For the beginning of Birth Freely’s BIRTHDAY BABY BONANZA series, I am beginning with my very first client’s birth. When thinking up the BIRTHDAY BABY BONANZA series, lets acronym - BBB, I decided that I wanted my client’s to dictate how they wanted their story told on my blog. After all, it was THIER BIRTH. Still, I was caught off guard when my very first client asked me to write her daughter’s birth story from my perspective. After reading her request, I sat staring at the screen for about 10 minutes as the images, words, smells, feelings, all of it flowed back to me like I was there again, with Colleen and Joe, as they experienced the power of labor and the beautiful birth of their daughter, Adeline. I must of have been smiling because I was interrupted by my husband’s elbow poking my arm and his voice jolting me back to our living room. “What are you smiling about?! Let me see!!” I showed him the email. He didn’t get it. I went back to my day dream.
Colleen, Joe - I am humbled and honored that you asked me to write Adeline’s Birth Story from my eyes as your doula. Here it goes, I hope it doesn’t disappoint. Adequately entitled, I believe.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget one single detail, which could make for quite a long post, so I will try to be concise.
Colleen and Joe called me to their home in Thursday morning at 9am. Colleen had about had it being pregnant, or at least had it with the “Is she here yet?” questions for the peanut gallery. At 42 weeks pregnant, her and Joe were both ready to meet their daughter who had been teasing them with labor like contractions for days at this point. And me? Well, I couldn’t wait to be with them in labor. At one point during our prenatal visits, we decided that we were now “like a tri-couple” when it came to her pregnancy. Gosh, you guys are awesome! The feelings!! I digress…
I arrived at their quiet, lavender infused home within 20 minutes of Joe’s text. Colleen was standing, smiling and Joe ushered me in, giving me an update. Contractions were manageable with ease, about 7 minutes apart. Colleen, a teacher and expert of time management, had been 3 centimeters dilated for weeks and basically told by everyone, including her doctor, that she was going to deliver her baby by 40 weeks, no doubt. Well, Miss Adeline was bound to have it her way while Colleen sat beyond the point of ready, facing unwanted medical induction in the near future.
I sat with them, talking with them and watching Colleen for about an hour before conversation turned to the chiropractic appointment she had previously scheduled. “Why not move it up?” I suggested. “Yeah! I’ll call” Moved up her appointment to earlier that day. “Check” I thought in my doula mind. Colleen seemed refreshed. I remember looking at her and thinking that she was glowing. Not pregnant glowing, but labor glowing. A woman on a mission! It wasn’t long before we were bundled up and out the door, walking the 20 minutes to the chiropractors. During the walk, we began stopping a bit for every contraction but, to me, they weren’t consistent in their intensity and seemed to be off rhythm. Got to the chiropractor, she was seen, we walked back. Contractions still not changing too much. I looked at Colleen. She still had the glow but the need for rest becoming clearer. “Maybe a bath?” was my next suggestion. Colleen retreated to the bathtub as Joe and I sat, talked and TV surfed. After about 45 minutes, Colleen came out all pickled but definitely more relaxed, glow intact. Food! Joe, a chef, made us delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.
After we ate, Colleen started seeming hot. She started to need more movement, sitting was no longer an option. We supported her as she needed but she was doing remarkable on her own, especially after having done all the work she had done to that point. Time check - it was 4:30pm. Traffic…Colleen and Joe lived in Northern VA. Traffic starts at 3:30pm and builds from there until 9pm or so. Colleen and Joe made the decision to head to the hospital.
We checked in at 5:20 on Thursday evening. We set our bags down in the room and Joe went about the room with the lavender infused water spray bottle they brought. It smelled lovely. Lights were dimmed, voices lowered, Colleen was able to find and continue her rhythm and my role on the team was truly formed.
I watched Colleen flow with her contractions like a goddess upon a birth ball throne. I watched Joe support Colleen with whatever she needed. Together, they were so powerful to watch. Together, for the next 14 hours - we stood, we danced, we massaged, we visualized the water flowing over us and, after navigating a parade of doctors and nurses that came into the room suggesting various interventions, I watched the bond of love that held Joe and Colleen together became stronger and more alive than I believe it had ever been.
At 6:45am, after Colleen had been kneeling in the bed backwards, dancing to the music with her contractions, we were all sure that progress in terms of cervical dilation had been made. We were all wrong. The news sucked the air out of the room. Colleen hadn’t had a chance to rest in days. Without rest, Colleen had exhausted her ability to work. Her and Joe made the call for an epidural.
That is when I witnessed, one of the most special moments I had ever seen in a hospital. (Aside from a mother seeing her new baby for the first time.) At 7:35am, as her epidural was being placed, nurse on one side, me on the other, Joe keeping eye contact with Colleen - Colleen whispered for Joe to sing.
And he did.
The calm power that was admitted into the room created an atmosphere of gratitude, peace, and ability. It was beautiful.
Colleen and Joe got 3 hours of rest, then, it was time to get back to work. I pulled Joe out into the hallway for a pep talk and we entered the room ready to give Colleen what she desired now, a vaginal birth. After 12 more hours of periods work and periods of rest, Colleen was ready to push.
The pushing mix (a delightful mix of Bruce Springsteen and Cam’ron) was played and after only 2 hours of focused and determined pushing, 7 lbs 12 oz baby, Adeline was born - screaming, pink, and lovely. Colleen, the woman who clocks her time in labor as 50+ hours, was suddenly bright eyed, hysterically happy, and unbelievably relieved. Joe, the man that had supported his wife through her 50+ hours of labor, glowed. It was a remarkable moment, frozen in time forever in my memory.
You see, my friends, birth is always about the baby. What is unfortunately lost so often in today’s birth culture is how birth is also about mom. In Colleen and Joe’s case, Adeline’s birth was about their bond, as much as her birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADELINE! You are a darling little girl with unbelievably strong parents. LUCKY GIRL!
Cat LaPlante of Birth Freely Birth Services wants to help you create a beautiful birth experience! Now serving New Jersey (all regions but specifically doula Camden county, doula Burlington County, doula Gloucester county, and doula Atlantic county) and the Greater Philadelphia area.
All Images seen here are copyrighted and not eligible to be used in any way except for use in this blog. All images are used by Birth Freely with permission from the subjects photographed and are not to be duplicated or reproduced in any way.
Cat is the founder of Birth Freely Birth Services. Her passion is empowering women through education and providing them with continuous labor support so they can have the birth they desire!