Home Birth : A fathers perspective

The bumper sticker on our doulas car reads “Doulas, Dont Give Birth without One!” Being married to a doula I thought I knew what doulas were all about. My preconception and reality turned out to be a little different.

As far as fathers go I consider myself pretty hip. In the know and down with the “In” crowd. I eat organic food, I have long hair and a beard. I try to buy local and build “Green”. I even like bluegrass music. When my wife and I decided to try for a baby last winter we naturally decided we wanted a home birth.

After we conceived the ball really got rolling. We interviewed Midwives (there are many local, excellent and capable people to choose from), read books, took classes , did prenatal yoga and rearranged the house to accommodate one more person.

Being a small business owner (and male for that matter) I thought things were well in hand. The decision to hire a doula in addition to our two wonderful midwives, Amy Hendrickson and Sudy Storm, came as a surprise to me. I assumed that being a doula herself my wife wouldn’t need the “birth support” that a doula provides she would be her own doula and I would help. I am very glad she insisted on hiring one. It turned out that “birth support” included helping me!

The day before the birth turned out very differently than I intended it to. I had been working very hard for weeks to get my home building project in a spot where I could leave it for a little while to have time to bond with my new baby. The frantic pace I set actually wore me out and I caught a cold. For the first time in years I called in sick, but my number one guy at work assured me that things were in hand and I should get some rest, that I wouldn’t want to be sick when the baby came. At 12:30 my wife’s water broke.

The midwives came to our house immediately to check on baby and mother. Things looked good and I found out that it could still take weeks for my wife to go into labor. Feeling sick and tired I was relieved to hear that. At 2 a.m. Saturday morning my wife woke me up. She had had a very painful and long lasting contraction and wanted me to fill up the birth tub. I was flabber gasted. Emily called Wendy Scharp (our doula) and I called Sudy. I didn’t know what else to do. Emily’s contractions were 5 minutes apart and lasting for 2 and a half minutes each. I thought she could have the baby at any minute. Sudy re-assured me that this was just the beginning, but offered to come over if we wanted. At that time Emily told me that our doula was coming over and we could call Sudy back later if we needed her.

When Wendy arrived at around 3am I was completely wiped out. She told me to go to bed and she would stay with Emily until it was time to call the mid wives over. I got up at 7am and the labor was progressing just fine. Emily’s mother had arrived from out of town to help out and Wendy was coaching her through the contractions. At 9:30 the mid wives came over and the baby was delivered at 5:44 p.m. that evening a healthy 7lb 6oz baby girl with no complications for the mother or child. During the 25+ hour labor I found myself reminded to eat. I was given medicines for my cold, was made to take a nap, I was reassured that Emily’s symptoms were normal and appropriate and was able to spend time with Emily as she labored as her partner and not as a coach or boss.

“Birth Support” does not begin to describe what our Doula did for us. The midwives are completely appreciative of Wendy’s help and hard work. She has even helped us with breast feeding as part of her professional service.

Doulas: Don’t Give Birth Without One!

-Shastan Shannon