The Doula Who Didn't Want a Natural Childbirth

I spent most of my second pregnancy researching what my actual risks and options were.  I'd delivered my first baby via a pristine C-sec for a frank breech (butt first) presentation.   Within six months of that delivery I became pregnant with twins and increasingly irritated that "everyone" around me was presuming I'd have another surgical delivery.  I learned how to navigate ACOG's position statements and familiarized myself with Cochrane research.  I spoke to SEVERAL obstetricians, and while 200 hours on the internet does not make a medical degree, I DID learn a lot and began to form a strong opinion about how I wanted to give birth.

In a nut-shell, I learned that there wasn't a whole lot to learn about VBAC of twins less than 18 months after C.  I learned that there IS a body of evidence in which outcomes of such births are cataloged and analyzed, but that ethically there never was and never will be a clinical trial with repeatable results defining the actual risks.   What I could define- my relationship with my care provider and my actual rights as a patient and a human person. How I gave birth to my first baby had a large impact in how I parented.  The birth of these twins would be no different.  Where I could influence the outcome for myself and my children I wanted to do so, and where I could be a part of the decision making about my children's and my health I wanted to be so.

Whether those children were born VBAC or not actually played very little into the point of the story.  The outcome of that birth resulted in a mother who was glad she'd done so much research and two more healthy babies.  

Believe it or not the twins' birth is only the beginning of the story.  Because of that experience and that research and so many interviews with area OBs I had a bit of information to share.  I trained to be a doula as soon as possible, and began talking to women about having CHOICES in birth as soon as I could..... considering I was parenting 3 children under 2.  Life moved on and years passed.  I became pregnant with my fourth child.

The fourth would be birthed at home, amid colleagues, sisters and friends.  I'd been to enough births, natural and home, interventive and hospital, to know that a good birth is different for everyone.  For me this birth would be free of the combative discussion and inconsequential compromise that I'd experienced in my previous labor.  The pattern of labor followed the "normal for me" of water breaking in early morning, a small lull before contractions began and then a steady build up.  At some point my smile and joy for the impending birth faded, replaced by exhaustion and dread of the next contraction.  Labor became laborious and my own belief and resolve began to wane.  I began to approach the peak of labor where my own mind and decisions would yield to the instincts of my soul and body.  Where only the voices of calm and confidence from those around me could keep my rising panic at bay.  I was at the point of realizing I was having a natural intervention free labor.  I can say, the scheduled birth of a cesarean baby is less painful than a natural childbirth. The recovery is more painful for cesarean but I wasn't facing recovery in those moments on March 22nd.  I was facing a pain too great to contemplate.  I was facing the memory of giving birth with drugs that could make all this overwhelming feeling go away.  

Image by KaelaAnn Photography

Image by KaelaAnn Photography

I asked about transferring to a hospital.  I was told we could absolutely go if that's what I wanted to do.  Yes, that's what I wanted to do.  The doula wanted to go the the hospital to get an epidural to make all the pain of her labor go away.  I was told there would a few things that needed to happen in order to transfer me.  First I would need to get down the stairs (but they would help me).  Then I would need to get in the car (but they would help me)... or wait for an ambulance and be strapped to a gurney for transport...  It was about this moment that I stopped listening.  The stairs would be a herculean task, the car was out of the question.. I'd rather give birth here, and we all knew that I would likely have the baby before the transfer could be completed.  The dream of an epidural and end to the pain of the moment was squashed.

I labored some more, the baby descended. My doula, my spouse, my midwife, my friend. They supported and loved me through the most difficult part of the birth.  I was held. I was assured.  I was reminded of all that I knew and needed to give birth. I had a boy on the floor of my bedroom that evening. Surrounded by love and warmth.  Of course I was glad to have had him at home. Not because the choices for drugs were far away, but because I had known from the start that I would have nothing but support for the kind of birth that I wanted. 

I still find it marvelous how when I said I wanted to go, the midwife had no hesitation.  The doula and the assistant only helped me along as I processed what information I'd need in order to get what I had wanted.  How fantastic it is that I had nothing but love and SUPPORT throughout my desires for birth!  I hope you do too.