the happiest days

...are the days that babies are born. I think that's a quote from Miss Melanie in Gone with the Wind. I'm too tired to go and look it up. Let me clarify. I did not have a baby. My friend Catherine did!

Many years ago, in another lifetime, I was a professional childbirth educator and doula. If you're not up to clicking on the link, doulas provide labor support services to couples during (and after) their birth experience. Neel and I had an amazing doula at Callum's birth (and an amazing birth, as well), and after that I was caught by the birthing bug. I like works in progress, and, let's face it, I like drama too. What can be more dramatic than the day that a little baby is born?

For various reasons, my life shifted away from labor support when we moved from California (where Callum was born), but I've been known to come out of retirement a time or two to do a brush-up childbirth class for some friends or stand by the side of a couple as their baby comes into the world.

Four years ago, when Tyler and Catherine had Elliot, they asked me to be with them for what turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, and ever since then Catherine has said she wanted me "on the books" for when the time came around for the next one to arrive.

That time was yesterday.

IMG_3240 Hello, Landon. Welcome to the world.

If you're not so into birth and birth stories, you may want to skip this part, but I'll be brief. I understood what Catherine (and Tyler too, really) felt, about needing me there, because I've felt it too. That, "I couldn't have done it without you feeling." But truly, she did all of the work. I was just there to show her what a wonderful job she was doing. If I can get soapboxey for just a moment, I'll say that while I have opinions about ways in which the labor process just "works," and maybe even works better, unless it's actually my birth, it's not my birth. I have no right to impose my judgment on how any woman chooses to experience her child's labor and birth. As a doula, my role was to advocate for you. To support you and to create a safe and nurturing, intimate environment for a couple to go through the process of birthing their baby. Catherine wanted as little intervention as possible in her labor, and my role was to support her in getting that.

She'd done it before with Elliot, and, with me there or not, I had no doubt that she could do it again. Of course she did. She and Tyler make an amazing team. He may want to crack a joke, but he knows not to, and he'd do anything for her. You can just see how proud he is of her. He should be. I am.

Many times I've grown close to my clients. Sometimes in situations that were too tragic to comprehend. Sometimes I was lucky enough to be at the births of friends' children. Those are the best. But this? This was extra special. Catherine is right next door to me, and we've grown very close, especially in the four years since Elliot's birth. Especially in the last weeks of this pregancy. She may have felt like she needed me to do this thing, but I was so honored to have been asked to be there. This may be the last baby I see come into the world in such a way. I can't imagine a better way to do it.

And that little guy? Not so little! 9 pounds, 13 oz. Mom had no meds. She's a rockstar.