Yesterday, I accompanied Yolande as she left the hospital after having given birth to her fourth child and third daughter. Born this past Saturday afternoon, the little one weighed in at 1.310 kg, after spending 26 weeks growing inside of mommy.
Yolande came to our attention a couple of months ago as someone thinking about aborting her child. Over that period we supported her by accompanying her to her medical appointments and in other ways.
Her newborn like her other children was pretermed; her brother delivered at 31 weeks, while the two sisters at 24 and 25 weeks.
As we left the hospital room and travelled the corridors and down the elevator, Yolande's mood was not quite what I had become familiar with; she was more pensive, more introverted than usual.
My perplexity was allayed this morning on perusing my emails. I came across an article written by Lauren Enriquez (seen here) entitled "Postpartum Women: How Our Pro-Life Values Can Help Us Help Them." This article helped me contextualize yesterday's experience.
The author writes about the "physical demands and trauma of labour and delivery."
Also, she is critical of the American culture that ignores these demands, unlike many others which give women plenty of time to adjust and be cared for after a birth, "up to a month or more."
Fortunately, Yolande will be receiving some nurturing. Here in Quebec, paid paternity leave exists and on speaking with her husband, I learned that he was prescient of Saturday's delivery. Last week, he approached his employer in order to inform him of the impending delivery and requesting time off.
Returnng to the article, the author concludes her entry by noting how persons with pro-life values can aid postpartum women, citing four suggestions. These are the following:
1. Just show up. Postpartum recovery is not a time to be texting the new mother saying “Hey, let me know if you need anything.” Go to the grocery store and pick up some fresh fruits and veggies (pre-sliced, if possible) as well as a high-fat soup or comfort food, and show up on her doorstep. If invited inside, ask how, not whether, you can help: laundry? Watching older kids so mom can take a nap? Chances are, the last thing she needs help with is sitting on the couch holding her cute little newborn, so let her do that while you pitch in with the more physically-demanding tasks, if she’s comfortable with it. Offer to make her coffee or tea, ask if she needs to take a shower, or a nap, and adjust accordingly.
2. If you don’t live nearby, send her a gift, or at least a card (but please, not an e-card). Moms love getting cute little things for their new babies like bibs and toys. But it is also very touching to consider the new mom herself: how about a gift card to a coffee shop that has a drive-thru (because nothing is more wonderful than to be able to put your infant in the car seat and head out for drive-thru coffee and a pastry in your pajamas). Or a comfy new pair of pajamas and nail polish, to encourage her to take it easy but also to feel like she’s still a beautiful woman.
3. Initiate a “dinner tree.” Don’t wait to get invited to the one that someone else is ‘surely’ going to start, because chances are, no one will. Email her friends, co-workers, and relatives, and ask them to choose a day in the two-three week period after her birth when they will volunteer to bring her a complete meal, packaged for freezer storage in case that is the most convenient place for it upon arrival. Waiting until she is in labor to choose the dates is a good way to guarantee that if she has the baby early or late, it doesn’t throw off the dates that everyone has signed up for.
4. Call her to tell her that you’re thinking of her, and ask her what she needs, what you can do for her (again, not whether she needs anything). It may just be giving her company, in which case you could try to come by sooner than later.