Yesterday I attended a birth.
Actually, the birth began the night before.
It is the night before yesterday night. I am just crawling into the bed. Philly is standing next to the bed saying goodnight since he himself is not going to bed.
He says, “So when is your client going to have that baby?” Because she is a few days late.
I say, “Speak not of it!” because I am right at that moment about to go to bed.
TWO SECONDS later the iphone rings.
Yes, it IS my client.
I give Philly a dirty look.
“You did this.” I say.
“Hey, don’t blame me.” he says.
I pick up the phone. It is Client’s Husband.
“Hello?!” I say with some enthusiasm because really why else would he be calling me at 10:30 at night?
“Hi!” he says. “Well her water just broke. No contractions yet though.”
“Ok.” I say. “Did you call your provider yet?”
“No.” he says. “We are deciding whether or not to wait to call.”
This is something I cannot recommend either way. There are risks on both sides of the equation. I CAN tell them to check that the water is clear and odorless. I can discuss the likelihood their provider will tell them to come in to the hospital – and they will be admitted.
We discuss communication going forward. They will text me smaller updates but call for major happenings.
I get a text: We are going in. Light contractions.
I text: Ok.
I put my phone on the highest setting of RING and lie down to try to get some sleep before the next call comes.
I wake up and it is almost morning. I frantically look at my phone, hoping I did not somehow miss a call.
But there is no call. Just an update: 3cm. Irregular contractions.
Now comes the confusing part. I have a class to teach this morning. I have to weigh the likelihood Client will progress quickly OR slowly. Really there is no way to tell. I text my back up sub so she is ready to go if I need her and I head out to teach my class. Philly makes me the usual Doula pack of food. I bring all my doula stuff with me, JUST in case.
I check in with Client and Client Husband right before I go in: No change.
So I teach. I come out thinking I am heading to the hospital.
I text Client: Hello! What’s the latest?
Client texts: We are still waiting for the doctor to come in. Everything else is pretty much the same.
I drive home.
I eat a burrito.
I take my vitamins.
I brush my teeth.
The phone rings. It is Client Husband.
He says, “Contractions are getting more intense. She is 5cm.”
I say, “I am on my way!”
It is the middle of the day. I hit some traffic, but not too bad. I get there in 18 minutes.
Luckily, this particular hospital has excellent parking. I get a spot right in front of the main door. When I go up to the information desk I say, “I am a doula for Client.”
Information Desk Person says, “5th floor.”
Around the corner and down the hall I take the elevator up. I buzz the Labor and Delivery doors, which are always kept locked so no one can go in there and steal babies.
Nurse answers the buzzer, “Yes?’ she says.
“I am a Doula for Client.” I say.
“Come on in!” she says in a cheery voice.
If you are a Doula you know this is a good sign.
I wander through the hallway until I find room seven. I knock lightly and open the door. Client is kneeling over the bed. Husband is applying counter pressure to Client’s hips. Client’s mom is sitting in a chair in the corner.
I ask, “What has been working so far?”
Client husband says, “The back pressure and also no talking.”
Client says, “MORE PRESSURE! On my back!”
Client is a very clear kind of person.
And so we begin. Client Husband and I trading off on the counter pressure so we don’t wear out. Giving counter pressure for hours can be quite tiring. Now we are changing positions every 20 or 30 minutes. And we are walking. And moaning, deeply.
In a few hours Doctor comes in to check the progress. I KNOW Client is hoping to hear 9cm. Instead she hears 6cm.
“6cm in almost three hours!” she screams.
Doctor acknowledges her feelings and reassures her things can change on a dime.
She tells her, “You are doing GREAT!”
Client does her best to accept this from Doctor.
I think: I like this doctor.
We go through several rounds of slow progress checks. Baby is in a posterior position and Client is having a lot of back pain. I try a few Doula tricks to encourage baby to slip out of the pelvis a bit and rotate around. I hope it helps.
I am also doing the things Doulas do to offer comfort and support as labor gets more intense. However, client has said in our Prenatal meeting she might want the epidural.
Turns out she does. Nurse says, “Maybe this will help relax you and you will open up more for baby to descend.”
Baby has been hanging around -1 or -2 station for a while now.
After the epidural is in, we get the peanut ball adjusted between her legs to help keep the pelvis open. We turn her side to side. Eventually Doctor comes back for another check. 9cm! Station 0. Client is very happy.
There is a small forebag of water preventing baby’s head from applying full pressure on the cervix. With Client’s permission Doctor ruptures the forebag.
I have a feeling things are about to speed up quite quickly now.
And…they do. In just twenty minutes Client is 10cm and baby in at station +2 which is really, really great. Doctor asks Client to give just a little push to check out how fast this baby is going to come.
“Stop pushing.” she says. Because that baby is seriously on the way out.
And suddenly everyone is running around the room, uncovering the birth tray, taking the bottom off the bed, making ready.
Nurse and I are on each side of Client’s body, holding her legs to help her push. I look down and already the baby’s head is RIGHT THERE. Three more rounds of pushing and the baby’s head comes out, next push and the baby’s whole body slips out. Client Husband makes the most joyful noise I think I have ever heard.
I look at client. She looks back at me. I say, “Your baby is here.”
I cry a little tear, like I always do at this miraculous moment as a new being enters the world.
Client Husband goes over and kisses his wife on the head. “You are amazing.” he says.
Baby is a little blue and so Nurse needs to take baby over to the warmer to give baby a little prodding to get going on the breathing. Not too long and baby is pinking up! Nurse brings baby back over to Mama.
Baby and Mama look into each other’s eyes for the first time. She speaks and baby’s head turns toward the voice it has been hearing all these months in the womb. It is a sacred, beautiful moment. I feel so lucky to witness this.
In a little while it is time for me to get going. The whole family tells me, “Thank you so much. Thank you.”
And I say, “You are welcome. Thank you for letting me be part of your birth!”
As I walk out the door and down the hall I am filled with love.
I am blessed to do this work.
I am very, very grateful.
Yes, I am.