Today's blog post is the last of a 3-part series written by BFW Grandma, Gini Emigh (Linnea's mom), reflecting on her birth experiences, and how she may have benefited from a doula.
Doula? What’s a doula? By the time I knew what a doula was, my children were already grown. When my daughter became pregnant and talked about having a midwife and a doula, I asked, “What would the doula do?” But now, as I think back about the births and early months of my children’s lives, I see many times when a doula might have been a real treasure to us.
Third Child (1985):
Labor & delivery had gone well twice. Our boys were now 5 and almost 3. How much should we let the boys participate in their new baby’s birth? We wondered if they might even be able to attend the birth if everything was going well. We wondered if we were crazy to even think such a thing. A friend with years of experience with young children agreed to take charge of the boys when I went into labor. Three weeks before the due date, we gathered snacks and other necessaries for a trip to the zoo the next day. It was also just about time to pack a hospital bag in order to be ready for the next arrival. Little did we know then that the snack bag would become our hospital bag.
That night, after the boys were in bed, my water broke. So the boys wouldn’t be alarmed in the morning, we woke the oldest, sleeping in the top bunk, and let him know that we were going to the hospital and our friend would be at home with them. We thought that would be that, but never underestimate the powers of a strong-willed 5 year old. He leaned over the guard rail to his brother and called out, “It’s time for our baby to be born! You want to go to the hospital don’t you?” We were feeling a need to get going and didn’t want to get into a big ruckus with the kids. We called our friend and asked him to meet us at the hospital. We thought he could take them back home from there. At the hospital, we were given the birthing room, and the boys were allowed to stay with us. My contractions weren’t very impressive, so we left the boys with our friend in the birthing room while Ted and I walked the halls. Walking helped, but we were at it all night. Meanwhile, the boys sat on the birthing bed, flipping through the TV channels.
Around 6am, the boys were tired and getting restless, so they went with our friend to have breakfast at McDonald’s. The playground there seemed like a good place to keep them occupied for awhile. While they ate breakfast and played, my labor was getting serious. I was glad that the birthing bed was now available. Everything was going well, and I remember thinking that with the third birth, I was finally getting it right. We were moved to the delivery room and the birth seemed imminent, just about the time that the boys returned from breakfast. All the attending professionals agreed that all was well and it wouldn’t be long, so the boys, with their support person, came into the delivery room. They stood to one side, near my head as their sister was born. Their memories center mainly around the TV and the lack of good programming in the middle of the night, but for our 5 year old the birth was at least somewhat memorable.
It was now Saturday morning and we were all beyond tired, including our friend. We were assigned a room, but we said that we wanted to go home. The baby had checked out well, but I hadn’t been seen by the OB yet. We were told to wait. The boys were way beyond sleep, and as our friend began to fade, the boys began running up and down the maternity halls. We suspect that their behavior and our friend’s lax supervision at that point may have facilitated our early discharge. We managed to get everyone to their own beds for some much needed sleep. Our friend was great and we really appreciated his support. But, might our doula have been able to help us have a better organized plan for the boy’s participation in their sister’s birth, making it easier for everyone to ‘go the distance?’
One more time, all went well. And again, I can see how a doula would have been great!