By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
Being a doula often requires us to miss fun events or holidays with family and friends. This week, in the USA, we celebrated the 4th of July (United States Independence Day, the country is 244 years old in 2018) and many people were actively spending time enjoying themselves with fun activities. I can’t help but recall a birth that I attended eight years ago on the 4th of July. It still stands out clearly in my memory for a variety of reasons.
My clients were having their second baby and hoping for a different experience than their first birth. Their partner was engaged and planning to be very involved during the labor and birth. Their due date came and went and about a week later, baby decided it was time to be born. It was the 4th of July. Similar to the first labor, once things started, it got very intense very quickly.
The laboring person needed to dig deep to stay in the game, as things unfolded. She worked together with her partner to cope through some pretty massive contractions that rolled through her body. I supported them both with suggestions for comfort and coping as we took one contraction at a time. Really, that was all we could do, as labor was just so big! The nursing staff and midwife at the hospital were amazing, and everyone rallied around this family to help them feel safe and supported.
Labor turned to pushing, as it does, and eventually, this powerful person moved her baby out into the world, delighted to receive this sweet, fresh person on her chest. It was about 9:30 PM and night time was settling in. The third stage was uncomplicated, and just around 10 PM, everything in the room was calm and quiet, extra staff had left and the birthing person was happily settling in as her baby nursed.
Seattle has a major fireworks event every year that begins at 10 PM, visible from many parts of the city. The nurse and I realized it was about to start and that this particular L&D room had a great view of the entire show. The nurse turned out the room lights and we both rotated the bed 90 degrees and raised the blinds. This new family snuggled together, three in the bed and watched a massive and amazing display of fireworks from our front row seats. The midwife, the nurse and I stood silently in the dark room looking out at the colorful explosions. No one wanted to break the spell by speaking a single word. All of us were sure this celebration was the welcome this new baby deserved. The entire room observed this display without comment.
As I was preparing to leave a few hours later, and began my goodbyes to the parents, I leaned in to give my client a hug as she lay in bed snuggling her newborn. I spoke quietly to her and shared how amazing and strong she was, how she is a “superwoman” and how honored I was to be able to witness her strength and courage. I asked her to always remind her new daughter, every year on her birthday, that these fireworks are all to celebrate her special and healing birth.
I have lost touch with the family, as this was almost a decade ago. But every 4th of July, I remember this birth, this amazing birthing person, the love that was in the room, the power of childbirth, the hospital staff who were so helpful and respectful, and the magnificent fireworks display that welcomed and celebrated this new life. This display seemed to be performed just for this family and this family alone.
Do you have some memories of births you attended on holidays? Do they hold a special place in your heart? Did they seem extra magical. Please share them in the comments below, while respecting the confidentiality of your clients. And happy birthday little girl! All these fireworks are just for you!