I sat down to write this blog post more times than I can count; life with a newborn, man! I’m coming around to the end of my fourth trimester now, it’s been almost ten weeks since we welcomed our son into this world. The journey of my pregnancy with him, and my hopes surrounding his delivery, were meant to be a healing experience following the delivery of my first born. You see, four years ago, I experienced a pretty emotionally traumatic birth experience. It took me 18 months to recover emotionally and to feel like myself again. They say a woman never forgets how she is made to feel the day she gives birth to a child. Let me tell you, that is absolutely 100% true.
Every year around my first son’s birthday, I find myself thinking back to the day he was born, but this year, being pregnant with our second child, I found myself making prayers to have a beautiful, blissful birth experience that would help me heal and move on from my initial experience.
WIth my first pregnancy, I found an OBGYN that I thought was fully supportive of my wishes for a natural, unmedicated birth experience. Everything was going really well during our visits. Fast forward 8 months, and I came to the rude awakening that my OBGYN, was not in fact, supportive, and had booked an induction and submitted insurance approval for a “super cesarean section”, behind my back. When I spoke to her about it, she got extremely defensive, and actually yelled at me, which prompted me to immediately start looking for another provider. But, at 8.5 months pregnant, as you can imagine, it was very difficult to establish a fully trusting relationship with any provider.
The stress and worry about having to change providers, and hospitals, last minute put me in an emotional state of turmoil. I couldn’t shake the feeling of being deceived, and had a hard time trusting anyone. Needless to say, my due date, came and went.. and nothing. It wasn’t till 42 weeks and 3 days that something finally happened, and when it was time to go, I found myself being cared for by a doctor I never met before, who immediately wanted to cut me open only because I was so “over due”. I was put on continuous electronic monitoring, two nurses were mandated to stay in my room at all times and literally “watched me” every single second, taking notes and making little eye contact just chatting away with each other. It was like being inside a cage in a zoo. Fast forward twelve hours, and after a failed pitocin induction, I ended up undergoing a cesarean section.
I never spoke openly about my first birth story, which is part of the reason why I believe healing took a long time to come around. There is so much power in sharing your birth story, specially when it falls on empathetic ears.
I knew I wanted things to be different the second time around. When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I committed to preparing myself, my mind and my body for all the work coming up ahead of me. I read everything I could get my hands on about VBACs (Vaginal Birth After C-section) I listened to podcasts, I remained active and fit, ate super healthy, prayed and meditated often. I even booked myself in for some physiotherapy and chiropractic sessions to make sure I was properly aligned. I took up yoga and fell madly in love with the practice. I knew, straight off, that I wanted to hire a doula, and began my search really early on in my pregnancy. I already had the incredible support of my husband and my mother by my side, two people that I couldn’t see myself going on this journey without, my rocks and my loves. Hiring a doula would round up and complete my birth support team. Years of birth photography and being involved in the world of birth and birthing have showed me that pregnancies and deliveries that are supported by doulas have a higher level of satisfaction and a lower level of intervention and cesarean sections. I FULLY believe that, and that was key for me; I wanted to do my best to avoid another c-section as much as possible. I understood, however, that there are no guarantees in birth, but that if I did end up with another c-section, I needed to be emotionally okay with that decision. Hiring a doula was truly the best service I ever did myself and my baby.
A birth doula is a guardian angel, there to assist a laboring mom, making her feel safe, supported, heard; things I didn’t experience with my first birth. I knew deep down inside that had I had a doula during my first labor, things might have taken a dramatically different route, but I didn’t want to dwell on that too long. I had a second chance to make things better, and I found my perfect fit with Elizabeth Bain from the Little Feather Doula Collective. Elizabeth (Liz) had everything I was looking for in a doula; years and years of experience (over 25 years, and she even has experience working as a UK midwife!) compassion, strength and passion. Liz is someone who is so passionate about birth and advocating for women’s birth rights. She is someone who doesn’t have her own agenda; she only cares about doing what is best for baby’s health as well as my well being. She is extremely knowledgable about birth. I felt extremely safe and taken care of in her hands. She understood the importance of this trial of labor for me. She full comprehended and emphasized about my feelings of loss that I had around my first birth. She constantly believed in me and encouraged me to remain positive.
My labor this time was a trip. Without going into too much detail, I did really try for 36 hours, but alas I ended up with a c-section for reasons beyond anyone’s control. And through it all, Liz was there by our side any time we needed her, weighing in with her thoughts and feelings after each midwife and ultrasound check-in, providing emotional support and through it all telling me that I needed to trust my body and that my body knew exactly what to do.
Liz was my friend, my medical advisor, my shoulder to cry on, my emotional support and my defender all rolled into one.
When it was finally time to sign off to a c-section, Liz helped me control my feelings of fright about submitting to yet another invasive procedure, reassuring me that I had truly done everything I could. I was confident I was making the right decision and not being “duped” into another c-section as I had been the first time around.
And even after the birth, Liz continued to check in on me, always calling and texting to make sure I was doing well. She worked on my placenta and encapsulated it for me, and even did some beautiful art work with it that I will forever hold dear to my heart. Looking back, I really don’t think I would have been able to do it all without her.
Liz, for all of this, and more, I thank you. You will always have a special place in my heart. When I think of the birth of either of my children you will always come to mind. You are a birth warrior, the stuff legends are made of. It’s no surprise you won Doula of the year at the MAMA awards. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is my love letter to you.