What A Difference A Doula Makes- Natural Hospital Birth Story
The Birth Story of Aislyn
There is just something wonderful about women helping women give birth. Feminine energy is a fantastic thing. I wish we always supported each other like this!
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On the bright and sunny, and surprisingly very warm day of April 10, 2011, my six year old son and I took a little trip to the museum, then took a nice long, leisurely walk along the lake shore. I sat down, legs tired after walking almost 2 miles at 38 weeks 4 days pregnant, and watched my little guy splash in the water and giggle with each wave that washed upon him. As the sun warmed my skin, I closed my eyes, and told myself to really enjoy this moment, because it would likely be one of the last I would share with my son as an only child. We were very, very excited to be welcoming his sibling, and knew our very close relationship we'd had the past six and a half years would change soon.
A couple of days later, on April 13, I did my Easter shopping, trying to gather all the chocolate, egg dye, grass and trinkets in enough time before having the baby. Because I'd been 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant when my son was born, I expected to be at least 3 days “late” with this one. I wanted to have everything set in case I happened to be in the hospital or in active labor come Easter morning. I had Braxton-Hicks all day long.
Later on, a friend gave me a ride to register my son for camp. We talked about some hand-me-downs she had for me. When she dropped me off, she yelled from the car as I walked toward the door “Hey, if you can, have the baby tomorrow for my birthday! That'd be the best birthday present ever!” I told her “Ok, but I'm not having this baby for another week or so! Just wait until Easter morning!” (my son was born Halloween, so I guess I just assumed all the rest of my children would be born on holidays).
On the morning of April 14, 2011, at 39 weeks pregnant, I woke up to some light contractions coming on about every 6 or 7 minutes at around 6am. I walked my son to school at 8am, trying not to get too excited about my contractions (I'd learned my lesson from 3 days from promodal labor last time around). All the staff at the school asked me when I was going to finally have that baby. I said maybe today! I don't think any of them took me seriously. I told my son I might have the baby today, and that the neighbors would pick him up if I was going to be in the hospital. He said ok and I kissed his forehead.
Luckily, on this day I did not have class and I was working from home. I began to work on a paper I had hoped to finish before the baby came. About an hour later, I began regularly timing my contractions. They were a little irregular, lasting anywhere from 6 to 9 minutes apart, and lasting about 30 to 40 seconds. I did my work through them for about 2 hours. After that, it started to get too intense for me to be on the clock when I was spending half the time rocking my hips and squatting to deal with all these contractions!
I called my mom and my doula, and told them my contractions were about 5 to 7 minutes apart. My doula said “I think we're having a baby today!”. My mom could hardly believe today would be the day. I could still hardly believe it myself, and kept half-expecting the contractions would stop and that I'd be pregnant another week or so. After all, I hadn't lost my mucus plug or had any bloody show, or broke my water, some of the typical telltale signs of labor that would actually never come!
I hopped in the shower thinking it would make or break my contractions and I'd know once and for all that I was truly going to have a baby today. Fifteen minutes in the shower drew my contractions to about 3 to 4 minutes apart, lasting about 45 seconds. They were gaining lots of intensity. I continued to rock my hips, and cursed at each contraction.
I finally decided that I was indeed in labor. My doctor told me she wanted to know well in advance that I was in labor, since she had a bit of a drive from home and knew I'd be coming to the hospital late in labor. So I called and gave her the heads up around 1pm. For some reason, I tried to sound composed, like everything was real smooth. It was smooth, but I was definitely in active labor. I also gave my doula an update that my contractions were closer now. She asked if I wanted her to come, and I said yes. She was at her nanny gig, so she informed me she'd call the mother of the children she was watching to come home.
I tried to fix some lunch. I made gorditas. Making lunch is not easy when you have contractions bringing you to your knees every couple of minutes. To no surprise, I burned my gorditas. I ate about half of one, then tried to get some rest. I realized I was past that phase where you should 'eat and try to get some rest for later'. This was later!
I got back into the bath tub hoping I could relax in there. The bath tub was my haven! I loved it there. It felt like a belt was squeezing me as tight as possible, and like a pile of bricks was stacked on my lower back. Laying against the back of the inside of the tub was a great relief. At that point, my doula text me and said that it'd be a while until she could get off from her job, and informed me she'd sent another doula over to help me.
At this point, I could hardly text. Living in a high rise university campus housing building without intercom, I wondered how I would make it downstairs to let her in without looking like a woman about to have a baby very, very soon. Right before I went downstairs, I threw up.
Around 2pm, the other doula arrived. I tried to introduce myself properly and be hospitable, offering burnt gorditas and introducing my son in the pictures on the wall. She asked about how my labor was going, and I told her I was pretty sure I was in active labor. She said from the way I looked and spoke, it seemed like I was still pretty early. She started blowing up her birth ball and I went back into the bath tub. I cursed my contractions some more.
When I came out, she told me her air pump wasn't working. I could have cared less. I felt like an Amazon warrior at this point. Instead, she gave me lower back massage and some hip squeezes, which were soooo nice. She told me my doula could arrive around 4, and asked if I wanted her to stay or not. I told her she could do whatever she wanted, but my doula better be able to do hip squeezes like her! She assured me she could, but that she wanted to stay. Yay, 2 doulas!
At this point I could not move much. I laid bent over the bed, with my doula at my side. Between contractions she asked me about my son and my studies. She answered phone calls from my mother and my sister, who could not be with me. My original doula also came at this time. I was sick to my stomach an additional two times. The contractions were so intense, to be honest, I kept saying I wanted to jump out the window (5th floor). But really, I didn't actually want to.
Both doulas gave me massage and hip squeezes, and we worked on some visualization techniques. In my mind, I could see my baby moving further and further down. I could feel a bit of pressure in my vagina. I had been thinking all day, I should get to the hospital around 5, definitely have to be there at 6. We started talking about going to the hospital around 4. I was weary—on one side, I knew my baby would arrive shortly. On the other, I was afraid I'd ask for an epidural, or that I'd get a bunch of unnecessary interventions from my hospital-happy doctor who'd been waiting there since 1, and had actually called once in between to see where I was. We decided to hold out.
Within about 45 minutes, I was almost positive I was VERY, VERY close to having this baby. I felt a lot of pressure, and a bit of burn around my cervix. In my mind I could see my baby's head nearing the opening of my cervix into my vagina. I kept trying to 'blow the baby down' with each contraction. However, at this point, I was often panicking and hyperventilating with each wave.
Around 5pm, I decided to try the bath tub again. As I was undressing, I let out a long grunt, to which my doula responded “What was that, Lindsey?”. I said I could feel a burning ring of fire. The other doula rushed out the door to get her car. The doula that stayed with me helped me get my things and get dressed and led me out the door. I had a contraction at the elevator, to which one of my neighbors getting off the elevator congratulated me.
A little after 5pm, I climbed into the back seat of my doula's car. I stayed on my hands and knees. There was no other position I was comfortable in. The hospital was only about 3 blocks from home, so we arrived quickly. However, I had to pause for a contraction before heading in the door of emergency, where for some strange reason is where they register L& D patients. It seemed like it took forever for the L&D nurse to arrive. I couldn't sit or stand, just needed to get the baby out.
The nurse practically ran down the hall to the elevator, pushing me in the stupid wheelchair and my doulas hurrying behind. At L&D triage, I was given a cup to pee in. I tried, but considering my baby was squishing my bladder, I couldn't. The nurse then said, with an attitude, “OK you can have a seat in the waiting room.” I said “who?” She said, growing angry, “you!”. “Me?” I honestly didn't believe she was sending me to the family waiting room.
My doulas and I went to the family waiting room, where an older lady and her daughter were sitting. The lady leaned over and said to her daughter “That'll be you soon,” referring to me. I leaned over the chair and my doulas offered their support. Within a couple of minutes, my water broke. I was so excited—with the birth of my son, I had been induced because of preeclampsia, and had my water broken and had my son delivered with forceps. To be have gone into labor naturally and for my water to break on its own was already so liberating.
At that point, a team of nurses got a bed and wheeled me into a delivery room. My doctor and her attending ran in. Everything went really quickly. I requested a room with a tub, but it wasn't available, I guess. I quickly undressed, being SO ready to have this baby. I hardly got my gown all the way on, and hopped onto the bed. I laid on my side and my doctor checked me.
She had hardly stuck her hand inside me when she looked up, jaw dropped, and said “You're 10 cm and at about a +2 station, you can push”. Oh, thank you doctor, for giving me permission! I instinctively got on my hands and knees. The nurses and doctor yelled at me to flip over, even though when we'd discussed my birth plan she said I could birth in whatever position I chose. I pretty much ignored them and pushed at my own pace. The attending assured them everything was “alright” and that he was going to show them a thing or two about birthing positions.
As I heard the doctors talking behind me, I was in my own world, visualizing my daughter making her way through the birth canal. As I pushed, I could see her crowning. I could see her squished up face, her long black hair. I could see that she was OP, which was why she was “turtling” as my doctor termed it. However, after only about 5 pushes in about 10 or 11 minutes, my baby girl Aislyn was born at 6:11pm on April 14, 2011, weighing 8 pounds 4 ounces, 19 inches long.
I could feel her head come out, and then with another push the rest of her body slid out. I was so excited that she'd arrived that I quickly flipped over to see her and hold her. At the same time, her cord ripped. I had not even noticed. The nurses made a quick move to grab each end of it, hers and mine, and especially mine.
Soon after she was placed on my chest. I kept saying over and over to my doulas “I did it. I can't believe I actually did it. I pushed my baby out. I did it”. I was so elated. I was so glad I hadn't dressed all the way—we were skin to skin with lots of blankets over us, and she nursed right away very easily. I could not have felt more happy and empowered at that moment holding my little girl on my chest with my doulas at my side, praising my work and congratulating me.