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By Loralee Pendedrgast, CCE (BWI)
Attending a birth as a doula can bring out many emotions, especially for a doula who has given birth herself.  This is true for me.  I have been to many births as a doula and there has not been a single birth that I didn’t shed some tears.  I shed my tears because I am genuinely happy for the moms that I help guide during their births.  However, I also shed my tears because I am sad.  But why would I be sad while I am attending the birth of another woman’s child?  The following will explain the feelings I experience as I describe the typical scenario of the births I attend. After many hours of labor, the mother will be ready to birth her child.  Her partner will be sitting next to her, holding her hand while gazing into her eyes.  The partner will gently stroke her hair and give her a sip of water.  The exhaustion can be seen in their faces from the hard work of labor.  In between the mother’s contractions, her partner will give her a kiss on the forehead and tell her that soon they will be able to meet their baby. The birth attendant will arrive and get ready to catch the baby.  I, along with the partner, will stand by the mother’s side.  We will cheer her on as she works hard to push her baby out of her womb.  She will grunt and groan, and say she can’t do it and we will persist and tell her she’s doing it.  Before we know it, we will see her baby start to emerge.  I will witness the look of amazement on her partner’s face.  The baby will slip out of the mother’s body and we will all wait for the first cry.  Finally, after what will seem like eternity, we will hear it.  The mother and her partner will be reassured by that wonderful sound.  The mother will hold her baby in her arms and the couple will look lovingly down at their baby with joy as they experience the miracle of birth! It is at this point that my tears flow.  As I mentioned, part of the reason is because I am happy for this couple who is now meeting their child for the first time.  But the other part of it is because I am sad as memories of my own births start to fill my mind like a beautiful storm going on inside my head.  After giving birth to four children, I remember the closeness that my husband and I felt as he held my hand and waited for our babies to be born.  I know what that moment feels like to finally hold your baby against your skin after those long hours of labor.  I know the smell of a newborn baby and the excitement of finding out their hair color, or whose nose they have.  I know the bond that is felt when you look in your baby’s eyes and they look back at you.  I know what it feels like to put your baby to your breast and know that you helped create this individual that you are now nourishing.  These first moments are like no other; they are special and one of a kind.  I look at the mother holding her baby with her partner by her side and I think back at my labors and first moments of birth after each of my children were born.  The tears flow because I miss these moments; I miss them badly and deeply.  They were some of the most beautiful and intense moments of my life that had a very powerful impact on me down to my inner soul.  I know that these moments will never come again for me. After a short while, I will get my emotions in check.  My tears will stop flowing and I will place my mind back into the present.  I will look at the beautiful sight before me of this couple holding their newborn baby and I will be reminded that there is truly no love like the love a mother has for her child.  The thought of this will drown out my sadness and I will leave the new family to bond with a smile on my face and a feeling of warmth in my heart.