Our birth experience was exhilarating, transformative and a definite rite of passage. It was challenging but not overwhelming; it was intense but not frightening; it was very long, but not unbearable. My husband, Trent, and I felt in control throughout the whole process, despite the fact that so many aspects of the labour were unknown and unexpected. We could not have had this type of birth without the support of Cheryl, who walked alongside us through the pregnancy, middle-of-the-night visits to the pregnancy-assessment-unit and an overall 66-hour labour.
I realised in the early stages of pregnancy how little I knew about the birth process and in fact what my own body was capable of achieving. I wanted to engage the support of a doula to be able to have a birth that felt safe, informed and as intervention-free as possible. Cheryl was empowering in the way she offered information about the birth process, drawing on a wealth of knowledge but always very clear that we needed to do what felt right for us. She was consistently warm, encouraging and present in her interactions with us. We had completed a hypnobirthing course 2 weeks before we were due, and Cheryl’s approach to birth was very aligned with what we had learned.
Cheryl helped me to feel confident about my options and alleviated a lot of anxiety I had about giving birth, by supporting me to stay positive, trust in my body, call upon my inner resources, and draw on Trent for grounding and strength. She helped Trent and me to work together as a team through labour and we found the experience to bring us a lot closer together.
In birth suite, Cheryl was an extremely nurturing and soothing presence. She was able to advocate on our behalf and support us with decision-making during a time when my awareness was completely focused inwards. She and the amazing midwives at the Mater Hospital helped me to stay motivated, focused and connected to the baby through some of the more difficult phases of labour. The practical support Cheryl provided was also incredible; from knowing just the right time to put socks on my feet or heat packs on my lower back, to keeping me hydrated between surges and bringing me vegemite toast after the birth :)
Despite having to deviate quite a bit from our birth plan, we could not have been more thrilled with the way our baby boy Ari arrived into the world. I have a newfound deep respect for the female body and what it can endure and create!
Thank you Cheryl, for making the most significant and memorable event in our lives so far a positive and empowering one.
Love, Thania, Trent and Ari. August 2016