July 30, 2020
Being asked to be a doula for a fellow doula, Vanessa was an honor. Connecting with her and her husband during our prenatal visits and hearing how their previous experience went, I desperately wanted things to go differently this time. Witnessing her fast, strong, and powerful birth was an incredible experience, and I learned so much from her. This birth held a special place in my heart.
As a doula, I understood the importance of allowing my baby to decide when to come out. However, as a pregnant mom, I was eager to be done with pregnancy. With my first child, I had gone past 41 weeks and 6 days, so I didn’t want to wait that long for my second. So, I agreed when Michelle, my midwife, offered a membrane sweep at my 39-week visit. Although I experienced contractions that day, they weren’t significant.
The following week, after accepting another membrane sweep from Suzanne, contractions started on the way home, and this time they didn’t fade away. They continued all night and throughout the next day. Trying not to get my hopes up, I ignored the contractions, knowing that early labor could last for days. However, the contractions grew stronger by Tuesday night, and I sensed that it might be the real deal. I informed my husband, Scott, to plan on missing work the next day, just in case. Though I had difficulty sleeping due to the contractions, they were still manageable.
Around 6 am on Wednesday, I decided to shower and prepare for the day. It was unusual for me to wake up so early without specific plans, but my intuition told me to be prepared. As I finished up, I received a text from my doula Ashley, asking how I was feeling. I informed her that things were progressing, but I didn’t think it was time to go to the hospital yet. It was around 7:30 am, and I was sitting on the couch talking to Scott when I suddenly stood up to go to the bathroom, and my water broke.
Working Towards A Positive Birth Story
My previous birth experience had left me wondering what would happen if my water broke while we were at home, with a 45-minute drive to the hospital. I had worried about the possibility of delivering the baby in the car. When my water broke, Scott’s eyes widened, knowing that when my uterus declared a pregnancy “over,” it was over. I asked him to call our sibling doula, Hannah, and have her come ASAP. I also texted Ashley to let her know that we were leaving for the hospital.
During pregnancy, I made a conscious decision to create a calm and fun atmosphere for this birth, aiming to counteract my previous negative experience. I chose to listen to the soundtrack of “In the Heights” during labor, as it brought me joy and made me want to dance. So I played it in the car, hoping I wouldn’t end up giving birth on the way.
As we drove, the contractions intensified, and I realized that laboring in a car was far from enjoyable. I had always advised my clients to stay home for as long as possible, but I hadn’t fully grasped how unpleasant the car ride would be. I apologize to my clients for not fully understanding that aspect. The roads were bumpy, traffic was heavy, and with each contraction, I vividly imagined giving birth on the side of the road.
At Last We Reached The Hospital
Finally, we arrived at the hospital. The valet took our car, and we headed up in the elevator. We were bombarded with questions and eventually settled into a room by our nurse. I changed into a gown I had brought for labor, and Michelle, my midwife, came in to say hi. Contractions were still ongoing and painful, but everything felt normal between them. We began preparing ourselves, expecting to be in the hospital for a while.
At some point during this time, I needed to use the bathroom. As soon as I sat on the toilet, I immediately felt the urge to push. I walked out of the bathroom, calmly informed Ashley, “I’m pushing,” and got into the bed. My doula quickly called the nurses and helped me adjust the bed to the desired position. I pushed for a few minutes on my knees, leaning against the back of the bed, but it became tiring, so I switched positions. Ashley noticed my husband was unsure where to stand, so she guided him to the right place.
I was terrified when my daughter started coming out quickly during my first birth. My contractions went from a pain level of 3 to 50 within seconds, and I didn’t realize what was happening, so fear consumed me. All I knew was that I was in excruciating pain, and the last time they checked, I wasn’t close to giving birth, so I expected hours of agony.
This time, however, I managed to remain calm. I remember thinking, “This really sucks, but I feel safe. I can do this.” Again, this highlighted the importance of having the right people on your birth team. Ashley stood by my side the entire time, anticipating my needs before I even expressed them.
My Doula Did What She Does Best
My doula provided encouragement and reassurance, reminding me of my strength and the progress I was making when they discovered there was shoulder dystocia. My midwife calmly guided me through each contraction and coached me on effective pushing techniques. Finally, I pushed one last time, and my son was born. The relief was instant. It was less than an hour from when we got to the hospital to when he was born.
They placed him on my chest. He felt limp. He wasn’t making a sound. The nurses and Michelle started rubbing him down, and I started talking to him. “Come on, little man. You need to cry! Let it out!” Ashley said, “That’s right, keep talking to him.” As soon as the NICU team walked into the room to take over, he gave a big yell, and everyone cheered. I knew he was good. A quick check by one of the NICU team confirmed this.
After waiting a while, I cut the cord. That’s one of my happiest memories. They then took my son to the warmer to weigh and measure him.
How I Felt After
This birth was one of the best experiences of my life. I have never been so proud of myself. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. Ashley doesn’t like it when people say they couldn’t have done it without her – as a doula, I get it. And the truth is, if I had to do it without her, I could have. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as positive an experience if I hadn’t had her there to help me feel prepared during pregnancy and to cheer me on during birth. My only regret is that we didn’t get a picture together afterward!