Bari: hospital birth with doula

Bari’s Birth Story 2009

I had my first baby, Luca, at the Hospital la Catolica, and we had intended an all natural water birth.  The pain got a little out of hand, and although he birthed vaginally ,with epidural and the help of some great nurses, it wasn’t the experience I had hoped for.  My mantra was «be open to all outcomes», and I was, so we moved forward with our little baby boy.

When I became pregnant again, a bit over a year later, I was scared to try again for my «all natural water birth», even though it was what we really wanted.  I kept remembering what happened during Luca’s birth and thought maybe I wasn’t strong enough or that I shouldn’t be attached to any particular outcomes…  I was convinced by several strong women that I had to envision my ideal birth if it was to happen, so I tried to change my attitude.

My labor with Alexa was completely different.  My husband and I decided to make love one morning (38 1/2 weeks) to see if we could speed up the process.  I was tired of my big belly and wanted to see if my new baby would be a girl or a boy!  About five minutes after we were done, I started to have Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Or so I thought.  They came punctually ever 4-6 minutes for about two or three hours.  I ate breakfast, took a short walk, played with Luca, and they kept on coming.  They were not painful, but regular, so I called my doula to discuss it.  After another hour went by she convinced us to head into the hospital.  There was still no pain at all, but the regularity couldn’t be mistaken.  We were in a great mood, laughing, as we went to the hospital and got stuck in mid day traffic.  The frequency began to increase, and the discomfort.

As soon as we got to the hospital, everything changed.  The contractions subsided and the discomfort as well.  I was only 3 cm dilated and since there were less contractions they couldn’t admit me!  I read about this- when a woman changes her environment or has a stranger enter the room, the labor stops or reverses.  Well, we didn’t want to drive all the way home, so we went downstairs into the small hotel courtyard and began to walk.  As soon as we were alone, and we began walking, the contractions returned and stronger than ever.  We had to stop every couple of minutes to get through them.  After about an hour we called the doula to come and meet us there.  As soon as she arrived, the same thing happened!  The contractions lessened and almost disappeared.  It was crazy!

We decided to go back upstairs to check my dilation and I had advanced to 4cm.  Not too encouraging.  They put us in a room anyway, and we got settled in.  Put on some soft music, the doula rubbing my feet and my legs, and we told our story of how we met and fell in love.  I was so relaxed that the labor almost completely stopped… or so it felt!  Finally I thought, «enough of this!» and I got up and started walking around the room.  Almost immediately the contractions returned and strong!  I climbed up on the bed, leaning forward over a birthing ball.  They were coming stronger now, and I would breath through them saying, «open……  relax……..  move…..» and move my hips in circles.  All of the sudden there was a «POP!»  My water broke!  After that, everything accelerated so fast!!!  The contractions, the pain, WOW!!

The doula was behind me rubbing my back, and my husband in front of me holding my hands.  Both were incredible.  After a while the doula suggested that I move into the shower, that the hot water would help with the pain.  It was hard to think of moving anywhere, but they helped me.  I sat on the birthing ball in the corner of the shower, leaned my head against the wall, and let the water pour over me.  It was so intense…. so painful…. and I just let my voice take over.  With every contraction I moaned and yelled as loud as I needed to…  so loud!  I remember thinking between contractions, «wow, this is embarrassing», but when they came strong and hard I didn’t think about it at all.  It actually made me laugh when the pain would ease.  I also remember that with my first birth one of my problems was that my mouth and jaw and hands were so tense, so I tried to keep them relaxed this time, shaking out my hands and fluttering my lips.

After a while in the shower they needed the water to fill the tub.  I did not want to leave the shower but had no choice.  The ball was moved to another corner of the bathroom and me too.  The doctor finally came and checked my dilation- 9 cm!!  All of the sudden my legs wanted to move out from under me and I needed to get off the ball.  I pushed it out of the way and got on my hands and knees… I didn’t think about it, my body took over and made the decision.  I remember saying, «the baby’s coming!!», and everyone freaked out.  «You can’t have your baby on the floor of the bathroom!  Get in the tub!»  It was barely filled up, by the carried me into it and I started pushing.  I wanted to push hard and strong but the doula told me to do it softly, to breathe out in short hard pushes so as not to tear.  It was insane!  It hurt so much and I just wanted a strong person in front of me to tell me what to do, how to do it, and the doula was incredible.  After about 15 minutes, out came Alexa, swimming!!!  My husband climbed into the tub with us and I remember feeling the biggest relief a person could ever imagine.  My little girl in my arms, my strong man beside me…  I felt like a warrior.  The next several hours were tiring, but magical… the most magical of a woman’s life.

beautiful baby Alexa