(from the doula’s perspective)
On Tuesday, October 27th, Hannah contacted me to let me know that she was having some contractions, but nothing that was very close together or intense. I went to work as scheduled and checked in with her again later that day. There was no change, so I made sure to get to bed early just in case something more happened in the night.
3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, October 28th, I received a text message from Ryan letting me know that the contractions were consistently closer together and getting intense. He said it would be good for me to head over any time. I gathered my things and left in the dark, rainy, early morning.
4:50 a.m. I arrived at Hannah and Ryan’s house. The house was calm, candles lit, and TV on for background noise. I settled in and spent a little time just observing to see how things were going. Hannah and Ryan were working together well during contractions, which were only a few minutes apart. The contractions weren’t lasting very long yet, but they did seem consistent. I offered a lower back massage for Hannah during her contractions, and I gave a little guidance on relaxation, which seemed to help.
5:40 a.m. Midwives Jen and Rachel arrived and settled in. Hannah continued working through contractions while leaning on Ryan and swaying, and I rubbed her back. She decided she was hungry and ate some yogurt.
7:00 a.m. Contractions continued to come a little closer together and picked up in intensity. Hannah had tried sitting on the birth ball and couch for short periods of time, but she felt most comfortable standing and leaning on Ryan during contractions. Hannah also tried laying down on the bed to rest in between contractions, but needed to get up every time a new wave came. Ryan continually gave physical and verbal support — lots of encouragement and “I love you”s. Even during the most intense labor, Hannah and Ryan were able to share smiles and love for each other.
7:30 a.m. Hannah started to feel nauseous and threw up. Ryan held the trash can for her and stayed steady (a hard thing to do for many dads!). The nausea gradually passed and Hannah continued the hard work of rhythm and relaxation during her contractions. She needed no reminders to use the bathroom regularly, and she was able to stay well hydrated with water throughout her labor.
8:30 a.m. Labor was at high intensity now and it took all Hannah had to remain relaxed and cope with contractions. She still leaned on Ryan each time and received much encouragement from him and reminders for relaxed breathing and coping from me. She was making great vocal sounds (deep and focused) and asked me about the pushing stage. I told her some common signs that we look for and that if she felt “pushy” to let us know and we would make sure the midwives are aware. The sounds that Hannah made during contractions sounded, to me, like she was close to pushing.
8:45 a.m. Midwife Jen did a cervical check and found Hannah’s cervix to be 9cm dilated with just “a small lip of cervix” on one side. She recommended position changes to help with baby’s position, which could help move the cervix past baby’s head. Jen told Hannah that she could try pushing whenever she felt comfortable doing so.
8:47 a.m. While Hannah was standing during a contraction, she said she felt water running down her leg. Jen confirmed that the bag of water was leaking and made sure there were always fresh pads for Hannah to stand and sit on. Hannah said that she was “worried about pushing.” I asked her about that and she said she was afraid it would hurt more. I told her that with many moms, the pushing stage feels different and usually better. Hannah began pushing with contractions while she was standing. Ryan continued to support her — he is a very attentive husband.
9:30 a.m. Jen did another cervical check, and although she still felt a tiny bit of cervix on one side, she was able to hold that while Hannah pushed, which helped the cervix stay back around baby’s head. Hannah was now “complete” and continued into the pushing stage full speed ahead. Hannah felt most comfortable pushing while laying on the bed and Jen recommended she shift to different positions now and then just to help with baby’s positioning and to promote good circulation. I was on the back side of the bed helping to prop Hannah up with pillows and allowing her to lean back against me. Ryan stayed close by her side and showered her with loving words.
10:55 a.m. While Hannah pushed, Jen said she could just start to see the top of the baby’s head! This was very exciting to hear! As Hannah pushed the baby down a little further, she was able to reach down and touch the top of baby’s head. Ryan was able to look and see his baby coming, too.
11:55 a.m. Baby’s head is crowning! Birthing the baby’s head gently takes a lot of focus and mental strength, and Hannah did a beautiful job of this. Baby’s head crowned gently, and when I looked to see, I could see all of the baby’s head was out and I told Hannah. She was so happy to hear this, and I told her to get ready because she would be bringing baby into her arms very shortly. Hannah gave a big push to birth baby’s shoulders, which both seemed to emerge at the same time.
12:00 p.m. Baby is born! Hannah brought baby to her chest and was instantly relieved and elated. Hannah and Ryan beamed with joy and Hannah kept saying, “We did it! I can’t believe we did it!” Then suddenly they realized they didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, so Jen helped lift baby so Hannah could check…it’s a girl!! More beaming from mommy and daddy. Tears of joy flowed. Baby girl was very wide awake and seemed to want to look around. She barely made a sound and only whimpered for a moment. She was the most content newborn I had ever seen.
12:10 p.m. Hannah said, “Oh, she peed!” and we all giggled at that.
12:16 p.m. Ryan cut the umbilical cord after brief instruction from the midwives.
Much oo-ing and ah-ing went on for a while as Hannah and Ryan celebrated their first moments as a new family. I took some pictures for them with their phones. They briefly discussed baby girl’s name and agreed to call her Callie Jo Louise. Beautiful name for a beautiful baby!
12:25 p.m. Callie Jo was doing great! She showed interest in nursing and latched on with little effort. The midwives attended to Hannah and waited for the placenta to be delivered, which was taking its sweet time.
Ryan held Callie Jo while the midwives helped Hannah, still waiting for the placenta. Callie Jo let her first two sneezes at 12:52 p.m. That’s not something I’ve ever recorded at a birth before because it’s never happened, so I thought it would be funny to note.
The midwives gave Hannah a couple doses of something to help her uterus contract and expel the placenta. They also helped her to the toilet to see if that position (and emptying her bladder) would help. No luck there, so she moved back to the bed. Finally, at 1:40 p.m., the placenta was delivered. During all the shuffling around, I was able to hold Callie Jo for a few minutes while Ryan and the midwives helped Hannah. When it was time for me to pass her back to Hannah, we noticed that she had pooped on me.
So, she had her first poop around 2 p.m.
It was time to get some official stats, so Callie Jo was measured and found to be 9 pounds 11 ounces, 21 inches long. Her head measured 15 inches, chest was 14 ¼ inches, and abdomen was 12 ¼ inches. The midwives did a complete evaluation and found her to be normal.
When Jen examined Hannah, she found some possible tears that needed repair, but she and the other midwives were unable to get an adequate view and weren’t 100% sure of how the repairs should be done. Hannah and Ryan discussed their options and agreed to have Hannah be seen at the hospital. At 3:00 p.m. Jen contacted the OB unit at Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont, and was able to get a hold of Dr. Michele’s office. She was told she could bring Hannah directly to the office for an evaluation and stitches.
Hannah and Ryan decided it would be best for Hannah to go with Jen, and for Ryan to stay home with Callie Jo and myself. Hannah and Jen left at 3:25 p.m. Ryan and Callie Jo relaxed together and even got a little sleep. I kept busy by making a couple of phone calls, getting a snack, and doing a little laundry.
5:15 p.m. Hannah and Jen arrived back home, only about a minute after Callie Jo woke up and decided she missed mommy.
Hannah had received repairs for two minor tears. Jen gave some final instructions before leaving. I chatted a little with Hannah and Ryan and gave some breastfeeding support and tips.
5:45 p.m. It was time for the Carson family to have quiet time together, so I gathered my things and headed for home. We would meet again soon for a postpartum visit.
It was an honor to be a part of this wonderful birth experience with Hannah and Ryan. They worked so beautifully together and showed a great deal of strength and focus. They shared much love and many smiles with each other even during the hardest parts of the process. Hannah is such a strong young woman, and Ryan was so loving and gentle with her. It was so exciting to witness them becoming a family together with Callie Jo. Thank you for letting me be part of that special time!
Cheri Hentschel, doula