Monday, August 8, 2011

A Birth Story (where I was the doula)

So, last Fall I posted THIS account of a birth I attended as a doula. I loved being a part of this birth and I think it changed me as a doula in how I can connect with the mom. Here is the same birth story as told by the mother. It is neat to read how she experienced it all as well as the way I remember it. Her birth was at the Austin Area Birth Center.

Thank the heavens! (Jet's birth story)
by Debbie Day on Sunday, April 10, 2011 at 10:18am

I know the expression “thank the heavens” is often overused, but throughout the proceedings of my first pregnancy and childbirth, it is perfectly fitting to how I felt.
I had wanted to be a wife and mother for as long as I can remember. I was 15 when my Mum said she thought I would set back women’s liberations 50 years. She thought I would be married and delivering my first child by the age of 18! She was more than joyful that I was realistic, waited to find my perfect match, was married at 21 and then enjoyed close to four years of marriage before having our first baby! Anyway, as a late teenager and in my early twenties I had often thought how painful childbirth looked and as much as I wanted babies, it terrified me so bad that I had considered (very briefly) adopting instead of going through, what looked to be, the scariest, most traumatic experience known to women.
So there I was, happily married and preparing to fall pregnant. I resolved my thought process by telling myself “Birth is natural. Women’s bodies are designed for it and they have been doing it for millenniums…it can’t be that horrific if most women have more than 1 child…” I had thought of ways to make my body less stressed during childbirth and had heard some good things about water birth.
I was on Facebook one day looking at a new friend’s photo albums when I noticed she had a hospital birth for her first child and a home water birth for her second child. I remember messaging her to ask about her experience. I had just stumbled upon the greatest friend one could have in my situation. Sarah was not only an experienced home, water-birther, she was a doula and very passionate about helping others learn about natural birthing. Thank the heavens!
Sarah told me about her birth stories and said she would love to be my doula when we fell pregnant. She told me of birthing centre’s in Austin (Texas), but I would just have to find one that accepts our insurance. Overjoyed, a couple of months and 2 positive pregnancy tests later our doctor gave me a referral see an OBGYN. Our insurance only covered referred specialists and so I went along to our appointments at the (very impersonal) OB, still hoping that by some miracle I wouldn’t have to deliver our baby in the hospital (C-section rate was about 40-50%, which terrified me!). Sarah had supplied me with a couple of books but the one I liked the most was “Husband Coached Childbirth”. Wow, the floodgates of research were opening! I bought the book “Natural Childbirth-The Bradley Way”, which is a newer book similar to the first and started training my mind and body to relax using the techniques in the book. I started feeling confident, “ I can do this, I can have a drug-free, natural childbirth!”
By the time I was 25 weeks pregnant we had decided our baby would be born in Austin. After lots of searching for a way to have a water birth, lots of reading and lots of praying, this is part of a message I wrote to Sarah… ”I was looking to see if my insurance covers any birthing centre’s in Austin, and guess what?! Lol, Austin Area Birthing Center is in my insurance network (as of April this year!) and they have birthing tubs!” The next message continued “SO I am really excited now about this birthing center...Ahh just when I had almost given up on having a water birth!! Last night I was showing Wes the website for the birthing center and there is a video of a woman giving birth in the tub and so we watched a bit of was a really good thing for Wes and I to watch together and talk about.. Then he noticed on the website they have a new centre, opening up on William Cannon by the end of summer!! So I started getting excited because how perfect is that-they only just started accepting my insurance there, and by the time baby is due we won’t even have to travel to the North location!! After praying about it with Wes last night and feeling really good about this center, I called today to see if they have room and to check about the insurance and it's all working out great…PS. Thank you so much for all the information you've provided, if it wasn't for you I would have given up a long time ago!” Thank the heavens!!
After changing from the OB to the birthing centre, I felt so relieved. The midwives were very lovely and so friendly, everything was working out perfectly! My husband and I searched for a Bradley birthing class (I had wanted to attend a class but it was also a requirement of the birthing centre) that suited our schedule and we finally found a wonderful lady willing to start classes on a Saturday. Chan’s classes were great, we learned so much and enjoyed preparing ourselves for our baby.
My Mother and step-Father flew over from Perth a week before the estimated due date. I could tell the baby was getting ready to make entry into our world, as my feet were getting very puffy each day (I felt like the Michelin man!) but up until then I had enjoyed every second of my pregnancy. I was able to enjoy a week of shopping, dining and going out and about with my Mother and step-Father, then on the night before the “due date” we went out to Buffalo Wild Wings for a late dinner and I stuffed myself full of delicious wings. Wow, had I eaten too much? I went home (roughly 9.30pm) and went to the bathroom feeling the urgent need, as you do when you’re pregnant, when it was like someone had turned on a tap! I was certain my waters had broken and I began feeling, more clearly, ‘Braxton hicks’.
I was excited and very nervous all at the same time! I started shaking from nerves and tried to calm myself enough to go out and tell my husband and parents. Weeks earlier I had tested positive for Group B Strep, so because my waters had broken, I went in to the birthing suite to get a dose of antibiotics. Sarah, my friend and doula, met us there. My contractions hadn’t really started yet, so after receiving the IV antibiotics, the midwife told me to go home and get as much sleep as possible. We were to come back in four hours to get the next dose and hopefully the contractions would start by themselves.
I went home and my husband was out like a light! I wasn’t as lucky, my contractions gradually intensified but I was fortunate enough, to at least get some rest before we had to go in for the next dose. It was around 3.30am and my contractions were seven minutes apart. We asked the midwife if we could stay, rather than going back and forth in the car, as my contractions were 3-4 minutes by the time the IV had finished and they were very intense. The midwife didn’t believe I was far enough along and I clearly remember Sarah saying “Well, unless she’s handling the contractions like a horse...” or something to the same effect. I was trying very hard to relax through each contraction and just kept breathing deeply. The midwife checked and I was 5.5cm dilated. I felt proud and slightly smug that I was obviously handling the pain well. Needless to say I was in active labor and wasn’t sent home.
I continued laboring on the fit ball, where the contractions seemed easily managed by swaying and rolling my hips, while sitting upright on the ball. My husband was on the bed and my head was resting on my forearms beside him, while I sat on the ball, his hand on my knee. At one point he moved his hand, only for me to grab it and put it back. He then knew he had to be touching me and he never let go of me again. My Mum was in the room encouraging me by her words and presence. Sarah was sitting behind me, putting counter-pressure on my lower back, massaging and swaying with me. I wasn’t sure what I would need from anyone before labor had started, but at this point I knew I just needed to feel my husband beside me, my Mother near and Sarah was very in tune and knew exactly the right thing to do. She hummed and “aaah’d” along with me and it was very calming and peaceful. Thank the heavens for my great support team!
My last round of antibiotics was around 7.30am and a half an hour later “my” midwife (my favorite) started her shift. I was hoping she would be assisting me, so I was very happy! My contractions were peaked with intensity and I was doing all I could to focus each time on relaxing. I still remember clearly the sounds of deep humming I was making and the way I would roll my neck around and around, with my eyes closed, thinking of nothing other than getting through the pain each contraction would bring. Such sweet release when it eased and disappeared each time!
Finally the time arrived for me to get into the tub. It was warm and oh so comfortable! I found it more difficult to handle the pain but I just kept swaying my hips and concentrating on relaxing. I could feel the baby moving down and I felt the need to push. There was a lip of my cervix that wouldn’t budge and after a while of my midwife trying to move it manually in the tub, she suggested I get out and try pushing on the bed. With support from everyone, I moved from the tub to the bed. I hadn’t peed in a while and I felt the need, but when I went to the toilet I just couldn’t get the flow to start! I had minty smelling oil in the toilet to encourage it along but after several contractions, I knew it just wasn’t going to happen and so I got back on the bed and the midwife used a catheter to give me some ease.
My midwife continued trying to manually move the lip of my cervix at every contraction and it wasn’t long before I was pushing with all of the power I could muster. Every time I had a contraction I would keep pushing until I just couldn’t push anymore. I kept thinking, “Is this baby going to come out? Am I going to have this baby stuck inside me?” Everyone kept encouraging me and saying when my baby’s head was showing. One time they said “Feel your baby’s head!” and guided my hand down to feel the soft crown of hair. But every time I stopped pushing, baby would slip back up and the head would disappear. And then I felt the burn and I knew that my baby was almost here! I continued to push with strength that I never knew I had. Although I only pushed for 35 minutes, it felt like hours! Finally my baby’s head was out, they told me to stop pushing and it was the biggest relief. I relaxed, as I felt my baby move down and the “eel-like” feeling of baby’s body and legs making their way out. Thank the heavens!!
My beautiful baby took my breath away. I cried with joy to see the perfection! All of the pain and hard work was already forgotten as I studied my little darling’s face! Wes told me with intensity in his eyes and happiness streaming down his cheeks we had just birthed a BOY! My Mum and Sarah were watching with tears in their eyes. I felt so blessed and cried even more joyous tears- we had an amazing baby boy, on his “due date” Halloween! Thank the heavens!!
Wes cut the umbilical cord a few minutes later. We lay there, adoring our precious boy and enjoying the rest, the relief after 8 hours of active labour. I randomly felt some pain in my stomach and remember looking down and shooting a look at the assistant, I didn’t realize what she was doing but it didn’t feel good. She stopped immediately and it wasn’t long before my placenta came out..and so did a lot of blood, fast! I was hemorrhaging and I felt the mood change as my midwife began to shoot orders to her assistants. She had one hand applying pressure on my abdomen and the other hand trying to manually stop the bleeding from the inside. I felt the warm liquid bubbling out of me and I just kept looking at the faces of my support, my husband-who didn’t look concerned (my strength!), my Mum-who looked very assertive and then I saw Sarah’s face. She obviously didn’t want me to worry but I could also read her expression of concern and fright. Although I continued to study my new little man as he lay on my chest, I was still a little worried and I turned to ask, “Am I going to be alright?” My Mum quickly replied with assurances and I didn’t question it again. The assistants gave me an herb called Hem-Halt orally and very quickly after a pitocin shot in one thigh and a methergine shot in the other.
My midwife told me to try imagining the flow stopping, just like turning off a tap. It wasn’t long before the bleeding subsided and the mood was relaxed again. Phew! My midwife informed me that the blood loss wasn’t a huge amount (average is 1-2 cups and I had lost 3) but she just needed to get it under control quickly because it started flowing so fast. THANK THE HEAVENS!
I realized later that the umbilical cord being pulled was the reason for the sharp pain in my stomach before the placenta coming out. Had this been the reason for my hemorrhaging? I’d like to think not but I will never let ANYONE touch the umbilical cord in future births, that is for certain!
We began our journey, learning to breastfeed and everything was wonderful. After seeing everything was great, my amazing friend/doula Sarah went home (she had labored with me all night being over 3 months pregnant herself, and still had to travel an hour to get home!). My Mum and step-Father stayed for a little while before going back to our apartment with my in-laws, who had briefly visited us. My husband and I rested at the birthing centre for about 6 hours and then took our newborn blessing home. Our son is now 5 months old and I still study him in adoration, he’s just perfect!
Giving birth to Jet was amazingly empowering and I am so grateful for the knowledge I had gained through research (and the Bradley Birthing classes) and that we were surrounded by love and support that helped to make our experience so wonderful. We've moved back to Australia now but if I could, I would fly Sarah and my midwife over to help us bring the rest of our children into the world. We were very blessed and I thank the heavens!!

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