We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee. -Marian Wright Edelman
Back in January of 2010, I got a surprising email from a local friend. I discovered:
1) She was pregnant with her first baby.
2) She had been following my birth blog.
3) She had chosen a practice of fantastic nurse-midwives.
She also said, “I’ve loved reading about your home birth… I just am not ‘courageous’ enough to go that route on a first (maybe our next?).”
All of these discoveries made me giddy with excitement.
Then at the end of April, she and her husband attended my “Birth Coach Boot Camp” where I shared what I believed were the best ways husbands can help their wives in childbirth. Her due date was right around the corner, so I sent her home with my birth ball and my copy of The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin. And then we waited.
Nine days after her due date, she sent me an email announcing that her daughter “was born last night at 10:44 p.m. She is 7lbs 14 oz and 20 inches long. We’re both doing well.” I couldn’t wait to hear all about the birth, but I didn’t want to pester her about it, so I waited.
A couple of weeks later, I got a knock at my door. There was my friend. She said, “I have a bunch of things for you,” returned to her car, and came back with my birth ball, my book, an envelope, a typed document (multiple pages of birth details!), and a sweet treat. We chatted for a few minutes while she told me about her birth. With the exception of having her water broken, everything had gone as she had hoped–intervention-free and unmedicated. She was full of thanks for my help. I was full of giddiness with joy for her. It made my day.
After she left, I opened the envelope. It was a thank you card. She said, “I feel like I owe you a big thanks for so many things. I’ve appreciated your passion and encouragement during this pregnancy.” More warm fuzzies.
Then I read the document with all the wonderful birth details. Oh what a joy to read. Because her midwives had three clients in labor that night, it was a little chaotic for them. In the end, my friend’s baby was caught by the nurse. Her thoughts afterward: “I felt empowered, like we could really do this on our own–we practically had!” When the midwives came back in, they began talking about her needing to be stitched-up and delivering the placenta, but my friend remembers “not caring what anybody was saying and just happy to have the baby on my stomach.” The very last thing she wrote in that document was that she remembers:
Feeling grateful for the birth coach class our friend had offered. It helped me feel empowered to say what I needed without fear. . . . It also helped me to put special emphasis on making sure I provided positive feedback by telling them the things that helped. Finally, it introduced us to techniques of providing counter-pressure. That turned out to be the only pain relief we needed!
There are days when I throw mini birth-tantrums, and say, “Forget it! I’m wasting my time trying to make a difference! Nobody even cares!” And then there are days when I know that I can never stop sharing what I know and love about childbirth. The day my friend said, “Thank you,” was one of those days. A magical day.
Never stop sharing, my friends! Never give up. We are making a difference. Maybe only for one woman here and another woman there, but those women are worth it. And so are their babies. And there is nothing in the world like rejoicing with them as they bathe in the joy and empowerment they feel from their positive birth experiences. Nothing in the world.