Sometimes, there are reasons we go through challenging times in our lives. We may not know it at the time, but there is a lesson or even a gift , even after the most trying times. Many moms don’t get the birth experiences they had envisioned. Some moms are traumatized by their birth experiences. But hopefully, the end result is as beautiful a story as is this story written by doula, Alisa Okamoto.
I am a doula. But long before becoming a doula I was a teacher. I studied 6 years in college and graduated with my masters in education. I thought teaching would be a lifetime career but then something happened, I gave birth. Or rather birth was taken away from me. My journey to becoming a doula all started on the crooked path of when my first labor derailed and resulted in an entirely different experience from what I intended.
I thought I was well prepared for the delivery of my first child. My husband and I took a childbirth education class, toured the hospital and read way too many books. I couldn’t wait to meet our baby; I was excited and welcomed labor. But nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. After 24 hours of labor with countless interventions and 3 hours of pushing, I was wheeled into the OR for a C-section. Within minutes of my son being born the OB told me on the operating table that my pelvis was shaped like a canyon and that I would never be a candidate for a vaginal birth. I cried, grieving the birth that could have been and the thought that all future births would be the same. My recovery was difficult and the first months of motherhood were dark but I made it, we made it.
When my sweet boy turned one year I discovered I was pregnant again. I scoured the Internet for information surrounding VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean) and interviewed three OBs before finding one that would support me. During my second pregnancy I focused on trusting that my body and my baby would work together perfectly to have a natural birth. And we did just that. My precious girl was born out of my vagina and I was so happy I shouted my birth story from the rooftops and had a birth high that lasted for months, maybe years. Shortly after her birth I became involved with ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) of San Diego and helped women across the county to become advocates and take a stand for what they believe in. During this time I submerged myself in the natural childbirth community. In 2010 I had my third baby, a boy, born at home surrounded by an amazing team of midwives, doulas and friends. When my youngest boy turned one year I completed my DONA training and started attending births as a doula. I instantly knew my passion for birth and compassion for women would come together to define my new lifetime career.
The contrast of meeting my babies is huge. The first in an operating room with my hands strapped to a table crying tears of sadness compared to the third, in my own bedroom, reaching down and pulling my baby to my chest crying tears of joy. There was so much time that I spent shaming myself and the experience of having a C-section but those days are done. I now know that my first birth, even though nothing at all of what I imagined, is the single most defining experience of my life. It is because of that day that my path in life changed. It is because of that day that I am a doula and because of that, I am forever grateful that birth was taken away from me and even more grateful that I got it back.