Monday, December 04, 2006

my first birth!!

Saturday I ran around like crazy, including to the gym for an hour and a half workout. When I was at PetsMart (haha, mispelled it 'pestmart' first) my mentor called me--she had a woman in labor requesting a doula!

So, I rushed home, changed my shirt, and went to the hospital. My mentor and I went in together. I was happy that we made it there around the same time--since it was my first birth I didn't want to go in alone. I could do it if necessary but I wasn't exactly looking forward to it.

The parents were really, really friendly and had a doula with their first child. They were funny and liked to joke a lot. We were even laughing through contractions. She even had a page from her job at one point during labor and CALLED SOMEONE ABOUT IT during a contraction. Literally huffing and puffing "I'm in labor! Please take care of this!" Hilarious. My mentor led me through some things but after about an hour she was only in the room occasionally and was seeing if I needed anything to drink/eat, etc.

She was stuck at 3cm for a long time so we walked the halls, did lunges with the birth ball, did rolling exercises on the birth ball to open her hips and eventually used Pitocin, which of coursed kicked up her contractions considerably. We then made good use of the birth tub. She claimed she was still in the same amount of pain but outwardly she was handling the contractions much better, even if she didn't realize it.

The doctor had to be pulled from a Christmas party and everyone was freezing on the floor so the doctor was sitting on a birth ball wrapped in a blanket in the corner of the bathroom while mom was in the birth tub and we were all sitting around chatting. It was really neat--and as I told Adam, not at all uncomfortable for me to be around a totally naked woman in labor. It felt completely natural.

After the tub we got back in bed and she had eventually progressed to 5cm but stalled out there. Pitocin made everything worse so she eventually wanted Stadol for the pain, she had used it before and liked it. Her husband had to massage her back through every contraction, otherwise she flipped out--touch can be so important in labor. The whole time I would be stroking her arm and guiding her through breathing, as she had a tendency to tense up. I would hold her hands and tell her to relax her fingers--she wanted to make fists but that creates tension in your body, so I tried to keep her loose.

Eventually she said Stadol did nothing for her (although outwardly I could see her contractions had less of a peak) so she requested an epidural. I had wanted her to change positions but she wasn't having any of that. Luckily a nurse told her she had to pee before they came to administer the epidural, so gravity was on our side there. When she moved the nurse said "Wait! You have a lot of bloody show, let me check you!" and suddenly she was 6-7. The woman came in to do the epidural and the nurse said "Let me check her one more time." This is about five minutes after the last check, and now she's 8-9! With the next contraction we told her to push and the head was RIGHT THERE, so we said "Epidural is pointless! Let's try doing this without!"

My mentor and I held her legs for her (unfortunately, she was in the 'stranded beetle' position) while she pushed. Ten minutes and three pushes later we had a healthy baby boy! It was really amazing to be so close to a live birth, my first ever. I don't think it will ever get old. I still can't believe that's REALLY how we get babies! Totally mind-blowing. The dad had my mentor and I take a picture with her and we said "You don't have to!" and the mom says (like a minute after birth!!) "No, we HAVE to have a picture of YOU, of all people!!!" my mentor and I stayed over an hour afterward to help establish breastfeeding. He was pretty cranky/weird about latching but eventually got the hang of it and nursed for over 20 minutes on one side. Mom repeatedly said she couldn't have done it without me and that the massage I did was awesome. The doctor attending thanked me several times. My mentor even came in mid-labor to tell me that the doctor had said she really liked me, which is a REALLY good thing.

Afterward my mentor asked me what I felt was the hardest thing, and I said I wouldn't classify anything that happened as 'hard'. I felt like maybe I could have been a little more supportive vocally but that will come with time. It was somewhat awkward saying "You're doing such a great job. PERFECT breathing" over and over, and there was a time when mom just didn't need any more vocal praise and I could sense that and didn't say anything to her except to guide her through her contractions. I told my mentor I think my biggest hurdle will be supporting breastfeeding, I feel totally unprepared for that, although I did notice mom trying to bring herself to the baby when the cardinal rule of latching/feeding is always bring baby to breast, not vice versa. I also told my mentor I would feel comfortable going into a birth alone--i.e., if I get there before her next time I'm fine introducing myself/getting started.

I left the hospital at 3am, got home around 3:30 and went to bed around 4. Long night! I was with her for ten hours, pretty much nonstop, aside from one bathroom break and one trip to get some chocolate from the breakroom to keep me going. Today I ran over to my mom's and got a bib/receiving blanket set to give as a token gift and then went to do my postpartum visit, where they totally *insisted* that I hold the baby saying "If anyone should hold him, it's you!" We relived some parts of the birth, and I told her she did an AMAZING job--and she did, she went from 5cm to complete in an hour!! She went from 7 to 10 in about 15 minutes or so. And then only push for 10 minutes--she really was working hard and it showed.

Overall, a really pleasant birth experience, especially considering the hospital setting. I couldn't have asked for a better mom my first time either--she was very willing to do whatever we suggested, which really helped her out a lot overall. I can't wait until I get called to another birth! I'm on call every weekend but not next weekend, I have a lot of things going on. Exciting!! I feel like I can really say I'm a doula now, even though it was just one birth. :)

Today we had our monthly doula meeting and as I finished sharing this story with the other volunteer doulas, my mentor left the table and came up behind me with this:

The family totally got me a gift basket!! I was blown away, and so touched. It couldn't have been a better first birth experience!!


Adventures In Babywearing said...

Wow that is totally awesome! You should post this on CHOICES or link to this post!

New Mama's Nest said...

What an amazing birth story! You seem like you'd me a natural! I think it's really awesome for you to help other women and experience so many different births BEFORE you give birth yourself- that's rare!

Chris said...

Congrats Rachel. When attending a birth feels natural, to me that means you are ment to be a doula. I feel so comfortable at births. Naked mom and all. It's just all so normal. It's a great feeling.
Welcome to the doula family at CHOICES. Hope that you have many more great birth experiences.
Chris Mayernik(CHOICES)

Robin Joyce, CD (DONA) said...

You made a difference in one of the most important days of their lives! That is what it is all about! Congrats!!

Robin Joyce, CD(DONA)