Thank you note to my doulas

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Thank You Doulas

I Got My Peaceful Birth

Ariel S. - first-time mother, aspiring writer

To my dear doula team--

Okay, in defense of my tardiness, you failed to warn me that babies cause actual warps in spacetime. But you’re long past due for a proper thank you.

Now where to begin? You were with me from the first trimester. You offered nutritional counseling, brushed the disastrous post-pushing hair to which I was oblivious, taught me how to help my baby latch not chomp. But these things only skim the surface.

Throughout pregnancy, I read and researched in preparation for an empowered, low-intervention birth--only to discover after my preeclampsia diagnosis that most of my favorite birth books wrote off “complicated” births with a sympathetic “Sorry, not our department.” But where books failed me, you shone.

Doulas are often mistakenly thought as just an ultimate crunchy home birth accessory, but I do not know how I would have navigated the medical system without you. Even from the early days of pregnancy, in a whirlwind of rotating nurses, doctors, and midwives, you were a constant. You coached me in how to speak with my providers and built up my trust in my care team. When a heavily monitored birth became inevitable, you guided me through what to expect, even contacting a local OB for a play-by-play of a preeclampsia induction.

You helped me process my fears and disappointments as plans unraveled (and did not bat an eye when I announced I no longer believed in birth plans a few days before I went into labor). I’ve often been patronized when nerves got the better of me. But though you saw me go full basket case, not once did you make me feel less than intelligent or capable. You treated every emotion as valid, even as you eased my mind with your calming perspective. Your confidence kept me in touch with my own guts.

In the end, I saw less of you than I intended during labor because (plot twist!) our prep together had so readied me for the experience that I didn’t feel the need to call in reinforcements until my baby was just hours away. From the time I arrived at the hospital, I knew my options. I knew the questions to ask. And even shaking and loopy with adrenaline, I was not afraid.

Who would have predicted that I could feel so self-assured waddling to the car with bag half-packed and amniotic fluid squelching in my shoe, or trailing a million tubes and a patient husband down a hospital hallway in the wee hours of the morning? I guess the scenery was less impressive than if I’d squatted in a field in the beams of the rising sun. But I was an active participant in every aspect of my beeps-and-needles labor, and I loved it.

I said from the beginning that a peaceful birth was more important to me than tub or stirrups, hypnosis or epidural. And because of you, I got my peaceful birth. But more than that, I got a happy birth. I got a birth story I am eager to share not to shock or horrify, but to encourage. And I will carry that with me forever.

So thank you. Thank you always.

Ariel