Beautiful and peaceful are two descriptors I never really expected in the same sentence with “I attended a hospital birth”.
But, that’s exactly how I’d describe my friend Diana’s birth. What an amazing first experience as a doula.
I think I’ve mentioned my reasons for my own non-hospital births before. I can’t seem to find those posts with this hazy brain I’ve got going on right now, so I’ll elaborate. I chose to avoid hospitals with my two births for the same reason many women would never have a home birth: fear. At least to some extent. I’ve always seen hospitals as places filled with death and sickness. That perspective no longer holds true.
It was around 9:30AM on Sunday, September 23, 2012 (four days past Diana’s due date) when I opened my eyes, glanced at my phone, and realized, in a panic, that I’d missed her call. Hubby had graciously gotten up with the boys so I could sleep in a little. I listened to the message where she calmly announced something along the lines of, “looks like this is going to be the day she’s born”. Struck with both excitement and nerves, I called her back to get the details.
The contractions started around 7:45AM and they were holding a steady pattern at ten minutes apart and increasing in intensity. This was her second baby and her first experience was quick, so I knew it was possible things could speed up. I also knew from my own experience that, that wasn’t a given. I told her I’d get ready to come over and asked her to let me know if anything changed before I got there.
Let me just say, I was a little bit nervous about leaving my 6 month old for one entire day, so it took me a little longer than expected to ready myself.
Next thing I know, it’s 11AM and she’s calling back to let me know she’s going to the hospital. Her contractions had sped up and the level of intensity was beginning to make her nervous. I dropped everything and jumped in the car to meet her there.
When I arrived at the hospital, realizing I didn’t have her husband’s number, I called Diana to see where she was and headed up to her room. As it turned out, her hubby had gone to drop off their 2yr old son at the grandparents’ house.
When I got up to her room, she was laying in bed and her mom was waiting there with her while the nurse asked her the required questions for admittance. Her contractions were about 4 minutes apart and she was already starting to feel the urge to push. Her midwife wasn’t there yet, but was en route, so no one had checked her yet.
At this point, I asked Diana if she’d like some soothing music and, with a “That would be great”, went over to my bag, grabbed my iPhone, turned on my Sleep Pillow app, and selected spa sounds. I also downloaded a contraction timer and began timing her contractions while encouraging her through the contractions and stroking her hair. Her contractions were 3 minutes apart and she was starting to break a sweat.
She took each contraction with amazing control and grace. It was apparent that they weren’t easy, but she didn’t panic or tense-up and she greeted each one with confidence as she concentrated and managed her pain.
The midwife arrived around 12, checked her (she was 9cm), and decided to try to get one round of antibiotics in her quickly before she started pushing. They shot the antibiotics in faster than they normally would, so it burned, but again, Diana pushed through and within minutes, the midwife broke her water and she started pushing.
Because of how fast her labor progressed, there wasn’t time for considering any other positions. Precious baby girl was ready to come out and her beautiful mama was ready to have her in her arms.
I offered support on her left side and her hubby, and amazing birth partner, stood on the other as she pushed.
In that moment, I couldn’t help but notice the abounding love that flowed between her and her husband. He pressed his head against hers and spoke to her with such raw affection as he encouraged her, as if he felt every contraction right alongside her. And, even now, I have tears in my eyes with the memory. It was more than beautiful.
After three incredible pushes, a few minutes shy of 1pm, Diana’s precious miracle was born. I’m not sure I can adequately express the emotion that filled the room when this baby girl entered the world. It was such a beautiful, amazing, and joyful rush of love.
To say that I am no longer afraid of a hospital birth after this experience is an incredible understatement. The miracle of birth is, without a doubt, always incredible and beautiful, no matter where it happens. I’m so excited for my next experience as a doula.
Thank you Diana for letting me attend your birth. Thank you for letting me share this extraordinary moment with you and your family. You are an amazingly strong and beautiful woman, mother, and friend. I am blessed to have you in my life.