My mother is a doula. She’s extremely well suited to it. She’s warm and affectionate and one with nature. She’s a calming presence, a former Catholic with Buddhist leanings, and her hands are soft and warm.
Also she likes horror movies. The gorier the better. So, you know. Perfect.
Many years ago, she was volunteering at a hospital as a translator and got pulled in to help a Spanish-speaking woman deliver a baby. Rather than run out of the hospital room screaming, “my eyes! my EYES!”, as I imagine I would have done, she decided to become a doula. In order to witness MORE live births. To each his own.
Once I find out I’m pregnant, I decide that she’ll be my doula. I get mixed responses to this; some people recoil and say they could NEVER have their own mother in there, what with all the fluids and the yelling and the proximity to one’s vagina. I get that, but it seems like a good idea to me as long as I don’t think too much about that last part. Since she’s my mom, though, I have to confirm that I can at any point during the birthing process tell her I hate her and to get the fuck out, and we can still be friends afterwards. She assures me that she understands, and that she’ll treat me like any other client.
In our first meeting, she asks us about our birth plan. Which, apparently, is a thing. Who knew? She asks us if we want to talk about home birth. Pretty sure I never want to talk about that ever again. I don’t judge anyone’s choices, truly, but I personally do not want to give birth at home, or in a field, or by moonlight in an inflatable pool under an oak tree. I want stainless steel and beeping electronics that light up. People say that like it’s a bad thing. I ABSOLUTELY want it to be treated like a medical emergency. Epidural? Yes please! This is America. As my father is fond of saying, “what’s the point of living in a first world country if you don’t take advantage of air conditioning and pharmaceuticals?”
As I start looking more carefully at this whole birth plan thing, I learn that there are templates all over the internet, and, as it turns out, there’s an app for that. The templates prompt you with extremely specific questions: What temperature would you like the room to be? Are you opposed to drugs? When and how and which drugs do you want? Do you want a birthing ball or a birthing stool (what?)? Who will be in the room with you? Do you want a mirror to watch the baby come out? SERIOUSLY, WHAT?!
I end up with a three-and-a-half page page birth plan, typed, bulleted, and crafted with love. By the time we get to the actual birth, it’s months later and I have been through Lamaze and yoga and “prepared childbirth” classes. I’ve read more, learned more, talked to my husband more, and waffled on nearly every decision from the original document (except for the mirror. Holy hell). I know the signs of labor, when to call the hospital, how to breathe at which juncture, when to ask for an epidural. I have my hot water bottles and my ipod, and I have a photo we took at Sea Ranch to focus my breathing on during contractions. I am PREPARED for childbirth.
At no point in all this preparation did it occur to me to read about c-sections. Whoops.