Many months ago, Diane, a fellow doula at Birth Tribe, shared the amazing news with all of us that she was pregnant. She was recently married, blissful, beautiful, one of the kindest folks I know and I couldn't have been any happier for her.
She reached out to me and asked me a few questions about hiring a doula from Birth Tribe, to support her and her husband Quinn in the birth of their first baby. We joked about how people kept telling her to be her own doula, which isn't a thing (a therapist still needs a therapist of their own, right?!)
Just a little while later, Diane asked me to be her doula. I was as happy as a clam. After our conversation I thought she would go another way, but it's always an honor to be a doula for a doula! I actually remember welling up at the request.
I had never met Quinn prior and was hopeful that after I already said yes to being their doula, he wasn't a turd. Lucky for me, he was just as lovely and funny as Diane! During that first meeting, we talked a lot about her intentions for a home birth. The what, where, and why's were spinning in her head a bit. We talked through all the choices and I encouraged them to make decisions and stick to them. Her heart was pulling her one way and her mind another. We went down her decision list one by one and pinned down some of the decisions they still had floating in the air.
As I exited their home that first time, I turned back to see Quinn give her a big kiss and squeeze and he said, "Now I get it. Look at all of the decisions she helped us make in like an hour!"
Diane had an awesome pregnancy and did wonderfully advocating for herself the entire time and letting comments roll off her back with ease.
However, like every birthing person, she was ready to meet her baby and I died laughing when she sent me this pic with the message "stfu tea!". The world has a weird way of sending us just what we need, right?!
Just two days later, Diane sent me a text message that read, "I'm having some pink mucous and some contractions, nothing serious yet."
Just two hours after that first message, she texted me that her contractions were coming about every 10 minutes or so. I told her I was going to take a shower and head to her, but she cautioned me from doing so. Almost all women, have a fear that they're calling everyone too soon and don't want to be an inconvenience.
I called her and asked her some questions and then eventually I decided to go to her home. I told her that if it wasn't labor we could just visit and chat, but that I didn't want her to be nervous and alone. I arrived to her house around 6pm and the midwife arrived right behind me.
Diane was in labor.
Liza, the midwife, decided to check her cervix and Diane was 3cm. To her, that was the opposite of what she wanted to hear, since she felt as though it confirmed her calling us to soon.
I had been observing Diane manage her contractions for the last 30 minutes, and this labor was moving right along. Most birthing people do this thing where they search for their "grounding". It looks like thrashing and clawing, and many people say that they just can't find a comfortable place. I asked Quinn to start filling the tub. I was hopeful that Diane could find her ground, in water.
At 8:09pm, there was a small amount of water, more than likely the forebag had ruptured. I think it was only at that point that Diane believed me, that she was in labor, and that there would be a baby soon. Quinn then called for us and said the tub was ready.
It still took Diane a little bit to settle, but with Quinn's help she started to relax into the warmth and sound of the water surrounding her.
When Diane mentioned that she may not be able to do it, Quinn responded with, "You're doing the best thing for all of us. Thank you so much honey." and my eyes welled with tears and so did his. This man, loves this woman, maybe more than I have ever felt or witnessed during a labor and birth.
Quinn and Theresa, Diane's mother, were present and their anxious energy was palpable. Every time Diane would moan they would go by her side and look at me and Liza for reassurance that she was ok. Quinn was finding busy work and Theresa kept offering snacks and drinks to keep everyone going.
At 9:01pm Diane calmly said, "there's something coming out of my vagina" and then the rest of her water broke, filling the tub with tons of tiny specs of vernix.
I was watching her purple line continue to extend and took a couple pictures for Diane, as it's a geeky tool doulas often use, to figure out dilation, without going out of scope. I told Quinn that I thought things were starting to move more quickly than an average first time mom.
Diane was still finding her ground until this point. Then she became very calm and in control. I offered her a spiky rubber ball for gripping in one hand and she held me in the other. If I tried to adjust, she would squeeze my elbow.
She was so peaceful and calm that she was napping during the breaks in her contractions. I would occasionally offer her a cool washcloth for her head, but she had found her labor zone.
She would only vocalize during contractions and pull me in towards her, while squeezing the ball in her other hand, and occasionally say one word or two word requests, "thirsty" and "dry mouth". Quinn would spring into action and meet her needs.
Liza, Quinn and Theresa, all thought that Diane's labor was slowing down, but I noted I 9:25pm that I though she was in transition, even though she was sinking lower and lower into the water.
At 10:32pm I felt her start to push with each contraction. I tried to tell everyone else in the space, but Diane was very aware and I didn't want to effect her peace or environment in anyway.
At 11:00pm Liza suggested that Diane empty her bladder. As she did, I went into the bedroom and tried to get things a little bit more in order as I heard Liza mention to Diane she may want to rest there. I did not think there would be any more resting for Diane, once gravity was involved.
Later when speaking with Diane, she said she was saying in her mind, "I better open my legs and show people there is a baby there." And then she did. Liza looked at me wide eyed and said, "that's baby hair that I'm seeing there right?!" and we both giggled.
It would be too late for a midwifery assistant to arrive, and my role would have to change for a bit. Theresa and Quinn held Diane's hands one on each side, while I gathered up things for the impending birth and baby.
Diane looked at me for reassurance and I nodded my head. Diane then looked back at me and in the most beautifully cracking voice said, "I'm going to meet my baby!" Quinn began to cry and tears were running down his face. Theresa was still so nervous, as she watched her baby start to give birth to her own.
Theresa would look at me with every push and I would tell her that Diane was doing everything perfectly. I would listen to baby in between pushes and Theresa would hold her breath each time.
Quinn however, was in a much different place than he had imagined when we were planning. He originally stated he wanted to stay "by the shoulders", but as his little one began to emerge, Diane reached down and touched their head, and asked if he could too. I love this picture of him. He was so filled with joy, he was so insanely proud of Diane, saying things like, "You're doing this at home, just like you wanted!" and he was talking to his baby as they were just starting to emerge earth side.
At 11:53pm Evangeline Theresa came screaming into this world and was placed upon her mother's chest. I was so in awe of my friend. Her power, confidence, and strength was at the highest peak that I had ever seen. Diane is probably one of the most humble humans that I know and she looked up at me and said, "I'm going to just say it; I am so proud of my damn self. I did awesome!" And that she did.
Miss Evangeline's first latch was experienced by her present and loving father, who after latching said, "well if it's comforting her, I guess that's all that matters."
Diane and Quinn, thank you so much for giving me the honor and privilege of watching your beautiful family grow from two to three. That night couldn't have been any better or healing for me, that if I imagined it for myself.
Diane you are a force to be reckoned with and I hope you never let that feeling go, of what it feels like to be a true bad ass birther.