The mom and dad both remained in touch with me throughout the labor via phone calls and text messages. They kept me updated with what was going on, and asked for input every now and then. I offered to come over and help them periodically, but I was not hired as their doula. They wanted to do this on their own.
And I thought over and over, if only they'd invite me over! I could help them out so much! At a difficult moment for the mom, dad asked me to come over and lend an extra set of hands. This was on their second night of intense back pain. I did a ton of rotational techniques, getting mom in all sorts of various positions. But I could only encourage mom to do what felt right to her. I could not take control over her body or her labor. As much as I'd like to have, this was her labor, and she needed to make the choices.
I went home after an hour of being with them. Left them relaxing in their bed, hoping that something I did had helped, but not knowing whether it had.
A few days later I received an email from the mom, and it really struck my heart what she said;
I feel like our labor experience really created and set the foundation for our family. I've had so many reflections on the beauty of it all. So many times we try to run from suffering at all costs and miss out on the amazing, redemptive power of it all. That was the hardest thing we have ever experienced, but it brought us closer together than we could imagine and because of that the pain was the best gift. Michael was an excellent coach and I admire him so much more now that we have been through that, and he has seen my strength by what we were able to do together.
If I had insisted on going over there earlier on in their labor, when I knew that I could make things easier for them, what would that have accomplished? It probably would have made for a faster, easier labor, yes. But did you hear how that labor has shaped these parents? A quick, easy labor was not what these parents needed. A long, difficult labor is what they were given, and they excelled with it. They learned from it. And they are wiser and stronger because of it.
As childbirth educators and doulas, we give our clients all the information and tools ahead of time, but then it is up to the couple as to how they will use it.
We are not to be their guides on the journey. Even if we know for certain a better way, an easier way, how a different decision will create a better outcome. We are not to guide them along the pathway to parenthood. The parents are the guides, learning some of the most important things they'll need to know as parents - how to make decisions on their own.
We are not the guides, we are the observers of this journey. A presence along the way to witness the strength and the transformation of these parents, emerging from self into selfless.