Last weekend I attended the first birthday party of one of my doula babies. I remember the details of his birth so clearly it hardly seems possible that a year has passed. This milestone reminds me of others. My first “official” doula baby – the first birth I attended after my training – is now 2-1/2 years old. The OB didn’t make it for his birth, but there was a great nurse who pulled on her gloves and calmly caught him. My first grandson, whose birth I was especially privileged to attend since it was my son’s wife who was laboring, is almost eight. He now has a little brother – he arrived just as I pulled into the hospital’s parking structure – who will be five in another month. Their new baby brother arrives some time in January. January also heralds the 29th anniversary of the very first birth I witnessed. My sister-in-law had a much longer labor than I had experienced just five months earlier. At one point as she was tapping out her labor rhythm in the rocking chair her baby’s heart rate plummeted suddenly and sharply. Our doctor moved quickly to get her into a position with her head lower than her body and baby stabilized quickly. When she was born we could clearly see what had caused the sudden deceleration. My niece had a true knot in her cord!
From that first birth to the ones for which I am currently on call, I continue to learn something new with each birth I witness, from each labor which I have the privilege to attend. Labors do not always go the way I wish. Sometimes there are “knots” in the form of medical situations or unhelpful attendants or extra long, hard labors. But whatever the outcome, each birth day ushers in a milestone – the first day of a brand new lifetime of possibilities.