VIEW THEIR BIRTH SLIDESHOW AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE!
Daniels and Samuel’s Birth Story
My story, and theirs began just before I got pregnant the third time. My second son was 13 months old and I so badly wanted another child. A month later we began trying, and we succeeded the first time! I was ecstatic. I began trying to find another Midwife that would be willing to do a homebirth, since I had a homebirth with my second son. However, I realized that this wasn’t going to be a homebirth after all, because almost every midwife I had talked to was completely booked at the time. I was really upset but little did I know God had a bigger plan.
My next decision from here was to plan to give birth at the Birth Center of Baton Rouge. I called and made my first prenatal appointment with them, however, at my dating ultrasound, we discovered we were having twins! I can’t say that I was really surprised because for some reason, at least three different times in this pregnancy, I actually thought we were having twins. So I was not as in shock as what most people would have been. Looking back, I know it was the Lord letting me in on his plans ahead of time. Needless to say, a birth at the birth center was no longer an option because we could not have twins there. My only option at this point was giving birth at the hospital. Oh the hospital! My worst nightmare.
I spent the next few months trying to grasp the fact that not only were we having twins, which would make children three and four for us, but we were also going to have to give birth away from home. This was not an ideal situation, but one I would have to accept. You see, my first birth experience, while completely unmedicated, was quite tramatic for me. I had my first son in the same hospital I would have these twins. I was a bit apprehensive, however, I began my journey with the hospital once we hit the second trimester and on.
My prenatal appointments began to be quite uncertain for me. In my particular case, I had twins in two separate sacks with two separate placentas. This is known as dichorionic (di-di). This is the least risky of the three different types of twins one can have. This, thankfully, was not why my appointments were uncertain. Every time I would go into an appointment, I was told that nothing could be certain until we felt things out in labor. I was not used to this as my other births went quite smoothly. I definitely hated this feeling, but knew that I needed to trust in whatever God had in store for me. Though this was not easy, I was hanging onto him with all that I had.
By 28 weeks, I went in for an ultrasound, and found out that baby A was breech and baby B was transverse. It was at this point that a cesarean section finally became real to me. I was terrified. I remember going back-and-forth with my Doula quite often at this point. I’m sure she was quite tired of hearing me freak out all the time about possibly having a cesarean. I soon began seeking out chiropractic care and doing some SpinningBabies techniques to try to get baby A to flip, but to no avail.
Around my 30 or 32 week mark, I began seeing a different provider who told me they would be willing to deliver baby a breech. Finally, there was hope! I felt a new sense of energy that I had lost with the previous weeks. Unfortunately, this provider would be on vacation just before my due date. I felt this was a huge blow, but kept on pressing through. In my mind, I knew that God will provide for these babies’ births, but I still kept freaking out on the outside. How on earth would I be able to do this? Buy my 35th mark, I hit the multiple pregnancy wall. I could not sleep well at night, was tired all the time, and could hardly move. I was done! Oh joy! I had five more weeks to go. I was sure at this point, I would go into labor early. So once I hit 37 weeks, we decided to start inducing naturally. By 38 weeks, I decided to go ahead and get my membranes swept for the first time. I did this over the course of a week and must have had them sweat four or more times. Each time, I would be a little bit crampy, but nothing to write home about. When I started the membranes sweeps, I was at 3 1/2 for dilation, but I was stretched to a four and remained that way for the next week.
On Thursday, 26 May, my wedding anniversary, we decided to officially be induced [with pitocin]. We decided this because at this point, I had about a day to go into labor before my provider would not be there to deliver baby a vaginally. This provider was the only one that felt comfortable doing this. Normally, I would never consider inducing at all, but because of the time constraints I placed on myself, I figured this was the only way. It was either do this or face a cesarean. So, we scheduled the induction for midnight that night.
By about 3 o’clock the next day, I was maxed out on pit with little to no change. After talking with my birth team, we decided to take a break from the Pitocin and regroup so, for the next few hours, I was unhooked from the Pitocin and able to eat and take a shower as well as power walk.
I decided to try Cytotec/Misoprostol to see if that would make some progress. We started this at around midnight. After two rounds of this, the next morning we decided to go ahead and break the water bag. I really did not want to do this at first, because I knew once this happened I would officially be on a time clock. However, I decided to go with it because at this point, we were thinking that baby A could not really come down because of the water bag being in the way. So, at between nine something and 10 something (I don’t remember which) I had my water bag broken. A few minutes later, but what seemed like a few seconds to me, contractions started on their own.
Originally, we were going to begin Pitocin with breaking my bag of water, but once contractions started we realized we did not need to. My body had started labor on it’s own once the water bag was broken. Finally, some progress! I should mention here that before my water back was broken, I was found to be 6 cm dilated. So the Cytotec did make some progress for me. I bounced on the ball during contractions at first, and as they continued to get stronger, I needed to stand up and move.
The stronger they got, the more I wanted to get in the tub. Because I was having twins, and the monitors would interfere with each other, I was not able to give birth in the water. However, I was able to labor in the tub for a few minutes before having to get out.
Once on my hands and knees, baby Daniel was out in a few pushes. He came out butt first. I was surprised that this birth did not feel any different from my other babies. I expected it to be a bit more intense. While of the ring of fire was a lot more intense than I remembered, that could have been because I did not give birth in the water this time.
To see a complete progression, click here
So the first baby was out! Sweet relief… But not for long. Shortly after Daniel came, I began having contractions again and could no longer hold him. I was then told to get on my back to check Samuels position. Now this, by far, was the worst part of labor. At this point, I was in agony and screaming. They soon found that Samuel had flipped transverse, so the OB suggested that he manually be moved to a breech presentation. When she reached in, she could not feel the baby, only the water bag. So, she reached in and broke the bag and immediately he flipped head down! I was thrilled!
I proceeded to stand up and give birth to Samuel while squatting. He pretty much came out in one push! It was done! Well besides the placentas anyway. Once both of the placentas were out, I could finally relax with my babies. They latched on almost right away, and our breastfeeding relationship began.
This whole experience has changed my life. It has humbled me in so many ways. Though it was not without pain and at times doubting myself, I would do it all over again.
I was Britt’s doula and birth photographer for her second baby, a home birth. So, I was excited when Britt sent me a picture last September with a positive pregnancy test. I knew how badly Britt wanted another baby, and with her breastfeeding relationship with her youngest, I was hoping it wouldn’t be a long wait. It wasn’t!
We currently do not have any practicing midwives in Baton Rouge, but there are several midwives that are willing to attend births here, given they aren’t busy in their own areas. Unfortunately, none were available for her due date. So, she looked into our local birth center. For some reason, I just knew Britt was going to have twins, so when she called to tell me about her first ultrasound, I was ecstatic to hear that she was actually having twins!!! But, knowing her first birth experience, I also knew this wasn’t going to be easy for Britt to accept a hospital birth. I didn’t say anything.
Over the course of her pregnancy, we’d have many discussions about her pregnancy and the many options and outcomes for birth. She expressed to me that she wasn’t feeling confident with the providers she had been seeing, so she decided to seek out the opinion of another OB. She said the appointment went well, but that things were still left uncertain with how birth would go, especially since twin A was in a breech position with B flipping from breech oblique to vertex oblique.
On a Thursday, at 38 weeks, Britt decided to have her membranes stripped to try and get labor going. I attended her appointment with her and we were all pretty confident and hopeful labor would start. It didn’t. Monday again, didn’t work. Tuesday, didn’t work. Why so many? Her provider, the only provider experienced and comfortable catching twin A breech, was going to be leaving for vacation. If Britt waited for labor to begin on it’s own, her chances of a vaginal delivery would have reduced quite a bit. After discussion of pros and cons, Britt decided to go in for a midnight induction that Thursday.
I knew an induction took time, but I didn’t want to discourage Britt. I knew what pitocin contractions felt like but I’ve also seen pit barely affect a laboring mom in terms of discomfort. So, we waited. We turned down the lights, Britt tried to get some rest in bed, Joel slept on the pull out couch, Ariel in a chair, and I took up in the bathroom tub (not half bad with enough pillows!!).
The numbers on the pump kept going up, maxing out, but there was no significant change for Britt. I felt horrible for her. By the next evening we were all starting to hit our walls. We were all frustrated for Britt and none of us had really been eating like we should have. Britt decided to have the pit turned off to get some sleep and have Cytotec/Misoprostol placed at midnight. I decided to go home to get some sleep about 10p and told Britt to call be before they started. We had a bit of confusion and I didn’t get back to the hospital until after the first dose had been placed. Britt called me as I was pulling into the parking lot, suggesting I stay home and sleep some more. I met back up with Britt around 4a when they were placing the second round of meds, she had made slight change. YAY!
Sometime between then and the time the 3rd dose was to be placed, Britt and I had a good heart-to-heart and really discussed her options. More Cytotec/Misoprostol, pitocin, breaking her water and the risks, risk of cesarean birth, risk of nothing happening and her being drained emotionally and physically. With her (amazing) nurse present, I mentioned how baby’s membrane acts as a cution and that it was possible that between the bag of water and B’s presentation, A just wasn’t able to descend and apply pressure like a baby normally would. Britt decided she wanted to go ahead with breaking A’s bag around 10a.
About 7a, Britt got up, ordered breakfast, and was able to get in a refreshing bath while her worship music was playing. I left to give them space before things got more serious to grab coffee, breakfast, and donuts for the nurses. When I returned I ate and tidied up the room, 1) so things wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle 2) because I’m a photographer and like clean spaces in photos (lol). At 10a, her provider came in, Britt explained what she wanted to do, and proceeded to break her water bag. Instantly, I mean immediately, Britt started to contract and I knew this was going to be quick like her last birth. We were off to the races!!
I stood back to see where Britt was going with this. Was it just an immediate reaction to her water being broken that would slow down, or was this moving forward and not stopping? I also wanted her to find her pace and see what she wanted to do. After being on the ball and up and down off the bed for a while, Britt was requesting a portable tub to labor in (she wasn’t able to birth in the tub since the portable monitors would cross and interfere with one another, not being able to pick up both baby’s heart tones). The nurse needed to double check with Britt’s provider, but I knew where this was headed. I suggested Britt get into her bathroom tub, nothing ideal for labor, while her nurse checked. I turned to the nurse and told her to get everyone ready, these babies were coming fast based on what I was seeing and compared to what I had seen in her previous birth.
Her day nurse needed to get heart tones on the babies simultaneously, but the cord was just a smidge too short. She was requesting Britt get out of the tub just for a moment, but just then Britt started grunting with her contractions. We all suggested she get out because the babies would be coming soon and she reluctantly did. I felt awful since I had a similar experience with my last baby and didn’t want to get out of that water. As she got closer to the bed, she said she couldn’t get up and I replied to her with, “Yes you can! You can do this! Get on the bed!” Within minutes, baby A was crowning, butt first. I grabbed my camera and started to shoot.
One nurse announced meconium with a concerned face, but Britt’s experienced provider reassured her that it was ok, normal, and common for breech babies to do this. Delivery was FAST with 3 providers, 2 nurses for Britt and 2 nurses each for the babies. After A was completely born, but not taking a breath or crying, I heard Britt’s primary provider announce that again, this was ok, common, and normal for breech babies, how it just takes a few more seconds for them. Sure enough, he belted out right after she said this. I was so happy for her to be there, to be calm, and use the experience to teach the other provider present.
A, Daniel, was handed to Britt, but due to his short cord, they cut and had Britt flip to her back. One, so she could hold him better, and two so they could get a position on baby B with an ultrasound. They found he was transverse, but due to his water bag, the provider could grab anything but that (imagine trying to pinch a wet water balloon). Britt agreed it was ok to break his bag and he immediately went vertex, or head down. Britt wasn’t able to hold Daniel any longer because the contractions became too strong and she wanted to stand up. So, she handed him off to Joel.
At this time, I was at Britt’s head reassuring her and didn’t realize how fast B was coming! I knew how badly she wanted images, but at the same time, knew she needed me where I was. With just a few minutes, I was having an inner dialogue about where I should be, the pros/cons, and before I knew it, I could see baby. Crap!! I just put my camera up, found where focus was ( I always keep it in the same spot), and shot from my hip. Baby B, Samuel, was here!! The room cheered!
Daniel was born at 11:49a weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces and 20 inches long.
Samuel was born at 12:02p weighing 6 pounds 14 ounces and 19.5 inches long.
Placentas were fused and weighted a total of 2 pounds 6.8 ounces. A being
13.68 ounces, B being 16.3 ounces
Being a part of this experience was incredible. The most amazing part was how NORMAL this birth was compared to the many births I’ve attended. It was just another day of babies coming into the world. I think it was a couple days before we started to realize the accomplishment Britt had really achieved. The persistence and confidence she had while the rest of us reserved concern. I’d be lying if I didn’t question the possible outcomes and “what if’s”. BUT SHE DID IT! SHE WAS AMAZING! SHE ROCKED HER BIRTH!
Be persistent! Exhaust all options! Find peace with whatever birth you choose or need to choose due to medical reasons. 💜
At this time we wish to not openly share the provider before speaking with them, only because this was such a long process met with many discussions and uncertainty amongst her providers. We don’t want to make it seem like this will happen with every scenario, give false hope, or lower the chances of another family having this option. Hopefully, we’ll get to a place with providers that this isn’t an issue!!
The story of a child’s birth will always have a different version between mom, dad, and myself. Before any stories are shared from my perspective, as a client’s doula or photographer, the client and I have discussed their birth and it is posted when the client is ready for me to share. Clients always share their story first, either in text or conversation, before my experience. It is important to not alter a woman’s perspective of her birth. All clients see their blog post for approval prior to public posting.
Daniel and Samuel from Jennifer Wakefield on Vimeo.
One of the most intimidating things for a doula, a doula still in the beginning of their career, is being a doula for a fellow birth professional. Trying to help guide a mom through her labor when you know she has the knowledge can be nerve wracking. Recently, I was asked to do just that for a fellow doula. I was nervous, wasn’t sure what I should or shouldn’t cover, I didn’t want to unintentionally insult her. Walking into her birth, I just sat back and witnessed her labor and it was such an amazing raw birth. So much strength. So much beauty. The most honed in mom I’ve seen. She knew exactly where she was in labor and exactly when her baby was going to join us. About a week later, I had the pleasure of photographing Liv’s newborn photos.
May we KNOW them.
May we RAISE them.
May we BE them.
I went into labor at church. I wasn’t even sure that I was in labor. I just felt uncomfortable. Every time I stood up or walked I had this long, stretching feeling in my uterus that made me stand still. With Dimitri, I knew when I was in labor! Ha! I hobbled down the hall to my third hour class. I was supposed to teach Young Women’s that Sunday, but someone else insisted on covering for me “just in case” (Dimitri came about two weeks early and Eleanor came three days before her due date, so she hung out a little longer than her big brother)! I sat down in class, and in the middle of the opening prayer someone from the nursery poked their head in class and said Dimitri was crying and needed me. So I waddled down the hall,stopping once or twice to brace myself for the stretching of my uterus (they did not feel like contractions at all).
I got Dimitri and took him to Priesthood where Xave was. Xave asked if I was alright and if I wanted to go home (it was 11:30a) I told him I was fine, I was just going to sit with him in his class. He took Dimitri to play and explore on the stand and I was going to go lay on couch in the foyer. I started to stand up and had to sit back down, the stretching was pretty intense and required a lot of attention on my part. After a few minutes I beckoned to Xave that I wanted to leave. I told him that I wanted to go home after all. He helped me down the hall and I called my doula, Jen. I said, “I don’t know if I’m in labor or not, but this is what’s going on…” and she said, “You’re in labor! How do you want to do this? (Meet at my house or the hospital)” we decided to meet at the hospital. Xave and I had to find Sister Albertson to pass off Dimitri. I was so worried to leave my baby. This was the first time he’d spend the night with someone else. Then the Bishop and the missionaries gave me a blessing.
We had to go home to get our bags and then we could go to the hospital. The stretching turned into noticeable contractions like when I was in labor with Dimitri. I did not try to time them since with Dimitri they were about a minute long and a minute and a half apart right away when I went into labor and these felt just as close. I couldn’t talk much and really had to focus, moan, and find my groove. I did try calling the hospital to get in contact with Dr. Dickerson, but the operator lady said they’d call him when I arrived and could prove I was really in labor. I was so aggravated!!! And worried that I’d have the baby and he’d miss it! Contractions with Dimitri started at 9:30p, we arrived at the hospital at 11:00p and he was born at 1:55a. They say your second labor is faster than your first, but I didn’t know how fast it was going to be!
Xave took the long way and traffic was terrible!!! I was so aggravated. I kept telling him to put on the flashers and honk at people!!! Haha! Didn’t they know I was having a baby?!?! GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! Xave kept telling me to put the rebozo around my eyes so I could relax, which would have been nice in theory, but it was easier to see so I could prepare my body for turns, potholes, etc. Riding in a car during contractions isn’t the funnest thing ever. Xave went in and grabbed our bags and decided to stay in the car since I was pretty focused.
We arrived to the hospital around 12:30p and Xave was like, “Where do I go?”…again, sooooo aggravated! “That’s why I brought you to an appointment and pointed things out so you’d know while I was having a baby what to do and where to go!!!” I was in the middle of a contraction when a sweet nurse brought out a wheel chair. I finished the contraction, sat down and started on another. Xave grabbed our stuff and we went in. The nurse wheeling me told the nurse behind the counter that I was in active labor and the contractions where coming back to back. The nurse behind the counter asked for my info, and even though I had preregistered, none of it was in the system. So I had to sit there and register and sign stuff until the wheeling nurse said, “Can’t her husband sign that stuff for her?” I kept asking the nurse to call Dr. Dickerson. She said they would after I registered and went through triage to confirm that I was in labor!!! (My next birth will be at home!!!)
Xave wheeled me to triage waiting and put the rebozo over my head. I was pretty mad. Everyone was going slow and the tv was blaring something obnoxious. Then Jen arrived! Hooray!!! By the way, the contractions felt I was scared I was going to have the baby right then and there in the waiting area! The triage nurse brought me back and said she’d step out while I changed. I was in a dress and sandals from church…I didn’t even have a pony tail holder, so Jen gave me one!
The nurse came back and said she’d check me whenever I wasn’t having a contraction. I told her to go ahead and check because they weren’t stopping. She checked me and said I was complete on one side and had a small lip on the other side. I asked if she called Dr. Dickerson and she said they would. She left saying she needed to find someone to help wheel me up. It seemed like forever! Who do you need?!?! My husband and doula are here–they can help you!!!
We made it to a room and I needed my gown off! I was standing next to the bed, swaying and the nurses were asking me about running an IV and were strapping a monitor around my stomach. GET AWAY FROM ME!!! Read my birth plan and leave me alone! (Haha, I sound really mean in my head when I’m in labor, apparently.)
Someone asked if it was too bright in the room (maybe Jen). I nodded yes and they turned off the lights. I kept hearing the nurses talk about Dr. Dickerson. “They can’t get ahold of him.” I was so worried! They waited too long to call! They haven’t gotten in contact with him! He’s going to miss it! I started feeling the faint need to push. The nurses asked if I was pushing and I said a little. They told me I couldn’t push standing by the side of the bed, I needed to get in the bed to push because no one was here to deliver the baby. So Xave and Jen helped me in the bed and I got on hands and knees. Some time after that Dr. Dickerson arrived!!! Yea!!!
I was using the peanut ball in hands and knees, rocking forwards and backwards trying to get comfortable. I had Xave putting pressure on my lower back and rubbing my back. Jen was giving me sips of water. I was moaning through the contractions. Jen noticed that I was moaning high pitched and suggested that I moan a little deeper. She also told me when I was tensing my shoulders, etc. Once she put her hand on my shoulder blade and it felt sooo good! Her hand was so soft and so cold! I was so hot and sweating!
Someone suggested changing positions. I wanted to try squatting, so they pulled the handle on the bed up and lowered the back half of the bed so I could squat…and then helped me transition to squatting position. It was nice to lean against the bar, but I soon caught a cramp in my right hip.
Jen suggested laying on my side, so we did that. It was nice because I actually got a little bit of rest between contractions. I was able to relax. Jen was holding my knee up and suggested using the peanut ball, which was awesome. I didn’t want to get out of this position. I was done being in labor and just wanted to lay there and relax, haha.
Dr. Dickerson spoke up and suggested leaking my water bag to help things speed up a little bit. I thought about it for a minute. I really didn’t want to. I was scared that it would make the contractions worse, and I didn’t think I’d like that very much. But then I figured, why not? This isn’t going to last forever anyway. It’ll be over soon. (That was what I kept telling myself in my head: “This will be over soon!”) So I said yes! I don’t remember the contractions getting any more intense in feeling. However, every time I had a contraction, it felt like I was peeing on myself because the water would gush out. This was neat to me because I do not recall my water breaking with Dimitri at all. Then Dr. Dickerson piped up again and suggested changing positions again. I knew we needed to, but I so desperately wanted to just stay and rest in side-lying.
They helped me into hands and knees again… and I ended up scooting to the end of the bed and let my butt hang off the edge like a frog pose (is that a real thing?). One of my main concerns pre-labor was tearing again this delivery. I had a second degree tear with Dimitri from ‘torpedo pushing’ and it took over 10-weeks to heal. So I really wanted some coaching on pacing myself while pushing. But then when I was pushing, I mentally decided that I didn’t care if I tore or not…I just wanted to be done! I enjoyed this experience because I could feel her moving down and out, I did not have the sensation with Dimitri. Someone told me that she was crowning and I was able to put my hand down and feel her little head! I wanted to with Dimitri, but I could not move my hands from holding my legs while I was on my back. I felt frozen with him. Jen got the perfect picture of this, which I just love… It looks like Dr. Dickerson is looking underneath a car or something, haha. It cracks me up every time I see it! And the nurses faces! hahaha! One nurse looks disgusted…like, ‘ewww!!!’ and the other one has this look of awe, like complete majesty at birth and life, etc.
SO I PUSHED HARD AND LONG WITH EACH CONTRACTION AND at 2:28p ELEANOR CAME!
Everyone helped me flip over and they put Eleanor on my stomach. Hooray! The hard part was over! I was so happy to have my baby girl! I did have more warm feelings towards her than I had towards Dimitri. When Dimitri was born I thought I would be instantly in love with him because that’s what everyone always says. But that was NOT my experience. He was yucky and I was tired and hungry. I loved him, theoretically as my baby, but I was not ‘in love’ with him. That took some time. But with Eleanor, I was happy that she was there. I wanted to hug her and talk to her and nurse her. It did take mental effort to remind myself to talk to her and praise her for her hard work and job well done in the delivery. She had a beautiful little swirl of hair from a circular cowlick right in the middle of her forehead. I was shaking and my teeth were chattering, I guess from all of the adrenaline. I was so hot and sweaty during delivery, then I was freezing to death afterwards! Everyone wrapped us in wonderful, warm blankets. Mmmm.
The placenta birthed and Dr. Dickerson sewed me up, I had another second degree tear… but he must have done a great job stitching me up and I think my placenta pills helped because I healed in about 3-weeks! I was so hungry, too, and Jen pulled out her handy dandy doula bag and gave me a granola bar. Mmmm. Doulas are awesome. Get you one! 😉 Eleanor did not want to nurse right away, and I was eager to bathe in the bathtub because I knew there would only be a shower in my recovery room. So one of the nurses helped me to the bathroom for a nice hot bath, and Xave held Eleanor while the other nurse(s) weighed her, etc. Then Jen took a few pictures (which are perfect and priceless! I wish I had known and hired her for Dimitri’s birth). After my bath I came out and Eleanor was hungry and ready to nurse. So we got to snuggle and nurse. It was sweet and amazing. I felt more confidence this second time around. It was nice to kinda know what to expect. And I’m happy that we hired a doula! Jen texted me and checked up on my very consistently, and I think that’s what meant the most to me–that I had someone who cared about how I was doing and feeling, etc.
P.S. Placenta pills are AMAZING!!! I will always get them from now on!
The only thing I would have changed about the experience: – I wasn’t crazy about riding in the car. – The bureaucracy of the hospital and checking-in, dealing with nurses, etc…I loved Xave, Jen, and Dr. Dickerson. I’m sure my nurses were sweet and wonderful, but next time will be a home birth. – I wish I had gotten a picture with my delivery crew and a picture of me, Xave, and Eleanor.
Sondra contacted me on January 1st and we set up to meet a couple days later. I still remember meeting Sondra and Xavier at one of our local CC’s Coffee House. Their son Dimitri was with them and was the typical one year old, completely uninterested in what we were talking about 😉 . We went over her previous birth, what she wanted from this birth, and minor complications unrelated to the pregnancy that she was experiencing. She assured me it wouldn’t affect labor and birth, but I couldn’t wait to get home and Google (Hi, my name is Jennifer and I’m a chronic Googler). Later that night she and Xavier had hired me as their doula (yay!).
We started our prenatals in February and I really enjoyed our time together, especially with Dimitri being my little helper. Sondras first came two weeks early and fast into the world. As Sondra approached that 2 week early mark and she didn’t have signs of labor, I started to become nervous, but I didn’t share that with her. On Tuesday, April 7th, Sondra texted me to let me know that she was nearly 5cm dilated at her regular appt that day. She’d get a little bit of action at night, but during the day they’d fizzle out. This can be pretty normal towards the end of pregnancy.
On Sunday, April 12th, I got a call from Sondra. She thought she was in labor but just wasn’t sure. I had to hold back a giggle because she was most definitely in labor. She had a few contractions during our short that she had to focus on and was in complete denial <— all my clients tells (along with giving a big middle finger to the world). I asked her what she wanted to do and what she wanted me to do. She said they were going to leave church and wanted me to meet them at the hospital. I had been telling my husband for weeks that when she went into labor, she wasn’t going to be a client that I could take time and have some notice. I would have to leave immediately. Sure enough, that’s what happened. The kicker was I had a consult later that evening! Do I call and cancel or see what happens? I didn’t have time to decide, I just left.
I got a text at 12:13p that contractions were coming stronger and more regular. They had just gotten to the house and they were “heading straight to the hospital”. I let her know I was on my way. It’s about a 35 minute drive on a good day, so I was praying for no traffic. When I arrived, Sondra and Xavier were just getting wheeled back to their room, so I just followed along. They wanted to make sure she was in labor before admitting, but it was clear a baby was coming.
When we got up to Sondras room the nurses were still trying to get a hold of her doctor, Dr. Dickerson (amazing local OB, opened the Birth Center of Baton Rouge and attends nearly all his patients deliveries). I think they knew it at the time, but didn’t want to worry Sondra. His wife had a flat tire and he was trying to fix it before coming in, but he made it! While I had heard wonderful things about Dr. Dickerson, I hadn’t worked with him before. I think I had to pick my jaw up off the floor a few times from how hands off and observant he was with her birth. He was patient and I don’t recall him touching Sondra until it was time to actually catch baby.
Back to Sondra. She was laboring beautifully and quietly, but she did not hesitate to let anyone know what she did or did not want. I loved that! Her labor was progressing quickly and while I’d usually suggest position changes to clients, I wanted her to get rest and enjoy the experience. I did recommend a positional change when she was experiencing some discomfort in her hip (that little girl needed to get out of her mama’s side). Baby’s trip earthside was so quiet and calm into the world. At 2:28p on April 12th, 2015, little Eleanor Zamora came into the world weighing 8lb 9oz, 20″ long with a full head of beautiful hair.
I am so grateful to have been hired as their doula and witness such a beautiful birth. Thank you!
Oh, and I made it to the consult too 😉
The birth mom has, the birth dad is a part of, and the birth I witness will always be a different story. Before any stories are shared from my perspective as their doula, the client and I have discussed their birth and are requested by the client when they are ready. Clients always share their story first before I share from my experience. It is important to not alter a woman’s perspective of her birth. All clients see their blog post for approval prior to public posting.
It was 3:07am on August 13, 2015 when I realized I was having contractions. They woke me up. I tried to go back to sleep. Then I tried to get something to eat and then go back to sleep but I couldn’t. So I decided to get out of bed until Aaron, my husband, woke up. I went to lay down in our closet (it is the only place in our house that has carpet & I feel comforted in there; I know. Weird). Usually my husband wakes up at 4:45 to workout so around 4:30ish I couldn’t wait anymore. I went to lay down next to him. He asked me, “what time is it? I am not getting up early today to workout.” That’s when I said I think my labor is starting (I tried not to get to excited). He said “really? how far about are your contractions?” At that point they were around 5-6 minutes apart. We both got out of bed. I asked him what should I do? Should I go for a walk? So I went for a walk to see if my contractions would stop. Nope.
I went back inside and took a bath. A bath is the most relaxing place for me. Contractions kept coming. We decided to bring Lillian, our 3 year old daughter to school. I gave her a big big hug and kiss because I didn’t know when would be the next time I would see her. Then we headed to Baton Rouge. I texted Jen, our doula, on the way to give her a heads up. We didn’t hit much traffic and the change in scenery didn’t stop my contractions (something I discuss with my clients). When we arrived at the hospital, I didn’t know if I wanted to walk a little outside or go inside yet. I called Jen, our doula, to see what she thought. We walked outside for a little bit but I was getting too hot. We decided to go inside and get admitted and they put us in a triage room. I was checked at 9:46am and I was 90% effaced and 3 cm. Since I wasn’t checked at any of my midwife appointments they said I would have to stay in triage and get checked in an hour or two to make sure labor was progressing.
So for the next hour or so we walked the halls. They checked me again, I was 3.5-4 cm. Still not enough in labor to give us a room. They didn’t want to send us home since we lived so far away. We kept walking. At this point my contractions felt like they were back to back. The midwife came talk to us & saw that I was in LABOR and she decided to give us a room. Thank goodness. I knew once I was able to get in a room that I would truly relax. I felt like everyone was watching me as I walked the hallways. Once we got in our room, they gave me penicillin since I was strep B positive. Since my contractions were back to back, they checked me again. At this point, I was 6cm & 100% effaced. I started crying with joy.
Jen suggested that I go into the shower to help manage my contractions. I did and it helped get in tune with myself & my contractions. I am guessing I stayed in the shower for about an hour to an hour and half. Then I moved to the bath tub. As soon as I laid down I totally relaxed. At my next contraction, I felt the urge to push which was very shocking to me. I didn’t think I was that far along. I pushed in the tub for a while on my back, then hands & knees and then squatting. During squatting, my water broke around 4:00pm. It had meconium so they had to get me out of the tub. I had to push in the bed. I tried pushing on my side, then my back and ended up giving birth on my hands & knees in the bed. I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl at 5:08pm. She weighted 7lb 1oz and 19 inches long. I had a successful VBAC which I couldn’t have done without the support and encouragement of my husband, Jen and staff at Ochsner!!!!
Little miss London has been born into an amazing family. Her parents hired me as their birth doula before the summer started and I thoroughly enjoyed driving out to Lafayette for their prenatals. Why in the world were they driving into Baton Rouge with the risk of bridge traffic? Brandy, London’s mama, was seeking to have a natural, unmedicated VBAC and her options were limited in her area. In her first labor, her midwife insisted she transfer care and be induced at 41 weeks. Providers labeled her failure to progress, when really it was a failure of induction.
As her pregnancy progressed this time, she expressed concern of not going into labor on her own. I encouraged her to stay positive and confident that she would go into labor in time. At 6:21a on August 13th, I received a text that she’d been having contractions and they were going to be dropping big sister off to making the treck to Baton Rouge. Not the ideal time with traffic on a Thursday morning. I got all my peeps informed and on alert for when they decided to have me meet them. We checked in a few times over the next few hours, but when dad started replying, I knew my time to go would be coming soon.
I arrived around 10:30a and observed Brandy through contractions while still in assessment. They were coming quick, but she was managing so well!! Brandy asked if she should go walking again and I thought it would be a good idea, but we could do whatever she wanted. I suggested doing a few lift & tucks through a few contractions beforehand and then power walking. Aaron mentioned that they didn’t make it to the end of the hallways the other times they had tried walking. I suggested she make a goal of power walking to the end of one hallway and then to the other (the labor/delivery and mother/baby unit at this particular hospital is kind of shaped like a horseshoe), then rest.
The next time her nurse and midwife came in, they felt she wasn’t in a good active phase of labor yet and suggested going home. I saw something different. She was laboring with very steady contractions coming quickly, she was just managing so well it was difficult to see. We discussed the different options: walk more at the hospital, walk more at a local mall, rest in assessment, or get a hotel room until labor progressed further. Brandy decided she wanted to power walk the halls one more time. This time was different. She had changed body language, vocal sounds, and focus with each contraction. We got to the end of the mother/baby unit and just past assessment before she wanted to turn back to the room. At this point, about 2 hours after my arrival, Brandy got her birthing room!
After getting through all the admitting mumbo jumbo, I suggested Brandy take a shower with the ball. She’d been up for quite a while without rest and it’s a good refresher. Before getting in, she asked to be checked and was 6cm!! When they told her, at her request, she started to cry. I couldn’t tell if this was good or bad so I made sure to check in with her. It was a happy cry! Brandy made great progress while in the shower, I think she may have even gotten a short nap 😉 While in there, a nurse and I got her birth pool filled for when she was finished with her shower.
I had to fight back tears several times. Brandy had some beautiful and calming spa music playing through the built in speakers, was laboring with what appeared to be peacefully, staff was quiet and respectful of her, it was absolutely beautiful. She was getting the birth she desired with her first and it was so powerful to witness! She was only in the pool for about 10-15 minutes before she had a sudden urge to push, and about 10-15 minutes later her water broke at 4:00p. At that time she got out of the tub and made a move to the bed for suspected meconium. After trying several positions, utilizing rebozos tied to the bed while pushing, and some super sweet encouraging words from Aaron (really, more moments of me trying to keep it together on my behalf), she gave birth to a beautiful 7lb 1oz, 19″ baby girl at 5:08p! As a fellow VBAC mom, I know that extra feeling of triumph after a vaginal birth when you’ve hit doubt and road blocks, I was so proud! (sappy, I know)
Congratulations to Brandy, Aaron, and big sister Lillian, thank you for allowing me to be your doula!
*shared with permission from client*
The birth mom has, the birth dad is a part of, and the birth I witness will always be a different story. Before any stories are shared from my perspective as their doula, the client and I have discussed their birth and are requested by the client when they are ready. Clients always share their story first before I share from my experience. It is important to not alter a woman’s perspective of her birth. All clients see their blog post for approval prior to public posting.
So, you are searching for a birth doula, and you see they include “on-call” times in their services provided. But what does that mean? While I can’t speak for all, it typically means life habits are changed for approximately 4 weeks surrounding your estimated due date (EDD).
When on-call, all plans made, always end with “… if I’m not at a birth…”. When we do make it out, we skip that beer or glass of wine with dinner and come home on the earlier side. We keep our phones out and they are constantly being checked (it can be hard to hear your phone in some places!) Travel plans are carefully planned out, usually months in advance, and most doulas not traveling more than an hour away from home. Often, this means missed family vacations, birthdays or even simple outings to neighboring cities. Just this past year, I missed my 4 year old sons first birthday party with friends. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband and friends that were able to keep it going as usual. There are also many things I’d love to do in New Orleans, but my on-call schedule prevents this. While this can be inconvenient, especially on our families, we are doing what we love and it is a lifestyle we become accustomed to.
Many doulas, including myself, have families and young children of their own and we must have detailed plans in place for when we are called to a birth. Including having several sitters on-call along with us, and like us, they alter their life for a short time. Who will be available for the bus stop? Who can pick up someone from school if they are injured or sick? Who has the authority to authorize medical treatment if my husband cannot be reached (he’s a pilot and not always accessible by phone immediately).
I have a Babysitter Binder specifically for my sitters with any and all instructions needed. Meal and snack ideas, typical day schedule, activity ideas, emergency numbers, detailed instructions on any medication my children may be taking, etc. A special, laminated (yes, I laminated it), note goes to school with my kids, letting their teachers know I am at a birth and should not be the first phone call in an emergency. Our spouses are also put on alert. If I am called to a birth in the middle of the night, my husband needs to know the details and when to call the sitter in the morning (I’ll usually give a quick call letting them know I’m leaving the house). Since he’s an instructor, he can sometimes reschedule flights and stay home.
As a clients EDD approaches, we also begin to prep for the phone call. We restock and double check our doula bags and personal bags for items we may need at birth. Bags and any other tools needed are placed by the door or in our vehicles. Birth friendly clothes are laid out and ready to slip into at a moments notice. Our vehicles gas tanks never fall below half full… ever… (my husband has been scolded before about this). ‘Non-smelly’ foods and snacks are put together so that we may stay fueled and nourished at your birth, without strong aromas of food lingering in the air or on our breath (no garlic here!). I personally have a dinner prepped and ready in the freezer and $20 for pizza to make it easy on my sitter(s) and husband.
Doulas make sacrifices in order to provide the best service possible to our clients, but we love what we do and wouldn’t change a thing. When we say we are here for our clients to serve, we mean it.
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In light of the recent tragedy in CA, I would like to share a very short article on the differences of postpartum disorders. Please take the time to click on the links within the article.
MOMS — So much of the time we all want to be the do-it-all-mom and don’t accept help when needed. If you are exhausted and need a break, ASK friends and family, IT’S OKAY. If you feel like something isn’t right, REACH OUT. Talk to another mom, contact your doula (we don’t abandon you after birth 😉 ), pump a bottle, have dad feed baby, and go back to bed. Sit outside or in front of a window, get your daily dose of SUNSHINE! Please remember that postpartum disorders are not always immediate, sometimes it can take months for symptoms to show. You grew a baby for 9-10 months and your hormones changed a lot, it’s going to take some time to adjust back to ‘normal’.
You are preparing for so much leading up to your birth, but so many do not think beyond that and is why I really encourage my clients to do a postpartum plan. Even though the questions seem trivial and silly, it makes a HUGE difference to have a plan in place. Not having to worry about the everyday tasks really alleviates pressure off of YOU. Who will do the laundry (huge if you’re having a c-section), what kind of meals will you prepare or will you have meals brought to you? Will family/friends visit? When will you take care of YOU (shower, get dressed, brush your teeth/hair)?
FAMILY & FRIENDS offer GENUINE help. Watch to see if mom is struggling, is she overly tired or anxious? Fears that seem beyond normal? Is she getting good food? Hydrated? Sleep? Babies are awesome, but they need good, strong, and healthy mamas. SO TAKE CARE OF THEM AND LISTEN TO THEIR CONCERNS!