A Birth Story – from a doula’s perspective
This story is written from my perspective as the doula, based on what I witnessed and documented. However, your mom’s account of your birth may include details and a perspective that mine does not. I encourage you to ask her to tell you her version.
Sometimes the universe has a way of bringing people together at just the right time and I truly believe that is what happened with your birth. Your mom asked her midwife for the name of a doula she felt would keep your mom grounded and calm and she gave her my name. Another friend had also provided my name previously. We sat down for a nice meal and chat one evening in the fall in the last trimester of your mom’s pregnancy and it just felt right. We laughed as if we had known each other for years and I grew fond of your parents at our first meeting and wanted nothing but the best for them and your birth. It wasn’t until later that your mom realized that her midwife and her friend had recommended the same doula for her birth. And soon after our meeting I received an email from your mom confirming what I had already hoped, that she and your dad had decided to trust me to join them to prepare and to welcome you to their family. I was so pleased and we got busy immediately making up for the months we had not known each other. Your mom and I communicated a lot by phone and text and even met up a couple of times. Your parents were very interested in doing all they could to get prepared for your birth including watching movies, reading books, and even taking a childbirth class recommended by their midwife.
In the final weeks of her pregnancy, your mom grew more and more eager to meet you. The last days of pregnancy can be the most challenging for expectant moms for many reasons, but in addition to the physical discomforts of pregnancy are the need to be patient and trust that a baby will come at their perfect time. And your mom waited for you knowing this to be true. She updated me of her progress toward labor, telling me when the midwife had noticed effacement and dilation in her cervix. She knew it was progress with no promise of anything but a baby at the end of it all. But she was pleased that her body was making changes and preparing, much as she had been doing for the past few months.
Your mom called me around 1:00 on Sunday, November 13, to tell me she thought she lost her mucus plug. I was glad to know that things were happening within her uterus but I reminded her that while it could mean labor was imminent, it could also mean that it was still days or weeks away. She understood that and knew she could be waiting awhile to meet you, but she was giddy as she imagined you might be joining the family sooner rather than later. Then to my surprise, your mom called several hours later, suspecting that her water broke. She wasn’t sure and was trying to figure it out. I encouraged her to wear a pad and change positions using the birth ball, with the understanding that if she moved around and your body moved around inside, she would likely notice more trickling or dripping of fluid. Twenty minutes later, just after 5:00 that evening, she called again to tell me her water definitely broke. She felt a gush and had warm fluid dripping down her leg. Thank goodness she had just grabbed a pad because it was definitely her water and it had broken without a doubt. And perhaps most importantly of all, you were going to be born within a day!
Your mom took a shower and called the answering service to see what her midwife thought about the situation. After speaking with the midwife on duty overnight, they decided she would head into the hospital to receive antibiotics since she had tested positive for Group B Strep. They weren’t sure whether your mom would return home or be admitted at the hospital so she brought their bags that had been packed days or maybe weeks earlier, just in case. As it turned out, her midwife preferred they remained at the hospital but your parents didn’t mind. Your mom wasn’t having any contractions so her midwife suggested she try walking and position changes. And then at 12:30 she would get an enema and then by 2:30 or so they would try using the breast pump to encourage some contractions. If those methods did not work to get labor started, your mom would receive pitocin through her i.v. to initiate labor in the morning. Since this was shaping up to be an all night affair, your mom thought it best for me to stay home until she was having contractions that required additional support. So I waited at home for my phone to ring.
My phone chimed with a text message shortly after 5:00 am telling me they were starting the Pitocin. Your mom was disappointed that her labor did not progress on its own but she also knew that things don’t always go according to plan, especially when you are a parent. She took the change in plans well and tried to stay positive. She understood that contractions from Pitocin can be more difficult to manage because they grow intense quickly but I reassured your mom that she could do it.
Around 7:30 your mom texted me to let me know she had been having contractions 5 minutes apart since 6:55. She was breathing through them and felt it might still be early for me to come. Knowing her contractions were 5 minutes apart, I felt better being with her. So I told her I would hop in the shower and then head over. I arrived at the hospital around 9:00 that morning. I walked into your mom’s room and I could smell her perfume. She laughed when I told her because she was thinking she needed a shower, but she really did smell and look lovely, as always. I greeted your parents with hugs and got caught up on the night’s happenings, or lack thereof. Your dad was able to sleep but your mom only slept for about an hour. I was nervous for her stamina but knew she was a strong and determined woman and would likely use her mental fortitude for any sleep or energy deficit she may encounter.
Your mom’s contractions were coming steadily and she was perched on the birth ball, rolling and taking deep breaths as the surges came. When each one subsided, she would regain her train of thought and resume the conversation as if nothing had happened. That is how I knew she wasn’t in very active just yet, at least she didn’t appear to be. She told me that your dad’s mom was in town and at home with their dog. She was also still wearing her clothes, to include pants, so things seemed a bit early.
Around 10:15, a staff member walked in the room to wish your mom good luck. She also happened to be her childbirth instructor and was working that day. As fate would have it, the midwife on duty that day as of 7:00 am, was the same one who referred your mom to her childbirth educator and her doula. Her entire birth team was assembled and present that day! She told your mom she was doing well and she had a feeling she could labor unmedicated with Pitocin. I felt the same although I didn’t vocalize it.
Just an hour later, the contractions had taken a turn. Your mom was much less chatty and went inside herself even more, looking to the instinctual part of her womanhood that knew how to give birth without having to think about it. Your mom was very in tune with her body and had a good understanding of what it was telling her.
Things had gotten busy in the labor and delivery unit so a different nurse came in to help by checking your mom’s stats and increasing her Pitocin. Although that was not fun, your mom took the increases in stride and knew that they would ultimately bring you into her arms. Because your mom moved around with her contractions it was difficult to keep the monitor on you. So I rolled up a washcloth and placed it behind the transducer and that seemed to work at least for awhile. The nurse liked it too, since it helped her not have to keep running back and forth into the room to adjust the monitor. Your mom was on her hands and knees on the bed at this point and she had a contraction that really overwhelmed her. She cried for a short while but when it subsided she regained her composure and soldiered on. She was so strong! I admired her trust in her body and belief that she could do it, regardless of the Pitocin drip.
Your dad sat on the bed behind your mom so she could lean back to back with him in an effort to better get a read of your heart rate as well as provide physical support to her as she labored. It was important to your mom that your dad was nearby. There was no question about that. He was her rock. It was easier to get your heart tones on the monitor in that position so she labored like that for a few contractions. But she wanted to move so she moved into a standing position beside the bed.
I told your mom I had Dum Dum lollipops if she felt like one and that made her smile and then she told me why. Her mom passed away earlier in the year and she was sad she was not physically with her during labor. However, when you love people a lot and they love you back you can feel their presence even when you can’t see them. Your grandma liked to hand out Dum Dum lollipops every Halloween and so the Dum Dums reminded your mom of her mom, your grandma. She told your dad she felt her in the room and knew she was there. And your mom was so peaceful as she labored, I had no doubt her mother was there protecting and encouraging her the entire time. Although you won’t meet her in person, your mom will surely tell you all about her so you will know your grandma that way. And you will also know she loves you even if you can’t see her. In fact, you share her middle name.
Around 12:00 someone asked your mom what her pain level was on a scale of 1 to 10. It was either your dad or the nurse but regardless, your mom said it was at an 11. Wow! She didn’t much let on to us that her contractions were that intense! Then she told us she felt as though she had to have a bowel movement. I reassured her that your head was moving down and things were progressing as they should. Her nurse came in soon after and we explained to her what your mom was feeling, so she asked us when your mom had her last cervical exam. Your mom thought back and it hadn’t been since they began the pitocin around 5:00 in the morning. The nurse’s eyes got big and she said, “Well, that might have something to do with it!” Your mom still had all of her clothes on, including her pants, which had to come off to do a cervical exam. So once again the pants threw us off since she had not reached the point that many moms reach, when their sense of modesty falls away and they feel the need to take off layers to cool off and be less restricted. We thought your mom had made progress but I don’t think any of us were prepared for what her nurse was about to discover. She had your mom lay back in bed so she could check her cervix after the next contraction. The nurse took a little bit of time to make sure she was feeling what she thought she was feeling. And then she told your mom she was “almost there” and quickly hopped up and got busy grabbing things from the closet. She didn’t give any further details for fear it might alarm your mom and throw her off track from her amazing labor groove. And that’s when I knew your mom must be nearly fully dilated. Her nurse was getting the birth stuff ready!
Then she had me hit the call button so she could get another nurse to the room. I encouraged your mom as the next contraction came and she was already feeling like she had to push. I told her to blow to take the edge off if she could since it might be just a bit soon to push. (We still didn’t know your mom’s exact dilation since the nurse hadn’t shared that.) But with the next contraction at 12:05 it was time. Her midwife came in and I think she could already see that you were coming. Your mom was grunting until she was given the go ahead that she could push as she felt guided. Your dad and I were beside her and we encouraged her and told her how amazing she was. The midwife gave your mom great feedback because she could see your head moving down with the contractions as your mom’s body naturally opened for you to come.
I applied a wet washcloth to your mom’s forehead as well to help cool and revive her between each contraction. Her midwife sat at the foot of the bed and waited. There was no breaking the bed down. Everyone waited for your mom’s cues. She was laying on the bed somewhat on her side to allow her pelvis to open wider than if she was laying on her back. But you were coming quickly and it was a good way to slow down your birth ever so slightly to allow your mom’s body to stretch. There was castor oil at the ready and the midwife poured it over your mom’s perineum to help ease your passage. Your mom was an expert pusher! She listened to the cues her body gave her and pushed forcefully at first and then as your head started to crown she backed off. Her midwife gave her direction too, but it was more encouragement than direction, because your mom was a master at bringing you into the world! She grunted a little as she pushed and your head came out gradually. The midwife smiled and told your mom, “Good, just like that.” I whispered to her that she was amazing and so strong and I know your dad was equally astounded. I told her to reach down and feel your head if she wished, and after a brief pause she did.
We were witnessing a miracle, plain and simple. And in nine short minutes from the first push, your head emerged with your cord wrapped around it. The midwife nodded and said, “There’s the cord,” which she probably suspected the whole time based on the decelerations that happened just before the nurse checked your mom’s cervix. And she also saw your hand trying to creep up by your face. I told your mom to look down and she saw you completely for the first time as the rest of your body emerged at 12:14 pm. The midwife brought you up to your mom’s chest and your mom grabbed you in her arms and hugged you close. Your dad moved in to get a good look and a snuggle as well. We could all see that you were a peanut but you were also perfect with healthy apgars of 8/9. You weighed 5 lb. 7 oz. and measured 19 ½ in. long.
The midwife checked your mom’s bottom and pronounced triumphantly, “Look at you! No tears.” It was your mom’s expert pushing she had to thank for that. You were brought to the warmer briefly for a check since your first cry was a short one and you were born a bit shy of full term. But it was only a few brief minutes before you were returned to your mom with no diagnosis other than healthy and small. And you had so much dark hair! The midwife commented on it saying that you had more hair than your daddy. And you mom said, “That’s why I felt all that heartburn!” It’s an old wives’ tale but seems oddly true. Your mom sang a lullaby to you within minutes and it was so touching. I could see that she loved you so much already.
I showed your mom where to place you skin to skin so you could explore her breast and find your own way to her nipple. And after some time looking, smelling and tasting, you latched on and sucked vigorously shortly after 1:00. You caught on quickly and your mom was very calm and confident which only helped you feel free to explore and trust the new yet very familiar home base of your mother’s chest.
Your mom’s beautiful black labor dress remained folded on the table since she never got to the point of wearing it. It was funny to recount the details of the labor, putting the pieces together after the fact. Your mom did start cussing in the bathroom shortly before she was ready to push. And she had not done that for the entire labor. She also wanted her socks off because she was suddenly hot. This also happened just before it was time to push. Your mom was in transition and we didn’t even pick up on it. She is a stealthy birther!
There were loved ones to call. First, they called your dad’s mom and then your mom’s brother who was so excited to be an uncle for the first time. And then they called your mom’s dad who showed up within the hour to meet you in person. And he brought a visitor with him, a ladybug that had hitched a ride on his shirt! He was so smitten with you from the start and I don’t think he stopped smiling the entire time. He did comment to your mom about your amazing hair, wondering where it came from, to which your mom said without skipping a beat, “Have you looked in the mirror, Dad?” He replied sheepishly, “Oh, I guess you’re right.” We all giggled over that since your grandpa has amazing thick curly hair.
We went about getting your mom some food and drink to replenish her. The nurse brought the hospital lunch tray and I fed your mom the pears. She couldn’t have timed your birth better in regard to food. The lunch trays had just been delivered minutes before. In fact, the only meal your mom missed since arriving at the hospital was breakfast. Your dad also fed her fresh cut cheddar cheese on crackers and we also had cranberry juice and water at the ready. Your mom swore the cheddar cheese and crackers were the best she had ever tasted.
It was getting late and I know your parents were tired and still had phone calls to make. So I gathered my things to go but not before giving hugs. It was such an honor to serve your parents as they welcomed you into the world and into their family. You are a very lucky little girl to be surrounded by such love. And you even have an angel grandma in heaven to watch over you. I hope your life continues to be blessed with love from all around. Happy birthday, baby girl!
Written with love by your doula,