I had never even heard the term “doula” before I moved to Maui. Lani Morris says she prefers the term “labor assistant” anyway, but in my mind she was so much more than that! My husband and I decided a doula would be a great help to us because we don’t have family close by and we had to have a hospital birth because of insurance restrictions. Lani is the wise and soothing female authority we wanted in order to keep us on track with the natural birth we planned.
I went a bit overboard with my research, and it would have been easy to get overwhelmed by all of the possible outcomes and different choices for our birth plan, but fortunately Lani has assisted with births here, so she knew which decisions were relevant to Maui Memorial. No one there minds if you want to eat or listen to music or get in a funky squat on the bed, but they do offer you pain meds right away, so it was great that we discussed with Lani beforehand what our limits were and how we’d all work together to make decisions.
In the weeks and days before the birth, Lani came by often to talk about our concerns, practice labor positions for easing pain and increasing flexibility, and to massage my legs, bless her heart! We learned so much about each other in those intimate talks that I now consider her one of my closest friends.
By the time the big day came, we couldn’t imagine doing it without our birthing team. When I was eight days past my due date, and the amniotic fluid was dwindling, my doctor suggested we schedule induction for the next morning. I was scared, but Lani was there and assured me it was my choice, I didn’t have to.
My doctor offered to “sweep the membranes,” another term I’d never heard of, as a chance to avoid medical induction. We went for it and crossed our fingers. I woke at 5a.m. with strong contractions three minutes apart. By 7:15, Lani was at our house and we decided to make the move to the hospital. I had to laugh thinking of all the prep we’d put into laboring at home, and then it went so fast!
It was hard being in active labor in traffic, since it was just before school time. I had to lay the car seat back as far as possible to feel like I wouldn’t have to push. I actually chose to ride with Lani rather than my husband, just so his nervousness wouldn’t make me irritable! It was also a challenge to wait through hospital check-in, even though it was quick. They offered me a wheelchair, but at first I felt I had to walk, just to keep composed. By the time we were in the elevator, I was ready to be wheeled in.
Our nurse turned out to be the same one who’d done our birthing class, so it felt comfortable knowing my entire support staff. (Jessica is also a lactation consultant; look her up!) She asked if I wanted pain medication, and I said, “Not right now, but thank you.” I figured I’d try and see how long I could stand the pain. The fortunate thing about having scheduled an induction is that Dr. Adrian (also awesome) arrived just as we did. On her first check I was 6 centimeters, and within 20 minutes I was at 10. No pain meds needed.
The bed was raised up so I was practically sitting, and I opened my legs wide in an “air squat,” a position suggested in birthing class and endorsed by Lani. My husband held one leg and Lani held the other, and they just kept telling me how great I was doing. I really believed it and knew I could push with them by my side. It was only a half hour, which felt like 5 minutes. A painful 5 minutes, as if I was horribly constipated. Little Miles made his appearance at 9:19a.m. I’ve never felt so supported, and I was fortunate that much of what we’d prepared for wasn’t even necessary, but also that Lani was there in case.
The best was her post-partum care: a sitz bath, tea and soup for bringing my milk in, and checking the baby’s latch on my breast. It was so worth having a doula, I wish every woman a Lani in her life!
Lani Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and 808-385-1082.
Image Credit: Lisa Morrison