I just re-organized my childbirth education closet. It took longer than I expected as I’d occasionally stop to bask in the memories triggered by something I unexpectedly came across. An audiotape of my brother and sister-in-law’s first birth. It was a special birth, not just because it was the birth of my first nephew, but because it was one of my first experiences as a doula (although at that time I didn’t know the word). During a difficult part of labor, my brother-in-law (a resident in orthopedics), asked me, “Is this REALLY worth it.” “Yes,” I said, “She’s doing fine. I promise, everything is going just the way it’s supposed to.” The next day, he said to me, “When you said that to me, I thought you were so full of it. But today Susan is higher than a kite. She is so thrilled to have had a natural birth and so happy that she did it.” “All r i g h t! ” I remember thinking.
A picture of two of our best friends with their newborn son, clearly in a delivery room. Sue had both of her babies at 44 weeks. Her mother had all three of her babies at 44 weeks. With each pregnancy, after 42 weeks, Sue saw a perinatologist to make sure each baby was doing ok. At birth, neither baby showed signs of post-maturity. It’s hard to imagine an expectant mother being “allowed” to go to 44 weeks today, even under the care of a perinatologist. But if the length of pregnancy is a bell curve with most gestations falling within 38 to 42 weeks, there are bound to be some outliers. Sue’s natural birth lead to volunteer work in our community childbirth education association and a strengthening of our friendship. Over the years, busy lives have led to our seeing less and less of them. But two of our grown sons have reconnected as good friends in adulthood, and we are looking forward to the wedding of their daughter in June.
Strolling down memory lane made me appreciate all over again how lucky I have been to have had a career as a childbirth educator. To share the happiness and fears and questions of families at such a special time in their lives, and then, in some cases, to play a small part in helping them to discover within themselves the confidence and power to give birth. It just doesn’t get any better than that. I have been blessed.