Cheryl was our doula for the birth of our first child in July 2009 - a gorgeous little boy named Samuel. It took some time to become pregnant with our second child and lots of effort. This little one, like our first, was so precious to us.
My memories of that first birth are wonderful. Cheryl was such an integral part of that special time. I was able to give birth to our first son, who was five weeks premature, naturally with no pain relief, thanks to Cheryl's wonderful support. I will never forget that day and the amazing high I felt after all we had been through to become parents.
My husband was a little hesitant about having a doula there for the first birth but after the experience that we shared with Cheryl the first time, when I mentioned asking her to be there with us again, my husband was most supportive. He was pretty nervous about the whole thing the first time, but Cheryl was not only fully present and there for me, she made my husband feel included and much more comfortable about the whole thing - and she 'looked after him' as well as me.
Our second child was born at the end of May 2014. I valued being able to meet with Cheryl prior to the birth and talk through my thoughts, concerns and preferences. Samuel was excited to meet this special lady who had been such a big part of when he arrived in the world. After our discussions, I was able to work through writing a birth plan this time (the first time, Samuel arrived before I had written one) and think about how I wanted things to happen.
My obstetrician decided to induce me at 38 and a half weeks, due to my age (I'm considered an older mum) - all had gone well with the pregnancy. It was a different experience being induced as I had spontaneously gone into labour the first time. I was able to talk this through with Cheryl and adjust my thinking to things happening slightly differently to what I had planned.
I think, for me, being induced led to what I'd call a more intense labour. Once again, Cheryl was there to calmly support me through, skilfully sensing when I needed to be alone and when I needed her right there with me. The midwives at the hospital were great but they are not always in the room with you, so to have Cheryl there all the time is wonderful. Cheryl's experience with all of this shines through and both my obstetrician and the hospital staff spoke highly of Cheryl and were happy to work with her.
Cheryl ensured that all of the hospital staff knew what was in my birth plan and they all respected my decisions and talked through options with me. The first time around, I had to stay on the bed for much of the labour so bub could be monitored but this time, Cheryl ensured that I had mobile monitoring so that I could be on the fit ball and able to move around a bit more. I started off reading a magazine as I sat on the fit ball and then as things got more intense, I listened to my iPod and Cheryl massaged my back when needed, which was most welcome. After some time, I abandoned my music and fully concentrated on the breathing and getting through each contraction one at a time.
This more intense labour led to some changes in what I had planned. I ended up deciding to have an epidural - not for pain relief but to assist dilation and progress. The epidural sped things up considerably and I had a very short second stage - I think my body was ready to do that part anyway. This felt like the right choice for where things were at the time and I feel just as positive about this birth as I do about the first time. My placenta didn't come out on its own and the theatres were all full so having had the epidural turned out to be a blessing for that reason too, as it allowed my obstetrician to remove my placenta in the birthing suite, which is not an easy process. While this was occurring, Cheryl ensured that I was blissfully holding our baby on my chest and totally enjoying some skin to skin contact, so the placenta removal did not stress me at all.
We were thrilled to have a little brother for Samuel and we called him Oliver. Cheryl came to visit us when we were at home and called me several times to check on how things were going.
The two days on which our sons were born were the most amazing days of my life so far. I am so proud of the work I did to birth our children and I fully credit Cheryl's support for ensuring that these births were all that I wanted them to be. I can't speak highly enough about Cheryl's support as a doula - and she is also such a lovely person. My husband (who hates to spend money on anything) was so glad Cheryl was there with us again and he says it was money well-spent. Samuel is such a proud big brother and loves Oliver to bits. Oliver is breastfeeding well and getting bigger each week. Thank you, Cheryl - I just can't imagine how it would have been to not have you support us through the pregnancies and births of these two much-longed-for babies.
Born May 2014