Ecstasy in 5 Brilliant Birth Pictures
Before working as a doula in Bakersfield, Visalia, Hanford, and the lower Central Valley, I was in Chico, CA -- up north. This mother was a client of mine, and here she is shown having her second baby at home, after a very medicalized first birth due to her baby's health issues. This time around she labored all night, with erratic but strong contractions. When she finally realized they needed the midwife, it was just in the nick of time! The joy and ecstasy she experienced by this fast, healing birth shows in her body language, and of course her face! For this woman, being left undisturbed to labor was a huge part in the emotions and feelings that helped her have an ecstatic experience. It is a day she will always remember and have pride in -- and no matter how a woman's birth experience goes, with support from her team and knowledge of her choices, she can also be left with these good feelings.
Karen is a doula I am lucky enough to have in my own backyard of Bakersfield, CA! I am always impressed by her thoughtful and wise words. I knew she had acted as her daughter's doula, and I asked her to share that experience -- this mixture of doula and mother offers more leeway than we may have in a normal doula situation. And it sounds like this was just what Jessica needed.
It’s Sunday afternoon and I am just enjoying a lazy day, knowing that any day it will change very quickly with a phone call. My daughter is 39 weeks pregnant with her first baby. After many years of wanting a baby more than anything, she is finally going to be a mother at the age of 38! She had really wanted a home birth (all those stories of me birthing her at home had really soaked into her psyche), but she finally came to terms that, due to her financial situation, she would be birthing in a hospital. She did a lot of research, spoke to some midwives, and had found an OB who would support her dream of having an intervention-free, natural birth. The phone rang and I could immediately hear a bit of concern in her voice. “Mom, how do I know if my water broke?” She had stood up and felt warm fluid trickling down her leg. After our conversation she was convinced it was not urine, but the leaking seemed to have stopped. I suspected that she may have had a small leak of fluid from the space between the amnion and chorion. She was not experiencing any further leaking or contractions so she decided to just ignore the occurrence. I, on the other hand, saw this as a sign that things may be happening and asked her if it was OK for me to go ahead and make the 2 hour drive to her home on Monday to accompany her to her doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. She was very pleased at the idea and told me to just pack to stay until after little Reyelle came earthside.
I arrived at her house and got settled in (as much as you can settle in when you are sleeping on the sofa!). On Monday we just hung around the house and tried to organize all the cute baby stuff. Well, maybe we played with all those cute little cloth diapers a bit too much! But it was a fun day just talking and dreaming about her future. It was a very special time of mother/daughter bonding. Tuesday came around and it was time for her appointment. She decided to tell the doctor about her “leaking” on Sunday. Needless to say he was not happy that she had not called him when this happened. And, yes, even her absolutely fabulous, natural-friendly doctor, pulled the “dead baby” card (which, of course, left her in tears). He did check for the presence of amniotic fluid in the vaginal canal and did an ultrasound to check fluids and did finally say that all was fine. He did not see any signs that it was amniotic fluid (although I still suspected it may have been a small leak).
On Wednesday she and I decided to do some shopping. She was 39 weeks 5 days at this point. She had a few last minute items she needed to purchase and/or exchange and I knew that walking would do nothing but positive things for her. At 5:15 PM we were at home and relaxing after our long day of shopping. Jessica went into the restroom and suddenly hollered out “MOM! Oh my goodness, my water just broke for sure!” I went into the bathroom and found her standing next to the toilet, straddling a large and growing puddle of clear fluid on the floor. I grabbed a feminine pad and a towel and got her into the living room. I had a pack of PH test strips ready for just such an occurrence (yes, I know it is “out of scope” for a doula, but this was my daughter and I thought I could take some liberties!) and went back into the bathroom to clean up and test the fluid. It was clearly 7.5 to 8.0 on the ph scale so I knew that it was definitely her amniotic fluid this time. I reminded her that her doctor had told her to call him or go into the hospital if her water broke. He had also told her that, absent a rupture, he was fine with her laboring at home as long as she wanted, even waiting till she felt the urge to push to make the 5 minute drive the hospital. She decided that since she was not contracting at all, she was just not comfortable with moving to the hospital at this point. My advice to her was that, if SHE did not want to go in yet, then the best thing she could do was for her and her husband to try to get some rest until things picked up. She decided that that was what she wanted to do and got her hypnobirthing audio going on her phone and went to bed to rest. She said that around 6:00 PM she began to experience very mild contractions but she could completely relax and even sleep through them. I periodically went in to check on her but she seemed to be resting quite comfortable and did not want to disturb her peaceful state.
A little after 9:00 PM she called me into her room and told me that she felt it was time to go to the hospital. She had decided that she did not want the drama of waiting too long before arriving at the hospital and would rather go now and get settled before things really picked up. She got dressed and just kind of casually got her stuff ready and packed in the car. At times I was unaware that she was even having contractions, although she did sometimes have to stop walking and talking to focus on her script and relaxation. Parking and getting into the hospital proved to be an adventure. We had to enter through the ER and check in with a security guard. He offered to get her a wheel chair but she declined. I am sure he must have been wishing she would have taken him up on his offer when twice, on the way to L&D, she had to get down on all fours on the floor of the corridor during a contraction!
We arrived in L&D at 10:00 PM and were admitted to triage. Of course she got the scolding again from them about the fact that she had been leaking fluid for almost 5 hours now and was just now arriving to the hospital. They examined her and found her to be dilated to 6 cm. But now, my baby who had been handling her contractions so incredibly well, was forced to lie on the gurney in triage, on her back while they hooked her up to the monitors. She now was having a hard time coping with her contractions.
The orders from her OB were for her to have intermittent monitoring (15 minutes out of each hour), a hep lock instead of IV, minimal cervical exams, no offers of analgesia, for her to be allowed mobility to labor in any position she desired when she was not on the monitor and, lastly, for her to allowed to push and deliver in whatever position she found the most comfortable and effective (unless, of course, there was an emergency situation that negated it). The nurse in triage was an absolute angel. Even though she had to make Jessica uncomfortable with the contractions during the exam and monitoring, she spoke nothing but positivity to her about her ability to birth her baby naturally if that is what she wanted. However, the nurse actually assigned to her once she was moved to a labor room was a different story (I will refer to her as “Nurse Sour Puss”!). We had to keep reminding her of the orders. The lovely nurse from triage even came in and backed us up! They were having a difficult time keeping the monitor on the baby and kept insisting that Jessica stay in positions that were very uncomfortable for her. She managed to do as they asked and, finally, at 11:00 PM, they were able to get the monitors off.
After that, I immediately suggested Jessica get into the shower. You could tell that Nurse Sour Puss was not happy with her patient being out of bed with ruptured membranes, but I just reminded her of the doctor’s orders, and Jessica told her that she was doing it anyway. Jessica spent the next 45 minutes in the shower and was doing very well. You could tell when she was having a contraction, but she coped quite well with them. At various times she would have me running the stream of water over her belly and at other times she wanted it on her lower back. She was making very little noise, just a low moan during the contractions. I noticed a couple of times that Nurse Sour Puss would be standing at the bathroom door just observing. I got the impression that this was the first time she had had a mother use the shower as a pain management tool and actually found it fascinating (hopefully she learned something!).
At 11:45 PM she insisted that Jessica get back into the bed for more monitoring. Again, my daughter (who had been managing her contractions quite well) started struggling with control. About 11:55 she was kind of thrashing in the bed and I thought that perhaps she was wanting to try another position. I asked her, “Honey, what are you trying to do? Do you want me to help you into another position?” She kind of whimpered and said, “I don’t know what I want! I am just trying to get away from it!” I leaned down and whispered to her that it certainly sounded like transition and that those feelings were just proof that she was making good progress and would be holding little Reyelle soon! The nurse kind of looked at me as if to say “How can you possibly know that without a cervical exam?!” She did not believe that this first time mom, who had just been 6 cm less than 2 hours ago, could be close to the pushing phase.
With the very next contraction Jessica began making some grunting sounds at the peak of the contraction. I asked her “Are you pushing?” She said that she wasn’t sure. But with the very next contraction (it was now midnight) she looked at me and said “Oh yeah, I need to push!” The nurse, still being the naysayer, told her to not push, wait for a few contractions to pass, and IF she still felt like she wanted to push then she would check her for dilation. Around 12:15 AM she did a cervical exam (only her 2nd exam since arriving at the hospital at 10:00 PM) and seemed quite surprised to announce that Jessica was complete and could push. Jessica was just experimenting with a couple of positions in the bed for pushing . At 12:30 the nurse just abruptly said, “Ummm, I will be gone a few minutes, stop pushing till I get back!” and abruptly left the room. Jessica was really struggling with the whole “don’t push” thing, so I gently reminded her that this was her baby, her body, her delivery and for her to do what she felt comfortable with. When, after several contractions, the nurse had not returned, I pushed the call button and asked when her nurse would be returning. The charge nurse came in and told us that Nurse Sour Puss had gone to lunch and that she would be helping us. While I was appalled that the first nurse decided to take off for lunch without so much as informing us what she was doing, it actually turned into quite a blessing that the charge nurse took over. This woman was convinced that Jessica (who had been struggling with moving the baby down at all) could and would push this baby out. She made some suggestions on positions/techniques and finally Jessica appeared to be making progress.
I remember pushing for almost 2 hours with my own first baby, and, as a doula, had seen many mothers push for long periods so I was not really surprised when things did not progress quickly. The new nurse was very encouraging though. She cheered for the tiniest bit of progress! What none of us realized was that the slow progress was due to an asynclitic baby! Mommy ended up pushing for over 3.5 hours. During that time there were numerous times when they had trouble keeping the baby on the monitor. While this nurse was obviously concerned with monitoring the fetal heart tones, she also was equally concerned with keeping mommy as comfortable as possible. Several times Jessica would say something like, “I don’t think I can push her out!” but the nurse was always encouraging to her. This phase was where I was so happy to have my doula training and experience to rely on. It was really hard to see my daughter trying so strenuously to bring her baby down and getting so discouraged!
Finally, after over 3 hours the baby was crowning. Because of the long pushing phase and the difficulty in keeping the fetal heart tones monitored, they called in the pediatric team in case there was a problem with the baby. The room was full of various personnel who were all in their little corners, chatting casually with one another, and just waiting for the baby to arrive so they could do their job. In the midst of this the doctor arrived and observed the atmosphere (discussions were going on about what they had for dinner, where they went that past weekend…). He announced to the crowd “I want the lights dimmed and everyone to be quiet and respectful! This mom wants a natural, peaceful delivery of her daughter and we are going to give her what she wants!” You could have heard a pin drop in the room! The lights were dimmed, the doctor asked for some warm oil and he started massaging the perineum. With the very next push Jessica made tremendous progress and within 3 pushes the baby’s head was out. It was at that point, upon seeing her lopsided cone head, that it became clear that her asynclitic presentation was probably the cause of her slow descent. With the next contraction the doctor instructed mom to reach down and grab her baby. Jessica was literally shaking with exhaustion and said “I can’t, I am afraid I will drop her!” The doctor assured her that he would NOT let that happen and to just grab her baby.
There could never be enough words to express the swelling in my heart when I watched my exhausted daughter reach down and pull her daughter out of her body and up to her chest! I had a new level of respect for my daughter! The pediatric team was quickly dispatched out of the room as it was immediately obvious that the baby was doing great. All she needed was a little skin to skin time with mom. Thankfully, this was at a hospital that has already obtained the “Baby Friendly” certification so they were not trying to hasten the separation of mommy and baby.
At this point I was able to kind of take a back seat and just observe the new mommy and daddy reveling in their new roles. Baby stayed on mommy’s chest while the doctor waited patiently for the cord to stop pulsing. It was quite something to observe. This long awaited baby was here and being loved on by her new parents. I could not help but think back to the births of my own children 40, 38 and 33 years ago. So much has changed since then, but so much is still the same. My daughter had managed to achieve a hospital birth that was very close to the home birth that I had experienced at her own birth 38 years prior. In my job as a doula, I know that the birth of the baby usually signals the beginning of the end of my relationship with this new family. This was so different. I knew that this was just the beginning of a lifetime of love that I would be able to shower on this baby and her parents!
PS: Some of you may question the fact that I do not mention dad much during the labor and delivery. Let me assure you that dad was very much there and involved in the process. This family has a unique circumstance where daddy has some severe disabilities in his legs due to burns he suffered many years ago. He is very limited on the amount of standing he is able to do. So, while dad was there and contributed very much to the emotional support of his wife, I was the one who provided most of the physical support to my daughter during her labor and the birth of her baby.
Karen is a mother, grandmother, and doula. She had a home birth in 1975 with a chiropractor attending. Karen is a Christian who doesn't think God made any mistakes with the way He designed women's bodies. Ever the caretaker, she has an adult, adopted developmentally-disabled brother who she helps care for. Karen loves to sew and cook, but she hates to clean up after both! Reyelle is her 5th grandchild. Find her on Facebook to learn more about her doula services.
Tesa is a doula who, after my recent move, gave me my first insight into the local birth climate. She has such a passion for helping moms and babies through pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, working with families to ensure they have positive, safe experiences. A mother herself, with a 10 year career in the Air Force, she has an impressive story of how she even ended up in the birth world. She is currently overseas getting practical training to become a midwife; I appreciate that she took the time out of her educational pursuits to share this with us.
I discovered soon after training as a Doula that I wanted to pursue Midwifery. I was told by many my Doula experiences would translate into my midwifery training and the experiences of supporting Mothers in the hospital would be immeasurable. I focused intensely on how to interpret a woman’s body language during labor. I knew from experience that most women did not communicate their emotions or physical discomforts throughout labor. I knew that I needed to get good at feeling what she needed. I did not realize the extent of this intuition that I developed until my experience while interning for my midwifery clinical requirements.
Our family decided that I would take an opportunity to travel abroad to volunteer at a birth home in the Philippines for my clinical experience. I was a bit nervous about the language barrier, even though I was assured that most of the mothers spoke English to a point which we could communicate. I planned to learn basic phrases before I set out. Of course life was busy, and a lot of other preparations became a higher priority. So I landed in the Philippines without even knowing how to say hello. I know, bad planning on my part. Luckily I was met at the airport by an American and was never in a sticky situation where I needed to speak Tagalog (the language spoken by Filipinos). From the airport I was taken to the birth home where I met the other American Interns and the Filipino Midwives. Again no need for language skills there either.
The next morning I was integrated into the prenatal check up routine, and that’s when it all came and smacked me in the face. I quickly realized I needed to learn how to communicate with these women if I was going to assist in their care. So where am I going with this? Well after a few weeks I was ready to start attending births as student under supervision, and again I was nervous about communicating with the mother. How would I know what she was feeling? Up to this point my training had focused on the physiological changes to observe that would help me assess the stages of labor, the health of the mother, and fetal well-being. My first birth was a bit of a blur, but the second birth I settled into a very familiar role as this Mother immediately connected with me.
Reflecting I can recall the moment when I understood not a single word she said to me but I could feel everything she needed from me. My Doula heart took over the emotional and physical care of this mother as she labored hard and just needed to feel safe in her moment of vulnerability. I did not need to speak in her language to support her. I was able to express that I was there for her by not leaving her presence. With sincerity in my touch I think she was able to feel safer and more relaxed. I helped her with breathing patterns and movement, only through demonstrating it myself first. These unspoken instructions quickly helped her gain control of her labor and gave her confidence in her ability. Holding her hand through contractions, reassured her I was not leaving. Simple nods from me seemed to confirm to her that everything was normal. No words were required between us; it was a dance of sharing a common goal to bring her baby into the world safely and peacefully.
It’s now been almost 3 months since I have been here in the Philippines and I have since learned many useful Tagalog words to aide me in communicating with woman in the prenatal as well as labor and birth. Like sakit and pwerta, go look them up. Now more than ever I realize the value of my Doula experience, and how it will always be a part of me as a Midwife. The ability to communicate without words extends across many roles in life. I’m very grateful for my experience here and the woman that have allowed me to stand, rock, moan, and cry with them as they birthed their babies. They have given me more than I have given them, and I will hold it close as I move forward to serve many more.
Tesa Kurin is the mother of 6 wonderful children, each different in their own way. She believes that every pregnancy is different and every Woman’s needs are different. Tesa also believes you have the right to choose your birth path. Whether you choose to give birth in a hospital or home, she will provide you with the support and information you need. Find her through her website.
Day 15: A Doula's Second Healing
Alicia Wild is a doula and mother of two near the Bakersfield area. Many women experience healing from their successive births. In today's guest post, Alicia shares how she found a second healing in an unlikely place -- by the side of a doula client.
Every birth is different. This is a motto that we, as doulas, reiterate to our clients time and time again. It is something that birth entusiasts from all across the spectrum believe fiercely in. It is a saying that is proven true again and again with every birth we witness, hear about and have. No two births are alike, but just because one birth is different from another does not mean that it cannot heal the long held wounds of someone else's birth story.
Like many birth workers I've met, I too have a traumatic first birth story. While we often share these stories with sadness and often anger, it is usually these stories that brought us into birth work to begin with. I was 23 years old when I became pregnant with my first baby, our rainbow baby, but even as that was the case I still felt in my heart that he would be a boy. I loved being pregnant. The feeling of growing a person inside of your body is unlike anything else, and with little to no negative pregnancy effects I had nothing to complain about. I could feel that my baby and I were both healthy and I continued on in my pregnancy, soaking up as much information from the internet and the couple of mainstream baby books that I had. My mother-in-law repeatedly told me how proud she was of me for educating myself and being more prepared than she was when she had her own children. I was young and smart and I really did feel prepared.
At a 37 and a half week appointment my doctor told me that I was going to have a "big baby" and that she wanted it born that week. I was naive and trusting; every resource I was looking at told me to trust that my doctor had my best interests at heart. I now realize that while this is sometimes the case, it is not often so. She did my first ever vaginal exam and said that I was 2 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. The problem is that this exam hurt more than I had ever been led to believe from friends and family who had had babies before me. This was painful. I cried because it hurt and I was not ready to go into labor while my husband (a forest firefighter) was out of town on a fire. She hugged me and told me again that I would have my baby in the next couple of days.
Immediately after leaving the appointment I began having small contractions, and within two days my water was leaking. The mainstream books I was reading told me that I needed to go to the hospital right away and so I called my husband home from his out of town fire and we went to the hospital. The first hospital that we went to said that I was not leaking amniotic fluid and released me. My husband and I felt a sense of urgency based on what we had been reading and decided to go to another hospital. They also said that I was not leaking amniotic fluid but since I was now dilated to 3, they would keep me and start pitocin. 9 hours after my induction was started the partner of my doctor came in and told me that it was time for a c-section. Being the informed but not selfishly stupid parents that we were, we accepted the word of this doctor whom we had never met before this moment.
After about half an hour I was prepped for surgery and quickly after that my son, Jacob, was born. I was given the briefest of looks, and I gave my baby a quick kiss on the cheek, and he was taken away to the nursery with my husband. I was cold, scared, alone and desperately longing to hold my new baby. After two hours of mandatory post c-section isolation, also called recovery, I was released to my room where I would surely get to be with my new baby. I quickly found that that was not the case. It would be another 4 hours before I would finally get to hold him and an additonal 6 after that before I would get to keep him for any length of time.
What amounted to essentially 12 hours without my baby became some of the most traumatic hours of my life. Even after we were finally released from the hospital I longed for those hours back. But I had a beautiful new son and certainly had nothing to be sad about. Yet, I still found myself secretly crying and mourning my experience. I had done everything I was supposed to so why was this feeling not going away? I did everything right? Didn't I? After 18 months of research from less mainstream sources, I realized that the number one thing that I had done wrong was that I did not properly educate myself.
I discovered that the reason my first vaginal exam hurt so much is because my doctor had stripped my membranes without my consent or knowledge. This is also why she was so sure that my baby would be born within a few days. I didn't realize that this procedure can cause waters to leak or even rupture. It can be especially dangerous in women who are not ready to go into labor and at 37 and a half weeks, I was certainly not ready to go into labor. Next I discovered that leaking waters is not nearly as dangerous as those mainstream books make it out to be. Women have gone up to 72 hours with complete ruptures and have had no ill effects. Lastly, after getting my medical records, I was able to refute every reason for having been given a c-section. My 7lb 12 oz baby was no where near "macrosomic," the records themselves indicate that I did not have a fever and my waters were not actually leaking. So why is it that these things were all written as reasons for my c-section? I can't honestly answer that, but I can speculate that because I was scared and started to get vocal and because it was 11:00 on a Saturday night that the doctor on call simply ran out of patience. But the only factual answer I can come up with is because I just didn't know better. It's a reason that I find many women end up with the births they are given and not the ones they want or could have had.
When I became pregnant with my second son, I did things differently. I had a home waterbirth with a midwife who I love and cherish. My baby was never taken from me and I do not still yearn for any missed time as I do with my older son. I was healed, completely and wholly. At least I thought so.
Fast forward another 2 years. My oldest is now 4 and a half and my youngest is 2. I have been a part-time doula for about a year and while every birth I had been to helped me to grow as a doula and each one was unique and beautiful, none of them reminded me of my own births. They were indeed different. I have one client who I have known since kindergarten but we were acquaintances at best. I would soon grow to love and cherish her as a friend, which is so often the case with doula work. The time spent sharing and talking with women cannot be erased just because the job is done.
My new client is pregnant with her second child and she is also looking to overcome a traumatic first birth experience Though her first birth did not end a c-section, it still left lasting scars which she, too, wore upon her heart. She calls me one May day to let me know that her water was leaking and she thought they would be heading the hospital soon. Like my first birth, she was not having any significant contractions at this point. Immediately I felt a similarity to my own birth and I encouraged her to weigh her options versus going in right away. I let her know about the studies I had read. She agreed that it was probably too soon but she wanted to be near the hospital in case she changed her mind. Since we live about an hour away from the hospital where she was going to deliver, we decide to make the trip sooner rather than later.
Ordinarily a doula would not go so early in labor, but I felt that my presence was needed. We spent the day window shopping at the mall, watching a movie in the theatre, and having dinner together. I joke that I was dating my client and her husband as we are all out enjoying each other's company and waiting for labor to kick in so we can go to the hospital. By nightfall we are all starting to get tired so I suggest that they get a hotel room and I will stay with a friend. All through the night and into the next day still nothing has happened, labor has not kicked in. Her waters have been leaking for more than 24 hours and nothing we try is moving things along. She is growing increasingly worried so we decide to go to the hospital.
At the hospital she is told she can't get out of bed anymore. She refused to use a bedpan and fought for the birth she wanted. She accepted the pitocin but not the epidural, something I know she is still so proud of having accomplished for her and her son. Pretty quickly after the very low dose of pitocin started I looked on the board and saw that the on-call doctor is none other than the woman who called my c-section. There is a sinking feeling in my chest and throat as I look to my client who is in the same position I was in 4 and a half years ago. Waters leaking for a day and a half, pitocin started and not yet working, the same time of night and this doctor. This doctor whose face is at the front of every sad memory I have about my older son's birth. I prayed I wouldn't see her, but knew I would need to hold back my emotions for the sake of my client.
Despite the similarities between our stories up to this point one key thing made all the difference in the world: my client really was educated and more than in the mainstream way I had been. She knew what she wanted and she had support to achieve it. Just when it seemed like she was destined to have the same birth experience that I had life reminds us that every birth is different and this was no exception. One simple turn and she dilated from 4 to "can't help it pushing" in 15 minutes. She pushed her baby out into the arms of a very shell-shocked nurse. When that doctor did finally show up the dread I was feeling was not there. My client did it and I helped her! I realized that the doctor wasn't the evil I had been imagining for so long. She was just a fallible person like us all. And while this was not my birth and I did still end up with a traumatic experience, my client's birth was like a second healing to me. It was a do-over in a world where do-overs don't exist. I was given the chance to change my own circumstances through her and for that I am thankful and I feel healed.
I am a mother to two wonderful little boys. I was born and raised in Kern County and though I moved to Orange County for college, my heart eventually found its way home in the end. I possess a Bachelor's Degree in Social Sciences from Chico State University, and while this is one of my biggest accomplishments, my heart truly lies with birth and ensuring that women receive their own perfect birth. I believe that women relying on women is crucial to seeing birth dreams come true, and I believe that every birth is unique, just as every woman and child are unique. What may be my perfect birth may not be yours, and that's okay. My job as a mother's assistant is to ensure that you get your best possible birth. Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments that might you have.
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.
Annette, first time mom with very supportive partner: When I heard about doulas, I thought I wanted one, but I wasn't sure how it would feel to have someone I hardly knew see me through such an intimate process. However, we knew we wanted to try to have a natural childbirth and it was our first baby, we didn't really know what to expect, so we thought it would be nice to have someone knowledgable to rely on. When I met our doula, I liked her immediately. She was so awesome with giving us knowledge, confidence and support before, during and after the birth. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have been so relaxed and successful without her! My husband was an awesome help during the labor process but she made sure the little but important things happened, like offering me Chapstick or water and making sure my husband got little breaks too. She gave us guidance all along when we needed it, and she encouraged me to stick to my goals when I started getting tired and impatient during labor, but never made me feel bad about considering changing my mind. She gave us guidance, comfort and advice throughout, without ever being pushy. Since she took the time to get to know me before-hand she was our trusted, unbiased, advocate and coach helping me be as comfortable as possible, and ultimately helped me to achieve what I wanted-an unmediated natural birth and healthy baby. She even took photos right after my daughter was born (which no one else did!) and we are so happy to have them! Lastly, she helped my daughter latch on after birth and helped me with getting breast-feeding right from the get-go. I never was sore or uncomfortable with it. Nursing was easy! No one else I know has ever said that. It was such a great experience for my husband and I and we never regretted the choice. I was Annette's doula :).
Margaret, doula with her second and third babies: When the contractions intensified to the point where they required all my concentration and focus. My doula helped me through them by applying pressure to my back and hips. I vocalized a lot, making mostly low moans. When I did that and breathed well, she told me how great I was doing. When I made higher pitched or whimpering noises, she’d remind me to breathe and encourage me to get through this one so that we could handle the next one better. Margaret's doula was Ashley Cassady.
Misty, ER nurse pregnant with second baby: Like many have said, I originally didn't even think of having a doula for my second pregnancy because my husband was so amazing the first time around. As I got closer to the end, I started to think that he had a lot on his plate, a small child to care for and support me, and maybe he could use some help. It was the best decision we could have made! I was in prodromal labor for days, contracting every 2 minutes painfully for 72 hours before my son was born, with awful back labor. She was there supporting us, encouraging, helping me into positions of comfort, counter pressure (the only relief I had in all of those days!). Her support, love and patience got me to the natural delivery I wanted, and I honestly know I couldn't have done it without her! Thank you Kimberley Humble!
Korilyn, doula births with all her babies (4 babies, 3 births): I didn't think we needed a doula - that was my husband's job, but my husband insisted we get one. Now I'll never have a baby without our doula! We learned lots of great techniques during our birthing class. The doula was there to help implement them (because we forgot most of them in the moment). She gave amazing encouragement and relief during the most difficult times of my labor. Korilyn's doulas were Anne Junge and Amber Dayney.
Amanda, pregnant with her second baby, wanting a doula this time around: Why I want a doula is for educated moral support. Those moments when pain may try to persuade me to do something I don't really want to do, I need someone who can tell me "you can do this."
And that, dear people, just about sums it up. -Stacie
Tongue-Tie in an Older Kid
Back in June when we took Ezra to see Dr. Jesse, it was just my husband, Ezra, and I. I had this picture on my phone, and on a whim, I shared it with Dr. Jesse to show the array of palates and tongues we had left at home:
"You see this here?" he pointed to my (then) 13 year old's picture, "His tongue-tie is pulling his bottom two teeth in."
Now after my discovery of Ezra's mouth, and then our science project of comparing the other kids via pictures, I was amazed to see Jacob had a tongue-tie. He nursed with ease until the day he quit on his 4th birthday; well, I should say, after his stint in the NICU for 2 weeks, plus a couple of days figuring things out in our own time and space out of the hospital, he nursed with ease. I thought that was it, end of story -- nursing went well, so we didn't need to worry about it now. But I had before noticed in his otherwise lovely mouth of mostly-straight teeth, those two troublesome bottom guys...
In hindsight, a tongue like that could have caused a few issues we noticed earlier but were clueless about. Jacob was late to start solids. I offered him rice cereal at four months (it is important to know rice cereal isn't the best first food for babies, I was following mainstream guidelines and assuming since it was marketed for babies, it was best for babies; for more info about that, read here). He gagged so I figured he wasn't ready (again, I was uninformed and looking at the calendar and not the baby when determining if he was ready for food). I would wait a couple weeks and try again; same response with additional behaviors such as coughing, tongue thrust, clamping his mouth shut, and turning his head away. After a few more attempts, I lost interest and let my little sister (then 12 years old) eat it all. When Jacob was 9 months old (and still had no real solids experience) we were eating at our favourite Mexican restaurant. Jacob was large -- 9 pounds, 8 ounces at birth, 20 pounds at 4 months, 30 pounds by a year -- and because of that, we often placed him in the high chair while we dined to keep him at our level and engaged. He never acted interested in food, though. This particular night, he was madly waving his arms and shouting at us, so I offered him a bite of refried beans. Surprisingly, he took the food into his mouth, kept it in, swallowed, and wanted more! We were excited, but it still wasn't full-speed ahead with food -- he didn't really start eating food until about 14 months.
Tongue-tied babies can often be slow to eat solids or have other food issues, but I just assumed he wasn't ready and I didn't worry due to his size. I do believe Jacob limited himself to foods he could easily eat and swallow and this shaped his preferences -- he is still a picky eater, and I fully attribute that to his anatomical make-up and how he compensated to ensure he didn't choke or suffer other discomforts while eating.
The second sign of how he was being affected by his tongue was the fact that he had extensive decay on his top teeth, necessitating caps at 18 months old. Having a tongue that doesn't move in a full range can cause decay, as the tongue isn't able to move between the teeth and the lips up at the gumline to sweep food out. Coupled with an upper lip tie (restricted upper lip), pockets can form and food and bacteria can become trapped, thereby causing decay despite the best oral hygiene practices. Again, at the time we thought it was a fluke, genetic thing, especially since he hadn't started solids until later. Now I see it makes sense. In light of his history, I recently scoured all the pictures I have of him to try and find evidence of his tongue-tie as a baby -- this is all I have come up with:
Ties, like black holes, continue to exert that force on the mouth and the teeth if they aren't resolved or released; case-in-point: my husband's parents spent thousands of dollars on orthodontics for him, to only have his bottom teeth move once the braces came off and stopped holding the teeth in proper alignment. I could further prove this with a picture, but my husband doesn't readily allow me to share the inner workings of his body on the internet :).
We decided to take yet another trip to see Dr. Jesse and have Jacob's tie revised. We made an overnight trip out of it, with an adventure to the La Brea Tar Pits attached.
Dr. Jesse welcomed our whole entourage into the treatment room. While we waited, he ran in to get the laser and said, wheeling it away, "Someone has a canker sore that's needs zapping!" and left, happy to remove this thorn in a patient's mouth.
Dr. Jesse came back in to greet us, look in the other boys' mouths, and then get Jacob seated in the chair. He visually and digitally assessed Jacob's tongue function, saw there was no upper lip tie, and explained what he felt we should do for optimal restriction release. Jacob received a numbing shot that needed a few minutes to take effect, and we waited and chatted.
Since I held Ezra during the last procedure, it was Brad's turn to hold Jacob (just kidding -- Jacob is 6" tall and wears a 13 shoe). I did say that, though, and it got a good chuckle. What I intended to state was, since I held Ezra and wasn't able to watch the procedure in real time, I stood close to Dr. Jesse's shoulder to get full view of the lasering. It makes sense, but I wasn't quite prepared, that it took about 5 soild minutes to keep swiping the laser over, and over, and over the frenulum. Dr. Jesse would then readjust, regrip, and reapply the laser; soon I realized I didn't need to watch the whole thing. The other children were curious, and Dr. Jesse's assistant invited them over to both have a turn.
After the procedure, Dr. Jesse made sure all the boys (minus Ezra) received popsicles. We took care of the billing ($80), and bid Dr. Jesse farewell. We went in search of lunch and ended up at BJ's Brewhouse. Jacob ordered pizza and ate like a champ, mostly...but as he neared the end of his pizza, his eating got slower. Finally he pushed the last bit away and said he was done. I looked at him an realized he was white as a sheet! That's when it hit me: I should have given him ibuprofen before walking out of Dr. Jesse's office! I let the pain come at full-force as the numbing shot and laser affects wore off. I quickly offered him some analgesics and we hit the road toward LA.
We stayed in a hotel, and Jacob and I found a Target to get some provisions (popcorn, hot chocolate, snacks). I threw some Anbesol into the cart, hoping it might help. Jacob threw some popsicles in for good measure. Back at the room, we tried the Anbesol (it stung mightily -- he went and washed it out!), and he decided to keep up with the ibuprofen and popsicles. He had a hard time sleeping that night, but we were away from home, and the distractions were minimal.
The next morning his mouth really hurt, but he was able to drink some hot chocolate with his brothers:
We headed off for the day and had a great time at the tar pits. Jacob did experience pain intermittently, and we kept up with the ibuprofen (see a theme here?). For lunch we went to the Cheesecake Kitchen. Jacob ate a hamburger okay, and then the five of us shared three pieces of cheesecake (he had no trouble with that!).
For the next few days, his mouth hurt. Looking back now and reading other adults' accounts of their revisions, I wonder if we could have dissected a bit more what the pain felt like to get to the root of what might have been causing that sensation. As in childbirth, when you throw all the "pain" together in bucket, it is read as PAIN, but when you break down where the sensation is coming from it not only makes it easier to cope with, it helps us to know why it's there. I am sure he was feeling soreness at the site, but was he also feeling tenderness as his tongue moved in ways it never before was able? Was any of that the after-effects of tensing during the procedure, which caused lactic acid build up he was feeling now? Referred pain signals to areas that weren't even affected? All we knew was, he called it pain, and we treated it as such. There is science behind controlling pain for speedier healing, so I am not opposed to doing what works for him. Being that he is the size of a grown man, his frenulum was thicker and required more time to release.
I am trying to get him to write up his experience in his own words, but that may take some bribery on my part, or extra credit on his English teacher's part. But who knows, maybe it'll turn up and you can read how he felt about being tongue-tied and then released?
This is long! Be warned!
I think when a person in is a position to serve a woman while she is in labor, that person should have required training every few years, like a recertification, on what it feels like to have a baby. I am not certain how this certification could be obtained, virtual reality plus some sort of pregnancy suit? Actually having a baby? I haven’t figured out the logistics, but I have recently had a recertification of my own, and that is called, my fourth child.
This fourth pregnancy was a surprise. Technically, I got pregnant at a time when no one would be able to get pregnant – only I guess more like I got pregnant at a time I felt I was highly, highly unlikely to get pregnant. My last menstrual period was June 10th. I did not get pregnant until July 13th at the earliest (a time when I was waiting for my period to start), to July 20-ish at the latest; looking at the date he was born now (April 6th), July 13th seems closer to the target date…we were on vacation.
I had lots of irritable contractions combined with irritable baby movements (probably more of the latter versus the former) that would happen around 10 pm to 1 am. The week before labor began I pretty much experienced these every night and I hated them. During these times, I would have waves of panic and anxiety about the reality of actually having to go through the birth process again, and I was always grateful when they were over and I could finally climb into bed.
Friday the 5th of April was pretty normal except I had two very serious bouts of grumpiness that made me feel deeply in touch with someone who was (hopefully!) going to start labor soon -- it was like total,
irrational, not-triggered-by-much anger that switched on so fast, I knew it was something else with some other root than just me being moody.
We had pizza for dinner, and like I had for the last week, I restrained myself from eating too much (“If labor starts tonight I don’t want to be too full,” was my rationale). I had two pieces and then cut myself
off. I took a little nap in bed, which I hoped would actually be “going to bed,” but I woke up at about midnight when I couldn’t ignore the antics of Wild Baby any longer. I watched TV a little and sat on the ball to try and bounce my guy into a calmer state. At 1 am I decided to watch the last episode of Mad Men on Netflix so I would be ready for the new season, with the intention of going to bed after that.
At 2 am, just when I was settling into sleep, I realized I was contracting, and these contractions felt different. They came 5-6 minutes apart, were totally manageable, and lasted about 40 seconds. I tried to sleep, but I was also mindful of needing to recognize true labor so I could get my sister and my mom on the road from two and a half hours away if this really were it.
Everyone was asleep, and as long as I was okay, I felt no need to wake them. I was feeling hungry, so I ate half a lemon Chobani (again, not wanting to eat a lot) in the morning quiet. I did call my sister at 3 am to let her know it was go-time. I labored longer, in the quiet of my living room, tending to small errands and tasks between contractions. At 4 am I woke Brad up to tell him I was in labor. He came out to the living room and asked, “What can I do?” and I immediately answered, “Take the recycling out, it’s driving me crazy and I have contemplated doing it myself for the last 2 hours.” I was hoping he would just lie back down on the couch and snooze a little, but he was up and ready to go.
I thought I would wait to call my midwife until 5 am, but at 4:30 my contractions began to get stronger and longer and closer together, just as they should, and I finally had some show. I phoned Linda to let her know I was in labor. She asked me a few questions, and then said she would be over soon. She lives about 40 minutes from us.
At 6 am, Linda arrived, and things were beginning to feel real. We had our tub set up in the dining room and I was feeling a pull to climb in, but I didn’t want to stall labor if I wasn’t that far along. I asked Linda to check me and she said I was 3 centimeters (“Not quite active labor!” I thought with a little disappointment), about 90% effaced, baby maybe at -2 station? I can’t remember that part. I mentioned I wanted to get in the tub, but I should probably try the shower instead (so gravity could keep helping my labor), and Linda agreed.
I got in the shower, and I really don’t know how long I was in there. The water felt great on my belly and during contractions I would swing from side to side so the water could fan over me. In between contractions I alternated putting my foot up on the side of the shower to lunge, in case my baby was posterior like his two brothers before him. Soon I found I had to vocalize during the contractions. I was in the bathroom alone and I had a lot of time to think. The thought that kept coming back to me was, “All is as it should be,” which was part of a prayer Brad had said earlier in the week when I was feeling really overcome with fear. I rubbed my belly and talked to the baby and told him to hurry, it all felt like it was happening in slow motion.
When I got out of the shower it was about 7 am and Linda checked me again. I was 5 centimeters. I went straight for the tub at that point, dropped my towel, and climbed in.
Jacob and Jonas were awake and had been for a while. Soon Isaac woke up and came straggling out of his bedroom in his standard sleeping attire – undies and a t-shirt. Brad told him we had company and he might want to put clothes on. Before Isaac woke up I remember Brad asking Jonas if he knew why Linda was at our house so early? Jonas admitted he didn’t, and we made a joke about Linda just coming for an early-morning visit. Brad then said, “Your mom is going to have the baby today.”
I looked to the tub for the relief it had brought in the past; with both Isaac and Jonas I got into the Jacuzzi tub at 5ish centimeters and after an hour was at 9ish centimeters, and I was hoping for the same, with the addition of having the baby in the water. After 30 or 40 minutes it seemed the tub wasn’t going to work as I had planned. I had intense pain in my lower abdomen to the point of not being able to sit in a relaxing position, so the whole time I was in the water I had to be on my hands and knees, and I didn’t want to stay that way much longer. Also, Brad started making pancakes in the kitchen.
At about 7:45 my mom, sister Shiela, and her two boys arrived. I headed to my bedroom, finished with the tub. Linda had set things up around the pool in preparation of a water birth, so some rearranging was in order, moving things to my room, getting equipment ready if needed. Once in my room it was just Linda, my mom, Shiela, and I. Brad had the boys going with pancakes and if they were making any noise, I sure didn’t hear it.
I asked someone to bring the piano bench into my room as I was laboring standing up, and I wanted to continue to lunge in case I had a malpositioned baby (which I don’t think he was, but I was a little gun
I think I had Linda check me again, and I think I was 7 centimeters? I am not really clear on this part. I wasn’t ready to sit down, so I continued to labor standing up. Shiela was a super doula – she would squeeze my hips during my contractions, and it brought so much relief! One thing I know about that double-hip squeeze is, it is hard to do when you have to press your arms together at the height of a woman’s hips – you get tired fast, and the laboring woman usually doesn’t want you to stop. If the
mom can get on her hands and knees on the floor, you can squeeze her hips with your own inner knees by straddling over her back, but I didn’t even want to try or offer that as I didn’t feel good in that position.
Over and over, a contraction would come, and I would tell Shiela, “Hips, hips, hips,” and she would start
In reality I have no idea what kind of time span this all happened in, I say over and over, but maybe it was only about 5 contractions? Or maybe it was 10?
I did finally sit on the bed for a bit. I remember taking my watch off and handing it to Shiela with the feeling that this was taking too long. I know for a fact I wasn’t looking at my watch or paying attention to how long it was taking in a linear fashion, but it was more some sort of symbolic resignation that I
would try to just flow with the timetable my body and baby presented even though I am as impatient as they come; in the last picture of me with my watch on, I see the time is 8:55 am.
I decided to visit the toilet. I spent a couple of contractions there, and Shiela was with me. She said my noises changed and she knew I was getting closer. As I sat laboring on the toilet, I opened the shower door next to me and contemplated getting back in -- I was looking for anything to comfort me at this point. Then I decided to see if I could feel anything inside of me, so with one finger about one knuckle in I was shocked to find something! “Is that a head?” I asked. But then I realized it was a bulging bag of water, with a head behind it. After all the years of hearing practitioners say, “I feel a bulging bag of water” (which I did remember Linda saying when she checked me last), I finally knew what that felt like and what it meant. I think I almost gingerly hopped off the toilet at that point, feeling remotivated.
I had one contraction standing up, with Shiela at my hips. Then I had another, and my water exploded all over the floor. There was a little meconium but Linda said it looked old and there was no reason for concern. I finally climbed into bed.
At this point I knew it would soon be time to push. I suddenly had the need for Brad to come and be with me, so I called to him and patted the side of the bed next to me, I just wanted him to sit with me and be near. Shiela was on the other side of me, and Linda was at the foot of the bed. My mom was by the door, ready with the camera, and the boys were in the living room playing Legos (again, I never heard anything from the boys, and there were 5 of them. Actually, I think after they ate pancakes they walked to the park with the dog to play for a bit. But I do know when the baby was born, they were playing Legos in the living room).
I did begin pushing at some point, and Linda said I still had a rim of cervix and she was going to try and move it, and I was totally fine with that because if anything was holding this baby up, I wanted it gone. So for a couple of contractions she worked on that and I guess it went away. I was pushing with such intensity but it felt fruitless. I truly felt nothing moving or changing and I imagined pushing forever
and not making any progress. It was at this point that I remember thinking, “I should have gone to the hospital so I could have the drugs!” (Interestingly enough, when I had my babies in the hospital, I never thought to ask for drugs, because I know if I had had the thought, I would have asked; maybe at home when it is not an option, my brain safely went there, just as a way to cope and vent.) Brad and Shiela were helping me pull my legs back during the pushing. Instead of rolling my chin to my chest, which I have helped women remember who-knows-how-many-times, I arched my head back against my pillows. I also had my body twisted in some way, crooked a little. Linda gently reminded me to get better aligned (with words and heart I could understand at that point), while giving me positive encouragement for this task I had to undertake.
Linda! What else could you want from a midwife? Really, not one thing. As a doula, I get really uncomfortable when people say, “Stacie, I couldn’t have done it without you.” Because, come on, you could have, and you would have. I don’t want anyone’s birth experience to have me entangled as an
essential ingredient; it should be all about the mom and her family, not me. But I have to concede that
when the right person is helping you with the right words and attitude and presence and spirit, it helps make the experience even more amazing, if that is possible. When you have the right midwife, the feeling is similar to being in your own home – the comforts of being in your own bed, using your own bathroom, lunging on your own piano bench – Linda was a natural extension of that. It felt right that she be here, in our home, unobtrusively watching over the birth of our baby.
The support Shiela gave me was also invaluable. Family members don’t always make the best doulas.
Shiela actually has taken a DONA-doula training, and that coupled with what she knows about me (just about everything), made her perfect for the job. She stayed by my side, she gave me verbal encouragement, she wished she could help me more. The truth of the matter is, only the mother can have the baby, but she doesn’t have to be alone while she is having her baby. I will forever treasure that my sister was there to support me during one of the most intense experiences of my life.
Pushing was hard, it was really hard – it seemed harder than it ever had been. I know I was lost in my head, and in there, the storm was raging. Every push came with screams, I hate to say it. I have never screamed with any of my other babies. And also, I cried, which was something new for me. In hindsight I probably could have pushed more effectively keeping those screams to myself, but they just came out. I know the boys didn’t appreciate the noise (although they all later admitted they weren’t scared), I am thankful my neighbors didn’t call the police, and the screaming is not my favorite thing about the birth video – oh well!
After so much pushing (again my sense of time is really off here), finally his head emerged. I felt his head with my hand, but it really didn’t mean anything to me, I just wanted the rest of him out! I pushed for one or two more contractions, maybe three, and then his shoulders popped and he tumbled out on a
wave of fluid and tons of baby poop. Linda helped bring him to my chest, all the while rubbing him and talking to him and watching him carefully. I was so relieved and instantly went from that person experiencing the very hard work of pushing toward a goal, to that mother experiencing her baby
for the first time. I was rubbing him and toweling him off and just taking him in, my body relieved of the burden with the prize in my arms. He was born at 9:42 am.
We all watched as he turned from purple-y to pink. His apgars were 8 and 9. Very soon after birth he wanted to nurse and he seemed to know just what he was doing. The boys peeked in one by one, only appearing mildy interested (we had two 13 year olds, two 11 year olds, and one 7 year old), and then backing out of the room again.
There were lots of things in the birth kit we didn’t use. My perineum didn’t need massaging, which Linda was prepared to do. We didn’t need the bulb syringe to suction the baby’s airways. There are lots of Chux pads that didn’t get used. Everything just happened easily and well, as it so often can when left to its own devices. I am sure the level of comfort and security factored into that for me as well. I am still struck by how ordinary things were and how extraordinary they were. Within a couple hours I was back in my shower. A little while later I threw a load of laundry in. My mom bought donuts and I happily ate three. Our new (nameless) baby was being admired and touched and held by his cousins and brothers and dad and aunt and grandma, while also nursing and visually taking in all he could. In many ways it was like a normal Saturday morning at home, but then, it was also like some rare, high holy day, calm with introspection, peace and joy.
Ezra Christian was 8 pounds, 1 ounce. There was much debate about his name – the other choices were Benjamin, Ruben, and Abraham. He was born on what we in the LDS religion believe to be Christ’s birthday, and also the day the LDS religion was restored; Christian is my brother’s middle name, and we
felt it appropriate for Ezra as well.
Moving through that birth, I didn’t feel alone. I remembered so many births and situations and strong mamas moving gracefully through this work. I could name each and every one that came to mind, but hey, this one’s my story. Just know if I have been with you for the birth of your baby, you were with me during mine in spirit and endurance and admiration. This has brought me so much more appreciation and compassion for birth and women while experiencing it – that’s why I feel there should be something birth workers can do every few years to get back in touch with what it can really be like to physically grow and have a baby. It changes you, and sometimes we forget that.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)