With today being one of the most celebrated days to show love for someone, in addition to it being a month designated to speak on all things black; what better time to share a little of my history and how I found unconditional love.
I was 20 years old when I found out I was pregnant. I had not planned this pregnancy. I have no plans as a parent. I have no idea what I was going to do or what I’m supposed to do. The only thing I knew for certain was that in just a few short months someone will depend on me for the rest of my life.
As time continued to move forward so did my waistline. I could clear buffets with the best of them. I’m quite certain I could have beaten most competitive eaters. I wobbled when I walked. I can’t tie my shoes by myself. I could no longer sleep on my stomach. With all of these changes taken place, all I can do is excitedly anticipate meeting my baby. My son. I have the perfect swing I know he would love. I have the cutest most perfect outfits ready. I have his bed, bottles, swaddle blankets, and binkies. However, the most important thing I have are my arms that are almost aching to hold him. I will let him know that he is loved and will forever be loved and wanted. I can’t wait to meet my son.
6 weeks before my first son’s estimated due date my body became a detrimental environment for the both of us, and for that he had to be saved. My son is thrust into the world via cesarean section proclaiming life and demanding to be heard. Little did I know that his warrior cry was for me not to worry about him because my proclamation of life was just beginning. My pre-eclampsia, the cause for my son’s early eviction, was not alleviated by his birth. In fact, it turned into eclampsia. Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of our journey.
My baby, my son, my 6 week premature love waited for me. He waited while I battled pre-eclampsia. He waited while I battled eclampsia. He waited while I battled a pulmonary embolism. He waited while my chest was drained of fluid and I gained the strength to walk to the toilet alone. He waited until past his estimated due date for me to survive his birth.
Years go by and we live our lives. He gains a sibling, I, another son, with no complications. I gain a husband and we become a new family. It wasn’t until this moment; this time in my life that I realize, that my first birth story, my almost tragic ending, is not uncommon. Although I did become a statistic, I was blessed not to become part of our country’s and the state’s shameful disparity statistic. The Maternal Mortality Ratio.
But how can this be? Why won’t they do something? What can I do? How many mothers felt the way that I did but didn’t get the happy ending? Questions that I have asked and questions that had led me to decide on becoming a doula. To educate, to encourage, to empower every woman, especially black, African American women to be an advocate for their health and the health of their baby. To help foster a community around the mother and to help impact such a grave statistic.
My 1st born, he showed me my strength, he showed me my determination, he showed me I had unconditional love and what it took to fight for it. He showed me how my life experience can help other people. The history of my birth experience, along with countless other African American women, make the bricks of my path to becoming the best birth worker I can be.
Celebrate Love! Celebrate History!
If you’re like me, it was when I was pregnant, and during the postpartum period, that I took what I ate the most serious. I have heard the phrase “Your eating for two now” way too many times for comfort; however, I noticed those words were often followed by family and friends trying to feed me more, but not necessarily nutritious food. It wasn’t until I really "blossomed" that I felt like I needed to change my diet.
I’m not going to lie, at first, I would inhale everything in sight. Ice cream? Yes, please. Red Lobsters Ultimate Feast? I’m going to need two baskets of cheddar biscuits, thank you. Chinese buffet? Let me put on my stretchy pants. However, after a couple of short months with this type of diet I did notice that I didn’t have as much energy as I would like. I mean, I knew growing a person takes a lot of hard work, but I felt like I was a little too tired. I had to take an evaluation of myself and what I was, or was not, doing to ensure I had the healthiest pregnancy I could have and ultimately have a healthy and happy baby.
Who knew it would actually take time to research food? And who knew that it could lead you down a rabbit hole to a new way of thinking about food and herbs and what they can do other than taste good? I didn’t. During my first pregnancy I was in my early 20’s and my health food knowledge went as far as knowing I needed to eat fruit and vegetables because the food pyramid said so. Boy, did I learn something new.
First, food is not just a way to fuel your body, it also nurtures and promotes healing. Natural herbs and spices have been used since the beginning of time as medicines. I found that roots, leaves, oils, and teas, in the right combination, can be used to heal everything from aching backs to whooping cough. Although we have made a major shift from natural remedies to modern medicine, herbs and spices still play a role in nourishment and healing.
So, what does this have to do with pregnancy or postpartum?
The short answer, EVERYTHING!
Consuming herbal teas and real whole foods helps promote a healthy pregnancy and helps the healing process during postpartum. Food can help with lactation, the shrinkage of the uterus, and help relieve gas for your baby if you’re breastfeeding. Eating warm foods, lean meats, and green vegetables helps with digesting (which is VERY important after giving birth) and can replace the warmth into your body that was lost during childbirth.
After truly making conscience decisions about my food, prepping my dinners, and incorporating more fresh foods into my diet, I began to feel the difference. Believe it or not, there were times I felt better than I did before I became pregnant.
Now, I know that cooking healthy meals and eating healthy meals are two totally different things. I will admit, I still struggle with it til this very day, but I have a great and simple tip that will help anyone who wants to make meal time a little easier (other than ordering it). Just two words.....meal prep. Crock pot meals and freezer meals are good to have on stand by for when there are times you don’t want to, or just can't be in the kitchen for long periods.
So if you find yourself wanting to maintain a diet regimen, or you're like me and feel that pregnancy and postpartum helps you make better food choices, but you don't have the energy, contact Your Family Tree Doula Services. We will help provide you and your family with healing nourishment.
10. Your doula can go to the grocery store, dry cleaners, or your favorite drive thru. Better yet, your doula can go with you.
9. Enjoy a 15-minute, uninterrupted hot shower or bath then rekindle your relationship with the elusive nap.
8. A doula can help you prepare for your return to work by helping promote your new rhythm before your first day back.
7. A postpartum doula will play with the other children..er...a postpartum doula will provide sibling care and support.
6. A doula can organize your baby's space with all the lovely shower gifts you have been meaning to put away; or return them to the store for what you really wanted.
5. You and your partner can snuggle and bond with your little one while your doula handles a little light housekeeping.
4. No matter what method you choose, your doula will support and assist you with your chosen feeding method.
3. Your doula may know the name of that doctor that does that thing you read and/or heard about if not, your doula can find out for you.
2. Your doula can slice, dice, chop and boil, also known as, meal prep
...and last but not least...
1. A postpartum doula will always nurture, support, and offer encouragement for you and your family. No matter what you may think or how you may feel, your doula will be there to listen to your thoughts and fears. Postpartum doulas provide the best set of unbiased ears, so you can unload in judgement free zone.
We rhyme too. I know you noticed.
I have read many blog posts in the past but have never written my own. I kind of felt like I really didn’t have anything to share that anyone would want to read about, until now. Given that it is the start of World Doula Week, I will start my first blog ever with the story of why I became a doula.
Two days ago from today, I received a phone call from my mother saying while she was going through some of her packed clothes she found a project I had done in high school. She began to describe what I wrote in the first chapter but stopped and said that I should read it for myself. So, she drove from Arkadelphia to Little Rock to deliver this 18 year old school project (don’t try to calculate my age). I first flipped through the pages and laughed at old school pictures and pictures I had taken with friends throughout the years. I even came across an old movie ticket; back then a movie was only $6.75 (again, don’t try to calculate my age). After a few laughs I returned to the first chapter and began to read what would eventually be the start of my path.
“Who Am I?”
My name is Alexis Whiteside. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin then after some years have passed me and my mother moved to Little Rock, AR…
…I want to be an obstetrician because I love babies… and the event of someone giving birth to another life is very fascinating to me…
...my plan is to open my own business…but before that happens I will be waiting on expecting mothers and helping them in their time of need.
Fast forward a few years, two children, a BS in Business, a house, a husband, and a few pets. The dream in my project was long forgotten and replaced with a plan to climb the corporate ladder. However, as I succeeded in my job, I felt like something was missing. I felt as if I was meant to do more…be more.
Then…all of a sudden…it happened! My dream came back to me. My dream to help mothers in their time of need, instead this time I am older, wiser, and have had children of my own. I have had a bad birthing and postpartum experience, but I have also had a positive birthing experience. I have held hands and comforted mothers while they struggled with self-doubt and uncertainty. I have encouraged women to be the woman they want to be while being the mother they want to be. I have always been a postpartum and infant care doula. So, to make it official, I received my professional training and started my own business.
Although I didn’t become an obstetrician and follow the plan the high school senior me had planned, my love for babies and wanting to help mothers in their time of need has never changed. I feel like the path I took was the path made for me. The path where I became….a Doula.