"My birth story started with a visit to my OB/GYN in my thirty-ninth week. What I thought would be a routine ultrasound revealed that one of the baby’s kidneys was slightly dilated so, in an abundance of caution, my doctor scheduled me to be induced the following week. This was not my birth plan. My plan was to go into labor naturally, stay at home for as long as possible, and deliver vaginally in the hospital without an epidural. Like many moms before me, I quickly discovered that trying to have a birth “plan” is a futile endeavor.
I spent the weekend leading up to my induction going through the various stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining. I’m not sure I ever quite made it to acceptance, but on the following Tuesday morning I resisted the urge to stay home in protest and reluctantly checked into the hospital with my husband.
At 2pm on a Tuesday, I started what would be the first of three rounds of Cervidil in attempt to “ripen” my cervix (whoever came up with that term must have been a man), which was showing zero signs of being ready for labor. The process was slow, painful, and did I mention slow? It took nearly 40 hours of waiting before my body responded to the drugs, and my cervix started to dilate. By Thursday morning the contractions were painful enough to keep me awake, and after three nights of interrupted sleep and then emptying the entire contents of my stomach, the doctor declared that I was ready to start Pitocin and moved me to the labor and delivery floor.
I only remember random details from that morning: the nurse wheeling me far too quickly through the hallways while I struggled with contractions; wishing I could drink a gallon of water but knowing I wouldn’t be able to keep it down; my husband patiently and exhaustedly talking me through the pain.
And then Tara arrived.
Do you know that scene in Cinderella where the Fairy Godmother waves her wand and suddenly everything is transformed? That’s how I felt when my doula Tara walked in.
She changed the whole atmosphere in the room: turning the lights off and closing the blinds, bringing in aromatherapy, giving my husband a much needed break, and getting me into new positions. She used a combination of spinning babies and gentle massage to help me through the most difficult parts. She listened to what I needed and also gently pushed me to move in an attempt to help labor progress. She said she wanted to try two positions to get the baby into position and asked me to give her three contractions in each. I reluctantly agreed, and on the fifth contraction my water broke. The feelings of relief and pride and excitement were immediate. I was finally – finally! – showing some real progress towards delivery, and I’m convinced Tara’s guidance is what made it happen.
It also meant I could get an epidural.
I hadn’t planned on one, but once again Tara’s counseling was invaluable. She didn’t tell me what to do or make any suggestions; she just asked a simple question: “When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?” A light bulb went off. It had been nearly three days of sporadic rest, I had almost nothing in my stomach, and if I was going to push this baby out I would need my energy. The decision to get an epidural was clear, and because my water had broken the doctor gave me the go ahead.
It. Was. Magic.
For the first time in days, I was able to sleep for longer than 20 minutes at a time. I felt stronger and more clearheaded and capable. Tara left us to sleep, reminding us to text if there were any changes, and for about eight hours I was blissfully and gratefully comfortable. Until the epidural wore off.
Around midnight I woke up with increasingly painful contractions. I needed another bolus (something the nurse reassured me wasn’t uncommon), but the anesthesiologist was with another patient, so I would have to wait. Thirty minutes. An hour. An hour-and-a-half. It took her two-and-a-half hours before she was able to see me, and those two-and-a-half hours were the most difficult I’ve ever experienced. Riding out the contractions in the quiet of late night with just me and my husband was excruciating, and while the pain meds did eventually arrive, I felt like I’d lost all of the energy and confidence I’d accumulated since the afternoon.
By the morning I was progressing and sleeping for small chunks of time. Tara returned and waited with us, helping me to change positions and restore my energy. By the early afternoon I was fully dilated and ready to push. Surprisingly that was the easiest part, and after about an hour of pushing, our son Jack was born on Friday at 2:22pm weighing 8 lbs. and measuring 21 inches.
My birth story really started a year and a half before Jack arrived. It started with two miscarriages, the deaths of my mom and stepdad, and the births of my three nephews. These events shaped my approach to pregnancy, labor, and motherhood, and ultimately led me to seek out the support of Chris, Tara, and Tanya at Mindful Birth. I wanted a team in my corner to help me and my husband advocate for ourselves and navigate this daunting process, and I am grateful for the love and support they’ve provided."
Written by Bethany, first time mom of beautiful baby Jack
We love helping parents share their birth stories! It's not only a way to keep those memories preserved, and not only an opportunity to celebrate and announce your baby's unique arrival, but it's also your chance to tell your story and to be heard. You've spent all 9 months of pregnancy gathering information and birth stories from others, and once your baby is born IT'S YOUR TURN! There is never any pressure for parents to share their story, and it's an honor for the doulas at Mindful Birth to be given this privilege when they do. Welcome to all of our new babies and deep gratitude to all of our new parents. For more birth stories, visit our blog.
-Christine Ghali, owner, certified doula, certified childbirth educator, certified birth mentor