It’s that time of year!

It’s that time of year – when I look back on the last 12 months and talk about what a fabulous year it was. But this year is different. This year our generation has been living through an unprecedented Pandemic, and to describe it without using words such as challenging, unpredictable, isolating would be dishonest of us. Thankfully, we have also experienced joy, laughter, fun, and a sense of community (online of course).

I guess I should start back at the beginning…

Rebranding & Our New Website

mood board

We started off the year taking on a huge project – rebranding and working on a whole new website. We have been wanting to do this for years, and we knew exactly who was going to make our new visions come true. In case you haven’t heard of her, Heather of Viva La Violet is an incredible female entrepreneur who’s passion is to support other female entrepreneurs. We had been following her on social media for years and knew that when the time was right, she was our gal.

She made the whole process so easy. We started with a mood board and went from there! A new logo, a complete website redesign and build. It was a true labour of love and although it was A LOT (and I mean A LOT) of work, it was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears – ok, there were no tears, or blood… but sweat, maybe some sweat!

Schools Shut Down and COVID gets really real

When it was announced that the Province was implementing sweeping closures, including schools, Sarah and I went into overdrive. We were faced with a few daunting realities:

  • we were not going to be able to provide in person support to our clients for their birthing & postpartum
  • we were not going to be able to facilitate in person prenatal classes
  • we were going to quickly become our childrens’ teachers and have them home on a full time basis… while running a business that had to change the way it operated OVERNIGHT!
  • facilitate video and phone support to our clients day/night with our children home (there’s were some movie marathons and not healthy food options added into there as well… for the kids)

The Addition of our Continuing Education Series

But nevermind our challenges, we knew this would be a trying time for our clients, so our focus remained on them.

As appointments with Health Care Providers started to get more spaced out and prenatal programs were no longer happening, Sarah and I wanted to create MORE points of connection and foster a sense of community and support. We did this by creating our Continuing Education Prenatal Series of classes. This series pulled together experts such as Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists, Registered Dieticians, Baby Wearing Experts, Nurses & Social Workers to put together a comprehensive list of classes that has included Pelvic Health Sessions, Postpartum Nutrition and Recovery, Newborn Care, Car Seat Safety, Baby wearing, as well as Self Care and Mental health. We knew that by creating this resource it would give our clients and students things to look forward to doing “together” in their pregnancies with other expecting families.

doula providing virtual birth support
Photo taken & shared with permission.

VIRTUAL BIRTH SUPPORT

When we think about the support of a doula at a birth, probably one major thing that we think of is physical support – those magical hip squeezes, that unbelievably blissful counter pressure…

BUT LET’S BE REAL: IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW – PHYSICAL SUPPORT IS NOT ALL THAT A DOULA DOES!

Sarah and I were confident right from the get go, that we could still provide valuable doula support to our clients even if we weren’t physically with them.

And we did – from March until the end of August we did not see a single client in person, but we attended MANY MANY virtual births – whether it was on video or through our labouring client’s earbuds or speaker phone, we were there, every step of the way.

One client’s experience:

a couple with their newborn baby in the hospital

When covid – 19 happened everything changed. Except for one thing… These two ladies.

They delivered the same quality of service via phone and video chat. They ensured my husband and I were always heard, every worry was addressed and always offered support. 

The night of my very unexpected delivery could not have gone the way it did without Carol Anne. I don’t remember much but I sure remember the sound of Carol Anne’s soothing voice and comforting words in my ear.

She guided my husband through every contraction. She stayed on the phone with us for as long as we both needed her.

Yes, Carol Anne and Sarah could not have been physically present but their support could not have been felt any stronger.

a family and their doula (screen shot)
Photo taken & shared with permission

POSTPARTUM SUPPORT

It can be argued that families need even more support once baby has arrived – and COVID-19 posed a whole new set of challenges for families: the level of isolation many felt was crippling. No family or friends helping with laundry, making meals. No lactation consultants in the home to help with those first latches and breastfeeding challenges. No doulas to support the new parents as they navigated infant feeding, lack of sleep, and A LOT of emotions and unknows.

New parents were isolated more than most, and it did not go unnoticed.

SILVER LINING

Sarah & I quickly saw the value of virtual postpartum care. We had regular video and phone check ins with our clients. Watching feeds, answering questions, receiving pictures of poop with a caption “is this normal?”. Virtual postpartum support has allowed us to check in with our clients more often than we would have pre-COVID days, and it is something that we will continue to offer to in a post-COVID world (whenever that will be… it can’t come soon enough).

The Return to School & in Person Support

images of a doula in full PPE

In August Sarah & I (and our spouses) were faced with a huge decision: do we send our children back to in person school? Just like many other families in Ontario, we weighed the pros and cons and made decisions that were right for our families.

We were also able to begin some aspect of in person support. For births, there were a few smaller community hospitals that were allowing doulas back in, and we were THRILLED to be able to offer our clients in person support again – but it looked much different, both for birth and postpartum. To protect our clients, the amazing health care providers we work alongside (who we were so happy to see, and were happy to see us), as well our own families – we were now decked out in full PPE.

This was what our last few months have looked like. A combination of in person and virtual support, and for the most part, it has become our new normal – and we have loved connecting with families and being a source of support for them, which we know has potentially meant more this year than any other year in the last decade of supporting families.

The province is closing down again

Just when we thought this year couldn’t get any more challenging, this second wave has led to lockdown measures in effect for the entire province which will lead us into the New Year.

We know there are so many feelings and emotions surrounding this closure and COVID-19. To call it COVID fatigue now seems like an understatement. It’s beyond fatigue, but it is so important that we all do our part so that we can return to a sense of normalcy in our lives.

In the meantime, Sarah and I will continue to support our families, students and health care providers in any way we can.

All that is left to say is “THANK YOU”!

That’s my 2020 wrap up – definitely different from my previous year blog posts!

Thank you to everyone for being a part of the Lifetime of Love family and choosing us to support you on your journey.

And a special thanks to our families – especially our husbands and our kids for being our number one supporters.

Sarah & I are lucky to have each other – and we can’t tell you how much we miss being together in the same room. But for now, ZOOM meetings and video calls will have to do until it’s safe for us to be together again!

black and white photo of two doulas

Carol Anne is the co-owner of Lifetime of Love Doula Services, is a grand-daughter, daughter, niece, aunt, godmother and wife.  She is also called “mama” by two incredible, energetic and inquisitive boys.  It was during her first pregnancy that she learned about the benefits of having a doula and knew in her heart that this was a career and passion she wanted to pursue. ​

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