by Paula Terry
I find myself with a lovely woman that has been in labor for ten hours. I have just arrived at her home and she is happy to have the additional strength and support as felt from one woman to another. I am a doula and so honored to be.
This birth is slated as “just for labor and delivery”, thus for a doula this means spending a little time with the parents during pregnancy and appearing on the scene for just that: labor and delivery.
I walk into a beautiful scene: she is lying on her bed in a simple frock with nothing else; no makeup, no constriction other than in her womb — that is happening at intervals of three to six minutes.
We talk of a film she saw at a labor and delivery class shown to her and her husband at the birth center two months prior.
“She lied to me!”
“Who lied to you? I ask.
“The women in the film were smiling and happy in their contractions!”
I offer her a cool cloth for her head and neck; this comforts her for the short ease of five minutes. She powers through the next contraction and then we try to visualize a gentle walk in a quiet place outdoors. Hers is a white sand beach with little shade from soft moving palms.
As she walks the stretch, the waves are gently meeting the sand and sea farers are singing. This time the contraction is at the round ligaments close to her pubic bone. We walk further on her path. She is heading for one of the swaying palms to feel the coolness created by the breeze. There she sits, back against the palm for support and enjoys the delay in time.
One hour has passed. She lingers through seven or eight contractions and we settle into a new cadence; she arches and grabs the sheet with tight fists. “Let’s go back to the beach under the palm.”
There she has a short respite. A prayer is said to the Mother — her spiritual guide. We pray that she’s held in the arms and guided to a place of ease and grace.
An uncommon place to be but what spectacularness comes from letting go and trusting in each other and a higher power!
She takes on a different look, one of a lioness in protection and strength. Another wave caresses her body and I feel this one. “This one was different,” she tells me, “I feel my baby coming to us!”
We retreat to the place under the palm several times again and feel the coolness of the earth. Now hours have passed and we are talking about the feeling of her body making the adjustments to prepare for the birth.
As the process reveals, we hold each other; we cry in relief; we sing in unison; and she labors through.
It is a very different experience to be in trust: the mother and I and the grace of a Higher power — whatever that is for us! It is truly rewarding and celebratory to let go and trust.
I find that the complacency I have taken from being in a hospital setting -a nurse to check dilation, a monitor for the baby, and all other allopathic applications for both- provide just that: complacency. A birth in a center with midwives is different in that they ask you to labor at home and come when the dilation has progressed to at least five centimeters.
We have progressed to a very ripened cervix and are now in the car en route to the center — her husband driving, her still in labor in the passenger seat, and I in the rear holding her arm or her holding mine during contractions, sometimes with a slight hold of a knuckle between her teeth. They pray in a language foreign to me but we are praying together to the same Mother.
As traffic lights come, a sign of the cross is made, and “let the lights be with us” is the unanimous thought — and they are.
We arrive at the center within thirty minutes and she lies on an exam table to have the midwife check dilation and hear the little one’s heart rate. Her waters have yet to break and there beyond the veil is the head to crown. Would this child be born under the veil?
Her waters do break and she is moved to a comfortable bed in a beautiful setting. Some oils are caressed on the baby’s crowning head, and a few more contractions…
A brand new girl graces the Earth only twenty minutes later! Born on the Day of Children in their traditions, at 11:00pm.
This has been a very exceptional birth. No complications, healthy, and pure. This experience has brought me to a very different place than I have ever had opportunity to be. And I am grateful for that.
To all the mothers of the world, I’d like to say Thank You. Yours is the most important job on the planet! You labor is rewarded with the premier gift. Nothing can compare to this. It is all about the love.
Paula Terry is a licensed massage therapist and a doula; utilizing cranio sacral, heart centered, and lymphatic drainage therapies along with love and nurturement to foster the healing your body needs.