Ep. 326 – Kiera Morè: A Doula’s Birth Story – Informed Pregnancy Podcast
Elliot: Welcome to the Informed Pregnancy and Parenting Podcast. I'm your host, pregnancy-focused chiropractor, Dr. Elliot Berlin.
My guest today is a mom, and she’s here to discuss her life-changing experience dealing with her full-term newborn daughter’s health issues and put her in and out of the NICU from day one. This led to her leaving the hospital without the baby right away, and that led to a new career path. Keira More, welcome to the podcast.
Keira: Thank you so much.
Elliot: My goodness! You’ve been through a lot. I was sort of there as this new career path unfolded, and it’s quite the journey. Your struggle is really helping a lot of other people. Let’s get into it. Where are you from originally?
Keira: Originally from New York, but moved to LA when I was about 5. So, grew up in LA.
Elliot: Welcome to LA.
Elliot: All right. How’d you meet your partner?
Keira: Oh, we were double booked for a lunch with my oldest and closest friend, Oliver. He actually wanted to introduce me to my husband probably like six months before we actually met, and I wasn’t interested. And then, I met him and became very interested.
Elliot: Quite interested. And how long was it from there till you realized, “Wait a second. This might actually work out.”
Keira: This is it. It was about two minutes. It was really weird. I just knew. When I saw him, I knew that it was almost like a feeling of, “Oh, there you are.” You know? I felt immediately at home with him. He didn’t know that, and I don’t think he felt that way. But I decided that I was right and just hung out for a while.
Elliot: Oh, wow! Okay. And then, was there talk? Like, when things were heating up, was there talk about family and kids?
Keira: Always. Even before we were like really serious, we always talked about family. I come from a big family. He comes from a big family. We’ve both always knew that we wanted children, whether that was — I mean, I knew it was with him. But, you know, it was always a very easy conversation to talk about children.
Elliot: How long did it take for him to get on board with the whole relationship?
Keira: A couple months, and that was nine years ago. So, we’ve been together basically ever since.
Elliot: A decade. Are you generally a quick decision-maker?
Keira: Kind of. I mean, once I know something, I just know. I kind of really listen to my gut and intuition, it’s very loud. And once I make a decision, I make a decision. That’s it. Nothing is going to change my mind.
Elliot: But sometimes, it takes more than two minutes.
Keira: Sometimes. [inaudible 00:03:24]
Elliot: Gosh. I was like, “If you can decide that in two minutes, like the pair of shoes.”
Keira: I mean, I can’t pick a restaurant, but I can pick a partner in two minutes.
Elliot: Okay. I’ll pick the restaurants. That’s my strong point. So, you guys got married and then had a kid.
Keira: Basically, that’s how that happened.
Elliot: Were you planning to get pregnant when you did?
Keira: Yes, and no. I feel like if you aren’t actively not trying to get pregnant, then you’re trying to get pregnant. But we knew that we wanted to have a baby right away. I didn’t think that it was going to happen quite as fast as it did. Because everyone around me seemed to be taking a little bit longer. So, we started trying, I got pregnant the first try, which was much faster than I had anticipated.
Elliot: Were you both surprised by that?
Keira: Oh, yeah! We were both like, “Oh! Okay. ” The stars were aligned.
Elliot: How did you find out?
Keira: No. I wasn’t even late. We actually went on a road trip. We went to Laguna, and I was so tired. I couldn’t stop falling asleep. I thought I was sick. I had like a prescription of antibiotics that I just was like pushing off. I didn’t want to take it. I didn’t want to take it. And then, for some reason, I was going to take it because I felt so awful. I had a little voice that told me, “You know what? Just take a pregnancy test, just in case.” I hadn’t missed my period yet. And it was positive.
Keira: We went to the doctor. We double-checked it, and it was positive there, too.
Elliot: What did pregnancy feel like for you?
Keira: I didn’t love it.
Elliot: Are you allowed to say that?
Keira: Am I allowed to say that?
Elliot: I don’t know.
Keira: I’m a doula.
Elliot: You’re certainly allowed to say that to me, and I’m here. I just feel like people are so judgy.
Keira: Yeah. I loved feeling both of my children move inside of me. I loved the fact that I was able to do that. But I just didn’t feel great pregnant.
Elliot: From the beginning?
Keira: From the beginning. With my daughter, I gained a lot of weight and I was really swollen. I thought I was going to be like this glowing goddess, and that’s not what I was.
Elliot: Was it different things at different stages of the pregnancy?
Keira: Yeah. I think just like the exhaustion in the beginning, and the nausea, and everything was so new and unknown. I felt really nervous. I guess in the second trimester, I felt pretty good. In the third trimester, I just blew up. She was born in September. It was very hot.
Elliot: Third trimester.
Keira: Oh, yeah. And just like sweating and puffy. Yeah.
Elliot: You’re not selling it well.
Keira: I’m not selling it, but it’s amazing. It’s funny because I know, intellectually, that I didn’t love it but I miss it. If that makes sense.
Elliot: That almost sounds like the yes/no of “Were you trying to get pregnant?” But it sounds like you’re saying — if I’m hearing you right, you liked being with child. You just didn’t like how that made your body feel.
Keira: Totally. That’s exactly it.
Elliot: Did you have family and friends that were pregnant around the same time? Did you have exposure to pregnancy and childbirth?
Keira: Not birth, not really. Most of my friends either had children way before me or didn’t want kids. I felt kind of isolated in the pregnancy. I didn’t have like a partner in the pregnancy. It wasn’t like I had a girlfriend that I could go like on walks with. I didn’t have that. Everyone was kind of busy living their own lives. I have older siblings and they had children. But their kids were so much — like my nieces and nephews were so much older already. [inaudible 00:07:19] distance.
Elliot: And when your siblings were pregnant, were you around them?
Keira: Yeah. But I was just a kid. Like, my niece who’s closest in age with my daughter is 14. And my daughter 4.
Elliot: Okay. So, long before you were in that storybook.
Elliot: What were your sources of information?
Keira: The Informed Pregnancy Podcast.
Elliot: Oh, I strongly recommend it. Wait till you hear about my episode with Keira More. Life-changing. All right. I want to take a little break. When I come back, we’ll talk about your plans for birth and how things went. We’ll be right back.
Elliot: Welcome back to the Informed Pregnancy Podcast. We are talking to Keira More. So, picked your husband right away, then pregnant right away, and not a glowing goddess. At least, that’s how you felt. The third trimester in the Los Angeles summer. That’s brutal for me, and I’m not pregnant. Obviously, we can’t complain too much because there are places that are a lot worse. But to be dragging around that extra weight and just hot and humid and sweaty; no good. What were your plans for the birth?
Keira: I wanted to have an all-natural birth. And all-natural meaning, in this sense, unmedicated. But in the hospital, my husband and I decided that that was right for us. I really thought that that’s what I was going to do.
Elliot: What was important to you? Because most people have their baby in the hospital today. A small percentage don’t. But also, most people are medicated during their birth, especially at the hospital. What about not medicating was appealing to you?
Keira: I think I wanted to experience it. Also, my mom had really fast labors. And the way it was talked about was very like you can do it. “You’re fine,” which is how she is about everything. And also, I’m a little bit afraid of needles, and I was afraid of getting an epidural.
Elliot: Afraid of all needles? Like, some people are afraid of things going in, some people are afraid of things coming out, like blood draws.
Keira: I’m not afraid of blood. I’m not queasy or anything. I was really afraid of needles going in. Not on other people. That doesn’t bother me, it’s just myself. And also, just the idea of having something in my spine was scary to me. Yeah, I felt really nervous about that.
Elliot: Yeah. More so than the intensity of childbirth without medication.
Elliot: Okay. And how did that go?
Keira: I didn’t. I ended up having really very high blood pressure toward the end. It was pre-preeclampsia. I was 39 weeks, and I ended up getting induced right away. I got all the things.
Elliot: So, did you have the epidural before the induction?
Keira: No. But I went in and I got induced. They gave me all the different medications. I think it was maybe around 14 hours in that I got the epidural. My daughter was born after 24 hours.
Elliot: Okay. You got the epidural because it started to become overwhelming?
Keira: I did some kind of math equation in my mind. I felt like I was uncomfortable, but I realized that I had so much longer to go. I think I was maybe 4 centimeters at that point, and I just knew that I needed to be able to rest. Otherwise, I wasn’t going to be able to do it. I kind of like pulled the trigger on that. After they had broke my water — and after they did that, with the Pitocin and the contractions were really kind of unbearable. I just decided that I needed to be able to rest to have the vaginal birth that I wanted.
Elliot: That makes sense. How was the epidural compared to how you thought it would be?
Keira: Well, it only worked on half of my body.
Elliot: Okay. I guess that’s not how you thought it would be.
Keira: That’s not how I thought it was going to be, but it was okay.
Elliot: The placement was fine.
Elliot: Okay. Now, how is it with half of your body numb during that? Because you just described a very intense, not a natural labor pattern, but one sort of fueled by Pitocin, and then they took away your kind of cushion by breaking your water.
Keira: Yeah. It did. I didn’t know what I need to know, you know. The epidural only working on my left side, it was crazy. The nurse was kind of yelling at me to lift my leg. I guess my leg had fallen off the side of the bed.
Elliot: The one you couldn’t feel?
Keira: The one I couldn’t feel. She kept kind of yelling at me to lift my leg back up. Because I think we were about to push or something, and I couldn’t. I told her. I said if I knew where my leg was, I would try to lift it. But I don’t even have a leg, as far as I’m concerned.
Elliot: You feel nothing.
Keira: I felt nothing on that side, but felt everything on the other side.
Elliot: Oh, my goodness.
Keira: It was very disoriented.
Elliot: How did that feel pushing the baby out?
Keira: I wanted to feel something, you know. I was happy that I had that, in some sense. But it was very strange. It was very strange. Luckily, she came out very fast.
Elliot: Thank goodness. You know, I can’t picture what it feels like to push a baby out in the first place. But if I’m thinking about doing something that’s overwhelmingly intense to me, that feels to me like it’s too much for me, and I want to numb it — some, but not all the way. This does not sound like that at all. This sounds like completely having all of the overwhelmingness that I didn’t want on one side, and being eerily disconnected on the other side.
Keira: Yeah. I mean, really, I feel lucky. I don’t know what would have happened had she not kind of flown out on her own. She really did.
Elliot: Was there half a ring of fire?
Keira: I guess.
Elliot: Wow! That’s so weird. Okay.
Keira: Half ring of fire.
Elliot: Half ring of fire, yeah. Okay. Well, thank God she came out quickly. And then, what happened after birth?
Keira: It was kind of a whirlwind. Everything seemed okay. She was fine. It wasn’t until we went into recovery that I had put her down in the little bed that they gave you. Like, the little bassinet. I put her down for a few minutes, and I looked over. And she kept like kind of coughing and she was spitting up a lot of fluid. Well, now, I know that it was the amniotic fluid that was still in her lungs. I guess she couldn’t get all of it out on her own. They normally say that babies can pass it on their own. But I laid her down, and she turned blue. She [coded]. We called the nurse. They took her. I mean, I was still like half off numb from an epidural and trying to chase them down the hallway. But that was kind of the first of many crazy things to happen.
Elliot: Have you already latched?
Elliot: So, you’ve already latched. Maybe you’re already in some, and then you put her down.
Keira: I put her down. I remember my sister-in-law coming by, and she saw the baby. She was really nervous about the coughing. And like, the kind of like the spitting up of the fluid. You know, when you’re in labor for that long, you’re just kind of out of it. You know, I was not thinking clearly. And yes, I put her down. I guess she was choking under the fluid, and she turned blue. They hit the code button on the wall.
Elliot: Oh, my goodness. That’s horrifying.
Elliot: And then, what did they do for her?
Keira: They rushed her to the nursing station where they used this vacuum into the lungs and suck up all the extra amniotic fluid.
Elliot: Did they realize right away that was the issue?
Keira: You know what, I don’t really remember. Because my husband ran with the baby, and I was behind them. It took me a minute to get over to where they were.
Elliot: Oh, my goodness. Had you walked before that?
Keira: Yes. I think I had. You know, they make you go to the bathroom and all that. I think I had done that. It’s kind of a blur now, but I think I had gotten up. But I wasn’t like moving, you know.
Elliot: So, after they sucked the fluid out, normal breathing and color came back?
Keira: Yeah. They brought her back.
Elliot: I don’t know if my normal color would have come back.
Keira: No, I certainly wasn’t normal.
Elliot: Oh, my goodness. How scary. Okay. So, then, what happened after that?
Keira: We were discharged. We went home. And then, the next night, we had our first night at home, which was like pretty magical. I tell everybody that that’s like the most surreal moment, like bringing your baby home. And then, we got a call the next day saying that her jaundice was out of control and that we needed to bring her back to the hospital.
Elliot: What do you mean her jaundice was out of control? You’re already home.
Keira: We were already home.
Elliot: They were just bilirubin results?
Keira: I guess, yeah. Our pediatrician had us — because we saw the pediatrician the next day. Our pediatrician told us to get her blood taken for a bilirubin test, and they called us later with the results. I was in the shower, and the hospital called me and said that her bed was ready. And that was how I found out we had to go back.
Elliot: Wow! Oh, my goodness.
Keira: Yeah. I had no idea.
Elliot: This is one day after you came home?
Elliot: Oh, wow. So, also scary.
Elliot: Especially if you don’t really understand what’s going on.
Keira: Right. And I didn’t. I really just didn’t know, you know. And so, we went back to the hospital. And they kept her under the lights for 16 hours, which was not ideal. Because when they’re under those lights, you know, they really make a big deal about you not removing them. Like, they wanted you to pump and wanted me to pump.
Elliot: Oh, you couldn’t feed her?
Keira: I couldn’t feed her. I couldn’t hold her. She had to stay under the lights. That’s what they told me.
Keira: Yeah. It wasn’t until I kind of lost it, and said I’m taking her home. I found out then that there are actually companies that will run to you the bilirubin lights.
Elliot: Like, you can do it at home.
Keira: Yeah. It’s a biliblanket, and you can do it at home. That’s what we ended up doing, and it was fine.
Elliot: And in California, we have so much sunlight.
Keira: So, much sunlight. It was like late September, it was beautiful. Like, there was no reason to do all of that. I just didn’t know.
Elliot: I’m so sorry.
Keira: That’s okay.
Elliot: All right. Let’s take a little break. At some point, this has to turn around. Because I know she’s good.
Keira: I know.
Elliot: Let’s take a little break, and we’ll be right back.
Elliot: Welcome back to the Informed Pregnancy Podcast. We are talking to Keira More. So, you come home. And then, you get called right back to the hospital. Then, they put the baby in bili lights, out of reach for you for 16 hours. You pump, and then they bottle feed?
Elliot: Did your milk come in?
Keira: It had come in on that day.
Elliot: Oh. So, like every fiber of you just wants to latch that baby and feed, and you can’t. And then, you went home.
Keira: And then, I went home again.
Elliot: Did she still need lights?
Keira: Yeah. We had the blanket. She did the blanket. Truly, I did indirect sunlight and just kept feeding her.
Elliot: Okay. And then, one would hope everything was just jolly after that.
Keira: One would hope.
Elliot: What happened?
Keira: She started vomiting green, which felt very weird. But I was assured that it was the green juice that I had earlier. And then, she started sleeping longer stretches. I called the pediatrician.
Elliot: Wait. You thought that because you drank green juice, the baby was —
Keira: I had a newborn care specialist tell me that the reason why she was vomiting green was because I drank a green juice.
Elliot: Again, this is the baby that coded at the hospital. Then, came home and got brought back to the hospital for what they told he was extremely high jaundice. Now you’re home, same day or next day?
Keira: I think it was the next day. She started spitting up green. It just got progressively worse. And like, she would sleep much longer stretches. I called the pediatrician and told him what was happening. And he told me that I was overfeeding her. I called him three times. By the third time, it was like the morning after, and she was still vomiting green. That was when I said, “I’m either coming to your office or I’m going to the hospital, you tell me which one.”
Keira: He said to come in, and I did. I went in and the other partner in the office, he really was trying to convince me that I was just overfeeding her. Which, as a first-time mom, about four or five days postpartum, I wasn’t overfeeding her. My milk had just come in, you know. Like, there was no —
Elliot: And you were only feeding milk.
Keira: Yeah. There was no way I was overfeeding her. But, again, I didn’t know. So, my husband and I took her to the pediatrician’s office, and they saw that her stomach was distended. They saw the color of her vomit, and they sent us to the ER.
Elliot: It wasn’t spinach?
Elliot: What happened at the ER?
Keira: They took us right in, and they performed every test except the test that my pediatrician asked them to perform.
Keira: I don’t know. I think there were some young doctors who were curious about other things and wanted to do different tests. They told me that she probably had a stomach bug, a virus. And I really had to fight very hard to just get the test that the pediatrician had asked them to run.
Elliot: What test was that?
Keira: I forget what it was called.
Elliot: What was it for?
Keira: It was to see if there was a blockage in her digestion. So, they gave her a bottle of liquid. And under like an X-ray machine, you could see the liquid. Like, she’d swallow it, and then —
Elliot: They could see through. Did they eventually do it?
Keira: Yes. After like three and a half, four hours, they did it and it stopped. I could see the liquid come down and it stopped. After that, they called the surgeon and they booked her. It was one of two things. They just took her and said, “We’ll figure out what it is once we have her open, and we can see.”
Elliot: Oh. Meaning, the only way to really figure out which one of the two things is to literally cut her up.
Elliot: Take a look, and then treat it?
Elliot: Were they reassuring that it was treatable either way?
Keira: Yes. They said either way, we can fix it. But we just don’t know which one it is yet.
Elliot: Wow. This is less than a week.
Keira: Yeah. It was like day five.
Elliot: So, intense. Okay. They do the surgery, and what do they figure out?
Keira: They do the surgery, which was crazy. But they figured out that she had duodenal atresia. And what that means, basically, is that there’s a little opening into her stomach. It was like very, very small. Much too small. I think what it was is that when I just had colostrum, it was fine. Because it was just such a small amount of milk going through. But once my milk actually came in, she could swallow it but it just wouldn’t go down.
Elliot: So, it wouldn’t go into her – oh geez. Okay.
Keira: With the bile.
Keira: Created like a bypass with that. And then, removed her appendix and kind of like reorganized the way things were.
Elliot: Removed her appendix to make more room?
Keira: They removed her appendix because there’s a 15 to 20% chance that she might need surgery again, and they didn’t ask my permission for this, by the way. But they didn’t want any confusion. So, if she was an adult and she went in for stomach pain, they didn’t want anyone to say, “Oh, it’s an appendicitis,” or it’s something like that. She would just be able to say, “No, I don’t have an appendix. It’s because of my –”
Elliot: That seems like a crazy reason to take out. Even though you could live without it and we’re not quite sure how much she made it.
Elliot: I mean, it seems like she should just be able to say, “Oh, I have this thing.”
Keira: Right. They made that decision for us.
Elliot: Duodenal atresia. Did the surgery do the trick?
Keira: Yes, so far. She’s fine.
Elliot: How old is she now?
Keira: She’s 4, almost 4.5.
Elliot: Okay. How was the recovery? Was it a laparoscopic surgery?
Keira: No. It was —
Elliot: An incision?
Keira: Yeah. It was [inaudible]. It was very challenging. I feel really lucky that she was full-term. And I also still to this day feel really lucky that we caught it so early, and that it didn’t become infected or there wasn’t an infection. There wasn’t anything like that. She wasn’t completely malnourished. She was probably slightly dehydrated. But it could have been a lot worse. Recovery from this is normally about a month. And she did really well, she really did. Newborns are amazing. And the NICU staff is amazing. Yeah, she healed very fast. I think it was harder for us in a lot of ways. But, yeah, she’s okay.
Elliot: I’m just wondering, are these things connected at all?
Keira: I don’t know. I still don’t know.
Elliot: The coding and the jaundice.
Keira: My son had jaundice. I had jaundice. I think jaundice is fairly common. But the coding, I’m not sure. When I was pregnant, I had a lot of amniotic fluid. And they never said anything about it. Normally, in pregnancy, he’ll see a duodenal atresia in the growth scans. They look for it because it’s normally a marker of some sort of chromosomal issue. They missed it with my daughter.
Elliot: You looked more closely with your son.
Keira: Very. I looked very, very closely, yeah.
Elliot: But he didn’t have it?
Elliot: Wow, Keira. And then, this changed your career path. What were you doing career-wise before having a baby?
Keira: Before I had a baby, I was in the clothing industry. And then, I stopped working and I was planning on staying home with my daughter. I just felt like there was so much I could have used. I needed more support. It wasn’t there, it wasn’t offered. It just didn’t exist. I really felt called to do something different and to help people that are in my situation, had been in my situation. The parents that will go through what we went through. Because our health care system is not built for the emotional support and hand-holding that needs to be done for families that go through things like this. I didn’t know how I wanted to give back, but I knew that I wanted to, that it felt very important to me. It started out just talking to, you know, different friends, friends started reaching out to me, and kind of looking for that support when they were pregnant. And then, I started volunteering with an organization that pairs NICU mom to NICU mom. As kind of like a peer-to-peer support.
Elliot: Current NICU with former NICU mom?
Keira: Yes. People who have all already gone through it are just kind of being there and talking to people that are currently going through it.
Elliot: That’s great. What’s that called?
Keira: “Hand to Hold.”
Elliot: And so, now, you’re a doula. You help people while they’re pregnant through the transition.
Elliot: I’ve seen your clients, and they love you. It almost seems a little bit like, you know, we had a bunch of miscarriages before we had our first kid. And then, we had our kid and I think it’s just a different kind when you hear a kid scream at 2:00 in the morning. It’s like comforting. Whereas, for people who didn’t have that experience it may not be as comforting. And so, you’re helping people ideally go through typical childbirth and postpartum experiences. But your personal life experience puts you in a position to really support in a way that someone who hasn’t had that experience, couldn’t do it quite the same way you do. I know your clients feel that deep, heavy, holistic support, full well-rounded support. So, kudos to you for making a [big, old lemonade 00:28:41].
Keira: Thank you. Thank you. It’s very nice of you to say.
Elliot: I’m sorry you went through that, all of you. But I’m glad she’s healthy now. And you have the courage to do it again.
Keira: I did.
Elliot: Now, was that one also like sort of “not trying, trying”?
Keira: Yeah. You know, it was super healing. Actually, I was really nervous during my pregnancy with my son, my second child. Because of everything that we’d gone through. It was also the beginning of COVID, and it was just a very stressful time. But it ended up being totally fine and normal.
Elliot: Both sides?
Keira: Both sides, yes! And I appreciated that because he was 10 pounds.
Elliot: Oh, wow!
Keira: Yeah. But that pregnancy and birth and postpartum period, I think just really healed that wound. Because there was a lot of grief of what I felt I lost. And recovering from birth in the NICU and not able to hold your baby, and not able to nurse. And just like everything that goes along with that experience, it really felt like full circle after my son was born and knowing what it’s like to take the baby home and stay there. I kept waiting for someone to call me, but they never did. I was really happy about it.
Elliot: Now, this is good news. Yeah, I was just thinking actually just how people, culturally, a lot of cultures stay home for 40 days so that you can heal physically, and emotionally, and transition in your bubble. I didn’t even think about that with all the running back and forth to the hospital and supporting a surgery, and you’re literally just recovering from the intensity of childbirth. Wow. Even more intense than I had previously pictured.
Keira: Yeah. It was a lot, but I’m happy that I wasn’t thinking about how much it was at the time. It was only after that I realized like, “Oh. That was really wild.” And didn’t like set me up for success in a lot of ways.
Elliot: But you succeeded.
Keira: I did, yeah. I mean, I had to go find the help and I did. And thank God for all those people that carried me, you know.
Elliot: Wow. Very powerful. It’s so crazy that a hole that’s a little too small could lead to all of that chaos. And also, equally kind of amazing that we now know how to diagnose and treat it. So, that a baby can grow into a healthy child and adult.
Keira, thank you so much for coming on and for sharing your experience. And it sounds like there’s some take-home messages here. What would your key take-home points be?
Keira: I think for the mom that is going through it or will go through it, I think the take-home message is that you just kind of have to hold on. And that there are people that want to love you and hold you up. You just have to find them. And I think my message to people that are, loving people that are going through that, is to just kind of hold on and let them have their process and be there with your arms open to catch them when they’re ready to be helped.
Elliot: Yeah. Actually, a friend/client who’s going through this right now. It’s slightly different, but same idea. In their case, beautiful healthy birth, and then the next day things didn’t seem right. So, they went back to the hospital, and it’s been a whirlwind. A lot of testing and uncertainty about what’s going on. Literally, the baby is coming home right now from the hospital a couple weeks after the birth. I don’t think they know 100% what happened or what is happening. But they got all the symptoms under control. So, clear to go home. Either way, I saw that someone set up for them a WhatsApp group. They also have a toddler, so that’s even more complicated. They’re good about saying what they needed. So, friends and family could be extra supportive in the ways that they needed support.
But in events where that doesn’t happen so black and white, what would you say to someone who has a friend going through a NICU experience like that? I think a lot of times, we don’t know what to say, we don’t know what to offer. From the other side, what would a piece of advice be and how we could be supportive?
Keira: I think if the family that is going through a NICU stay has older children, going and helping with the older children so that they can be with the baby is super helpful. Because I imagine that there would be a lot of guilt. So, kind of making sure that those older children are taken care of and maybe having fun, and distracted from whatever is going on at home. In a situation like that, I think that’s the most helpful you could be.
If you don’t have other children, I think, obviously, allowing them to vent or talk about whatever is going on without judgment or kind of that like toxic positivity. Where you’re like, “Oh, but everything happens for a reason,” or “Everything’s going to be fine.” Like, that’s really not helpful in situations like this. I think being an ear, food is always a good thing. Like, coming home from the NICU and not having anything in the house. If a friend wanted to bring some food over, just so you had something.
We had a friend who actually delivered lunch to the hospital for us. Like made us care packages with snacks that we could just keep there. Because they knew we were there for like 16 hours at a time, you know.
Elliot: That’s so thoughtful.
Keira: Yeah. Just like making it so easy. We had people that would help clean up our house after us, really just carried us in that way and took care of everything so that we could just focus on taking care of our baby.
Elliot: That’s really good advice. I think a question that we want to ask is, “Oh, hi! What do you need?” And a better answer would be just like, “Here.”
Keira: “I did this.”
Elliot: “I did this,” yeah. “Check this off your list. It’s done.”
Keira: Exactly. I think it’s so natural to say like, “How can I help you?” Like, “What can I do for you?” But the truth is, you may be unknowingly putting more of a burden onto that person and expecting them to explain what they need. Rather than just like, “Hey, I dropped off dinner at your doorstep. You don’t have to come outside or anything. I just left it there. It’s there for you.” You know, something as simple as that. Also remembering that the mom is in postpartum. She’s healing. She’s recovering. She’s likely an emotional wreck. She might not want to see people. She might not be able to properly articulate what’s going on. You don’t know what the doctor said to her today. I always think that acts of service are the best things you can do for people in need.
Elliot: Yeah. Well, that’s a helpful message for both sides friends and family, and then people going through the difficult time. So, thank you. Keira, where can we find you online?
Keira: I have a website called Noa Doula, N-O-A-D-O-U-L-A.com.
Elliot: Where’s that “noa” come from?
Keira: Oh, that’s my daughter’s middle name. Do you “noa” doula?
Elliot: Oh, I know a doula. Oh, cute. Okay. And you post cool stuff on Instagram.
Keira: I do sometimes. Sometimes, not. But whatever. My handle is @noa.doula.
Elliot: @noa.doula. Again, thank you so much for being here. I’m going to find you on Instagram because you do post interesting things, informative, and also delivered in a way that catches your eye. So, I’ll see you there. We’re also on Instagram, @doctorberlin. That’s D-O-C-T-O-R-B-E-R-L-I-N.