April 20th 2018 at 4am on the dot – we welcomed our first kiddo into the world. Do you have preconceived notions about how doula’s have babies? If you have ever chatted with a doula, hopefully you have been told that there is no magic answer that means you will have a quick, easy, “painless” birth. Something I always tell my mamas to do, is to write down their birth story. Here is the story of the day we met our beautiful baby boy.
The day after my 40wk appointment, I was laying in bed reading for the majority of the morning. I was having my (at that point) very normal braxton hicks yet – was a little interested that they were noticeable while laying in bed. Around 11am I decided that what I was feeling was in fact contractions but they were still manageable and easy to be distracted from. They quickly became a little more noticeable so I decided to hop in the shower. My husband had been working from home and kept telling me that once he completes his 1:30pm meeting, he would officially feel wrapped enough at work and we could welcome our little one without him feeling like there was unfinished business at work.
**Diversion #1: my husbands company is amazing in comparison to most companies in the States. Once you let them know that baby is here, they cut you off completely. Not allowing you to access phone calls or emails until your 6 weeks of paternity leave is up.
I hopped out of the shower around 1pm and texted my husband from upstairs and said “you are going to have to tell your senior that she is going to have to take over that meeting.” Contractions were roughly 3min apart and didn’t slow down in the shower or while laying in bed. Here begins the never ending conversation between my husband and I that goes a little like this.
H: “Those were 3 minutes apart – how long have they been like this?”
Me: “roughly 45minutes.”
H: “The app (contraction timing app we were using) said we need to get ourselves to the hospital immediately! I think we should leave!”
Me: “Nope. We are not leaving yet.”
We go on like this for a few hours while we slowly gather our things and get the rest of the affairs in order. i.e. texting my doula, calling my mom/sister, putting everything in the car. My husband immediately starts in his role of trying to feed me and give me sips of coconut water in between. At this point, I was having a hard time talking through contractions, yet in between I felt great and could get things done. Squatting and kneeling were and continued to be immediate comforts for me during the entire labor.
We left for the birth center right smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic. We don’t live super close, so our drive took a little over 30 minutes. During the drive, I sat in the back seat next to the carseat that would soon carry my baby safely home. I had my husband turn Bethel music on loud and just kept my eyes closed and focus on my baby the whole time. We arrived around 5:30pm. When we got there, I was checked and was immediately deflated. I was only 4/5ish centimeters and my first inclination is to say “I told you so” to my husband. (My goal and the birth center’s goal, is to arrive to stay when you are 6cm). I immediately told my midwife I would go home and come back later. She agreed with my husband that we should stay, given the closeness of contractions and distance to our house. She gave instructions to “go on a walk” while she went home to shower and eat.
At this point, my Doula, Mom, and Sister had arrived. We all went for a short walk in the neighborhood. It’s amazing how quickly you can forget your birth knowledge when you are the laboring mom yourself. My doula reminded me about curb walking. (curb walking is great in labor as it helps corkscrew your babies head further down into your pelvis) I would stop during my contractions to hold onto my husband via the rebozo and squat. (Rebozo: giant scarf used in many ways to provide support for a laboring woman.) During our walk, we passed one of my favorite blooming trees – one day I will figure out what kind it is. But we have the same tree right outside our house and spring is my favorite because I get to smell it constantly! My doula suggested clipping a branch to bring into the birth center so I could continue to smell it during my labor.
While walking, I definitely felt like things were getting more intense so we made it short and headed back to the birth center to hop in the shower again. This shower was different then the last one as I was constantly needing to move and squat. My husband sat there letting me hang on him whenever needed and aiming the shower head, switching between my low back and stomach. We were listening to more Bethel music loudly. Time stopped registering for me around the time of the walk and I was officially entering into labor land.
When I got out of the shower, my midwife was back. It was clear we were headed in the right direction and that labor had changed quickly. I realize now, that this would have been the time where myself as a doula would have thought – “awesome this is going to be a quickie!”
Boy would I have been WRONG. 🙂
**Diversion #2: I have Scoliosis. Not only do I have severe scoliosis, but I was also fused with rods and pins the entire length of my spine at the ripe age of 12. This meant two things for my labor. #1: I am unable to have an epidural and #2: My fusion greatly reduced my pelvis’s ability to move easily. Tune in -one day- when I blog about chronic pain!
After the shower I varied between the bath, and multiple other tools to cope with labor but honestly my main focus was to progress. I listened to my very wise midwife as she literally moved me through a bunch of different positions. No matter what we did, it was clear that I had stalled. My midwife went ahead and checked me again and I was stalled at 9cm (for multiple hours) with a anterior cervical lip that my baby just couldn’t get past. Baby was also presenting a little asynclitic (asynclitic: when baby has entered the birth canal tilted usually with an ear first presentation or face first instead of the optimal head). The midwife believes that my lack of movement in my low spine as well as the scoliosis curvature in my low spine, increased the likelihood that baby would not enter my pelvis perfectly.
**Diversion #3: It was extremely important to me to do whatever possible to avoid a cesarean. No. It wasn’t because I am a doula and felt like morally I was above a c-section. The full blown passion behind this was because in my case, I would have needed to be completely asleep in order to undergo the surgery. Meaning I would entirely miss the birth of my baby. This. is. motivating.
My doula provided consistent pressure on my head while I was experiencing surges, helped feed my husband, encouraged him to go outside and take a break, helped take pictures, gave me endless and endless pep talks. Trust me, I know from experience, this was one of those births where you start to give up hope. Where you see the OR at the end of the tunnel. However, NO ONE stopped telling me that I could do it. That I was strong enough and powerful enough.
But then we came to a big turning point – I was starting to doubt myself. Granted, it took me 10 hours of hard labor, but I got there. I was laying on the bed as my midwife told me there was still no change. I started to drop the control I held on to for dear life. I opened my eyes (something I had done very little of this whole time) and looked around. Staring back at me was: My husband, My Midwife, My Doula, My Mom, My Sister, The Nurse, The Birth Center Doula, and The Photographer. (some people would say this was too many – but each and every person in that room played a HUGE part and I wouldn’t have had it any other way). As I looked around, I saw doubt flicker past everyone’s face. They were trying so hard to continue to be encouraging, but I could tell – everyone was exhausted. So I started to crumble.
This is when my amazing, wonderful, intuitive doula said “We need a pep talk from mom.” Up until this point, my mother had stood back, stepping in only when asked and quietly encouraged. On paper, this woman is an expert in giving birth. She delivered all 4 of her kids med-free and rapid quick. When she came into the room and everyone else left us she whispered into my ear “This is going to be the hardest thing you’ll ever do, way harder than any of my births, and I have 100% confidence that you can do it.” (I omitted some curse words because this is a family page) But the bottom line is – she was the first person during the whole labor to say something along the lines of “this sucks and its unfair.”
This is what I needed. I needed to hear this and to feel safe enough to scream as loud as I could, because what my midwife had to do in order to get me to 10cm was unlike anything I have ever (and Lord willing NEVER again) felt. My superwoman of a Midwife looked at me and said “how badly do you want to have this baby here?” (meaning avoiding a transfer and c-section). I think I just stared back at her, because she knew. While she manually stretched and I screamed like hell and pushed, we were able to both help baby overcome this lip and finally, finally be complete.
**Diversion #4: It’s important to keep in mind that we were not being reckless here. Baby’s heart rate miraculously stayed extremely steady. The. Whole. Time. Given the stress he was inevitably in – I am inclined to believe this was completely divine.
Once I was complete, I moved to a birth stool. My plans of a beautiful water birth were thwarted hours ago when I took a bath and labor all but practically stopped. Also, by this point, it was abundantly clear that my body needed to be in a very specific position to accomplish any progress. I was pushing on that birth stool with the sounds of “ohhhh good job you’re so close!” ringing through my ears for the better part of an hour. Until finally, the voices of my Husband and Sister stood out because there was real unfiltered excitement there…they were seeing a full (gigantic) head. That was the extra last ditch encouragement I needed, to deliver a whopping 10lb, big head, baby boy.
As he was placed on my chest by my husband the rushing I relief I felt was insatiable. I briefly thought “oh this is how people do this again.” The love and devotion is startling. It felt like everything was in slow motion. My husband was so excited he almost forgot to see and call out the gender. A boy!
My second thought “boys are 10 times LESS likely to develop scoliosis.”
PLEASE send me an email if you have any questions about this post. If you have scoliosis or have been fused, please know that you are capable of having a baby wide awake! 🙂