Almost six months ago, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a doula at a DONA training. I have had this experience in the past, where I make eye contact with a person and I just feel like I know them. It's happened with two of my IC's and my doula partner. It's an eerie and beautiful thing when it happens … so I always listen to it!
After our training, I immediately asked Elise if she would consider working with Doulas of Berks County as a doula and she accepted!
During our training, Elise shared the birth experience of her third, amazing, child and I was blown away! What a journey to share with a room full of young women, some of who had never had their own birth experience. Because I believe there is so much to learn in sharing stories like these, I asked Elise if she would be willing to share her birth experience(s) as a way for me to introduce her to the DoBC community!
This is Elise's story...
“BIRTH SHOULD NOT BE A TIME IN A WOMAN`S LIFE WHEN SHE HAS TO FIGHT FOR ANYTHING.” -CARLA HARTLEY
Elise E Walkington
Birth Doula, L.M.T, 200YRT, SHIATSU PRACTITIONER
Hello my name is Elise, 40 year old mother of 3, ages 22, 20, 9 months. Not the 40 year old virgin obviously or I wouldn't be writing this little ditty. Would I? I mean that would be like someone who never had children before telling you how you should raise yours. Oh no honey it’s all about trial and error as it is, I do not need someone who has just read books. Anyway into my journey of becoming a doula.
Both of my older children were born in a hospital setting. My 1st son, I had opted to take medication, I was young, uneducated in birth and my rights as a birthing mom. I felt there was a stadium filled with people in my room along with my mom who was not supportive of a more natural child birth. She kept telling the nurses to give me all the drugs they had. I only took the epidural. In that state of mind having your mom rooting for drugs, being scared and having the soccer team in your room just makes sense, right? Nope.
My next baby I did a little research on my own but was still at a loss, who do I ask, where do I look? Do I know anyone who has gone the route I wanted to take? And what was that route anyway? The interwebs can be a little overwhelming with information not to mention a bit scary. My ex-husband was almost as bad as my mom with telling me just to listen to the “professionals” (not that I don't value their opinions), I just wanted a natural birth. Compared to my eldest that’s what I had? No medication, a midwife on a doctor’s team, a birthing room instead of laboring in one room then rushed to the delivery room.
After my second baby, I wasn't planning on anymore especially after 19 years! I mean hold the breaks wooohaaaa right?
I've always had a passion for helping people know their bodies and the capability it has to heal, through the power of food, spirit( in whatever that form looks like for you), and your mental outlook( hence the reason I have some tools in my tool belt ;) and so I began researching and reading, about natural births, placenta encapsulation , cord cutting, water births, how to have the best experience you can at a hospital etc. I became friends with the founders of Birth Without Boundaries, women who I felt where empowering themselves and taking back their power for births. Reaching out into the community so, I could help the women and men I was close to with my knowledge if they so desired to have it. Most of them did and those who wanted something different I searched for those answers as well.
So, third child is a charm, right? Is she even considered a third now that it’s been almost 20 years. I don't even know, I do know I'm blown away by her every day! So my third birth was what I wanted. I found a midwife who would do a home birth for my geriatric self ( did you know that’s what a woman is considered after the age of 35! ). She also provided a birthing pool which is something I wanted to do with both my boys births but was unable because the facilities didn't provide such a thing. I was able to wait out my “due date" instead of schedule a cesarean birth as long as there were no complications which just happens she decided to be 11 days late. On that 11th day I was ready, I actually called my midwife to come and swipe my cervix, took a warm bath with some essential oils and had a good friend and fellow massage therapist come over to give me some acupressure. Within that session I had to pee and it was then I lost my mucus plug, I started cramping but you sometimes go through a phase of denial and so dad and I decided to watch a movie and see what happened. I can’t recall the movie because I had already begun to go within myself trying to listen to what my body was actually saying and not my mind. I got up to go take a warm shower because usually if it wasn’t true contractions a shower would stop it.
I'm not sure how long it lasted but dad came down and asked if everything was ok because I'd been gone for a while. I said I think it’s time to start timing. At first they were between 4 and 6 minutes. I got out of shower sat in the babies room (which is where we started setting up the pool after we called the midwife to let her know contractions were a steady 4 minutes for an hour straight) I still was in a bit of denial but texted my sister who lived in Philadelphia to let her know I thought maybe labor had started but she didn't have to rush. You see I wanted a houseful of my closest peeps to be there singing and playing music and most of all laughter to fill my home and welcome the newest clan member when the baby arrived ( I didn't find out the sex because who doesn't like a surprise?).
The midwife was gathering her things to come over and I patiently waited to get the go ahead to enter the warm birth pool. My close friend texted and asked if she should head over and I agreed it was time.
That was about the extent of me having a house full and in all honesty the amount of people who were in that room was perfect. I’m also opted out of having music because I was creating my own deep guttural ooommming. I was listening and breathing. The midwife, her assistant, baby daddy, my sister and my "sister from another" were all present and just watching and listening to my needs. There was not a lot of talking but if you believe in body talk then that is exactly what was going on in that birth room.
It was quite magical, surreal, other worldly. I moved around in the pool, speaking to my child that was also in between worlds and doing most of the hard work to be born. I by no means am saying it didn't hurt but that water and the deep throat song made it bearable . I was getting urges to push around 11:30 pm I called for my dad to help me ( my dad had passed away 2 years prior, he was one of my best friends and a strong, loving, giving amazing being, I suppose I was calling on him for strength, to help this baby come Earth side). After about an hour, I looked at my midwife and said I think I'm going to take a nap, I'll wake up and try again. That’s when she knew it was time to get me to move positions ( I sometimes fall asleep under stressful situations). So up a flight of stairs to my bedroom which I felt like I was going to give birth right there and then. I made it up to my bed though and dad sat behind me while helping to hold my legs and within 5 minutes Kevi Niah had been born. I had a little girl. I wasn't afraid and had complete faith in my body, this baby and my birth partners.
Her umbilical cord had been around her neck three times but the midwife got it off and I started to massage her and she looked at me and took a breath, no crying just breathing. Next was the birth of the placenta which to me was probably far worse than being in active labor, it wasn't coming down the midwife’s assistant tried to aide me in the process but my cervix wasn't cooperating and she gave one tiny pull which ended up with the umbilical cord dis-attached. The midwife got her assistant to prepare the Pitocin shot. In my head I was like oh neck no I didn't come all this way to get a shot and so my lovely placenta was born after a few hard pushes and the midwife assisting internally. It was HUGE and beautiful and was my daughter’s life line to me. After that we snuggled for some time she latched right on to my breast. Then came the weighing and checking of vitals and such which then Kevi cried. All was well and she was a healthy 8.5 pound baby.
Thinking about all my births I sometimes mourn for my boys and their birth experience, the fact I didn't feel in my power or have the knowledge to give my best to them. And so having that with my third really gave me the push to be able to give my knowledge or to find it through networking with other amazing birth workers to couples on a similar path , wanting the best that they can and being able to honor and acknowledge their birth and body rites.