On a Birth Professionals page, someone asked us to name one thing we loved most about being a birth doula. "Just one? Just one???!!!", was the sudden outcry from the birth community. I offered one for the sake of the original poster's request but continued to consider in my heart all the of the reasons I love supporting women and families during this time in their lives.
I spent a few hours today working on a birth story from a previous birth I attended and all of the reasons began to pour out as i recapped our time spent together and all of the wonderful moments I was blessed to share with them.
I thought I'd share a few with you:
The "dance" that a couple shares when they are working together to bring forth their new life.
The moment a laboring woman finds "her voice".
The moment when a laboring mother is peacefully riding the waves of contractions.
The moment when a partner looks at his woman with pride as she is being transformed right before his eyes.
The look on a woman's face when she realizes what she is capable of doing...she knows her own strength and will never be the same.
An expectant grandmother quietly sitting in the corner watching her little girl become a mother.
The cry of a newborn who is away from his/her mother who is clearly calling out for her, wanting to know that she is still close by.
The moment a father takes his new baby and nuzzles, sniffs and talks to him/her as if it were just the two of them in the room.
The moment when a mother and her baby lock eyes for the first time.
The look on a mother's face when her baby latches on for the first time.
The moment I quietly bow out as the new family are becoming one.
There are also times when when induction may be safer than waiting for labor to start on its own. Watch this informative video so that you can determine what is best for you and your baby. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Last week my husband and I learned that the baby whose fall arrival we had so anxiously anticipated will not be. The process was all too familiar as we had just experienced it for the first time earlier this year. It was hard to be optimistic as we noticed the same pattern as our first loss. You notice some spotting, or maybe bleeding with or without cramping and make the alarmed call to the doctor (or nurse) who tries to reassure you that it is not uncommon in the first trimester to have some bleeding. Their advice; try to relax, put your feet up, get some rest and try not to worry. Something doesn’t feel right, not just with your body but in your spirit. By the time you see your doctor you already know in your heart but it stings all the same to hear that what you are experiencing is most likely the end of your pregnancy. They run tests to be sure and tell you not to give up. Your symptoms are fading along with all of your hopes and dreams. All optimism is lost as you learn that the “pregnancy wasn’t progressing” or has ended.
“Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage…Most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnancy can be such an exciting time, but with the great number of recognized miscarriages that occur, it is beneficial to be informed about miscarriage, in the unfortunate event that you find yourself or someone you know faced with one.” American Pregnancy Association
This is a loss, a real loss. Whether you had just conceived (chemical pregnancy), in your first trimester (miscarriage) or were in a later stage in your pregnancy (stillborn) the loss is as real as having had a newborn baby in your arms and to later lose them.
With every loss there is a grieving period. The length of the grieving doesn’t necessary depend on how far along a woman may have been and every woman will grieve in different ways as well. One thing that they will all share is the different stages of grief.
Stages of Grief:
“A miscarriage takes away the pure innocence of pregnancy”. I read this comment on a pregnancy loss website the other night. The young lady who wrote it pretty much summed up how other women (including myself) may describe the emotional aftershock of a pregnancy loss. This short sentence says so much and I didn’t understand it until I experienced it myself.
Instead of the heart racing excitement that once was, future pregnancies will be held frigidly in the heart. The “I won’t get excited until after the safe zone (first trimester)” technique will be applied for self protection. Every twinge, spot or loss of symptoms will be cause for anxiety. Fear lingers and every ultrasound appointment ends with a sigh of relief. Between each doctors visit it feels as if you have been holding your breath since the last. Some may (try) to with hold any love toward the new babe as to lessen the impact of a potential loss. As if we can really do that. Yes, it is true that a mother and a baby are two individuals but as soon as we see the little “+” sign or “pregnant”, or the doctor confirms what your womanly intuition told you, you are hooked. From that moment the heart strings become entangled to this little one.
It’s not that the mother who hasn’t had a loss doesn’t experience some level of anxiety. On the contraire, when I was pregnant with my two daughters who are 3 and 12 years old now, both times I was so afraid of miscarrying them. I pretty much walked around as if I was holding china that I was afraid would easily break. What I am describing above is different. A previous miscarriage can almost rob the joy expectation of being pregnant from a woman.
Ironically enough after our news I have been contacted by two new potential clients for doula services. My daughter asked me if I was going to be okay with my two deliveries I have coming up in the next few weeks. She’s also observed me still researching and practicing my doula skills in between minor melt downs when the reality of what we are experiencing hits me like a tsunami. It’s a fair question that I didn’t mind her asking. The truth is, I’m not sure how I will feel in the next few weeks, next few months or due dates. When you consider that each month a woman has only a 20% chance of conceiving (who is purposely trying) it is pretty amazing. The fact that there is a about a 24 hour timeframe for a sperm to meet the egg and the uterine environment has to be just right, I still believe that every conception and birth is a miracle. I attended a birth a week after our first loss and it was almost therapeutic to take my mind off of myself and our loss and give someone else 100% to help them to bring forth their miracle.
(Authors note: This post was really written to encourage women out there who have and who will experience a pregnancy loss but also those who aren’t sure how to comfort them.)
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart
Pregnancy After a Loss: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death
Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss
A Silent Sorrow: Pregnancy Loss - Guidance and Support for You and Your Family
Grieving the Child I Never Knew
A book for children and parents who have experienced pregnancy loss.
We Were Gonna Have a Baby, But We Had an Angel Instead by Pat Schwiebert.
A Woman's Design
A Woman's Design Doula & Childbirth Educators are here to walk along side you during such a precious time. Whether it is your first journey or tenth, empowering women and families with education and support to trust their inner wisdom and make wise choices in pregnancy, birth and early parenting is the heart of A Woman's Design.
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