The past few days have been full of emotion for me. As you (may) know, I recently became a Doula. I have been teaching Hypnobirthing for almost 2 years, so I decided to expand my services. I really want to be with my Moms in their labors as both support and advocate. My first client (we'll call her Ann) was due on March 22. Most first time moms go an average of 41.5 weeks, so I figured I was safe that she wouldn't need me during Sectionals.
Oh Universe. How funny you are!
She texted me on Thursday night at midnight saying she was having contractions. The first thing I thought was, "Oh no! I don't have my doula bag all packed!" So I got up and got some clothes and food ready in case I needed to jet out the door in the middle of the night. I tossed and turned most of the night waking up at 7am to text her to see what was up.
Ann sounded like she was still in Early labor (which could go on for a while) so I got up, got the kids ready and sent them off to Preschool. This was my big rest day before Sectionals, and I didn't really think I would just be laying around all day anyway. I had a private class to teach in the morning, last minute running around to do, etc. So "rest" was a bit iffy.
At 11am after my private, I called Ann's sister to check in. She said Ann was resting but still having irregular contractions. We decided it was time to head over to the Birthing Center since it was Friday- Spring Break and SXSW traffic was already getting bad!
As I was gathering my things, I began to feel the enormity of this situation I was about to enter. I was about to be a part of a huge, life-changing experience in this woman's life. I could go on and on about the experience of childbirth. You emerge as a different person after having a baby. It is a rite of passage that women before you have been going through since the dawn of time.
Here is a quote that sums it up quite nicely:
"The moment a child is born, a mother is born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother. Never. A mother is something absolutely new." ---Rajneesh
I have been through two births myself. But watching another woman go through this process was something completely different. It was amazing. It was heart-breaking. It was beautiful. It was transformative.
When I arrived, Ann was sitting on a chair moaning. Not in a painful way, but in a good way. Birth is a primitive act and the key to a successful natural birth is to surrender to that primitive part of yourself. I'm not going to re-enact the entire thing, but it was a cooperative effort on the part of all three of us. Her husband would support her for a while then I would take over. Sometimes we would both lay hands on her to help her relax. It was hard for me to know when to back off. I definitely didn't want to be in the way of their intimacy. Birth is very intimate, and you can see a stronger bond form between husband and wife in the process of labor.
As I looked at my watch, I realized I was missing the packet pickup for Sectionals. It was 6pm. But it really didn't matter. More on that later. I was content to be where I was and I was focused on the present.
Ann began to push around 6:45. The next 30 minutes were by far the most intense and miraculous part of the whole birth. I am not a shy person so I watched in amazement as she pushed that baby out!! I got to see the first bits of head as it emerged with each contraction then went back in a bit. 2 steps forward, 1 step back. The baby's head slowly began to crown- there was so much hair on his little head! Ann was doing great. This is by far the most intense part of labor. The head emerged- we could see his little ear, then his cheek. Finally the rest of his body slipped out and holy shit! there was a baby!
The midwife placed him on Ann's chest covered by a towel. They didn't know the sex of the baby, and I was so worried that I was going to spoil it by accident! I didn't even see the "parts" since the towel was over it. But of course I was like "did you look?!" "what is it?!"
It was a boy! A beautiful little boy.
I am so grateful and honored that I got to be a part of this birth. I still can't even put into words what it was like to be there, to be part of it, and to witness this amazing feat of strength and beauty that was so transformative for this woman. I look forward to the next birth with bated breath. I hope I can continue to serve women in this way. To be a calming presence. To be a loving guide, and to be of humble assistance to their Partner as well.
And that was just on Friday!!
Next up, Sectionals.... a whole other kind of intensity!