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Best Birthday Gift Ever

Christie and Kevin prepared for Saavy’s birth in a relaxed and confident way- They looked forward to another positive experience at the birth center! Big Sister Steely had been born there two and a half years prior.

On the evening of May 17th, Christie called me to give me a “heads up”… she was experiencing something different- maybe early labor? She described mild contractions, 7-12 minutes apart, with pulling in her back. I advised her to consider a bath and maybe some sleep, it did sound like the beginning of something!

So I wasn’t too surprised when Kevin called at 3:00am, saying they were on their way! Labor contractions were 5-6 minutes apart when Christie was resting, but when she was up walking, they were close together and very intense. I agreed to meet them at the birth center.

When I arrived at 3:30am, Kevin greeted me at the door saying, it’s going to be fast, she’s already 8 cm! I walked into the southwest room to find Christie on her hands and knees on the bed, gently moaning through the contractions. Midwife Jenny and assistants were getting things in order – ready to catch a baby!

I had prepared Christie for the possibility of a quick delivery, in comparison to hours of pushing with Steeley. As Christie began to feel more pressure, Jenny checked and found Christie had a bit of cervix left- that was around 4:10am. She indicated it would be ok to push, as it was soft and would most likely push out of the way.

After 30 minutes of hard pushing, Christie was checked again. Jenny recommended breaking Christie’s water to see if that would help the baby move down. She also asked Christie to push on her back for a while, since a change of position seemed appropriate. Friend Alexa was nearby, anxiously waiting Savvy’s arrival.

We tried several positions, trying to figure out the best position to help Savvy make her way down. Christie asked a lot of questions… “Why doesn’t she just come down?” Kevin waited patiently, occasionally taking a quick video, while Alexa manned the still camera.

After another 40 minutes of hard pushing, Jenny checked Christie again. She confirmed there was still a lip of cervix remaining! I wondered if Savvy was trying to come in an unusual way, since most second babies come flying out of their mamas! Jenny gave us some space to work, and we tried various positions, and tricks to help Savvy find her way down. We tried the birth stool for a while… Christie was in need of some quick energy and asked for some Jelly Bellies with caffeine. Kevin tried one. “Did you taste these first, they are awful!” Christie didn’t care, she was desperate for a boost of energy.

At 5:50am, we moved back to bed, in a hands a knees position. I tried using the rebozo to gently shake Christie’s hips, so allow for the baby’s rotation. I was sure that was the only thing holding Savvy back. After just a few minutes with the rebozo, Christie said “Something felt different”. She was feeling the familiar “watermelon” feel of a descending head!

Encouraged, we moved Christie to her side, it seemed to be the position where she made true progress. Soon we could see Savvy finally making her way down! As she emerged, we realized her head was coming out completely transverse- she was facing her mom’s leg as she emerged! Amazed, we all watched as her head gently restituted completely posterior- she was facing up as she was born! No wonder Christie had to work so hard to get her through! Kevin videotaped while Alexa snapped away with the camera.

Savvy  gently arrived at 6:28am on May 18th., 2009. (My birthday too!) She was immediately placed on her mama’s belly for her first hug in this world.

Christie and Kevin, thank you once again for inviting me to share in such a wonderful and amazing event. Christie, you are an incredibly strong person, both physically and emotionally. I admire you for your determination and trust in your innate ability to give birth. Welcome, Baby Savvy!

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What a Rock Star!

Cynthia and I had been talking about how most first time moms go past their due date, and Dr. B was sure Cynthia would stay pregnant a while. Little did we know Sadie had other plans!

It was around 5pm on April 26th, 2009 while I was at a prenatal appointment with another client that I got a message from Aaron– They were at Walmart and thought Cynthia’s water had broke! I called them back and after they described what was happening, I informed them that it sure did sounds like that was the case. So I advised them to head home, pack, shower, and get something to eat if nothing was going on. Dr. Bwould want her to go to the hospital and get checked out.

They called around 6:30pm and things were starting to happen- Cynthia was having contractions about 5 minutes apart that were still “manageable”. They were in the car headed to the hospital and would check in with me later.

By 7:30 pm, Aaron called and reported Cynthia had been checked. Her cervix was already 3 cm dilated, 90% effaced, and Sadie was -1 station. Wow! Incredible progress considering she had been a “fingertip” at the last doctor appointment. Aaron said they were ready for me to come.

I arrived at 8:00pm with Cynthia on the floor on her hands and knees. She was having extreme pain in her back, so we helped her find the most comfortable position, and encouraged her to work through the contractions. Brother Russell was there too, in the corner. “I never thought I’d want my little brother here when I was having a baby!” Cynthia said. Kitty was our nurse and seemed supportive of Cynthia’s wishes for a natural birth.

As we helped Cynthia breathe and relax through the contractions, we tried to find other positions where Cynthia could rest. But the pain in her back was so bad, the only thing that felt good was leaning over the ball, or the bed, or on her hands and knees. We switched it up as much as we could to give her knees a break!

By 10pm, Cynthia reported feeling “pressure” so Kitty wanted to check her to see what was going on. She was already 5-6 cm, 100% effaced, and the baby was super low. Kitty said “This shouldn’t take long” and started to prepare the room for a baby! I suggested a shower to help Cynthia relax. She was battling nausea too- poor thing, that Mighty Fine burger at lunch just wasn’t going to stay down. After a shower, she felt better. (Aaron snuck a cheeseburger in the bathroom while Cynthia wasn’t looking!)

Within a short time, things got really tough and intense. Cynthia’s contractions started coming much closer, and she was feeling overwhelmed. She kept checking to see what time it was, calculating how much longer this was going to take. “I don’t think I can do much more of this.” Aaron finally just took the clock off the wall!

At 10:30pm Cynthia was really questioning whether she could do this without medication. She was getting “serious” about wanting to talk about some relief. I suggested we do another exam before making any decisions… it sure seemed like things were moving along. Dr. C, the on call doctor, came in to say “I am hearing great things about you!” and realized how much Cynthia was concentrating, so focused on getting through those contractions. She was on the floor again, on her hands and knees, when she said “Don’t leave, something feels different”. I asked her – did she feel the baby coming? And she said Yes! So we helped her get on the bed so Dr. C could check her.

The doctor verified Cynthia was completely dilated and ready to push! (It had been less than an hour since her last exam!) So Cynthia followed her body’s lead and pushed… Russell sat in the corner quietly with tears in his eyes, viewing the miracle of birth. I helped Cynthia focus her energy on getting the baby out… and she beautifully and gently pushed Sadie into the world at 11:08pm! She was placed on her mommy’s belly right away and allowed to stay there to enjoy her momma’s warmth and skin. Even though she came early, she breathed on her own and was perfect and healthy!

Aaron couldn’t believe she was here! “6 hours ago we were at Walmart!” Cynthia, although she was exhausted after such an intense birth, was thrilled she had done it completely on her own. (What a Rock Star!) Sadie nursed beautifully, knowing what to do right away. Cynthia snacked on her Swedish Fish while Sadie ate.

Aaron and Cynthia, thank you for inviting me to share in the day Sadie was born. It was truly a whirlwind of a day– perhaps an indication of what life is like now that Sadie is here!

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Sweet Pea

I had attended big brother Milo’s birth, three years ago, as a birth doula, So when Krisdee and Adam invited me to be a part of their second child’s birth, I was elated. Krisdee had done her homework and selected an OB group with two doctors and three midwives who practiced at North Austin Medical Center. They worked closely with Krisdee and Adam to prepare for another natural birth. I helped them formulate a birth plan, and educated them on what to expect this time around.

As the big day approached, Krisdee eagerly awaited signs of labor. Her official due date once again passed… no worries, though. The morning of 4/9/09, Krisdee emailed me to let me know she had been having mild, irregular contractions. I was scheduled to work with a postpartum client that day, so quickly made arrangements for a backup doula just in case things went fast!

I spoke to Krisdee around 8:30am, she reported the contractions were still about 5-15 minutes apart, and she was cleaning and folding laundry! By noon I checked in again, and things had begun to change. They had sent Milo to his babysitter, as her contractions were taking more of her energy than before. She was still determined to get the house clean before heading to the hospital, knowing it was the last time for a good cleaning before Sweet Pea got here!

At 3:30pm, I called Adam, and he said he was just about to call me! They had gone in to the hospital, and Krisdee was already 6 cm dilated, 100% effaced, hooray! They were getting settled into their room, and “will be happy to see me whenever I can get there”.

I headed out– traffic was a little heavy. Adam called with an update at 4:00pm to let me know Krisdee’s water had just broken, and things were getting more intense! Luckily, I arrived 15 minutes later. Krisdee was sitting in bed, happily chatting away with Lisa and Dr. Sebestyan, still smiling! She hardly looked like she was in labor at all, except for the moments she would get quiet and focus on her relaxation and breathing to get through a contraction.

Krisdee was eager to get out of bed, so as soon as nurse Sarah gave the go ahead, Krisdee jumped up and started arranging her room. She got pictures of her mom out, along with some “candles”, got her birth bag items out, etc. Within 15 minutes, there was a definite shift, and Krisdee suddenly was working hard, with contractions much stronger and more frequent.

I suggested a shower to help her relax, since we didn’t have the option of a tub this time. Krisdee slowly made her way there, stopping for a few contractions on the toilet before making it into the shower. She liked being on her hands and knees over the ball, with the water on her back. Adam changed into his trunks in hopes of joining her, but the shower was a little too cozy for two. So he supported her just outside, helping her get through those increasingly difficult contractions.

We stayed with Krisdee, helping her vocalize. She began to feel increasing pressure and Sarah was wanting to do an exam to see if Krisdee was completely dilated. She couldn’t quite tell from the position Krisdee was in (still hands and knees) but she could still feel cervix, so we just kept going.

Meanwhile I called Krisdee’s friend Karen, to let her know to bring Milo by. Tiffany was already in the waiting room, ready to be the “big brother doula” when Milo came!

Only a few more contractions later, Krisdee was distinctly pushing with the contractions, so Adam and I urged her out of the shower. (That was tough!) We were able to help her onto the bed and get comfortable on her side. Lisa did another exam and verified she was complete and was allowed to really push. Karen arrived with Ruby and Milo in tow. Tiffany assisted Milo with his headphones so he wouldn’t have to hear Mommy make all those scary sounds! Adam and I stayed close and helped Krisdee focus her energy and she gently moved that baby further down, down, down. Lisa softly guided her to listen to her body, and reassured her she was doing beautifully.

I took a moment to look around the room. Karen was holding Ruby in her arms, Karen with a huge smile on her face and tears in her eyes. Ruby’s eyes were glued to Krisdee, but she was not afraid. Milo happily sat in Tiffany’s arms, who talked to him and explained what was happening. Sarah, the nurse, sat close by, while Lisa patiently waited for Krisdee to finish pushing that baby out. The room was filled with such a beautiful and loving energy, as we all were there to totally support Krisdee through this moment.

Soon, Sweet Pea made his arrival… at 5:55pm Adam assisted Lisa in the “catch” and helped put Eliot onto his mommy’s belly. Krisdee looked down with loving eyes as she greeted her new baby with delight. Milo was so excited, he immediately said “I want to touch my baby!” and so was seated close to Mommy so he could touch and kiss his brother for the first time. The lights had remained low, all our voices had remained soft, when Krisdee, Adam, and then Milo began to sing to their new little Eliot.

It was the most precious moment I have ever seen.

It was finally time celebrate, so Milo went to work passing out cupcakes to everyone! Even Mom and Dad had one (or two). It was truly a birth day worth celebrating!

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A Long Haul

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.

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The Birth Posse

Kristen was so well prepared for this birth- she knew what she wanted and knew how to get there. She selected Dr. Christina Sebestyan as her primary doctor, and knew the midwives would also be there for support. She chose Sarah and I as doulas to help her get through it all, Kate to journal the process through photography, Jenna, the snack machine… of course, Dustin. We were known as the “birth posse”.

We knew Kristen had begun to dilate significantly well before her due date of Sept 25th. Weeks before she had gotten to 2 cm, then 3 cm. I hardly expected her to make it to 38 weeks! But she did… then, at 39 weeks, we had a “talk”… Kristen was officially frustrated, ready to not be pregnant! She had tried EVERYTHING to put herself into labor… was so ready! I suggested caster oil as a “last resort” but she wasn’t that ready! Gave her a pep talk, this baby would come when ready… she was already 4 cm, 90% effaced, “butter”, and -1… what a great start!

Later that afternoon, Kristen called. She had been having contractions since 1:30pm, radiating from her back to front, still very irregular, but have gotten stronger over time. Sounds like the “real deal!” They averaged 7-8 minutes apart. She would call back later with an update.

8:30pm. I called to check in. Talked to Dustin, they had just got back from a walk, and Kristen was in the bath. She said her back was killing her! They would call back when they needed help. I called Sarah just to give her a “heads up”, she was so excited! I let her know Dustin sounded so calm and under control.

By 10:30pm, Kristen called again, said her contractions were now 3 minutes apart and they were headed in. I notified Sarah and we all agreed to meet there. I arrived at 11pm, catching up to Kristen and Dustin as they were pulling up. Kristen was doing great, still smiling, ok to carry her own birth ball! We made our way up to labor and delivery and were put in a pre-op room for triage. Lisa came in to do an exam, said she was 5-6 cm, 90%. Contractions had slowed down once we arrived at the hospital, so Lisa went ahead and stripped the membranes to “rev” labor back up. We were moved to a room at 12:30pm and proceeded to settle in. Dustin called Kate and Jenna, they were on their way!

As the contractions got steady and strong again, we helped Kristen by dimming the lights, getting some soft music going. She was still doing great, laughing and enjoying this aspect of the labor. Kate and Jenna arrived by 1:30am, food in tow! Kate began to capture some moments on camera. Kristen sipped on some wine- was this labor or a party? We joked around- who would this person be, a boy, girl, or both? Nicknamed baby “Hermie” for now!

The hot sock felt good on Kristen’s lower belly, and her back was still achy. By 2am, she began to voice concern that the contractions had “pooped out”. We tried various things to help labor along- squatting, walking the stairs, even “went out for coffee” so Dustin could assist in ways only he can!

Our nurse, Gina, was a midwife too, so was so relaxed and laid back, it was wonderful. She remarked how “crazy” and busy it was outside, but in our room it was calm and peaceful. At 3am, we began to wonder if labor was stalling- Kristen reported being hungry, a sure sign to me her body was taking a pause. She snacked and then we walked some more…. The birth posse, chocolate in tow, was on the loose!

3:40am, Kristen frustrated things aren’t moving along. She asked Gina to check her and she reported 5-6 cm, baby very low, cervix very soft. I recommended a nap at this point, if her body was taking a break, it was time for her to do so also. We had tried everything to stir labor back up, so I sent everyone out, including me, and advised Kristen to get some sleep. Dustin at least didn’t argue with me!

At 6am, I returned, expecting Kristen to be contracting again. Unfortunately, she was having a conversation with Lisa, who was recommending she go home. Kristen was so bummed- this was not how things were supposed to go! It was decided Kristen would go home for now… I expected that she would be back in labor again within hours……


We were shocked that nothing happened all day, then all night. I went home and slept a few hours before going to my workshop because I was SURE I’d get called back Friday night… but I didn’t. The days passed, we even went to a doula meeting Tuesday and Kristen reported to everyone that she was walking around 5-6 cm dilated! (To everyone’s disbelief and amazement!) She got lots of doula love and encouragement.

And then…

On Sept 25th, a full week later, Kristen called me at 10am, to let me know she had been up off and on all night with mild contractions and frequent bathroom trips… things were cleaning out. She remained in “denial”… “I’m not going to call it labor”. She did send Dustin to take Calvin to school though. She wasn’t even timing the contractions although guessed they were 4-5 minutes apart, and some strong… wants to wait this time until there’s no turning back. Even sent Dustin to school! I called Sarah to give her the scoop.

11:30am Kristen called again, but immediately passed the phone to Dustin as I answered… a good sign, she doesn’t want to talk to me as she’s contracting! Dustin reported (calmly still) that she was contracting every 1-6 minutes, they lasted 1-2 minutes and were MUCH stronger. Kristen hadn’t been able to talk through them for about the last 40 minutes. She got back on the phone after the contraction was over. I could instantly hear it in her voice, this was real labor. She reported she was having some bloody show, so we knew there was cervical change happening. She agreed this was no longer fun, serious now, doesn’t want food, certainly no wine this time! Will still stay home for a while, might call Dr. Sebestyan’s office to see if they want to check on her and the baby. This time doesn’t want to go in until it’s definitely time to have a baby!

1:00pm. Kristen called… the office directed her to head straight to labor and delivery, so they were. Lisa was there and would check her. I asked her how she was doing and she said “pretty heavy”… good. Let Sarah know we were on the way!

2pm I arrived, met Kristen and Dustin in the driveway again. This time, Kristen DID NOT want to carry her own ball. She slowly made her way up to labor and delivery. We got in, and it was obvious to all of us, this was different. I asked Dustin if he would run back to the car and get Kristen’s music, as she was needing it to relax. While he was gone, Lisa came in and did an exam- 8 cm, 100% effaced, 0 station! Wow! We let Dustin know when he got back and all the “calm” went out the window! It was a white knuckler from here on out… Kristen kept asking him if he was ok! (We led Dustin through some slow breathing!)

Dustin called Kate and Jenna to let them know it was HAPPENING! Jenna had class and would come as soon as she could, but Kate came right over. She starting snapping those pictures, capturing those intense moments.

Kristen worked through the contractions, still able to laugh and smile in between, but during the contractions themselves she was very focused. It helped a lot to do the hip squeeze, and soon, that’s all she wanted. Neither one of us could do it hard enough, so Sarah and I pushed from both sides simultaneiously. Kristen walked and moved around, following her body’s cues. Lisa checked in around 3:40pm. Kristen reported it was getting pretty intense, and she was feeling lots of pressure, especially in her rectum, but not feeling “pushy” yet.

About 30 minutes later, things really shifted. She was having a much harder time staying focused. She was saying “it was all in her butt” as that baby moved down. Kristen remarked she was getting tired…I recommended she have Lisa check again, and possibly break her water, if that was all that was holding that baby back! Lisa came in upon request- 9 cm, very close, but it did go all the way around. So Lisa broke her water for her, and then the transition started…

Kristen immediately felt the intensity of the contractions. She needed to use the restroom, needed to vomit, much more pressure. Kristen was having a hard time managing the pain. She couldn’t quite tell if she needed to push… so much pressure? And then suddenly, Kristen, very knowingly, said to me
“The baby’s coming”…

It was time to push! Dr. Sebestyan came in around 5pm and checked her cervix. She said she had a bit of a lip remaining, but she could help her push through it… soon that baby was moving down, and there was no stopping Kristen any more! She pushed a few strong steady pushes, and soon we say the baby’s head! Dustin sat near her side with EYES WIDE OPEN… luckily, I had made him sit down! Sarah was at Kristen’s head, keeping her calm and cool. I helped hold Kristen’s leg up while she pushed. Dr. Sebestyan guided her through the crown until our not-so-little baby boy Milo was born!

He arrived at 5:20pm in the afternoon! Kristen was immediately overjoyed, while Dustin held himself steady, somewhat shocked that he was a Dad!

Milo was placed on Kristen’s chest and was allowed to snuggle. The nurse offered to take him for a moment to get his weight—8 lbs 14 oz! And he measured 21 inches long- a big baby! Kristen was so relieved it was all over!

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4th Time’s a Charm

Your mom called me at 3:00am on May 20, 2008. I didn’t expect that call to be from her- I had two other clients that were due, and you weren’t expected to come for 3 more weeks! Your mom said her water had broke at 12:30am when she was up using the restroom. The kids couldn’t believe it!

They were already at the hospital, and was 4 cm last check. She told me I could go to sleep for a couple hours, she wasn’t in that much pain. I thought she was crazy! With her history of fast labors, I told her I’d be right there.

I arrived at North Austin Medical Center at 3:30am. Liz was in bed on the monitors- Aaron was sitting on the couch. Liz had her country music playing on the laptop. She was still smiling and cheerful, but I knew that would change soon!

Liz kept saying what a bad week this was to have the baby, but I told her to get over it- you were coming! A nurse (one of many) came in to get all the paperwork done… It was a little depressing and got Liz upset. That was my first clue she was moving into active labor.

By 4am, there was a definite mood shift- Liz got more serious, said the contractions HURT! Liz was focused, slow breathing through the contractions. She worked best on her own, with her face covered either by a pillow or a washcloth.

At 4:30am, the contractions started coming every 2-3 minutes. Liz noticed a definite change- lots of pressure from your head moving down. Then suddenly there was a long pause in the contractions- I wondered- was she complete? The nurse came in and checked- 8 cm. I knew it wouldn’t be long!

Liz worked through her contractions one by one. I stayed close on one side, Aaron on the other.

Liz started to say she didn’t want to do this…I asked, “Do what?” She said “Not ready to push- don’t want to…” I reminded her gently that she needed to clear her head- and want to push you our, or she’d never get past 8 cm. Moments later, Liz announced she was pushing! Nurse Julia (number 4 in four hours) called in the “on call” doctor- Dr. Sebestyan wasn’t on call that night- we were so sad!

Dr. R came in and verified Liz was complete- then said she’d be waiting outside… Julie and I had a feeling this was going to go fast!

We got Liz a squatting bar and that’s all it took… within 2 pushes we could see your head, and Julia said “STOP PUSHING” and ran out of the room to get the doctor! Your dad, Aaron, jumped to the end of the bed and got ready to catch you. I tried to help Liz not push, but her body was doing it anyway… slowly I watched as your head emerged into your daddy’s hands. Dr. R and Julia came in, donned some gloves, and caught the rest of you! You were born at 5:28am on May 20, 2008.

You were placed right onto your mommy’s belly and cuddled and loved right away. Liz cried from joy and relief it was all over and you were here!

When you were getting your shots and eye treatment, you only fussed a little- and every time you heard your daddy’s voice, you quieted right down. He was the one who held you while the nurses took care of your mom.

Happy Birthday, Chelsea!

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A One-Glove Catch

It was a dark and stormy night… on Jan 13th, 2007. Christie called me about 1:30am to let me know she had been having contractions since about 11pm. They had been about 10 minutes apart at first, but had quickly become closer together. She said they were about 4-5 minutes apart now, and about 60 sec long, but that she felt fine and they seemed manageable. I advised her to rest if possible, and to let me know as soon as she felt she needed help! I got into the shower and made sure my bags were ready. I expected to hear from her within the hour or two, so when 4:15 rolled around, I called to check in. I talked to Kevin first, and he reported they were doing great, just keeping things relaxed. Christie also said she was ok for now, and they would keep me posted.

I dozed off for a while and got a call from Kevin around 7am, He said things had gotten a lot more intense and will be “ready for me when I get there!” I headed out within minutes. The storm was still intense, with a ton of water on the streets. The sky was filled with intermittent lightening. I had to take my time to make sure I got there in one piece!

I arrived at the house about 7:45am, and found the front door open. Christie and Kevin were upstairs. As I joined them, I saw Christie on the floor on her hands and knees with her ball, talking on the phone to her parents! As a contraction came, she had to stop talking and concentrate on what she was doing. Kevin explained the contractions had taken a little slowdown since he had called me, but Christie said they were definitely more intense than they had been earlier in the night.

I asked Christie if she had eaten or drank much during the night and she had not. So I recommended she get something in her to give her the energy to keep laboring. She drank some water and had some yogurt smoothie. We sat on the floor together, gently rubbing Christie’s back during the contractions. Kevin pondered whether this baby would come in time for him to keep his 4:00pm massage appointment!

As the morning progressed, Christie tried napping in between contractions. They were 6 or more minutes apart, but lasted a full 2 minutes. Alexa called and took breakfast taco orders! Kevin decided to check out the infant carseat and make decisions about which car he’d be installing it in! Nothing like waiting til the proper moment!

We meandered downstairs. Christie had a small bowl of cereal while the rest of us enjoyed our breakfast tacos. (Thanks, Alexa!) Christie noticed the contractions peak in intensity with the upright position and walking around. Alexa asked about videotaping, and once she discovered their camera hadn’t come in yet, rushed home to get hers! She began her photojournal of the labor as we talked about birth stories- Alexas, Christie’s mom, mine.

11:00 am Kevin finally conceded and cancelled his massage appt. We were into the 12th hour and Christie was feeling a little nauseous with the contractions. The rain had subsided and we began to talk about how the car ride to the Birth Center would be… at what point would Christie decide to go in? We had headed back upstairs so Christie could rest. I placed a pillow under Kevin’s head and recommended he get a little rest too.

Joan from the Birth Center called, letting us know she might be transporting another patient to the hospital, and wondered what was going on with Christie. I talked to her briefly, and we decided it might be a good idea for Christie to come in and be checked, and then we would know where she stood. So we packed up and hit the road. Luckily, it was a nice break in the storm , so it was chilly, but not pouring as we drove.

We arrived at the Birth Center around 12:30pm. Joan checked Christie’s cervix and said she was 5-6 cm, and “buttery”. That was great news! Everything looked good, so we decided to stay. The other momma was pushing in Christie’s Southwest room, so we got settled in the Victorian room. I continued to offer fluids to Christie, and recommended she get something to eat. Frozen yogurt sounded good, so Kevin headed off to Costco to get some! The contractions were very intense for Christie, but still 6-8 minutes apart. We talked about possibly trying to bring them closer together to help the labor move along. Christie wasn’t sure she wanted them much closer!

The afternoon progressed with Christie leaning over with each contraction, calmly breathing and moaning through them. Alexa arrived at some point, with full reinforcements of food! Kevin had set up his ipod station and we had beautiful classical music playing. The other momma finally delivered her baby after 4 ½ hours of pushing… What a relief. It seemed like the energy changed, and now it was Christie’s turn. Joan recommended a vaginal exam around 3:45 pm to see what was going on. Christie’s cervix was dilated to a 5 on the right, and a 7.5 on the left. So I advised her to try some “assymetrical” positions, or laying down on her right side to put more pressure on that side of the cervix.

Laying down wasn’t Christie’s favorite position, but we took the opportunity to get the IV in place for antibiotics. Christie tried to relax in bed, but the contractions were very intense. At one point, she announced she was going to be sick- and she did. I had a feeling we were entering transition! We got Christie into the shower where Kevin and Joan stayed close by. Alexa and I cleaned up the bed and put fresh sheets on in anticipation of the birth!

The labor definitely intensified. Christie’s contractions were now coming every 2 ½ minutes. We got her into the tub, and she was able to relax better. She liked still being on her hands and knees while in the tub. Kevin and I were by her side, helping her stay calm and relaxed. Alexa continued to offer verbal support and occasionally took a few pictures. Joan came in around 5:15pm to listen to the baby. Christie was feeling pretty overwhelmed and asked how long Joan thought it might be to delivery. Joan said she thought it could be another 3-4 hours! Well, I looked at Kevin and Alexa and couldn’t believe she had said that! I was sure she was in transition, and felt she’d be ready to push very soon. Well, that freaked Christie out, and she lost it. Kevin softly asked if he could have a few moments alone with Christie. We all quietly left for a few moments. I think Kevin had to give her the “straight up pep talk” because when we re-entered the room, Christie was calmly laying in the tub, head down near Kevin, breathing through the contractions again.

Christie began to feel a lot of pressure, and some early sensations to push. Joan checked her cervix at 5:30pm and said she was 9 ½ cm- there was only small lip remaining on the left side! She even said she could probably push through it if she wanted! Christie continued to work with the contractions, gently pushing when she felt like it. Within about 30 minutes, her urge to push became stronger, and she got more into it. She tried various positions pushing in the tub, but after a while there, Joan recommended she get in the shower to try to get gravity to help more. So Christie left the backtub and began squatting in the shower. Her bag of water was still intact, and Joan thought she saw some meconium, so advised Christie to let her break it. Kevin stayed in the shower with Christie, with Popsicle reinforcements, words of love and encouragement!

At 8:00 pm, it was time for Joan to leave. Rosewitha was the midwife coming on, so Joan gave her all the details, said goodbye and wished us well. Rosewitha came in with a fresh perspective, and really cheerleaded Christie into pushing harder. We tried several positions, pushing on the bed, on all fours, but Christie’s back was really hurting. Rosewitha recommended trying to push on the toilet, so she created a “birth chair”. Christie felt too lightheaded there, and really wanted to squat again, so we led her to the end of the bed.

Rosewitha left for a moment and I watched Christie’s progression. I was really seeing the baby’s head better now and let Rosewitha know she had made some good progress. Rosewitha checked herself and agreed. Little did we know that something had dramatically changed, because suddenly I heard Rosewitha urgently saying “don’t push, don’t push” and I saw little Steely’s head emerge! Christie was still squatting at the end of the bed, and with only one glove, Rosewitha caught Steely’s body at 8:51 pm before the hit the floor! Alexa somehow figured out what was going on, and grabbed the video camera and started filming. Christie reached down and pulled her littlle girl to her. I grabbed a stool quickly and placed it behind Christie, and covered Steely with a couple towels that were laying on the bed. Where Christie and Rosewitha had ended up, Rosewitha couldn’t reach any of her supplies! She called for assistance, as we carefully led Christie to bed.

Christie delivered the placenta soon after, while the umbilical cord was clamped and cut by new Daddy, Kevin. Alexa, who had maintained composure during most of this, was managing to take pictures and videos while crying! We hugged each other, and congratulated the new Mommy and Daddy on their beautiful little girl!!

Christie brought Steely to her breast and they began the process of learning feeding. We all were amazed at Christie’s strength, determination, and sheer courage to make it all the way through that long journey. Steely Horne-Lalande was born after almost 20 hours of labor to the pure joy of her parents.

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24 Hours- But worth it

Sadiebirthday 039
Sadie resting on mommy shortly after birth

Susan called me the morning of 10/23/06 at 6:15 am saying “I bet you didn’t expect to hear from me so soon!” She had been having contractions since 12;30am, mostly 5-10 minutes apart, just wanting to give me a “heads up”. I advised her to rest, maybe take a bath, and we would check in again after I got everybody at my house off to school.

Susan called again at 8:15 am, saying the contractions had become closer- about 3-5 minutes apart, and were stronger. She was ready for me to come! I arrived at 8:30am, with Susan relaxing on the couch. She had been monitoring her BP off and on and it was a little up, but under control. We talked about how the night had passed. Dr. McNellis would be in later today and was on call for tonight.

As Susan labored, I helped her stay relaxed, using the lavender and hot sock on her back. Harris stayed close by, timing contractions, and wondering at what point we would head to the hospital. Susan continued to labor, moving around some, leaning over the ottoman. By 10am, Susan was beginning to wonder if we should be heading in. Harris convinced her she’d be more relaxed at home and we decided to wait for a while.

Susan continued to work with the contractions as they became more intense. We put on the ocean waves CD which helped with her relaxation. Harris made some lunch for himself, and some toast for Susan. The contractions were about 3 minutes apart, so it was hard to eat! Within an hour, Susan felt the intensity of the labor change, and she felt ready to go to the hospital!

We arrived at NAMC around 1:20pm. The nurse checked Susan’s cervix- she was 4 cm, 100% effaced, “just like cellophane”. Harris went back to the car for all the stuff- they wouldn’t be sending her home now! Dr. McNellis checked in around 2:30pm. Susan’s contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart and strong. Harris stayed by Susan’s side, massaging comforting, encouraging her.

Susan and newborn Sadie cuddling as family admires
Susan and newborn Sadie cuddling as family admires

By 3pm, Harris started making phone calls- Jill came in as our new nurse. She was very friendly and supportive of Susan’s wishes. Over the next hour, Susan began to really feel exhausted from the labor- she hadn’t slept all night and it was catching up to her. She began to wonder if she would need pain relief. Jill and I suggested a check to see how far dilated she was… she might be farther along than she thought. Jill checked her cervix and said she was still about the same- 4 cm. This was heartbreaking to Susan, who had just worked 3 long hours. She decided an epidural would be the best option for her at this point, to allow for some rest.

Susan had an epidural in place by 5:30pm. As her pain was taken away, her spirits lifted, and she was ready to talk. I helped reassure her that her choice was a good one, and hopefully things would move along! I encouraged both of them to rest, but they were too excited. At 6pm, Jill checked Susan again ahd she was already 5 cm, and the baby was 0 station.

Harris went out to update his parents, who had driven in from Ft. Worth. Now that Susan was on the epidural, she felt more ready to “receive” visitors, so invited them in. They were fascinated with hearing Sadie’s heartbeat and watching Susan’s contractions on the monitors. We admired cute going home outfits and baby blankets!

By 7:30pm, Harris and his dad went downstairs for a bite to eat. I stepped out to make a few phone calls, and by the time I got back at 8pm, they had checked Susan again- 6 cm, and had broken her water to help things move along. David, Harris’ friend, also came in to provide encouragement. Everyone enjoyed talking about birth and their own stories and experiences. I could see Susan starting to really show signs of exhaustion, so strongly recommended we all leave and let her and Harris get some sleep. They agreed, so we all stepped out. I checked back in a little later and found Harris zonked out on the couch. Susan had been dozing off and on. She was feeling more pressure, probably the baby moving down. Our night nurse, Erin, checked her at 9:40 and found her to be 9 cm and +1- Yay! Great news! I ran downstairs to report to Mom and Dad and David, who were ecstatic. Harris at that point, was too excited to sleep more! He knew his girl would be here soon!

Susan was complete and started pushing a little before 11pm. She had good leg control and was able to use a variety of positions for pushing. Her back was really bothering her, so we tried squatting, on her hands and knees, and finally side lying. At one point, Erin explained that Dr. McNellis would be going into a c-section in the next 10 minutes, so she either had to push harder and deliver, or wait until Dr. McNellis was done to continue pushing. Susan certainly didn’t want to wait and Erin felt we could have this baby soon! So Dr. McNellis came in, and Susan gave it her all. She delivered Sadie Alexis just before midnight!

Sweet Sadie
Sweet Sadie

Sadie was put into her mother’s waiting arms, and both Susan and Harris cried with joy! Susan said she couldn’t believe something so beautiful came out of her! Sadie truly was a perfect little girl- weighing in at 7 lbs and measuring 19 ¼ inches. Her cries settled down as soon as she heard her Daddy’s voice. After a few moments in the warmer, she was brought to Susan for her first nursing.

Susan and Harris, thank you so much for inviting me to share in the wonder of your daughter’s birth. It was a long and hard road but after all was said and done, you ended up with a perfect little girl to enjoy!

With Warmest Wishes,

Shelley Scotka, doula

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The Fabulous Labor Tub

This story began around 10:30 pm on Sunday June 26th, 2005, one week after Krisdee was “due”. Krisdee called me and said her water had broke while they were out to eat with friends! They were on their way home… we talked about options and what might happen from here.

Adam called around 11:00 pm and said they were planning to go to the hospital because there was meconium in Krisdee’s amniotic fluid. He also mentioned that Krisdee was beginning to labor on her own, which was great news! He would call me when Krisdee felt she needed help.

I slept off and on until about 4:00 the morning of the 27th. Adam reported that they had checked Krisdee earlier and she had been 4 cm and 100% effaced- yay! Said things were getting more intense and they were ready for some help.

I arrived at 4:45 pm at St. Davids Hospital to find Krisdee in bed resting with Adam by her side. The lights were low and music softly played in the background. Krisdee was doing a beautiful job coping with the more frequent surges while Ari set up the labor tub. Krisdee’s blood pressure was up a little so we worked on some relaxation and foot massage with lavendar to help help bring it down.

Around 5:15 am, the tub was ready… and so was Krisdee! I recommended a bathroom break before getting in, so she took her time and labored on the toilet for a while. Adam stayed with her and talked her through the increasing surges.(Drinking his Pepsi to help stay awake!) It had been a long night already!

Sonja the nurse was very helpful and supportive, taped up Krisdee’s IV so she would be able to submurse it in the water. Krisdee just melted in the water and said it felt great! Around 6:00 am, she reported feeling “a little pushy” but didn’t “want to be messed with”. I recommended staying put and see if that feeling lasted. Adam stayed right by the tub while we continued to play soft music and encourage Krisdee through her labor.

At 7:00 am, Dr. M came in and was very positive and encouraging, but was worried about Krisdee’s increasing blood pressure. She urged Krisdee to lay on her side to see if we could bring her BP down naturally, otherwise she’d have to intervene. So despite the fact that laying down was very difficult for Krisdee, Adam helped her breathe through the surges and I massaged her and tried to help her relax. Things seemed to be moving along well!

By 7:30 am, Krisdee was having the distinct urge to push and was having a very hard time resisting. The nurse checked, and Krisdee was about 8 cm but the baby was very low, that’s why she was feeling the strong urge to push. We encouraged her to keep blowing through the surges a little longer—soon it would be time to push! I reminded Krisdee she was in the most difficult part of her labor and it would be over soon! Adam stroked and encouraged her with every surge.

Within an hour, Krisdee was completely dilated and was given the “thumbs up” to push! She started on her side, moved to her hands and knees, tried side lying again. Pushing was much harder work than expected! The nurse suggested squatting, so with Adam on one side and me on the other, we supported Krisdee through some squatting, despite her pulled muscle in her leg! Squatting was really effective and before long, the baby was making his was down… slowily crowning. Krisdee asked for a mirror so she could see her progress and reached down to feel the baby’s head! She was amazed! Adam watched as Milo emerged into the world at 9:59 am on Monday June 27th, 2005.

Because of the meconium, Milo required some immediate suctioning and attention, but before long was in Krisdee’s arms, heppy and healthy! Adam couldn’t believe he was here and he had a son! Both Adam and Krisdee just sat back and relished the moment, realizing Milo was here and they were a family!