Birth Story Contest 2019
A Doula Letter
by Carrie Allen
for Rebecca Young Family
This letter was written by our doula, Carrie Allen, after our daughter’s birth in Canmore, Alberta. I have Carrie’s permission to submit the letter. The letter was part of Carrie’s doula package and we had no idea how special it would be to have such a wonderful gift. It was so special, in fact, that we asked the doulas at our following two births here in Ontario to write letters as well, so now each one of our kids has one. It’s hard to find the words to describe how supported I felt from all of our doulas before, during, and after our births. Here’s to all the birthing mommas who have a doula as part of their support team.
October 15, 2008
The story of your birth is one of great anticipation, intention, love, and joy. Your parents were thrilled about you from the moment they learned of your existence. They took the time during the pregnancy to learn about and plan for your entry into this world, choosing the location and their support team. They wanted to create a naturally beautiful and memorable birth experience. They knew that this day had the potential to be great and powerful, and for them, this meant without question, a birth in the comfort of their own home with the support of a midwife and a doula.
Your due date was October 7, but your parents were expecting you to arrive later. On Tuesday, October 14, your mom started feeling mild contractions at around 7 p.m. She had been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions for several weeks during the night, but something about these contractions on this particular day felt different. At 2:30 a.m. on October 15, your dad called me to say that your mom was experiencing regular contractions that were about ten minutes apart and lasting about twenty seconds. Your mom was managing well by breathing through the contractions and rested between them.
By 5 a.m. the intensity had picked up and they were ready for me to come over. Your mom was still managing the contractions while lying on her side on the bed and breathing deeply. She thought it would be best to continue in this position because she was comfortable there and could get some rest. She feared that she might run out of energy later, but I reassured her that labouring women seem to have an endless supply of energy.
We decided it would be good to try to rest for now but that soon she would likely need to get up and move around. The contractions were three to five minutes apart, lasting 30–60 seconds. I massaged your mom’s hips and reassured her that she was doing well. Your dad lay by her side, his head touching hers while he massaged her arms and whispered gentle words of encouragement. Your dad was becoming very excited at the thought of meeting you; he could barely contain his emotion. He would say things like, “we’re going to be parents,” and “it’s really happening.” He contacted some friends and family to let them know that your mom was in labour. When I first arrived, your mom showed lots of excitement too and talked and joked between contractions, but with every progressing contraction she became more inwardly focused.
At 6:45 a.m. your mom decided to try a different position, so we went downstairs and she sat on the ball and ate a few spoonfuls of cereal. She found the ball very uncomfortable and after about a half hour, decided to go back on her side on the bed. At 8:15 a.m., the contractions were getting noticeably stronger. I encouraged your mom to make deeper sounds, more like groaning or humming. At 8:45 a.m. your mom said she felt a pop inside and thought maybe her water broke. She decided to get up and sure enough, it had ruptured! Mireille, your midwife, arrived just seconds later. She checked your mom and found that she was 4–5 cm dilated, but you were still high up. She suggested getting up and let gravity and movement assist in the progression of labour. Your dad and I helped your mom get dressed and we headed out the door for a walk. The contractions were getting more intense and closer together, so we didn’t walk too far, just down the driveway and past a couple of houses. It was a beautiful sunny morning but cool and your mom, who had been very warm in the house, was now getting chilled. When we went back inside, your mom immediately went on all fours on the bottom of the staircase. She laboured there for several contractions until she started to feel a lot of pressure. We moved to the bathroom where she laboured on the toilet for several more contractions until the pressure progressed to an urge to push. I thought to myself, could she really be fully dilated already? Mireille asked your mom to walk back upstairs to the bed where she would check to see the progression. Afterwards she said, “your baby’s right there!” and so your mom reached down to feel the top of your head. Nurse Deb arrived moments later and became the final addition to your mom’s support team.
At 10:30 a.m. your dad got a warm bath ready and your mom got in. She tried several positions, initially leaning forward on all fours, then lying back, and finally squatting with your dad supporting her from behind. Your mom expressed frustration at how long the pushing stage was taking. However, things were progressing at a good pace for a first time labour. At times, your mom questioned whether she could push you out. She needed to know that you were moving down and would eventually be born. Several times your mom was encouraged to reach down and touch your head so that she could see for herself that you were moving down. Your dad, Mireille, Deb, and I echoed each other’s words of encouragement to help your mom remain strong. Once given this reassurance, that we believed she could do it, she regained her confidence and pushed with such concentration, focus, and determination. She would recite phrases like, “I can do this,” “I am strong,” “yes,” and “open.” Deb read aloud some positive affirmations that your mom had posted on the bathroom mirror.
At 11:15 a.m. your mom started to feel the burning sensation that happens near the end of the pushing stage. We were all getting very excited as we started to see the top of your head emerging. Your mom continued pushing with Mireille guiding her to do it slowly. Once again, your mom moved into a semi-reclined position, and at 11:47 a.m. on Wednesday, October 15, you were born into the warm water. With the assistance of Mireille, your dad caught you, lifted you out of the water and placed you in your mother’s arms. Your parents welcomed you into the world with smiles, tears, and words of love. As they gazed upon you for the first time, they were filled with wonder, amazement, and joy. It was amazing to witness this moment.
This was a day your parents will never forget; a day that started with great anticipation and excitement; a day that required immense emotional and physical strength; a day that was filled with devotion, affection, and continuous support; a day that ultimately filled your parents’ hearts with immense love and pure joy. This was the day you were born.
When I reflect upon your birth the words “trust,” “believe,” “determination,” and “love” come to mind. Your parents chose their support team carefully and placed their trust in us. Everyone present trusted in the birth process and believed in your mom’s ability to birth you naturally. Your dad’s deep love and admiration for your mom enabled him to be attentive to her physical and emotional needs. He knew what was important to her and remembered her wishes. He continuously reminded her how strong she was and how much he believed in her. He reminded her of the support of her friends and family; the letters they wrote, and the strand of beads they made in her honour. Your dad was continuously present with your mom, breathing and humming along with her. Your mom trusted her body and believed in her inner strength; she knew exactly what to do. All she needed was encouragement to continue doing it. She worked with such strength, focus, and determination to bring you into this world. With the start of each contraction, you could sense that she was working to push negative thoughts away and replace them with positive ones that allowed her to stay strong and focused. She would gain her strength from the four of us who supported her and from deep within herself while she moved through each contraction. It was inspiring to watch. There is no doubt that your mom experienced intense discomfort, but her determination and her love for you allowed her to fulfill her desire to birth you naturally. The moment that you stared into your parents’ eyes for the very first time, love enveloped the three of you.
I am so grateful that I was invited to share in the journey of your birth. It was truly a wondrous occasion. May you have love, faith, trust, and determination to guide you throughout your life.
Love your doula,