The first birth I ever attended was an AMAZING home birth. The sweetest lady, “S”, invited me to join her in labor the first time we met. She was already quite far along but we were able to get together a couple of times before birth. I attended as her second doula while a friend of mine, N, was already booked as her primary doula. I believe this mama benefited from us both being there as she was birthing without the support of a partner and the two of us worked as her loving support team.
Labor started around 10 or 11pm and mama spent a few peaceful hours enjoying some rest with her baby-bump. We were called around 1am to come over. N and I both lived very close and arrived before 2 o’clock, where the sleepy doorman in her building must’ve thought we were all nuts! When I got upstairs S was in the bathroom taking some time out. She enjoyed breaks alone throughout her labor. I was so proud of her for being able to listen to her body and have confidence in herself as this was her first birth. For my own birth I think I was a bit more nervous, and definitely not as strong and confident as this mama! S joined us and went to relax in her living room (oh the joys of home birth!) where she calmly rested her head and received an oil massage from doula N. S was interested in staying hydrated and kept her drink close to hand. I think gentle music was playing on the TV, although my head was filled with a lot of birthy fuzzy excitement so I can’t be sure! While S and N worked through some contractions together I stripped the bed down and covered it with birthing sheets and such. S moved into the bedroom once her bed was prepped and used a birthing ball to change her position and provide a little relief. As she swayed I gave her constant back massage. This was my first time putting my hands on a birthing woman. As I touched her I felt the electricity of the moment and was so in love. In my mind my hands were trembling like crazy as I worried that I would hurt her with too much pressure. I kept trying to draw to focus the memory of my own labor pains and how much relief I felt when HARD pressure was applied – so I went with that, hoping that what all us women feel is somewhat the same. I whispered to S between a couple of contractions “Is my pressure ok?” To which she nodded, said “hard is goood”, let out a little chuckle and went gently in to another contraction.
At this point (somewhere around 3 or 4am) her midwife entered and began setting up some discreet equipment. Her assistant arrived an hour or so later and took thorough notes as directed by the leading midwife. There was no rush to check S’s progress but after a few more contractions in the bedroom, she laid on the bed for a quick exam and was progressing quickly. I was perched on the bed next to her rubbing her shoulders and offering reassuring words. I then ran S a warm bath and we all five moved to the adjoining bathroom. S enjoyed some relief in the tub with her waters gently releasing while submerged. During this time I sat behind S and applied constant pressure through her contractions and poured water over her to keep her warm. I’m not sure if she remembers who was doing what but I was just so happy to be so involved. N & I were both in the room and she gave great vocal support while I listened and learned from her calm voice and enjoyed all of this hands-on time with S. Being physically connected to this wonderful woman at such a powerful time had such an effect on me. She was strong, brave, intuitive, confident, glowing, and gorgeous! I kept wanting to lean over and kiss her! (and did a couple of times!)
As S exited the bath she felt most comfortable resting on the toilet and it was here that the midwife checked her cervix again. While S was now fully dilated, this time she felt a “lip” which was preventing baby’s head from descending. As the next contractions waved over her, S was encouraged to try a small push while the midwife held the lip back with her finger. This pained S and was hard to watch but worked almost immediately and after that S was able to take her time with the rest of the birth. She then moved from the bathroom to a similar position on a birthing stool beside her bed. A moment that stands out in time was here as S reached her wall and repeated “I can’t do it” to which we all responded “You already are!” That simple phrase was enough encouragement to keep S positive. She attempted a few contractions in this position but chose instead to lay on her bed for optimal comfort. The midwife suggested she be on her side rather than back to prevent tearing. Quite quickly baby V began to crown and I stepped back to take some pictures. When doula N took a break from holding S’s raised leg I passed over the camera and took stance beside her. I held S’s leg up, simultaneously gripping her hand as her body gently pushed her beautiful baby earth side. Mid way the midwife encouraged S to reach down and feel her baby which she did and this gave her the final motivation she needed to meet her sweetheart.
As baby joined us with the final push S reached down to pick up her tiny bundle. She pulled baby quickly up on to her chest where they snuggled close under a light blanket. In these magical moments my eyes were filled with so many tears. S exclaimed to her baby over and over again “I love you so much! I love you so much!” The triumph and pure joy on her face was the most amazing thing to see. It was only after the room calmed down that someone asked, “Well, what is it?” And S lifted her baby high in the air to excitedly announce “I’s a girl!” And we all cried all over again! As I snuck back in for a couple of photos of the tree of life (placenta) S enjoyed her first latch with her baby. Baby V did so well immediately and has been a nursing champ ever since. I felt the greatest joy to be asked to assist this mama in her time. She now tells us, “I am so glad to have had you there, I’ll never forget you.” The two sweetest little ladies with the most special love between them, I’ll never forget them either!