I met my clients through a Hypnobirthing teacher referral a couple months before their estimated due date of May 31st 2018. We met at Mother’s Market & Kitchen for a quick bite and for a chance to meet face to face. The excited and hilarious couple were very eager to meet their baby but weren’t quite sure about hiring a Birth Doula or not. They had a lot to think about. I was personally very excited to learn that this mama is a practicing Birth Doula herself and that her partner has the pleasure of coming home to mama to discuss the various births she has been to throughout their relationship. If this was to be a good match, it would be my first Birth Doula client! We all got along really well with our personalities and humor aligning. After some time and thought, I got the fabulous news that I was to be their Doula!
I could tell that they had a beautiful relationship with each supporting the other. I felt that the strength I sensed and the humor I got to partake in would be a great buffer for any discomfort or worries during the labor itself. Our one and only prenatal went really well as I learned what they were hoping to experience during the laboring process. We worked as a hilarious team as mama made light of the situation with the different sensations and emotions coming up for her during this pregnancy. It was an honor to see clearly the process of how pregnancy can look for an individual who is so well versed on birth herself. It opened my eyes and my heart to the intricacies of pregnancy. And how it’s not always as easy or beautiful as it may seem to be. Mama tapped into her inner strength every day during her pregnancy to flow with what came up. Luckily she had her daily rock, her partner, who was a true support and loving force for mama. She was in good hands due to her mental strength she was building within herself every day, her many various past experiences as a Birth Doula, her partner, and her family. This Doula client relationship felt more hands off and that in itself was a learning experience for me.
The day before mama’s due date, her water released mid evening. Powerful surges came on shortly afterward. She texted me to let me know and that her partner would let me know when she would need me. Her partner called me at 3a.m. on May 31st asking me to come over because they needed some help. I arrived at 4:15a.m. with her partner debriefing me on what was happening upstairs in their home so I could be prepared for what was to come. He told me that an assistant midwife had already arrived and checked mama’s progress. She was 1 cm dilated but in excruciating pain and the other midwife was on her way. The birth tub had overflowed once he left the house to let the assistant midwife in through the front gate. And lastly that mama didn’t want to be touched or spoken to during her surges. I was a bit shocked and overwhelmed by the news but came upstairs to check on mama and to make my first connection with her.
As he said, the atmosphere was a bit tense with an air of uncertainty. I initially watched what was unfolding in front of me so I could get an idea of how to best support her. I felt very sensitive to her needs of no touching or no words spoken. So I fell silent and stayed that way most of the evening. Not being the normal care I offer, I felt a little unsure of the other skill sets I could bring forth. We tried getting her into the birth tub which ended up being too hot and stimulating for mama. She wandered around the apartment and stabilized herself during each surge. Once the other midwife came in, she advised that mama get into bed so she could check her and maybe stretch her open to 2 cm. During this time, I stayed silent and just assisted with whatever the midwife, her partner, and mama needed from me. Her partner was so patient and clearly 100% there for whatever mama needed from him even when she needed him to be doing 3 things at the same time! Because she didn’t want to be touched or spoken to during surges, her partner stayed by mama’s side, holding her hand when she would allow him, touching her back, and speaking the right encouraging phrases to her. I sat back and waited until each surge would ripple out of her body and then make my move to help her completely relax between the uncomfortable surges coming on quick and strong. That’s all there was to do. Be present, wait, and encourage relaxation during her down time.
The midwife assessed the situation for the next hour or so and decided that based on mama’s progress and the intensity of her early labor contractions, that she should be transferred to a hospital to receive an epidural so she could relax and sleep. Mama was right on board with this decision and felt it to be best as well. We slowly helped her transition into clothes, into the car, and up onto the 5th floor of the hospital. Once administered, it took a while for the anesthesiologist to assist mama with an epidural. She was having a hard time with the news of the long wait and we did our best to help her relax when her surges would leave her body. She responded to the intensity of her strong surges and the long wait with, "you guys...! This is really hard work", then fall back into a surge hiding her face in a pillow or underneath a wet towel. Finally, I was asked to leave as they prepared her for the epidural. I was in the waiting room for about 2 hours chatting with her parents and updating them on all the news. Once mama received her epidural, her body yawned open to 9 cm immediately. Her body was able to relax and open. There was no more resistance from the pain, so her body opened quickly. She had experienced 12 hours of intense labor surges before receiving her epidural. She had been so strong and brave during that time!
Shortly after the anesthesiologist left, mama and her partner were joined by her mother, father, her photographer, Sarah, and me. Her mother gently brushed out her hair and re-braided it to look nice for the rest of labor and for pictures I’m sure. I took some photos of this moment and massaged mama’s legs to provide circulation to her lower body since she couldn’t move it. We chatted and had a couple of laughs as we debriefed about what we had all experienced back at her home earlier that morning. Sarah checked the lighting for the photos that she would be taking during the pushing phase and shortly afterward we left so mama and her partner could rest.
By 2p.m. on May 31st, mama had the “okay” to push since she had been complete for about an hour. The birth photographer, Sarah, myself, mama's mother, and sister joined in the room to watch and encourage mama during the pushing phase. She kept saying that she couldn’t feel anything and that the pushing phase felt fake. Like it wasn’t actually happening. She also kept saying that she already loved her baby so much and that she is ready to meet and hold her baby. She made the very best of the circumstances that come into fruition during her labor! She kept a great attitude and a strong willingness to keep going and to flow with what was next. The pushing phase lasted less than half an hour. Her partner and her nurse stood close by to hold up mama’s legs and to offer the best support a mama could ask for. Her mother, sister, and I stood back and cheered her on. Reminding her that she is doing it and that this is her body pushing the baby out even if she couldn’t feel anything. That her body just made all this effort to labor her baby and now it the time to meet this baby girl.
Mama pushed her baby out quickly and her partner had the unbelievable opportunity to catch his baby girl and place her onto mama’s tummy. The cord was thick, pulsing, and healthy! Baby, mama, and papa all cried together shortly afterward. It was such a beautiful victorious moment for everyone in the room. So sacred and special! This Doula had her baby! Baby was born at 2:25 p.m. on May 31st, 2018 weighing 7 pounds 11 ounces measuring 20 inches long. Bets were made about the weight of the baby and Sarah had the closest guess. Mama, being born in May, really wanted to have a May baby and she got her wish! Congratulations on a healthy baby girl. You both poured so much mental/emotional energy, devotion, time, and love into this 10-month experience for one another and for your individual selves.