A Birth, A Birth and a Death

Sometimes it just happens. You meet someone on a holiday, you hook up, and months later, find yourself in the same city, with that same person, planning a life together, anticipating the new life that you carry within. Yes, it happens.

I remember that call, asking for help and guidance, meeting with the couple for the first time, hearing about their plans (he is moving to Atlanta), and agreeing to be their doula, or guide, as they called me, through this very unknown and unplanned time in their lives.

Moving forward to the birth….it was exquisite. I arrived at their house (he moved in with her) and she was meditating to a beautiful CD, doing yoga and he was making sure she had water, juice and snacks. He was happy to see me. She just smiled. She and I moved from her room downstairs to up, and he followed with the CD player, same meditation, for hours.

Her parents came for support, encouragement and to prepare food. (Her mother, recently diagnosed with cancer.) Mama and I went into her bedroom and she went on the bed for a massage. Baby started gyrating. Membranes broke. Mama took a shower and we gathered things to go to the hospital, 30 minutes from the house.

Mother and daddy kissed their daughter good-bye. It was so touching.

It was a phenomenal and peaceful birth,; at the last moment, I asked dad if he would like to catch their baby. He did and it changed his life forever, he said.

A year later, the couple married, their wedding covered in a national magazine. They purchased a house, conceived again. I remember getting the call. What was I doing in mid-October? Attending your next birth, I hope. And, by the way, how is your mom? She is not well, was her answer. Not well at all. However, she is very excited about this baby, and hopes she lives to meet it.

We were in communication weekly through her pregnancy, as she needed support because her mom’s cancer was spreading, her health failing, and she was in hospice. And, as her estimated due date got nearer, she said that her mom’s doctors couldn’t believe she was still alive. Was she suffering? What was she holding on for?  I suggested she ask her mom. And she did. Of course, there was only one answer: to meet this baby. My client felt the pressure of that. I suggested that she allow her mom to live with her decision without feeling that pressure.

And, then came 40 weeks…we talked. And then, 40 weeks and 6 days. She called. I am ready, she said. I need to get things moving along here. My practice will start suggesting interventions soon. What suggestions do you have, Shari?

It only took seconds. I said I would give her suggestions for “natural induction” tomorrow. Then, I asked her four questions. When did you stop trusting that your baby knows when to be born? When did you stop trusting that your body knows when and how to have this baby? When did you stop trusting god? When did you stop trusting your inner wisdom? I said to think about that and tomorrow she could call for the induction suggestions. She never called.

That was Thursday. Friday, she spent the day on a task: storing summer clothes and bringing out winter ones. Saturday, she went to a party and when asked when she was having the baby, said tomorrow. Indeed, in the supermarket on Sunday, felt that first rush, called me, finished shopping, and four hours later, unexpectedly birthed her baby in the peace of their new home. I was there a moment afterward, helping hold things together, calming the paramedics who had been called, preserving the sanctity and sacredness of the moment. She untied the string that the EMT had placed around the umbilical cord, and felt as it ceased pulsating. Her husband severed the tie between mother and child when it did. She nursed her newborn, birthed her placenta in bed, and the EMTs departed. Her husband brought her soup he had made while she was in labor. Everything was perfect.

The next day, it was quite cold, and they stayed home alone, tending to their newborn daughter. Their two year old son was brought home that evening. The next day, they all went to visit her mom, who held the baby — and took her last breaths only hours later.Image