Working with Jen following the birth of my first baby was a wonderful experience. Not knowing what to expect when you have a baby is a daunting experience! Jen helped me navigate the world of the unknown and made me feel so at ease! No question was a crazy one, and she treated her time with me as if there was no place she would rather be. Jen helps new moms understand that it's important to treat yourself gently during the time immediately following delivery of the baby, and she really made me feel safe to be able to open up to her. I would highly recommend working with Jen, particularly if you are getting ready to have your first baby. She will teach you lessons that apply not only to baby care but also mommy care which is so important!" Kristen
I did not hire a Doula. I was intrigued by the idea of it, but wrote it off as a non-essential luxury - I already had enough baby related charges on my credit card. The birth of my son was the greatest moment of my life, but in the following weeks I carried around a whirlwind of emotions from traumatic labor, painful recovery and the stresses and isolation of becoming a mother. Turns out, more than a snuggapuppy or mamaroo or nursery decor, what I needed most when coming home from hospital was SUPPORT - and that's what a Doula would have provided to me and the baby. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression when my baby was 6 weeks old and am trying to pick up the pieces. As part of my recovery I finally hired an incredible Doula, Jen Kowal and she is helping me work through it - my only regret is I didn't have her reinforcements sooner. All I can take away from my dark struggle, is this story to share with future expectant mothers. In an absent culture, please make sure that you will have the support you need and deserve when you bring that baby home - it makes all the difference. Christina C.
“During my pregnancy I decided to use a prenatal(birth) Doula because all of my family lives in Florida, and I wanted extra support for my husband and myself. My Doula mentioned a post partum Doula she knew who she said was like a baby whisperer. I immediately needed her name and contact info because I was worried that without having any family here I would need as much support as possible. When I met Jen I was around 35 weeks pregnant and I instantly felt like she was going to be exactly who I needed to help me through the next part of this journey into motherhood. I told my prenatal (birth) Doula that I loved Jen's energy and she seemed to have a kind soul.
The birth of my baby did not go as I expected and was much more emotionally traumatic than I had anticiapted. I had to have a C-Section because my baby's heart rate was increasing and he was not making any progress after hours of pushing. When I got to the OR for the C-Section, they could not find a heart beat and had to rush to get him delivered. I was not expecting my baby's birth to be like this, so I was very emotional after he was born. The days in the hospital are foggy and just seem like a blur. I remember breaking down crying one of the days because I was so emotional from how everything happened.
The day I came home from the hospital was very scary because I was exhausted, in a great deal of pain, and had no idea what to expect. My husband and I would be on our own without the nurses coming to check on us and the baby every hour. When we got home Jen came over and from that moment on has been a blessing in all of our lives. She immediately started cleaning up around the house and I did not have to direct her at all. It was as if she just knew what we needed, and she took care of everything. She went grocery shopping for us and prepared dinner leaving us extra soup to freeze. She helped us get organized and gave us suggestions for taking care of the baby in a way that felt comforting and supportive. One night she came over to stay up with the baby so we could sleep and she only woke me when the baby needed to breastfeed. I was able to get some refreshing sleep and feel comfortable knowing my baby was safe with Jen. Other times Jen came over I was able to take a shower or a nap, and have peace of mind that the baby was content. Jen had a soothing effect on my baby and he responded very well to her. He was always calm and happy in her arms,and if he became fussy she somehow just knew how to help him find comfort again.
I could write pages and pages about how Jen has been a blessing in our lives, but people will just have to meet her to understand how she is an amazing Doula. When I tell my family and friends how she has been there, supporting my family through this journey, people wish they had a Jen too. When I have my next baby I will make sure to book her in advance because she makes what can be a very challenging transition, a time to really embrace motherhood by bringing the baby into a well supported, calm environment. Thanks Jen!” Erin
and from a husband and father...
“Preparing for the birth of our second son, Theo, was an entirely different experience than preparing for Eliot, our first. With Eliot we took birthing classes, held ice in our palms for extended periods of time, painted his room yellow, had a shower with a lot of childless friends where we received baby blankets and bottles. It was strange, fun, exotic, confusing, surreal. In a swirl of sweet ignorance and good intent, we tried to prepare for everything up to his being born and the first two weeks after. We didn't realize, at least not fully, that it would be the following eight months, one year, two years (as well as the birth itself) that would prove to challenge us emotionally, physically, intellectually more than we could imagine, more than we could manage on our own.
With Theo, there was much less ice and practice breathing. There weren't showers and midnight painting sessions. We planned for his arrival, but it was more integrated into our existing family life with Eliot singing and talking to his mommy's belly. So in some sense we prepared less for his birth: trusting our past knowledge and discoveries, as well as simply distracted by existing parenthood. But, to me, in the most vital way, we were far more prepared. We knew that sleep deprivation, hormones, family juggles, and every day hiccups would make what follows Theo's birth a huge undertaking. We knew we needed help.
I will never forget the first day Jen came to our home. How calmly, empathetically, knowingly, and naturally she spoke with Teri and me was reassuring. The way she introduced herself to Eliot, with a mix of energies that was like your favorite teacher and your parents' coolest friend and your longtime favorite aunt all wrapped in one, made me immediately feel like I wouldn't be alone caring for my family. That I could breathe and know someone else would be there who understood the anxieties, the needs. Some of those needs for me were practical -- being with Eliot or taking care of the food or the dishes so I had some focused, undistracted, real time with Teri and our newborn son, or so I could just rest beside them. But far more for me was psychological. To know there was kindness in my house when I didn't feel fully capable of it. To know there was generosity when I felt too tired to know how to be generous. There was someone else there to tell me if I should be alarmed by something, to be a non sleep-deprived monitor of my family's emotions, to give me a look that something concerning is really normal and okay.
Here's the thing about Jen, something I find fantastic and so important about her. She's gentle, wise, gifted, but never something alien. She's not an angel you look at and wonder how can that be? Were's the real, flawed, ridiculous person we all are in her? You see all that right away as well as the spirit-protector and guardian. So you know you can be honest, you can be safe. And this awareness, almost immediate awareness of this aspect of Jen's personality makes something that would otherwise make me hugely uncomfortable -- a new person in my house, in my wife's life, in my family's life, who might sometimes be more wanted and needed than me -- the opposite. I'll always treasure that -- the fact that she made our lives immeasurably better without the jealous creatures in me rising up and undermining it all. As a result, I was able to breathe, sleep, return to work, feel like myself more quickly, more truly than I anticipated. And I know I still benefit from that experience today.” Zak
If you would like to share your experience, email me your testimonial and I'll add it here! Thank you!