Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Doula

4 am--One of my clients texts that she's been having contractions on and off for a couple of hours that keep waking her up. I ask a few questions to get more details.

 I try to go back to sleep.

5 am--Different client texts that she's been having regular contractions since about 1. They're about 10 minutes apart. We converse for a few minutes.

5:10 --Toddler wakes up for her morning nurse

5:25-- I slide out from under Fizzy Baby and head downstairs to check my doula bag. All I really take with me are personal care items like toothbrush and toothpaste in case of a long birth, and snacks.  I top off my snacks and mill around a bit.

Start texting my back ups because obviously I can't be two places at once. Freak out a little when I don't hear back right away.

6:30 B wakes up and asks right away if I have a birth. She's so astute.

Text my fellow Essentials tutor and our Classical Conversations director and let them know I might need a sub for my class.

6:40 Water broke for second client! She reports contractions are little closer.

I stay in regular contact with my client and her husband as I get ready and get the children ready. I tell Kevin all of the things that need to happen. It seems this client's moving pretty quickly, so I decide to head in to hospital while they wait for Grandma to come to their house to take care of their toddler. I hear back from my back ups and breathe big sighs of relief. I give necessary info so I don't have to think about my other client still having irregular birth waves during another client's birth. I try to get kids organized to help Kevin as much as possible; they do so amazingly helping each other.

7:50 I text the husband to see how they're doing as I'm pulling into the parking garage. They are on the way.

8:05 In triage--nurse all business, bustles in and tells client to pee in cup, change into gown.

My client is working incredibly hard. It always amazes me how strong and beautiful women are when they feel loved and supported through their labors. Her husband was feeling a little frantic, but he is taking good care of her. She is handling her labor waves wonderfully, even as they come every few minutes. She climbs up onto the narrow bed and promptly assumes the elbows and knees position.

I suspect she is ready to just get this baby out, so I ask if she wants to skip the monitoring and just get checked to see if she could get back in her room. She thinks that sounds like a solid plan and affirms with a terse “YEAH!” It’s hard for women in labor to respond to people’s questions around them, and it’s best to just ask questions or make statements they can answer with a nod or shake of the head.

The midwife asks if she can flip over to have her cervix checked. My client does not think that sounds like a good idea. The apprentice midwife is awesome and says she would do her best to check her in this "non-traditional" position! Many care providers make the laboring mother roll over on  their backs for a cervical check. She concludes client is at a 7 or 8 (10 being complete and ready to push baby out) and we could immediately move down the hall to a room. 

8:20 Officially admitted. 

Once we get settled in the room, I start the tub in case she has time to get in the soothing warmth of the water. They still have to monitor baby for a while according to hospital regulations. I'm stroking her hair and head, saying soothing, encouraging things while the husband rubs her back.

The husband suddenly realizes his car is still down in the circle drive in the front of the hospital, and thinks he should move it. I say, “No, no, stay here! I’ll run down and park it for you.”

I figure the distance would be about the same and decide to run around the hospital instead of having to walk through it, and am literally sprinting once I got outside the building. It feels amazing to run, even though I never do it anymore and am quickly out of breath. I find them a primo spot right next to the hospital door in the parking garage, grab their bags from the trunk and hightail down the hall, back to the elevators.

8:35 Baby Born
As I enter the Labor and Delivery Unit, the nurse grouches, “You missed it.” My first thought is “Oh man! Bummer!” and my second thought is “Better me than him!” But all I say is, “I never thought I’d miss the birth because I was moving their car!” I have missed it by mere seconds thanks to my sprinting, as they haven’t cut the cord or hatted the baby yet. Mama is looking more gorgeous than ever now that baby was here, Daddy is all choked up and beaming. I love those moments! I immediately pluck up my camera and snap some photos. I’m strictly an amateur photographer, but I know my families appreciate some memories captured from those first precious moments.

I hang around for a couple of hours after the birth to answer questions, give leg massages, run errands such as getting heated blankets or coffee, talk things over, help with baby’s first breastfeeding if necessary, to take photos of when babe gets weighed and measured, and just be there, holding space for them, as they need.

11:00 a.m. I take my leave and head for our Classical Conversations Community, where my four older kids already were. I’d been in a bit of a time warp and can’t believe it is still morning! It is a grey, wet day which usually makes me sluggish and morose, but not today!

I swing by Panera to treat myself to a scone, a breakfast sandwich and coffee. Depending on the time of day, I almost always get myself a store bought coffee after a birth. I feel like I deserve it and, just on Birth Days, I want to act like a grown up who has a job and money, instead of a stay at home mom, who scrimps on the coffee creamer. It’s always surreal for me to go back into the regular world after just witnessing the miracle of a new life, and seeing the overwhelming love between new parents and from them to their new family member. It’s almost weird to see people just working on their laptops, just drinking their lattes, doing regular people things. I want to yell at them, “Don’t you know what I just got to do?! Don’t you know where I just WAS?! Don’t you know what just happened? A BABY WAS BORN! A new person was given LIFE today! A mama found out how strong and powerful and wonderful she is!! Don’t you KNOW?!” But I hardly ever do that.

I arrive at Classical Conversations in time to see the kids do their review. I have some really amazing conversations, and a friend prays for me and some relationship struggles I've been having. I immediately feel the pain and heartsick hurt dissipate. It is really incredible. 

12:00 We all eat lunch together, which is always loud and overwhelming, but I get to talk to my friends and be with my Mama Tribe. 

1-3 pm In the afternoons, I teach an English class. We do math review in addition to English grammar and writing. My phone goes off right at the end of class. Perfect. My text tone for my doula clients is the Justin Bieber chorus “baby, baby, baby ohhh” which gets my attention, no matter the time of day and always makes me smile.

I have been in contact with my other client all day and she is contracting more regularly now, and they are feeling more intense. We decide I would take my kids home, spend some time with my wee ones, and then I would head in to her house after an hour or so.

I snuggle and nurse Finnella and read a few books to Elivette. I chat with the older kids and try to squeeze in their daily quota of hugs. 

4:45 I arrive at her house. We spend time chatting while she is laboring. Her husband got their other kids ready to go and I keep her company and help as she seems to need through the labor waves. She was handling them wonderfully. 

7:10 pm When we got to the hospital, I was completely shocked to hear her tell the nurse they were a 10+ on the pain scale because she was so completely calm and relaxed on the outside. She really wants me to keep talking during her waves, which is surprisingly awkward for me. I’m used to most women not wanting chit-chat during the contractions. Everyone was upbeat and lively for quite a while. She watches some funny YouTube videos (Zach King, if you’re wondering) and we laugh and banter. As things heat up, we discover scalp rubs really help her relax during her birth waves. We do some relaxation exercises and she says she is feeling really calm and peaceful during this part of her labor.

7:44 We are in her room. She has some delicious essential oils in her diffuser going and I am thankful because this room really smells like nursing home.

8:47  It is time to push, and she starts out on her back.  After pushing there awhile I suggest a squatting position. She tries that for a while and feels it isn't effective. She wants to be on her back. I learn that as long as the mother chooses the position, it’s a great position to be in.

9:39 or :40  Her baby comes out face down, and completely rotates to face up. This is really unusual! Baby’s shoulders got stuck, which can be dangerous because the baby can’t get oxygen while the head is out and the chest  is still in the birth canal. Extracting them is a little more complicated than usual because of baby's face up position but the midwife acts quickly and stays calm. Her expertise and instant action saved the day.

9:41 Baby born! Baby is able to be immediately on mom before they took her over to the warmer and checked her oxygen levels. She was fine and almost right away was brought back to mom. It was scary there for long minute though!

I am so happy they were able to put baby on mom right after birth. I’ve been at a home birth when baby wasn’t breathing right away and mom was holding baby and talking to her and rubbing her while the midwife gave oxygen and did the necessary things. I’ve also been a hospital birth where baby was taken away immediately to give oxygen and do the necessary things. The mom had no idea what was happening, the doctor wasn’t giving any kind of updates orally, and it was terrifying. I wish they could always do the former as much as possible.

I stayed for a few hours after the birth taking more photos, talking and helping any way I could. This mom was still nursing her toddler and didn’t really need any assistance nursing.

Two baby girls, born almost exactly 13 hours apart. They were both third children, and one weighed over three pounds heavier then the other. Both mamas handled their labors gorgeously, and completely differently. Two different hospitals, two different midwives, interestingly, both with a midwifery student.

I got home around midnight and promptly went to sleep.

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