Would you believe that my very first doula baby was born on Leap Day? It's true. In honor of her very first real birthday (she's technically 4), I'm reposting her birth story. Happy birthday, little one!
I just helped my 1st official client as a doula and it was nothing short of spectacular. Seriously, I don't know how a birth can get much better than this one. I am downright giddy with the details. First, this mom is also a friend of mine who has been encouraging me to pursue my doula training way before she was pregnant with this baby. She asked me to be present at this birth before I was even actively pursing my certification and I was so honored to be trusted and welcomed for their experience. Secondly, this mama chose to deliver at The Farm, which is world renowned. I was literally star struck the first time I visited for her prenatal appointments. Thirdly, this mamma trusted her body and this process from the very beginning. I love that she was eating healthy and geting chiropractic adjustments regularly. She started acupuncture in the last few weeks and waited for her body to go into labor on its own without interventions despite the fact that she was 42 weeks, 1 day. Based on her previous pregnancy, I'm convinced that she just takes a little longer to grow her babies. The fact that she delivered a perfectly healthy, average-sized baby is proof. Finally, this was a Leap Day baby! It was such a memorable day to begin with and now will be one that I will never forget. In fact, this momma had picked February 29th as her guess date from the very beginning. I'm a huge fan of mother's intuition. Sometimes, we just KNOW!
Mom called me about 2:30 having regular contractions but they were just starting to get uncomfortable. She texted me at 4:15 that they were consistently 10 mins apart and painful. I am an hour and a half from The Farm so I decided to make my way down there. I arrived at 6:30. Mom said they were now 7 mins a part. I watched her for a few contractions and she was handling them beautifully. She was making good noises and coping well. She commented several times how much better natural labor was versus being induced in the hospital like her last birth. She ate a few bites of dinner and I noticed that her contractions seemed to be coming a little closer at this point. She timed a few and they were indeed now 5 mins apart. She decided she would take a shower and then try to lie down and rest. I could hear that the contractions were definitely getting closer together. Mom was still jubilant so I changed into some comfy clothes and got out my journal.
Mom tried to sleep but called for me to be with her about 10 minutes later. She was still doing well with the contractions, making good noises, and squeezing my hand. Things were definitely picking up and she decided she was ready for the tub so I started making calls to her midwife. The backup midwife called us back and said she was on her way. I gave an update on mom's contractions (4-5 mins a part & lasting over a minute) and she decided she would call for the midwife who lives next door to come check on us. Mom could no longer lie down so we got her changed into her swim top and moved to the floor on hands & knees with the birthing ball. At this point, she was needing some counter pressure on her back and I was happy to oblige.
The next-door midwife arrived and checked mom who was now having contractions about 2-3 minutes apart. She was "very open, dear" with a bulging bag of water. The midwife began to get everything set up and gently prepare mom that she may have this baby before the tub arrived. Mom's water broke. Dad had just gotten their son to sleep in the next room and came in. The backup midwife also arrived around this time. When mom said she didn't think she could do this without the tub, we all looked at each other and grinned (this was a good sign as far as transition is concerned). We gave her some verbal reassurance that she was doing fantastic because she absolutely was. She had a good rhythm and ritual (rocking, vocalizing), was generally content (aside from wanting the birth tub), and clearly communicating what she needed. Mom commented that with her last birth this is where she got stuck because she was scarred but "I'm not scarred this time." This statement made me swell with pride. I always say that knowledge is power and this momma was using all the information she had gleaned in the last few months to overcome her fears. ♥
With my hands on her back, I could feel her tailbone expanding and I told mom that baby was definitely on the move down. Mom started to sound a little "grunty" and the midwife gave her verbal confirmation that she could push if she wanted to. Three pushes later, at 9:17 p.m., she delivered her baby. Mom had chosen not to have an ultrasound during her pregnancy so the gender was a surprise. Dad announced that they now have a new baby GIRL!
We helped mom and baby get skin-to-skin up to the bed. Mom is euphoric and says "that really wasn't that hard." I think the fact that she was mentally prepared and had such a joyous attitude had a lot to do with that! At this point, her primary midwife arrived. Sometime later, Dad cut the cord. We all stood around oohing and ahhing and talking about how fast everything happened. We watched mom and dad both fall instantly in love with their daughter. Eventually baby was ready to nurse and had a great latch. Baby nursed for a good long while and then they took her weight and length and gently did her newborn exam. Dad did some skin-to-skin while they checked mom again and helped her get settled. We left with mom and dad snuggled into bed with their precious baby. *swoon*
I had been wondering for weeks how I would handle my role as a doula. Hands down, this was the most amazing experience ever! I was never anxious and felt very calm. I was very trusting of mom's ability and the entire process. I felt like I was recognizing all the right signs as far as how fast this labor was progressing, which was reassuring. I felt I was able to read mom's body language to be able to determine when contractions were beginning and ending. This was all confirmation that I have been learning the right things and retaining that information. I loved how knowledgeable the midwives were knowing exactly what mom needed and how she was doing without constant monitoring. I especially loved how she didn't use a number when she checked her and allowed mom to stay on hands and knees to deliver. They just worked around whatever mom thought was best. I adored how this family was allowed as much time as they needed to bond (2 hours) before they began the full postnatal check. Even then, they were very, very gentle and baby never fussed. In fact, from the time she was born until I left 3 hours later, I only heard her cry one sweet, short cry. There is something to be said for babies who are born peacefully.
Overall, I had the best possible client delivering under the most ideal circumstances at the most birth-friendly location on the most memorable day of the year. It was a literally a Dream. Come. True. (!!!!)
Staci Bishop, CD, HCHD