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How To Keep a Mama From Losing Her Mind at Birth

This is G. This is G throwing a tantrum on the day her mom gave birth. Little Miss G was born 2+ years ago at a Bay Area hospital and I had the privilege of watching her enter the world. This time around her mama chose home birth with the a marvelous midwife.

Wouldn't you know it, G's mom began her birth in the middle of the night when G. was fast asleep, as so many second time mamas do. All was well until mama's birth moans roused G. out of a deep sleep. Dad dashed upstairs to comfort/quiet G. and I followed soon after; baby was coming and he was needed! Back downstairs he went while G and I snuggled in a rocker. My job was to try and keep her as quiet as possible so mama could feel uninhibited--it's hard to have a baby when you're worrying about your toddler. A family friend arrived to relieve me, and I handed G off. But as soon as I opened the nursery door to make my exit she began crying again. Then mama yelled up, "Will someone please take care of G?" Ruh roh. Not wanting mom to be disturbed, I realized that II wasn't going back downstairs to be a doula. Instead I sent the friend down to witness her first birth. G and I resumed rocking while Youtube cast its magic spell on her.

G and I rocked and mama birthed. Soon we heard the beautiful sounds that signaled the final moments of pushing, followed by happy voices and baby's first cry. G and I traipsed downstairs so she could meet her baby brother and we saw her mom's glowing, joyous face. Then back upstairs again to get G dressed, brush her hair and off we went on a walk (the better to keep her little hands and feet occupied). We petted dogs, looked at flowers and stealthily picked and ate plums from an obliging tree. Somewhere along the way a tantrum ensued and G threw herself on the ground, her head ka-thunking on the asphalt as she landed. I made sure to snap a photo thinking it would make a good story one day. Later that morning as I tidied the kitchen and made breakfast for mama, I pondered on the work of a doula. The truth of the matter is, I'm there to do anything that’s needed in the moment. Sometimes it's holding mom's hands while she squeezes them so hard that I'm sure my fingers will break. Sometimes I hold dad as he weeps, other times a vomit bag for mom. I wash blood off of her legs as she holds her new baby in her arms. I wipe sweat from her brow and wipe poop when she pushes (and then reassure her that lots of women poop during pushing). And sometimes, I'm there to soothe a toddler's tantrum. All in a day's work---and all of it brings me joy.

xo Alicia

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