Founder of Iris Doula Care, Birth Doula
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be involved in birth work. At age 10 years old I was able to witness the birth of my younger sister. It was not the plan for me to attend. My mother’s quick labor, lack of babysitters and wildly different hospital policies than today made this possible. And while this experience would have scarred some young people, it lit a fire inside of me.
I found my passion early and began to pursue it, serving expecting women. It was not until the births of my own children that I realized how proper support is vital during birth and postpartum. You see, each of my births were vastly different. This has allowed me to view birth, postpartum and even loss in multiple lights.
My first born came earth side at 40 weeks and 4/7 days. We attempted natural induction methods at home and we tried all the things. I mean ALL of them! From my experience, castor oil was not the best route to take. While it did kick start labor, I was not effaced enough for things to progress smoothly. About mid-way through my labor, we discovered that he was occiput posterior or “sunny side up” which contributed to progression being slow and painful. After thirty long hours of contractions, I chose to have an epidural and it picked up quickly. I mean, I still pushed for two hours, but in spite of the ups and downs, I was able to birth him OP after thirty-eight hours of labor.
My second pregnancy, unfortunately, did not come to full fruition as I miscarried at 10 weeks gestation. I went to my local ER around 10:00 pm after speaking with my midwife about spotting I was having. We waited to be seen for hours. My spotting changed drastically to large amounts of bleeding while waiting in the ER. When I asked for assistance the staff offered me nothing, not even something that I was able to change into. I was told, “we see blood all of the time. It’s not an emergency”. The intake nurse also told me that she had personally had multiple miscarriages and that they were “no big deal”. I’m uncertain as to why she thought that was appropriate to say to a mother who was terrified about losing her baby. If that was not enough, I was also trying to contact my boss who was out of state on vacation. When I finally reached her to let her know what was happening she said, “I’m on vacation. You will need to find someone to cover your shifts”. At the time I worked for a maternity clothing store. I never returned to work.
The ER doctor conducted an ultrasound that showed the baby only measuring 6 weeks and I had likely lost it weeks ago. I was able to leave the ER after that traumatic experience and release everything in the comfort of my home. Though I would come to conceive my rainbow baby, the baby I lost that night forever remains in my heart and will never be replaced.
My third pregnancy and second full term birth was a whirlwind. I chose to be cared for by a midwifery group during this pregnancy and was pleased at how attentive they were to me. They found my baby to be OP (again!) around 37 weeks gestation. I spent the next few weeks trying all the tricks in the book to get baby in prime birthing position. It was not until I visited the chiropractor, whose adjustment immediately provided me relief, that baby moved into the occiput anterior position. I was had my adjustment at 9:00 am and by 2:00 pm contractions began. They continued on into the night and gained intensity with every hour. We made our way to the hospital when I began groaning that was coming from deep within. I was sure I was going to have him in the car.
We arrived at the hospital and I was 6 centimeters dilated. I begged the midwife for an epidural and she informed me that I most likely did not have time. As I moved from the triage room to the birthing suite and was transitioning on the walk over. When the midwife broke my water, my baby decided he wanted to come too. The midwife began to yell for assistance, basically holding him inside until she had an extra pair of hands in the room! Moments later and medication free, I delivered our second baby boy. My labor time was drastically reduced by my baby being in the correct position for delivery. I always recommend people seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy for this very reason.
My fourth and final pregnancy was quite an adventure. I had a tougher time with morning sickness and fatigue, but attributed it to being a mother of two young boys. After finding out we were having a girl, our hearts were filled with joy! The rest of the pregnancy moved along smoothly until I had an ultrasound during my 35-week appointment. I had never had this done with my previous pregnancies, but they were concerned about the presentation of my belly upon palpation. I am so very thankful that an ultrasound was performed because it was found that our baby was in the frank breech position and that my amniotic fluid index was exceptionally low, (4 on a scale of 1-10). My midwife sent me to the labor and delivery unit to be monitored and receive fluids two days before Thanksgiving. Thankfully, my baby was showing no signs of distress during our stay. I was released to home in the morning to continue with rest and increasing my oral fluids. The plan was for me to return for a follow-up on Saturday to have another AFI and NST.
I rested as much as I could over the holiday and even able to squeeze in an appointment with my chiropractor who attempted to assist baby into optimum positioning. When I returned on Saturday, which also happened to be my birthday, baby was still in a breech position and my AFI had decreased again. Because of the findings, it was recommended that she be delivered that day at 36 weeks gestation for her wellbeing. I immediately began being prepped for a cesarean delivery and while unexpected, received the most wonderful birthday gift in my arms a couple hours later.
I found my c-section birth to be my most difficult for various reasons. The ones most prominent in my mind are the spinal tap caused me to itch uncontrollably all over my body and was quite painful. I also had a skin reaction from the steri-strips along my scar line. While I am thankful for modern interventions in times like these, I was disappointed with how difficult my recovery was. It was so different from my vaginal births. I had not realized all the different struggles that can come along with birthing this way.
My variety of births has given me perspective that no everyone possesses. And while I did not plan it this way, I consider it to be a privilege. My stories can help past and future mothers, and/or families who are experiencing a similar situation. I hope to use my personal experience in providing the most exceptional care for the birthing community.