By Bethany Kurtz, Lydia’s House live in volunteer

Before the pandemic started I was honored to take a doula class. Little did I know what form that would take in a contagious outbreak.

 In the weeks prior to the birth, before we were too concerned about COVID, Tiana and I spent hours sitting with each other discussing the birth. We talked about how we could make the birth of her baby girl go as smoothly as possible. Of course, implicit in these plans is that her mom would be there as her partner, and I would be there as her doula.

Weeks later the country went into complete lock down and our plans changed drastically. Our scheduled hospital visit to check out the maternity ward was canceled; no one could accompany her to the ultrasound appointments. There were so many disappointments, but we remained excited for the birth of this little one. If all this wasn’t enough, we then got the news that only one visitor was allowed in the hospital room for the birth. As a doula, I had been awaiting this day like no other! We made countless calls to the hospital, to the doctors trying to negotiate with them. We told them I was a doula, and that accompanied birth was a human right, but I was denied entry to the delivery room.

So the day arrived and I was able to bring Tianna to the hospital. On the 20 minute drive to I tried to impart my last limited knowledge on Tianna, and her mother: “Know that pain is gain. It’s bringing your little one closer to you!” I taught Tianna’s mom how to coach her daughter through her contractions with breathing exercises, hoping that things would go as well as could be expected.

The hour’s in-between dropping them off at the hospital and the birth were tough. It was hard to be a doula on the phone, trying to figure out the emotions of both Tianna and her mom, give some needed advice to help her through the contractions. It was challenging, but at 3:04 pm on Thursday, June 18, Marlee was born.

The hours after the birth were tough too. Marlee was taken straight to the NICU, so Tianna had only a couple precious moments with her daughter. After hours of labor Tianna was exhausted and wasn’t even able to cuddle with her baby. Of course those were some of the hardest moments and I could only listen and support her on the phone.

baby Marlee in the NICU

 Finally Marlee was brought back to her momma and they could spend some quality time together. But about a day later they noticed somethings weren’t quite right with Marlee. So again she was taken away. This time she was taken to Children’s Hospital. Tianna was again without her baby and was alone. This was extremely hard for this new, little family. As a doula I felt so limited to not physically be present to this suffering.

momma and baby

On Wednesday June 24, we were finally able to bring Marlee home!

 Final thoughts on my first birth “accompaniment”: I learned so much! I was challenged to stay positive through all situations. I am thankful to have had this tough experience and I hope to be physically in a delivery room one day soon.