"We're so glad you're here!"
As a doula, I get to walk into some pretty amazing situations and give support. Help that makes some parents believe I work some incredible magic into their lives.
As a birth doula, I can push on the right spot, I can anticipate needing that drink, I can look deep into your eyes as you feel the bit of yourself unlock that you weren't sure was there.
Oh, it's there alright, I'm looking right at it. *magic*
As a postpartum doula, my "magic" looks different.
I walk into a client's home, and it may look like this: the baby is crying, and mom or dad is walking, bounding, shhhhshing trying everything they can to get that baby to be calm. The Netflix on, the dish washer is running. Notifications from their cell phones won't stop because, "OMG, You guys! You're parents! Congrats! This is so awesome!"
Meanwhile...bouncing, shhhshing, walking...
Let's flip this to the adult world. Imagine you have never been to a casino. You have no idea that you will be bombarded with sounds, lights, noise, smells, and people. There are constant bells going off with a new winner just beyond that row of flashing lights. The clink, swoosh, clink, swoosh, of slot machines. And the floor plan is huge - you feel like you have been walking for days through the maze of machines, tables, tvs, and people. Someone is coming to you about every 15 minutes to see if you want to order food or a beverage from the bar.
Clink, swoosh. Clink, swoosh.
You go to the bathroom to get a break and there are commercials playing on the (appropriately named) loud speakers.
By the time you leave and get to your car, you need to sit there for a minute and let all that noise, all those lights, all that stuff to just fizzle out of your head. It is totally overwhelming! Think of Disney Land. Think of your mall around the holidays. Think of a rock concert. All of these examples give an inkling of what your infant is feeling.
You may not think that your home, with it's comfy pillows, quirky art, and delicious meals is anything close to a hoppin' casino, but to your new baby, you are living at Caesars Palace!
But the difference between you and your baby is you have had time to learn how to cope with the busy world. You can leave if you want. You can turn things off. You can say, "Hey! Knock it off over there!"
What can babies do? Cry. Cry, cry, cry, cry, cry.
But you're holding them, and shhhhshing them, and walking with them! What gives!
You may be trying to help, but unfortunately, it's backfiring.
So I show up and I work my "magic."
I change the babies diaper.
I grab a cozy blanket that smells like mom.
I go to a dark, quiet place.
I wrap the baby around with smells of mom, and nestle him or her right in the crook of my neck.
I make make a calm, low, shhhusing sound, and I lightly pat his or her bottom, over and over.
No bouncing. No Walking. No lights. I'm giving baby time to step back from that scary, confusing place, and replace all the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings with very, little else.
It will take some time. Put a comfy chair in the spot you will use to calm your baby.
If this is you, Mom, reading this post, start all this with a big breath, and let your self relax too. Baby will feel your stress, so if you need to put baby is a safe place for a few minutes, that's okay.
Go back refreshed, realizing that for 9-months, all baby knew was you. You were the world your baby belonged to.
As you get to know your baby better, you will begin to recognize signs that baby is getting over stimulated. You will then be able to plan how to keep it from happening.
You already have the magic that comes from being the parent to this wonderful human. With some insight into your baby's world, you will develop your own "magic" and the evenings with fussy baby will become easier and easier.
Hang in there. This get better.
Authored by A Swift Doula
Special thanks to HelloDoDoshop on Etsy for use of their adorable image. Visit their page for other adorable items.