Last week I got an email supposedly from a mom-to-be asking for my help. She said she was single, she was due in 4 days, and she just found out what a doula was. When I showed it to a friend she thought it might be spam, which I get a ton of because my email is all over the internet:
“I am strong on the idea of not getting the epidural on my delivery labor or pitacin, exitocin or any drug. The problem here is that i am a single mom and my whole pregnancy I’ve been living by myself, I learned techniques and exercises that help me to release the back pain.
Just a couple of days ago I learned about Doulas and I am so disappointed that there is not that much information about this amazing people that could help single mothers or not single to pass through the delivery and get the necessary support in that crucial moment.
I understand this is a very out of time my request, but if there is some volunteer that can help me that would be great.”
-Karen (name changed)
Hmmm… strangely written, but I thought: what if this was THE moment in this woman’s life when she decided to test the waters and ask for help? What if, after being so alone that she had to figure out how to deal with her own pain, she was finally just seeing whether the world could be a benevolent place when she was in need?
So, I put it out there on the Doulas Association of Southern California FB page. I asked if any doulas wanted to meet with her pro-bono and shared my concerns, and at least 5 responded. I was shocked. Who has the time to give away so much, when no one can even vouch for this person? I gave the first person her info, and told her to let me know what happened.
Eventually, I got this back from Karen:
“Thank you very much Jessica, I already contacted her and we will meet.
I really appreciate your help.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Seemed real enough. I still was a tiny bit concerned for Alex, who was going to some random stranger’s house. But then I got this:
Yesterday I had the opportunity to met Alex, she is wonderful and very nice person.
Thank you very much for finding her to be with me in such special moment.
I really apreciate all the love and help the Doulas comunity do bringing new life and supporting moms.”
They had met and all was good! I was so relieved and inspired by the generosity and trust of the birth support community. Then I got this FB message from Alex:
Karen had her baby this morning. We got to the hospital at 8cm and she had her 45 minutes later, drug free : )
I’ll admit, I got a little teary. I didn’t even know either of these people, but somehow I got to be a part of something so beautiful.
And finally, Alex posted this on our thread to share with her doula sisters:
“She had mild contractions from noon yesterday, they picked up around midnight. At 2 am, her contractions were 1:44 min apart, we held tight at home until 4 am. Arrived at the hospital at 8 cm, 45 minutes later, baby was born! She got her natural birth and felt so supported.”
I didn’t do anything except to forward an email. Alex spent many hours breathing with her and guiding her through the most intense physical and emotional experience she might ever have. I feel so grateful to have been able to witness such a life-changing act of giving, and to be part of a community that would stand by and for each other in this way.
We remember our births. Maybe the details get fuzzy (write your birth story!), but we always remember how we felt.
Did we feel alone, or like we were being held by loving hands and open hearts? Did we feel like we were being a good “patient”, or did we feel empowered to honor what our body was telling us? Did we feel that the same flow of power co-creating baby and moving baby forward in the world is within us and always will be?
The way our birth – and even our whole pregnancy journey – feels, can change the direction of our life. Like an airplane headed far far away, the slightest shift in the beginning can make the difference between landing alone in the outback vs. landing in a beautiful New Zealand sheep farm with breakfast cooking.
I can’t stop thinking that this woman might now know that being a mom does not just have to be one more thing she figures out how to do all by herself. I hope she feels that we are all connected, and that reaching out changes things.
And I also can’t help but think that quite possibly, I might have needed to remember that a little bit, too.
If you feel so moved, trying reaching out this week mama – the love is in us all, and mostly it feels good to just let it flow.