I was excited to hear that Doreen decided to have a water birth.  I trusted the combination of midwives they had chosen and the location and the ease of water increased the chances they had of a smoother labor and birth. Her due date was October 12th 2010.

On October 14th Doreen called me at 10 pm to let me know that she was having contractions, they were still about 15 minutes apart she said and not very strong. She took my advise from our prenatal appointment and decided to get in the tub with a glass of wine to see if this was indeed time for baby!

The phone rang again at 3:30 a.m. and Doreen, in a very calm and relaxed voice said…they are getting stronger, but still kind of erratic. I took note of the word stronger and decided it was a good time to head to her house. When I got there, she was relaxing back into an easy chair, listening to her hypno-birthing CD and softly chanting  through her contractions. She seemed relaxed and the contractions did not appear to be causing her any stress.She had prepared herself by taking a Hypno-Birth class and a water birth class, but also Doreen was bringing to her birth an already positive mindset about the spiritual aspect of birth and preparing herself to meditate through a natural labor in water.

After a few minutes of taking in the situation I suggested she maybe change her position, as she was lying back in a recliner and I knew that wasn’t the best laboring position. Although, comfy. I had her lean forward and adjust her pelvis and she understood after feeling the difference. We had talked several times about labor positions, I had shared with her some information from our Dancing for Birth classes and she easily shifted back to those earlier conversations.

The unusual thing about Doreen’s labor was the erratic-ness of the contractions. They never quite settled into a consistent rhythm of time, length, distance. As a doula we like to see a consistent 4-1-1 before heading to the hospital. Allowing early labor to occur at home can be one of the tools to avoid interventions.

I could see they were however having an increased affect on her, I noticed by the change in her facial expressions and the  changing of her focus. She didn’t seem to be in a great deal of discomfort ever and she was talking and walking in between contractions. I have to admit I thought to myself…we will be at this awhile. She would stop and pause during her contractions and move within. She would find a sound deep in her throat and “OM” through each contraction. It seemed to be working really well for her.

Around 6 am Jeff called the midwife’s office and was told…come into the office in the morning, unless they get closer together and stronger. Doreen seemed relieved and focused. Her gentle “OM” with each contraction also had a soothing effect on her partner Jeff and me as well. I could feel that she was in control of her body and her journey.

Around 8 am she began to complain about pressure at her pubic bone. Her contractions still weren’t very consistent but they had begun to be much longer and getting stronger. Now lasting at least a minute…most of them anyway. It didn’t seem to be unbearable for her… just uncomfortable. She had been using the birth ball a good bit for different positions but it wasn’t relieving the stress. Doreen said to me, “this wouldn’t be bad at all if I didn’t have that pressure on my public bone.” I had a feeling Annabella was finding her mom’s pubic bone to be an obstacle. Jeff had the idea from something he had heard in class and suggested putting an ice pack on the painful point to move the baby away to another place, that combined with a position of leaning against the wall with one leg up on a chair proved to be the secret. Within moments she felt a shift and looked up at me, very calmly and said…” I feel like I want to push”

That seemed like a pretty good cue to head to the hospital.

My drive to the hospital was a bit strained. It was rush hour traffic and I was playing different scenarios in my head…a “park and push” along the way was a bit of a concern. Not the outcome I was hoping for. I was hoping we had not waited too long. I know Jeff had called the midwives and alerted them we were on our way, I guessed later that he must have been pretty clear about how quickly things were progressing.

We all arrived at the hospital and Doreen was whisked  into triage very quickly. The midwife, Kay met us there and Doreen was checked by her right away. Kay looked up at me with a wide grin on her face and announced…10 cm! It seems the tub was being prepared instantly and we were all hoping that Doreen would have the water birth she desired. In a flurry of activity the nursing staff at North Fulton prepared that tub in record time (or so it seemed to me) and while Doreen and I waited in triage and Jeff parked the car and unloaded their belongings, Doreen said…I need to push! No more than a moment after those words were spoken her water burst with a whoosh and a force I had never seen.  Jeff came frantically rushing into the room just in time for me to send him to rush the nurses, Kay stepped back into the room…herself seeming a bit excited and said…”we have just moved to another level.” Her actions were quick and urgent but her voice was calm and contained not a note of worry.

Making it into the room and slipping off the gurney into the tub Doreen finally had a moment to just sink back into her quiet place. Her inner rhythms came back to her easily and she began to focus on Kay and the process of pushing her baby out into the warm water. Jeff was strong at her back, gently stroking her face and hair and Kay and I each took a leg for support….we arrived at the hospital at 9 a.m. that morning, at 9:30 a.m. little Annabella was taking her first peek at the world.

She was allowed to rest on her mother, her father cut her chord and the room full of women (midwife, nurses, techs and myself) all became mesmerized by this darling little beauty. She was plump and pink with dark peering eyes that seemed to look at everyone in the room. I could see the tiny bruise over her eyebrow, the evidence that she was indeed bumping up against her mom’s pubic bone during her descention. She was nestled up to her mothers chest and I clearly heard the sound she was making…she was imitating her mothers labor sound…”OMMMM” I understand from Doreen she still likes to make that soothing sound.