My big childbirth fear

Our doula perches on the edge of the

Chair in our living room.

She has short sandy hair,

No make-up.

I am cuter than she is,

Which I hadn’t realized was important

But is.

You don’t want a cute doula.

“I think I’m going to sit on the floor,”

She says, and slides off the chair into

Lotus position.

She pulls papers and notebooks out of her

Whole Foods bag and

Fans them in a semi-circle around her.

The rug she is sitting on

Needs a good vacuum,

And some spot remover.

She folds her freckled, braceleted hands in her lap and

Smiles up at us.

“So,” she says.

“Let’s talk about your


Ah yes.

My fears.

The whole point of this meeting.

I’m lucky. My fears don’t consist of





I’m not afraid of dying,

Or of days in agony,

Or crippling lifelong injury.

But I do have fears.

“Okay, so,

Remember I told you my

Mother died in January?

Of Alzheimer’s?


I haven’t really been that


About it.

I haven’t been crying.”

I look at Joe for confirmation of my stoicism,

And he nods.

“I don’t know why.

I feel weird about it.

Like, have I been too busy to grieve?

Or was it that she was sick for so long

I’ve done a lot of the grieving already?

I don’t know.

But here’s my fear:

That in the rush of emotion after the baby’s born,

In those first seconds,

The grief will



Or be unleashed.”

Our doula is nodding,

Jotting in a notebook

Labeled with my name.

I fall silent,

Imagining it:

A surge of bitter,

Unacknowledged emotion,

Having its moment

Then and there

In the delivery room.

Ruining it.

Ruining the birth.

I hate this shit.


“That makes so much sense,”

Our doula says, writing something,

Then looking up at me.

“And I’m so sorry about your mom.”

We talk for awhile,

And as she’s leaving,

Our doula hugs me and

Thanks me for telling her about my mother.

“I think your mom will come up during the birth,”

She says.

“I think it will happen.”

A few days later,

Something happens:

At my mom’s funeral in January,

I had asked my dad for her wedding ring.

I wanted to wear it for a while.

That was three months ago,

And he just remembered to give it to me

That week

After our meeting with the doula.

We were having lunch,

And he pulled the small cardboard box out of his pocket.

Presented it to me.

My mom’s ring.

“I have it now,”

I tell our doula on the phone.

“I’m going to wear it in the delivery room.

She’ll be


Sort of.”

I am talking excitedly

Because the fear-dread is gone.

If there’s grief,

There’s grief.

I’ll let it in the room

And give it a symbol–

The ring–

And some


Tell my husband and our doula

I’m thinking about my mom.

Acknowledge the grief.

“What a fabulous idea,”

Our doula says.

“I love it.”

I don’t love it,

But I’m peaceful with it.

And that’s more important.