I met your parents in childbirth classes. They had heard of doulas and were interested in having one attend your birth. They knew having an experienced person walking them through the process would help them have a better birth experience, feel more confident and relaxed, and answer their many questions as first time parents!

The days that led up to your birth were filled with excitement and anticipation. Lauren finished work with a half day on Thursday, and worked from home Friday. She had seen Dr. A Wednesday and was told she was about 1.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced, which was a nice start. They made sure their bags were packed and everything was done, just in case. Even Sam was nesting, making sure the new thermostat was in place before you came!

On your official due date, Sunday Aug 7th, 2011, Sam called me around 11:20am to let me know they thought Lauren was in early labor. She had started having contractions around 9am that were mild at first, but they had progressed and were now uncomfortable. They were irregular still, 7-20 minutes apart, but thought I should know. I reminded them to stay hydrated, change positions for comfort, use heat and cold for her aching back, and to update me as things changed.

I texted Sam around 12:30pm, checking in. He reported the contractions were getting stronger and close, now about 5-8 minutes apart. I had a feeling things were moving along. I told him I was available to come over whenever they were ready. He wanted to check in with Lauren but said they were ok for now.

By 1:30pm Sam texted me and said they were ready for me to come. At 2pm when I arrived, Lauren was in the bedroom, sitting on her ball, soft music in the background, with her heating pad in place on her back. She was happy to see me, but I could tell she was working. They updated me that contractions were very steady now, about 5-6 min apart, and she was feeling intense pain in her back, even between the contractions. “This is way harder than I ever thought”. I massaged Lauren’s back, and helped her focus on staying calm and relaxed through the contractions. Lauren was started to feel a little scared, so I reminded her to do one at a time and we’d see where things took us.

Sam took advantage of me being there to take a quick shower and grab a bite to eat. Lauren especially liked being on hands and knees, and on the ball, due to her back pain. I suggested either a shower or bath, but it seemed like too much work, so she declined for now. The contractions intensified over that hour, and by 3pm they were 3-5 minutes apart and Lauren was ready to head in. We called the “on call” doctor and packed the car for the hospital.

We arrived at Seton Medical Center around 3:45pm. I helped Sam and Lauren get upstairs and we checked in. As we entered the labor room, Lauren had a tearful moment. I assured her things were fine, just perfect in fact, and she was loved and supported. Everything was going beautifully and I knew she could do this. Just as she was getting settled down, our nurse, Shannon came in. I recognized her from another labor and remembered she had been very kind and respectful before, and was delighted to see her. She was happy to work around Lauren’s positions, and asked about her preferences for birth. While Elise (another nurse) got Lauren’s blood drawn and saline lock set up, Shannon gently asked all those admission questions and got us officially admitted. I reminded Lauren to just focus on getting through those contractions, and all the rest of us would do our jobs! Shannon wanted to do an exam and see where things were– Lauren was already 4 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and you were a low-1 station. It was a great place to be! I congratulated her on getting so far in a relatively short time. (She had only been in “real” labor since maybe noon or 1pm!)

Dr. S was on call for Dr. A, and both nurses provided some helpful feedback about Dr. S’s style and personality. She came in shortly thereafter and wanted to do her own exam. She reported Lauren was “3-4 cm” and suggested she break her water as the bag was really bulging and it would help speed things up. We had wondered about your position so she checked that and confirmed you were facing down, which is where you needed to be. (I wondered what the source was of Lauren’s excrutiating back pain!) Lauren wanted some time to think about things before making any decisions to intervene.

Both Shannon and I agreed, labor seemed to be progressing beautifully on it’s own right now, and advised there was no “need” to move things along at this point. Lauren agreed, she was ok with allowing her body to continue at it’s own pace, plus she didn’t necessarily want stronger contractions right at that moment! What she was doing seemed enough!

Around 4:45pm, I suggested a shower to help with the back pain. Lauren was starting to feel like this was more than she could handle. I reminded her all options were available to her, and only she knew what she needed to make this a good experience. We decided to try the shower for a while and see how she felt afterwards.

Sam helped get her set up with the ball in the shower. The hot water felt magical on her back! She visable relaxed and calmed down greatly. Sam took this opportunity to go move the car into the parking garage. Lauren spend probably 45 minutes in there, letting the hot water ease her back pain, which was constant. She and I both agreed, if she just had contraction pain, this probably would be a piece of cake. But the back pain was getting worse, and there were no breaks.

By 5:30pm, Lauren decided while the shower was helping greatly, she saw no relief “anytime soon”. She knew she had quite a ways to go still, and was ready for some help. I asked her if she was read to consider an epidural, and she said yes. I let Shannon know, and asked if we could start the process while Lauren was still in the shower, and she said “sure thing”. She got IV fluids going and called anesthesia.

Within 25 minutes, Shannon asked Lauren to get out of the shower as anesthesia was on their way. Sam and I helped dry her off and just as she was walking into the room, the anesthesiologist arrived. We got Lauren into position as anesthesia got going. He easily placed the epidural, probably the fastest I’ve ever seen! By 6:05pm, Lauren was already laying down, feeling better! “This was a good call– no regrets”. She was her usual chatty self again, so relieved to have that pain gone.

Sam, meanwhile, had received notice that his parents, excited as they were, were in the waiting room. Since Lauren was feeling better, he took that opportunity to visit with them briefly. Lauren was ready to chat with her mom now, really missing her. She kept saying she felt soooo much better!

At 6:20pm, Dr. S came in to do another exam. She reported Lauren was a “very stretchy” 5 cm, which was good progress, and decided to break her water. They saw light meconium, which meant you had already had your first bowel movement inside your mom! She confirmed your position was perfect, and spent a while explaining good positioning to Lauren. I suggested it was a great time to take a nap, as there was still plenty of work ahead of us, including pushing!

Sam realized it was already 6:45pm and went to get something to eat from the cafeteria before it closed. I stayed close by, with my book, while Lauren rested…. lights out, all was quiet. Contractions were now 2-3 minutes apart, and looked nice and strong on the monitors. I had a feeling with rest and relaxation, things would move along nicely.

The staff just let Lauren rest til 7:45pm. Shannon checked her and said she was a good 6, maybe even 7cm now, and you were even lower, which was great change! We flipped Lauren to her other side to keep the epidural even. Lauren was beginning to feel more pressure, especially with the contractions. I assured her this was normal and good! It was a sign the baby was moving down. Sam sent out messages to the right folks, and went to update his parents again.

At 8:30pm Shannon returned for another “flip”.  Sam was resting by then too, realizing what a drain today had already been, physically and emotionally! Lauren was reflecting on how good all those “Last” moments as a couple had been, the “last walk together alone, just us” last night, the “last leisurely morning in bed”, the “last couple breakfast together at her favorite place on the lake”. It’s really been an amazing day, she couldn’t believe in just a few hours she was going to finally meet you!

The pressure in Lauren’s bottom increased enough for her to need to press her “bolus” button, which delivered a small amount of medicine into her epidural. At 9pm Shannon did another exam, 8 cm! She was pleased things were moving along so well.

I decided this was probably the “last” time Sam and Lauren would have together, alone, as a couple, so told them I was going for a walk to give them a few minutes alone. I went into the waiting room where I met Sam’s parents, who were eager to hear how things were going. While I was out, I ran into Penny, my favorite night charge nurse– it seemed the stars had aligned perfectly for your birthday today! We had gotten wonderful staff and nurses, throughout the day.

When I returned, Sam was deflating the birth ball, and we remarked how much we used or didn’t use from the labor bag– Sam was ready for a cup of coffee, knowing it was going to be a long night still. Finally at 10pm, Lauren was “legitimately tired” from her long day and tried to nap. She was feeling more and more “rectal” pressure which I knew was your head moving down. Sam put on some relaxing music, which set a nice mood. Lauren was a little worried about pushing, and if it would hurt. We talked about how things would go and I assured her, compared to everything else she’s done today, pushing would be a breeze! We talked about techniques to make pushing time as effective and short as possible. We also contemplated whethere Baby White’s arrival would be the official due date OR 8/8/11, Lauren’s pick. It was going to be a good story, either way!

At 10:15pm, Dr. S did another exam, and said all that was left was an anterior lip, so called her 9cm. You had moved down to the +1 station, so I knew it would not be long! I encouraged Sam to stay close, and to have some snuggle time together, enjoy the peace and quiet before the excitement begins!

At 10:40pm, while Lauren slept, Sam went out to check in with his parents again. Staff began to prepare for the delivery, getting the delivery cart in and ready, warming the baby isolette, etc. The contractions were a steady 1.5-2 minutes apart, all on Lauren’s own– no Pitocin!

Sadly, it was time for Shannon to leave, so she introduced Sarah to us who would be taking over. At 11:15pm, Sarah did an exam and found Lauren to be completely dilated, and you were very low, so it was time to start pushing. It took a few minutes to get things ready, so we rolled Lauren over one more time to even out the epidural. Finally at 11:35pm, we “officially” started pushing. It was obvious this wasn’t going to take long, as I saw your head by the second push! Lauren was a good strong pusher… she made excellent progress! By midnight, Sarah asked her to stop– we needed to get a doctor in here!

Dr. S arrived a little after midnight, and they called neonatal staff to be present for the birth (because of the meconium) We asked Lauren to do gentle “half” pushes for a while til things were good and ready. Then Dr. S gently guided her, “half push, ok, stop, ok, strong push, relax”… and ever so gently let your head emerge from your mom. You were born at 12:14am on 8/8/11!

Dr. S handed Sam a pair of scissors and he cut the cord. Because of the meconium, Dr. S handed you over to a special nurse so she could check you out, but you were crying vigorously, obviously doing just fine. So Dr. S asked the nurses to bring you right back, so you could enjoy some skin to skin time on your mom. As soon as we got you there, you immediately calmed down and started opening your eyes, looking around. Sam and Lauren couldn’t believe you were finally here! What a great day to welcome you to the world, Quinn!

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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.