My journey into the childbirth and doula world began during my pregnancy with my now almost 17 year old. I knew very little about growing and birthing a baby. I didn’t even know that midwives were still a thing. I had just moved and didn’t know which OBGYN I should choose or what criteria I should consider when choosing the right doctor. I ran my finger down the OBGYN column in the yellow pages, dialled the number to the office where my finger stopped, but misdialled and instead reached Mary, the midwife. Mary talked to me on the phone that day for an hour and a half and immediately, I knew who was going to catch my baby.
I began going to all the prenatal appointments, followed Mary’s instructions and suggestions, and thought that if I did all these things everything would work out perfectly. I went to the local breastfeeding group, improved my eating habits, read the books and attended a childbirth class. I was convinced all this work and lifestyle change was enough.
Finally, the big day arrived. I went into labour at my baby shower, finished up with our guests and went home to rest. Night came. I silently breathed through contractions until well after sunrise. I was terrified and decided it was time to go to the hospital. Only 1 cm dilated, they sent me back home to labour some more. My mother, my daughter’s father and his parents were with me timing contractions and talking, waiting to go back to the hospital. After a while we drove back over. I was 4 cm dilated and Mary agreed it was best to stay. They set me up in a room lit with florescent lighting, started the fetal monitor they insisted on using 20 minutes of every hour and inserted an IV. This alone made it extremely difficult to get up out of bed and move the way my body needed. I was tired. They would not allow me to eat and nurses came and went.
I felt completely prepared when labour started but soon realised that I was not prepared for much of what was happening. I was exhausted and medical staff started threatening that if things don’t move along, I would end up with a c-section. My labour stalled. I felt powerless and out of control. Something I kept thinking over and over was since I found Mary the way I did, by misdialling the number, she was the perfect birth attendant for me and she would be able to get me through. I put a great deal of responsibility and weight on her and did not take control of my body, my own choices and experience.
I believe the reason I did not trust myself is because I didn’t feel I had the primordial wisdom and skill, the internal knowing that labouring women instinctively have. I hadn’t even considered this a possibility. I figured whatever Mary said, I would do. I didn’t trust myself and my body’s ability to birth my baby. By 23 hours I asked for an epidural and I was able to rest for a while. After a few more hours I started to push and another four hours later, Aynsleigh was born. Right before that last push, Mary told me that if I don’t get her out during the next contraction, they would start preparing for a c-section. That was not necessary in the end and my beautiful, healthy baby girl entered the world.
I have spent a lot of time over the years thinking about that story, blaming myself for some of the choices I made, for things I didn’t do, for things I “should have” done differently. I have learned that birthing a child is a vulnerable, raw, emotional time for women. Fears and things we don’t like about ourselves often come up during childbirth. They come up for a reason – to mirror back to us that which needs our attention. It’s the raw material for our personal, deep inner journeys. These are things we need to look at to clear and heal, or they might require our embrace, for us to hold them near. Maybe it’s something to simply accept and not change at all. Feeling through these fears and emotions, allowing our power as women to come forth is immensely healing. This process grows us into who we become as women, as mothers. Trusting ourselves and our body’s ability to birth a child is an empowering process that when embraced has the potential to change us, our families and has a ripple effect into the world.
I support pregnant women on their journeys as they uncover and process fear and old wounds. I support women as they tap into the wisdom of the ancients, of those who have birthed before, the wisdom of their own bodies and that of the trees of the forest. If you – have lost a pregnancy, are thinking about having a baby, pregnant with your first, or subsequent babies – are called to this work and support as you embark on your journey, please connect with me. We can begin a conversation so you can feel into whether this work is in alignment for you. Much of the support I offer can be done remotely. If you are looking for a doula, my practice is in the Fredericksburg, VA area.