So my son’s birth overall was a pretty traumatic experience for me. I’ll try and break this down without telling a tale that would take a week to read… I had become my own road block in my son’s birth. I had experienced a beautiful at home birth with a midwife and doula with my first born but it was as if I had forgotten everything this time, and figured I would “wing it”. What. Was. I. Thinking?? I didn’t work through the fact that I HAD to be in the hospital, this plagued me from day one since we lived in backwards Nebraska, where the military had led us. When it really came down to brass tacks I wouldn’t have had an option anyhow because I was also Group B strep positive and would be needing penicillin. What I really should have done was march onto the internet and found myself a proper doula! I could have at least had a sounding board who would have listened to my, “woe is me who must birth in a hospital” sadness but I digress- that is not what this post is truly about.
What I really want to address is the need I had for my daughter who was almost 5 (but wise beyond her years), to be present her soon to be baby brothers’ birth. I remember my mom telling me how flabbergasted her friends were when they heard I was preparing my daughter for her brothers’ birth. Then the questions would come, Why? was usually number one, but there was also a barrage of, “How do you PREPARE a child for this traumatic event” said, in a usually not so polite way. I think some people were almost disgusted by it. Why in the world would I want my daughter anywhere near the birth room when I would be delivering my son? What would she do?
Let’s start off with my why- I can tell you what I think my why is now. We had just moved to Nebraska and barely had made friends with anyone before I was to deliver. I’m not so trusting of others when it comes to my children (that is for another post) but we really just didn’t KNOW anyone enough to leave our daughter with, for God only knows how long. However, when I really think about my why it turns into a, Why not? Why wouldn’t I want her right there when her baby brother came out? Why wouldn’t I want to show her how amazing my body could be? Why wouldn’t I want to show her the amount of strength I had to birth her brother? Why shouldn’t she see her father lovingly by my side as we connected? I felt like if she felt as though she was a part of it rather than an afterthought the connection she would share with this newborn might be a bit stronger...or she could pass out and hate me forever for making her be there for it- but it didn’t go that way.
Which leads me to the preparation. Just as a new mom preps for whatever type of birth she prefers, I went over what might happen with my daughter. I had her watch videos and see how women in labor act, the noises they make, the possibility of blood, leaking fluid, discomfort- ALL of this! I wanted her to see how I might act or sound. I read her stories, I showed her where babies come out of (for the record we have yet to “need” to go over how they get their in the first place). She asked questions and I gladly answered and tried to make her feel comfortable with the idea that I would be rather uncomfortable for an unknown amount of time. She knew that it could happen at any time, letting her know that if it happened in the middle of the night we would have to quickly leave the house. I felt she was well prepared for the event of birth...and so we waited.
The time came and I did go into labor in the middle of the night and she was sleepily excited to meet the new member of our growing family. Throughout labor she even caught me off guard with her calmness and ability to wait patiently. When we made it into a room she made her way to watch cartoons but that didn’t mean she wasn’t fully aware of what was going on. Every now and then she would come to me and comfort me- rubbing my back and asking me if I was okay and then always offering a sweet word of encouragement, “You’re doing so good mom, he’s almost here, keep it up” like she was my little doula. As birth loomed she got more interested in the intensity of the room and continued to offer words of consolation as she saw me push her brother out. One of the nurses commented on her interest and gladly showed her where he was, to which she exclaimed,”I can see him! I can see his head mama!!” as her excitement grew.
I may not have hired a doula, but I had one there with me the day my son was born. I can’t imagine not having my daughter around and my heart breaks when I hear of hospitals that won’t allow siblings in during delivery. Sharing my son’s birth with my daughter wasn’t to scare her but to empower her. We were prepared as we could be, I let her know what to expect. I am fully aware that if things had gone differently and I had, my worst case scenario, a C-section, I wouldn’t have had a support person during such a crucial surgery. I do believe in being well informed and trying to avoid surgery at all costs (for myself, not that there is any issue with surgery when needed). I’m a firm believer in positive affirmations (but that is also yet another story). What marvelous encouragement she was and I am so happy to have had her present.
Brandi is a passionate birth worker and wonderful mother. Her journey to birth work started even before she had children and helped her to be the mother she is today. Brandi is also active duty military and brings a unique persectiuve and understanding to the families she serves. You can learn more about Brandi on her profile page.