Ann Lipofsky was our doula. She is our doula. I am not pregnant now, and our first kiddo was born 28 months ago, but she’s still our doula. We keep in touch, I can ask her anything about health, life, and babies and she is there to listen and answer.
When we were pregnant with our only child Magnolia, in 2011, we had not planned to have a doula. Mostly because we thought we couldn’t afford it, and maybe because we didn’t need it. We wanted a natural birth, at a local birth center, and only wanted our midwife and my husband in attendance. Then, things changed. I was risked out of the birth center, due to borderline high blood pressure, and ended up having to deliver at a local hospital. It was the last thing I ever wanted, and it was the first time I was ever admitted into the hospital since I was born. When getting discharged from the birth center, the receptionist Heather, who is a postpardum doula for Cocoon Birth, said to call the on-call doula program. That it would help bring a ‘bit of the birth center to the hospital.’ We needed something at that moment, so we called and talked to Ann briefly and she said she’d meet us at the hospital in an hour. I am forever grateful that we did – next time, there is no question, we will have a doula.
Births sometimes don’t go as planned. We were one of those births. All I wanted was a nice peaceful birth at the birth center, I had no other expectations. But it didn’t happen that way. We were risked out at 40 weeks and sent to the Swedish hospital midwifery group. We had an appointment with a midwife who suggested induction the next morning. She wouldn’t be with us, however, another midwife would be and her name was Mary. So, we had left a practice where we knew everyone, and they knew us; and were sent to care providers that we were supposed to trust to bring our baby into the world. We were feeling pretty low, discouraged and just overall sad. That’s when Ann walked into the room. She saw us at our lowest and helped us get through it. Ann suggested we go eat and talk some more.
During dinner we could both tell that Ann was going to be really helpful in this situation. Things looked up a little, because she was here with us. Josh liked her immediately, and so did I. She asked what my biggest concern was, and when I told her, she had the greatest answer that stuck with me and gave me hope throughout the long process of induction. Ann checked in with us later that night and met us at the hospital the next morning.
The next day, Ann did everything to make our space comfortable for us. She created a peaceful mood for us by lighting candles (tea lights, battery powered), had aromatherapy for all of my needs, and helped us to advocate for we wanted during the birthing process. Ann helped us create the birth center atmosphere, in the hospital and she helped me to have some good memories of my birthing day. Those are priceless to me. I have no doubt that our hospital experience would have been much harder without her. She knew what to do to help me, when we didn’t know, and that’s exactly what we needed.
She was the first person to consider that Magnolia was turned face up and helped me to change positions to correct that. Lots of the things that she said to me during that day and night are things that I still think about today. She also rubbed my back for hours, and hours and HOURS because she was the “only one who was doing it right,” I remember saying. At one point that was particularly hard for me, she told me to look in the mirror to see how beautiful I looked, and that women during birth transform into goddesses. I almost thought she was joking, but knew she wasn’t. I looked into the mirror, and you know what? I saw a beautiful goddess. Pumped full of fluids, swollen, sleep deprived for 72 hours, but she was right, I looked beautiful. I wish I had a few photos from that time, or that moment.
When we had to have a c-section, I saw fear in Josh’s eyes for the first time. He was so strong all day, but he was scared and I knew it. Ann helped him through that time, I remember laying on the table, they had given me the epidural in preparation for the c-section and I couldn’t move. I watched Josh and Ann getting things ready, she talked to him a few times, I don’t know what she said and Josh doesn’t remember, but thank goodness she was there because I knew Josh needed her too! The c-section happened pretty fast, and it was found later that my placenta had abrupted. It was cold in the operating room, I was scared and when the baby came, Josh went with her and Ann stayed with me. After a few minutes Josh brought her to me and I named her Magnolia.
Ann didn’t leave until I had gotten transferred into my room, it was after 3am. While in recovery, she had helped me facilitate breastfeeding, Magnolia latched on pretty quickly, it was hard for me to move because the pain from surgery was already evident. Ann stayed with us from 6am that morning, until after 3am the next morning, almost 24 hours.
I can’t imagine that day without her and I am so glad that the on-call doula program was suggested to us in our greatest moment of need. The on-call doula program is beneficial in so many ways, for instances like ours when there is a transfer, for people who weren’t sure if they wanted a doula, then get into labor and decide they need one, for sibling care, and much more, I’m glad the option is out there provided by Cocoon Birth.
You can find more about Ann on her facebook page, she is also a Cocoon Birth doula. Thanks Ann, for being there for us, in a time when we needed it most. We are so grateful and we’ll always be in touch.
If you are looking for birth photography services, contact me anytime to chat more about your birth story session. I can honestly say, these are all we have from our birth and I wish we had more. The day Magnolia was born was a pivotal day in our lives, and its the raw emotion and love that we shared in those moments, that makes me wish I had captured those memories with a birth photographer.