40 Weeks

She Did What She Could

This is the hardest blog I will write this year.  It comes with latent grief and hard and sad memories.  It also comes with honour of a life well lived and hope for the future in the form of a baby son.

Years ago, I was a doula for a woman who got cancer during her pregnancy, and died a few short months after her baby boy was born.  Let me tell you a bit about this client, whose name will remain confidential.

She was a beautiful, smart, honest, realistic person who was thrilled to be pregnant after having difficulty conceiving.  She wanted this baby so much, as did her husband.  She hired me as her doula early on in the pregnancy, to make sure she would have the support she wanted and needed, both prenatally and during labour.

She had a few health challenges in the first half of her pregnancy, nothing that raised red flags.  We met when she was in her first trimester and again in her second.  It was at this second visit, in a coffee shop, that she told me the shocking news:  she had a blood clot in her neck that was blocking the jugular vein.  Thus began the cascade of medical appointments, specialists, reports, tests:  all pointing to the fact that she had Stage 4 cancer within her body.  She was growing a baby while simultaneously fighting for her own life.

During this difficult season, I tried to help as best I could.  I probably tried too hard: frequent texts, phone calls, questions, visits.  I flailed about trying to make the situation better, if possible.  She said she wanted me to give her encouragement, prayer and support, to help her and her husband to relax.  I remember one visit specifically, to a ward at a large hospital she was in for tests and observation.  I asked for permission to come and give her “comfort measures”, in the form of a foot rub.  It was all I could do. That was the last time I saw her before her baby was born.  From that time until the birth, the family circled the wagons of privacy around her even as the doctor and specialist appointments took most of the precious family time they had together.

The highly medicalized birth took place via induction, early enough that baby was able to live outside the womb and so mama could get the necessary drugs into her body to possibly prolong her life.  Her beautiful son was born with a lusty wail and in good health.  I saw him and daddy after the fact, as I was not allowed in to the birth itself due to medical protocols in place. 

During this whole ordeal, I was wracked with feelings of helplessness, the desire to serve yet not being able to or, at times, invited to.  It was agonizing.  I was often in tears and vacillated between anger and depression.  One day I asked God to speak to me through his Word, the Bible.  I was led to read the story of Jesus being anointed with expensive perfume by an unknown woman, shortly before his death.  (Mark 14:1-9) One small verse jumped out at me.  It is hidden within Jesus’ rebuke to the men standing around watching this act of lavish love: “She did what she could”, Mark 14:8.  I heard in this God saying to me, the doula:  “You did what you could for this woman.  You anointed her feet.  You showed her love and kindness.  That was enough”.


I was asked to share a picture I had of this tough, loving mother at her funeral wake.  I share it with you now.

I was K. and A.’s doula, walking them through the spring and summer of her pregnancy.  In the fall, when things got tough, I watched and prayed from the wings and was amazed at the faith that shone through this family.

When K. called me on Sunday to tell me that A. had gone to heaven, I shared with him a picture I had just been given in my mind.  K. has asked me to share it with you tonight….

A., a Diamond

The word ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek.  It means, ‘unbreakable’.  Diamonds are formed deep in the earth, under great pressure.  It is through this intense pressure that the beauty and strength are formed, the more pressure, the more intensely beautiful the diamond.

I had a picture of A. being such a thing, a diamond.  Her life was formed under great pressure, and she proved unbreakable, becoming such a beautiful, clear diamond that the facets of her personality shone forth in every direction, in every light.

Now this diamond has been transferred from earth to heaven.  This diamond is now a jewel in Jesus’ crown.



I attended the funeral for this mother.  Her baby boy was 4 months old.  He was carried in his grandfather’s arms behind the casket, wailing, a fitting sign.

Now he is a grown boy.  I pray for him when he comes to mind.  He too, is a diamond being formed.  So is your life, so is your baby’s.  I share this personal story not as a morbid memory, but in honour of this brave, amazing mother who did what she could for her child.  She gave him life.  He is her legacy on earth now, as your baby will be yours some day.  Do what you can, it is enough.  God bless you.

One Comment

  • Denise Robbins ?

    Melissa, I just read this Beautiful words & emotions You shared of This Very Strong Diamond of a Woman/ Wife & Mother & a Daughter of a Very Supportive Family! I felt True Emotions of all sorts, Reading what You shared!♡ It So Truly Moved Me. ESPECIALLY As A Mother Myself of 5 & 1 with His wings in Heaven!?
    It also gave Me a Small Understanding of all You do as a dula & Such A Caring & Faithful Beautiful Person! ESPECIALLY at this time of Yr Reading this & Feeling these emotions from My Heart to This Baby Boy & Daddy…My Prayers are with them! HUGS & Know, You are such a Blessing My Dear Friend, To So Many! You continue to encourage & Help Ground Me & Focus what Truly Matters! ♡♡♡

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