My third birth (Tracy) was, by all standards, my hardest birth.
It was our first live birth after repeated loss. If you know anything about birthing a rainbow baby you’d probably guess that my anxiety was through the roof.
You’d be correct.
So many things went arry during my birth- I went into labor, unexpectedly, at 37 weeks. My doula was not there, and everything I had learned somehow flew out of my brain as soon as the contractions began. It was a long, so long, labor.
Somewhere around hour 20 of my unmedicated labor, I decided to utilize the epidural for some relief and rest.
It ended up being a positive experience for me, and likely the right choice, as I still labored several hours after that point before our baby arrived.
I wasn’t in an accepting place about my desire/need for the epidural right away, though. That birth was my first after becoming a doula, and my first birth where I planned to go without an epidural for pain management. I tried to do everything right- I took classes, read books, and found a doula.
I felt like I had failed by choosing the epidural.
A few weeks went by, and I started to find myself a little more forgiving/accepting, and gracious toward my own birth experience. (I would never think a client was a failure, so why was I putting that on myself?)
I decided, one day, to get out of the house and take all 3 of our kids to a meet-up where the topic was discussing birth stories.
I was pretty excited to share mine, actually! It was a successful 2VBAC, and a rainbow baby to boot! I thought people would share in my joy.
As I shared my story, all eyes were on me. I noticed a shift in their body language and their looks when I started to describe my experience coping with labor with extreme anxiety.
Then, I got to the part in my story about receiving my epidural. My words were “I had gotten to a place in my birth where I just could not cope anymore. I could not do it.”
The response: “Well, that’s not true. What would’ve happened if you had been in the woods? You could’ve kept going.”
Instead of understanding and compassion, I received judgment. Instead of sharing in my joy, I received shame.
Sitting in this coffee shop that I’m typing in, I can feel the feeling I felt in the very depths of my soul. Like a rock sinking to the bottom of a deep pond, my stomach just drops when I think of these words.
That was a defining moment in my doula career. What’s even sadder to me, is that person likely has no idea how much their statement impacted me or my thoughts surrounding birth. For better, or worse, those words changed me. I knew at that moment what kind of birth support person I wanted to be and the kind I didn’t want to be.
In interviews/consults, doulas are often asked why they became doulas. I sometimes believe the question better asked would be “why do you continue in doula work?”
My answer, and the answer of our agency, is that we want our clients to feel supported in all of their choices and decisions. We want them to feel empowered, not belittled, shamed, or judged. At Rocket City Doulas, we accomplish that with our unbiased, non-judgmental support.
Interested in learning more about our services? Contact us today!