Today, well actually the last 3 days, has been a lot of ups and downs and firsts for me. This morning at 3:59 I witnessed my first c-section which included another first for me, being in an OR for the first time. That is a first that I hope to never repeat. It was also my first time at a new hospital, my first time with a single mom, and my first time working with another doula.
I suppose that with any 27 hour birth you are going to have your ups and downs so I’m not sure why these stood out to me so much. sleep deprivation? growth? contrast? I’ve always prided myself on just “knowing” how far along my client was without me actually checking but at this birth, I was wrong. I usually like to get my clients to the hospital when they are around 6-9 cm. With this mom, she was 3! She was an interesting new adventure for me. She is married and kind of took my class but dad wasn’t very supportive in the beginning so for one reason or another, she missed 3 of the 6 classes. Also, dad has not been able to be with mom for the past 3(?) weeks due to legal issues. I decided to take her as a client, knowing that this would be different than what I usually take, because I knew she needed the support. One of the great things about this birth was/is my shadow/apprentice/assistant doula (we’ll call her H). She is a new doula in training and contacted me to learn about Hypnobabies births so I agreed that if the situation arose, she could attend births with me. This was the perfect situation.
My client called Wednesday morning with pressure waves (that’s what we call contractions) about 30 minutes apart so we kept in touch and she decided that she wanted me to come around 3:00am on Thursday morning. I got to her house and she was doing very good handling her waves. They would come in groups though. They would be 3-4 minutes apart for about 30 minutes then space out to about 6-8 for another half hour to an hour. Each “cycle” would get a little more intense and a little closer together so I thought she was making good progress. I finally called H to come join us at my clients home. So 5 hours since i had been there and 24 hours into birth, things were getting pretty intense for mom. I got her into the shower and she said she needed to push. I pretty much knew she didn’t but I took that as a sign that things were again progressing so off we went to the hospital. We got there and really? only 3 cm? I was floored and she was crushed. (I usually tell my clients and students to consider not finding out the numbers if they choose to get checked for just this reason. It totally deflates mom no matter what the number is.)
Over the next 6 hours, we birth and we did our doula thing. We sat on the ball, got in the tub, used massage, listened to some scripts, hip squeeze, rebozo, ect… In the middle of all that, mom got checked again and this time choose not to find out the number. She was at 4 which was progress. After that 6 hours, mom was exhausted and wanted to get checked again to see if she had made more progress. At 4pm on Thursday, she was 6 cm dilated. It was another sign of progress but again, she was so tired she decided to get the epuridural so she could rest. Then her pressure waves started spacing out to 8-10 minutes apart so they started pitocin. Baby did not like that so another intervention and another intervention… At 10:30 pm she was checked again and had made no change so I started thinking it might be a baby position thing instead of an exhaustion thing. I pulled my fb friends and got some ideas. It was so neat for me to have that online support so quickly! We did some techniques to turn the baby for a couple of hours and I was so appreciative of H. Finally at 1, the dr came in and there was still no change after 9 hours… It was a very hard decision, but mom consented to a c-section.
I think in a lot of cases, a csection is looked at as a failure. In this situation, it wasn’t. For every birth I attend, I look back and say “could I have done xyz? would that have changed anything” and this birth is no exception. I learned a lot from this birth and this mom. She was amazingly strong and courageous and I know that our presence helped. So tonight, in Operating Room 1, 4 women were made stronger and wiser by 1 journey. 3 of us will never forget it and 1 will never remember.