Birthed As A Doula

Dear Annie,

Words don’t come close to describing the experience you gifted me, but I feel like there’s so much beauty to remember that I wanted to try.

(art by Damien Leggett)

You laboured for 18 hours.

You pushed for 1 hour.

I saw strength, raw emotion, faith and surrender. Yet, the word that keeps coming to mind when I think of Elisa’s birth is grace.

You birthed a beautiful baby girl, and you birthed yourself as a Mother.

When you looked at me in active labour, you had the brightest eyes I’ve seen you have yet, but you were tired. You said “Donna, this is very hard.” I heard you, yet as you said this I also heard a deep trust and a depth of wisdom that I hadn’t seen from you before.. and I knew you were going to be fine.

At 7:30pm you were 5cm dilated.

At 8:30pm you were 9cm dilated.

Within this hour, you did everything you needed:

  • You rested between contractions with moments of deep sleep.
  • You turned inward.
  • You energetically asked for silence; the room listened.
  • You tapped into the ocean within you - you went with the flow.
  • You instinctually switched your breathing.
  • You guided myself and Sean on how to move you with your breath.
  • Instinctually, you switched from quiet and introspective, to a roaring lioness.

And then you needed to push. 

When you felt the doctor wasn’t coming fast enough to check your last centimetre of dilation, you raised your voice just enough to send the nurse out of the room immediately after that contraction. 

Your ability to stay clear and connected to exactly what you needed had me in awe.

The doctor arrived and after a lesson on how to push, you nailed it. “Push into the pressure” is what you were told. You likely didn’t notice, but all the medical staff’s eyes lit up with that push. They were impressed. I was beaming.

It was an hour of hard work, but there were moments where I saw your Mother, hands on her cheeks, pushing right along with you. I saw the same face in both of you and it was then that I saw the true beauty of womanly wisdom moving through the generations. 

Between pushing, you had to catch your breath. It was in one of these breath catching moments that I had to catch mine. It took everything in me to hold back tears of sweetness when I saw you turn to Sean, catch your breath, kiss his hand and whisper “my love.”

Breathless I was. But not surprised. His depth of support was awe-inspiring. He held your head, massaged you, fed you ice after every contraction, rocked you, and counted for you to name a few. His support was so unwavering I felt the need to make sure he was taking care of himself. He was. He was so solid. I think I took doula lessons from Sean that night.

Baby Elisa’s head was half out at this point. The feeling was so intense you went with the doctor’s suggestion and instead of waiting for another contraction, you went to push. Deep breath in, Sean lifted your head, you gazed down and instead of pushing said “Oh my God! Oh my God!” It was your first sighting of Elisa. The innocence of the moment made everyone chuckle, but it made you push Mama.


(art by Damien Leggett)

And it was with that push that Elisa graced us with her presence. 

Sean revealed her gender to your total surprise; “Oh my God, we have a baby girl! We have a baby girl!” To say the moment was emotional was an understatement. And this is where Elisa’s Grandmother knew to step up, showering both of you with love.

Annie, you beat the statistics at the hospital and you birthed without drugs. You didn’t even ask for them. Your strength was awe-inspiring.

Thank you for letting me bear witness to this beautiful event. That night, you birthed me as a doula.

With love,