Today's post is done anonymously for now. This doula/mama/surrogate may share her information at a later date, but she is currently working with a family that has requested she maintain a low profile...so let's call her Z. I was aware of Z from an online doula board we have been a part of for years. I asked her thoughts about her decisions and feelings as she extended past doula work to surrogacy, and I am happy she has this to share with us.
I have been a doula loving my work with families for over 10 years. It was accidentally that I even became familiar with what doulas are. In college I took a womens’ studies class in college and this lady came to talk to us about birth as a tool of the feminist movement. She listed many of her credentials but didn’t talk much about them (I had them on her handout). A couple years later when I graduated and was sorting through old papers and books I came across her handout. I wondered what (CD)DONA meant and that began my search. I was hooked! The idea that someone could kind of walk you through the birth process was amazing to me. Little did I know that two years later I would find myself pregnant with my first baby and you can guess the first thing I did (behind telling my husband I was pregnant)! Find a doula.
Six years and 2 kids later I was finally a certified doula and I loved it! In my community there was one small hospital. Things are slower paced and we don’t have that many terrible birth interventions. The doctors are friendly and there isn’t much trouble working in the hospital. After I had been doulaing for a couple years I heard from a college roommate that she was having trouble getting pregnant. She and her husband were trying in vitro and after that they were going to look into adoption or surrogacy. About a year later after failed IVF she shared they had a surrogate they were working with.
Now I was curious. Again. I looked up surrogacy agencies in the bigger cities around me. I read stories. I learned about traditional and gestational surrogates. My husband had a vasectomy and we were done with our family. I thought how incredible it would be to help a family start even though mine was finished. I contacted an agency and it wasn’t long after that I had a couple interested in me as a surrogate.
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was how long things can take. It was a number of months before I finally found myself pregnant and things were looking good (I did have a miscarriage the first time around). The parents lived about 5 hours away and we would email frequently. “Dena” (the mom, not her real name) tried to take the train down to my appointments, and sometimes “Steve” came with her. We all seemed to get along pretty good. I created my plan for birth on my end while also trying to include Dena and Steve’s wishes. Also I hired a doula (or course!). It happened to be my friend who is a L&D nurse.
The day of the birth was perfect. It was the Tuesday before my due date at around 4 pm and I had an appointment. Dena had arranged to be there. The doctor checked my cervix and then he looked at me. Then he looked at Dena. Then he looked back at me. “You’re 4 centimeters dilated. You need to go to OB.” I didn’t believe him. This is the same doctor I had for my daughters and I knew him from doula births. He is kind of like Patch Adams the way he jokes. “I am serious. I am calling over there to tell them you are coming.” I had been feeling kind of off, my stomach was giving me some trouble and I was having some bowel issues but I thought I had eaten too many apricots or something.
Steve was just leaving work when Dena told him and he grabbed their bags and drove like a maniac to make it. My husband also came to the hospital, and Christina our doula. Labor went fast and we all laughed a lot. I don’t know why but everything was funny (and laughing helps you cervix dilate).
At 11:34 pm a sweet baby girl was born. Her mom and dad were in the room and Dena actually helped catch her. When I saw how Dena and Steve looked when they saw their baby girl I felt I had just done the most amazing thing in the world! I helped them become parents! It was incredible and besides having my own two girls it feels like the most miraculous thing I have ever been a part of.
I love being a doula and being a woman. Surrogacy for me was a way to extend that to feel good about doing something so amazing for a couple who couldn’t do it alone.
For today's post I collected an assortment of comments from moms who had doulas.
Amanda, second birth, first time with a doula: I knew I wanted a doula after my first birth did not go as planned As a labor nurse I thought I would be able to handle labor, especially with a very supportive husband. Boy was I wrong. I know I could of had the birth I wanted had I had a doula, so when I got pregnant with my second I had to have a doula! The loving care and support a doula provides is priceless! The encouragement and reassurance through out the whole pregnancy was so important to me and knowing that a knowledgable woman would be at my side to support me and my wishes for the labor I wanted was what my heart, soul and mind needed to have a completely natural birth! Ending my birthing journey with Kim Humble at my side was a perfect ending! I admire all doulas for their dedication and love of the birth process and for giving up time with their families and lives to help empower woman during their birth process.
Wendi, doulas with her second and third babies: Having a doula was the only difference between my first and second birth and wow what a difference it made! The counter pressure on my lower back during contractions was a godsend. It was so helpful physically but also emotionally to have someone there to focus on me. Avary and Evie, doula-assisted births. Avary: 1-03 with Erin Romrell in Clearwater, FL. Evie: 5-11 with Jarynna Chua, Chico, CA.
Jenny, birth with a doula after a loss: Like many people I didn't think I needed a doula. My husband is an excellent helper and I had never had problems with relaxation and delivery. However, after having a stillbirth my very good friend who is a doula gently offered advice that it may be helpful to have someone not as emotionally attached to the experience in the room to help us both. She was so very right about that. We were more anxious than we knew going into our birth experience post stillbirth. Our wonderful doula/friend/sister was there for the both of us to keep us calm and focused. My husband still did most of my support and coaching, but she was there to run interference with hospital staff and convey pertinent information in a calming way from our midwife. It also turned out to be a huge blessing in that our midwife had 5 women delivering at the same time so we had the extra attention we needed at a time when we were both immensely happy and in a bit of mourning that we didn't know we hadn't yet done.
Rebecca, first birth, doula support for birth, and postpartum depression: My doula helped me through post partum depression. She was invaluable during my birth but the support we got later was what kept me from cracking. We had her come in two nights to take the baby and let me sleep after 6 weeks of insomnia. It got me on the right path to recovery and I trusted her more than anyone else to take the baby at night while we slept.
Kari, first baby with a late decision to get a doula: The prenatal support given was invaluable. My doula helped me not only with the obvious stuff like practicing relaxation techniques and different positions, but with building confidence to have the birth I wanted. I went ten days past my "due" date but never questioned my decision to not be induced, as we had talk about the cascade of interventions that often follow. She helped me trust my body and backed me up when my gut instinct told me to switch providers at 37 weeks pregnant.
Our preparation allowed me to labor at home as long as possible, and then my doula advised when to head to the hospital. I'm grateful to have been fully in active labor when admitted, and didn't have any issues with stalling. I attribute this to how safe I felt. While in labor, my memories are mostly touch and hearing, and feeling cocooned by the women present - my doula, midwife, and midwife in training. Birth was a very female centered thing for me. My doula helped me stay centered when I hadn't even notice that my efforts and pushing were less controlled and therefore less productive. I'm happy to have had a non medicated hospital birth, and felt very empowered by the experience. I can't imagine childbirth without a doula! [Kari's doula was Avira Wenn in the Visalia Area.]
Katie, second baby though adoption, first time with a doula: We hired a doula for a pretty unique reason. My husband and I were adopting a baby, so we hired a doula for our son's birth mother. I had gone to her child birth classes with her, and was going to be with her during her labor (though I had never given birth myself). But I knew that once the baby arrived he would be my priority. I had an awful image of this amazing young woman who was giving me the most precious gift going home from the hospital with no one to check up on her, navigating a difficulty time alone. She had some specific desires for how she wished her birth to go, and we needed an advocate who would be there for her before, during and after her birth. One reason we chose an open adoption was because we feel strongly about a birth mother's rights. But we were also realistic; we wanted a baby badly. The emotions surrounding a birth and adoption can change the best laid plans, and it seemed a conflict of interest for me to be her advocate during that time. Our adoption facilitator suggested we hire a doula. I am so happy we did! Thank you, Stacie! I know initially the adoption element was a bit out of your comfort zone, but you were amazing!
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)