Yep, I did it again!
On July 2nd, at 8:05am, I had the honor of being present for a baby being born. Doula “job” #2 has occurred! Thanks to a wonderful woman who took a chance on a new doula-in-training (me!).
I got the call on Saturday morning that Mommy’s water had broke. Mommy was on her way to the hospital to get checked out but fully intended on returning home to labour in the comfort of her own home. I was so excited and ready to rush home to get my bag, but that little voice inside my head was telling me to chill out, and just wait patiently. Mommy would keep me updated with what the hospital said and I would carry on from there. I kept my phone glued to me, had the ringer on high, and compulsively checked every minute.
With a confirmation that the water did indeed break, Mommy headed back to her house until the contractions picked up. She was cheerful and happy (sign#1 that she wasn’t ready for the hospital yet!) so I decided to head out to the movies as planned. We kept in touch for the evening, with texts back and forth as to what was happening….steady contractions 6-10 mins apart, lots of walking, mixed with rest to prep for the long night of having a baby. Well so we thought! Poor Mommy kept up that pace of contractions right through to Sunday morning and still no progress or baby! With my (limited) experience with labour, I was certain we would have had a baby Saturday night or at the very latest Sunday morning. Hey, if she could hold off until Sunday we’d have a Canada Day Baby!
I slept with my phone right by my head, I just knew I would be getting that middle-of-the-night call to rush to the hospital. Nope. Nadda. Zilch. I even questioned that maybe Mommy had changed her mind about having a doula and just didn’t call me to tell me! (Go away self-doubt…GO AWAY!)
Sunday morning Mommy went back to the hospital for an update. Nothing much had changed. Contractions were still steady, no sign of going away, but still not getting any closer together. Back home she went to walk some more! Not once did her attitude change. Happy to be home, happy to be in labour, happy to take things at their own pace and just let the baby do his job. I’ve been around enough pregnant ladies to see that this takes great inner strength to not give in and just beg the doctors for help. A lot of Mommies would have gladly stayed at the hospital and gladly been induced by this point. We were still only communicating via text message and already I was proud of her determination to do this her way. Despite the hospital wanting to admit her and begin an induction, Mommy made her own choices based on solid facts, didn’t rush to accommodate any doctor’s long weekend schedule, she just listened to her body.
By 4pm on Sunday, the contractions finally started to pick up. Mommy got admitted to the hospital and was 5cm! Progress!! Daddy gave me the thumbs up to head over to the hospital. At this point, Mommy had been in labour for well over 24 hours. I really wasn’t sure what I would be arriving to. We’d only met twice before and my biggest fear was just not knowing how to read her. I fully expected devil horns (24+ hours tends to do that to a mom!). I walked into the room and was greeted by a smiling, happy-go-lucky Mom. In pain, yes….but still handling it quite well. It’s funny how quickly you can judge the situation based on the temperament of a labouring mom. It’s when the chit chat stops that you know labour is starting to get stronger.
By 5pm, she was in the bath and, like a true trooper, was still dealing well with the pain. Like a lot of women, Mom wanted to left alone to labour. (Easiest part of my “job”!). For over two hours, Mommy held strong, and breathed through all the contractions in the dark bathroom while Daddy and I randomly checked on her. She was focused and strong and determined.
Once we started hearing the occasional “fuck”, I really thought we were there. She must be getting close to 10 cms!! The pleasant Mommy had left the room 😉 . She was definitely starting to make louder noises, wasn’t talking, was having a harder time breathing through the contractions….a classic woman in labour! The nurse checked and sure enough….my senses were way off, and Mommy was only 6 cms. What?! I’m not even sure that’s fair…and it’s definitely not motivating for any mother! There really should be laws against long labours.
Exhausted, worn out, and frustrated, Mommy made the hard choice to request an epidural…and at that point, I’m sure not a woman on this earth would blame her! This is where, as a woman, you get that feeling of failure. Trust me, it’s not a failure…and trust me, it won’t be the last time you feel these feelings anyway. It’s a natural part of being a parent, you’ll never feel like you did enough, or did it right. In the end, you do as much as you can and go from there. They call it a birth plan for a reason…its just that…a plan, not a set in stone rule.
I knew from our meetings that she was definitely up on her knowledge of the birthing process. She knew a lot (maybe too much!) about the side effects of an epidural, she was well prepared. It was refreshing to see her drill the nurse and doctor with a list of questions instead of just doing whatever they said. If she was going to do an epidural, she was definitely going to do it her way! She even convinced the anaesthesiologist to only administer 80% of the dose (I didn’t even know that was possible!) There is nothing better than an educated woman looking out for herself and her baby!
By 10pm, Mommy was hooked up with the epidural, 7-8 cms, and (finally!) resting after 36+ hours of being awake. One of the downsides to an epidural…constant monitoring. So needless to say, Mommy didn’t exactly sleep. For the next few hours, we all nodded on and off. We watched as the clock rolled past midnight, and the thought of a Canada Day baby was quickly washed away.
By 12:30am, Monday, there was no change for a few hours, so out came the good ol’ pitocin.
For the next few hours, they upped the pitocin as Mommy did her best to endure it, trying not to up the epidural if she could help it (thus avoiding the vicious pitocin-epidural-pitocin cycle).
At 4:30am, Mommy was fully dilated, but the baby was still up pretty high, so the decision was made for everyone to get some rest for another hour or so. (The one perk to an epidural! Sleeping thru the pain!)
By 5:40am the pushing began, with a slight sidetrack to get Daddy some food to calm the shakes! Rule #1 for Daddies…take care of yourself too!!!
Over the next two and half hours, I witnessed one of the most dedicated, determined mothers ever! Even during pushing, she was still asking questions about how she could enhance her pushing skills. I was roaring laughing (on the inside), as by this point most moms would be screaming for an emergency c-section, begging for more drugs, and punching everyone in sight!!
At 8:05 am, on Monday, July 2nd, Baby J entered the world to an ecstatic Mommy and Daddy! Mommy survived over 48 hours of labour….living proof that moms CAN do it under any circumstances!
I am so honoured to have been a part of it. It was a long night but so very worth it! Thanks to V & D for allowing me to help in whatever way I could. I look forward to officially meeting Baby J, and here’s to finding Doula “Job” #3!!