I knew I wanted a doula even before I knew I wanted a homebirth. And honestly probably before I even had plans to get pregnant. But I didn’t know how much I’d NEED my doula for my homebirth. It was incredible to have the support of someone who has been there, someone who could talk me through what was happening, to encourage me, to hold my hand, and to acknowledge when it was hard. She was also wonderful at helping my partner be involved.
When my water broke and my contractions started happening FOR REAL, I called my doula and sheepishly asked if she could come over. Her tone was comforting, reassuring me that it was her job to be there with me. I don’t remember much between calling her and her arrival at my house. When my partner let her in, she found me upstairs on my bed at the beginning of an intense contraction. Without a word she pressed her hand on a spot on my hip and I just remember that touch being EXACTLY what I needed in that moment. The energy in the room shifted for the better when my doula arrived. My partner, as wonderful as he is, was also sort of stunned by the whole ordeal. He wasn’t in our bedroom with us, but was instead downstairs, and I could hear him sorting mail and putting away dishes. Between a contraction and a trip to the bathroom I asked him what he was doing. We still laugh about his reply: “I don’t know what to do so I’m just cleaning.” My doula encouraged him to come and be part of the labor process. Something that I wanted and that he wanted, but he didn’t know how to initiate, and I just didn’t have the energy to ask for it. She showed him how to press the special spot on my hips and different ways to hold my hands. She was such a support for us as a couple, but to him as well, by letting him know what was going on and what to expect.
Much of my birth was a blur: I don’t remember my midwife arriving at my house, I don’t remember any conversations that were going on around me, and I barely remember anything anybody said to me. What I do remember is my doula being with me in my bedroom, coming with me into the bathroom while I labored (and pooped), holding my hand, patting my face with a cool washcloth, and moving my hair out of my face. Between her and my partner, I felt completely taken care of. With that feeling, I was really able to surrender into the experience of birth, as hard and as beautiful as it was.
As I was nearing the end, in the birthing tub on the floor of my bedroom, sweating and shivering, I remember looking at her and through tears asking: “Am I almost done? This is so hard.” Her response was exactly what I needed to hear, “This is SO hard, and you’re doing it.” Those words, to me, were filled with acknowledgement and encouragement. My baby girl was born about 30 minutes later. One of the first things I said once I felt like I was back in my body holding my new baby was: “I don’t know how anybody does this without a doula,” and I meant it. And my partner felt the same way. My doula hung around with us for a couple of hours after the birth, helping me to start nursing, made sure I had a snack, and while my midwife was stitching up some minor tears, my doula put her fingers on different pressure points on my forehead. I don’t know how or when, but she also took amazing photos during all stages of the birth. When we were all set and the house was back to normal, she congratulated us, and kissed us all goodbye.
As visitors came over the next few days, to see the baby and to hear the birth story, my doula was one of the main characters who we both revered. I have since told each of my pregnant friends, no matter where they’re birthing to hire a doula. Having a person present, who was focused only on me and my comfort, allowed me to embrace the experience of birth without fear. She was such an important part of that day, for all of us.