Me + baby Miles
This past week, I had the privilege of attending my second birth as a doula. Luckily, it was an equally amazing, smooth and positive experience, much like my first birth. And with permission from the parents, I am grateful to share their story.
I have known Nicki for over a decade. We met back when I used to work at Crunch gym, what now seems like a lifetime ago. When we started training together, I remember Nicki being adamant about not wanting a boyfriend or any kids. Little did she know, how drastically her life would change. I was fortunate enough to train her through different life stages, from various jobs to graduate school and then the eventual meeting, dating and marriage of her now husband, Mike. We trained hard for the wedding, usually meeting in Riverside Park to box and run stairs and I found myself consistently inspired by her dedication and consistent work ethic.
Throughout all of Nicki’s chapters, our training remained constant and alongside that, our friendship grew. So when Nicki and Mike announced their pregnancy, I was beyond thrilled. I knew they would be amazing parents to one lucky child and I was excited to be a part of another momentous occasion.
During her pregnancy, Nicki and I continued to train, focusing mostly on prenatal yoga and strength. Her and Mike even attended the yoga retreat in Costa Rica as a way to better prepare for becoming parents. It was during this retreat, in particular one morning at breakfast, that Nicki and Mike approached me with a proposition that has since changed my life. In a very special, casual and loving way, they asked if I would accompany the birth of their child as their doula. Shocked and in awe, I immediately agreed. “But wait,” I remember saying. “Do you guys know I am not a doula?”
Morning practice in Costa Rica
Nicki and Mike didn’t seem concerned that I wasn’t officially certified nor did they care if I completed the process before baby was born. They trusted me, believed in my abilities and felt confident that I would be a key player on their team, in which we fondly named Team Baby Mason. (Mason is Mike’s last name) I was really honored and felt so delighted, heart bursting, but I also saw this an opportunity to rise to the occasion.
As soon as I returned home from the retreat, I looked into becoming a certified doula and started the process. Even if Nicki and Mike didn’t need the official “certification,” I wanted to be as knowledgeable and prepared as possible. Plus, becoming a doula had been a dream of mine, but it was Nicki and Mike’s faith that really spurred me into action. (And how thankful I am for this because I got to attend my first birth with another very dear and wonderful friend!!)
Nicki’s due date was April 8th but the baby decided to make an appearance a few days early. We had spoken on a Thursday night after her routine doctor’s appointment. Not much news to report so Nicki and I jokingly decided baby wasn’t coming for at least another week. Imagine my surprise when she called me the very next day to report that she had been in labor for 12 hours already. We decided to stay in contact and wait until her contractions intensified before meeting up. And at around 11pm that night, I got the call to come over.
The beginning of Team Baby Mason
I met Nicki and Mike at their apartment and within 10 minutes of getting there, I knew we had to get to the hospital. After what seemed like a long car drive in a cold and rainy storm with a shocked and amused cab driver, we made our way to the hospital. Nicki was checked and admitted into a large, cozy private room where Mike and I took turns with an array of different comfort techniques. We tried massages with essential oils, changes of position plus encouragement and praise, all of which facilitated a labor that progressed easily and without intervention.
We were a really solid team, especially since we shared the same intention, which was to support Nicki in any way possible for a safe and happy delivery. Our preparation started a few months prior, from attending childbirth education classes and partner massage workshops to meeting several times to discuss birth details, fears and plans. As yogis, we remained open to the possibility of needing to adjust and spoke often of our willingness to change, adapt and go with the flow. And lucky for us, Team Baby Mason was augmented by the kindest and most caring nurse. She was from the same part of India that my husband is from and once making that connection, she gave Nicki even more love, care and attention.
Keeping privacy in mind, I will spare the intricate details of the laboring process but I will l say this….Nicki was a warrior. She had a completely unmedicated, natural childbirth despite being in a hospital setting. During her pregnancy, she created a birth plan that highlighted all of her preferences and desires and every single one of them was respected and honored. She used her yogic breathing and went deep inside of herself to work through each contraction. Between myself and Mike, as well as an incredible team of residents, doctors and nurses, Nicki birthed her beautiful baby boy 24 hours after being in labor. I witnessed the entire experience, watching as baby Miles emerged into this world. It was a moment of ecstatic bliss, intense emotion, unlimited potential and pure joy.
Just like with my first birth, being a doula and witnessing birth is an extremely powerful experience. Even after pulling an all-nighter, having to be more present than I ever have been in my life, working for hours using hand-on massage techniques, I still felt incredibly euphoric. High on life and new beginnings. High on the incredible power of the female, both in body and spirit. But also high on the immediate bond that is formed right in the very first moments of life outside the womb. Seeing Miles take his first few breaths deepened my own appreciation for the magic and beauty that is life.
Two births in and already I am craving my next one. There is nothing quite like the marathon of the laboring and birth process and I am thankful Nicki and Mike inspired me to become a doula. A special THANK YOU to both of them for trusting me and their support and encouragement in the process and endless gratitude to baby Miles for making his grand entrance with peace and ease. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this as part of my profession and passion!
Team Baby Mason – on my wedding day!