short labor

Healing Birth

Cheryl was expecting her third child that was due January 1st to be early. In-fact, she was hoping for one more week when I went to see her Saturday, December 11th. Her estimate was December 15th. On Wednesday the 15th she had an appointment with her OB who was very supportive about Cheryl having a natural birth, so supportive that she told Cheryl to stay home until her contractions were 3 minutes apart lasting a minute for 2 hours. Doctor Baick wanted Cheryl to go into labor early also, because she was a VBAC, she wasn’t going to be allowed to go past her due date. After 40 weeks it would be another C. Anyway, at the appointment Cheryl was 2-3 cm and 70% effaced and Dr. Baic stripped her membranes.

I received a call at 4:30 am from Jaime, Cheryl’s husband saying that she had been having contractions 7 minutes apart for about 2 hours. He also said she couldn’t sleep through them but wanted to relax. I told him to have her get in the bath. About an hour later, Jaime texted asking if she could get in the shower. Cheryl really didn’t like the bath, but loved the shower. Her contractions at this point were about 5 minutes apart and her thoughts about them were they were uncomfortable and stronger then she expected. I thought she was progressing pretty quickly so I ate breakfast and got ready. I went outside to get stuff out of my husband’s car so I could take it and I was planning on driving over to Cheryl’s. I figured they were going to ask soon, so I’d start heading over there. I called when I went outside and Jaime said she was ready for me to come, the contractions were getting a lot harder.

When I arrived it was about 6:30, Jaime was blow drying Cheryl’s hair after the shower. She was in a pretty good rhythm with her contractions and very upbeat about everything. She was very talkative and had a lot of energy between contractions. After Jaime was done with her hair, I straightened it and then she did her make up. Cheryl’s daughter woke up about 7:30 and wanted to stay right there with her mommy. She watched while Cheryl put on her make-up and at all the grapes I got for Cheryl to eat. She was very quiet and didn’t seem to be a distraction for Cheryl at all. Jaime called his sister, Christina who was going to be at the birth also. He told her to go ahead and go to work until they called. A bit later we went down stairs, her little boy woke and the twins got ready for school with their grandma.
Once they left, Cheryl’s contractions were about 4 minutes apart. I thought we could pass some time by baking and it seemed to be good for her labor when Cheryl would be on her feet, so we started baking pumpkin muffins.

Around this time, everything starts to get a little blurry. Things were progressing so well. Cheryl was getting tired and talking about pain with the contractions. She wanted a break and didn’t know how long she could go on. She would go to the bathroom every couple contractions, for a few of the in-betweens, she rested on the couch and at about 9:30 her contractions hit the 2-3 minute apart mark. She was on the toilet at this time and pretty much stayed there. Until we left the house. I was able to get her on her hands and knees for 2 contractions to see if that would take the pushing pressure off, but it didn’t. So I was pretty certain the baby was getting pretty close because it wasn’t a position problem causing the pressure. Every contraction on the toilet Cheryl said she need to push, but she did so amazing controlling that. She breathed out with her lips in a circle every time I reminded her. Jaime timed every contraction and stayed right there massaging her through the contractions. He had the bowl ready for when she felt like she might need it, although she never did and he finished the muffins for the nurses at the hospital. About a 1/2 hour into this toilet laboring, Cheryl said she though we should go to the hospital. I was torn at that point, but I said if you are ready, that’s what we will do. Jaime started packing the car and Cheryl told me she felt burning, it was burning bad. I asked her to point to where it was burning and she said down low like inside her vagina. At this point, I was right on board with her going to the hospital right then. But I was making plans for when we got there to avoid any IV, I told her to sneak into the shower when she was getting admitted in the room. Jaime packed the car and called his sister then we left.

It was 10:24 am Thursday, December 16th when we got in the car to go to the hospital. Jaime’s sister decided not to go to work and head straight for the hospital just incase. Boy, what a great decision that was. We arrived at the hospital at about 10:45, got to the room at 10:50 and Cheryl thought she had to go to the bathroom, the nurse handed me the gown for her while Jaime took her to the bathroom. I went in the bathroom and Cheryl said the baby is coming, I watched her feel for the baby and saw the bag of waters and the baby’s head protruding out of her. I said to the nurse, “She’s not kidding, I see him!” (At this point I am completely not aware of where Jaime and Christina are.) The nurse rushes in the room, hits the call button and someone (probably Christina) handed me gloves for the nurse then I opened them for her. The nurses station calls back and the nurse yells to the speaker, “I need some help in here, I’m delivering a baby on the toilet!” I think she and Jaime got Cheryl up and to the bed. Cheryl was lying on her side just as I was walking out of the bathroom, her water broke like a water balloon splashing across the room just as the baby’s head came out. Rylan Scott was born at 10:53 am December 16th weighing 7 lbs, 6 oz. Yes, I did say we arrived in the room at 10:50! He was born 21 minutes after we got in the car to leave to go to the hospital and only 3 minutes after we were in the room! She wasn’t even admitted yet.
I remember looking at Christina and she was standing there frozen in shock. I have no idea where Jaime was, it was all so, so quick! Rylan was a little stunned by the quick delivery, so the nurses had to breath for him. They thought he was going to have to go to the nursery, he did pink up and slowly got his energy up. He had his eyes open before he even got to Cheryl and never needed to go to the nursery.
Cheryl got the natural birth she wanted. No interventions, no IV or hep-loc and she did amazing. She did everything I suggested to her and went with her labor. She worked so hard before we even left the house. When I had my very first conversation with Cheryl, she said she wanted to experience the birth this time, she wanted to feel some control and wanted to feel everything pain or not. She didn’t want to go through what she did with the twins again, having everything out of their hands while being so scared about what could happen to them any minute. She also didn’t want to be monitored the whole time. So in the end, “That’s the way to have a hospital birth!” She experienced a completely natural hospital birth. She also had great instincts about when to go to the hospital.

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.