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