As doulas, we know that birth is transformative. Here musician, Linzy Westman shares the story of how her second birth redeemed her vision of birthing and transformed her view of herself.
Mother’s Day always brings with it a slew of emotions. If you’re a mom, you know what I’m talking about. For many of us, it brings weighty memories of losing a child to miscarriage, still-born life, and other tragic endings… I’m with you there. For others, it brings utter joy as we snuggle our littles to sleep and inhale those sweet baby smells. Others of us reflect on the process of bringing our children into the world, rearing them on the daily and preparing them for fruitful lives ahead. No part of that process is easy, but if I’m honest, the hardest part of that process for me thus far was birth.
We didn't hire a doula with our first child, which followed losing our first to an ectopic miscarriage. My goal was to have an unmedicated birth and although I succeeded, the entire experience left me absolutely traumatized and panicked at the idea of having to ever go through that again. He was 2 weeks late, so I was induced with a combination of misoprostol. I suffered some of the dangerous side effects of the drug and went from having zero labor signs to holding a baby in my arms 4 hours later. I can say with confidence that those were the hardest 4 hours of my life and while I received the most beautiful gift at the end of it, I also suffered from extreme anxiety, fear and PTSD-like symptoms as a result.
Needless to say, when we found out we were pregnant with our second child, I was so fearful about the birth I couldn't even speak about it without tearing up and feeling tremors of fears shooting through my body. I had a hard time even getting excited about the pregnancy because it meant I had to give birth again, and I was terrified. This led my husband and I to being a search for a doula. My goal was once again to have an unmedicated birth, but I felt incapable of doing that without something being drastically different. Enter Wendy and Kersti.
We met with this mother/daughter team over coffee and I quickly fell in love with them. Kersti had the recent experience of having given birth "without fear" herself and Wendy had this amazing mix of strength and confidence in her tone alongside a spirit of gentleness. We had met with a few other doulas in our search, but I constantly felt like they were all too soft-spoken/comforting/gentle and I needed someone a bit more direct alongside those qualities. Wendy was JUST that. We counted the cost as if it were a part of the hospital bill, because we knew to have the birth we wanted, it would require an investment. It was worth every penny!
Over the course of the next few months, we developed a great relationship with Wendy and Kersti. They answered all of our questions with evidence-based research that consistently put my mind at ease. They also gave me a lot of natural methods to prepare both my mind and my body for birth. It took a few months, but a lot of conversations and self-training, I started to feel more confident and prepared for birth.
THEN THE BIG DAY CAME! :) I started having contractions one morning about 12-15 minutes apart and that went on all day. They were mild and I wasn't sure if it was labor or not, so I stayed in constant text/phone communication with Wendy throughout the day. Finally, when they started getting closer at around 3:30pm, we headed to the hospital and met Wendy in the parking lot.
I can't even express to you the relief that washed over me seeing her face. This amazing woman, who had been coaching me for months, met me with a smile and confidence in that parking lot as we walked into the hospital -- almost like we were ready for the big game. We checked in and she immediately started diffusing essential oils, helping me get comfortable, massaging my feet, turning on music and fielding questions from the nurses as I went through contraction after contraction.
My contractions were intensifying quickly and Wendy was there every second of the way, offering new positions, ideas, distractions and support to keep me going. She knew exactly when she needed to intercede to help me more and when she needed to take a back seat and support my husband Dan as he came alongside me. Within 2.5 hours, I went from 4.5 centimeters to holding my sweet baby boy in my arms.
I can confidently say that my birth was beautiful -- something I felt like I would never be able to say and something I contribute hugely to this team of incredible women. I am positive the reason I progressed so quickly and smoothly was because I felt relaxed, supported, confident and ready to deliver my baby. After feeling nothing but panic, dread and fear with my first birth, this was life-changing for me. I felt IN CONTROL and SUPPORTED my entire labor and knew I was capable of delivering my baby boy--who ended up being 9 lbs and 3 oz!
The narrative of birth in my head and my heart were transformed completely through this birth experience -- from debilitating fear, panic, dread and terror to trust, confidence, love and even joy. I felt so empowered as a woman delivering my baby within a new state of mind alongside my doula, midwife and husband. It required a journey of learning to trust God, my body, my community and ultimately this amazing miracle of birth that brings forth life.
You can find Linzy's beautiful music here!