My OB strongly recommended induction at 41 weeks due to a small risk increase because I’m officially of advanced maternal age (anyone 35 and up). I struggled with the decision but ended up agreeing to it and we scheduled for Friday, Sept. 12. 
 
On Thursday at 4pm I was already 3.5cm dilated, and the doc inserted a balloon to increase dilation to 4-5 overnight. The balloon caused painful cramping and contracting — like the worst period cramps ever — but with two glasses if wine (blessed by the doc) and Tylenol, I was able to deal and get a little sleep. 
 
The next morning we woke up at 4:30am to eat (last opp for solid food) and head out to the hospital for my 5:30am appt. My doc came in at 7:30 to remove the balloon and check me — I was 6.5-7cm and she said she’d never seen a cervix so ready! 
 
I was nervous about how pitocin would feel and they finally got me hooked up to the IV and had it started at 9:30am. They begin with a very low dose so I wasn’t feeling many contractions for the first couple hours. The most annoying thing was being attached to all if these wires and being monitored continuously. I had freedom to move technically but felt very tied down and uncomfortable. 
 
One cool thing about the continuous monitoring was being able to watch the monitor as the contractions got stronger. They increased in intensity but not to anything I couldn’t handle on my own through breathing through them. At around 1:30pm, my OB came back to break my water to get the labor really going. That felt like a warm flood! They were happy that the fluid was clear with no meconium – showing the baby wasn’t in distress. 
 
My doula, Shelley, was in the room at that point and thank goodness, because as soon as my water broke, I was in full active and painful labor. I threw up twice because of the intensity, and she and Adam were there to put a cold compress on my neck, give me a peppermint oil washcloth to smell, etc. I was having contractions every minute and a half, and that continued for the rest if the labor. 
 
As my body took over, they were able to turn down, and eventually turn off the pitocin, which allowed them to remove me from continuous monitoring. This was a huge boost to my mood because continuous monitoring absolutely sucks. They kept having to move the monitors and hold them into place to track the babies heart-rate, and it was very distracting and annoying while I had to have it. From then on, they would just check the baby’s heart rate every 1/2 hour or so through a contraction or two. 
 
I managed the pain through sitting on a birthing ball with Adam or Shelley pressing hard on my hips and sacrum (I had a lot of back labor), standing up and leaning over the bed, and then sitting in a “throne” position on the bed with a heating pad against my lower back. Throughout each contraction I would moan in a low register or flap my lips to try to stay relaxed. In between contractions I would try to let go as fully as possible to conserve energy. 
 
At around 5pm, the contractions felt closer together, and stronger. I was having a more difficult time managing the pain and started to feel a little panicky. Shelley suggested that I get in the shower. I got undressed (I had been wearing a sports bra and skirt), and sat on the birthing ball in the shower while Adam sat just outside and sprayed hot water on my lower back during contractions, and on the rest of my body to keep me warm when I collapsed in between. After about an hour of this, I decided to move to my knees in the shower, hugging the birthing ball while Adam continued to spray me. 
 
Soon after, my body started to move rhythmically forward and back and I began to arch my back. I started to make sounds that Adam now describes as a “wounded animal” and started to push a little. Shelley coached me through this for a while and when it became clear to her that it was really time to push, everyone scrambled to get me out of the bathroom and onto the bed for delivery. 
 
I got on my knees and hugged the birthing ball for a while, and then moved to elbows and knees — like a child’s pose but with my butt in the air. The OB took over coaching at that point, instructing me on how to push to get the baby out. I was no longer focused on pain, just a need to push, but I had a lot of fear about if/how I was going to be able to do this, and exhilaration at knowing that I would soon be meeting my baby! 
 
The physical and mental effort of pushing took every ounce of inner and physical strength I had, but within 15 minutes of pushing, I was able to give birth to my sweet Bess Maple! 
 
The doctor passed her to me through my legs so I was gazing down at her, with Adam holding me and crying with joy. I didn’t cry but just stared at her, trying to take it all in. I couldn’t believe this person, my daughter, had been living and growing inside me, and now she was here! The nurses dried her off while we were in this position and Adam cut the cord. They then helped me turn over to lay on the bed and placed Bess on my chest.
 
At this point they turned the pitocin back on to help me finish delivering the placenta. The OB and nurses also kept pressing on my stomach to push out all the blood, and the OB stitched me up (I had 2nd degree tearing). I’m not going to lie — all of that was no fun but I tried as best I could to focus my attention on the little one I was holding in my arms. Later, I breastfed her for the first time and they took her after an hour or so for newborn procedures on the other side of the room, before quickly bringing her back to me. Overall, it was one of the best, proudest, and most beautiful days of my life!
 
She was 7lbs 10 oz and 20.5 in long at birth, and we had decided months ago to name her Bess, after Adam’s grandmother. We knew we wanted to come up with an “M” name for her middle name, to honor my Nagymama, but didn’t decide on calling her Bess Maple until it was time to check out from the hospital, and her birth certificate was due to be turned in.
 

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How does a doula really make a difference?
Results from different studies have all suggested that having a doula reduces the overall cesarean rate by 50%, Pitocin use by 40% and requests for epidurals by 60%. The use of a doula also showed a major reduction in the length of labor due to fewer stress hormones being produced in the laboring woman’s body.

The Doula Book © 2002; Klaus, Marshall, Klaus and Kennell.