It’s been a while since I had a baby and things sure have changed since I was pregnant with my oldest 20 years ago. When you have your babies spaced out like I did (born in ’99, ’07, ’11, ’12) you experience changes in parenting trends, professional recommendations, and accessibility to resources. I’ll tell you, my pregnancy and early parenting with my first was waaaaay different than with my younger two. I learned so much about myself, my values, priorities and self-esteem. Sometimes modern technological advancements make me daydream about how my pregnancies or postpartum recoveries would have been different had I had three things that are available now.

Facebook Groups

Ahhh, yes. Everyone’s favorite. The necessary evil. The one thing that can be a sanity saver or sanity destroyer.

Facebook was not a thing when I was pregnant with my first and only started becoming a thing with my other three. With my oldest, all I had was BabyCenter’s forums. Certainly a wealth of knowledge. Usernames, message boards, and customized signatures were the THING, y’all. We got on our computer or laptop, joined the forum for the month we were due and made connections that way; travelling through pregnancy with others who were experiences similar things and had similar questions. The first time moms looked to the moms who had BTDT a time or two. I was a young single mom with my first baby and I definitely made some great connections and found a lot of support. The level of snark and hiding behind the internet was low.

But Facebook groups are not the same. It seems everyone is an expert and everyone has something to say about…..well, everything. They are fantastic for making connections and seeking help. Where else are you going to go at 3 am when you’re wide awake feeding your baby and need some questions about nipple pain or formula preparation answered? Not your pediatrician. Not your OB. Probably not your midwife or doula, either. I spent many many nights awake with my oldest flipping through books trying to find answers. It would have been nice to be able to jump on my cell phone, post a question and decide which answer or suggestion was right for me.

Grocery Pickup/Delivery

So I don’t wanna sound old and crotchety, but at the risk of sounding old and crotchety…. you guys are so lucky this is available now. With my first, I was a young single mom and I lived at home with my parents. I had help. I had my parents around to cook and keep the house tidy and do all the shopping. Had it not been for them, I would not have made it, I’m sure of that. And that’s probably one of the best things my parents have ever done for me, and that story deserves a blog of its own.

Fast forward a bit and I was now married to a soldier and had a special needs baby. Even though my husband wasn’t deploying a lot, he was never home. I would have utilized the shit out of grocery pickup or delivery! Repeat for babies #2 and #3 except this time the husband deployed every 6 months for about 4 consecutive years. Loading kids into the car because one of them was sick and you had no more Tylenol is not a fun time. Or being so busy you couldn’t find a convenient time to go grocery shopping so you went while kids #1 and #2 were in school and put #3 in the shopping cart and #4 was strapped to your back in a carrier as you walked around the commissary hoping #4 would take her nap and #3 would be “good enough” to not stress you out while you hurried along marking shit off your list that you forgot to bring. *face palm*

ACA/Breast Pump Coverage

It still amazes me that we have such a wonderful mandate for families today. I often wonder how things would be different had I had a quality breast pump available to me, at no cost, for any one of my babies. Going back to work at 4 weeks with #1 (yes, 4 weeks….to a daycare nonetheless…..) was hard. I did do some pumping but it sucked–no pun intended–and I don’t even remember what pump I used. I know it was a cheap one from Walmart. It probably wasn’t electric.

Baby #2 was special needs (visit my blog about our journey here) and I was fortunate enough to get a hospital-grade pump from our hospital, and from WIC. The hospital-grade pump was a loaner and as soon as another baby was born who needed it I had to give it back. As soon as we introduced formula WIC wanted their pump back so it could be loaned out to someone who was exclusively breastfeeding. Again, the options available for pumps to purchase in 2007 were not good and if they were they were quite expensive. With babies #3 and #4, I was determined to breastfeed and not do any bottles or formula. I found support within my community and on Facebook. Also important to note is that #3 and #4 had no complications, and our breastfeeding journeys were relatively uncomplicated. I was also a stay-at-home-mom. I did use a manual pump occasionally, but that was it. Being able to provide breast pumps to Tricare families through The Fayetteville Doulas and a DME *really* brings me joy.

We can only do our best with what we have. Part of why I created The Fayetteville Doulas was to give families the support I never had. Yes, there are many more resources available today than there was 6, 8, 10, 20 years ago, but nothing will ever replace face-to-face support from someone you trust and have a connection to. We want to be that someone and you deserve to have that someone.

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