My name is Kathryn and I'm the very proud mother of two amazing little kidlets.
My own birthing journey started in November 2008 when I became pregnant with my daughter. During my pregnancy I became deeply absorbed and interested in all things pregnancy, birth and babies. It was about halfway along in my pregnancy that I attended Birthtalk's 'Path to Better Birth' ante-natal course. This course greatly inspired me and led me to hiring a doula for our upcoming birth.
In November 2008 I gave birth to my little girl. It was a birth that was both empowering and traumatic. Labour for me was very long and full-on, coupled with a prolonged second stage. During all this time though, I felt incredibly safe, supported, respected and acknowledge by all those around me. Surrounded by my husband, our doula and my sister allowed me to surrender to the birth and go into that very deep and internal birth place. So, for the most part, my daughter's birth was amazing. The traumatic part came from a very difficult delivery, which included a severe shoulder dystocia (meaning she got stuck after her head was born), and a baby that was subsequently born without a heartbeat. We experienced a few of the rarer and unexpected birth complications all in one and it was an incredibly frightening and devastating outcome. Our little girl was resuscitated and transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital we were in. She was diagnosed with severe HIE (Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy - oxygen deprivation to the brain) as well as a severe Group B Strep infection. What followed was a very challenging and emotional journey as we came to terms with having a critically ill baby and an uncertain future with our child. Three years on, we are blessed with a little girl who, by some miracle, has made a remarkable recovery from her initial brain injury and has gone on to meet all of her development milestones.
After my daughter's birth, and in preparation for our second baby I did a great deal of healing and soul searching. I won't deny that it was difficult and heartbreaking as I journeyed to slowly make peace with her birth and the emotional toll that it took on me and my family. But slowly, and with immense support from those around me (including our doula), I was able to move forward and welcome the arrival of our second baby with joy, courage and confidence.
My second birth was in November 2010, the arrival of our little boy. I went into labour at 36 1/2 weeks and my son was born after a very intense and quick 4 hour labour (which included another long second stage). This time round we again had our doula (who'd been at our daughter's birth) and we also had a known midwife as I'd been part of the hospital's Midwifery Group Practice. Having a doula and caregiver who knew our previous birth story, as well as knew what we wanted and what was important to us allowed me to again surrender and birth with confidence and a strong belief in myself and my ability to birth. My son's birth was the most incredible and amazing experience of my life. He arrived safely and gently into the world and I was able to hold him and welcome him earth side within seconds of his birth. This birth again reaffirmed for me the amazing journey that we take during birth and also the importance of feeling safe, well supported, confident, respected and acknowledged.
My journey to becoming a doula started after my daughter's birth. Instead of making me distrust and fear birth, I became even more fascinated and inspired with the entire birthing process and with the NICU journey. A seed had been planted and it was after I had my son that I realised that this wasn't just a passing phase or a desire to 're-live' my daughters birth or 'save' her in some way by being around other births and babies. After much soul searching (again) I made the decision to apply for entry to a Bachelor of Midwifery at UQ and I will be commencing this in February 2012. Around the same time I also immersed myself in a doula training course through Childbirth International and hope to have my certification by Jan/Feb 2012. I will continue to support women as a doula while I undertake my studies and look forward to being able to provide support to women as they too journey through their pregnancy and births.