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May 31, 2019

Most grandparents would love the privilege of being present at the birth of a grandchild. Few get the chance, but Emily talks with several who have, and with a doctor and a midwife who have stories to tell and advice to offer. Also:
The Stretch it Takes: "Repeat After Me"
Passing Along Your Passions: My Very Humble Friend
Books for Grands: 
Hello, Baby by Jenny Overend, illustr. Julie Vivas
Before You Were Born by Jennifer Davis, illustr. Laura Cornell


Here are details on our guests in this episode:

Midwife Mairi Breen Rothman is part of a group practice, They have a Facebook page, MAMASMidwives. If you'd like to see Mairi in action, Voice of America produced a 28-minute documentary film about her and the topic of home birth at

The Grand Life spoke with Dr. Becky Haak just after she returned from medical missionary work in Mozambique. See .

Grandparent Nancy Mullins is a vlogger--more precisely, it's her amazingly chatty Papillon, Abby. See @abbythepap on Facebook.

The Stretch It Takes (essay):

To Doula Or Not To Doula  

After having our children, I thought I would go back to school to be a midwife.  We had used one for the birth of all but one of our children, and I felt such a deep indebtedness to her for her service to our family.  I was always impressed that she allowed me to bring my other children to appointments. She talked to them and leaned into their faces and genuinely cared for our family. I remember her saying that I was made to have babies, so I figured after I had stopped having them, I could be one of those people made to help bring them into the world. 

But things got busy, and by the time I was ready to commit to any kind of furthering of my already furthered education (I had a MA in English Lit), it just didn’t make any sense. So, after our children were grown, I started work on certification to become a doula. 

One of the last requirements for me after finishing the short coursework was to get in some practical hours, meaning I had to attend three births. I made arrangements to do that and I have to say that after the first one that left me crying in the hospital parking garage, I realized I really wasn’t designed to be a doula. 

Why? Well, during the birth, the nurses would not even acknowledge my presence. After the birth, I tried so hard to advocate for the mom and baby to have some skin to skin time, but the doctor and nurses were too busy with their protocol to care that the mom was pleading to hold her baby.

 I felt useless, and I was horrified that my client had not had the birth experience she was hoping for. She was athletic, determined and conscientious and all of those qualities seemed to go out the window once the hospital staff decided her pushing and the Pitocin were both ineffective. I watched her lose her will and her birth plans all in the span of a few hours. Utterly defeated. I could hardly watch. I sat crumpled in the car for a while before driving home that morning. 

I wimped out and gave up and was a couple of births shy of finishing my certification. I decided I was just not made for being a doula.

 That was, until our first daughter had her first baby and invited me to be in the room for the event. I reread all my materials, I reviewed what to say and what not to say. (that is the most important part of the training, folks).  I wanted to put into practice everything I had learned in my coursework. And you know what? It was a life changing experience. I felt helpful and useful and like I was right where I was supposed to be. I realized then that subconsciously I had trained to be a Doula so I could help the children I had birthed bring our grandchildren into the world.

 Since then, I have witnessed several of our grandchildren’s births, and I can say that it never gets old. I have missed a few as well, (for various reasons) and I wish I had been there. But sometimes timing, a C-section, or having to babysit another grandchild while your daughter’s at the hospital takes precedence. 

But when I have gotten to witness the event, I am always amazed. And I always cry. There is nothing like it, and it will stay with me forever. When spring comes around every year, I am reminded of the unfolding of these little people, like plants that bloom. Their ears, their limbs, their lips, unfold like flowers. My heart unfolds too, every time I see it happen. 

Being in the room is like being in a sanctuary. It is a holy place that I have been invited into, and I treat it with the utmost respect. 

Let me encourage you – take heart if you have not been the grandparent in the room. You are valued and loved as a parent and a grandparent -  and as we have learned, there are many ways in which you can serve and support.   

Whatever their choice, it is theirs to make. So we let go and flex.  Most likely as soon as the baby is born, you’ll get to be there to see your grandchild, maybe not literally emerging but certainly evolving right before your very eyes. Because as we all know, babies might be flowers when they’re born, but they grow like weeds from that moment on.

(c) 2019 Emily Morgan