Joni’s Birth, April 2011

By Jeff Burke

Guy perspective here:  Elaine was the doula for our second child and first daughter, Joni.  Before I get to that, I think it’s important to contrast our experience with her with the birth of our son Adam.  The first go around was probably pretty typical of most.  It was induced in a hospital after turning down a C-section offer from our doctor who was going to be on vacation on the due date.  Other than the actual birth, it was a mildly horrible experience with a lot of pain (for Sarah) and a lot of confusion (for both of us).  There were 14 hours filled with Pitocin, a Foley catheter, some milder painkiller and then an epidural.  There were periods of waiting where it seemed like no progress was being made and then all of a sudden it was go time.  Thankfully, our baby boy came out big and healthy and I am eternally grateful to the medical staff and the hospital for that.  However, the birthing process left a lot to be desired.  Although we’d done some classes and read some books, I think we still felt kind of out on an island without really the knowledge or techniques to make the experience more rewarding/less clinical and we definitely wish there were fewer interventions. 

Cue Elaine two years later.  She asked us if she could be a doula for us the second time around so she could get some experience.  We accepted without hesitation.  Really my only concern with it was that I would be rendered useless in the process.  I expressed this concern in a meeting we had and that’s when it was explained that really a doula is what you want them to be.  Maybe some guys want to be super-involved and maybe some don’t want to be involved much at all.  I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle of those two.  I want to do all I can, but I also understand that I really can’t fully know what it’s like and the more support Sarah had from someone who does know what it’s like and understands the techniques to get her through it the better. 

On to our experience with Elaine:  Sarah had labor over a 24 hour period where there was actually a break where she slept for a while.  During the beginning, Elaine came to our house and helped coach Sarah through the contractions and relax her.  She stayed all through the night until Sarah fell asleep after which we both thought that the labor was false.  The next day, labor came back and eventually we wanted to get to the hospital to see what was going on.  Elaine came to babysit our son on a minute’s notice until more help could arrive and then she also joined us at the hospital.  By the time we got there, Joni was born within the hour.  Elaine arrived in time for the pushing and she encouraged Sarah through the whole thing.  Once Joni was born, everyone was so happy.  Sarah got through everything without any interventions or drugs at all with Elaine’s help and I know she will always be indebted to Elaine for that, it was exactly what she wanted the second time around. 

Long story short, Elaine is one of the most calming and caring people I’ve ever met.  I think I’m supposed to keep this on topic, so I won’t even go into the fact that she cared for both of our children for almost three years so that Sarah could work part-time.  If there comes a time for another Burke to come into this world, Elaine would be one of the first to know and we would love to have her as a doula again.