Evan was such a great "sport" with this feature. I loved the unique position of this excited dad -- he said it was even he who called the doula (which she later admitted to Evan and his wife, was unusual enough that, had she not remembered them from class, she might have thought this was a hoax doula call). Dads need doulas, too! And the "coaching" support they get can often be invaluable.
Week 4 of our childbirthing classes, our instructor said, "Next week, we will have a doula come talk to us about doula support. A doula is like a coach and you parents are a team. She coaches you through birth." I was curious! Well, as a junior high school teacher, I have coached a lot of different sports, from volleyball, to track and field, football, softball, and baseball. I am a sports-lover, so that term had me excited to learn more.
As promised, the next week me met Renate, the doula. Renate was a confident-looking woman, in her mid-forties. She knew about birth, that was clear. Renate shared about meeting with couples before birth to learn about them. She walked us through a typical doula/couple relationship from before the birth to after the birth. She told us about a few things she carries in her bag. When you add that all together, it looked like the perfect playbook to help a team win a game. I wanted in!
Convincing my wife, Shelly, that a doula would be good for us was a different story. Shelly was more inclined to let things happen on their own without a lot of preparation or planning. "I just want a healthy baby," is what she would say to me. Everyone wants a healthy baby. Everyone wants to finish the game. As a coach, I wanted more. I wanted to feel good about the effort we put in as a team in this birth "sport," and I wanted to feel like we won.
Where was the turning point in this? Our doctor. At one of our appointments, Shelly shared with our doctor that I was making a little book filled with information I would need to help her cope. In this "playbook" were things like, 4-1-1 (when to go to the hospital), labor stages and signs, the Take-Charge Routine, what happens in the hospital's mandated "Golden Hour." When our doctor heard this, she asked, "Oh, have you thought about hiring a doula?" I nodded my head yes. "What's the hold-up? Often it's the dad who doesn't want one." I pointed at Shelly. Maybe that wasn't the most mature thing to do.
"What do you think, Mom?" our doctor asked. Shelly replied: "I hear birth stories all the time. I have so many friends who had ideas about their births, and then their plans went out the window. I don't want to set myself up for some special experience, and then feel let down." Our doctor said there are no guarantees in birth, but that doulas can help couples feel better about their overall experience. She handed us a list of local doulas, starred a couple she thought we might get along with. Shelly still wasn't convinced, but she agreed to meet with a couple doulas and see what she thought.
We recognized one name on the list: Renate! We arranged a meet-up.
When it came down to it, Shelly and I liked Renate and we felt she could help us both achieve our birth goals. She was an amazing help. My father had an accident a few days before our baby was born, and he was in Intensive Care Unit of the same hospital where we were having our baby. He actually had a surgery planned for the day Shelly went into labor! Because of Renate, I could run between these two important people in my life to make sure they were all okay. I could know about where things were with Renate texting me, so I could be with my dad for a few minutes before his surgery. I was also able to stop by once he was out of recovery. The most exciting thing was, when I could come back to my dad and step-mom with a picture of our baby, Stuart Henry, to his grandfather, Henry Stuart.
With Renate by our side, I didn't need to clutch my playbook to my chest. I could relax and trust her coaching abilities. When I say coaching, I say she supported Shelly, and she helped me support Shelly. But she absolutely coached me! And that was just what I needed.
Evan is a middle school teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. He, Shelly, and their daughter can be found screaming their heads off at Iowa Wild Hockey games, or cruising around their neighborhood on their tandem bike (with a baby seat).
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)