Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I have been toying around with the idea of hiring a Doula. After Miles's birth that although was "natural" (as natural as being induced at 33.5 weeks can be), I realized how woefully unprepared I was (and I still contend that it wasn't really me who gave birth.) It was totally out of body--disembodied. Terrible? No. Ideal? No.
Clearly my first step in preparing for Kilo's birth was to schedule some sort of birthing class PRIOR to 34 weeks. But this just didn't feel sufficient--especially because I am delivering at the (gulp) baby factory. And I also have this fear that Eric will be driving Miles around to somebody's house at 3am to watch him while I deliver, and somehow he'll miss the whole thing. I'll get the the hospital by MARTA bus, water breaking along the way, and I'll scream for Propofol (the stuff MJ used to sleep) and wake up 24 hours later with a 28 inch scar around the whole circumference of my abdomen, a hysterectomy, breast implants and a baby being fed formula in a nursery far away from me. Slight exaggeration...
The truth is, I really want an informed, educated mother figure to help guide me through the deliver. Would I like it to be natural? Of course. Am I completely 100% against an epidural? No--and I only say that because I realize after Miles's birth that birth plans just set you up for disappointment. What I want and need is birth preparation. This was the first thing I said to our Doula when we met for tea: you cannot plan your perfect birth, but you can prepare.
They say that those seeking Doulas either look for a "sister" figure or a "mother" figure--Guina, our selected Doula (as long as no one else snagged her 2 spots for February!) is certainly a "mother" figure. I have the "sister" figure already down. Mama C was at Miles's birth, and if all things go okay (and she can find coverage for her own little munchkin during the L&D), I would be honored if she could be there again.
Guina comes highly recommended from the group Labor of Love. Pricey? Zoom in on my empty wallet (anyone guess the Broadway play?). But I truly think her guidance will be worth it. She will serve as a repository of all sorts of information and help starting the day they deposit my retainer, and will be on call 2 weeks prior and 2 weeks after my due date. When we met, we talked extensively about my history with preterm delivery, and she assured me that she would make a note of that and that I should keep her abreast as much as possible about the trajectory of my pregnancy. I look forward to all of the books and articles and conversations we'll have in the coming weeks/months. I also hope we can take her immersion birthing class in December. I am also excited because she will write up her own account of my birth as a draft, and then offer both me and Eric the opportunity to add our own details and sentiments. She also takes pictures and provides you with a CD at your postpartum meeting.
What I really loved about Guina was that 1) she came totally prepared (references, copies of her certifications, lots of background information, etc), 2) despite the detailed preparation, didn't have an air of "business meeting" about her; it was like having tea with an old friend, and 3) had some amazing ideas and techniques about dealing with labor. I loved that she cast no judgment--and that she made a great case for her presence and value even if you ended up with a c-section. She values every birth the same--and if she needs to spend hours massaging your feet or shoulders playing Enya on her iPod while you prep for a C-section, she'll do that...or she'll guide you through an epidural if it comes to that, and work on strategies for effective pushing. Now, in a perfect world I would be birthing in a field in the middle of the most gorgeous open pasture, but let's be honest folks. I am delivering at Northside Hospital! But she does have experience with Northiside, and even though I may not be able to deliver in a tub, she said she can set up a sanctuary in the bathroom so I can labor on a ball in the shower, or cushion the toilet with pillows if I have back labor and have a small flashlight to provide a calmer atmosphere.
Let me break by saying that Eric attended the meeting with me and felt the same sense of calm from Guina. Although it is a joint decision in part, he really left it up to me whether or not I felt Guina was a good fit. I never want Eric to feel like I don't think he "is enough," or that he doesn't hold an integral part in Kilo's birth. What we walked away from our meeting understanding is that the Doula is there to shepherd you through the process and enhance your family's birth experience. She is not there to replace anyone, but offer guidance, support and love.
All in all, both Eric and I are feeling really good about our decision. My bank account may not, but in my heart feel that her spirit will be a much welcome addition to delivery room.