Today for lunch, my four-year-old and I fixed macaroni and cheese with hot dogs. We like Netflix. And processed cheese. And plastic. Not exactly what you'd call “crunchy” by today's parenting standards.
But, I did hire a doula.
Believe me, I'm still a little surprised myself. After all, doulas are for hippies who spend their days barefoot and pregnant, concocting herbal teas and visualizing their babies into the world while exuding perpetual zen. Right?
Turns out I was completely wrong. But it took me awhile to realize that a doula, while it may be a funny sounding word, is just another way of saying “godsend.”
As my third pregnancy progressed, I admit I didn't give much thought to what sort of birth I "wanted." Truthfully, I always found that idea sort of confounding; the baby would be born no matter what sort of plans I laid, and my personality lends itself more to the “what will be will be” mentality. But for reasons still unknown, I joined a local pregnancy group called Serene Circle, where a handful of pregnant women sat on the floor in a circle once a week discussing completely outrageous things like feelings, fears, and focal points. It turned out to be one of the most wonderful experiences of my life thanks to the women I met and developed friendships with—and it was those women who opened me up to the idea of a doula.
As luck would have it, a friend I'd recently met was a newly-trained doula; the rest, as they say, is history. When delivery day arrived, so did Courtney. She reminded me to relax by placing her hands on my shoulders and gently pushing them down when my instinct was to tense up. She showed my husband how to ease the pressure of back labor by using a tennis ball on the small of my back. She handed me a peanut butter sandwich that tasted like the most gourmet dinner I'd ever eaten at a time when my energy was waning. Most importantly, she (and my equally great birth photographer/doula, Erica) kept us smiling and laughing during a long and sometimes trying day when emotions run high and anxiety could have easily crept in. They were on my team—one that a few months earlier, I hadn't even realized I wanted—and both truly embodied the definition of the word doula: a woman who serves.
When the dust had settled and I cradled my newborn daughter the next morning, their support continued. I'll never forget the way first Courtney's, then Erica's faces glowed as each cuddled and gazed at Felicity, brimming with almost as much pride I was at the tiny perfection of her being. Being there as life begins forms a deep, unbreakable bond—one I'm so thankful to have stumbled into sharing.
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