In this earthly life, you are sometimes taken on an incredible journey you did not know you had the capacity to support. Unbeknownst to me, a stop on my journey on August 5, 2019, would have me deliver a beautiful baby boy in a bathtub at 8:31AM.
A day prior, I had a strong intuitive feeling that my client would be going into labor the next day. Accordingly, I showered, said my prayers, triple checked my doula bag, and went to sleep by 8PM. Just as I predicted, my client called at 4:31AM advising she was indeed in labor but the contractions were not yet consistent. We texted back and forth and at 6AM, I called my client again to determine status. My client advised me that the pain was not too severe. It is at this very moment where it is imperative that as a doula, you become well-versed in discerning your client’s personality. During our prenatal visits, I learned how much of an amazing, self-motivated, dedicated, loving, and overall phenomenal woman my client is. However, I also learned that as a first time mom, she did not want to be perceived as a burden and that she has an incredibly high tolerance for pain. As such, when she advised her pain was not severe, I was able to translate that as her being in a much greater amount of pain than she communicated. Thank God I did.
I quickly picked up my doula bag and drove 35 minutes to her home, located in The Bronx, NY. As I expected, my courageous client was in much more pain than implied via our phone conversation. Thankfully, her devoted husband was there lovingly guiding her through the contractions like we went over in our prenatal visits.
Our prenatal visits were special for all three of us. We bonded. We learned. We taught. We created a dynamic relationship that matured into one of love, trust, honor, and sincere gratitude. We had not known each other prior to her pregnancy. In February 2019, we both happened to be at a birthday event for my best friend, and her line sister in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I would soon come to find out, my client is amazingly strategic.
While I sipped mimosas and talked a mile a minute about my love for doula work, she sipped mock-mimosas and inconspicuously listened. Little did I know, my client was taking notes on me. Towards the end of the birthday festivities, she approached me and advised she had a “friend” who recently found out she was pregnant and was interested in a doula. I was elated, provided my contact information and reiterated that I was a very new doula. Two days later, she called me to reveal herself as the pregnant woman! I was shocked yet so happy because our sisterly connection was so strong and instantaneous.
Who knew, 6 months later, I would be right by her side, supporting her in the delivery of her first child. God is amazing in that way. Within 1-2 hours of my arrival, her contractions were coming on hard and fast. I did not mention it to my client, but she was in the final stage of birthing, known as transition. The waves of pain were arriving every 1-2 minutes and were lasting for 90 seconds. Her knees buckled. She wailed. Her legs shook. I guided her through each wave. Reminding her of her strength. Confirming she is safe in my arms and in her husband’s embrace. Inhale through the nose. Exhale out the mouth. Lower back massage. Hip squeezes. Counter-pressure. Acupressure. Sips of water. Prayer. Repeat.
The arrival of her baby boy was imminent and I could feel it. As the wise birthing mother was coming to her breaking point, I felt it was time to prepare the birthing tub with warm water. I did so expeditiously. I went downstairs to gather more water and ice for the mom and just as I finished, I heard a gargantuan scream of “DÉSIRÉE!!!!” from upstairs. I calmly ran up the stairs to answer the holler. I will never, in all of my days forget the look on my client’s face. It was a look of concern. A look of a need for reassurance. A look of feeling safe(r) now that I was upstairs. I scoured her eyes and face looking for the cause of such a shriek. It was not until I looked down that I suddenly understood. Her baby boy was making his way down the sacred passageway and his head full of beautiful black hair advised us, mom was now crowning!
As faith would have it, we had only one major issue, the midwife had not yet arrived! She was in the throes of peak morning traffic. The midwife’s urgent need to be present at the birth, was of no concern of The Whitestone Bridge’s entrapment. I hadn’t experienced a vaginal birth prior to this, as I am new in my Doula journey. I took the Mama Glow Doula Immersion Level 1 in LA in January 2019 and the Level 2 in Brooklyn in June 2019. My only understanding of the progression of each stage of labor up to this point was from the teachings of my Mama Glow training, from the obsessive amount of birth videos I’ve watched, from literature, and from my innate knowledge passed down from eons of ancestral knowledge. Intuition and the strength of my ancestors is what I have to praise for what was to come next.
“Hi, this is Désirée, the doula for [client’s name]. How far away are you? The baby is crowning. What do you want me to do?”, I asked the midwife with calm shock in my voice.
“Ok, I’m about 15/20 minutes out. Allow the mom to push, catch the baby, put on mom’s chest, and wrap baby in a towel. I will be there as soon as I can.” replied the midwife as she hurried as quickly as she could to the birthing home. The baby was coming in his own timing with no qualms about it!
I collected my thoughts, swallowed the incredibly small amount of nerves I had (given the situation), and walked back upstairs. I then reassured the new mom that everything was going to be okay. I put the phone on speaker so the midwife could hear what was going on, and virtually support, as necessary. The tub had stationary glass doors that wouldn’t allow me access to the brave mother’s passageway from the outside of the tub. So I did what I had to do. I rolled up my pants, took off my watch and socks, and got right in the tub with my client. Within one push, if that, all 7lbs, 7 ounces of a beautifully glorious baby boy was in my arms. He had thee most precious cry and was full of a protective layer of vernix. He was perfect. As instructed, I placed the baby boy on his mom’s chest and wrapped both mom and baby in a towel.
I checked on my client, who in all her joy and glory, looked at me and said, “Des, you just delivered a baby”. While hearing those words was music to my ears, I ceremoniously replied, “And YOU just gave BIRTH to a baby!” We both smiled graciously at each other. This moment was my first experience with a home birth, a vaginal birth, and a water birth. A trifecta I will never forget.
I am thankful for the protection of Mom, Dad, and a beautiful baby boy. I am thankful to my client for being so amazing and for believing in me. I am thankful to her husband for providing laughter and calm. I am thankful to the midwife and her assistant for their guidance and support. I am so thankful to be called to this line of work, and most importantly, I am thankful, I listened.
It is an extreme rarity, that a doula would have the opportunity to physically usher a baby into this earthly world. I feel and felt such honor. I bow my head in gratitude. Birth work is a privilege. A blessing. And an honor. To be allowed in such sacred spaces brings me incredible amounts of joy.
When you are walking in the right path, God affirms you. We must listen, with intention, to what our spirit is telling us. I pray that as you listen and walk on your own sacred journey, that you are allotted life changing experiences as the one I experienced August 5th, 2019. Doula work is the right career path for me. If I ever thought otherwise, I was confirmed that day.