Still new to the "doula" scene, but thought I was flawless. My first few births were smooth sailing, and I was confident in the support I provided. But alas, I have been humbled. Even though this last birth was successful in its ultimate goal, I walked away feeling like a failure and wanting to quit.
I have had a few sleepless nights since the birth (on top of the sleepless night during the labor and birth), and I think I have finally gotten some of my emotions and thoughts together.
I watched a VBAC momma hit mental block after mental block, and I sat there...helpless...not knowing what I could do to help. Not only have I attended a VBAC before, but I have VBAC'd myself! I know all about the mental blocks that a woman experiences as she tries, yet again, for a vaginal birth. I am "miss emotional support"! What happened to me? Why couldn't I say the right things to help her move past these?
I was so full of doubt and disappointment (in myself), that I forgot about the other important things a doula needs to do. I stopped reminding her of position changes, I stopped protecting her from inconsiderate comments made by the "medical professionals", I just stopped. And labor got "stuck". I took a break (one of many) and went home to have dinner with my family. I was a complete mess. Sobbing over the idea that I was a failure and I was failing this tremendous woman who "needed" me so badly. Thankfully I have a husband who has his head on a little straighter than I do. He calmed me down, reminded me that this wasn't my birth, and also reminded me that only one person can move through these blocks - the laboring woman. And he was right. I hit block after block, and although I had a massive amount of supportive women around me, only I could move past them. And I did.
I went back to the hospital (my husband's words had not rang true with me yet), and tried to get out of my head and into the birth. Luckily for me (and I think for all of us), a good friend of ours came to offer some extra support. She was like a doula for all of us. She gently reminded position changes and relaxation. She encouraged physical support that I wasn't expecting to do - which was awesome because I felt useful and got to use my homemade oils!
And then she pushed. And while she pushed, I wanted to punch the rude nurse standing across from me...but I didn't. We whispered words of encouragement and love. And she pushed her baby out into her open arms.
Could I have done more to support this amazing woman in her labor and birth? Absolutely. Will I ever forgive myself? Probably not. But I am going to try. And I am going to take so much from this birth to help me move forward and grow as a doula.
I am truly honored that I was able to witness this beautiful birth, and I am thankful that I had this experience.