Many of you know that I have decided to become a birth doula. I’ve experienced the birth of my own two children, the birth of two friend’s babies, and well…my own birth. It counts!!
Well, this weekend, I got to experience another birth…the first “official” doula birth.
Conveniently enough, it was the brother and sister-in-law of one of my besties, so I didn’t even have to seek out a Mama, she was practically handed to me on a silver platter.
One of my biggest fears was how the heck do I find pregnant moms? Ok, so that’s not that hard…but seriously…”Hi, my name is Wendy, and I’d like to be a part of your birthing process” doesn’t exactly make pregos come running to me! LOL
It was a perfect “first”. I know them, which eased some of the nerves, but don’t really know them so it was like a true “Doula” experience as most of the time it’s an interview, and maybe a few meetings, and then BAM! Baby time. To add to the nerves, this wasn’t necessarily a “typical” pregnancy. Gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and “older” by medical standards. Oh…and the kicker…the doctors want to induce two weeks early. Lovely….a doula’s worst nightmare. Pitocin. Probably the most unnatural way to labour.
I got the call on Friday night. I was on my way to the movies…now I know how doctors feel! ha! It was an unofficial call of warning…they were being kept in the hospital for the night and the induction was going to begin sometime over night. I was a bag of nerves, and flew back home to get all my stuff ready. I’d been planning for a few weeks about what I need in my bag of goodies, both for myself and for the Mama. I had extra hair elastics, snacks, a water bottle, a change of clothes, a few doula books for me. The hardest part was figuring out what to take for Mama. The books all say aromatherapy…kind of tricky in a scent-free hospitable so that was out. It also says music…but what do I play it on?? Scrap that idea. I found a few hand-held massagers (battery-free, ya dirty pervs), and grabbed some ice pack, and then threw in an eye mask for good measure. I had no clue what else to take, so I just kinda rolled with what I had and waited for the official call that I was needed.
I forced myself to lay in bed, hoping I would get some sleep, but it was like I was waiting for a trip to Disney World, and every single noise jolted me wide awake!
7am. Daddy calls me to say it’s time. OMG………..what do I do now?!?!
I got up, ate breakfast, grabbed a coffee and headed to the hospital. I got there around 8am and sure enough, Mommy was hooked up to the Pitocin and contractions were starting. 9am-ish…the doctors come in, and check her out. 2cm. Gonna be a long one. Then all of a sudden, they decide to halt everything because of a previous surgery that they were worried about. PAUSE. Literally. They stopped the Pitocin, and we waiting for them to put their heads together. Hmm…maybe it would be best if Mommy had a C-section. (OMG, seriously?? I can’t count this towards certification if it’s a section…and don’t forget, this is all about ME!!!!)
11am…the doctors give their opinion, and Mommy opts for a natural birth. (Waaahooo!! Let’s get this show on the road!)
11:15….water is broke, and Pitocin is turned on again. We walked, we talked, we laughed til she told us to stop cause it hurt. The contractions were slow and steady, but definitely getting stronger. I held her hand, and wiped her forehead and really just tried my best to make it just a little bit better. I was so nervous, I forgot half the stuff I knew or wanted to try.
By 2pm I could tell that she was really starting to hurt. Her breathing was getting more shallow, she wasn’t talking as much, and even Daddy quieted down. It was when she flat-out demanded a c-section that I knew the labour was progressing!! The call was made for a little something-something in her IV, an epidural wouldn’t be an option unless she was further along (7-8cm). The nurse checks her, and I’m silently thinking “Please be at least 6 or 7 cm….Please, please, please, or it’s going to be a long one for her”……..she’s only 3cm. This is why labour is torture….
She gets a dose of “whatever”, and almost immediately doses off. She’s only 3cms so I’m hoping that the effect of the drug lasts for a while. She was even snoring just a wee bit, and when I looked over at Daddy he had nodded off too! Perfect! They had been up all night, so a rest was just what everyone needed for when labour really kicked in.
2:20pm…she woke up, like her insides were on fire. Sure sign labour has progressed….a lot more noise! She was super vocal about how much stronger the contractions had gotten and the pain was really bad. I got her to focus on her breathing, and just did my best to calm her down. At this point, the baby’s heart rate went down….waaaay down. I noticed out of the corner of my eye, the monitor went from 140 bpm, to 48bpm…and then 70, then 100, then back to 140. Hmmm, that’s not good. A few minutes later, another contraction, and the same thing….dropped to 50. The look in the nurse’s eye was “uh oh”, and she got me to hit the call button to page another nurse. The second nurse came in and they decided to move her to her side. Same thing…each contraction, the heart rate went way down, and then came right back up after the contraction was over. We move her to her other side, still happening. By this point, the monitor straps had fell off, so I was holding the external monitor on her stomach while the nurse put in the internal monitor, and the second nurse was paging the doctor. Not exactly what I envisioned for my “first” time…
In the blink of an eye, there were two nurses, two doctors, a page for the NICU staff and a wailing Mommy who was really starting to feel the pain.
I felt the squeeze of her hand on mine, and all of sudden “the look” came over her face. The I’m-going-to-have-a-gigantic-poop-look….it’s the only way I can describe it. She was pushing!!! I told the doctor she was pushing, the doctor did a second exam (In less than an hour)….and sure enough, she was 10cms and crowning.
Quick!! Grab a leg…no time to tear the bed apart!
The next few moments are what I can only describe as incredible. Daddy was emotional and crying, Mommy was holding on to his hands, their faces were inches apart. I could hear him whispering to her, not the exact words, but I could tell the love in that room was overwhelming. Mommy was amazing and did what she needed to do. Three contractions and the baby was out. It’s a boy! (Can you say proud Daddy??)
He was a little ‘blue’….the NICU staff were right there, waiting to grab the baby, but within 2 seconds a huge wailing cry rang out and he was totally fine!! They looked at the doctor and asked if there were still needed, and the doctor kind of looked shocked that they weren’t. She sent them on their merry way, and put the baby right on Mommy’s chest, where he stayed for over an hour! A doula couldn’t have asked for more!
I’ll never really know for sure if my presence made a difference. It’s not like you can go back in time and repeat it, minus me. I don’t know if it would have been the same with or without me, or if the labour would have been longer or shorter. I’m not sure if I helped avoid an epidural, or a c-section. All those things are statistically proven to be aided when a doula is present but none of it I can take credit for.
A woman who knew what she did and did not want, and stood firm to that. A woman who kicked butt at birth!!
So a huge, sincere, thank you to my friend, L, who thought highly enough of me to even mention my name, let alone recommend me to them.
And to A & D…words cannot express what you’ve done for me. You got me over the hump of my “first” labour, you gave me the a-ok to participate in such a private, emotional moment and you validated why I want to be a Doula. It’s been three days and I’m still over the moon. A, D & Baby M will hold a special spot in my heart forever.