Doula Diaries: Wednesday July 13, 2016
Ever wonder what it's like to be a doula with a family? I'll tell ya! Welcome to my doula life! My main characters are Mike, my superhero of a husband and father to our three children; Jace, my 11 year old guitar-playing, x-box loving, sharp-witted son; Kaia, my 8 year old sunshine daughter; and Ty, my 23-month old whirlwind of a toddler. And then there's me! I've been doulaing since 2011 and have attended more than 65 births to date and have taught over 100 couples in my childbirth classes. This is my full-time gig! With three children and a doula business, private and group childbirth education classes, evening sports and afterschool homework, staying at home as a full-time mom and also creating space for my own health and fitness, there is, as they say, never a dull moment.
Huge news for our biggest little...Jace decided to CUT HIS HAIR. It's been long for a long time, a part of his budding rocker persona. I certainly don't care what he does with his hair; it's his head and besides, he is so stinkin' handsome it doesn't matter what he does with his hair. Not to mention, who cares what his hair is doing, when he has so many amazing things happening on the inside! It is interesting to note, however, that his decision to cut his hair came directly from the fact that he will be starting middle school in 3 short weeks. He's in a transition, an in-between space, leaving behind pieces of himself that no longer fit quite right and making space for a new Jace. Transition. It's something that, as a birth doula, I know intimately. It's typically the most difficult stage, the shortest stage, and one that no one can adequately prepare you for until you go through it yourself.
I sit on a precipice of transition myself, preparing my body and my mind for the early hours of tomorrow morning, when a beautiful soul will be ushered through the perfect vessel of her mother's body via cesarean birth. While I've been on-call for weeks, at the ready and never far from my phone or home, it's not often that I know exactly when I'll be going to a birth. This is an exception, and it offers a unique opportunity for reflection as a birth doula.
Cesareans happen for such a wide variety of reasons, varying from emergency medical scenarios, baby's presentation, pre-planned due to mother or baby's risk factors, and so many more. For whatever reason, tomorrow morning holds the opportunity to witness new life, and tonight holds space for a transition of sorts.
I've gotten to know the birthing mother over the past few months and weeks, and I hold her in a very special corner of my heart. I know tomorrow won't be easy. I know tomorrow will also be joyous, and at the same time will contain moments of disappointment, and excitement, and moments full of doubts as well as uncertainties. I know this mother is strong and smart. I'm thankful to be there for this couple. As I said to her last night, had she not gotten a doula and sought out her birth team very mindfully, she would always have had that question, what if? Tomorrow, she knows. She knows she has done the very best she could and has the very best support as she welcomes her newborn from a place of strength and clarity. I tell my clients early on that it is not about the outcome of their birth, but how they come to make decisions, use their voice, work with their partner and what they learn about themselves in the process. These are the facets of birth that really matter, and they cannot be learned from unless mothers are given the space to reflect on their journey. And these are the kinds of life lessons that cannot be rushed along. For most, it's not a cesarean birth that is feared or traumatic; but the lack of support and compassion and the lack of regard for emotional consideration that birthing mothers not only deserve but require that often leads to feelings of trauma, guilt or self-blame. I've told every mother I work with that I will never judge them if they have a cesarean, will never judge them for making a mindful decision no matter what decision that may be. These are the moments of transition, becoming a mother.
As Ty, my last baby of my own, continues to get older by the second, one thought is streaming through my mind in this moment as I prepare my birth bag with essential oils, flameless candles and mother's milk tea: the world is making space for a new soul's arrival, and the world will be forever changed. What an enormous time of transition! It can't be pinpointed to a specific moment but rather encompasses a time in space. I recently had a mother point out to me that her children were adopted and even though she didn't experience transition in labor, there was a definite transitory period into becoming a mother. She asked if I had heard of an adoption doula. Well, I hadn't but don't you think that's a beautiful idea? What a way to honor this path to motherhood, and such a necessary space to fill. Our emotions matter, folks, and they require being witnessed.
Our whole world is comprised of transitions, some holding bigger spaces than others. It's 7:15 at night, the kids are getting ready for bed and I've cleaned up the kitchen after dinner. I've got to be at work at 5:30am. I just pre-made the coffee so it's ready for my bleary eyes to fumble for the "on" button pre-dawn. Running through my mind are the lyrics from Closing Time, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." Welcoming a baby feels a lot like a new beginning that can only come from the end of a previous new beginning. It's a beautiful, difficult journey.
P.S. Stay tuned for the next edition of The Doula Diaries, and if you enjoyed this one, leave me a comment below or on my facebook page!
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