I attended my grandchild's birth. As my daughter's support person, I got to see the magic of birth.

I attended my grandchild's birth. As my daughter's support person, I got to see the magic of birth.
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  • I was in the room when the daughter I grew in my belly gave birth to the daughter she grew in hers.
  • The first thing I learned was to never rely on due dates. They're a guesstimate.

I wanted to be in the room when it happened. I thought watching my granddaughter emerge into the world from my daughter's body, the body I grew inside my own, would be amazing.

My own birthing experiences had been mostly positive, and my daughter seemed fine with me as a birthing doula. It would only be me, her husband, and the doctor. She and I are close, and I had attended some prenatal visits and thrown her a baby shower, so I thought I was prepared and could be helpful.

I can say now that it was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.

Don't rely on due dates

Two weeks before her due date in late August, my husband and I decided to visit nearby Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for a few days. We thought our timing was good, but at around 7 a.m. on the first morning, my phone rang, "Mom, I am in the hospital and am four centimeters dilated," my daughter said.

Frantically, I threw on clothes and ran to the breakfast room. "My daughter is in labor," I announced to the guests and proprietor. My public and inelegant announcement was met with blank stares.


I ran back to my room and pulled our things together. "We may not make it before she delivers," my husband said, seeing the wild look in my eyes.

Getting there and being there

Trying not to break speed limits, we drove to the hospital under the normal three-hour timeframe. I managed to stay in contact with my daughter and her husband via text. And I learned the labor was progressing slowly. I knew she was planning to use an epidural and that could slow her progress.

We got there in plenty of time. Then, the epidural at seven centimeters slowed her progress. Hours later, as it started wearing off, the pain increased, and my daughter developed a fever.

My son-in-law and I watched as the day slipped into the evening, and finally the time to push came.

As she pushed, my son-in-law watched my daughter's progress closely. Suddenly shy, she swatted his head, telling him not to look. "Should we change places?" I offered. My post was near her head, and he was closer to the center of the action. "Yes!" she agreed.


Time keeps seeping into the future

The hands on the wall clock slid into the next day. The pushing was hard and less successful.

Finally, baby Sadie's head emerged, and I watched the obstetrician reach deep into my 5-foot, 105-pound daughter in a way I didn't know was possible. She asked my daughter to stop pushing, and suddenly other healthcare providers emerged to assist, pressing hard on her uterus. The baby was hooked onto her pubic bone, and they were working to ensure that Sadie's shoulder didn't dislocate.

I held my breath as I realized we were minutes from an emergency C-section. But the baby emerged with a gush of fluid. The doctor said, "Folks, don't ever try this at home."

We barely got a look at Sadie's misshapen and purple head, which caused some concern, when a team of spacesuit-garbed medical technicians whisked her away in a glass-enclosed bassinet.

Because of my daughter's fever, the baby was sent to the neonatal unit to ensure that any complications or infections were detected immediately.


As they wheeled her out, I followed. Then, feeling torn about whom I should be with, my daughter or my granddaughter, I returned to the delivery room, where the new parents were having a private moment.

I took a long breath, and my muscles eased. I hadn't counted on feeling so stressed, and I felt thankful it was over.