Name: Dren Asselmeier
Child: Walter George the Wally Bear, 14 months old
Occupation: Copywriter and Marketing Strategist
Place of Birth: Spectrum Butterworth, Grand Rapids, MI
1. What were your reasons for hiring a doula?
I spoke to a lot of women who flew solo for their first birth and didn't find out about doulas until later. Nearly everyone who later discovered doulas told me that they wished they'd had a doula for their first birth. I thought it sounded like a good idea, and the testimonies from friends sounded positive, but I also don't have any close female relatives that I would want at my side while I give birth. I knew it would be just my husband and myself—and let's just say he's not super brave about anything that has to do with bodily functions, me in pain, blood, etc. I felt like having a doula would really help both of us, and it just makes sense that having someone with us who is not emotionally involved and is able to listen to medical staff, ask and answer questions without interruption, and physically help me when I needed it would make the experience much easier and less intimidating.
2. How was your doula most helpful?
I can't decide if it was more helpful that Brenda interacted with people for me so that I could keep my concentration, or if it was more helpful toward the end of active labor when I needed Brenda to remind me that the intensity and strength of contractions was a good thing, and to hear her tell me that I was doing a good job. Having someone present the whole time who could assure me that everything that was happening was good and moving us closer to meeting Walter was very helpful!
3. What did you learn from your experience giving birth?
Birth is easy. It's a year of sleep deprivation that's hard! But really, I learned what I am capable of. I learned that pain certainly is relative. I learned that I have a heck of a lot more focus than I realized!
4. What surprised you about giving birth?
Honestly, what surprised me about everything relating to pregnancy, birth, and now raising children is that so many people talk about it like everyone has the same experience. As a first time mom, I got a lot of "advice" from people, and a lot of it was not only bad, but really negative. I think people try to help warn you about things, but really, just because most women go overdue, that doesn't mean I'll go overdue. And just because some women have a long first labor, that doesn't mean I'll have a long first labor. So what surprised me about giving birth was that it wasn't at all like what people described. It was better than what people described (in lots of ways). Everything about labor and delivery was faster than people said it would be, in some ways even easier than people said it would be, and the hospital experience was phenomenal. So it surprised me that for some people (maybe even most people—with a doula!) labor can be smooth sailing.
5. What advice or encouragement regarding birth or the postpartum period would you like to offer to women expecting their first babies?
I would say that you can only do your best, and your best is more than good enough. Don't worry about anyone else—what they think or what they do or how they might judge you. As long as you love, feed, clothe, and interact with your baby, everything will likely work out just fine. Everything else is just stuff people make up to sell books. ;) Make sure that you have people to talk to openly about your mental and physical health after having your baby. Get help if you need it, get help even if you just want a break, and enjoy your baby snuggles!
Are you a former OTM client? We would love to feature you and your story in our Client Series! We hope to feature a diverse variety of women and birth experiences. E-mail your doula and we'll send you instructions.