Here is a bit about my birth story, the love and appreciation I have for my amazing supportive team, and how we worked together in the best way. All photos taken by myself (Desiree Martin Photography), my husband Amery and our doula Tara Kristjansson.
My first child was born 4 years ago, and his birth was nothing that I had imagined. (are they ever?) We hired an amazing doula (Tara Kristjansson) and she helped us prepare so well, we went into everything feeling extremely aware and educated on our options which is the best thing you can do for yourself. Even if things don't go as planned at least you know possible situations and outcomes that can arise and can make an educated decision. All too often I speak to women that are late in their pregnancy and have no idea about so many situations or options that are available during birth. I found out with my first around week 33 that I had Cholestasis of Pregnancy and was going to need to be monitored at the hospital every few days and induced at 37 weeks. My pregnancy up to that point had been so relaxed and all of a sudden it all changed, I was so worried and anxious about the wellbeing of myself and my baby. 37 weeks came, I was induced, labour was long and hard but our baby boy arrived and suddenly everything was all right.
This time with my second pregnancy I had high hopes that I wouldn't develop Cholestasis, even though statistics show that the chance is high. I really wanted to focus on the positive and imagine a birth where I could just go into labour on my own and not have to have any drugs "forcing" my body into labour. I read about hypobirthing and was preparing myself for what I envisioned to be a very peaceful labour. A labour without tension and fear where I could let my body take control and focus on relaxation to let the baby come out willingly. We hired the same Doula we had with our first because she is simply amazing. 33 weeks of pregnancy came and went and I was feeling fine, no sign of Cholestasis!! As the weeks passed I felt so blessed that I was going to be able to let my body labour when baby was ready, and not a moment too soon. I had visions of labouring at home and arriving at the hospital already near the active labour stage and how amazing that was going to be in contrast to my first birth experience. (for the ladies into week 40 and impatiently waiting for babe to come, find comfort in knowing that you still have the chance to wait and let you body take over naturally, that is a blessing)
38 weeks arrived, I felt the intense all over body itch (telltale sign of Cholestasis). I went for blood-work and before I even got home I received the call to head right back to the hospital. It was decided based on my levels that I needed to be induced that night :( I called my husband and told him to get ready to go have a baby. I felt excited but yet so frustrated that it had come to this. We dropped off our son at my parents place (Thanks nana and papa) grabbed our bags and we were off to the hospital to get the ball rolling.
I hoped since this was my second child and we were already a week further along in gestation that the induction would be smoother. Turns out baby girl was super comfy in there and not quite ready to make her move. Everything was harder this time around., but my team was the best thing I could have ever imagined. I never once felt like I was doing this on my own. My husband Amery and my doula Tara were the best cheerleaders a girl could ask for in the hardest moments and I am forever grateful to them. I mean, Tara comes with a lot of experience and knows exactly what to do in the right moments so that didn't surprise me at all (why do you think I hired her again?). My husband on the other hand really impressed me this time around.
Looking back at the birth what stands out to me is how seamlessly we all worked together. There were moments where I didn't think I could go on, where things weren't going as planned and the pain was too strong. Tara always said the right words of encouragement, knew when to put pressure on my lower back to help ease the contractions, got me ice cloths for my head and sprayed me with amazing aromatherapy blends to either soothe and calm or else invigorate me (depending on the current situation and need) and always had great advice when I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next in regards to medical decisions. I think a sign of an amazing doula is someone that the medical professionals respect and get along with. You don't want to hire someone that will step on other peoples toes or force you to make decisions in a certain way An amazing doula is there to support and respect the medical staff, not work against them. Someone you can get to know before birth (she helps you make a birth plan as well). Someone that is there with you throughout labour not just to fill a certain shift and then leave you. Someone that has educated you beforehand on your options and allowed you to make your own decisions and is there to support you in whatever choice you make. Tara is all of these things and beyond, I can't say enough about how she has helped me bring my beautiful children into the world. Then there was my husband Amery, what a guy! With our first child he was very helpful during the birth, but this time something extra special clicked in him. I think he just gained confidence and took it upon himself to just go ahead and do things for me without asking. He was there for whatever I needed, whenever I needed it. Massaging, fetching, and encouraging were his forte and together we took on the birth like a bunch of pros, it felt as though we had rehearsed it and all knew our roles in each moment.
The jacuzzi was amazing, if you have the chance, USE IT! It relaxed me and help ease the contractions, we played music in there and my husband massaged my arms, legs and back, it felt like I had escaped to a spa day.
If you are pregnant I strongly encourage you to bring someone along that will help you on your journey and support and encourage you when things get tough. Whether that is a husband, partner, sister, doula, best friend, mom etc. just take some time to talk to them about the ways that you would like them to help you, even if it just means being there to hold your hand. For me I wanted someone experienced and educated to help me make decisions (doula) and someone loving to hold my hand, massage me and support me (husband). They both took on their roles as my cheerleaders so beautifully, and I always knew they were right there to support whatever was happening. You never know what will happen and it's nice to have partners there to help you out when you can't think clearly. To talk things out with you, cheer you on, get you water or ice (or popsicles), help you walk, massage your back or anywhere that needs it. Also someone to help you get over any mental hurdles holding you back from sticking to your wishes and birth plan and making it through the hardest parts when you feel like you can't go on.
After 30-some hours, and a labour that suddenly STOPPED and needed to be started all over again our baby girl was born, what a relief! Something I will never forget is that first initial skin to skin where everything around me seemed to slow down while I just absorbed the beauty of this baby I finally got to set my eyes on. In an instant your focus totally shifts to this new being. That feeling when you first touch them with your hands and kiss them with your lips and never want to let go. We were able to take our time to cuddle and nurse and let the cord blood pulse out (one of those things you should educate yourself on if you are having a baby!) what a precious time! (in certain situations this can't always happen, so if you are blessed with these moments make sure you soak them in, everything else can wait)
After our baby was born the nurse that had been with us actually commented about how honoured she was to witness the beauty of what just happened. She said our teamwork really impressed her and she loved seeing the 3 of us work together and how well we all meshed, at that moment I knew it wasn't all in my head, we really were an amazing team together.
I can't forget of course to also thank the amazing staff we worked with. Nurses, dr.'s, OBs, residents - and anyone I may have missed, thank you for everything you do.
Such a beautiful blessing to hold and admire what you have created for the first time outside of the womb.
Baby girl looking pretty happy and relaxed to be weighed and measured, and below meeting her big brother for the first time and soaking in cuddles from a very proud mom and dad.
For anyone that is going to BE a birth partner for your wife, partner, sister, daughter friend etc. the best advice I can give you is to just jump right in, go ahead and think of things you can do to help before you are even asked to do them. Remind the woman in labour how amazing she is doing and how far along she has come, keeping all the encouragement positive and uplifting. Listen to the birthing mommas wants and needs, if she wants music - play music, if she wants silence - let there be silence, if she wants massage - get to work or perhaps she doesn't want to be touched at all, just listen to her wishes and needs and follow along.