Ann lined up a great team to create the most positive birth experience possible. Her previous “surprise” c-section with Cate had been traumatic and scary. She needed something predictable this time. We talked about creating a family centered cesarean birth– to help her have a positive birth experience this time around. She let Dr. McIntyre know what she needed and even created a written birth plan outlining her preferences. She arranged for a birth doula to help with the birth, and two postpartum doulas to help later at home. She toured the hospital and found out what to expect, and what her options were on the big day. She outlined her plans and communicated them clearly to everyone involved.

We arrived at 5:30am at St Davids Medical Center.  I took one last “pregnant” picture just outside of labor and delivery– this was it! Brooke was our nurse initially and helped get Ann admitted. We kept the mood light, keeping Ann relaxed through the routine stuff with a nice lavendar foot massage. Ann has asked that anesthesia get her IV set up–Dr. Fason was not available, but Joe Kocks took his place and helped get Ann’s IV set up easily. (This was a major source of concern for Ann based on previous experience!)

Dr. McIntyre dropped in too, his usual calm demeanor. Ann remarked “That’s why I love that man”. He truly was so calm, and reassuring. Nothing fazed him!

We laughed about Ann’s evening “cocktail” of Gatorade and Maalox. (yum) Jeff ran out for a Diet Coke to help him through the morning. We took guesses at how big you’d be– there had been preductions you were around 7lbs- Ann said she hoped you were bigger- she said she felt BIG! Bit by bit we got through all the “pre-op” stuff. Ann was really hankering for a breakfast taco- sorry, no food yet, mama.

Aurelia took over at 7am and photographer friend Jenn arrived. She got a few fun photos of the “before” belly– soon we’d be meeting you. The mood was light and fun- we were excited things were going so smoothly. There was lots of laughter and positive energy in the room. Ann was really wishing she could have some breakfast– “Can I just smell your coffee?”

At 7:30am Aurelia announced, “Ok, it’s time to go, Mama”. She started getting Ann out of bed. “Oh, I’m walking?” It was so different from last time! We sent her out with love and laughter, with Jenn grabbing a couple extra photos of her heading off to the Operating Room.

We had about 25 minutes to wait while Ann got settled in the OR. Jeff and Jenn talked “shop”, chatting photography stuff. I made sure Jeff was dressed and equipped with a peppermint tissue just in case anyone got nauseous during the surgery. (Ann had had horrible nausea/vomiting last time.)

At 8:00am, Jeff was escorted back to the OR by a nurse. Jenn and I grabbed the suitcases and headed to the family waiting area, where we met Jeff’s parents, who were eagerly awaiting your arrival. I let them know you’d be coming right through those doors with your daddy in about 30 minutes, and they’d be able to meet you!

I headed back into Labor and Delivery and waited outside the OR, chatting with the nurses. It didn’t take too long before I saw Jeff coming out, proudly carrying you! You had been delivered at 8:18am. You had a wonderful set of cheeks, complete with dimples, and we commented that you certainly were much bigger than expected! Jeff took you to the nursery for a little inspection and I headed into the OR to be with Ann.

She said she was doing ok– the spinal went in easily and surgery went well. The sensations were strange though- no pain, but lots of movement and pressure which was very uncomfortable. She was debating medication to help her but didn’t want to be “knocked out” like last time. I reminded her how this was going to be the hard part and to hang in there. We tried relaxation and deep breathing, visualization, and just encouragement to keep her in control. She asked “How much longer?” and Dr. McIntyre said “11 1/2 minutes”. What a joker. The anesthesiologist, Jeremy, said it would probably be about 15 more minutes. He was also very kind and encouraging, and recommended she just wait. He could give her medicine, but it would make her sleepy and disoriented, and she wanted to remember this birth. So she hung in there. I massaged her scalp and face, held her hand, and talked her through it. It wasn’t easy, but she did it.

Aurelia came back in and asked Ann how big she thought the baby was– it was a great distraction… you had been weighed in at a whopping 9 lbs 4 oz! No wonder Ann reported feeling “BIG”… your sister had been only 5 lbs at birth! We laughed that you were nearly double her size!

It seemed like it took “forever” but finally I heard them wrapping things up, getting Ann cleaned up, and they moved her to another bed. We left the OR at 8:50am and headed to recovery. As soon as Ann was settled, Aurelia asked “Are you ready for your baby?” and Ann replied yes! She was in some pain, wondering about needing some pain meds, but I advised her to wait- Baby might be the right medicine! Aurelia called nursery immediately and asked for you. Within minutes, you and your dad arrived!

We undressed you and got you skin to skin with your mama right away. You were already rooting, looking for a breast! I just barely assisted Ann with positioning and you practically helped yourself! We had you latched on by 9:05am, not even 45 minutes since your birth. And you fed for a good hour– you knew exactly what to do and what was right for you and your mom. Ann was able to relax, take a deep breath, and realize you were here- healthy and perfect. She was fully present, and had been able to ENJOY this birth…. and to welcome you into the world with love and joy!

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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.