*Posted with Permission
My due date came and went without any signs of our impending birth. The day after my due date I had a doctors’ appointment at which my OB proceeded to explain all of the risk factors associated with carrying a baby past 40 weeks and told me I needed to start thinking about inducement. Up until this point I had a pretty calm positive attitude trusting in God's grace and timing. Since I wanted to try to avoid inducement at all costs, it really made me feel so pressured. The doctor basically told me that my baby was developmentally ready and would not be harmed if induced because we were past 40 weeks. David and I had learned in our birthing class that inducement could lead to medical interventions and make contractions more intense. It was our desire to avoid this scenario if at all possible. The doctor told me her baby was a week late and ended up being 9 lbs and she indicated she had a difficult labor as a result. I was really disappointed with that conversation with my medical provider because it made me doubt that I was doing what was right for baby and me. At this point I was only 1 centimeter dilated and 60% effaced.
After leaving the office deflated and frustrated we consulted our Doula, Melanie. She was a constant source of reassurance that things were happening and we should just continue to do life until our baby was ready. I am so thankful that she was there to encourage us on the journey. It gave us the confidence we needed to stick to our birth plan.
David: At the beginning I was skeptical about hiring a Doula, but agreed because it was what Karen wanted. Maybe it was delusions of grandeur thinking a Bradley class alone could prepare you for the birth day or maybe selfishness in not wanting to share the special day with anyone outside the family. I too appreciated the encouragement from Melanie, but wasn’t going to admit this to Karen.
That was on Friday and we were scheduled to come back to the OB on Tuesday. Monday morning started with contractions, we were thinking that this was the day. We decided to go for a walk to help the labor along. Instead of getting more intense the contractions waned. More of that deflated feeling. On Tuesday I had an ultrasound and everything looked great. Our baby was head down and after being checked it was discovered I was now 4 centimeters dilated. We were all very excited at that news because it showed that things were moving in the right direction. It also gave the Doctor a boost and quieted the talk about inducement. The next few days were quite stressful expecting the baby each time I experienced contractions. This was pretty much everyday from 3 am to 7am.
David: I would wake up each morning with Karen on her hands and knees enduring the contractions. I would prepare to leave the house unsure if we were going to the hospital or just going to work. At work I was not sure how long I would be there. I was coming home for lunch each day to check on Karen and the baby. Not sure how useful I was at the office that week. On Thursday after coming home for lunch I realized I had worn two different shoes to work that morning without noticing.
On the following Friday, 8 days after my due date, I started with contractions at 3am. I didn’t wake up David because I had been waking up with contractions for the last five days and didn’t know if they would go away or not. I timed them for a while and they were about 10 minutes apart but still a bit sporadic. I went downstairs to lie on the couch to try and get more comfortable and get some more sleep. I dosed off and on but mostly tried to relax in between the contractions. After about an hour I began pacing and would stop to lean on the couch or kitchen counter with each contraction.
At around 6:30am they were becoming more intense. They felt like really bad cramps. My husband woke up and I told him I didn’t think he should go to work. I decided I would try and eat something since I knew once I got to the hospital I may not be able or want to eat. I continued to walk around and stopped for each contraction. At this point the contractions were about 7 minutes apart. I got into the shower and changed my clothes. When the contractions had reached 5 minutes apart David called Melanie and she suggested I get on the toilet backward and have David help by using counter pressure on my back. We labored through a few contractions in that position then I became nauseas, vomited a few times and got back up. Melanie then suggested we walk through a few contractions without stopping. That really did the trick, we went from about 5 minutes apart to the contractions being 3 minutes apart. Trying to walk through the contractions was the first time the pain literally took my breath away. I had also begun using my voice during contractions and I was surprised at how making a low moan like noise really helped me maintain my breathing. At this point we were still going to try and wait a little while longer to go to the hospital.
David: The noise was also good indicator to me of the intensity of the contractions. I called Melanie to let her know that walking through the contractions shortened the interval. Karen was on all fours intermittently moaning through contractions. I called Dr’s office to let them know we were planning to head to the hospital in about an hour. Karen’s moaning got more intense, really intense. “We are leaving now”, I told the nurse on the phone andKaren at the same time. This was about 12pm.
The drive to the hospital was very difficult and uncomfortable because I was forced to stay in one position.
David: Which was backwards hugging the seatback still moaning intermittently or continuously; I am not quite sure. I had reservations about buckling her in the seat backwards but saw few options and was not about to start a discussion of this with a woman in labor. Wow, this is real; I drove to the hospital in awe of how calm Karen was and how upside down I felt.
We made it in good time and David found a parking place close to the entrance of the hospital. Melanie had told us to walk and not to ride in a wheel chair to Labor and Delivery. I walked in and we took the elevator up to the L & D floor. I walked to the room where I would give birth. It made me feel good to hear the nurses express their surprise that I was actually walking in to my room. Melanie met us there and immediately they got me on a fetal monitor to check the baby. The doctor came and checked me and I was 8 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced.
David: Because of Karen’s demeanor they were surprised she was this far along.
We were all very excited and I was relieved that it was really happening and kept reminding myself to trust my body. I had originally told the nurse I didn’t want an IV but the baby’s heart rate was not fluctuating enough during the contractions so they felt I was dehydrated and wanted to put me on a drip. We agreed as I felt it might help me also feel a bit more energetic.
David: Melanie got a wet washcloth and showed me how to tend to Karen in between contractions. I am glad I thought to hire a Doula I told myself J. It was good to have someone else to coach me in what to do. She in no way tried to takeover, as I feared. It was reassuring to hear her say; this is normal or to see her reassuring smile whenever things got intense. I think a Doula is more for dad then mom.
After a few hours the doctor came back to check my progress and she said I had a slight cervical lip and that I shouldn’t begin to push until I was fully dilated. She explained that my baby’s head was not exactly in the correct position and that was preventing my cervix from fully dilating. So my nurse Kristen and Melanie decided the best course of action would be to try to rotate the baby through some magical positioning techniques spurting out the phrase “spinning babies” almost in unison. I was willing to do just about anything to help speed things along. We labored in a few different positions including sitting backwards on a potty-chair and David in the stirrups holding me under the arms while I squatted in front on him on the floor.
Then they had me lay on my side with one leg hanging off the bed while they pressed on the top of my hip with their hands. This was the hardest thing I had experienced yet. The pressure was pretty intense and I just tried to focus all attention of visualizing our baby moving down and out.
David: Intense is an understatement. The look on her face and cry of pain as Kristen pushed on her hip was more then I could handle. Under the guise of informing the family who had been waiting, I left the room for a moment while they continued to torture my wife. Upon returning, I was glad to hear that it had worked and the baby was ready to come out.
After this went on for a while my nurse decided it would be good to check me again and see if the lip was still there. Thankfully after some discussion with the doctor it was decided that I should begin pushing, which I was more than ready to do. It was hard work but because of the pressure it actual felt good to push. David was on one side holding up my leg and Melanie was on the other. Everyone was encouraging me to push and cheering me on. After about an hour her head crowned and I remember letting out a scream. Then one scream and another push later her sweet little body was out and on my chest.
David: Watching that little baby being born was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I was captivated by that little person and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I was lost in amazement until one of the nurses tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I could let go of Karen's leg now.
She was so beautiful and just so perfect. Abigail Marie Schandel was born at 6:51pm weighing 7lbs 8oz. After a few moments David cut the cord and Abigail had pooped so they took her and weighed her and cleaned her up. I had a 2nddegree tear, which they stitched up while she lay on my chest. I could hardly believe it was over and she was just snuggling up in my arms. David was so amazing. He held me every step of the way. He and Melanie were a great team and helped me stay calm and feel supported throughout the whole process.
David: This is the point where Melanie’s professionalism shows. She hands me the camera, says goodbye, and leaves as the family starts coming into the room. At no point did I ever feel like she got between me, my wife, and baby. We are definitely Doula fans for life.