When Robbie's mom passed away, there were five people in the room. Vera (Robbie's mom), Jack (Robbie's stepdad), Toby (Robbie's brother), Robbie and me. It was something I found myself oddly suited for, being the odd man out, the one who hadn't known Vera for that long and supporting the ones around me as she passed on. I rubbed her feet, gave her wet sponges to suck on, brushed her hair, and told her it was okay to go. And she did.
After she passed, I straightened her legs, closed her eyes, and placed her hands in a peaceful position. I made Robbie and his brother eat something. Hugged and cried with those around me. I made the calls to let people know she was gone. It was a sacred role, and one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Last night, I stepped into the role of support again, but this time in a very different situation. My first doula client was in labour, and I got to be there to support her and her husband through the birth of their first baby. It was a fast labour. She was eight centimetres by the time we got to the hospital, and the baby was born only two hours later, a beautiful boy.
Again, I find myself oddly suited to this job, and I saw some striking parallels. I held mom's hand, rubbed her back and gave her sips of water and ice chips. I let her know what was going on, when baby was *almost* there. I let her know it was okay to be scared, and okay to make the jump into motherhood. And she did.
After the birth, I took pictures, hugged the new parents, admired the new arrival and stayed to talk them through their first few minutes as parents, how to hold baby, try and decide who he looks most like. The entire way home, I kept thinking to myself, "I watched his first gasp of air and heard his first cry." I thought it over and over, because it was such a huge honor to be there to see and hear it.
It was a sacred role. I will not forget it.