Cheryl and Jason prepared for this birth in every way they could. They took childbirth classes, read books, carefully selected their caregiver, and hired a doula. (That’s me). This is the story about Nash’s birth from my eyes!
Cheryl called me at 6:20am on Wednesday 3/11/09 to let me know she thought her water might have broken and she was having some cramping. It turned out to be a false alarm! But those cramping sensations got progressively stronger as the day went on. I had a feeling a baby was on the way.
We touched base Thursday morning. Cheryl reported the contractions were stronger, and more regular- about 5-10 minutes apart. By 1:30 that afternoon, Jason called and let me know they were about 6 minutes apart, and “stopping Cheryl in her tracks”. There had been a definite change. They would keep me posted.
Around 2:30pm, Jason and Cheryl were deliberating heading into the hospital. Cheryl was having to focus on the contractions, which were now about 5 minutes apart regularly. I reminded them that it was probably pretty early still and it was ok to stay at home a while longer. I called and talked to Jason again around 5pm, and he reported they had decided to stay at home for now, but Cheryl was in a lot of pain. I offered to come to the house to help her relax and cope with the contractions more effectively.
I arrived at the house at 6pm. Cheryl was sitting backwards in a chair. I helped her learn to relax her body and mind more effectively. She reported the contractions actually felt less intense! We played around with some positions. I felt Cheryl’s belly and told her I suspected the baby might be posterior and encouraged her to use positions that would help him turn. I also recommended a bath, and some sleep. After a couple hours there, with contractions still about 5 minutes apart, we all decided I was not needed and I headed home.
Jason called at 11pm. He said the bath worked! The contractions were now 3-4 minutes apart and they were heading into the hospital. I joined them there by 11:45pm. They were in triage getting all checked out. Lisa came in and did an exam- Cheryl was about 3 cm and very thinned. She gave them the option of staying or leaving. Cheryl was ready to settle in, so we moved to lucky room number 7 and got ready to have a baby!
Our nurse Dehlia was wonderful and supportive of Cheryl’s wishes for a natural birth. She encouraged Cheryl to have intermittent monitoring, and to move around as she needed to. Because Cheryl was so exhausted already, I encouraged her to get comfortable in the bed, upright, and to nap between contractions. She would need her energy later. We dimmed the lights, turned on some soft music, and let things unfold.
By 1:30am, the labor intensified. Cheryl was nauseous again, but the peppermint oil sure helped. Jason stayed by her side, comforting her and helping her relax. I could hear them talking softly together between the contractions. A shower felt great a little later– helped Cheryl feel energized and ready to go on. Dehlia was a little concerned about the baby’s heart rate so asked Cheryl to stay on the monitors a little longer so she could keep an eye on things.
By 3:30am, Jason retreated to the couch for a little nap. Cheryl liked sitting in the rocking chair, using her breathing and relaxation to cope with contractions. She was amazing. By 4:30am we started talking about wanting another exam to hear her progress. Lisa came in at 5am and reported Cheryl was still about 3 cm, although she could “stretch” her to 4cm. Lisa suggested either breaking Cheryl’s water to intensify the labor, or possibly an epidural to help Cheryl rest. After debating the pros and cons of each, Cheryl decided an epidural sounded like a good idea.
By 6:30am the epidural was in place and Cheryl was able to relax and rest. Lisa broke her water, reporting she was still 3-4 cm, very thin, and baby was -1 station.
By 7am it was shift change, so Dehlia left and Rina came in. It was quiet and everyone was sleeping so she just checked in with me. She encouraged them to keep resting and to let her know if they needed anything.
By 9am, Jason was up and ready for coffee! He went to get something to eat and drink. Cheryl was anxious to hear what was happening so asked about an exam again. Cathy checked her and said she was still about 3-4 cm, very disappointing. I asked her if she could tell which way the baby was facing and she confirmed what I had suspected- our baby was facing the wrong way. That would explain the slow progress. So we got Cheryl on her side and started pelvic rocking to encourage him to rotate around.
Our little guy sure liked the movement! Baby’s heart rate went up every time we rocked his mama. Even with the epidural, Cheryl had lots of feeling and mobility, so we were able to get her on her hands and knees and do some “shaking the apple tree”. Cheryl said it felt good, and we were encouraged it would help the baby turn.
By 10:15am, Cathy was curious if the contractions were really as good as they looked. She asked if it was ok to put an internal pressure monitor inside Cheryl’s uterus to more accurately measure the contractions. It would tell us if that was the reason for slow progress. Cheryl was ok with that. As Cathy inserted the pressure catheter, she did another exam, and reported no change. We kept up the rocking, with Miles Davis in the background, hoping this baby would find his way.
The afternoon unfolded, more rocking and shaking. Jason was getting really good at finding the baby’s heart beat on the monitors! Cheryl started getting uncomfortable again around noon. We tried shifting her position and that worked. Rina came in to check on things– Cheryl had a little bloody show which I reminded her was good news, hopefully the cervix was making change! Cheryl had felt the baby move quite a bit, so we hoped he was making his way around. Jason found some sandwich wraps in the fridge and helped himself! Meanwhile I gave Cheryl a foot massage with lavender, rosemary and sage, to bring on stronger contractions. Cheryl was having to focus a little to get through the contractions, but was ok with it.
Rina was incredibly supportive and encouraging, trying to keep this as normal as possible even though Cheryl was on an epidural. She allowed us to move around and do everything we needed. We kept changing positions as the baby let us know when he wasn’t happy! Some oxygen and more fluids helped every time.
3pm After a nap, Cheryl was ready to move around again, so we shifted back to hands and knees. Jason was catching a quick nap again. Cheryl rated her pain as 6 or 7 on a scale of 1-10 which made us wonder if her epidural was working any longer? Rina asked her to push her bolus button several times but it didn’t seem to be helping. Some of Cheryl’s contractions were 2-3 minutes long and strong! It made me wonder if she was transitioning? I suggested another exam to see.
Cathy checked her cervix and reported she was 6-7 cm and very stretchy, baby even lower at 0 station. Baby was transverse now, so we knew he was making his way around! We all breathed a sigh of relief– true progress was finally being made! Jason was up again, took a few pictures and videos to document the day. Cathy rubbed Cheryl’s feet awhile, then pressed on her back to help with the contractions. By 5:00pm, Cheryl was overwhelmed with the labor again, and exhausted, so requested a re-dose of the epidural.
After the re-dose, Cheryl was able to fall asleep…. she needed some rest if she was going to push out this baby! Jason stepped out to make a few phone calls and update friends and family. We kept the lights dim, the music soft, and the aromatherapy going. Everyone who entered our room kept saying how nice our room smelled!
It was 6:45pm and Cheryl was feeling more rested. She requested a mirror and comb so she could brush her hair! She was beginning to feel more pressure and I assured her it was all good- that baby was moving down!
At 7pm, we were all resting and Heidi came in– she was taking over for Rina! I had worked with Heidi several times before and was thrilled to have her on our team. She helped us freshen up the room, the bed, got all Cheryl’s cords untangled. It was nice to feel like we had a fresh perspective and fresh start.
Cheryl was feeling very comfortable with the epidural. Jason went on the hunt for another wrap for dinner, with Cheryl giving him a hard time. “I’m a growing boy” he smiled. Jason took a few more pictures, documenting the day. We started adding up the hours– 24 hours of labor at home, 20 hours at the hospital so far!
At 8pm, Cathy did another exam. Cheryl was 8 cm on one side, almost complete on the other. She recommended some side lying to help the cervix finish dilating, but this was so encouraging! Baby was still transverse, so we knew we needed to continue to work him around. Cheryl was feeling the contractions again, so asked for another re-dose. We continued to switch left and right sides, and Jason and I took turns rocking Cheryl’s pelvis.
This re-dose made Cheryl very comfortable, so I encouraged her to rest. It would be awhile before pushing, but I reminded her how much work that was going to be! She was going to need every ounce of energy she could muster up.
At 10:30pm Cheryl was having very long painful contractions, almost continuously. She had to ask for a 3rd re-dose for her epidural. I hoped this would be the last! We started wondering if this baby was coming on Friday the 13th, or if he would hold out and make it to his official due date, the 14th. It might be close! Another exam – Cheryl was 9.5 cm and baby had moved to +1 station- we were so close!
Within an hour, Cheryl was complete and ready to push. She was so tired, as Cathy asked her to push, Cheryl just felt she couldn’t, it was too hard and too painful. I had do “tough love” and remind Cheryl the only way to end all this pain was to push that baby out, and so she did. It was a long haul, but Nash Spencer Baldridge finally arrived at 1:17am on Saturday, March 14, 2009. Jason hurriedly cut the cord so they could take Nash to a warmer, as he needed a little attention to get going. It had been a long and exhausting day for him too! Within 10 or 15 minutes, Nash was brought over to his mom for the first time, where she cuddled him skin to skin. She and Jason were thrilled he was finally here!
Cheryl and Jason, I want to thank you for inviting me to share in the day(s) that brought Nash into your lives. Although it was a very long and exhausting process, I think you did an outstanding job managing your labor, making smart choices to benefit you and your baby, and doing the best you could with a tough situation. I feel honored to have part of that process.