No doula this time – I’ll just have my mum

A couple told their birth story at our last home birth meeting and it involved a doula. I worried the whole time that Laurence was bored, wondering why I’d dragged him to the wretched event, especially when he’d previously said: “It’s all pretty straightforward, isn’t it?”

Their story brought the reality of what was happening rushing in. Their midwife almost hadn’t got there in time – a possibility that still scares the jingles out of him. I wasn’t worried about it. I’d never given it much thought.

Subconsciously, I knew this could happen. My brother basically fell out of my mother so there was no time for the doctor [I’d love to get her to guest post on here and tell that story but I didn’t get my affinity for oversharing from her so we’ll just have to wait and see]. Maybe I just thought there were worse things that could happen.

In Siba Shakib’s Samira and Samira a woman squats in a separate room and delivers her own baby. Not that I’m saying I’m anywhere near this hardcore. I’m just saying that I figure your body generally knows what to do. I’ll probably slap myself in the face with this post later.

When Laurence asked, “What’s a doula?” it finally occurred to me that it might not be the greatest idea for us to do this on our own. Perhaps we could use a little extra support.

For those not up on their hippy-lingo, a doula is a trained birth partner who helps a woman achieve the birth that she wants, usually a natural birth. They often also specialise in pregnancy massage, aromatherapy or another homeopathic practice. In Laurence’s mind, what this means is that they help you not to completely freak out, while defending you against the NHS.

Initially, we’d decided that we wanted it to just be the two of us. Too many people staying in too small a flat while my hormones got jiggy meant that Christmas was stressful beyond repeating. Deciding to do the birth on our own was a way of pulling protectively into our shell as well as marking our territory as new parents.

So we continued, happy to “do it on our own”, until the birth became real. Our nervousness was exacerbated by my midwife never remembering who I am. There’s also the likelihood that she’ll not be there the whole time. Suddenly, independence doesn’t look as attractive.

We turned our thoughts to the doula option, discussing it with my in-laws, whom I think may have been slightly amused by the idea. But as I focused on the birth, I realised the person I really wanted to share this experience with was my own mother.

She’s given birth twice, both times at home and un-medicated. Throughout my life she’s supported me in practical ways, unsolicited. I remember that time I’d come home from summer camp with the flu and she dictated me into the shower, a bowl of soup and bed though I was fighting sleep. Heck, I remember all the times I’ve been ill and she’s taken care of me without being asked. I mentioned last week that I had a chest infection and she couldn’t help Facebooking her concern.

Selfishly, I want her to be there to take care of us. But I also want her there because I know she wants to be there and I think she deserves it. For the many times she skipped on things she needed to give us things we wanted, I’d like her to have this. And, if the baby comes two weeks early, as I did, then at least she’ll get some quality newborn time.

I can’t predict how I’ll feel when the hour(s) of reckoning comes but this feels right.

So, mum, thanks for having your passport up-to-date and if I start using words you know you didn’t teach me, I promise you still raised me right.

PS: Congratulations to my cousin-in-law who had a successful home birth two days ago. Hope you and your boys are getting lots of rest.

Image by William Warby

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  • From the cousin-in-law – having just done it with two incredible midwives and my gorgeous husband, I would say that you are spot on – while your body definitely knows what to do, it is so helpful to have someone experienced and calm there just giving you guidance. We had two incredible midwives who arrived just around the time I was starting to push (only because it happened fast and we called them an hour before not realising it would be that quick) and they were so great at just being there gently in the background (plus because he was breech I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to do it without them!) So if you’re worried your midwife’s a bit flaky, definitely good to have someone you know is reliably going to be there and whom you love and trust. Go for it – home birth is amazing and wonderful – am sure I wouldn’t be writing this if I was zonked out in hospital still! xxxxx

    • I was just thinking you’ve been internet-active today for a woman who’s just given birth! From all the bits and pieces I’ve heard so far, it sounds like you had a very positive birth experience. I’m so glad you and your boy are well and alert. We shall have to hear more details soon…

  • Love it Adele!! And awesome to read all the kudos to Martine (whom you know will be embarrassed at your praise, but is nonetheless so totally deserving.)
    Just a quick word of warning to Laurence: Gerry decided he would be my doula (well, it wasn’t called that, but in effect that’s what he was) for our first baby. This involved him massaging, wiping my brow with a flannel and singing the Scriptures (yes, really!) He was such a great doula that at some point I recall him offering his arm for support and I BIT him!
    Strangely enough, I don’t think he was in the room when the others were born! (But maybe that’s partly because they were born in Sando General, where men were banished)
    When exactly is your due date, btw??

    • Ha, yes I expect she’ll be embarrassed. I still want her to share her birth story though. Maybe we can corner her… I can so imagine you biting Gerry and him singing Scriptures. I think San Fernando General Hospital is absolutely one of the last places I would want to give birth! The baby’s due on May 29th but we’re taking bets for the date and time that she’ll arrive. Pick one and I’ll put £1 in the pot for you.

      • Ok, only just saw this – sorry! I guess 10 days early – ie, 19th May. We ran a baby bet for one of my friends at work (her first baby) and the uncooperative child decided to make an appearance at 29 weeks and spoil all our fun! (Clearly that is not a possibility for you!) Said child is now a bouncing two year old (after a shaky start, it must be said) and my friend is pregnant again – but noone’s even mentioned taking bets this time! She is due any day now…

        • I’ll stick £1 in the pot on your behalf but you need to choose a time too. We did think about the possibility of a *really* early baby but then whoever guesses closest wins, in my books. Your poor friend though. Was the baby in neonatal for ages?

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad my mum’s coming but if she hadn’t been able to, we’d likely have gone with a doula. Someone recently told me that they had both. Just feels like a lot of people to have around though. I have masses of respect for doulas, though, and think they do brilliant work.

  • I agree completely that having someone else there can be really helpful. My first birth (planned home birth, ended up in theatre, long story) I chose to have my best friend with me who’s also a midwife, and more than anything I think my partner found it extremely reassuring not being the only ‘support’ person there. Sure your mum will be brilliant x

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