by Kristi, USA
It had been 28 months since the last time I was in this position. My first son, Tyson, was born via natural birth and I was hopeful to welcome my new little one into the world just as naturally. Since my son had been born I had been feeling a calling of sorts to share my birthing experience with others. Early in my pregnancy I asked three of my closest girlfriends to act as doulas during this next birthing experience. Partly because I wasn't sure how smoothly this birth would play out and I would need their calm, cool personalities to help me through it. And, also, because I wanted to share with them the beauty and rawness of natural birth – an event that we don’t have to fear, but that we can embrace as a natural way that God designed for us.
My three doulas had never given birth before and only one had actually seen and assisted in a live birth. So, in order to prepare my girls for the Big Event I had them watch The Business of Being Born. This documentary was one of the reasons I felt so strongly about giving birth naturally. We sat down a few times throughout my pregnancy to talk about their questions and fears and I told them methods that were helpful during my first labor. Each of my doulas brought unique characteristics of their personalities to the table – all very important to assist me in my marathon of labor. As much as I loved them and trusted in their unique gifts, I wondered exactly how it would all work when we got everyone into the transparency of the labor experience.
I was a week overdue and had tried every old wives tail and sure-fire way to go into labor – and I mean every one of them. My mom, who lives out of state, came and went. I had been off of work for 2 weeks now. I was starting to cry at the drop of a hat from frustration. I was on a roller coaster of thankfulness that my baby was healthy, and frustrated that my plans of an April 3rd due date were being disrupted. When the morning of April 10th arrived those frustrations were laid to rest. I was having what I thought were contractions, but didn't want to get my hopes up since I had been disappointed over the last 3 weeks.
I got up out of bed about 3am and went downstairs to watch a little TV and time my contractions. At about 4am I decided to wake up my hubby and tell him “I think something might be happening.” Since the contractions started they were already falling in between 3 to 5 minutes apart. I finished packing my hospital bag and took a shower. I didn’t want to unnecessarily wake up my doulas, so I did as much at home as I could. By 5:30a, my husband and I came up with a plan that he would take Tyson to daycare at about 6:30a then come back home to be with me and we would wait it out at home as long as possible. The contractions now started picking up some force, so by 6:00a I was texting my doulas letting them know that we would be heading to the hospital shortly, just in case. At this point I think I was still hesitant to admit that I was truly in labor.
My early-rising doula (a personal trainer and lover of taking in all moments of life with great intentionality) was the first to respond to my text and was ready to cancel her morning clients and b-line it to the hospital. Next to respond was my cool-headed, kindred spirit doula. She brought with her a deep spirituality and love for the beauty of human experience. Last to respond, but first to arrive at the hospital was my quirky, world-traveler doula, who thrives on feminine empowerment.
It was 7am and I was settling into the room (which happened to be the very same room I delivered Tyson) and going through the motions of checking if I was dilated and hooking me up to monitor my contractions and baby’s heartbeat. I told my nurse that I had three doulas that would be helping me during labor, and I saw a look on her face that suggested “Ok, honey. We’ll just see how that goes.” We all soon started taking laps around the hallway of the maternity wing – all 5 of us. We were a sight. I would stop every minute or so to lean over and breathe/moan through a contraction. Each of my doulas took turns squeezing my hips together to offset the pressure of baby descending into my pelvis. My husband held to the back of the pack most of the time while we were walking the halls. He later said he was in awe at how all the girls just knew what to do. We walked and talked and labored for a couple of hours like this. It was refreshing to hear my doulas chat about random every day things in such a casual way, meanwhile a baby was making his way into the world.
By 9a, the nurse popped in on our parade to say that she thought it was time to hop in the birthing tub. (By the way, my nurse never had an easier gig in her career. She didn't need to lift a finger other than to start the water in the tub.) I’m glad she was paying attention to how close my contractions were getting. I was so close to transition yet was so focused on tackling each contraction that I didn't even realize it. Once I was in the tub, the intensity of the contractions lifted five fold. Sweet relief and rounding the corner to home! I was now 9cm dilated and my midwife said it was time to break my water – a completely painless event being submerged in warm water. My hubby hopped in the tub behind me to help support the weight of my body between each contraction. My doulas continued to take turns pressing on my hips. The room quieted as I was now working through a contraction every 30 seconds.
It was time to push. I wasn't afraid to give it my all this time around. I learned from my first labor that it was near impossible for my butt to actually fall off if I pushed too hard. I gave it five good pushes. My midwife tried to coach me to hold my push while baby got used to the birth canal, but I didn't quite have the control to slow my push when I felt the “ring of fire”. I kept pushing and baby Zeke (Ezekiel) popped out at 10:11a. He was a little blue and stunned by the experience, but was perfect in every important way.
Sharing my birthing experience with so many people that I love was something I’ll always hold on to. As for the doulas, we carry a special bond by helping to welcome a new life into the world. For my hubby, he trusted in the instinct of these women to support both of us through this life-changing experience. The nursing staff, a student who was following my birth, and my midwife all commented that our birthing model could be the new way to encourage moms to have a natural birthing experience. I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to giving birth again. And, no, I’m not insane :o)