Doula: a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born. Greek for “a woman who serves.”
Friends ask for favors all the time. Can you pick me up a coffee on your way into work? Can I borrow that cute top of yours? Can you make me some photocopies?
Can you help me birth my child?
I’m paraphrasing a little here, but this is essentially what my best friend asked me. She was in a slight predicament, knowing there was a chance her husband might not make it back in time due to his profession.
I was ecstatic and truly honored to accept the task.
The weekend of September 27th and 28th, that favor was honored; I became witness to my best friend’s miracle.
I’ve contemplated how to post about this because really, it’s not my birthing story to share, but I also knew I would be remiss to exclude what will go down as one of the most awe-inspiring days of my life.
My friend has given me permission to share the story, but I’ve decided to give it a little twist. She loves poetry, so I thought this would be another way to honor her experience.
And, just for fun, since we both teach Advanced Placement Literature together, I thought I’d even add an “AP-style” prompt at the top. Just for fun.
This is for you, my dearest friend. I was sure to include one of your favorite literary devices when constructing it. Enjoy.
And enjoy that adorable baby boy of yours!
Read the poem carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze how literary devices are used to characterize the speaker’s complex attitude about childbirth.
My hand floats in a precarious void between us,
Uncertain of its final resting place.
My fingers yearn for direction, for purpose:
What do I do? How can I help?
I watch, hesitatingly, as your body
surges with pain and
Clumsiness gives way to choreography —
a squeeze of the hand, slip of the ice chip, massaging of the back:
a birthing ballet begins to play.
I catch myself staring at your
a picture of stoic beauty,
Hours pass –
elation and expectation replaced with
Sheets once white, now stained with
A tinny odor blurs my vision.
A palpable silence fills the void.
A waiting, wondering, worrying
fog fills the room as
Time, that tyrant, continues ticking by tirelessly,
your body aching for an ending.
A cruel answer comes.
A moment of weakness shines in your eyes, and I grip
Tearing at the sheer outrageousness of it all.
You are whisked away, and I am left
in an impossibly empty room,
adorned in sterile armor, steeling myself
for the unknown.
He is here — it suddenly feels so soon —
placed into my guilt-ridden arms.
Trying to shrink into silent oblivion, I bring
your son to you,
unable to resist watching
your face (a look I know all too well)
gaze upon your child’s face,
your body meanwhile convulsing, wracked with pain
upon the surgical table, a frozen light shining down
Time slows down.
You look upon your son, lost in love;
I quietly and imperceptibly slip away,
sighing with exhaustive relief and
as every step, every breath takes me further away