I recently was blessed to be able to attend my second birth as a doula. I have to say that I am addicted. What a fulfilling feeling you get from serving these laboring mamas! Outside of the calling of wife, mother, and sharing the Good News there is no other service that brings me such joy and peace.
This is my account of the last birth I was privileged to attend written for my sweet and very strong client, Denise.
A Doula's Perspective
I got the much anticipated call around 6:30 a.m., jumped out of bed, and readied myself for what the day may bring. I prayed on and off the entire 45 minute trip for this precious family's dreams of a natural, healthy, and peaceful birth to unfold before us. When I arrived Denise seemed to be in the early active phase of labor. She had a faint and hopeful smile and such a beautiful countenance about her. Scott was getting things together and was speaking in hushed tones giving his brother instructions.
I wasn't there but a minute or two and Denise had a contraction. They were short but breathtaking. She would start feeling the surge and kneel down at the coffee table to ride the wave of her contraction. She seemed serious, but completely in control. When it was over she mentioned how strong and hard it was. She was feeling all of the pain in her front to lower abdomen and was very nauseous on and off. She mentioned that she had thrown up before I had gotten there. Her contractions had started around 4:30 that morning. That made me start to think that she was further along than I had originally mentally assessed. Her contractions seemed to come one on top of the other with little rest in between. She breathed well through them moving from birth ball, kneeling, and to the bathroom. She seemed so in control and able to converse in between them that I had thought that surly things would be getting much stronger. Around 8:15 Denise's water broke. After the second time of her vomiting I felt strongly that we needed to get to the hospital. I let her and Scott know that we needed to get going now. For the record, Scott wanted to leave 15 minutes before that. Her contractions really started to build more and more and it was taking her longer than I wanted to get out the door and into the car. One of the sweetest memories I have of the labor is Scott supporting Denise with her hands around his neck through a contraction right by the back door. They finally got in the car and we were off to the hospital 15 minutes away.
We arrived at the hospital at what I would guess was 8:45. I walked into the emergency entrance to Denise gingerly getting into the wheelchair, Scott giving the desk information, and a nurse ready to wheel her off. Denise started having another contraction so I asked the nurse to please wait while I helped her breathe through it. I held Denise's hand and coached her to moan through it and silently prayed in my mind for Abba to please be with her during this very tough time to come. Poor thing! She was so uncomfortable for this bumpy ride and continued to have contractions closer together and decidedly more intense than before.
We got up to the room and a nurse handed her a specimen cup and a gown to put on. At this point Denise had already said a couple of times that she was having A LOT of pressure in her bottom and was feeling pushy. I reiterated this to the nurse who seemed to not be in any hurry at all and more concerned about her urine specimen. lol Denise breathed through contractions as she got undressed, got her gown on, and headed for the bathroom for that sample. Denise seemed frustrated by this, but tried to give it. She couldn't or just gave up and told me, "I can't do this right now." I told her jokingly that I don't know how in the world they expect a pregnant laboring woman to even reach to pee in a cup.
Denise made her way to the bed and got in the best she could saying the entire time how much pressure she was feeling. When her next contraction came she was half grunting half breathing through them. The nurse came in and examined her. She was complete and ready to push but the doctor was still en route. Denise asked for Scott who was still downstairs. The nurse kept telling her to breathe through the contractions. My heart went out to Denise who was truly felling such intense urges to bear down. It felt like torture to me to ask her to breathe through these contractions. But breathe she did, just like the powerful woman she is. The doctor finally arrived and they broke down the bed to my dismay since it left little room for position change. Scott finally arrived and I could sense the relief she felt. It's amazing the comfort a husband can bring a woman with just his presence. Somewhere around this time staff came in with all kinds of forms for Denise to sign. This was both comical and annoying to me at the same time. They're reading her all of this stuff and she's just trying to make it through contractions. She opened her eyes long enough to sign these papers that I doubt she even heard what they said and then took her fingerprint. It was amusing because they were so serious and insistent but annoying because they were breaking the mood and atmosphere of her birth.
Finally all of the red tape had been taken care of and she could get down to this business of birthing her long awaited son. I stood on her left coaching her and keeping her cool with a damp cloth and Scott stood on her right holding her hand and whispering in her ear. There was a lot of pushing and for what seemed a very long time. I'm not sure on the time period since I couldn't find the clock. She was so calm and controlled in between contractions. The doctor talked to both mom and dad asking questions now and then. At one point she had been pushing a while and the seriousness in the room seemed to increase...hope started to deflate. The doctor started asking Denise about how far she got with her last birth. You see, Denise was attempting a VBAC. It was her hope, her dream, her goal. We all told the doctor that the last birth, her sweet Kennedy, went about this far. I had so wanted to initiate a position change or two earlier but the doctor seemed determined to have her in the usual position. When it seemed to me that the doctor was going to suggest another C-section I asked him if he would allow us to help her push in a different position to which his response was, "You can, but I don't think it will help." Shortly after, he lowered the bed a little saying that he thought a more straight path would free baby up to come through the birth canal.
You see, right before that I think a miracle happened in the room. The doctor reassured Denise that baby would be coming out one way or the other. At first I thought it was just a cheap reassurance that we would get a baby even if it had to be by C-section, but then he said baby would be coming "this way" implying vaginally. Once again hope soared through the room and Denise was empowered with new strength, new resolve to bring this baby into the world. It wasn't long and baby Gavin came forth into this room and into his mom's capable arms who had prayed for him, hoped for him, longed to give him a beautiful and peaceful start on the journey of life. Denise was such a great laborer and her hard work and resolve had paid off. It was a blessing and a privilege to be a part in her journey and the beginning of little Gavin's. Thank you, Scott and Denise, for allowing me to serve you. May the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bless your family and keep you through the days to come.