August 26, 2020
The first time I spoke with Susan over the phone, I fell in love with her sweet and kind nature!!
We had such a great phone conversation, and I felt very connected to her. When I met Susan and Kevin a few days later, I knew that I was meant to be their doula. I hadn’t known when I met them what their birth story would turn out like. However, all I knew was that I would support and love them no matter what.
The day I discovered I was pregnant, I was in awe. We had been trying for so long and had almost given up. I sat on my couch, holding my stomach, lost in the moment. I knew right then I needed help to have the best birth story.
After asking my boss, who specializes in prenatal care and knows EVERYBODY, I had a phone interview with Ashley. I immediately felt comfortable and safe with her as she explained what she does as a doula.
What I Learnt From My Doula, Ashley
Ashley taught us everything she could to help us relax and get us through the day. She showed us stretches to perform and Spinning Babies techniques. Our doula spent countless hours going over our natural birth plan and the worst-case scenario plan. She also spent a lot of time with my husband, Kevin, giving him as many tools as needed for the birth.
And Our Birth Story Began
It was a Wednesday morning around 7 am when I woke up with period-like cramps, which were quickly forgotten when I realized I was sleeping in a wet bed. As I stood up, water cascaded down my legs. It continued during my short walk across the hall into the bathroom, where it kept going for a few minutes while on the toilet.
This led to a panicked phone call to Ashley with the thought that something was wrong.
“Yep, your water broke!” were the words I heard 3 weeks too soon.
She advised me to lie down, track the contractions, and call the doctor when they opened. I urged myself not to wake Kevin screaming, “The baby is coming!” This was going to be an all-day event, and he needed sleep.
I eventually woke him up and said, “My water broke, and I am calling the doctor.” We then went to my midwife’s office. I was barely dilated and could not feel my contractions, but the machine said otherwise. So the midwife recommended that I go home and rest for a few hours.
During this time, Ashley kept calling to check-in. Finally, at around 5 pm, the midwife’s office asked me to go to the hospital just in case I went into labor overnight. The details once I arrived at the hospital are now fuzzy. We had an all-natural birth plan that included massages and a bathtub. When I saw the beautiful tub, I feared that my barely 5-foot self would not make it in once things got moving.
Ashley had encouraged me during our doula sessions to take a hypnobirthing course, and I utilized those tools to deal with the cramping. Unfortunately, I had not dilated overnight, so everyone carefully recommended Pitocin. I vaguely remember walking around, trying all the different positions.
Our doula encouraged me to hop in the tub, but I was reluctant. Between the IV and the tub’s height, it was a no-go. The cramping increased, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I then begged for the epidural. I got the “are you sure?” question from every team member. They knew I didn’t want it, but I had hit my limit.
With the power of the epidural and hypnobirthing, I could finally focus on pushing the baby out. Each wave would come over me, and I pushed with all my heart. Ashley and Kevin were holding me up, and the reassuring voice of my doctor kept me going.
At one point, I heard a scream in the distance. That was the sound of a parent who just gave the final push for birth.
I closed my eyes. Something in hearing that parent set a fire in me to continue my birthing story. If she could do it, so could I! I started pushing harder. People started coming and going. My midwife, Kev, and Ashley all kept having hallway conferences. I wasn’t worried; I was deep into my breathing.
Suddenly, the cramping and pushing stopped. Ashley was trying very hard not to look stressed, but I could see the worry and fatigue in a way that I would see in a family member.
I heard, “You need a c-section,” the phrase I never wanted to hear. Ashley and my midwife both looked me in the eyes and apologized for not sticking to the birthing plan, but we were at the point where it was medically necessary. The baby was safe and unable to come out. However, I had a fever.
At this point, I was hitting hour 50 of labor, and it was Friday. After crying and expressing my concerns to the team, I closed my eyes and refused to open them.
The Unplanned C-section
The surgery itself was nothing. A lot of talking, but not to me. The reassuring voice of the doctor.
During the surgery, I felt something like an abdominal massage; however, it felt higher than it should have. Soon after, I heard, “Susan, look at your baby! Kevin, tell her what you have!” Then, after a moment of shocked silence, I heard, “Honey, we have a boy!” as I stared at my baby.
I strained to watch him on the little table as much as possible. I had no idea what the doctors were doing to me. All that mattered was my baby.
They finally brought him over to me. I was too drugged up to do much else than stare at him. The image of him over the blue sheet is burned in my memory. My little Simba baby.
In The End
My labor ended up being less than 60 hours, including 4 to 5 hours of active pushing. Everything that I did not want to happen, well, happened. My birthing plan for an all-natural birth ended in an emergency c-section, all the fun drugs involved. However, I was able to get through it with the fantastic team I had. Kevin and Ashley did not leave my side. They helped me every step of the way.