A Loree Story: Medicine Hat Doula Memories
How do you put into words and thank someone who played such an integral role in my life? I don’t care if you’ve got a midwife, or you’ve got the best obstetrical team on the planet, if you don’t have a doula—you’re missing an essential ingredient not only to your pregnancy and birth, but to your early parenting and breastfeeding experience. I have the distinction of being Loree’s longest 'repeat' client, and I don’t know if I can do who she is and what she means, justice.
I connected with her the first time in 2002. I met a very professional, and yet somewhat reserved personality—complete with waist length hair, a non-judgemental attitude and a boatload of confidence. I had heard about doulas from my sister-in-law in the United States and decided to find one for my first birth, not clearly understanding exactly who this woman would become to my growing family. I can honestly say I have never met anyone as committed to service as she, and that was proven repeatedly throughout my 7 pregnancies. Her knowledge about pregnancy, labour, birth, babies, and breastfeeding is phenomenal. With any question I had she never made me feel like I was being stupid, even though I thought that on numerous occasions. I have never known anyone who could climb into my brain, and help me feel like I had the power and the strength to do anything I chose to do—with just words—like she can. I still hear her voice as a subtle echo in my subconscious when I think I can’t do something; the words, “you are,” reverberate inside my skull.
I will be forever grateful for her continuous belief in me.
My first three births were long and arduous. I had back labour contractions for too many hours to count with each. Loree rocked, she swayed, and she double hip squeezed. No one can double hip squeeze like she can—not even my husband. She knows exactly where the sweet spot is every time. She aided not only in comfort, but emotionally she believed in me when I wanted to give up, she broke down my options for me while never making me feel like one choice was better than another, she worked seamlessly with hospital staff, and she took the expectation off my husband to know what to do in every scenario. It’s not that my husband couldn’t or wouldn’t be my support, she allowed him direction, guidance, and the ability to emotionally connect in his own way to the birth of his children. She answered questions, she provided comic relief—who knew she had such a sense of humour—she centered my world. She pulled out of me a strength and a determination I didn’t know I had.
She truly has a gift.
My following four births were fast. Incredibly fast. Everyone thought it was strange I hired her again after my fourth. Didn’t I know already what to do and expect? There is something to be said about her presence in rapid births—she cuts through fear like a hot knife. I learned I only needed to call for help and she’d appear, as if waving a magic wand. I distinctly remember calming just from the clopping sound of her shoes; her walk has purpose and you know she’s bringing confidence with it. She knew before I ever did when labour would turn rapidly, my contractions eerily calm one minute and then my body bowing under the strain of intense contractions the next. Somehow, she just knew; few people can read a situation as quickly and as expertly as she. Her instincts are unparalleled.
People comment she’s a perinatal powerhouse—to me, she is the fairy godmother of babies.
Seriously, her uncanny ability with babies and breastfeeding is something I will always cherish. Low supply, engorgement, latch issues, tongue ties, cracked nipples, clogged ducts, mastitis; you name it she was only a text message or a short visit away. I loved that she came to my home and spent however amount of time I needed to overcome whatever challenge I was facing; sometimes even months after my births. She could calm fussy babies and my postpartum hormonal state with a touch, a word of comfort, or a hard reality. I coined her the ‘poop whisperer’ as she just seemed to know what to do to move gas or produce a full diaper. She helped me understand newborn patterns, sleep issues, and the greatest gift of all—she listened and validated my fears and concerns. I wasn’t a crazy person! Never once did she tell me I had to do something a certain way, she’d just ask me what I wanted and helped develop strategies to reach those goals. She teaches in a totally unbiased manner, ‘Do what keeps you sane,” are words I will always live by.
It’s hard to believe that 15 years and 7 babies later, it’s the end of an era. I often find myself wondering what it will truly be like not to message her the minute I get a positive pregnancy test. My secrets were always safe with her. Her legacy now lives on in how I raise my children.
I couldn’t have asked for a better role model.
This woman truly changed my life in ways I will never forget, and her impact will always be felt. A woman will always remember her birth experiences and Loree helped create the most positive of experiences when it could have been incredibly traumatic. She was an investment in myself and my children, the best investment I have ever made aside from my marriage and my home. She isn’t a ‘one-day affair’ like so many people believe. Her value as a doula supersedes just the day of labour and birth. She is every mother's mentor and she can be yours.
Hire a doula. Trust me, she’ll change your life.