postpartum doula

D is for Dad's - Adjusting to Fatherhood

Jace Pierson reflects on the wonderful + overwhelming adjustment into fatherhood, and his advice to other dads on how to survive, support, and savour each moment. 

When my wife was pregnant I forgot to imagine what it going to be like once this tiny human would join us. There was a lot of fun stuff like shopping, planning and pintrest-ing. Prepare yourself to spend some money! But as much as we planned, we found that we were heavily uninformed and unprepared. We had little in the way of friends with kids to ask, so making a birth plan became an intense few months of research. The first year has been a whirlwind of wonderful and overwhelming, so let me share a bit of my experience with you….

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Once our amazing baby girl was born, Meal planning quickly became the bane of our existence. It always seemed like we just ate but now we were h-angry at each other again. We ate a lot of take-out for the first while. (that's how I got this epic dad bod and mildly depleted savings). 

Sleep patterns were out the window and stress coping and memory becomes difficult when you're always tired and h-angry. And guess what? There are no more time outs, it's 1st down with 6 months to go!  It was overwhelming at times, but the amazing parts truly outweigh the hard times; like that first smile, and the pure joy of making your little one laugh for the first time. (I recommend tickles)! You start to see things in a whole new light: your kids light, and it’s almost as though you too are seeing it for the first time. 

For the year to follow the birth of my daughter I saw my wife more than the years she was not pregnant. Yet I found myself distanced and I missed her very much even though we were always together. As a husband, I found this to be one of the greatest challenges; I love my wife beyond belief and I live for time we spend together. 

As men when faced with difficult times, we tend to put our heads down focus elsewhere and push through until it’s over. Those first months of parenthood are no different.

 

If I could offer any advice to new dads its to stay present, and stay the course. 

 

Your child might not want that much to do with you for the first while and demand the attention of your partner, and that's okay. So what are you supposed to do? 

It’s your job to be there for mom; she needs you to be present, to be attentive, to fill in the gaps of what she no longer has the time or energy to do; this was the best advice I got from a good friend and I pass it unto you. 

Get your hands dirty! I have heard a few dads complain about changing their kids' diapers, how gross it is "I have a bad gag reflex and cant handle it". It’s time to MAN up friend (or should I say wo-man up, mom just birthed a human. If it comes down to who is tougher... She is). With the exception of breast feedings your roll and responsibilities are as equals.

Does this change when mom goes back to work? Sort of. 

Now that my wife is back at work, we are continually striving to find the balance between being a parent and maintaining our former life. Some days it works, and other days are a just a mess. It's constant growth, and as long as the communication stays open and you continue to have each other’s back, you will make it through in one piece.

Good luck & Have fun, it does go fast!

Jace is a father and husband, passionate about his family, friends, and the beautiful community of the Comox Valley that he calls home. Jace works as an advisor with Sunlife Financial, and is a warm and enthusiastic resource for individuals and families exploring their options for investments, education saving plans, and much more.

For more information you can visit his website, or contact him directly at jace.pierson@sunlife.com.

 

Offering Support Through Miscarriage and Infant Loss

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The loss of a pregnancy is a traumatic event. While it is said that 1 in 4 known pregnancies end in miscarriage, this statistic does not make the loss any less sad or painful for the person experiencing it.

Perinatal loss refers to:

  • Miscarriage – a loss during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy 
  • Stillbirth – a loss after 20 weeks of pregnancy 

We are often told to keep our pregnancy on the down low, at least until after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage lessens. Not sharing the news of pregnancy is a very personal choice. When pregnancy loss happens, a range of emotions such as numbness and shock, guilt, heartbreak, devastation, and anger often follows it. Choosing to keep it to yourself can feel really isolating, while telling others then having to retract the news can be just as difficult. 

While those around you might be aware of what’s going on, they may not know what to do or say. Should they even talk about it? They may be scared of saying the wrong thing, or maybe they weren’t even supposed to know about the pregnancy. Social support plays a big role in recovery from trauma and grief, so here are some tips on how to be a source of support. 

 

The Basics of Supporting Someone through Loss:

Just listen. Often times, we want to say the right thing to try and fix a sad situation. In loss, there is nothing we can do to fix the grief. Instead, we can be there for the person, and just listen to anything they have to say. 

Be authentic. Be sincere in your reaction. It is okay to tell the person, “I don’t know what to say” or “I am so sorry, I’ve never been through this”. They will appreciate your honesty. Avoid using clichés - they come across as dismissive and minimize the loss.  

Recognize that everyone experiences a pregnancy and loss differently. Avoid sharing your own story or trying to relate to it. The person grieving is the focus.

 

3 A’s of Support in Loss:

Acknowledge the loss. Tell the person, “I am so sorry for your loss”, or “I am so sorry you are going through this”. Behaving as though nothing has happened is not helpful, and can isolate the person. Acknowledging it gives them space to grieve openly with people they trust. 

Allow the person or family time to grieve. Do not set any expectations on how long grief should take, or when they should ‘get over it’. 

Ask the person how they would like to be supported, then be available as much as possible to support them emotionally and with any other needs they may have. 

While the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage or stillbirth is very personal, the woman and her family do not need to be alone in their grief. If you are aware of the loss, be thoughtful in offering support. You do not have to have gone through this experience yourself to support them. You just need to care. 

Alanna Thompson is a Registered Clinical Counsellor that offers compassionate, counselling support to families in the Comox Valley who have experienced miscarriage or infant loss. 

Alanna Thompson, M.A., R.C.C.

Registered Clinical Counsellor with Perinatal Loss Support Comox Valley

Phone: 250-650-4234

Email: info@cvloss.com

 

So, You Just Had a Baby

It is such a strange but liberating feeling to go from heavily pregnant, to holding your baby in your arms. Suddenly you’re no longer unevenly balanced from carrying a constant, heavy load in front of your body. You're FREE! I’ve always thought it was a bit like taking off skates after you’ve been on the ice for a couple of hours…you know that feeling? It’s a sweet sigh of relief. (I might tie my skates too tight.)

This new freedom might come with some feelings of sadness, but mostly you're enjoying the ease of being able to move, walk, bend, or tie your shoes! And as the early days pass, the busyness builds: the piles of laundry, the  meals needing to be cooked, the dishes needing to be washed, the floors needing to be swept, the toddler needing to be pushed on the swing, and the list goes on, and on. 

But try, if you can, to take a breath, take a break, put the lists down and the aspirations aside, and slow your pace for just this brief space in time. And not because, “you’ll never get this time back”, and “these days will pass you by”; do it for you; do it for your healing; do it for your body, mind, and soul. 

 

You’ve just accomplished a major physical feat, and not just for one or two laborious days, but for 9, long months. I encourage families to try and block out at least two weeks; two weeks of rest, two weeks of zero obligations, two weeks of rooming in, laying low, and gently adjusting. Why? : 

You’re going through an intense, hormonal shift. You’re body is re-regulating it’s hormones. Your emotions might be a bit unstable, your mood might shift, your whole internal endocrine system is adjusting to this life on the outside. 

You’re producing a food supply and learning to use your body to feed a baby; nourishing food, rest, and time, are all necessary pieces to this process. 

You’ve become a whole new unit; perhaps two has become three, or four, or more. Let that sink in a while.

You’re running on a lot less sleep, with much greater demands; you’re everything to one small person, don’t undermine all that you give and do by just being what your baby needs. 

The dinners can be made by someone else. The laundry and dishes will be there tomorrow. The eager visitors can lend a hand. Your loving partner can carry the load for a while. Honour you, relish this time, hold this space for a while, the rest of it can wait. 

{Also - we know a few great doulas that can lend a hand with each and every one of these things, and it’s one of our favourite things to do.}

- Andrea