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This story is a little different. It's a story about a time, I had to use a backup. As a matter of fact, that week was the first time I had to ever use a backup, and I had to do it twice.

I met Carrie-Ellen and her husband Don a few months back, along with their adorable son Nick. As I sat with them in their living room Carrie-Ellen told me that her previous birth was what had them searching for a doula this time. That while she had vaginal birth with Nick, it wasn't the experience she had wanted.

Don wasn't exactly sure about what a doula was, and had lots of awesome questions for me, about what doula care would look like. At the end of our consultation, he said, "We are ready to do this! What's next?" I giggled a bit, because it was after that, he asked Carrie-Ellen if she wanted to hire me as well.

We met on and off through out their pregnancy and I felt confident in Carrie-Ellen's ability to get the birth that she desired.

The night that she called me and told me she thought she was in labor, was a difficult evening for me and my business partner, and usual backup, Lisa. Not only were we both at the end of marathon births, we had both had clients with losses in the same week, and other births prior to that. We were emotionally and physically depleted. To be very honest, I was struggling to not just break down and cry, as I helped another family tend to their new baby.

I wanted Carrie-Ellen to get the birth that she deserved, and that also meant, a doula who was all in it with her. It was hard to admit that wasn't me this time.

I called Ashley Minihan. I had her on alert during this week, as it seemed lots of our clients, were called to have babies at all different stages of gestation.

She promised me that she would care for and love Carrie-Ellen the way that I would, and I sent her off to their home. Carrie-Ellen seemed to take the news of a backup doula coming with stride, but she later told me she panicked a little bit as we got off of the phone, but then assured me that Ashley had been exactly what she needed.

So this story ends a bit differently. Ashley also story tells for clients, but in the form of a letter that she writes to the baby. Carrie-Ellen and Ashley have both agreed to let me share this letter with all of you.

June 7, 2018

Dear James,

Happy Birthday! Today is a very special day because you were born and I am going to tell you the story of your birth. Your mom, dad and Nick had been waiting for you for a long time. Your mom thought that you were coming a few times during the week leading up to your birth. Nick was waiting very patiently for you to arrive and on the night before you were born he made your mom tell him a story about baby Acorn coming the next day. He was ready to meet his baby brother. Your mom had been feeling contractions all day and when she was laying down telling your big brother his bedtime story she started to notice that they were pretty regular. She felt like this was different than the other nights and started to think that you may be getting ready to be born.

She spent the next couple of hours relaxing and drinking extra water and waiting to see what would happen. She was having regular contractions but luckily, she was still able to get some sleep. She spent some time in bed and sitting on a special blow-up chair that was very comfortable during her labor. Your dad was also able to sleep and save up some energy so that he could take care of you when you came and your mom could rest. Your mom was so strong! She did special stretches and squats to work with her body.

Just as the sun was coming up your mom decided to take a nice warm bath to help her relax. She and your dad talked about the morning and Nick waking up and decided to have your grandmother come and get him. Nick woke up with big plans of getting your presents and balloons and left for the day to give your mom a quiet house to focus on her labor. Over the next few hours she and your dad spent time together walking and laboring. He rubbed her back and made sure she had snacks and water at all times. Your mom loved to sit on the blow-up chair and then lean forward during a contraction. She did everything she could to help her labor progress! She spent all morning coping so well with her contractions as they picked up and got stronger.

Just before noon she felt that it was time to go to the hospital. Your dad made sure that she had everything she needed and he drove her as fast as he could. During the car ride your mom held a little spikey ball in her hand and had another ball behind her back. This helped her very much because she wasn’t able to move in the car as much as she needed to!

Once at the hospital the midwife told your mom that she was moving right along in labor and doing an amazing job. She was so happy that she was there and could continue to labor in her own way. She did some more special stretches and squats and spent a long time in the shower, lots of time leaning over the bed and swaying back and forth and also spent time on the blow-up chair. Your dad never left her side and held a fan for her when she was hot and kept encouraging her. After a few hours your mom started feeling lots of pressure and that she wanted to push.

You were coming! Your mom was a little nervous about this part and was scared it may take a very long time. The doctor told her that she could push and within just a few pushes your head was out! The doctor said “Carrie! Look at me, reach down and grab your baby.” She reached down and grabbed your little body and as you came out she pulled you right up to her chest. She started crying tears of joy and so did your dad. He told her how much he loved her and what a great job she did. She was amazed that you were here and you let out a big cry then settled in and snuggled with her. You and your mom looked so beautiful. You were finally here.

Nick was out in the waiting room and couldn’t wait to come in and meet you. Your dad was so proud that he had another son and he was so very proud of your mom for being so strong and brave. You were born into a family that wanted you very much and loved you before they even met you. They all think they were lucky to have you, but you are also very lucky to have them.

Photo Credits: Ashley Minihan

Carrie-Ellen, Don, Nick, and baby James, thank you for choosing me to be part of this pregnancy with you and for allowing Ashley to step in and witness the strength, I always knew you had.

As many of you may or may not know, Lisa is also pregnant (I'm so stinking excited!), and this birth, the appreciation of Carrie-Ellen for Ashley, sealed the deal for me. Please let me introduce my interim permanent backup, Ashley Minihan, of Empowered Begginings, LLC.

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