I met your mommy in January of 2011. They had recently relocated to Texas from California and she was looking for a doula to support her through your birth. She and your daddy had hired a doula when your brother Noah was born, and they knew they needed the extra help and guidance again, especially being new to the area.

We kept in touch over the months. Your family was building a house, and it was scheduled to be done well before your arrival.

Around 32 weeks your mommy had a pre-term labor scare. We thought maybe you were going to come early. So she was told to slow down and rest a lot in hopes of keeping you in longer. It was a very busy time and hard for your mommy to stay in bed all day. But with lots of help from friends and family, she was able to rest a lot, and made it to 36 weeks with no problems. At that time, her doctor, Christina Sebestyan, said if she went into labor then, it would be ok.

I had a short little vacation, so we hoped you would wait til I got back. Even those days came and went and Melissa was still pregnant!

Saturday night, June 25th, she had a lot of mild contractions while she and your daddy were at a movie, and she knew something was starting. It was not until Monday the 27th though that this story really gets going!

Melissa called me at 4am on the 27th of June to let me know she had woke up around 3:30am with strong contractions which were about 9 minutes apart. She was ok for now but wanted to give me a “heads up”. By 7:30am she called again, the contractions were getting stronger but still 10-13 minutes apart. I reminded her to rest, even sleep if possible, and to stay hydrated.

Within an hour Melissa texted me, saying they were getting really intense. She had a lot of back pain. They were getting a little closer- 7-9 minutes apart, so I offered to come. She was ready for some help! I was ready to leave within 20 minutes and texted her to let her know I was on my way. She replied they were now 5 minutes apart, was it time to go in? Based on how she sounded, even through the text, I knew it was time. We arranged to meet at the hospital instead.

I arrived a little before them, and waited. Melissa and Scott entered the hospital lobby at 9:45am. Melissa looked a little worn out, but still greeted me with her sweet smile. I hugged her and said “Let’s go have a baby”.

As we entered Labor and Delivery, Melissa was able to have a normal conversation with the nurses… she didn’t even look like she was in labor! We were taken to a triage room to assess things. As the nurse began to ask questions, Melissa started a contraction– it was obvious she was working hard, moving and moaning to get through it. The nurse did a quick evaluation and decided it was time to check her, sooner rather than later.

At 10am, Melissa was already 7cm dilated! They wasted no time moving Melissa to a labor room.

We settled in, as the nurses began getting things ready. Our nurse got a saline lock hooked up while another set up a delivery cart and got things ready for a baby. Melissa liked leaning over the bed while I pressed on her back. She used movement and moaning to cope with the contractions. It was obvious they were very intense, but she was doing an amazing job of handling them. Melissa’s mom showed up soon after, super excited to welcome another grandbaby!

Within a short time, Melissa’s contractions became even more intense. The nurse asked her to rate her pain on a scale of 0-10 and Melissa said “9”… I told her … “‘NINE’ contractions get you to 9cm”. She was doing great and I had a feeling things were moving fast. She asked, “How much longer?” I assured her she was doing wonderful and it would be quick, to hang in there. I encouraged Melissa to totally relax and pause between contractions, which she did, using her breath to stay focused. We talked about you, listened to your heartbeat. Even in the midst of a very intense moment, Melissa was able to smile, thinking about meeting you!

Scott moved in closer as the contractions intensified. Around 10:30am, Melissa felt some wetness and wondered if her water had broken? There was a small puddle on the floor. She was beginning to feel a lot of pressure, like she needed to have a bowel movement. Both the nurse and I sensed that you had moved down and were getting very close to being born, so the nurse wanted to check Melissa again.

We got Melissa into a hands and knees position on the bed, to help keep the pressure off her back. The nurse was happy to check Melissa like that– At 10:35am, she reported she was 9 cm and the “forebag” was still intact… it was possible she had a high leak which is what had broken. Either way, Melissa was doing amazing, and we knew you’d be here soon. They called for Dr. Sebestyan to come for delivery.

Unfortunately, Dr. Sebestyan was tied up in a c-section and would not be available. It was looking like things were moving fast, so they called in another OB just in case, while they notified Cathy, the midwife on call, across the street. Dr. Fitzwater came in, gloved, and ready to catch, while we coached Melissa not to push.

It seemed like forever, but Cathy did make it. Her calm presence filled the room. At that point, she said “Ok Melissa, I’m here, you can push,”. She guided Melissa to make grunting sounds so that her pushing would be slow and gentle. Melissa was still in the hands and knees position and asked if she needed to move. Cathy told her she could do whatever she wanted to do– so she kept pushing.

Even with that slow, very controlled pushing, it did not take long. We saw Melissa’s amniotic sac bulge as she pushed, refusing to break. Cathy called it the “Sack of Steel”. Finally it released, and we were able to see your head! Cathy even suggested that Melissa reach down and feel your head. She could not quite reach, but knowing you were that close brought a sweet, satisfying smile to her face.

Your head emerged first, and rotated around to make your way. At that point, lots of fluid released and the staff was able to see that you had pooped inside your mom, as there was heavy meconium in the amniotic fluid. At that point, they were in a hurry to get you out so they could suction all that yucky stuff out of your lungs. So we urged Melissa to push with all her might, which she did. You were born at 10:52am, barely an hour from when your parents walked into the hospital!

Because of the meconium, Cathy urged Scott to cut the cord quickly so they could get you to the warmer. They used a special suction device to pull that gunk out and within moments we heard your fierce cries letting us know you were fine!

Melissa kept asking for you– “I need my baby.” I stayed with her, explaining why you needed a little extra attention. She was worried, and wanted to hold you more than anything. That was probably the hardest part– having to wait to hold you. I let the nurses know Melissa needed her baby as soon as possible, and to please hurry! It seemed like forever, but finally they brought you over, and Melissa held you for the first time. All that pain was gone, only love and joy as she looked into your eyes. Your daddy was there too, so proud of your mommy and so glad you were here!

Welcome to the world, Catherine Stiles!

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Does a doula really make a difference?
Families report having a postpartum doula improved breastfeeding outcomes, increased their confidence as parents, helped them get better sleep, and improved their emotions, including reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.