We have a secret in our culture...and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong.
-Laura Stavoe Harm
Since our birth doula was such an important part of our birth experience, and part of my motherhood journey, I cannot write about celebrating mothers without showing some serious gratitude for her.surprised at the misconceptions that people have about doulas. Early on in my last pregnancy when I announced to my friends and family that we were having a doula at our birth, I got some very mixed responses. Some people told me that it wasn't safe to give birth without a doctor, or not at a hospital. Some people couldn't understand why, with all of the nurses, doctors, and my husband, I would possibly need anyone else there. I found myself constantly explaining what a doula is, how they do not deliver the baby(ies), and how I hoped having her would effect my birth experience.
Pretty much as soon as I found out we were expecting, I started searching for a doula. I was lucky in my first birth to have a fabulous nurse who was amazingly supportive of my desires for a natural birth. I didn't want to bank on having such luck again. I wanted to make sure that I had support and that I had someone who knew many labor pain coping techniques, and someone to keep me centered. I planned to interview multiple doulas and chose the one that would best suit us.
I started searching online and found a few local doulas and set up an interview with Kristina from Three Rivers Birth Services. That was the only interview we had. From the first meeting with her I could tell that she was a caring and knowledgeable person that is in the right profession, for the right reasons. As my pregnancy progressed and became more high risk, Kristina was there for me. She helped give me the courage to be my own advocate. I felt more empowered and able to question interventions.
She was a fabulous shoulder to lean on and was always willing to chat about whatever was bothering me. I called her after most of my OB appointments, which were very often, and talked through what had happened. This helped me to really make sure I understood what was going on. I had a lot of difficult decisions to make during the pregnancy. Twin moms are often pushed towards a cesarean birth, and I had a few doctors that had that frame of mind. She never told me what to do, or gave me medical advice. Instead, she encouraged me to look into myself and find the answers within myself.
She visited me often during my many hospital stays and she was always so cheerful and encouraging. When it came time to deliver the twins, Kristina and her smile were there with me the whole way. I had a very limited space to move in, because of the monitors that were strapped to me, but she helped me to find positions to facilitate both the labor and my comfort. My memory is a little foggy, but I'm pretty sure that she pressed on my tailbone during every single contraction for well over an hour to ease my pain.
As labor progressed, I started to have anxiety and fear build up over the fact that I had to have an epidural and that although I was having a vaginal delivery, it had to take place in the operating room. It was the fear of the unknown that was so hard for me to get past. Kristina soothed me and helped me to relax, think past it, and enjoy the experience despite how far it was from how I wanted it.
I can not imagine doing this without Kristina. I have no idea what my birth experience would have been without her, but I am so happy how it was with her. Kristina was part of my story, part of my journey, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Since their birth, she has been such a resource to me, and a mentor for positive thinking. I'm so happy to know her and to call her my friend. Thank-you Kristina.
(For those of you thinking, where the heck is her husband in all this, he was there-asleep on the couch. He had actually had a terrible allergic reaction to something earlier in the day, had his actual eye ball swollen to a horrific size and was drugged up on Benadryl after his own ER visit. We woke him up right before I had my epidural put in, I believe roughly an hour before the twins were born.)
If you are interested in learning more about doulas or looking for one, check out DONA International for great information and to find a doula. If you live in the Tri-cities WA area and are looking for a birth doula or a birthing from within class, visit Kristina at Three Rivers Birth Services. She just might be the right doula for you too.