Trio, Triad, Trinity (or “I can’t wait to hear you say ‘THIS SUCKS’!”)

“Imprints” is where I share little snippets, flashbacks, and memories of the holy work I’ve been honored to partake in as a doula.  These are experiences that have imprinted my heart.

Some of these are bits from birth stories or letters to the babies.  Others are the visions that come to me randomly throughout my quiet moments and remind me that we are so succulently alive.  And so perfect.

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On my mind today is my first third-time client, due in June with her third son.  The honor of witnessing someone cross the threshold from maiden to mother – and then walk that journey again two more times – is beyond words.  To have memorized the way she moves through birth, to know her fears before they rise from her, to remember that she will say something like “You guys SUCK!” (which means her baby is almost earth-side)…

This is the story of her first birth.   Her second son was born in the same hospital, with the exact same doctor and nurse.  And me. :)  Her third son will be born in a birth center.

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{From a previously published post in 2008}

One word summary: Instinctive

My lesson: Sometimes giving space and standing out of the way is the hardest and most needed support of all.

My client and her husband labored at home for a few hours until they decided to make the trek across the street to the hospital. On my way to meet them at 11pm, I received a text from my client’s husband: “6cm, 70% effaced!” When I talked to her husband on the phone shortly after that, I could hear my client moaning deeply in the background. Oh, how I love that sound. She was immersed in her work and I could tell she was moving through labor land with a primal ease.

I walked into the dimly lit hospital room to see her walking and swaying, supported by her husband. Even through surges, she was focused and keenly aware, often reminding herself “Down and low, down and low” (her vocalizations) as a surge began. With her husband as rock solid support (a perfect “Bradley Method” partner who walked her softly through relaxation/visualization), she spiraled through her birth journey with an intense confidence and incredible body intuition.

A researcher and scientist by nature, one of my favorite moments came when she told herself between a contraction “I can do this, my body was made to do this, millions of years of evolution have perfected this”. Later, through numerous contractions, we all joined in as she chanted “I can do it, I can do it, I can do it”. I recall chanting the same mantra during Indigo’s birth as well. And then sometimes, after a surge, she would moan “Oh that SUCKED!” with a deep, heaving breath.

My support consisted mostly of verbal encouragement, continual offering of sips of water, a cool washcloth to her head and shoulders, the occasional counter pressure, and a loving, firm touch. I sat in silent awe, watching the two of them in some of their most intimate and vulnerable moments; maintaining a rich and beautiful rhythm to bring their baby into the world. The hospital was quiet and calm, with only one occasional – and extremely supportive – nurse coming in to check vitals. The glow of my LED flicker candles and faint aroma of vanilla filled the room with a sense of serenity.

She kept active, moving, walking, rolling on the birth ball. And within only a few hours after arrival, she repeated the “I’m feeling tons more pressure” phrase two or three times which signaled it was time for me to request the nurse. Up on the bed she moved, and the nurse proclaimed her complete and ready to push. She began to very calmly voice some normal fears and when I told her “Just push past the fear” she said “Just keep telling me that, ok?” And so I did.

After a few directed pushes, she began to hyperventilate and was given an O2 mask to wear for the duration of her labor. After only about twenty minutes of pushing, I immediately looked into my clients face and told her that her baby’s head was out. Then suddenly, I heard the doctor gasp and let out an urgent “OHHH!” I twirled around just in time to see the rest of the baby literally shoot out and slide halfway down to the doctor’s knees, where he was caught upside down. We nervously all laughed as the doctor took a few moments to recuperate before even moving or lifting the baby up. I couldn’t believe the force and momentum that little body had upon exit from his mama!

The cord was cut (by dad, who initially hadn’t wanted to cut the cord but agreed in the moment) and baby was placed on his mama’s chest. Mama immediately cuddled her son, and with beads of sweat on her forehead and an exhilarated clarity in her voice, turned to her husband and grinned gloriously “We did it! Oh my god, we did it!” Minutes later, still high from birth, she looked at me with glossy eyes and said “That was the most amazing thing ever. That wasn’t so bad at all!”

And all that right there? That’s why I love being immersed in the holy birthwork of women.

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One thought on “Trio, Triad, Trinity (or “I can’t wait to hear you say ‘THIS SUCKS’!”)

  1. From first to third, your birth voice has matured to a call for ownership, power, and a strident declaration of your passion. It’s challenging to describe the link between us because it lies in the irrational and mystic, where I don’t spend my time. Instead, I smile knowingly when asked about my doula and start with, “Let me tell you about my ‘team.’” I’m in awe at the work you do and what you make me (us) capable of. Thank you for the gift of you.

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