When I decided to become a doula, my sister was conveniently pregnant with her third child. It was March, and she was due in the beginning of June. In order for her birth to count in my training experience I had to complete a Doula workshop, so I signed up for one in April. It was an 18 hour workshop within 2 days, and I learned SO much! I was so excited to use what I learned to help Kadie through labor. Little did I know, she just needed me there beside her and not much else.
She had called me here and there for about 2 weeks to let me know she was having contractions that lasted for awhile. I went to a prenatal appointment for her at 36 weeks, and she agreed to having her cervix checked. The midwife said she was already 2cm dilated! As the time went on she kept have contractions for hours at a time on and off for days. I told her how nice that was of her body to do that work little by little over time. By the time she went into labor for real she would already be half way there!
On May 29th she called me in the afternoon and told me that she had been having contractions consistently for a few hours and they felt a little uncomfortable. She was at my parent’s farm, so I went over there to walk with her for awhile. We walked laps for an hour, and then went in for some Red Raspberry Leaf tea, and for us to work her pressure points to release oxytocin. When we went inside they began to subside, so I suggested that she take a nap because she was all of a sudden exhausted. When she woke up they were gone. I told her that my guess was that she was at least 4cm by then, and that when she went into labor she wouldn’t have much to go! I was ready for her to call me in the middle of the night, but I woke up the next morning with no phone call.
It was memorial day, May 30th, and the whole family was at my parent’s house while the kids played and swam. Kadie mostly stayed sitting, stimulating her nipples outside of her dress trying to get her labor started. (nipple stimulation can be a way to induce labor) My husband walked over to us because he wanted me to cut his hair, and Kadie said, “Don’t mind me. I’m just stimulating my nipples over here.” He said, “oookay,” and he turned right around and walked away! We all laughed at him.
When I was done cutting Alex’s hair I walked back over to Kadie, who was sitting with my other sister, Robin, and my mom. They informed me that she was having contractions consistently for an hour and that they seemed to be getting stronger. I decided to go home to give my dogs a bath, they were pretty dirty from playing on the farm, and to grab my doula bag. I told her I would be back in 15 minutes. When I got back her contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and getting stronger. We decided that I would drive her to her house to grab her bag and then we would head toward the hospital since it was her 3rd baby and we lived 35 minutes away. Caleb, her oldest child who is 4, told her with a big excited smile on his face, “Bring that baby home mom!” The midwife was delivering a baby, and we were waiting for her call. I suggested that it might be nice to walk around Vanderveer park for awhile if she wanted to while we waited for the midwife to call. She said she thought she would rather go to the hospital because she didn’t want to feel rushed. When we were about five minutes away she changed her mind, and thought it might be nice to walk a little more. I think she was a little worried that labor was going to stop!
When we got to Vanderveer her contractions were still 3-4 minutes apart. We walked for about an hour before the midwife called. She said it was probably a good idea to come in. The contraction she had during my conversation with the midwife was a good one. It was 2 minutes apart from the last one, and she had to completey stop what she was doing and concentrate through it. I could tell by the expression on her face that we definitely needed to go to the hospital. I was also a little worried about the sunburn she had on her shoulders, so I was glad to get her out of the sun! We saw one of her good friends as we were walking to the car. She wished her luck and we were on our way.
By that time Robin had met up with us and we walked into the hospital to check her in. The midwives had forgotten to inform her about preregistration at the hospital, and since that was her first time at that hospital she wasn’t aware of it either. She had to stand there during quite a few contractions giving all of her information verbally to the woman at the desk. Actually, in the middle of all this a woman had come in with a toddler who was very sick and not responding well. Kadie backed up and told the woman to go ahead of her. What a selfless woman! She was having intense contractions every 2 minutes and she was really worried about the sick little girl, who the desk worker didn’t seem concerned about at all. I am proud to be her sister. She also pointed out in the middle of all that, that her dress was worn out where she had been doing her nipple stimulation! It really was, and it looked pretty funny!
Finally we made it up to the birthing center. In triage she was given a gown and hooked up to the monitors. Two nurses came in because the system they were using on the computer was new and they were still feeling their way through it. It seemed to take forever, and Kadie was handling the contractions extremely well! The midwife came in and looked at the monitor readings. She said she would be checking Kadie and that if they thought she was in labor they would admit her. Kadie told her she was pretty sure she was, and the midwife commented about how one contraction was spaced 8 minutes apart. I will tell you I watched her through every contraction and there was never an 8 minute gap! You can’t always count on machines to be accurate, but you can count on what you observe in a laboring woman if you are really paying attention. She checked her and she was 7 cm dilated and 100% effaced. They were flabbergasted! By looking at her face and watching how she handled the contractions she probably did not fit the mold of a woman going through transition. She was doing amazingly well!
She was admitted and taken to her laboring room with the big tub. She got into the water and believe it or not relaxed even more than what she already was. Water does work wonders during labor for relaxation, but I didn’t know if it was possible for her to relax much more than she already seemed. She let out a big sigh and told us how great that felt. I went out to go get her big 320z. jug filled with ice and water. When I got back the midwife was explaining all the pros to having a heplock in place but let Kadie know that it was her choice whether to consent or not to it. This was the one thing Kadie had told me she was most worried about. Her veins roll and with her last labor they had to stick her over and over again. It was very uncomfortable for her and she wanted to avoid that. She denied the heplock, and sat peacefully in the tub free of interventions. Through her contractions I stood next to her and brushed back her hair and lightly rubbed my hand across her shoulders and back. After each one Robin offered her water to keep her hydrated, and we both kept telling her what a great job she was doing. She was smiling in between, and letting out big sighs of relief after each one was over.
She sat in the tub for maybe half an hour and then I saw her making that motion with her neck that people make right before they gag. I asked her if she felt like she might get sick. She said she did feel nauseous but that she didn’t think she was going to throw up. I asked for a bucket for her anyway just in case. With the next contraction she warned us that it would be very soon. The nurse talked about how we would have to get her out of the tub before she started pushing, and that she just needed to let us know. She had another contraction about a minute later, and told us that she thought she might need to get out, but wasn’t sure. We debated for about 20 seconds, and then she stood up and said yes the baby is coming now. She was half in and half out of the tub when her next contraction hit. She froze where she was and rode it out. I helped her out of the tub and she got on the bed. The nurse called the midwife and told her that Kadie felt like the baby was coming now. The midwife came in and checked her, and she was fully dilated and could push whenever she felt the urge. She was in a semireclining position on the bed, and when she pushed she arched her back and threw her head back. I knew from reading that this isn’t the most effective way for a mom to push, so I asked the midwife if she had to be laying on the bed or if she was okay with other positions. The midwife said she could do whatever she wanted, so I asked Kadie if she wanted to stay in that position and she said she would rather stay where she was. She definitely knew what she was doing so I trusted that she was doing it the way her body needed 100 percent. Her bag of waters was still intact, and Robin told me that with that push she could see it surrounding the crown of the head. Too bad we didn’t get a picture!
Robin was standing a few feet from the end of the bed and when the midwife said the water will break with a push she moved over a little to the side. With the next push Kadie’s water broke and it shot toward Robin! It landed literally right next to her foot. The look on Robin’s face was priceless and I will never forget it! I had to hold back my laughter.
With the next push we could see a good portion of the baby’s head, and the midwife told Kadie about all the thick hair the baby had and that Kadie was pushing extremely effectively. One more big push and a little scream, and the baby’s head was completely out. It was amazing to see because the baby’s head literally spun out of her. There was a brief pause before the shoulder’s came out where Kadie said very politely with a little urgency in her voice, “Can he come out of me now, please!” The midwife gently maneuvered the shoulders out with one little push, and she told Kadie to reach down and get her baby. The baby slid out and she lifted him up onto her chest. It took him a minute to cry, and even then it was mostly just whimpering. She held him close, looked into his little face, and told him how happy she was for him to be out of her in the most loving tone imaginable. She looked up at me with the most beautiful, content look on her face, and said with a smile, “I did it.”
After the cord stopped pulsing they clamped it off and Robin cut it. She said it was very interesting to cut the cord because it felt so much tougher than she thought it would. There was a fairly big knot in the cord, but it wasn’t pulled tight. The cord was also very long! The midwife asked Kadie to give a little push to birth the placenta. When the midwife was checking it out, she showed me what it looked like and explained it all to me. It was very cool to see one in real life instead of just a picture. I can see why people call it the tree of life now because it really does look like a tree with a lot of branches!
Her birth was great in so many ways. She was able to go into labor on her own for the first time, her water broke on its own. She didn’t have to have a ‘pitocin labor’, a heplock, or sit in the hospital for 12 hours! She also had a great midwife and nurse who were all for her natural birth on her own terms. They were so calm and open for whatever Kadie wanted to do. Her birth all together only lasted about 5 1/2 hours, she only was at the hospital for an hour, and she only pushed 5 times until the baby was born! She stayed calm and relaxed the whole time. She really was in total control of her birth because she let her mind go and her body take over. It was truly amazing to witness, and I am so thankful to have been able to be apart of that!