Birth is Beautiful

I was just talking to Jessica tonight and she was telling me how much she loved her birth experience and that she can’t stop talking about it. It was so wonderful to hear her say that! In our culture we are led to believe that the birthing process is a horrible experience and something to be feared. But that is SO not true. I think the birth of our children is something we should plan for. It’s like a wedding, it is such a huge and special day that you want it to be wonderful and as close to perfect as possible. Birth is just that, it is such an amazing and special thing to experience your children enter this world and to meet them for the first time. Your birth is something that should take planning. Part of that planning is researching all of your options and knowing what is best for you and your family.

As a doula, I am so blessed that people welcome me into such wonderful and joyous time. I grow with each birth I attend and I am completely in awe of the miracle that it is. I love to see the strength and courage women have. I also love to see how incredibly different each labor and birth is. It is, again, just like a wedding. Yes, there are some basics that go across the board, but every birth is truly unique and reflective of the people involved.IMG00199

Jessica's Birth - blessing in disguise

When Jessica found out she was pregnant aside from it feeling so unreal, she new two things, that she didn’t want anything to do with needles and that she birth could be a good experience. Other then that, she just didn’t know where to start when learning about the birthing process and how she was going to do this she was overwhelmed with all the information out there. Jessica loves children and is very close with her brother and sister-in-law (Amber) and their 2 little girls. Amber was one of the first people she called to share the wonderful news, but it was so hard to get used to the idea that there was a baby inside her. Eventually Jessica started having morning sickness, which made it a little more “real” to her and she started to do some research on child birth. Through this research she discovered The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth and immediately decided she would take the classes because they have such a high success rate of students having a natural childbirth. She also came across Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and loved reading the inspirational birth stories in the book. It wasn’t long before Jessica knew she was going to try this natural child birth, but if labor was bad enough to actually want the needle, then she would get it at that time.

When Jessica decided on having a natural child birth, she knew she wanted a doula and her sister-in-law present for the birth. She felt it would be wonderful if her mom could be there, they are very close, but also she though her mom might get too stressed and cause Jessica more stress. Naturally her mom wanted to be there as well, so Jessica gave her things she could do to “earn” her way into the birth. For example, going to a prenatal yoga class would buy her 10 minutes in the room and going to a Bradley class would buy her an hour. Ann, Jessica’s mom did many of these things and they really though she would be able to be there for a lot of the birth. So Jessica’s birth team was her husband, Sean, her sister-in-law, Amber, her doula, me and at times, her mom, Ann.

After 9 months of disbelief, then acceptance, excitement and planning, Jessica went into labor 1 day after her due date on July 12 in the early morning. Sean stayed home from work and they made a birthday cake for Connor. Labor stopped about 10:30 am that morning, but picked up again around dinner time that evening and by 7 pm her rushes were getting intense, but very bearable and with long breaks in-between. That evening she had dinner with Amber and two friends, Alana and Kayla. Amber went home to put her kids to bed and Jessica’s friends stayed. It was about 9 pm when I talked to Jessica and she was really excited and wanted Connor to arrive. So, I gave her the suggestion of getting in the shower with Sean and doing some nipple stimulation to see if they could strengthen the contractions and get them to be more consistent.

About 10:45 I arrived with Jessica on the couch, her mom, Amber, Sean and two friends Alana and Kayla were surrounding her. I talked to her to see how she was doing and where she was at. The rushes had some intensity, but she was still pretty early in her labor. She started to have some difficulty, so we got her in the bath. The rushes got to about 3 minutes apart and the position in the bath was not so comfortable. Sean really thought they were ready to go to the hospital and Jessica was ready so we left at 11:45 on an incredibly slow drive to the hospital. Her dad was outside waiting with a wheel chair when we arrived.

In the hospital room, the nurse was checking Jessica in and going over the birth plan. We got the feeling the nurse wasn’t too happy about all the people there to support her and the birth plan. We were told that she could only have 3 people, that the doctor wouldn’t let the cord pulse and she kept trying to explain to Jessica why she needed a hep loc when the doctor had already approved not having one. Then the baby nurse said she would only allow the baby to be on Jessica’s tummy for 5 minutes before she had to take him. The labor and deliver nurse was just seemed pretty negative all around. After Sean and Jessica were talking to the nurse about letting the cord pulse, she brought the doctor in to see if they could express their wishes to him and if he would allow it. The doctor told them that it was unreasonable to let the cord pulse for 10 minutes and if they really wanted the baby to get more blood, that he would hold the baby under her for a couple of minutes. Needless to say, they were not too happy with the nurses or the delivering doctor that evening. Luckily, they left us on our own, so Jessica could labor in peace.

Jessica was dilated to a 5 when we got to the hospital and 70% effaced. So after she did her necessary time on the monitors she wanted to get in the shower again. Jessica and Sean spent the next hour in the shower with Jessica moaning through the rushes. The rushes were pretty close together with not much of a break inbetween. Amber and I would go in every few minutes with water and crackers for her. After an hour in the shower, Jessica was still dilated to a 5 and the baby was still at a -1 station, but she was 100% effaced. +2 is what the baby needs for pushing.

About 2:15 am, Jessica had to be back on the monitor and after that I had her walk and do hanging squats during contractions. The squats were to help bring the baby down and put more pressure on her cervix to dilate more. Towards the end of the hour, Jessica got very nauseous and threw up. At that point she felt like she was going to faint, so she went to the bed and was sweating. We then got some wet towels to wipe her down. That helped a lot and felt really good for her. After about 10 minutes like this, the monitors got put back on which were very uncomfortable to Jessica and all of a sudden, she started to cry and beg her husband for the epidural. Sean was so wonderful with her throughout the entire night, he was so encouraging and supportive. This support and encouragement continued while she was saying, “Please, Sean, can I have an epidural, can I please have one?” Sean just kept on encouraging her and talking to her about why she didn’t want one and telling her she could do it. At this point everyone in the room started to cry with her. Was telling her that she could do it, that she had for all this time and she was so close, but with Jessica being a friend also it just got so emotional. I looked at Amber and she just looked at me like we need to do something. The next thing I told her is she will have to get an IV if she wants an epidural, she said she didn’t care, she just wanted it. So I told her she had to go to the bathroom first before she got it, but that darn nurse was there when Jessica asked why she had to go to the bathroom so she gave her a towel to pee in instead. With all the emotion in the room we just all wanted to give Jessica what she wanted and she got the epidural at 4:15 just after she hit transition.

After the epidural things slowed down a little bit and Jessica was comfortable enough to sleep. She slept for a couple of hours and just before 7 am (shift change is 7:30) the nurse comes in to tell her that if she hadn’t made progress, the day shift is much more strict and they were going to give her pitocin. Sean said, “Absolutely not! We are not having pitocin.” The nurse then asked, “I would like to know what your problem with pitocin is?” Sean responded with, “It not natural and there is no reason for it.” The nurse tried to argue with him and told him that is just what is going through her body, but Sean explained to her the truth that it’s not the same as “oxytocin” and he doesn’t want the synthetic form given to his wife. The nurse had nothing left to say after that. So when she left, I went right to him and said since she can’t move, your best bet is nipple stimulation until the next nurse comes in to check her. I think he was already planning on doing that anyway, but he got right to work and watched her contractions take off. There were no breaks again and they didn’t stop until the baby’s heart rate started to drop a little. Sean was watching all this on the monitor, knowing the nurse would come in if she got alarmed and he kept right on going until exactly that happened. That’s when we met the new nurse.

Liz, the new nurse told him he could stop and she checked Jessica at which point her water broke, came flooding out all over Liz. Liz was so positive and encouraging, a complete contrast from our night nurse. She checked the color of the fluid, saw that it was clear and told Jessica how good she was doing and what to expect for pushing. Jessica was at a 9 at this point. We were all so relieved to meet this new nurse, she didn’t have a problem at all with who or how many people were in the room. She was cheerful and encouraging. She just helped create the perfect environment for Connor to be born into. The new delivering doctor came in and gave us all a totally different feel also and the baby nurse seemed to have a much different attitude.

It was finally time to push, what everybody was waiting for and Liz coached Jessica through it, Alana was still there and she was able to video, Ann was there and she got to watch her grandchild be born. At this point I have to say it was so awesome that Ann got to stay. She was wonderful, she was very calm and helpful. It was a blessing for both of them that she was able to stay. Jessica wanted her mom there, but she didn’t want to be stressed out by her being there. So, back to the pushing, the on call doctor had a surgery at 8:30 am and Jessica was pushing. When the baby’s head was crowning, the doctor was still in surgery so they called Jessica’s doctor and he came right over from his office. He got there and with one push Connor’s head was out, he was suctioned, then another push and his body was out. The doctor put Connor on Jessica’s tummy and didn’t cut the cord. He waited till after the placenta was birthed and let Sean cut the cord. The baby nurse took the apgar scores of 9 at 1 minute and 9 at 2 minutes and never took the baby from Jessica. Jessica’s doctor left after the placenta and the on call delivering doctor arrived to finish.

So, in the end, the epidural gave Jessica those extra hours of labor to push her into the next shift. The labor and deliver nurse allowed everybody to stay in the room, the doctor did exactly what Sean and Jessica wanted with the cord and the baby nurse never took the baby away. She actually after about a half hour told Sean and Jessica, “When you are ready to have him weighed, come and get me.” Sean and Jessica ended up with a beautiful, healthy little boy born the way they wanted, no pitocin, the cord pulsed and lots of bonding time. He entered in a friendly, safe and positive environment. All of this happened because the epidural gave Jessica a couple extra hours of labor. So, in the end, that epidural was a blessing. God knew what he was doing when everybody got so emotional. It was amazing to see how it turned out in the end.
I have learned so much from this birth. I am so grateful to have been a part of it as with all my births. There are things I will do differently from hear on out because of this birth. There are also things I will talk to all my clients about before labor begins and things I will be very strict on because of this birth. This was another beautiful birth. And, I do have to mention, it had perfect timing again. Jessica went into labor when my husband was off work and had the baby before my husband had to go into work. That’s just a funny side note.

Connor Timothy Mackay was born at 9:56 July 13, 2010. He weighed exactly 8 lbs and was exactly 21 inches long.

Christina's birth

It is amazing how God has really been showing me that being a doula is what I should be doing. It is so neat how it has been working out. When I first started, I thought it was going to be so difficult being on call and I was afraid I would have to miss major events with my children. I was also so unsure of myself, if I could do it or not. My confidence has grown so much since that first birth and I just keep attending these perfect births with perfect timing.

When Christina first called me she told me about why she wanted a natural birth, not at the hospital, but with a midwife. She talked about how birth used to be before laboring women were brought into the hospital and that being pregnant and giving birth is not a medical condition. Everything she talked about was everything I am so passionate about. I was so excited to meet her and hear about what kind of a birth she wanted. She was set on a natural birth but understood that complications do happen. Christina seemed to be very proactive in her care from the beginning of her pregnancy and she had so much confidence in trusting her body and the process. Then, on the other hand there was that uncertainty that she had never done it and didn’t know quite what to expect. You can read all you want, but you just don’t know until you go through it yourself.

Christina told me that her mother was going to be the only one there to attend the birth and help with her baby boy. But, since Christina was adopted, her mom didn’t know quite what to do for her when she was in labor. Christina put it, “It’s like the blind leading the blind.” So, she followed her midwife, BJ’s advice and hired a doula. I was very excited about this birth. I just knew it would go well, just by her attitude and determination. So, when I got the call Saturday morning at 5:30 am the day we were planing to take the kids to the Wild Animal Park, I was excited, but still a little disappointed that I was going to miss the kids seeing the animals.

Christina told me she had been having “Period like cramps” that were 5 minutes apart for an hour. I asked her if they were from start to start and if she had tried the bath or the shower yet. She hadn’t, but they were from start to start. Christina also told me that she didn’t think it could be labor because she didn’t feel the rushes all over, just down low. I told her to get in the bath and see if they stop. Then I got up to take a shower. I called her right back after the shower and she said the cramps were less intense, but still there and she still didn’t think that this could be it. So, I suggested the shower just to make sure and I ate a big breakfast incase it was a long labor, but I had a feeling it was going to be quick. After I at my breakfast I called Christina again. She told me she hated the shower and got right back in the bath. Rushes at this point were about 3 minutes apart. I suggested I come over, she really seemed to be going fast and I wanted to assess where she was in her labor in person. It is much easier to tell in person then over the phone. Christina was still worried at this point that I’d come over and it would be false labor. I told her we had an appointment to go over her birth plan anyway at 10 that morning and if it wasn’t labor, our appointment would just be done early.

After talking her into the fact that this might be real labor, I arrived at Christina’s house at 7:30. She was in the bath tub and rushes were about 2 minutes apart. Almost immediately after I got there, she was having back to back rushes and it was very hard for her to get comfortable. She was still thinking it could be false labor and I suggested we call BJ after about a 1/2 hour of no break from her rushes. Christina was still a little apprehensive, after-all, she wasn’t due for another week and how could her baby be early if she is late for everything? I reassured her that this was labor and she was moving along very nicely, in-fact quite rapidly and I called BJ to tell her we were close to coming. BJ said she was ready whenever we were. Not much later, she was ready to give up. She asked, can we just go to the hospital and have a c-section. That was more of a joke, but it showed where her labor was at. After about 10 more minutes and me telling Christina that she was very close to having this baby, we decided to go to the birth center.

Christina’s mom packed the bag and the car while I go Christina to slowly get out of the bath and ready to go. She was ready to get shoes on. She was on her hands and knees by her closet while her mom was getting shoes. Her mom pulled out a pair only to hear, “No, not those ones.” She pulled out another, Christina says, “No, not those ones.” Christina then grabbed one flip flop and asked for the other. Her mom kept pulling out pairs of shoes cause she couldn’t find the match only to be met with, “No, not those ones.” After about 5 pairs, I grabbed a pair and told Christina, “Here these will be fine.”

We finally got Christina in the car and to the birth center where she was back on her hands and knees ready to get in the tub. But she had to wait for BJ to check her. BJ arrived a couple of minutes later, checked Christina’s progress and discovered she was complete! That was amazing. Christina got back in the bath and her bag of water hadn’t broken yet, so it hurt to push. BJ suggested braking her bag of waters which would allow the baby to move past the pubic bone and Christina decided to go ahead with that. BJ broke Christina’s water during a push and a couple pushes later her little boy’s head was born. Because there was meconium present, BJ then suctioned him, then another push and he was born. Her beautiful little boy was born 7 lbs, 11 oz at 9:53 am. Christina’s labor was 6 and 1/2 hours. I got to attend the birth and be home in time to make it to the Wild Animal Park with my family.
One of my favorite things about this birth is Christina’s personality really carried through the whole labor. Women sometime wonder how they are going to be in labor and I think they know themselves best. How do they handle anything? I have noticed that however you handle any stress, pain or challenge is how you will handle labor. It’s all in how you prepare, how you view the situation and the support you have.