The ultimate dream birth of Jacuzzi bubbles and doulas
When I got pregnant with my first child, I’d just moved far away from home, and my mother had recently died. I decided to hire a doula to give me support through pregnancy and labor.
My husband and I lived in a “free spirit” area of Northern California, and many doulas pushed a drug-free birth experience. That was fine with me because I didn’t want an epidural for several reasons, including prior back trauma. My husband and I found a doula named Breeze. She assured me that she would be there for me no matter what happened during my experience.
At birth group, she showed a video in which a large family sits down to lunch. A pregnant woman paces the room, groaning. The family ignores her and eats. The woman goes outside.
Some guy is out there, standing akimbo and staring at a field. She drapes her arms around his neck. She moans louder, like some mutant sheep-zombie in a B movie. She strips and gets into a tub. It’s a cross between a 70’s hot tub and a blue plastic pool they sell in the parking lots of hardware stores—the ones painted with octopuses and smiling flounders holding tritons. The field-guy (husband?) gets in, too. I pray that they’ve recently bleached the tub.
All of a sudden, a young boy jumps into the tub. I kind of hope it’s her son but kind of hope it’s not. I know that some people think it’s important for siblings to be a part of the birth process, but I think it’s cruel and unusual to make a kid watch his mother howl in unadulterated torment, only to have her turn alien and expel some blob that will do nothing but scream and someday take his tricycle.
The woman grunts and thrashes in the tub like hooked trout. Eventually, she holds up a baby.
Breeze snapped off the TV, looked at all of us pointedly and said, “THAT’S how birthing should be done.”
I tried to imagine how I could achieve such a birth. When contractions started, I’d find my husband gazing at the flower beds and then we’d hop in our Whirlpool twelve-jet. The neighbors would get an eyeful of Jacuzzi bubbles and a crowning head when they popped over to retrieve a badminton shuttlecock that went amiss. Their kid would cannonball into the hot tub as I pushed, and we’d all laugh and revel in our community togetherness. My husband would grab the pruning shears so he could cut the cord.
At nine months, I started having severe gall bladder attacks that made eating and sleeping impossible. Breeze was disappointed when I told her I was being induced two days early. She was even more disappointed to hear that I was giving birth in a hospital instead of some neighbor’s kiddie pool.
“If they give you Pitocin, you’re definitely having an epidural,” Breeze snapped over the phone. She grumpily said she wouldn’t meet me right away because “they’re gonna make you sit around all night anyway.” This was completely true. When you’re induced, they poke you with IVs and cervix checks all night so you don’t sleep a wink.
Breeze never even showed up. She sent her assistant, Conifer, instead. Conifer was calm and helpful and knew pressure points that dialed the pain down from “Drawing and Quartering” to “Unbearable.”
I’m glad that I had Conifer there. Doulas are knowledgable, calming, supportive advocates. But I would advise women to do research and make sure they pick a doula who will support their clients regardless of the route the birth ends up taking.