I love birth! I love to hear birth stories. I love being present at births. I love the miracle of labor and delivery. When you understand the intricacies of how God designed for the baby to move through the pelvis due to contractions, make the necessary turns, and arrive safely into the world outside the womb, very few things are as awe inspiring. If we met at a coffee shop, I would love to hear your birth stories over a cup of coffee. If I had been born 100 years ago, I would have loved to be the neighborhood midwife, who was called to assist the women in the village having their babies. You get the idea! So when my daughter asked me to be present at her first birth, I was beyond ecstatic. I am a firm believer in extra support people being present at a birth, especially if a woman plans on a natural labor and delivery. People hire women called doulas to give guidance and support to a laboring woman.
Our personal birth experiences include 8 home births, 1 with an MD, and 6 with midwives: 3 with a lay midwife, 4 with Nurse midwives, and 3 hospital births. For Peter’s birth, #10 in line, the midwife was late and Todd was my midwife until Martha and Kay arrived!! At our first home births, we had extra support people there, as well as my mom at two, close friends, folks helping with other kids, etc. The beauty of home birth is that you can have whoever you CHOOSE to be there! At the hospital you are at the mercy of a cranky nurse or unsupportive comments being thrown around. Thankfully, most hospitals are catering to the desires of women wanting more family-centered and natural birth options. Lactation consultants are on staff of every hospital, and there seems to be a general sense of support of parent’s wishes for non-interventive births.
But when your daughter asks you to be at her birth and act as a doula, it really is amazing and beyond anything you can imagine. I have had the privilege to attend all 3 of my daughter Mary’s births. As you watch your daughter go through pregnancy, the normal nausea, mood swings, and food cravings you offer help as much as possible. You give encouragement, keep her focus positive, as everyone anticipates the Big Day! For 2 weeks before the birth, you have your phone beside your bed, plan your schedule around possibly having to attend her birth, and adrenaline is pumping when you get that call at 3:30 am that says, “Mom its time!” You pray that you will be the perfect support person that she and her husband will need. You never know what you will encounter so you have to be the epitome of peace and calm as you enter the birth room and offer quiet reassurance to her and her husband.
David was amazing with Mary, he offered tender words, rubbed her back as needed, took her to the bathroom and kept her walking as much as possible. Early labor mostly had me watching her, taking my cues from her. As Mom, I was so proud to watch my daughter enter the ranks of laboring mom: handling each contraction with strength and confidence. As labor progressed and the intensity ratcheted up, I was able to encourage her to take water to stay hydrated, change her positions, breathe with her as David rubbed her back (an extra support person is especially valuable if mom is having back labor, one can rub her back and one can breathe with her). In birth circles, we used to say that every extra support person was worth a dose of Demerol!
At one point, and it happened at all 3 of her births I attended, my roles became very defined as doula. During transition, the time when labor is the most intense going from 7 cm to 10 cm, Mary wanted to revert to being my daughter by saying “Mom” to me. In other words, she was asking me to help her as a mother and take away her discomfort. This is a common response since I was present, and is no reflection on Mary’s ability to handle labor. All children turn to Mom for help in tough situations. And labor is tough! Since she wanted a natural labor and delivery, if I were to start babying her or entering into her overwhelm as a mom, she probably would have ended up with an epidural and more. But in that moment, Jan as doula kicked in, I was able to have her look me in the face, I told her she can do this hard thing, she is GOING to do this hard thing, her body was working perfectly as it was designed to be, that she’s making fabulous progress and that she IS very close to being able to see her baby! That was what she needed at that momen:, to rise up, muster her strength, and finish well, supported by her husband and her Mama Doula! I cannot tell you the pride it feels as a Mom to see your strong daughter deliver your grandchild. The relief, tears, and joy that come when that little one is placed on Mama’s belly, and the circle of life is continued. We pray silent prayers of thanksgiving, that God delivered her and baby safely. When Riley Norma was born two weeks ago, we anointed her head with Sacred Frankincense as David committed her to our heavenly Father to keep His hand of grace upon her life forever. It was quiet, peaceful, and little Riley was opening her eyes to the world, seeing Mom and Dad for the first time after 9 mos of hearing their voices. Moments like this are to be pondered in the heart, taking in the scene and thanking God for the miracle of life!
“May you live to see your children’s children, peace be upon Israel” Psalm 128:6
Great Grandma Norma, Nini Jan, Mama Mary, and sweet Penelope, big sister to Riley Norma!