Looking back on the labor of my son, I think about my supportive and loving husband who was there every second, and I think of Shelia. Shelia was my rock. She was there in so many ways that my midwife, nurse, and even my husband could not be, and they were all doing an incredible job.
Her knowledge of the birthing experience, hospitals, and her supreme intuitive sense made me and my husband gravitate to her guidance. She anticipated my personal needs during each contraction far faster than my husband, bless him. She got it. Then she was able to gently guide my husband, empowering him to better aid me during the labor. My husband and I both felt safe with her near. She was our sounding board for our endless wonders and questions that came up as we went along. She was our reminder to eat and drink. She was an extra set of hands to help me get comfortable. She was a buffer and support to my husband when I got frustrated with him. She was my cheerleader. Her experience and capabilities created an instantaneous trust and bond with us that got me through the most painful and tiring moments of birth.
After my son was born, I felt strong and empowered. Hearing Shelia’s words of encouragement and praise throughout my labor really meant something to me. I felt like a badass. Shelia stayed to help support my first feeding and make sure we were doing okay. She followed up with us over the following days and weeks to let us know she was there if we needed anything. I felt taken care of.
Days later, her postpartum visit was invaluable. We had taken our share of birth and childcare classes to prepare, but it’s another story when you actually have your wiggly, crying baby. She shared with us tips for a great swaddle, getting him down at night, soothing holding techniques, breast feeding positions, safe co-sleeping ideas for our bedroom, basically anything we were still needing help with as new first-time parents. She let us know we were doing a great job. It was also such an important moment to see her again after we went through the deep and powerful experience of labor together. I unexpectedly cried tears of joy, deep understanding, and gratitude for her when she walked through my door that day.
Her birth story and timeline are a treasure we will keep for generations. It was amazing to read through all the details and timings to remember moments that both my husband and I had forgotten about during whirlwind of laboring. She wrote from the heart. I will admit I was reluctant to have her take photos of the birth, but allowed it anyways. Then I was pretty scared to look at the photos afterwards in fear of how terrible I would appear. To my relief, Shelia has quite an eye for photography. Her photos were tasteful and beautiful. They created a visual story of the birth that captured all of the love and support in the room that day. She even got my good angles.
Now that I’ve gone through my first birth, I know I can do it. However, I would ask Shelia to be there for any of my births in the future. She is irreplaceable. I look forward sharing another experience with her at my next birth in years to come.