If there’s anyone who knows the magic of giving birth, it’s Lindsey Bliss. As one of the three co-founders of Brooklyn’s famed doula collective Carriage House Birth, she’s seen her share of that birth magic, guiding moms as they bring their babies into the world. And with seven kids of her own — including two (yes, we said two!) sets of twins — she’s been on the magic-making side a few times too. And yet, she admits, it never gets old.
Even more magical though, are the little people who come from those births (Luke and Rocco: 4; Birdie & Hazel: 6; Mia: 9; and step-daughter Bella: 20), who create the “beautiful chaos” that is evident in Lindsey’s Brooklyn home. “I get so much joy seeing my kids together,” she says. “And I never take from granted how lucky I am.”
We visited Lindsey just days before the homebirth of her youngest baby, Olympia Pearl, and chatted about weekend rituals, her birth plan and why she’d carry this baby two months past her due date if she could.
Tell me about a typical weekend day in your home.
The kids are up at about 6 a.m. and we try to hide out in our room for an extra hour to catch up on a little sleep. It usually doesn’t last long. Because there’s so many of them, it’s hard to focus our attention on all of them all the time, so they’re good at playing with one another. They’re imaginative and play together in groups, so while we’re sleeping (more like laying in bed listening to them), they’ll be playing with legos or working on an art project.
We try to keep the schedule clear on the weekends, but there’s so many kids, so we’re always going to one of their social events or birthday parties. We try to go to brunch every weekend at one of our restaurants (husband Dan is the restaurateur behind Urban Rustic and Lodge in Williamsburg, as well as Playland Motel in Rockaway Beach). When the weather is nice we go to the beach. The theme of most of our restaurants is family friendly — we do like to go out, but it is daunting to go out with all of these kids, so at least at our own restaurants, they can’t kick us out.
Are you nervous about adding a newborn baby to the mix?
I’m not worried about once the baby is here…after having two sets of twins back to back, I’m ready for everything. Adding another baby is really not that scary, but it’s been hard to be pregnant and have five little ones. I can’t just sit down or not pick them up from school. A baby will just go with you. And once I’m not pregnant anymore, I’ll be feeling more energetic.
How has this 4th pregnancy been different than your other pregnancies?
This one has been really nerve wracking. I had 1st and 2nd Trimester bleeding, so the viability of the pregnancy was being questioned for about 18 weeks. The pregnancy wasn’t planned — I was shocked to even be pregnant — but then I was loving the idea of one last baby. Feeling like I was going to lose this baby for the good portion of it was really hard. My body and intuition was telling me everything was fine, but I had anxiety and wasn’t trusting it. I transferred from the care of my midwife to an OB because I needed some more scientific care. Thankfully the baby ended up being healthy. Still, for a long period of time it was filled with anxiety. There was no magic and it just sucked.
How does being a doula impact the way you experience pregnancy?
I became a doula after the birth of my first set of twins. There was so much fear in that pregnancy. I got angry because there were so many people doubting what my body could do, and I wanted to be the one to dictate my pregnancy. But because i’m in the birth business, I hear so much about people’s infertility struggles, miscarriages, stillbirths…and sometimes knowing too much is actually a bad thing. My first, I was so naive, and it was a really easy pregnancy, whereas this pregnancy I had so much information.
How have you balanced your doula work during pregnancy?
It’s been my only break! My doula work lets me check out of my own life for a little bit — I’m completely involved in someone else’s journey. I get to watch babies being born and families being created. If I’m going to be away from my kids, I want to be around magic. My last birth was at 36 weeks — it was my sister.
What’s your birth plan?
I was with an OB up till about 36 weeks, and I just switched back to home birth plan with my midwife. I knew I was in good hands with the OB, but once my anxiety went away, I was like: this is going to be awesome! My partners at Carriage House (Domino Kirke and Samantha Huggins) are my doulas. I don’t think my children are interested in being involved in the birthing part. Birthing is hard, and I go kind of introverted. I don’t know if I want to be in “Mommy mode” when I give birth.
How has your doula work helped you prep for this birth?
I’ve been to some pretty scary births, but during the majority of the time everyone ends up being ok. That’s reassuring to me…and knowing and trusting that if something doesn’t go ok, that’s part of a greater plan. I’m very spiritual. I have a lot faith in my care provider. Also, I know that labor is temporary; there’s always an end. And you can handle anything for a temporary amount of time. Labor isn’t scary to me anymore.
How do you feel on the eve of this baby’s birth?
It’s exciting but it’s also really sad. I’ve spent a decade having babies, and I know this is the last time. There’s an end to this part of my life. So I’m ok with going past my due date and carrying her another 2 months if I have to, because I know this is it.
What are you most looking forward to sharing with this new little baby?
I love looking at my kids together and the bond they’ve created. Having this baby be received by them, and be a part of that, is the biggest thing I’m looking forward to. It’s the gift they give one another. I’ve always felt like someone was missing — we have dogs and turtles and kids — but this is the one we were waiting for.
Photography by Jonica Moore Studio for Well Rounded NY.