She had a plan

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Birth is most reliably unpredictable.

Unpredictable in ways that are hard to imagine. Doulas will always tell you to expect the unexpected, but until you live it you can’t know what that means!

This parenting duo had taken the classes, heard the stories, done the reading, chosen a care provider they were comfortable with and hired a Doula team. They had a clear idea of what a first labour could look like, and they were ready. She had enormous body pain by the end of the pregnancy and knew she was not prepared for more, she had a plan.

There was the usual lead up, cramping and plug loss and even some blood show, all the braxton hicks and even an increase in the feeling of pelvic pressure. All of this intensified but didn’t really go anywhere for over a day, and then she started to feel a different kind of edgy and uncomfortable. She tried to rest, because doesn’t it always seem to intensify in the evening? Only a few hours later, in the wee hours of the new day she could identify what she was feeling as being contractions.

She was breathing through them, she could talk through them but they were uncomfortable. She used a bath to take off the edge of this new feeling, this place she had never been before.

And then he was updating us, so we knew it had shifted. It was time for Doula support. We were working as a team, so one of us went to the house and found her leaning over her birth ball, breathing and working her way through these now regular contractions. Counter pressure and some scarf work helped her manage what she was feeling.

A few hours of movement and position changes and all the things and it was time. She was ready to be where she would meet her baby.

They headed over to the hospital and their other Doula was waiting for them at the door. By the time they had made the drive over she was in a whole new phase of this journey.  When I opened the car door to help her out she was very clear that she needed all the help!

We made our way up to triage and got into an exam station immediately. The contractions were on top of each other and counter pressure was essential. The first assessment put her cervix as being dilated to between 4 – 5 cm, but it sure looked like more advanced labour than that.

She climbed into a hands and knees position and kept her focus, breathing and rocking her way through this insistent birth dance. Just 11 minutes after the exam, her waters ruptured spontaneously with all the drama of a movie scene!  And the labour ramped up even more! Of course this happened right during the big shift change for the day, so we knew we were stuck there for a little bit. Not fabulous news, but she just made it work. She assured us that she would be availing herself of an epidural as soon as we got into the room, she didn’t think she could cope, and was sure she couldn’t do more. But we were both very impressed with how she was maintaining her centre. He smoothed her edge with his touch, I applied the much needed counter pressure, and she swayed and rocked and breathed.

An hour later (yes an hour) her primary Doctor wandered in to say Hi and let us know he was on call for the day! This almost never happens, so they were really pleased. Another half hour of intense, long and strong contractions and we were finally in a private labouring room.

While the Nurse was getting things prepped for an epidural, I suggested asking for another exam since there hadn’t been one since the waters had ruptured and things had really shifted in the last almost 2 hours since that initial check.  At first the Nurse said she would check after the epidural was in place and this birther was more comfy, but then after a few minutes of observation of this powerful labour, she thought it might actually be a good idea to check. 

A Rim.

All that was left of her cervix was a bit of a rim. That’s almost fully dilated!

Not your typical first labour!

And so an epidural was no longer a fabulous idea. This was not the labour she had expected! Where was the plan for this? The Nurse offered her a dose of pain relief to help with the edges, and that helped a little bit, but we could see her body catching up to the intensity. Somewhere she found the strength she needed to get through to the best bit. 

She found a way to get up and move around a bit, to try and empty her bladder since we were keeping her hydrated. Then she found a resting position on her side that she could work with, breathing and releasing. Using her innate knowledge, her practice, to keep her there in each moment. She was serene like in her focus.

After a while we encouraged her to use gravity to bring that baby down, and with tenacity she got herself up between those intense surges and onto her knees, leaning over the back of the bed. This intensified the feeling of pressure, using the strength of her body to nudge her baby closer to her arms.

And then we heard it, that little bit of ‘ungh’ at the top of the contraction, that involuntary dip down of her whole body. It had begun, the ending was here. A little bit of this bearing down and then confirmation that she was fully dilated!

We had been there only a little over 5 hours. And it had been just 12 hours since it all began in earnest. Amazing.

She followed the rhythm of her body, bearing down with the urge, changing positions as she needed, instinctual and powerful.

A little over an hour of using strength she never knew, she was wrapping herself around her son.  So much joy, so much happiness.

The kind of happy that brings tears. And now they are three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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