New Life in a Foreign Land: My Birth Partner Experience
With tears streaming down my face, I urged my new friend to continue. We were so close. Her baby was almost here.
Nothing quite prepares you for labour, but when you’re in it you just hope that the doctors, midwives and birth partner will know what they’re doing and get you through it. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions as you deal with your excitement, anxiety and, of course, the inevitable pain. Throw in a new country and a foreign language and you have one of the scariest experiences of your life.
When I’d been asked to be birth partner for my neighbour I was overcome with excitement. I loved babies and, having had two of my own, felt pretty confident about the whole thing. However, things are totally different when you’re not the one in labour. I hadn’t witnessed things from a support point of view before. I hadn’t understood how difficult it would be to try to communicate important details with a woman who was in pain and couldn’t concentrate enough to try and translate.
We got moved to the labour suite, where a midwife immediately introduced herself in the language that my neighbour spoke. Not only that but she had previously been a volunteer at a refugee camp in Calais. God had been gracious and sent exactly what we needed. Now, I know the labour isn’t about me, but one massive blessing is that this midwife kept bringing food and drink for me. The birth partner normally gets nothing!
Everything went smoothly from there on in. Every time we were transferred there was a midwife who could converse with my neighbour in her language. Every time they checked on how things were going she had progressed well. A standard twelve-hour labour with no complications. When the final moments came we were able to pray out together, holding hands and uttering “Jésus”. I will never forget those moments.
“This is Aunty Hollie” she said as she placed her newborn in my arms. Joy, honour, pride. There is no word that describes what I felt at that moment. A new bond had been formed. An incredible friendship. We’d only properly met a week ago and yet this woman had trusted me in one of the most sacred moments of her life.
I am so honoured to have been able to witness those first moments between a mother and her child. I am so grateful to live in a country where we welcome refugees and support them through their struggles. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have at Upbeat to demonstrate love to new neighbours and friends, but most of all I am so humbled by the way God moved.
Hollie – Upbeat Volunteer
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