The First Birth

So I suppose I should probably announce that I have acquired my first client as a doula-in-training. Am I allowed to even call her a client if I’m not a certified doula yet and I’m not charging her? I wouldn’t want to be using improper doula etiquette.

Anyway, in order to complete my certification I am required to attend three births as the primary doula. I hadn’t really thought of this portion of certification yet, since I am mainly focused on the actual four day workshop I will attend in March that will hopefully teach me some necessary doula-ing skills. And so, I wasn’t keeping an eye on prospective clients. One just happened to fall in my lap. She’s an acquaintance of mine, pregnant with her third child, and due in early April. I was so shocked when she asked that I fumbled on the phone for quite some time. Obviously, I’m excited. I’m absolutely thrilled about it and I’m so very honored that she would think so highly of me that she would want me to be at the BIRTH of her CHILD! But mostly, I’m nervous as heck. And here’s why:

1. I’ve never attended any births. I narrowly missed my best friend’s labor and delivery, when my goddaughter decided to cannonball into the world at warp speed before Auntie Estella could make it to the hospital. Of course I’ve had three children of my own, but obviously, not the same experience. I realize that at some point there will be this first birth, but I would prefer to have at least observed one before I’m taking the main supportive role.

2. I never had a doula present at any of my births. And not just that, I didn’t even want a doula. When I’m in labor, I don’t allow anyone to talk to me or touch me during contractions. I don’t even want to look at anyone. I want to close my eyes and go to the Happy Place, and I don’t want you coming with me. When I was pregnant with Animal, I did some interviews with a few doulas thinking that I should just go with it, since it was the right thing to do. But in the end, I couldn’t fathom spending a few hundred bucks on a doula when I wouldn’t have even allowed her to speak. I also wanted to make sure that I was birthing in the exact way that my body wanted to birth. I didn’t want anyone suggesting positions or coping techniques. I wanted my body to tell me what to do. And in the end, it did. A little over two hours of silent-no-touching-me-contractions and we had ourselves a little Animal.

3. This particular momma desires a natural birth. Now normally this would be the ideal situation, right? I should be a wreck over the women who automatically plan for the narcotics, the epidural, the episiotomy, the purple pushing, and the whatever-else. But this momma has tried to go natural the past two times. During her last birth, she stalled at 8cm and she reports that her doula kept pushing her to resist the OB’s advice to break her water. She states the pain became too great, too long in transition and she caved on the epidural. She says that she’d still like to have a doula this time around, so that someone can “keep her butt in line.” It just makes me feel so terribly responsible for the outcome. And considering my inexperience, it’s stressing me out.

What if I ruin her birth experience? What if she hates the sound of my voice or my suggestions or the way I smell or something? What if she thinks I’m annoying and kicks me out of the birthing room, or even worse–what if she doesn’t have the courage to kick me out and she regrets having me there for the rest of her life? What if she ends up with another epidural and wishes that she would have called upon Patti Ramos instead of Estella the aspiring doula? It’s so huge. It really is just SO HUGE. Rationally, I know that these feelings are pretty normal. I know that there must be a First Birth. I know that there is probably some anxiety before every birth, and not just the first. I know that this is something that I will have to work through. I’d just like to start feeling a little less worried and a little more capable.

3 Responses to “The First Birth”

  1. 1 acugirl December 7, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    you’ll be great, estella! i would have you at my birth! i can understand the anxiety tho …

  2. 2 Louisa December 10, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    Yay for you!!
    How exciting… Two things you should remember as you traverse your first birth as Doula.
    Wear your rinocerous hide and her birth will be better because you are there.
    Even if you just sat in the corner and watched, chances are you would have a positive impact on her experience.
    You’re going to be a stellar doula.

  3. 3 Nicole Cayer December 31, 2006 at 6:31 am

    I found your blog because I am soon to be faced with attending MY (sort of) first birth and am having the same anxieties as you…and I’ve never even given birth.

    I’m a CBE in training…I’ve actually technically attended one birth several years ago when I was an aspiring doula. Unfortunately, the “unschedule” of being a doula was not possible with my job which is why I’ve gone the CBE route for now. That birth was also an acquaintance that I ran into at the CB classes I was auditing and they asked me to attend their birth. Of course I was honored beyond belief that they asked me to attend but I had all the same anxieties you are now facing. It was a beautiful experience and though I still had A LOT to learn (and still do) I was reassured by the parents that my presence was invaluable to them and I’m sure it’ll be the same for you!

    Good luck and if you want to chat send me an email!!

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