My Birth Story Includes My Doula

Tuesday night we had our last dinner together as “just us,” although we had NO idea. Wednesday morning I woke up at 5:30 questioning if my water had broken. I had wondered the same thing the night before, but wasn’t sure and didn’t want to make a big fuss over nothing. Being a Labor & Delivery nurse, I was determined not to be one of the women that go into triage thinking my water had broken, only to be told I most likely had peed on myself- a real thing.

I was in denial.  Deep down I knew my water had broken (L&D nurse), but I didn’t want to believe it. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for it to not be just Derrick (my husband) and I, I was scared to go through labor, I was scared to be a mother. I texted my doula that morning to let her know what was going on. My main question, “Should I go to the hospital now?” I wasn’t having any contractions, I didn’t hurt. The GBS (group beta strep) test they do at 36 weeks was negative, so I knew that I didn’t need to rush in. She agreed with my thought process. I had an appointment that morning with my midwife, so a couple of hours wasn’t going to hurt anything.

Fast forward to 9 am that morning, my midwife, Blair, comes in with her bright face asking how I was doing and how it felt to be officially full term at 38 weeks. I quickly blurted out that I thought my water had broken but that I didn’t want to go to the hospital if it wasn’t. She smiled and said she could do 3 tests in the office to see if it was or not. All 3 were positive. I, of course being the emotional-not ready-pregnant woman I was, started crying. You see, I had convinced myself that I was most likely going to be pregnant until I was 41 weeks, most first time babies come late. I also had this ideal labor of going into labor on my own, laboring at home, comfortably, in the shower and my family room until contractions became close together. Now all of this was not going to happen. Blair hugged me and told me it would all be ok, we just had to tweak our plan a bit. With no immediate need to be at the hospital, she encouraged us to go home, finish packing our bags, grab lunch together, then check-in to the hospital at 1 pm. And that’s exactly what we did. We went home, Derrick packed his bag, I finished packing mine then vacuumed the house and did some laundry. I was so nervous! We called a few family members to let them know what was going on, grabbed Subway, picked up a few snacks at the store, and then checked in at 1 pm.

The initial plan to get contractions going was breast pumping (pump for 10 minutes, walk for 10 minutes), and if that didn’t work after a few cycles, then we would start Pitocin. Liz, our doula arrived to the hospital around 1:30 pm. While I signed consents, got my IV placed, and answered some questions, she unloaded what I call her “Marry Poppins bag.” I swear she could pull a lamp out of that thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised. She set up her blue tooth speaker for music, started the diffuser with essential oils that promoted relaxation and clarity, and set the lighting in the room so it felt homier.

My early labor was long and tiring. After the breast pump we started Pitocin. Derrick, Liz and I chatted, we watched TV, and Liz would massage my shoulders and neck so I wouldn’t tense up. The goal at this point was just distraction. The contractions were more annoying than painful. One of the services Liz provides is photography. We had a friend coming to take photos of the birth, but Liz was capturing moments here and there during our early labor.

By 6 pm my contractions were getting more regular. Liz was massaging my lower back, and Derrick was putting pressure on my hips to alleviate the pain from the contractions. My nurse (and my friend Kelsey) checked my cervix and I was just dilated 2 cm, which was NO change from my exam in the office that morning. Frustration was an understatement. You always here of the “nurse curse,” and I was convinced something was going to happen to fulfill that. After finding out I was still 2 cm, I quickly did the math of how many hours had passed since the morning exam and was going down a dark path of either having to get an epidural because I wasn’t going to change or that I would end up in a c-section.

The nurses changed shifts and Jane was our nurse for the night. She saw how uncomfortable I was, that my contractions were too close, and that the baby’s heart rate had slowly increased, showing that she too was not getting a break from the constant contractions the Pitocin and my body were pumping out.  She decided to turn the Pitocin off to give my body a break, and we all decided it was best to take some pain medicine at this point because it had been a long day and I was mentally exhausted already, with so much more to go. At about 11 pm, she gave me the medicine, and then Derrick, Liz and I all laid down for some much needed rest. At 1 am (Now Thursday morning) I woke up with much mental clarity and feeling rested. It’s amazing what 2 hours of rest can do! I decided to try the breast pump one more time, and then Jane restarted the Pitocin at 2 am. This time I was ready. I was ready to have the baby and be done with labor.

Jane slowly increased the Pitocin trying to mimic a natural labor pattern, and things really started picking up. Liz was helping me move to different positions to keep me active, she was showing Derrick different ways to help alleviate the pain in my lower back, and she was keeping the atmosphere calm and peaceful. I like to think of her as the background coordinator. She did things during my labor that I didn’t even realize until Derrick told me afterward. She always made sure my ice chips were fresh, giving me sips of water here and there, and coaching me during my contractions when my face showed tension or pain. She and Derrick would push against my hips, and she had her ‘tools’ ready for whenever I needed them (i.e. heating pad, tennis ball, massage oils).

By 6 am I was FINALLY 4 cm. Blair came around 8 am, and my friend, Kelsey, was back with us. The next few hours were a blur, because my labor progressed so quickly. There’s a known belief that women in labor don’t progress when they are anxious, tense, or harboring any ill thoughts or concerns. Part of the reason I feel that my labor went so quickly was because my “dream team” was there. Blair, Kelsey, Liz, Derrick, and Lauren (photographer) were always who I imagined being there when Adeline entered the world. Blair checked me at 8 am when she arrived and I was 6 cm. We continued to labor (I say we because Derrick and Liz were working toward the same goal I was), and labor hard we did. At 9 am I felt so much pressure and began saying things like “I can’t do this anymore,” “I need something for the pain,” which are all classic signs of transition (right before you start pushing). Blair checked me and I was 9.5 cm! I was so relieved but SO ready for it to be over. Shortly after I felt the need to push, and that I did. I pushed for 45 minutes with the most encouraging coaches I could have ever asked for. It felt good to push, but it also felt scary. There comes a point in your mind, where you just have to push past (no pun intended) your fears and birth your baby! At 10:16 am I birth a perfectly beautiful baby. Blair laid her immediately on my chest, and all I remember is thinking how small she was and how much better I felt! I was crying, Derrick was crying, everyone was crying, and Derrick and I were parents! I felt so much love for him and so much gratitude for everything he, Liz, Blair, and Kelsey had done for us.

Liz stayed for two hours post delivery. Those two hours flew by! She immediately had me eat something with protein and sugar. I was fed graham crackers and peanut butter, oranges, and vitamin water. She helped me get Adeline latched for her first feeding, and was available for anything we needed.

Two weeks later she came by for a post partum visit to see how we were adjusting to parenthood and to visit. Having her apart of Adeline’s birth was the best decision we made. She was so vital to helping me achieve a natural labor and delivery, and I will choose to have her there for every future labor we are blessed with.

Im a new mom who lives on coffee, probably abuses dry shampoo, eats ice cream every day, and considers Target a mini getaway. I’m a labor and delivery nurse who is a little crunchy and uses essential oils. I love the outdoors and loving Jesus. You can follow her on Instagram is darlenegillett

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