This week was my daughter’s eighth birthday. My beautiful, kind, laughing child is growing up. She likes dolls and boys and climbing trees. She’s so friendly and into other people’s business I’m convinced she’s the next Mrs. Lynde. One minute, she’s a little girl, the next, a young woman, way older than I'm ready for her to be. I am blessed to be this child’s mother.
Her birth is what made me a mother. She brought light and love into my life in a way I’d never experienced and changed me forever in ways I could never have anticipated. It shaped me to be the person, mother, and doula that I am today. But the circumstances of our lives at the time, her birth, and our following complications were one of the most difficult times of my life. I’ll never be the person I was before she was born.
My daughter’s birthday is a day of joy. It’s a day of celebration and I don’t allow the trauma of her birth to cloud that joy. But especially the day before, I remember. I remember my naivety as I walked into the hospital on that Ash Wednesday night eight days past my due date. The feeling of inevitability and disbelief that this was happening.
What followed was a medically unnecessary induction which, from its starting point, I had nearly a 50% chance of needing a c-section. But I didn’t know that. I’d been told an induced labor was the same as a natural labor. Finally, 30 hours after the first dose of cytotec and 18 hours after pitocin, I was taken into surgery for the surgical birth of my child that I’m still not convinced was necessary at the time and am absolutely sure had been completely avoidable. But that’s not where it ended. My doctor also messed up the surgery and didn’t get everything out. After ten weeks of cramping, bleeding, and not having enough milk for my baby, I passed the last of what should have been removed in surgery.
During that time, I was completely blown off by my doctor. By several doctors and everyone else actually. I was told by my medical team that there was nothing wrong with me, that I must have an intestinal bug, that some women just can’t produce enough milk, that there was nothing wrong. To this day, none of that is reflected in my medical records. I was told by “friends” that the problems we were having were my own fault because I never should have consented to an induction and epidural. People were terrible and no one listened.
To add to the equation was the fact that we’d just moved over 4000 miles less than a year before and my husband’s employer refused to allow prearranged time off because the baby hadn’t come "on time.” I had to go back to work before it resolved and then my grandfather passed away when she was four months old. I know about birth trauma. I know about postpartum depression. I know about feeling alone. I lived it. It’s not supposed to be that way.
Birth is more than the safe delivery of a baby and a woman is more than a vessel for that baby’s growth. Birth is a physical and emotional experience that helps create a family. So often that’s forgotten. Emotional health is as important as the physical. And so I work. I work for the women I serve so that their experiences are better than mine. So that they know what they are choosing and look back and own that decision. I work for change so that my daughters have better care than I did. As a doula, I don’t save people. I help them find information, I hold their hand, I rub their back, I help them through, and I make sure someone is listening.
Adina Nelson, CD(DONA)
I am a birth & postpartum doula and chlidbirth educator practicing in North Idaho.
She was there every step of the way for me and my husband...I thank Adina for everything she helped us with. She truly is a special person and we will be forever grateful for her! ~Erin