Wonderfully Made Births

Changing childbirth, one woman at a time.

Archive for natural childbirth

Expectations

I sat in the comfy chair at Starbucks, reserving the other one for the pregnant woman I was to meet along with her boyfriend.  I knew he was a business owner, so when I saw an obviously due-pretty-soon woman walk in beside a pierced, North Face-wearing man, I thought: that’s not them.  She looked model-thin, wore high-heeled boots.  She looked pretty, delicate – I couldn’t see that couple wanting to hire me, a doula.

So when they came over expectantly and introduced themselves as my potential clients, I was ashamed.

Often when I meet with a client for the first time, I form an impression, born of experience and an understanding that not everyone has the same view of childbirth.  At some point during our relationship, I realize that this person will likely be induced, this one will end up with an epidural, that this one is too scared or too tired to have an easy time of it.  I am generally right.  And I don’t hold judgements about those decisions.  It’s not my job.

My job is to be supplier of information, supporter of informed decision making.  I had my births, now it’s their turn.  I take these decisions seriously, and try to ensure that my clients have access to all the information they need.  But I cannot make the choices for them.

But I see, now, that sometimes I will be surprised.  This beautiful, put-together woman in the high-heeled boots had the most amazing labor.  There are times when all outward signs tell you nothing.  When there is nothing but intuition telling you that this is really labor, this is transition, this is time to push.  She was absolutely quiet during her contractions.  She withdrew into herself, grew serious and focused.  Between, she chatted and laughed like the rest of us.  I kept thinking, if she wasn’t dilating they would give her pitocin because this couldn’t be active labor.  But she was six centimeters dilated!

Then, during one contraction, tears began falling down her face in a steady stream.  She didn’t sob, and it didn’t seem like a reaction to pain.  Instead, it seemed laden with emotion, and I wondered if it might be transition.  Then just as suddenly, she was ready to push.

She worked hard during pushing, and leaned heavily on her partner, but she still shone through and was amazingly strong and fearless.

I am constantly amazed by the power of this rite, the strength we are able to find within ourselves even when exhausted and unsure.  And I am contrite in the face of my wrongness, my judgement about what kind of person won’t succumb to fear.  And I am grateful for the lessons.