I understand attending a natural birth class and hiring a doula may sound silly to most guys, because it sounded silly to me at first. I thought, what could she possibly do to make this birth go any better?
Well, a lot of our concerns where just about the unknown so the classes really helped us prepare for what was to come. We learned about letting go of what is socially acceptable, what is common practice by doctors, about the different stages of labor, how to manage pain, and most importantly, what my role was as the father.
With every class we became more and more prepared for our son, John Michael, to join our family. My wife and I enjoyed talking about what we learned in class on our drive home and throughout the week. Taking the classes with René was exactly what we needed. We would share thoughts, concerns, figure out what was fact vs myths, and that gave us the confidence we needed. We were no longer afraid of the unknown.
On the way home the night of our second-to-last class my wife and I were talking about what we had learned when she told me that during the class she had been experiencing “cramping” in her stomach. This was something that our OB told us that morning was probably just muscles trying to expand. Shortly after going to bed my wife’s water broke! This came as a complete surprise because our son wasn’t due for another three weeks! My first thought was, “Are you sure?” My next thought was that we haven’t taken our last class yet.
As prepared as we were, this came as a complete surprise. We labored at home for as long as possible but, when we finally met René at the hospital, it was a huge relief. In her presence we got that second wind of confidence we needed. I felt like I was Catherine’s rock while we were at home but, when the labor pains got to a certain point we needed to get the last member of our team involved. She gave us support that a friend, mom/dad, sister, or aunt couldn’t. The three of us were a team working together to bring our son into the world the best way we knew how.
Looking back now, I couldn’t imagine what the birthing process would have been like without René. I feel that mothers and fathers who choose not to make the investment to take classes and assemble their team are really missing out.
Today I look at my wife in a new light. Going natural is not the most popular way to give birth and definitely not the easiest. But she journeyed down the road less traveled, empowered by the knowledge that she was doing what women had done for thousands of years before her and knowing that this is what was best for our boy. We had assembled the team to make the journey with her and never looked back.
After the birth, telling our story to other people, I am surprised when people ask me, “What is a doula?” I tell them doula means angel. Then I explain how basically a doula is in the trenches with you during birth taking grenades!!