This birth story is told by the doula of a couple from Hollywood, CA.
- September 2014
- First Baby
- Mom’s Age: 32
- Born on her due date
- 25 Hour Labor
- Vaginal Delivery
- Los Angeles, CA
- Kaiser Permanente
- Doula: Flor Cruz of Bella Birth
- Midwife Throughout Pregnancy: Susan Minich, CNM
As a birth doula I will try to describe to you how amazing, incredible and unforgettable it was to attend the birth of Mia. I knew from the moment I met Mom and Dad at Starbucks that they would be the most loving parents any child could ever ask for. Their commitment to each other and their want for a special birth was evident.
After they emailed me that they would like me to be their doula I set up a meeting to discuss their birth plan. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a huge poster picture of Mia’s ultrasound. The biggest one I’ve seen to date! It was in their dining room area where we discussed their birth plan. Mom and Dad mentioned they would like an un-medicated childbirth, but were keeping their minds open to changes of plan on birth day. They were solid on the fact that they did not want Pitocin, an episiotomy or any crazy interventions happening. I had committed to going into the hospital and crusading for them, pushing for their wishes and overall having a healthy and happy birth. I left their apartment feeling confident that this birth was going to be exactly what they wanted and I was going to do everything in my power to help them.
Throughout the weeks I kept in contact with Mom, especially as the due date grew closer. She was a little anxious at times, as any mommy is. Overall, Mom was cruising through this pregnancy. I’m sure the last few days just seemed so long and maybe thoughts of “Am I going to be pregnant forever?” ran through her mind. She was starting to work from home so I knew that she would be getting more anxious to meet Mia. I could already envision her sitting on her couch, looking at all her baby things and just praying labor would start.
I was lying in bed in the early hours of the morning of September 21, 2014. I suddenly heard my phone alert me of a text message. I was excited to read that Mom had started early labor at 3 am! I asked how she was feeling; she was uncomfortable but nothing intense just yet. Contractions were still far apart and I knew it would be a while before she would need me. Her mucus plug came out at 5 am. She got ready for her day at 7am, and I stayed near my phone, waiting for the signal to throw on my cape and fly to the hospital. I was car shopping that day and I yelled at a few car salesmen telling them that I didn’t have all day and I had a mommy laboring!
Dad had been keeping me in the loop on Mom’s progress, and informed me that they were heading to the hospital but didn’t want me to come just yet because they wanted to make sure the hospital was going to admit them before I came down. Good call Dad! They understood that labor can take a very long time and began to go with the flow of things. I warned my husband and kids that at any moment I was going to be leaving them. They all get excited for me because they know how much I love what I do and a special day had arrived.
Dad text me at 12:30pm letting me know that they had arrived at Kaiser in Los Angeles and that contractions were 3 minutes apart. She was 2cm dilated at 1pm and was becoming more uncomfortable and using breathing techniques to cope with pain. The hospital was ready to send her home but decided to let her stay a bit longer to see if she progressed. They walked around the hospital health garden from 2:30-4:00pm. I was on the edge of my seat when Dad called and told me that the hospital had finally admitted her and given her morphine to help ease the pain. I informed my backup, Betsy that she needed to start packing her things and be on stand-by.
It was 6:15pm when I got the text from Dad saying “She’s 6cm, come on down”. Oh to be a doula! I live for this! I was pulling into the Walmart parking lot when I received the text, I quickly turned the car around. I let Betsy know that she needed to make her way to the hospital. We were both so excited! Then I hit traffic on the 101 freeway. Didn’t these people know I had a mommy in labor? After parking, I stood on the corner waiting for the light to change to green so I could cross, looking like a weirdo standing there with this huge pink peanut ball under my arm. I didn’t care. I held it proudly because I knew this gadget was my best friend during labor. I felt like I couldn’t walk fast enough to the hospital.
It was a little after 7pm when I tried to enter the room but Mom was getting her epidural so I had to wait outside of the room. The morphine was no longer helping as much with the contractions and I could hear her being so brave with her breathing. People walked past me, looked and me, looked and my peanut ball, and looked at me again puzzled. I smiled and gave the “you don’t know about me and my ball” look.
I was finally allowed to enter and I slowly pushed the curtain out of my way. There they were. Mom laying in the bed, and Dad so supportive, right by her side. I said hi and made my way to the bedside. The epidural still hadn’t come full force so she was still feeling some pain and was tired, wanting some relief. But overall, they were in good spirits and ready. The nurse, Thuy was to Mom’s left, inputting some info into her computer. Betsy arrived and now our team was complete! Now that I was by Mom’s side, Dad made a quick run to the car to grab some things.
Nurse Thuy was getting Mom comfortable in the bed as I took the peanut ball and put it between her legs. I explained that it helps open up pelvis. Thuy was amazed and loved it! She had an open mind, and I knew she would be an amazing nurse. I gave her the birth plan and told her I would like her to read it over entirely and make copies for any staff entering the room. She did so and now we were on our way. Mom was now feeling a lot more relief from the epidural; it was time to rest.
Thuy checked Mom one more time at 8:16pm before she left the room and she was dilated 8cm, 100% effaced and at station -2! She was progressing at a great rate! Dad walked back in the room, carrying all that he could in his arms. “She’s 8cm!” I announced. I could tell he was very happy that things were moving along uncomplicated, and surprised at all that had happened during his walk to the car! Now we began the waiting game. We took our places and sat in the room. Betsy and me on the couch, Dad on the leather chair, and Mom on her throne. We turned the lights low and told Mom to close her eyes and get some sleep, she would need her strength to push baby Mia out.
I couldn’t sleep and neither could Betsy. Dad was watching Netflix on his phone. Mom was sleeping and I decided I needed coffee. I left to retrieve coffee but cafeteria was not open and I had to settle for a coke. As I got my coke out of the machine, the can read “legend” wow, cool! Betsy grabbed her can and hers read “wingman”, how fitting! We laughed at the cans and we made our way back up to the room. I knew this would be my last drink for the night, considering how fast things were moving along, we would be seeing the doctor on call very soon.
Mom was feeling some pressure and thought her water had broken. This was a great sign! It meant baby was making her way down the birth canal. At that moment the on-call doctor and resident there walked in. He thought she was still 6cm dilated and that this was her 4th baby. Oops! We had to correct him and tell him that she was now 8cm dilated and this was 1st baby. “Oh ok sorry for the confusion, let’s check you again to see your progress”.
I retrieved my peanut ball and the resident sat on the bed. He checked her, taking a little longer than expected and confirmed that her water bag was leaking but not broken just yet. It was 10:00pm and Mom was 9cm, 100% effaced and -2 station. The excitement was in the air and we cheered a bit at the progress. We went back to resting until it was time to push.
Less than an hour had gone by when Mom was feeling even more pressure. Thuy came back into the room with the doctor and checked her progress. It was 10:50pm and she was 9.5cm, 100 % effaced and -2 station. He suggested that he break her bag of waters to get the last of the cervix out of the way. Mom and Dad agreed. He broke her bag or waters and there was slight meconium in the water. Now the game had changed. The NICU team would have to be in the room for delivery to make sure baby would not aspirate the meconium. I reassured the parents that everything would be fine. Our plan was to have skin to skin contact with baby Mia as soon as possible, although delaying the cord clamping was not possible anymore.
Now back to waiting we all went. This time Mom was wide awake and so were we. She started to complain of hip pain, which I knew meant that baby was not presenting in the right position. I kept my opinion to myself, but I knew that the nurse or doctor would be confirming my suspicions very soon. The doctor walked in and said he was concerned that time was passing us and still baby Mia was not here. It was 11:30pm and Mom was still at 9.5cm. This time, the doctor confirmed that baby Mia was in OP (occiput posterior) position. The back of Mia’s head was facing Mom’s spine. He informed us that this is not a favorable position for a vaginal birth, it’s hard and sometimes impossible to push a baby out, especially for a first time mother. He would give Mia an hour to see if she would change positions. There was a moment of silence in the room as we took in the information. I knew I had to do something.
Knowing that 1 hour was our expiration before the hospital would suggest a C-section, I told Betsy that we needed to be proactive and get this baby turned around ourselves. I quickly went to the nurse station and told them that I was going to be trying to move baby into a better position so please don’t be alarmed if you see the monitors going haywire. Thuy told me to go ahead and as long as baby and mother were fine, I could do whatever I needed to.
We used a hospital sheet in place of a rebozo; I told Betsy to climb up on the bed and wrap the sheet under Mom’s lower back. We’d been taught his method long ago and I prayed that it would work. Betsy was rocking Mom from left to right. Slow and steady motions. We did that for about 15 minutes then gave her a break. My hour was running out to turn this baby so I put Betsy on the bed with Mom one more time, in our last attempt to turn baby Mia. Our hour was up and I felt a knot in my throat.
The doctor came back in and checked Mom at 12:26 am. She was fully dilated, 100% effaced and 0 station! It had worked! I was so thrilled that we had avoided further interventions. We all gave a sigh of relief. The hospital wanted mom to rest some more and allow baby to labor down so she wouldn’t have to push so much. We agreed and again, waited. Some time went by and we were now nearing 1:30 am. Mom began to feel more pressure and it was almost time to get checked again.
They checked Mom at 1:42 am and baby Mia had moved down to station +1. They asked her to wait a bit longer to give the doctor time to come in before starting to push. Finally a new doctor made her way into the room. A woman, very confident and experienced. She wanted to let Mom push a couple times to see if baby would move down. Dad was to her left. I was at her right side near her head and Betsy was holding her right leg. Mom gave her first of many pushes. The doctor felt baby move down with her forceful push and decided it was time to push baby Mia out.
It was 2:30 am and Mom began to push. The doctor left the room, only to be called in when baby was crowning. We encouraged her to push stronger, harder and longer. To push to her bottom and not her face. Mom had a few bouts of vomiting. Rightfully so. She pushed and pushed and pushed. She felt discouraged at times but I told her that she was doing great and pushing takes a long time. I showed her that the baby monitor was being adjusted further down on her belly, ensuring that her pushing wasn’t for nothing and baby WAS moving down. She trusted me and kept pushing. Dad was so great. He held his wife. Brushed her hair out of her face, gave her words of love and told her how good she was doing. He even held the vomit bag for her, never flinching.
I was starting to see some of baby Mia’s hair! Mom became even more motivated and gave stronger pushes. Once the baby had begun to crown Thuy said stop pushing and left the room the grab the doctor. Mom was uncomfortable since she was crowning and now had to stop pushing to wait. I helped her breathe through it and finally the doctor came in. The NICU team came in right after her and was ready to catch baby Mia in seconds. After a couple more pushes Mom was told to to stop pushing to prevent a bad tear from happening and to go ahead and give softer pushes. Finally, I saw Mia’s head in its entirety. The doctor removed the umbilical cord from baby Mia’s neck. It was wrapped only once and was removed fast.
Baby Mia was born at 4:01am on September 22, 2014. She was 6 lbs 2 oz, 18.5 inches long. Daddy was yelling “yeeeeah yeeeeeah” he was over the moon to see the miracle that had just happened. Dad cut baby Mia’s cord while Mom was catching her breath and trying to get glimpses of her daughter. Betsy and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. The NICU was checking Mia to make sure her airways were cleared of any fluid that could harm her. While Daddy was snapping away pictures, Mom delivered her placenta at 4:07 am. She was sewn up from a tiny 1st degree tear.
Finally Mom looked at her daughter, falling in love as they placed her skin to skin on her. Baby Mia was grunting a bit from the meconium but would soon recover because she was now skin to skin. The postpartum nurse came in and wanted to take Mia over to the baby bed to do a few exams but I asked her to do them while mommy was holding her baby. She agreed and proceeded to tell us that Mia was recovering well and her levels were becoming very normal. The skin to skin with mommy was working. The nurse wanted to get Mia to breastfeed so I told her that we would be helping with that. Mia was anxious to breastfeed right away and did great! Betsy and I saw the room had settled and it was time to say goodbye. We took photos with Mia and were sad to leave. Daddy held Mia just adoring his new love. On our way out security asked if it was a boy or a girl. We said girl and he cheered. Our job was done and we were so happy. Welcome baby Mia.
Flor Cruz is a doula in the Los Angeles area, to contact her please visit her website.
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