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Donna Bruschi was a lucky find for me. About a month before my son was born, I went searching on
Google for a doula to help me write a birth plan, something useful that would not be restrictive or
overwhelming, and also to do a one-on-one childbirth preparation class with my husband and me at home.

We had gone through the all-day hospital childbirth class and the evening baby care class, but we both
felt a little overwhelmed at our impending arrival.

It was a long road to pregnancy. Four years of infertility diagnosis, frustration, heartbreak, failure and lost
opportunity. The fact that I was actually pregnant was amazing and somewhat surreal. This was the driver
behind having more information to be prepared – we felt like we were prepared for infertility treatment, not
really for a baby.

Fast forward to January 2011. Our son had an eventful arrival, a story for another day, and after a single
visit by the hospital lactation consultant I felt breastfeeding was going well. Baby regained more than his
birth weight by the time we went to our first pediatrician’s appointment and he was nursing every 2 hours
around-the-clock. This was what I expected and what seemed to be working.
About 5 days after discharge, a lactation consultant I never met at the hospital phoned for follow-up. After
describing the eating, diapering and sleeping habits of the baby, I was told that I was doing everything
wrong and he was clearly not eating enough. One simple, stupid comment threw the previous week’s
successes right out the window. I reached out to the doula that had been so helpful before the birth and
she gave me private resources to call for help. And there was Donna.

My first call was on a Saturday night at about 9:30 p.m. because I was dreading another overnight with a
frustrated baby who wanted to sleep while I was trying to make him continue eating. For the last 2.5 years
I have said that Donna talked me off the ledge that night. I was getting ready to quit, something I do not
usually do, because I was frustrated, the baby was frustrated, my husband was frustrated and my motherin-
law was annoying. Donna let me talk, calmed me down and helped me relax enough to get through the
night without tears – mine at least.

The next day, in the snow, she trekked across the river to Dutchess County for a home visit. Donna
worked patiently with me to help me get my confidence back and realize that I was doing just fine. The
baby was happily eating and growing and dirtying many, many diapers. She gave me some help in coping
with pretty extreme engorgement. Those two hours did wonders to help me feel like I was doing what my
baby needed and he was happily doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. Donna also left me
with more resources, including New Baby New Paltz, and the reassurance that she was a phone call
away if I had any more problems.

Once the snow cleared, sort of, I made the drive to New Paltz for the New Mother’s Social Circle. That
group, with its diverse collection of moms, was a ray of light in the mommy & baby universe. Being able to
talk with other women of all ages and lifestyles was a refreshing change from the cookie-cutter hospitalbased
new mother groups which are full of twenty-somethings who are excited to no longer have to work.
New Baby New Paltz gave me access to moms with careers who were struggling with the idea of going
back to work, pumping and just coping with life. It was a revelation to no longer be the odd mom out in the

Throughout my son’s first year, and beyond, Donna continued to serve as a resource for all things
strange and unique about babies. And I was thrilled when she added her Saturday Working Moms group,
even though I was the only one there for a while. That Saturday group brought me, and my son, some
great friends.

With a toddler, I thought I had outgrown New Baby New Paltz; no more need for a breast pump even
though my son is still nursing, no more teethers and baby toys. And then, just this past spring, I was hit by
the dread of all nursing mothers: mastitis.

After nursing for more than 2 years - through engorgement, freak-outs, nursing strikes, illnesses and work
– I was now dealing with the bane of many new mothers. I just started a new job, in the second week
actually, was facing the death of a close relative and started not feeling well. A quick trip to the doctor
revealed a fever of 104 and the start of that tell-tale mastitis redness. The doctor kindly prescribed
antibiotics and told me to rest – and, my favorite, that it was absolutely time to stop nursing that baby.
Right in the middle of a raging infection for which the best medicine is to keep nursing, I was told that I
should stop. So I called Donna. She, once again, gave me some advice over the phone. Trying to make a
toddler nurse more often is not an easy task, especially when they see you in pain, so it was a struggle.
I ended up in the emergency room on Easter Sunday after the pain increased again and my fever started
spiking. There was little for the ER doctors to do except take blood cultures to make sure the infection
wasn’t spreading and give me more antibiotics. Donna, on the other hand, made another house call; in
her Easter best, on the way home from dinner with her family.

We worked through some of the clogging that had led to the mastitis and had a little success. We made
plans for me to stop by New Baby New Paltz the next day to try and dislodge the clog with the hospitalgrade
pump. The pump turned out to be surprisingly unhelpful, but we developed a plan of care to work
through the clogs. It was several weeks of work, a visit to a breast specialist and a lot of grief but I got
through the infection and its aftermath – including a dilated milk duct.

Through the last 2+ years, Donna has been, and continues to be, a resource for me and many other
women in the region. I regularly hand her name and number out to expectant moms locally and beyond
as well as to health care providers. I cannot recommend her services, store and groups highly enough.


Isabel Dichiara

May 2013