Friday night I officially wrapped up my first class series with our class reunion! It was a joy to sit down with my students, to have a meal together, and reminisce over their pregnancy and birth, and discuss the joys - and hardships - of new parenthood. I am thankful to have served them as both a childbirth educator and a doula. To see their childbirth journey through to the end, to see them put what they've learned into practice, was amazing.
There was a definite learning curve with teaching my first birth class. Keeping within the time frame and making discussions and activities flow smoothly can be a challenge when you've never put it all together on your own before. Thankfully, Ben and Liz are a gracious couple and were forgiving when we went an hour past our 2.5 hour class time - on more than one occasion. (Thanks, y'all.) But perhaps the biggest learning curve was that they were expecting identical twins!
Generally, the curriculum remains the same for such a situation. You practice the same labor positions, relaxations, comfort measures, and discuss the same prenatal tests, newborn care, and variations of labor. The challenge came in specific discussions about delayed cord clamping, earlier induction talks, and the sheer amount of ultrasounds that were required by their care provider. I had some research to do! (Shoutout to the instructors who provided good information and resources. You ladies rock!)
After 10 weeks of feeling both great and disappointed in my teaching - they were getting plenty of great information and having a good time, but it was hard to fit it all into our given time slot - it was finished. All that was left to do was wait for the babies to come. And I was on call as a backup doula.
The morning came a few weeks earlier than expected - Liz went into labor at 35 weeks. Her doula was in Dallas, signing on a house. I got to fulfill my role as a backup doula. There is nothing quite like the rush of being en route to a birth!
Did I mention that they put everything they learned into practice? Well, I meant it. Liz's labor slowed upon arrival at the hospital. Instead of accepting the Pitocin recommended by her OB, we made the environment fit her birth plan, she changed positions often, Ben snuck her snacks and water, and the list goes on and on of things they did to progress labor naturally. My instructor heart even swelled with a bit of pride when I saw the Top 10 Tools for Dad card tucked away in Ben's pocket. After just a few hours of active labor, Margaret and Dorothy were born. Liz and Ben had the amazing birth(s) for which they had hoped and prepared. And I was lucky enough to see it happen.
My first series taught me more than I expected. I got a better idea of how to keep activities and discussions within our time frame. I just finished class 8 of my second series, and the most I have extended our time is 20 minutes. I even finished our last class a few minutes early! (Thank you to my current students for the same grace exhibited by Ben and Liz.) I learned a lot about twins, and I have an itch to learn more! The most important thing I learned, though, is that nothing will ever be perfect on your first attempt - and that's okay. Practice makes better. Whenever I am teaching, I am also learning. And I hope to keep learning for a long time.
These are some of my favorite photos that I took at the birth of Margaret and Dorothy:
*Photos and names used with permission.