Thank you to John, Kate, and baby Lucy for the gift of their story! Do you have a birth story to share? Email it to us!
I’m a second-time dad, but my wife Kate is a first-time mom. Twenty years ago, I witnessed the birth of my first child, but before our daughter Lucy was born, Kate had only witnessed the highly dramatic active labor scenes in movies and TV where the wife tells her husband she hates him. Like I said, though, I “witnessed” the birth of my first child. I was in the room but I wasn’t a participant. So I was glad to attend Liz Hochman's class Kate and I signed up for. I just wasn’t terribly enthusiastic. I had the idea that Lamaze is really crunchy. You know: essential oils, meditations on the sacral chakra, and drug-free labor and delivery. Lamaze, in my mind, still had the reputation for hours of annoying hoo-hee-hoo breathing practice.
Oh how wrong I was! No sacral chakras were ever mentioned and although we covered breathing, I never heard a single hoo-hee-hoo, and breathing was only one of many coping methods we discussed.
Because Liz taught our class, we had the benefit of up-to-date research. Liz likes research! And she's great at sharing it in a way that makes you go "Fascinating!" and never puts you to sleep. Where does the research say something helps? Where does it say it doesn’t help? Where does it say we don’t know, or it’s only anecdotal but it’s not hurting? Liz armed us with choices. And over time, Kate and I made some new choices. The day of the first class, we were part of an OB program and planned on using the full buffet of available pain management during labor. By the day of the second class, we had switched to a midwife program, and Lucy was born without a single drug aside from the endorphins Kate’s own body produced. That’s not because Liz brainwashed us into thinking one way was better than another. Liz helped us to see what kind of birth plan lined up with what we hoped Lucy’s birth would be.
That birth plan meant that when Lucy was born in May of 2017, we were ready to tell the midwives at Methodist that we wanted to spend as much of early labor as possible at home. It meant that I knew we had not entered active labor so long as Kate was still laughing at my jokes. It meant that, whenever Kate made sounds from a horror movie and said her contractions were feeling scary, I had the confidence to say, “None of the sounds that are coming out of your mouth are scaring me.” And – most importantly – it meant that I was much, much more than a supportive witness to Lucy’s birth. Kate delivered in a tub at Methodist. I planned to catch our baby and cut the cord. But then we learned I could be in the tub with Kate. I climbed in behind Kate, slipped my arms under hers, held her tight, and rested my head on her shoulder. I had a mom’s eye view. Somebody asked me if I still wanted to catch the baby and cut the cord. I said: “No, I’m exactly where I need to be.” When Lucy emerged from the water, Kate and I touched her at just about the same time. I was a critical participant in Lucy’s arrival.
Lessons learned by the end of the course:
- We had the comprehensive guide to the birth of our baby – something you can’t order from Amazon because every baby and every mom and every birth is unique.
- We were prepared for what would happen during labor and ready to be flexible in case what we thought would happen didn’t go according to plan.
- We understood that the real experts in the room are mom and baby. Mom’s body knows what to do. Baby knows what to do. So trust them!
- We knew the value of a doula. The doctors, midwives, and nurses in the room have important jobs to do. None of those jobs includes what a doula offers.