"We're in here, Lacey! We think we have everything managed but we always love your company!"
The mare developed a condition during pregnancy that meant the foal would have to be bottle fed the first couple of days. Veterinarian's recommendations. We had discussed the feeding plan several times over the past few weeks. My mom called me hoping to have another set of hands to keep the foal from latching on to his mother and get him drinking from a bottle. The bottle wouldn't flow as fast as the foal hoped, and I was able to remind them that you can cut an X in the top of the nipple to increase the flow. They already knew this, they do it for calves, but caught up in the excitement it hadn't come to mind. A common occurrence with parents and their new human babies. As both a labor and postpartum doula, I help my clients recall the information they can't remember when they're caught up in the excitement, the sleep deprivation, the "pregnancy brain".
My step-dad had some other tasks to attend to, so after preparing a second bottle for us, he was able to go and attend to his chores. It's calving season on the farm, making it even busier than usual. He didn't want to leave my mom alone so my arrival freed him up to go and look after his other responsibilities. Again, very familiar.
My mom was so focused on the foal, and making sure he was eating well and was healthy overall, much like a new parent. The mare kept coming to me and asking for treats. I know new human mothers can be ravenously hungry following labor and birth, and new parents can be so focused on their precious baby that they forget about their own needs. I was able to help get the mare feed while my mom attended to the foal. When serving new families, it's my number one priority to look after my client's needs, so that she can look after the needs of her new baby.
My mom was elated. It was wonderful to be there with her and see how joyful she was. She was expecting a challenging few days, bottle feeding the foal and then switching it to nursing from it's mother. She shared her plans for her new baby, and we spent some time admiring her other horses, giving them treats. We haven't seen each other much in the last few weeks and I loved just being with her at this special time. She let me know that even though it had turned out that she hadn't needed me the way she had been expecting, it had been so helpful to have me there.
I drove home thinking about how odd it had been. It was so similar to my work as a postpartum doula.
Today I followed up with her. I gave her a call because I was wondering how she had been doing and wanted to make sure she didn't need any more help. She knows she can call me if feeding every few hours through the night gets to be too much. My children are very excited to go and see Granny's new baby.
And that is that. I was my mom's postpartum doula, for the birth of her mule.