When the call came in this morning at 1:00 am I wasn’t really surprised to get it. D had let me know that she had been to see her Obstetrician that morning. She was 1 day past the 40 week mark and he had stripped her membranes. In all honesty I had even prepared myself for a premature rupture to her membranes and even possibly an irritable cervix.   In my doula experience this can often lead to either of those complications.

A little background – D came to me last spring and hired me as her doula and signed up to take my classes and bought a package of massage & alignment sessions to prepare herself for birth. I love when women realize that the preparation is key to success. Along the way she let me know she was going to be strong, she wasn’t worried about the “pain” she was actually focused more on being able to birth her way, due to the fact that she was on what her OB called a “short leash.” she had some previous medical issues that made him a bit nervous. She knew getting to the hospital was going to be a very closely monitored and limiting experience. So, she would tell me that the baby was going to come early and it would also come really fast. I admit, I do hear comments like this often. I call it a birth wish. But, as a doula of many years I knew that as a first time birther the likely hood of her having a long and drawn out labor was much greater. Statistics.

In the months of bodywork that we did I felt confident that her anatomy and her baby were well aligned for an optimal birth experience. She was mentally prepared and showing a lot less signs of stress and fear then when I first met her. I wouldn’t say her confidence was greater, although maybe it was. I would say her determination was stronger. That was for sure.

Back to the 1:00 am phone call. I sat on the phone with D and her husband R. Contractions had started around 11 ish and were about 10 minutes or so apart, not lasting very long and were not that uncomfortable. In the course of 2 hours she had  jumped to having them every 2-3 minutes, still not lasting very long. My doula brain was processing all the “data”. First time birther, stripped membranes, her voice was several octaves higher than Brittney Spears. Sounds like she is in her “adrenaline brain” and mind and body are in different places….She seemed stressed and no coping very well. On he other hand..she was saying things like…I don’t think I can do this. Are they all going to be like this? I want the needle, there is so much pressure!!!! Well, those aren’t really things a woman in early labor says. Not someone who has been in labor for only 2 hours. Especially.

It’s important as a doula not to make too many assumptions. I sat on the phone with this couple for about an hour. Dad and I did our best to support her to get calm and relaxed. We used positions and water and calming techniques to help her feel grounded and safe. Contractions actually spread out to abut 4 minutes apart but were well over a minute long. Her birth plan including laboring at home as long as possible. We knew between their location and mine that the hospital was about the same distance between us, so we were planning on meeting there, if all went well with them laboring at home. More and more I heard the red flags. From her sounds and tones to the words she was using. I felt it was important to get her OB on the phone and head in to her birth location.

When they arrived at the hospital she began to feel the urge to push in the Emergency Room. She was moved to triage, which became her birth room. As I entered the room they were already pushing with her. A very directed and organized pushing. We new we would be facing that, due to provider and location. A healthy 7 1/2 lb boy was born in to the world just past 4 am.

It’s called precipitous labor. The cervix softens and ripens quickly and dilation occurs rapidly. I admit. I did not see this one coming. She told me she thought it would be that way. And I tucked it away as a possibility. But it was not what I expected. We had joked a time or two about baby sliding right out. He was being very cooperative with the body work. I am certified in Arvigo Maya Abdominal Therapy and as a Spinning Babies Aware Practitioner. I know alignment is crucial to baby being born with ease. I know mama’s anatomy plays a really big role. I also know that in spite of those things sometimes birth is still harder than we hope for. It doesn’t always happen like this.

I give so much credit to this mama. She made the commitment to preparation. She was inwardly determined to birth with ease. She navigated those very intense few hours with grace. It’s hard to prepare for how birth will turn out. We can only prepare for a variety of possibility. Then we, as a birth team rise up to meet whatever the challenge is. Yes, there is challenge when a birth goes quickly. Mama and Baby feel a little in shock afterwards. There is additional repair that can occur and sometimes Baby isn’t very anxious to latch on. That isn’t always the case. It can be though. So there are a few post partum issues this mama is facing. However, I don’t doubt she will face them with the same strength that it took to make the long difficult car ride during transition.

I asked her how she felt about this birth. She was happy. It was what she had hoped for even though it was her wish, It came as a surprise to us all.

Doula lesson #197.(Pretty sure it was also like Doula Lesson #3, but its worth revisiting)  Never underestimate what a woman’s body can do. Don’t assume because its a first baby that it can’t happen in a flash.  A 5 hour labor for a first time Mama IS possible. Listen to mamas’ intuition as well as your own. When it feels like things are not “adding up” follow your instincts. Moving beyond the doubt of….well….it is your first baby, this could be a false or quirky start….and opening up to listening to what the baby is telling us. I am out of here! I have so much to do! Let’s not waste our time here!

Quite sure this little guy has a lot planned for life and he is ready to dive in!

Charlotte Scott

August 28, 2018