The birth was approaching. With 10 days to go, the baby was dropping even deeper as I struggled to walk. Still, I hadn’t chosen a doula. I thought that if I went into labour I would just call one. And then on Friday, I finally told my husband to pay Doula A the deposit. Yet G-d was kind to me and did not allow me the same error as the last time. On Friday morning when I saw what looked the very beginning of a show, which was how Ella’s labour began. So as I walked clumsily waddled across the road to work, I knew that labour was possibly imminent and coming in the next few days. And suddenly, I knew exactly who I wanted there with me. Not Doula A or Doula B, but dear Nadine. Gentle and supportive, strong yet non-intrusive, I had shared so much with her over the past few weeks. I called to let her know, and to arrange just in case it was on shabbat from a halachic point of view. I carried on the day, and with no further signs of labour the day went as usual. When I got home and some of the plug came out, I knew it was time to make contingency plans. Even though it could still be days, we needed to be prepared.
I barked off a list of orders to my husband to arrange and went to see my gran as usual. When I came home, all the bags were packed and we readied ourselves for a normal shabbas with me eagerly looking forward to an early night. At around 10am, I woke up to a soaking wet bed. I realized that the early night was over and woke my husband who phoned the midwife to reserve the bed, and to go fetch my sister who would stay the night if we had to leave. I tried to go back to bed but no avail. I pottered around, finished packing and read a bit. There were contractions but very short and sporadic. Everyone else went back to bed. At around 3am the contractions were getting worse. I lay on the floor and rested and when one came, every 15/20 minutes, I got up and breathed as we practiced (my poor sister who had to hear my labour breaths through the night!). I did not feel panicked or scared, and stayed like that till about 6am. They got stronger and more sore, and I woke my husband. He called Nadine, who arrived in my bedroom. We got up and dressed and all had breakfast. It was jovial and relaxed and Ella was delighted to find visitors there! Nadine held my hand through every contraction which were still far. At one point, I felt terrified and did not ignore it. With tears in my eyes, I turned to her and said I am so scared. She gave me a big hug, and told me she was there for me. I dressed Ella and sent her delightedly on her way with her aunt ‘HaHa’ (Michal).
The rest of the morning passed with more regular but short contractions. Nadine held my back and hands through every one, as I focused intently on the breath as I had practiced. At 9am we woke Marc again to time them. They were still only 30 seconds and 6/7 minutes apart. The contractions intensified in length to over a minute and in intensity but did not get closer at all. At about 10.15am, a contraction suddenly came 3 minutes after the next. Nadine asked me if I felt any pushing urge. A very small one, I said, but nothing urgent. Nadine realized that things were moving faster than we anticipated, despite the distance of the contractions. She said it was time to go, and I listened. As we got ready in the bedroom, I got her and my husband to promise that if any induction was needed, I would get an epidural. They agreed and Nadine chuckled, you are not getting an induction. I didn’t fully believe her as every birthing book stated there was no need to go to the clinic until contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. Which they were not. I still thought there were hours to go.
We all piled into the car with my ball, and bags and made our way in the gentle rain and grey skies to the clinic. Poor Nadine said at one point she thought I may deliver in the car! We went straight to the room, and I insisted on the bath being put on. The room was the identical one in which Ella was delivered 2 years prior! As we got there, I started shaking violently and getting very anxious. Nadine and the doula on call calmed me down and made me breath slowly, and we waited for the midwife. She arrived and after examination sat back, and said six words I will never forget, “You can push when you want”. I went into shock and burst out crying. She grinned. What do you mean, I asked? She said, you are 10cm. I could not believe it. I had made it this far feeling so calm, so in control and so support every step of the way. We were at the final stage. I was overwhelmed with a sense of immense gratitude and disbelief. I immediately got into the bath, still relishing in the amazing events. I relaxed there for about 20 minutes, chatting away and feeling utter joy; until I realize that I better push this baby out sometime soon. Nadine was there every step of the way, as was my husband; staring into my eyes and offering me encouragement. Never once did I feel alone or isolated in my pain. After what must have been an hour of very (I won’t lie) painful pushing, our precious son was born. The rest of the shabbat was spent relaxing quietly in our room; and 8 days later our son was named Yehuda in testament to the indescribable thankfulness I felt to G-d for the enabling a birthing experience of complete healing which I so desperately needed.