My last three births that I have attended have been what I call Fertility Journeys.
As a Full Spectrum Doula, I assist many families from pre-conception all the way to parenthood. My specialty is women transitioning in various areas of life, but this also means supporting their partners, family members and even their pets to navigate the uncharted territory of fertility, pregnancy, bereavement, loss, labour, and birth.
The first birth I attended was a beautiful couple that had tried multiple times for 7 years to conceive and magically, right before their final IVF treatment, they found out they were expecting.
The next couple’s journey took them on travel to a faraway land where they made the choice to adopt an embryo and successfully implant it in the mother.
The third couple had multiple losses before 22 weeks due to a genetic condition. After a special genetic treatment, they conceived and were expecting a healthy baby boy.
All three couples were birthing baby boys, and that was not the only similarity.
They all had 7-year journeys.
They all had multiple losses and grief.
They all had a hard time really believing that they were pregnant and about to give birth.
They had unaddressed fear and anxiety about the birthing process, and a sense that something would go wrong. They also had the dichotomy of being so joyful that the dream they had carried for so long was about to finally come true. This cocktail mix of emotions and feelings can be overwhelming to deal with and can make it extremely difficult when you must make multiple decisions surrounding the birth process.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy being a Full Spectrum Doula. Being able to equip and assist each couple with the practical aspects of birthing a baby, as well as holding space and creating a positive atmosphere where these emotions can be felt and used to bring clarity, focus, and build expectation and joy of a realized dream.
Through my training in trauma informed care, I get to share with each couple that their birth story can be unique and not like anyone else’s. When it comes to having a baby, you may have the same ingredients but how you mix it up and serve it is all up to you. Through meditation, hypnosis, and exercises, each couple learns how to deal with their deep underlying fear and anxiety. They learn how to make informed choices about their medical care that they can live with, and partners learn how to advocate within the medical system so that birth trauma isn’t added into the final mix.
Each pregnancy these mothers experienced was healthy and without complications. Though each of them was induced in the hospital, their birth experiences were different in many ways. Each couple’s ongoing decisions led them down a different path, yet the outcome of all three of these births was the same: a healthy mom and healthy baby, which helped to equal a healthy family. This was the underlying intent of why they all had chosen to go on this fertility journey in the first place. Everything these couples had gone through was all worth it when they had their healthy, beautiful baby boy breathing softly, looking up into their eyes while laying on their chest.
When the dust finally cleared, they had learned a major lesson that is often carried through to parenthood as well: There is only one thing you can count on with pregnancy, birth, or even a fertility journey and that is …unpredictability. With all the medical advancements that have been made and information that we know about birth, this fact remains true.
During Canadian Infertility Awareness Week, as we share stories of those that are going through fertility journeys, let’s find ways to support, share and encourage couples to hire a Full Spectrum Doula to walk along the path with them.
Charmaine Hinds, Full Spectrum Doula
The WOMB: The World of My Baby