gone from glowing and pregnant,
to this?... I just can't.
Then, I heard the baby.
So much for that shower, eh?
I put my clothes back on, the same ones I'd been wearing for 3 days now,
changed my pad, and walked out of the bathroom to feed the baby.
Such was my life for a while.
For a couple months. After every one of my babies.
And those cries for food, just multiplied.
I felt so alone, like all the time.
Sure I knew people with babies, but everyone looked so put together, what was I doing wrong?
And whose body was I in?
I know being pregnant my body was there for my baby,
but now my baby was in my arms, shouldn't I feel like myself again?
Shouldn't I have something of my own?
Why do we do what we do as postpartum doulas?
Not because we alone can change this narrative, those inside feelings run deep,
but because we can and do make a difference:
We can hold your baby so you can take a shower and feel like a person again.
We can validate and help you ensure you take some time to feel like your body belongs to you again!
We can hold your hand and lend our shoulder and look you in the eyes
and tell you that we understand and it is okay.
We can get up with the baby during the night, so you can get just a little more sleep,
so the day doesn't seem so heavy.
We can help you get out of the house,
so being alone all day every day doesn't turn in to a habit of isolation.
We can watch your other kids, so the guilt of not spending time with one of them doesn't add up.
We can help make dinner and plan out meals,
so when 5pm rolls around and everyone is "starving" you don't have to worry about it.
There is so much we can do...
The thing is we can't make you feel like your body is your own again,
that is all on you,
But we will be there to support and listen and ensure you have time to find you again!
I wish I'd known then, what I know now:
That I didn't have to be alone.
That there was someone to help.
That there was someone to tell me it was normal and things would be okay.
Someone to tell me that my body was still my own and it was okay to take time for me.
The impact of a postpartum doula for our whole family.
Jessica Anne Dill