Avalina Sophia Crompton
Daughter of Rebecca and Hollins Crompton
Born on the 4th May 2011, at home in Stratford,
weighing 5lb 13oz, Sister to Olli (4)
he text read, ‘Look out of your window’, so I did. And there, like an angel, was Doula Dee, beaming up at me in the dark. Carefully, I climbed down the stairs and opened the front door. ‘She’s on her way,’ we squealed!”
For Rebecca Crompton, this moment of happy anticipation had been hard earned: from the day that she found out that she was pregnant, Rebecca had been planning and working towards making her second birth experience one that she could truly treasure.
This was no mean feat because Rebecca has suffered for years with acute bouts of severe pain, caused by endometriosis, a condition in which cells that normally line the womb grow elsewhere in the body, and when she was giving birth to her son, Olli, the labour pains triggered powerful memories of this. “I fell into my old familiar response to abdominal pain – on all fours, head down and psychologically retreating into a frozen world of inner pain, unable to move – not the most efficient way to birth a baby! Even though afterwards I felt, like most women, that having given birth I could conquer the world, I was quite traumatised by the experience.”
Both Avalina and Olli were conceived through IVF, and Rebecca and her husband Hollins had by no means been certain that they would be able to have a second child. “I thought that what might be my one and only birthing experience had been inextricably linked to the years of anxiety and fear associated with endometriosis, and I couldn’t help but feel sadness about that.”
When she became pregnant with Avalina, Rebecca was determined to have another home birth – but equally determined to make this one different from the last. “I wanted to break my psychological link between endo pain and my right of passage as a mother. I had read and heard other women’s stories of non-traumatic, calm and even magical births. I’d also read that it needn’t be painful. This I wasn’t so sure about – and I didn’t pressure myself to pursue a ‘painless’ natural birth – but magical and non-traumatic I did want.”
Rebecca decided that in order to achieve this goal she was going to need specialist help. “I wanted to find someone who could understand what had happened to me before and understand the physical and psychological link that I had made between birthing and endo pain. Someone who would help me develop practical tools to prevent my usual pattern of freezing in response to the pain. I didn’t know what form this birth preparation and pain disassociation would take, but I thought that I stood the best chance of achieving it if I could work with someone regularly throughout the pregnancy, and if they were present at the birth itself.”
Rebecca decided to find a doula, and came across Dee, who is a trained Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner, and former midwife. Rebecca felt straight away that Dee was the right person to help her and during weekly meetings from week 28 of Rebecca’s pregnancy, she and Dee worked together to ensure that this birth experience would be an improvement on the first.
Using a combination of visualisation exercises, essential oils and homeopathic remedies Dee and Rebecca formed a plan for the birth. “Dee’s understanding of my previous experience, compassion for life in general, belief in me and sheer determination to help me achieve my goal was heavenly. We were well and truly prepared.”
All the planning paid off when it enabled Rebecca to greet the onset of her labour with squeals of excitement, rather than fear. With Hollins in charge of music and topping up the birthing pool with warm water; and Dee and midwife, Elaine, on hand to offer advice and support, Rebecca set about having a different kind of birth experience.
After 12 hours of labour – some of it in the birth pool, some spent climbing up and down the stairs, and ‘camel walking’ around the living room – the moment of Avalina’s birth drew close. “I remember Dee saying, ‘Look, she’s doing it all by herself.’ And in an out-of-body moment, I saw that I was doing it myself, I no longer needed to hold onto Dee; and I realised, incredibly, that I was actually enjoying it. This was how birthing was meant to be.”
Now in the pool, Rebecca changed position and felt a new urgency. “Suddenly everything was different. There was an absolute need for Dee to be right there, holding my hands very tightly.” A few moments later, following instructions from Dee, Rebecca gave birth to Avalina. “Tears and laughter were shared by the relieved and proud team,” says Rebecca. “Photos were taken, and fingers and toes examined.”
Unfortunately, an hour after the birth, Rebecca had to go into hospital to have her placenta removed – but this hiccup was nothing compared to the joy she felt at having managed to achieve her magical and non-traumatic birth. “I feel like every other woman who has achieved the birth of their dreams – completely in awe of the birthing process, so proud of my children and so incredibly thankful to my team. I simply could not have birthed so calmly, confidently and effectively without Dee as my guide.”
✽ Dee is at www.dialadoulanow.co.uk