When I first found out I was pregnant, there was a lot of excitement accompanied by what I imagine to be a completely normal amount (although large!) of nerves. We had so many questions about what was to come and so many hopes and dreams for this beautiful life growing inside of me. As a woman, I think a lot of us are afraid of giving birth – afraid of the pain, the labour, the unknown. This fear is somewhat suppressed by the fact that it’s something that will only happen in many years and at a later stage in life, but when I fell pregnant, it became something inevitable and toward the end of my pregnancy it began to consume my thoughts and I was so confused and terrified of what was going to happen! I kept going back and forth on the decision to do natural birth or a Caesar, changing my mind almost daily. Luckily, my extremely supportive husband was happy with whatever I felt comfortable with, the hard part was deciding what that actually was.
After attending three sessions for our antenatal class and watching a few birth videos (which I thought would make me a lot more anxious about birth), I surprisingly felt this overwhelming calmness about natural birth and knew with every inch of my being that that was what I wanted to do. I was so thrilled with myself that I had made up my mind and I was proud of myself for knowing my strength and capability to allow my body to do what it was made to do, despite any pain that may accompany the process. I wrote a birth plan and I met with you [Charlene] in preparation for my natural birth. At first, I was somewhat skeptical about the idea of a Doula, but because of my tendency to get very anxious in certain situations, we thought it would be a good idea to at least meet with you to see what it is all about. That was the BEST decision we made. You made me feel at ease, comfortable and knowing that I had you with me to help get us through what would be the most difficult but amazing moment of our lives gave me confidence that I could go through with the natural birth, something I never thought I would have the strength to do.
Of course, things don’t always go as planned, especially when it comes to childbirth. At 37 weeks, our little bundle was weighing in at 4.2kg on the ultrasound and measuring at around 43cm in diameter around his abdomen, which was very large. That’s when our doctor brought up the Caesar. She was extremely supportive of whatever we wanted to do, but ultimately we felt that we didn’t want to take the risk and scheduled a Caesar for the following week. I was devastated. I had gone back and forth for months about my decision on the type of birth I would want, and I had proved to myself that I was strong enough and that I had the right mindset to go through natural birth and bring my baby into the world the way that women had been doing so since the beginning of time. And now, in the time it took to do a scan and consultation, all that had changed. Although I knew it was the right decision for us, I felt incredibly sad and even more terrified. In my mind, at least with natural birth we could trust that our body knew what to do, and even though it was out of my control, I trusted my body. With a Caesar, some women feel that there is more control, but for me, the idea of going into a cold theatre room and having doctors cutting into me and ripping my baby out from his warm and comfortable home that I’d created before he had decided to come out just felt like such a horrible thing.
That’s when I phoned you to let you know that we were changing our plans and that we would still like you to be a part of the birth, even though it was a Caesar. When I tell people that I had a Doula for a Caesar, some people look at me quite strangely, as I think it may not be something they deem necessary, as the doctor’s are there, and there is nothing to really ‘coach’ us through, as you would with natural labour. For me, getting through the Caesar without mounds of anxiety resulting in a panic attack was my main goal; something I thought would be extremely difficult to achieve in the mere six days warning we had from scheduling the Caesar to the actual procedure. I listened to your Caesarean birth preparation tracks twice, three times and sometimes four times a day. I envisioned the birth, the overwhelming love for my baby, and how beautiful the entire process can be. It’s then that my perception and mindset changed, and I fully believed that although it wasn’t natural birth, it could still be empowering and beautiful. And it definitely was. You were so supportive and never once made me feel like there was anything wrong with the decision we had made.
We arrived at the hospital at 6am and you were there shortly after that, massaging and chatting to me to keep me calm and relaxed. I hadn’t spoken to anyone over the phone, hadn’t texted any parents or family; I woke up that morning, listened to the track one last time and headed to the hospital to welcome our son into the world. My memories of those three hours waiting in the hospital room with you and my husband are so peaceful and happy. You kept me so calm, and amidst that calm the excitement crept through and when they said it was time to go to the operating theatre I didn’t feel scared one bit. I knew my husband was there, you were there, and my amazing doctor was there, too, and I trusted all of you with every inch of my being. You did that. You gave me the strength to trust everyone involved and that my baby would be perfect, no matter what.
I was happy. When they wheeled me on the hospital bed down the corridors I couldn’t stop smiling. Entering the theatre wasn’t scary. The spinal was not sore. Although I could feel some pressure and movement during the procedure, I knew it was normal and my baby was coming. All I kept telling myself was that I was about to meet my son, and that surpassed everything else. In the moments that I started to feel slightly anxious, you calmed me and brought me back to center. And then before we knew it, our beautiful son was there. We did it. And I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to have the birth that I had always dreamed of. I felt empowered. I felt like a strong woman and incredible that my body had grown this life inside of me for nine months. I didn’t for a second feel like my birth experience was any less because it wasn’t what I had planned. I look back on that day with so much joy, and you are a huge part of that. Thank you for being such an invaluable part of bringing our baby Remy into the world. You will always hold such a special place in our hearts and we are forever grateful that you were there for me when I didn’t think that I could be the woman that I am. I hope that more women are lucky enough to have you be a part of their journey too, whatever it may be.
Lots and LOTS of Love,