When my husband and I made the decision to have our second child at home, we knew that there was a chance our daughter would be there when her sibling was born. Our plan was to have a friend available to tend to her while I labored and gave birth, but given that my first came quite quickly, we knew there was a chance she would end up being in the room. We consulted with our midwife and our childbirth instructor about the best way to prepare her. I borrowed a kid appropriate birth video and we watched it together. The video we used was of a family that included all their older children at the birth of their last child. It was incredible to see these kids react to watching their newest sibling enter the world. You could feel the bonds being built as they held that baby for the first time. Our daughter was only two at the time, but after watching the birth video her excitement over having a little brother or sister to hold and love on intensified.
In the end, our son was born in the middle of the night and our daughter slept right through it. She woke up 10 minutes after he was born – just in time to hold him once he was cleaned up after having pooped all over my friend. We could not have planned it more perfectly.
After a successful birth using The Bradley Method, we decided to become instructors ourselves. Bradley classes are typically taught by a couple, so that you get the first-hand experience of both mom and dad. They are longer than many other classes, lasting from 8-12 weeks, depending upon your instructor and delve deeply into pregnancy and nutrition in addition to teaching relaxation techniques to use during labor. Dr. Bradley came up with his method after watching farm animals give birth. Cows, in addition to gifting us with the makings for cheese, are also pretty good at the whole procreation thing.
We finished our training in the midst of my second pregnancy. Once that was done, it was time to teach our first class. One of our first couples were some good friends from church. Our daughters were only a couple of months apart and became fast friends in the nursery. My friend was a few months behind me in her pregnancy and decided she wanted to have a natural, birth center experience the second time around. Much like my husband and I did, our friends knew there was a chance that a care giver might not make it in time to take care of their eldest daughter, so they borrowed our videos and shared them with her. They enjoyed the class, had a healthy baby girl at the birth center four months after my son was born and then a year later, had another girl at that same birth center.
My friend and I were both involved in the music ministry in our church. We had choir practice every Wednesday night and our eldest girls were in the same nursery room. They were great friends and loved to play together. Oftentimes they appeared to be off in their own world together. One fateful Wednesday night my friend and I were greeted by a red-faced woman when we went to retrieve our girls from the nursery. Apparently, our girls had caused a little bit of a scene.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but the girls were playing a game tonight that I had to intervene in and put a stop to.” She said quietly. My friend and I braced ourselves for the worst.
“One of them was lying on the floor with her legs pulled up with a baby doll on the floor in front of her and the other one was sitting next to her whispering words of encouragement and gently stroking her hair. When I asked them what they were doing, they informed me that they were playing midwife! Knowing that I couldn’t let that continue I grabbed a blanket, swooped up the baby and exclaimed, ‘Congratulations, you have a healthy baby girl! Now let’s get her a bottle.’ To which your child,” (pointing at me) “responded, ‘Bottle? We don’t use a bottle, we breastfeed!’ and then proceeded to lift her shirt and put the baby to her breast!”
At that, my friend and I began to giggle, then cackle, and finally, we completely lost it. We laughed so hard that we both had tears in our eyes and were gasping for breath. All the while our sweet nursery worker stood there, looking a little shell shocked, and absolutely bewildered at our failure to grasp the gravity of the situation. Once we finally managed to regain our composure we quickly apologized to her, thanked her for her deft management of the “birth” and got our girls out of there before they could cause anymore ruckus. We laughed all the way to the car that night, and then again on the following Sunday, and the next Wednesday… In fact, even all these years later, we still laugh about it.
I did eventually get to explain the whole history behind the girls’ desire to play midwife to that sweet woman. She got a good laugh out of our explanation, but I’m pretty sure, even to this day, she’s convinced my friend and I are both a little nuts. So, in other words, she knows the truth.