Doula Tales

Here you can find birth stories of the births I have attended as a doula. As I'm member of an awesome childbirth forum on the Internet (see Links), I'm likely to post birth stories there first, so I chose to keep the letter-format of these postings and put them here unchanged. Names and pictures are published only with the parents' permission. Enjoy!

Briana's Birth - December 2002

Anna's Birth - May 2001

Well, ladies, I got my initiation as a doula last night: the first time in "live action"! It turned out quite a drama at the end, but it was an overwhelming experience. Here's the story:
I went to see our MW on Friday afternoon. She was on her way to the birth center and told me she'd pick me up so I don't have to go by bus. While in the car, she just asks me: by the way, there's a birth going on at the BC, do you want to attend? Whew! What a surprise! I've been bugging her for weeks to let me "doula" a birth before my own little one arrives, since I won't be able to go to births for quite a long time afterwards. She was not very enthusiastic about the idea of a preggo one attending a birth, since it can be hard physically, so I gave up, until Friday when she just asked me. (BTW she checked me and said it doesn't look like I'd give birth very soon). Well, I arranged babysitting for Levente and stayed. It was a very nice couple with their first baby, I met them in their childbirth class and liked them a lot, so we were happy to see each other. The MW checked the Mom, but didn't stay, because she had a childbirth class for newcomers, so I stayed with the couple alone for the whole afternoon, while the MW came in every hour to see how they were doing. It was very good for me both professionally and personally: I got to help them a lot and had full responsibility: I checked the heartbeat with the MW's doppler, took turns with the husband rubbing her back and made warm clary sage oil compresses for her lower abdomen and we talked a lot. I felt she put a lot of confidence in the fact that I had given birth before and "knew" what she was going through (that's one of the most important things a doula is good for IMHO). Unfortunately, she got stuck somehow at 3 cm and by 9 PM she was in so much pain that I would call normal for 8 cm or so. Hubby was very supportive and she was handling it bravely, but we saw with the MW that the ctx weren't doing much good except exhausting her. We couldn't help much with any of our relaxing techniques. The MW began to worry that she might not make it long enough to fully dilate, because she had been in prelabor since 3 AM, so she was quite tired. We suggested that she try to sleep between ctx and went to nap ourselves in the other room. They called us back twice during the night, when the ctx got really intense. It seemed to come in waves: some very strong ctx that were effective, followed by half an hour of useless pain that felt the same for her, but didn't dilate her cervix. By dawn she was 7 cm and the MW began to hope again, because she seemed to make more progress and was handling it quite good in spite of her exhaustion. Ladies, I've never seen anyone in so much pain and handling it so bravely in my life! I don't know if I could have done it myself. My own labor seemed to be a child's game compared to this. It was a heroic struggle. The MW, who is VERY pro-natural and would never do this in vain, asked her several times if she wanted to go to the hospital to put an end to her pain (because she was in much more pain than it would have been normal for the actual stage of labor), but she said she would rather stay and go on. Wow! The MW gave her homeopathics, but they didn't seem to help much, except that maybe she got some more time to relax between ctx. By 9 am she was about 8 cm. Then the MW checked the heartbeat and it went way down after one ctx, so we decided to go to the hospital to have her monitored, because it seemed that the baby got exhausted from the long labor. We got there at 9.20 and met a grey-haired chief ob/gyn who was quite nice compared to most docs in our hospitals, but the whole scene was still so much different from what we are used to at home and BC births. For example, the first thing they told her was to shut up, for it was not "the custom" to moan loudly in their delivery rooms... The old guy couldn't resist to tell us he had been delivering babies for 40 years and how he knew it better... (I don't know any ob/gyn who has not said this at some point, while meeting us "difficult" patients). He also told the mom about her "options": cesarean, vacuum, forceps... and our MW had to remind him to tell her she had as good a chance to have the child without any of these, since she was 9 cm already and the heartbeats were not that bad yet. Mom was scared and still in lots of pain, but incerdibly brave. The MW (who is also an ob/gyn, but doesn't like to air this fact as much as other docs do) tried to protect her with some success, but we were not on our own ground, so we couldn't do much. We just prayed he would have some more patience for that last 1 cm. But this was not to happen, because the baby's heart begun to slow down until it almost stopped after every contraction, so they decided to do a c/sec. We waited outside until they came out with the baby: it was a tiny (6 lbs) little girl! She was such a jewel, I fell in love with her at once. She didn't cry, just gave sweet little sounds. She looked tired, but healthy, thank the Lord. They named her Anna. The father got to hold her for a while, but we couldn't see the mother anymore, because she was under general anesthesia. So we came home. I wanted to write down the story right away, but I was too tired, so I chose to sleep instead. Zoltan came home and I felt so much love around me, I just wanted to hug him and be close. It seems strange after 30 hours of hard labor and a "lost battle" against the cesarean that I still feel triumphant in some way, but what I saw is such an amount of human endurance and braveness in this young mother that I can only be thankful for having been there. I'm praying for Mom's quick healing, please join me if you feel like it.

Left: labor scene
Right: Anna, 2 days old

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