Brian and Ashley called me about the upcoming birth of their second daughter.Their firstborn, Naomi, is two years old (and adorable, btw) and they were expecting baby girl #2 on 11/11/11.
I remember the first night I met with them. Ashley was telling me that she really would like a different experience than her first birth, but she was concerned that she wasn’t exactly sure she would be able to handle a long labor with strong contractions. I assured her that not only did she have “what it takes” but also I am sure that she would do wonderfully!
Fast forward to November 7th. At 4:30 a.m. Ashley woke up and realized that there was some leaking of something.She called me at 6:30 and told me what she experienced.Based on the amount she described, I thought it could be the fore bag or urine.Yes, at the later stages of pregnancy you can pee on yourself because of all the pressure of the baby. I recommended she keep and eye on it, if she had any more leaking to let me know.She called again at 1 p.m. and said that she had some liquid trickling down her leg. At that point I was sure it was amniotic fluid, but just not sure, again, if it was a fore bag or a slow leak of her bag of waters.
She decided to head to the doctor’s office at about 3 p.m. just to check because she didn’t want to second guess herself that it was actually amniotic fluid.He said it was in fact amniotic fluid, which meant that, because she was Group B+ she would need to go on in to the hospital to get her antibiotics, even though she was about 2-3 cm’s/80/-1 with minimal and sporadic contractions.She decided to head home first and get things settled there before she would head to the hospital.Most of the day she had no major gushes of fluid, just occasional streams.
She called me at 6:30 and said she would like for me to come over. Her contractions were still sporadic at about 8-15 minutes apart lasting anywhere form 30-60 seconds.I arrived at her house at 7 p.m. and after a call to the doctor and lots of discussion, they decided to head to the hospital to start the antibiotics.
Upon arrival, she was found to be 2-3/80/-1, same as earlier.Her contractions were coming about every 6-8 minutes but were “just uncomfortable” as she described it.At 10:30 I recommended that they try to get some sleep and that I would head back to my house and that she should call if the intensity changed at all.
At 3:15 a.m. Brian texted me to say that Ashley’s contractions were 3-6 minutes apart lasting about a minute and she was on the birth ball beside the bed and he was applying counter pressure, and that she would like for me to head their way.
When I arrived at 3:45 a.m. they were still beside the bed just as Brian had described.Ashley was in great spirits, and quite honestly it was hard to believe that she was actually in labor.She was ready to get things moving along and wanted to walk the halls.She had the option to have a vaginal check to see her progress, but given that she didn’t think the contractions were that painful, she was afraid to find no progress.So she declined the check and to the halls we went.The contractions picked up their frequency and she would do the “prom dance” with Brian while I applied counter pressure.We walked for about 35 minutes and then she said she would like to head back to the room to get in the shower.At this point, (strictly from the doula perspective) she seemed to be in a steady pattern, but wow, either it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it should have or this woman is a rock.Or both.
After about 10 minutes in the shower her demeanor changed. She became very internal, less talking in between contractions and then she had two contractions back to back.Yep, evidence of transition (7-10 cm’s).She had six contractions (in the patter of two back to back) and on the last set of two, she started to moan.She said she felt a burning in her lower abdomen but no mention of pressure.At that point I thought to myself, “After this next contraction I think I should get her to empty her bladder and then head to the bed to rest on her side, if she is willing, since she walked and has been standing in the shower. . .” No sooner did I have that thought, did she start the next contraction, and where I thought she was standing up to position herself against the birth ball (that I propped in a chair next to the shower) she grabbed herself and with full conviction and a bit of panic said, “THE BABY IS COMING!!”
I laugh at the next words that came out of my mouth. Please hear me out on this.When it’s your first time to experience a natural birth, it is so very common to be surprised by all the new feelings, especially the amount of pressure or the intensity of it, as baby descends down your pelvis.So I said, thinking that she was likely feeling that pressure, “Oh Ashley that’s GREAT! Is that pressure you are feeling?” to which she looks at me and says again, “NO, the BABY IS COMING RIGHT NOW.” And then she sprints right past me (yes, sprints) and onto the bed, leans back and I dare to look down to find the baby’s head crowning, nearly out.
NUUUUURSE!!! I had to page the nurse and yelled, “Ya’ll need to come now, the baby’s head is out!” (At least that is what one of the nurses told me later, that I said). And yes, she said I did sound panicked. Her doctor wasn’t in there immediately but a doc from another practice was at the nurses’ station when I called out so he came. He was very nice and then after one more contraction, the main doc arrived.
Ashley was laughing and smiling in between contractions and after about three contractions and at 4:55 a.m. (one hour from when I arrived back to the hospital) she delivered her baby girl, Cora! She was 8 lbs 12 oz and 21 inches long on November 8th!
I still just get so tickled when I think about that moment in the shower.The three of us just couldn’t stop talking about it. It all happened so quickly.And because ol’ strong momma was, as her husband affectionately called her, “a beast” she was able to internalize her process and made the rest of us think we had hours to go.
Ashley, I am so super proud of you.You did such an amazing job, even in the face of unknowns and a possible change in your birth plan.But ultimately it all worked just the way we had prayed and I am sure that you believe me that you always had what it took.Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!