When my wife told me she wanted a doula, I responded simply as most men would, “What’s a doula?” She explained a doula’s role in the birthing process, and I said, “How much?” I was of course skeptical of the value, but in the end, like any first time father, I accepted that if this is something that will make my wife more confident and comfortable while she is in labor, I cannot refuse it.
The day came and all the prenatal classes, books and online resources seemed quite superfluous. My wife’s contractions were getting closer together, but the duration of contractions was not textbook.
So the birth plan said, “natural birth, no episiotomy, no drugs, etc” and my goal was to work towards that. I had no concept of the pain I would see my wife in, and how helpless I was to do anything about it. Meanwhile, as the water broke over dinner the night before, I couldn’t sleep. We didn’t head to the hospital until 8AM and my adrenaline was running on fumes.
We labored for a few hours, and then my wife said she wanted to push. Mandy helped with navigating my role as the father and husband. When should we call the doctor, what should we ask,etc. The doctor said she was at 6 centimeters at that point which meant that while things were progressing well, it was a little early to push.
Things kept progressing. Mandy saw me falling asleep and offered to get me up a coffee as a pick me up. Warning fathers: my wife couldn’t stand my coffee breath, but she timed her breathing in reverse of mine, which worked when we needed her to take deep breaths.
Things progressed, my wife labored in the tub for a bit and then as things were getting close, she went to labor on the bed. My positioning was a bit awkward and Mandy helped to have the nurses move the bed to avoid any distraction from my connection with my wife. After an hour or so of “involuntary pushing,” which we had never heard of, the doctor arrived for the delivery.
Mandy was with us as the doctor did perineal massage and stretched the cervix from 9-10cm. I didn’t even know that this stuff could be done manually, but Mandy let me know that this could be done and was not some wacky brutality.
Baby came out, all natural, without medication, tearing or episiotomy. I caught him, cut the cord and handed him to my wife after the initial examination. He was smiling within 20 minutes of being born. Awesome experience. I think Mandy being there for both support and as a sounding board made me a lot more relaxed to focus on what I needed to do most of all – support my wife through the process.