I knew before I was even pregnant that I wanted a doula at the birth of my child. I observed my sisters’ experiences with doulas and wondered why anyone, if they could afford one, would opt not to have a doula. While our doula gave me what I expected: support, gentle guidance, and confidence in myself during birth, she also wrote us a letter, the story of Mae’s birth, and I think a doula is worth having just for this. She is a living witness to your birth, both an outsider and an insider of that experience. She is removed enough, not the mother, father, or family, to really observe the birth, but she is also right there in it with you. I love to read her letter. It always makes me feel strong, and during those difficult first months, it reminded me about what really happened during Mae’s birth, and I didn’t allow all the “what ifs” to take over.
I meant to post this on Mae’s first birthday, but well, you know, things are busy with a toddler running around. So here are a few excerpts from our doula’s letter. I’m so thankful for it and her.
[I’ve taken a lot out in between paragraphs. These are just small portions. She documented all the details.]
Dear Sweet Mae,
It was early in the morning on Friday, February 14 when your Mommy realized you were on your way. She started feeling the belly squeezes the night before around 9 PM, but they didn’t get strong until the middle of the night, when she and your Daddy decided it was for sure that labor was starting and you would be coming soon. It was about two weeks earlier than your expected due date!…
Your Mommy tried several positions: On the birth ball, on the bed and then her favorite seemed to be on the toilet. The aches in her back were strong and by 11 AM the contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes and were lasting about 1:20 sec. The only things that seemed to help her back were pressure and heat…LOTS of heat! Your Daddy and I would take turns rubbing or running to the microwave to heat the warm pack they had brought with them.
Around 11:45 we decided that getting in the shower and letting the hot water shower her back would be helpful. Your Daddy was such a great support that he got into the shower too and helped Mommy through each contraction. They were such a wonderful team and I could see what a great support your Daddy was to her…
For the next few hours your Mommy worked really hard. She was feeling a lot of pressure and so we tried lots of position changes to try and keep her as comfortable as possible. She was a HARD worker and never made any comment on the labor being difficult, she just kept on going! We got her on the bed, kneeling and leaning over the back. We tried the birth ball, the toilet, and then back in the shower. Her back was very uncomfortable but she was so strong through it all and your Daddy was such a wonderful support to her, always by her side and ready for whatever she needed…
Many paragraphs later…..
It wasn’t too much longer, at 12:45 AM that your Mommy was fully dilated to 10 cm and was able to begin pushing! This meant that you would soon be here for her to hold and love. She pushed on the bed and then moved to where she seemed most comfortable, the toilet, and then back to the bed again. Your Mommy is a real woman of strength and determination. She pushed and pushed with all her might but your head was not coming in the best position for birth. At 2:00 AM Cheryl had come to the conclusion that birthing you in this way would probably not be possible. She discussed this with your Mommy and Daddy and it was decided that you would come into this world another way, by Cesarian section, an operation on Mommy’s uterus that would bring you out another way. Although this was difficult to hear and a tough decision to make your parents decided that this would be ok, they looked forward to meeting you now!
Little Mae, I want you to know that you are a gift and a blessing to your parents. Your mother and father loved you long before your actual birth day, which was evident in all the purposeful choices they made in pregnancy and for your birth. Your mother was a vision of strength and a true birthing rock star. She NEVER gave up and made informed choices along the way. And your Daddy was right there with her, encouraging her every step of the way. So, sweet Mae, although you are a true gift to your parents I hope you will always know what a precious gift they are to YOU. You have been blessed with two AMAZING parents whose love for each other was evident every step of the way. I hope you will always treasure them and know they are your shining stars that will guide you through life.