Laurel’s Birth Story

October 26, 2010

Laurel is my daughter. My red-headed, stubborn, likes to climb everything little toddler.

As I tell all my friends and clients, every birth story is unique. All of our bodies are technically doing the same thing during labor and delivery; but our perceptions, past experiences, body and self esteem issues, etc shape the way we handle, react and perceive labor and delivery of our precious bundles.

Giving birth to Laurel was one of my greatest experiences in life. Being pregnant with her was wonderful, but giving birth was exciting! An adventure!

So this is how it went down:

I was due on July 4th, 2009. A Saturday.

The week before, a Friday, I was at work and I kicked butt that day. I was more productive that day than the whole month of June. Even my boss (not a mother) joked that I would probably have Laurel over the weekend. I reassured her I would be there next week (I was planning on working right up to the due date).

That night I went home, my husband and I went out to eat. I was feeling uncomfortable. I attributed it to all the work I did that day. We went home and I went to bed, thinking about these weird cramps I was probably having; again attributing it to the productive day.

The next day, after sleeping like a rock, we got up and my husband went to help some friends move while I went to another friends house to help her go over lines for a play she was in. I was still feeling crampy. But I hummed my way through them and if they got really bad, I just asked my friend to stop and I slowly breathed through it. Around 1pm, I met up with my hubby and friends at a pub where I nibbled a little at a hamburger and drank half a beer. But by then I was on a warpath to go swimming. I had this really strong urge to be in a pool that day. We went home, I got ready (including shaving!) and after stopping for a gallon of water, we arrived at a pool. It felt glorious. At that point, the cramps were getting more noticeable.

After returning home from the pool, though, I began to question what really was going on. I was a week early, this was my first, there was no plug, no bloody show, no water breaking, and I was expecting the contractions to be all over my belly, not just in the lower ab area.

We had tickets to go to a play with the friend I helped with her lines. She showed up at our house ready to go, but I was in “I don’t know what’s going on mode and these are getting harder and I wouldn’t be able to pay attention to the play” zone. So I showered, in case we did decide to go and when I noticed I was leaning against the wall, with the hot water on my back, I knew I wasn’t going to a play.

After dressing, I called my mom. She suggested going for a walk. We did. It hurt. We were stopping every 2-3 minutes for a contraction and it was hot (we live in Texas). We headed back for the house where I did the lunge through contractions for a while before getting on all fours on the bed. I called the birthing center. The midwife said I was in early labor and to sleep. But everytime I went to the bathroom (which made the contractions harder and the pressure was enormous!), there was discharge. Around 9pm, we called our doula. We needed help timing the contractions since we didn’t have anything ready and my husband was running around getting things together. And there was no way I was going to time them.

She came over. She timed them. They were 1-3 minutes apart. She suggested calling the birthing center again. We did.

Again, the midwife said it was early labor. But I insisted on coming in, if only just to see where I was.

We gathered up our things and headed there.

The car ride was the hardest part. I had about 5 contractions during a 10 minute drive. I could barely sit properly the pressure was so great. I was annoyed that my friend texted to see if my husband wanted coffee. I was thoroughly annoyed and yelled when my husband nearly missed the turn into the birthing center.

The midwife met us and checked me.

She said “Well. The only reason why you haven’t had this baby is because your water hasn’t broken. You are 8 cm.”

My doula cheered. I don’t remember what everyone faces looked like because I went from shock to ‘we are having a baby’ mode.

(My midwife later told me she backed out of the room slowly as not to alarm me and then ran to prep the room).

I got off the exam table and waddled to the reception area, where I felt a slight trickle. I said “Did my water just break?” and then whoosh!!! My water broke and it felt like the earth had opened up beneath me and gravity was pulling me through it. I immediately squatted down, realizing I wanted to push and started panting. My doula ran after the midwife and my husband was trying to support me as I tried to stand. He kept kissing me as I panted, squealed and eventually screamed “Stop kissing me!!”

And then bam. End of transition. End of 1st stage labor. I waddled into the birth room, was asked about the bath tub, where I said “Sure”. I got in, pushed when the urge came but my midwife told me I wasn’t doing it right. I didn’t feel comfortable pushing like I should for a BM in water, so I got out of the tub. I waddled over the bed. In the semi-lying position, with my doula holding one leg and my husband holding another, I pushed about 4 times before the midwife asked me to pant through the next two so she could get ready. I did. That was hard.

Then I pushed a couple of more times. The last push, where she crowned, was definitely the ring of fire. It hurt. Good Lord. I kept on pushing though the burn though and she emerged fully and it immediately stopped. The pain immediately went away. And there was my baby. On my chest.

I did tear, requiring 4 stitches. But I didn’t care. I didn’t even feel where she numbed me.

There are a couple of things I would do different:

1. I would have had my bags packed so I didn’t have to yell for my husband when a contraction was coming on.

2. I would have called my doula sooner.

3. I would have squatted in the 2nd stage.

4. I would have labored down a little more, or at least panted when she crowned instead of pushing so I wouldn’t have torn.

But all of that I learned from experience, there was no way to exactly, in my head know all of that. Overall, it was a very instinctual process for me. I had a lot of back labor, so without thinking, I got into the positions to help with that. I trusted myself completely. And maybe that is what I love about birth. The fact that with the right amount of knowledge and support, for sometimes the first time in a woman’s life, we completely love and trust our bodies. Instead of society telling us we are not pretty enough, thin enough, etc…during labor, we are in charge. We can do everything needed to help bring our child into this world.

yay birth stories!

Fall cleaning

October 13, 2010

I am getting to know myself. My strengths, my weaknesses, and my humility. In doing this, I now truly understand that I am a messy person at home. With work, I am fastidious because, well, you have to be. It helps work to not be so much work!
I don’t know what it is with my home though where I can just let things go. I let myself get caught up in other things instead of living in the moment at my home.
Living in the moment is becoming more and more apart of my daily life. It helps me to center myself and stay focused. When I am at Whole Foods, it is easier to be there if I am truly all the way there. Living in the moment. I connect with people more, the work is easier, and time flies by.
When I am with a laboring client, I am totally there. I am with the mother and her partner, helping them through each wave bringing them closer to their child.

So, why am I not like this at home more often? Why do I hide when I come home? That’s a question I have been pondering lately.

What does being in the moment mean for you? What does it mean for you as a doula, as a mother, as a woman or as a person?

The postpartum meetings

October 5, 2010

The postpartum meetings with the mothers are a little surreal for me. Granted, I have only had two clients and the meetings were great; but the tempo of them is so different from the pre-natal meetings and labor that it is a little hard to adjust to the postpartum scenario. There have been no complications with my two clients and they are adjusting beautifully to this new stage in their life. For the two postpartum meetings I have done, we usually talk about their own personal views and opinions of their birthing experience. We talk a bit about feeding and making sure the mom is taking care of herself (getting enough to eat, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, etc…) I make sure to ask the partner, too, about his/her experience.

So, my fellow doulas out there in blogland, what are other things you discuss with your clients about during that first postpartum meeting? Please feel free to comment. Thanks!

Clients: JMB & SB

Place of birth: St. David’s Medical Center

Date of birth: September 27th, 2010

Whoa. This one taught me a ton. Not only for my doula practices, but in patience and as a reminder of the strength of a laboring mother and her partner.

The clients called me early on Saturday morning. It was around 6am. I knew immediately it was them as I heard my phone chime from downstairs. She was almost a week overdue.

Contractions were strong, having started around 245am and they were heading into Austin and waiting on a return call from the doctor. JMB and SB sounded excited. They immediately starting doing the positions we had gone over once the contractions started, especially since she was feeling them in her back. A lot.

“Good, it sounds like labor to me. But that is for your doctor to decide, especially after they do a pelvic exam.” I told them.

In the meantime, I was gathering up my things, trying to get organized and get coffee all at the same time. Again, my husband and baby were awake to drive me to the hospital and I was there about 730am.

JMB was 1cm dilated and maybe 30% effaced.

Yikes.

She was also having major back cramps. I immediately went to massaging her back, doing the double hip squeeze while they monitored her. I could feel her muscles tense incredibly with each contraction. Once the nurses got the all clear from the doctor, JMB was up out of the bed and slow dancing with her partner. To see them together was a sight. They make a great team. He encouraged her, smiled and joked with her, supported her and she completely trusted him. Although I knew she was in pain with each contraction, the slow dancing looked sublime.

The contractions, however, were fickle. They came faster, then slower, the faster, then not for a long time. About an hour later, they checked her again. Nothing. 1cm. Her cervix was still posterior and very tender to the pelvic exams. JMB was not amused, especially when the doctor dismissed them from the hospital.

No problem, I thought. We can labor in the comfort of a house, get her to relax and help her open right up.

By 1pm on Saturday, we got her relaxed enough to sleep and the contractions were very far apart. We decided I should leave, to get some rest too, in case they went into labor that night.

Nothing. The back contractions were still intense but seemed to ease with resting in bed or in hot water. The doctor told JMB she was in false labor.

Let me get on a soapbox for a minute: I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I have no medical training. But I do know what it feels like to be in labor, physically and emotionally. To be told that you are in ‘false labor’ is like being told the pain being felt is not real. Also, that the contractions aren’t ‘doing anything’. They are. Of course they are. Her cervix had to become anterior and soften at some point. Just because a woman isn’t in active labor does not mean her body is getting ready, sometimes with painful early labor contractions.

Soapbox ended. I kept up with the couple throughout the evening. I rested. I prepared. Sunday morning was the same as Saturday: difficult to work through back contractions coming in at regular intervals when standing, swaying, on hands and knees….but they backed off when lying down. Again, all I could do was tell them to rest.

Sunday evening rolls around and JMB is pretty exhausted after having only about 6 hours of sleep for the past two days. They talk to the on-call doctor again, who tells them the same thing, she is in ‘false labor’. I remind JMB that her body is working towards the goal of labor and just because it is a part of labor the doctor doesn’t deal with does not mean it is not labor. Also I tell them to start thinking about their options: to wait and call their own doctor on Monday morning, call the hospital and ask about inductions; or wait it out and see if the contractions become steady even with different positions.

Sometime during Sunday evening/Monday morning, the contractions picked up. Even while lying down, they were still 5 minutes apart. They called their doctor and got into the office first thing Monday morning: 4cm! Active labor!! Hallelujah!

I arrive at noon where JMB is in bed, prepping for her epidural. The momma needed her rest. She looked worn down. As did her dedicated partner, SB.

Since again, she was stuck in bed, I did my best to help her relax to help her dilate. Pelvic, lower back massages, hip massages, effleurage on her stomach and front of her hips and feet and head massages. Although unable to sleep completely, JMB was able to recharge, even discussing feats of athleticism her and her partner have achieved together over the years. (They are uber-athletes). I would like to think my massaging helped, but really I think it was the talking about biking, running and swimming that helped her feel the most at ease. By 430pm I was famished, so I snuck away to eat, receiving a text message as I was finishing up saying she was 9.5cm! Hooray!

Really she was 10cm but had a slight lip remain. More relaxation helped her finish opening right up and by 5pm she was all ready to push. And push she did. We were worried about her being too tired, too close to getting the epidural to push correctly; but JMB is a team player, she knows how to listen to coaching. And our nurse was a coach, cheerleader and athletic director all in one. She was in charge, right under the doctor that is. We knew where the pecking order was with her and I was at the very bottom, which I knew if I didn’t play it right and defer to her, she would give me a scathing evaluation (needed for my certification). So, I asked her before I did anything. I asked her advice. I said to others how awesome it was to have such great nurses (yes, I am a suck up but I got a decent evaluation from an ‘i am the one in charge and helping the patient’ sort of nurse, so there).  So, when it came time for JMB to push with SB on one side holding her leg and me on the other, I mimicked what the nurse did (not obviously, of course). I counted for the pushes, encouraged JMB through pushing and between in the same manner as the nurse was doing.

At 532pm, a healthy baby boy was born. Just over 30 minutes of pushing. JMB and her partner did great. The new grandparents got to witness the event and when JJB was born and gave a healthy cry (a 9.9 apgar cry!), we all had tears in our eyes.

Welcome to the world JJB! Your parents were strong and determined to see you arrive safely. And my sincerest thanks to the parents for letting me witness such a long, tiring and beautiful birth. Good job guys.

This is it.

October 1, 2010

After toying around with the idea of becoming a doula for a while now, I have finally decided to take the plunge. I have created this blog as a place to chronicle my journey on this new path and hopefully to see how this name/idea for my business will work.

So far I have attended the required training workshop for DONA International, am doing the required reading and have already attended two births. I am also talking with every doula I know (which is a lot and that is great for me). If you know of someone, send me their blog or website. I would love to have a huge blogroll filled with amazing and awesome doulas.

Welcome. Thank you traveling with me. And feel free to leave comments and take the survey!