I had the most AMAZING experience two days ago. It tested my strength, made me weep, and ignited a confidence in myself that I haven't seen in years.
Becoming a birth doula is never something I imagined I'd be doing as a career or hobby. For those who aren't familiar with the term, a doula is a woman who provides emotional, physical, and mental support to a mother during and after the birth of her baby. She is a non-medical advocate for that woman; a source of knowledge, pillar of strength, and experienced in this sacred journey towards motherhood.
I think I first wanted to become a doula because I had had 3 wonderful natural births with my sons. Each one was born with no medical intervention or drugs---coming into the world as nature intended. Though part of me wanted all women to experience the wonderful birth I had , my ego was determined to show them how to have "the best birth".
Notice I said THE best birth, not THEIR best birth.
I was riding high on my holistic horse...wanting to shove my ideals and values down their throats. I tricked myself into thinking I was tolerant of any decision the mother made regarding HER birth. But the truth was...I had a MAJOR chip on my shoulder.
From the beginning I believed each birth I attended would go just the way I planned: no drugs, no surgery, no problem.
Boy, was I f-ing wrong.
After attending my first birth (which happened to be with a friend I had since high school) I felt upset and deflated that things did not go according to my plan, and ended in a c-section. Even though she labored like a champ I felt like I had let her down.
Baby #2 I just KNEW would be born naturally. Her mommy had a negative birthing experience with her first child and I was determined to not let that happen again. After hours of pushing, her baby was also born via c-section.
At this point I was pissed. Why couldn't these women have the labor I envisioned for them?
Baby #3 I won't even count since the momma was a seasoned pro---pushing out her 9th child, at home, 5 minutes before I arrived. I was bummed about missing it, but happy that the mom got to have her first water birth.
Now we come to baby #4. This mom I felt a connection with. Her family was so supportive, her husband was by her side every moment and she was attempting to have her first baby at home...in the same house her sisters were born in. It was a long labor, but with 2 midwives on hand I just knew I was going to be able to witness my first natural birth.
I stayed by my clients side--- massaging her, encouraging her, and breathing with her until the wee hours of the morning. But after labor stalled and many failed attempts to get it going she was forced to transfer to the hospital where it was determined, because of the position of the baby, she would need surgery too.
With each delivery I was so tied to the "perfect process" instead on focusing on the perfect outcome---a healthy mom and baby. Do I feel that medical intervention is used FAR to often among pregnant women...yes. Do I feel like some of the most educated and prepared women lose sight of their own intuition and let doctors make decisions for them...yes. BUT, through this process I have learned to respect their decisions and support their path---whatever it may be.
With that attitude in mind I got called in to the hospital Monday night with my client who was a first time mom. She was under a lot of emotional strain due to personal issues, so I knew my job would be to ease her doubt and fears so that she could deliver her baby.
It was a LONG process. For nearly 24 hours she labored on little sleep. About 2/3's of the way in she decided on having an epidural to get some relief and some rest. I offered the option of the birthing tub, but I could see in her eyes the epidural was what she needed.
Then after regaining her strength it was time to push.
Holy shit, I'd never gotten to this point before! She was pushing and the baby was ACTUALLY going to come out. As I saw his tiny head peek out into the world this sense of awe and amazement washed over me. I had seen a million and one birth videos, but this was NOT the same thing.
As her best friend, partner, and I cheered her on I felt myself almost lose it from the pure energy that filled the room. I knew I had to hold it together for my client. I was about to witness a miracle.
With each moment and each push I saw the power and magic that women possess. I let go of my ego's wish to control and surrendered to the moment.
I was sweating, breathing heavily and tightening my own stomach each time that momma mustered every ounce of energy she had to bring her baby into the world. As we rallied around her, with a team of nurses I was brought to uncontrollable tears the moment her body gave way to a perfect and healthy baby boy.
My heart sang.
I never imagined I would have such overwhelming emotions for someone I barely knew. But I did.
I've realized that each of these births was a lesson for me. I needed to learn that I am supposed to be helping these women achieve THEIR best birth, not recreate mine. I learned that just because I had 3 babies doesn't mean I know everything. I learned it is my job to SERVE these women, not push my own ideals or feelings onto them. Most importantly I learned I am a really great doula and that I am meant to do this work.
I am empowered by these women, and grateful to have been a part of their beautiful journey towards motherhood.
What is your most recent life lesson?
Humbled in Granolaville,