DADDY DOULA: HUNTER
Hunter was my Daddy Doula from the moment we started preparing for labour. He was thoughtful and articulate when it came to discussing what kind of birth we wanted and what his role would be. He coached me through the last few weeks, reminding me of times when we had summited mountains that seemed impossible to me at the time. He built this visualisation in my mind, anchoring me in times when we had physically challenged ourselves. He had thought deeply about who I am and how I would respond to this challenge. The She Births® course prepared us with so many tricks and tools that meant Hunter knew exactly how to support me during labour in practical ways.
The strongest image from our labour that hangs in my mind is of me laying in the spa in the early hours of the morning; back against the jets, surrounded by tea light candles and music I loved. My head was resting in Hunter’s hand, while he stroked my hair with his other hand. He knew how much I loved my hair being played with. He spoke to me softly and calmly, encouraging me and making me laugh. This must have gone on for hours. He was so consistent, caring and attentive. I felt so safe and loved.
When we first arrived at the hospital, I had been in labour at home for the past 18 hours. We had spent the day enjoying each other; doing yoga, cooking, chatting, relaxing. He even took me out to lunch and laughed with me as I breathed through surges in the middle of a busy cafe. I was astounded by his confidence in supporting me physically, mentally and emotionally. Once in the hospital, they performed an internal examination and determined I was 3cm along. I was hoping I’d be at least 5cm. I could have been so disheartened by this! But, not with Hunter around. He got so excited, hollering, “woooooo! 3cm! That’s the best!” He knew that I could go either be disappointed or spurred on and wanted to ensure I continued to stay positive and calm. In this moment, his positive reaction made all the difference in keeping me relaxed and focused.
Early on, Hunter set up his camera and took some beautiful photos, truly capturing the mood of the experience. When I first got into the spa, he spent the whole time holding cold towel after cold towel on my neck, shoulders and belly whilst talking to me calmly. I soon got out of the spa and retreated back to the fit ball. It was the moments I spent outside of water that Hunter truly became my lifeline. During each surge, he would use the hip pressure move we learnt in She Births® to ride it out with me. Every surge, he was right there, squeezing my hips with all he had and encouraging me to breathe. Lifesaver! During second stage, one of the things I remember so clearly was just screaming, “HUNTER! HIPS!” and he was there immediately putting all of his weight into ensuring I coped with the surges. In between surges, I remember him using the acupressure points to ground me and calm me.
One of my favourite moments was when I was in the spa and the sun had unexpectedly risen. I had just asked for the gas and was getting used to it. I started to feel incredibly high. Instead of telling me to stay calm or making me feel silly for wanting pain relief, Hunter found a way to make me laugh hysterically in between surges. He even took a ridiculous photo of me getting high, just to make me laugh. I knew having Hunter by my side would mean I would laugh in labour. I was so thankful for that.
As labour goes, it’s very much a blur. I remember him getting me onto the fitball in the shower and supporting me with one arm, while trying to push warm towels on me to keep me warm and circulate the water over my body; all while encouraging me. I remember looking up at him so many times and every time seeing a big grin and his loving eyes. He kissed me a few times and told me he loved me. He kept me going in these moments when it felt overwhelming.
Towards the end, I was so exhausted. I was finished. After 30 hours of labour, I was sure the baby wasn’t coming and that I couldn’t do it. Hunter didn’t once lose faith in me. He was by my side the entire time championing me. He was in constant communication with the midwives, ensuring our birth plan was respected and that I felt safe.
Towards the end, as I was pushing Sierra out, the main thing I remember is Hunter holding my leg and telling me how amazing I was doing and that I could do it. He was watching his little girl come into the world while also looking me in the eye, kissing me and telling me I was rocking it. I’ll never forget his face when he saw his baby girl. He was flooded with teary eyes and unexpected emotions. Yet, amongst this, he still found time to take some of the most precious photos of my first moments with Sierra. He knew how much I would love having photos of that time and instead of being lost in himself, he made it happen.
I went into labour with a husband who was dedicated and realistic. He kept me grounded. He birthed her just as much as I did. I couldn’t have got her into the world without his love, support, humour and hip pushing hands!