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The Calm

Earlier in the day Lisa, my doula partner, had messaged me that she had a client that seemed to be in early labor. Lisa had thrown her back out and could barely move. She would need for me to go in her place, if this was it.

I messaged Lisa's clients, Erica and Ryan, who I had met previously. Erica kept me in the loop through out the day, which included her contractions starting and stopping.

Around 7:30pm on August 5th, we decided that I would head to their home and see if I could help get things moving. Erica was scheduled for an induction later on in the week.

I arrived to their home about a hour later and I watched Erica, in the same way I watch every laboring person, when I arrive to them. It took me about 15 minutes to realize that she was actually having surges. I wasn't sure how strong they were, but they were coming every 5 minutes or so.

Erica moved around the house, switching positions, and eventually getting in the tub. She was very uncomfortable, but handling the surges very well.

They eventually were coming every 3-5 minutes and we decided to take the 45 minute drive to the hospital birth center where they had chosen to have their baby.

About 5 minutes into the ride Erica calls me and says, "Ryan's check engine light is on and something else is flashing. Of course this would be happening right now. We are just going to keep on driving though." I made sure to follow them the whole way in my car, just in case.

We arrived to birth center at 12:14am and were greeted by the most lovely midwives I had met and not someone who is normally on staff. Her name was Oni, and she brought with her an overwhelming feeling of peace. They placed Erica on the monitors and we heard her little one having hiccups.

At 1:03am they removed her from the monitors and checked her cervix. Erica was 5cm dilated and was happy to hear that she could stay.

At 3am Erica decided to get into the tub. I joke that it's more like a pool, due to it's massive size. It's similar to an 8 person hot tub for reference. Erica felt some relief from the water.

She was handling her surges very well from the outside. I was surprised at 4:15am when she said, "talk to me about the pros and cons of an epidural". I went through the both sides and she replied, "I'm not ready for that yet."

I told her that I thought her labor was moving along quite nicely, but she was doubting herself a little bit. She was nervous that the pain would only intensify and that maybe she hadn't made any change.

When I tell you that Erica is the most peaceful and in control person I have ever seen during labor, I am not lying. I have had many clients take hypnobirthing classes, and had a bit of a negative feelings about them myself. Often times mothers aren't able to stay in that state, and they become very disappointed with themselves, when they aren't able to labor in that manner. Erica was very easy going about it. She had planned to stay in that state until she couldn't anymore. I think that was part of why it was possible. She wasn't putting any pressure on herself.

I helped to keep her cool, by using ice dunked cloths, a small fan and kept her hydrated. At 6am Erica was tired and decided to get out of the tub to see if she could maybe rest.

A nurse said to me, "she seems maybe a little too comfortable, right?" Labor and delivery is the only place in the hospital where pain and blood are good signs of things to come. I told her that I thought Erica was close to transition, and she replied, "Oh yeah?". She thought I was crazy, but I had been watching Erica intently for 10 hours now. There had been a shift.

At 6:14am they checked her and she was 8cm dilated. That number gave Erica life. I looked over at Ryan and he was giddy with excitement and beaming with pride. The midwife and nurse after nurse, were commenting on her control. I was so impressed, I could barely stop myself from saying so repeatedly.

Just before 8am, Erica looked me intensly in the eyes and said, "I feel like her head is descending lower into my pelvis." She leaned back once again began her breathing. I was so in awe, I actually sent a video of her laboring to by doula crew. Everyone, was commenting on how lovely and amazing she looked while in this intense part of labor.

Erica mentioned that she had some discomfort on just one side, so Ryan and I took turns helping to relax her belly with rebozo techniques in hopes that the baby, might settle in to a more comfortable position.

At 8:45am Erica's noises changed and became more of a shushing noise than a deep yoga style breath she had been doing all night. I watched her belly as it began to not only tighten but just bare down in the slightest way during the surges.

At 9am Erica is 9 and 3/4 cm dilated. She opted to have her water broken by the midwife. As the waters poured out, the midwife tells her their is meconium in the water.

This was the first and only time I watched Erica start to panic. That information threw her for a loop. She was now worried for her baby and couldn't get back to her place of peace. She began telling Ryan and I that she couldn't do it anymore. That she had no more energy left. That she wasn't ready.

The midwife started giving her pushing instructions at 9:45am, to help give Erica some focus, but she couldn't get back to that place.

I switched places with Ryan and positioned myself next to Erica's head. I reminded her of her strength and capabilities. I reminded her of everything she had just done for the last 12 hours and how much easier this could be if she could get back to that place of peace. With each surge I began breathing next to her, the way that she had been previously breathing and it clicked. In between each push, Erica once again laid her head back and went to her own place.

She had taken back her labor.

Erica began to make lots of progress with each surge and we began to see small portions of the babies head. Ryan was elated and anxious.