Each birth teaches me something new.
Just when I feel like I have things figured out, I gain a new perspective, overcome a new challenge, witness a new event unfold; and again I am left in wonder at the miracle of birth.
Families are always teaching me. They hire me to guide them through their birth, but they have no idea how much I learn from them. I am constantly surprised and in awe of their goals and accomplishments. I cry with them in joy, worry and grief. And I am always excited for the next birth and how it will unfold…
Women constantly surprise me and leave me in awe. Someone I expect to behave one way in labour behaves completely different. One moment they have nothing left and have given up, yet the next they have a surge of energy from deep within, and push their babies into the world. Some hold so tightly to their ideal birth that they weep when labour takes them on another path; while others are happy to have few expectations, and are surprised by the strength they find within themselves.
And witnessing men become fathers is wondrous in itself. Physically and emotionally involved in the birth; sympathizing with their partner’s pain but completely unable to control or change it. Struggling between their own worry over the woman they love and the baby they are so anxious to meet. I’ve seen men endure a tightly squeezed hand, perform counter pressure and hip squeezes for hours on end; leave the room for a well earned break, only to be rushed back by a call from their doula when labour kicks into high gear (three times this happened in the past year!!!); pushed away by the women they love one moment, and held onto tightly the next. And when they see their baby for the first time, they are all overcome with joy. I’ve never seen men smile so brightly as when they see their child for the first time
With each birth story I write to a family, I try to incorporate the insight I’ve gained from each of them. Here are some of my lessons of the past year….
Your birth is one I will always cherish for it’s natural beauty, the chance to witness a combination of humour, tenderness and belief unfold before my eyes.
Your parents taught me how vision, preparation, focused determination, love of life and humour combine to create the foundation for empowered birth.
Your birth was a true Christmas gift for all of us, and will be remembered forever.
Your mom was amazing throughout. It was a joy to be with her as she gave birth. She proudly said “I did it with no meds”. Your dad was an amazing support to your mom. You are truly blessed to have such loving parents
Your birth was truly amazing to witness. It is rare to see women like your mother who trust their bodies deeply, accept the process of birth calmly, and have a truly awesome birth. Your mom smiled through her labour, and transferred that joy to you as she gave birth.
Your mother’s strength and endurance demonstrated for me the tremendous power we hold as women in our ability to birth.
It was a beautiful scene witness, such a wonderful, happy family all piled into bed falling in love with you for the first time.
Your mom was amazing, saying “this is exactly where I wanted to get to” “I am so proud of myself”, “That was so intense” “that was exactly what I wanted”. Your dad was quiet after your birth, but was obviously in awe of the experience, of your mom's endurance, and of your first breaths in this life.
Your mom taught me how instinct and trust combine to make birth an empowering, life changing experience.
And as I wrote in my first birth story as an “official doula”:
Thank you … for allowing me to witness the beauty and power of birth, family and love. You are all truly amazing and beautiful.
Among many challenges faced in a doula career, one of the most practical is how to carry your birth ball (common exercise ball) to prenatal appointments and a birth.
Imagine a night in Edmonton in late January. You arrive at the hospital to meet your labouring client somewhere around midnight. You are lucky enough to find a free parking stall near the hospital, and now have to manoeuvre yourself, (maybe a coffee to keep you awake for the night!), your bag of supplies, and a 65cm inflated exercise ball across the icy and snow packed parking lot. Once you’ve accomplished that feat, you get through security, go down a narrow hallway, into an elevator and up three floors. You attempt to look professional as you approach the nurses station and ask what room your client is in. This is a challenge with an exercise ball balanced under your arm and over your hip; all the while, struggling not to drop it so it stays clean for your client to use.
Hence the solution you see above. I have put my sewing skills to good use and created a tote bag for an exercise ball. It has a draw string at one end to hold your ball securely, while the other end has a handle so you can easily drape it over your shoulder. It is made of washable fabric, so you can either use it solely as a tote or as a cover while your ball is in use. It is super stretchy spandex material that can stretch over any size ball.
I am hoping to make a few more of these for my doula colleagues so please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order. Colours will vary, and samples are available upon request
Cost $40 with free delivery within Edmonton and Sherwood Park.
Send me an email for colour samples or to place an order
If you are still wondering what a ball would possibly be used for.. check out the link for some ideas!
People ask me this question all the time... I often launch into the story of witnessing my first birth (thanks Steph and Zoey... you changed the course of my life), or my own birth stories in hospital and at home, or how the midwifery model of care based on informed consent appealed to me. I tell them that I saw too many sad stories as a social worker and I was ready for a career change.
But these are the answers of logic. The true answer is in my heart.
While I answer their question, I also wonder, how could I not be a doula? Bearing witness to one of the most beautiful moments in life; sharing a life changing event with people you barely know. What is not to love? How can one not become addicted to such an event and want nothing more than to bear witness over and over again.
Sure the hours sometimes suck, and yes my family life gets put on hold as I rush out to a birth. There are bodily fluids to contend with, and sleepless nights. But nothing compares with the cry of joy from a mother, tears in a father’s eyes, and the dark staring gaze of a brand new baby.