Dare I Doula?

The healing from my surprise Caesarean Birth has begun to come full circle. I know now why Kaia’s birth was a gift to the world: so I could become impassioned about gentle birth, so I could speak on behalf of C-birth Mamas, home birth Mamas, and VBAC Mamas all at once. So I could become a doula, a vessel for encouraging healing and peace during births. A witness during a women’s most transformative, mysterious, empowering moments. A messenger for the babies, who come to us after a miraculous journey, who come to us with a story. Of course, I am one of so many. I hold no secret power and do not profess to be a necessary piece to the great puzzle of birth. I am a student and know that every birth, every mother, every child will teach me a new lesson. With these lessons, I am reborn into the Great Mother. Love, love, love.

I’ve swiftly learned that Birth is not an event. It is a process, to be honored for every single moment…the surges, the water, the overwhelming sensations, the tightening and the release, the pushing, the fire, the doubt and the assuredness, the waiting, the screaming and moaning and laughing and roaring, the rawness and the sensuality, the stillness and the motion. I soak in it’s complexity. I am imprinted.

One birth taught me that slow, hushed breathing with closed eyes can lead to surprisingly adamant resolve. The other has taught me that unleashed fear, wavering determination, and pain to the edge of every nerve can accomplish the same.

I dreamed of a birth last night, of a current client due next month. While laboring at home before heading to the hospital, she suddenly began to bear down with the overwhelming urge to push. She became wild, overpowered by the sensation. Her limbs flailed as I rushed to hold her and look into her eyes, covered by her tumbling dark curls. “Look at me”, I firmly begged, “Look into my eyes”. She did. We nodded and she institutively squatted with her powerful, trembling legs. Between them I saw the baby’s head, which seemed to barrel towards us. Suddenly, I knew I had to do this and I was terrified.

Supporting her arms I said “Okay, pant, blow, let’s do this gently, oh so gently”. She nodded and exhaled softly. The baby descended slowly and her center stretched and expanded like a perfect, red hibiscus after a rain. I supported her perineum with my hands, as I’d seen my midwife do weeks prior. “Oh, soooo good!”, I smiled as I leaned closer towards her face. I remember the distinct two-steps-forward/one-step-back of the baby’s head as it traveled through the birth canal. My nerves trembled. And like that the baby’s head emerged. “Okay, blow, blow, blow”. I removed mucus from his passages and wiped his face. I directed her to work with him, let herself gently birth the rest of his body.

I watched the baby slide out, shoulders then belly and legs, turning as I guided him with my hands. We rejoiced and I still recall my tears as I said “Look at him, he is so beautiful”. He wasn’t breathing and I rubbed his body vigorously to stimulate a breath. “He’ll breathe, he’ll breathe, just give him a minute.” His parents became worried and I cringed inside my own body, digging for hope. I told myself that had to believe it, as I continued to rub him. He cried out. A lusty cry. Relief! He looked just like his father as I laid him upon his Mama’s bare chest.

I held up the cord, still pulsing with life and blood, and said “Look how amazing this is, still connected to both of you, providing life”. I urged her to nurse as soon as she felt comfortable and directed others in attendance to get her some fluids, a bite to eat. And then I woke up.

I was exhausted. I am sure that this was just an act of my subconscious, going over the books I’d recently read on what to do in an emergency. But I’ll leave catching the babies up to the midwives. It was too intense. Beautiful, but intense.

Needless to say, I am delighted to have the privilege of attending this client’s birth. I always told my friends that I don’t think I’d be a good doula because I’d have a hell of a hard time attending a hospital birth. I wanted to fight it, as I’ve fought for so much since Kaia’s birth. My first hospital birth, a month ago, was shockingly beautiful and peaceful. And now this client, a hospital birth with the intention of an epidural… and I cannot wait to simply support her on her journey. And while homebirth is my passion, while I hope to attend mostly homebirths as a doula, and while I’ll continue to fight tool and nail to spread the truth about natural birth, I know that I have a place in the conventional world of birth…for now, at least.

I have so much to learn. I have healing to finish. I have women, waiting to show me how they are transformed by birth in every tiny way, giving me treasured insights. And when my client said recently, and with an air of surprise, that the birth process is “fantastic!”, I saw her transform before my eyes.

The mystery begins.

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