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“I wanted to give birth as opposed to being delivered!” -Ricki Lake
Take charge of your birth, ladies! You are the woman who is carrying this baby, not your care provider. Own your birth and relish in the birth-high that follows as your baby comes earthside. Those moments are pure bliss.
The BirthStory of Rainbow
(Trigger warning: This story contains content about a previous miscarriage and the healing journey of her Rainbow baby that followed.)
This is the Birthstory of Rainbow, my precious doula baby. This birth was the most unique and inspiring birth I could have ever hoped to attend in my journey as a doula. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
My client, Lucy, hired me months before the birth. After talking over her desires and expectations, I was hired onto her birth team. During our first prenatal visit; I met with the entire family and got to see them in their birthspace – at home. Lucy was planning a homebirth, with hopes that she would be able to have her first waterbirth. Their family consisted of her and her husband, a son and two daughters. Lucy had previously had a miscarriage and themed her pregnancy with “Rainbow,” which is a baby who is born following a loss. The gender was left a surprise until the birth. We talked over her birth plan that involved her midwife, Emily, who I know quite well. Emily was also my midwife, another reason Lucy and Joel felt I could better serve them. Emily was at the initial prenatal visit and we were all able to openly talk about our roles, share excitement and prepare for the big day! One interesting thing about Lucy was that she had delivered her three previous children all in her 37th week of pregnancy. Her pregnancies were like clockwork! I marked June 17thand the week surrounding it and left with anticipation of what was to come. Have I mentioned how much I love being a doula? It’s pretty incredible supporting families through such an intimate time in their life! 37 weeks came and passed, as did 38, 39 and 40. We were all a bit surprised, but we knew that Rainbow would make his/her appearance when Rainbow was ready. There is a reason that babies come on their own timing, and Lucy respected that.
Because we had assumed that Rainbow would come a bit earlier, I had scheduled to attend a rebozo workshop with Gena Kirby at The Farm. (Yes, The Farm with INA MAY GASKIN!) I was due to leave in a little over a week, and Lucy and I talked over my back-up doula attending the birth in the event that I was unfortunately not able to make it.The thought of missing a birth didn’t sit well with me, so I was prepared to push it to as late as possible. 13 hours before my workshop- the time it takes me to get from my house to The Farm in TN. On July 15th, just days before I was scheduled to leave, my friends took me out for a birthday dinner. Lucy and her lovely belly bump came and showered me with love. We both agreed that we wanted to meet Rainbow soon! For those who know me, you probably know that I love Astrology. What is this doing in a birthstory? Bear with me… I had read my Susan Miller horoscope earlier in the month and it mentioned a few momentous days. I asked Lucy at the table for her horoscope sign so we could read hers. I skimmed down the page and noticed we both shared something very, very rare. A golden triangle, July 17-19th in a water sign. The horoscope said to “Circle July 17th-19th in GOLD” Quick question! What comes at the end of a Rainbow? …A pot of gold? Hmm, what a coincidence! 😉 This golden triangle was a big deal. It’s very rare for Saturn, Neptune and Jupiter to all align in water signs. So rare in-fact, it’s nearly impossible. You have a better chance of winning the lottery! To say that the stars were aligned would be an understatement.
As my last days of being in Texas were approaching, I was getting nervous. Lucy and I had plans for me to come over and work on acupressure to see if we could get any of her spontaneous contractions to stick. She decided she needed to get some rest, so we pushed it one day back. Later in the day she went to visit her in-hospital midwife (CNM) for a non-stress test. Everything was fine! Baby was healthy, placenta looked great, fluids were in perfect range. Baby Rainbow was just safe and secure in the womb, who would want to leave that? As she was leaving her appointment Joel told her to look in the sky. There was a full rainbow visible from one side to the next! Lucy updated me via text that she was having light spotting, and mild contractions. I didn’t sleep a whole lot that night, constantly waking up checking my phone. A doula’s biggest fear- to miss “The Call.” No updates had been sent throughout the night.
I woke up at 6:00am on my own (that never happens-ever!) with the feeling that I should start getting ready. I had an instinctual feeling that I was going to be needed for the birth soon. I was finishing up nursing my daughter when I got a text:
Lucy: (6:22am) “I think this is it…not 100% for sure”
Me: (6:23am) “I was just wondering, want me to head that way?”
Lucy: (6:23am) “Yes”
Ahh, the sign! When a client is being short in any form of communication, it’s time to get on the road! I finished getting dressed, grabbing my bag and headed out the door by 6:45. I had a little under an hour drive so I arrived sometime between 7:30-7:45ish. I got my things out of the car and proceeded to the door. Upon walking to the door I could hear low moaning. I quietly knocked on the door, not wanting to disturb anything until it was okay for me to come in. I believe Joel answered the door, and I went and set my things down in the kitchen. Lucy was lying down on her side on the couch with her friend Lisa holding her hand through contractions. I washed my hands and said hello to Emily who was there as well. I squeezed behind Lucy to offer her counter pressure as she breathed through the waves of contractions that were coming just a few minutes apart. She started to feel nauseous and threw up a few times. This was the sign of her being in transition, as she had previously told me about. I made a few cool washcloths and put peppermint oil on them, and placed them on her arm and back of neck. The smell can help ease sickness, but ultimately it was a good sign that she was progressing as normal. I had asked Joel where the cup was that she wanted (she wanted a specific one) and he filled it with bottled water. We brought it to her, reminding her that she needed to stay hydrated. The birth photographers had text her phone, which she was obviously not acknowledging because she was in labor, so I relayed the message that they were 20ish minutes away. Lucy had started to request that she was ready to get in the pool, but the midwife and Joel were working on cooling it down a bit. Lisa and I supported her through her contractions and then Sarah arrived. (She is the midwife in training under Emily) We all told her that she was doing a wonderful job and that Rainbow would be here soon. She was already so far into meeting her little one that she had to just fight through this last phase to finally meet her baby. Soon the pool was ready and we all made our way into the bedroom. We helped her undress and get in the pool. She labored beautifully and showed such strength through vocalizing with each contraction, flowing with the intensity not fighting it.
The photographers arrived and started to capture all of the details surrounding. With each contraction I leaned over the pool, which was very high, and offered counter pressure to help relieve her back labor. In between I would offer water and help dry off her arms from the pool water being so high. There was a moment in between contractions where Joel and Lucy leaned on each other, so I quietly stepped back allowing them to have a moment with each other. Here they were, the ones who created this life, I wanted them to share that and for it to be captured through pictures and video.
The moment faded away as another contraction picked up, Lucy instantly calling out my name. I continued to do counter pressure over the pool.
She said that she was feeling hot so I made more washcloths with peppermint oil, and also placed a small amount on her forehead and neck. I would gently blow on her, hoping to cool her down and allow her to melt into relaxation. She had a cervical check and was almost fully dilated. She asked Joel if he wanted to get in, and offered me the option of joining as well. I decided to hold off and support her from the side of the pool.
The water in the pool was too high for anyone else to get in, already spilling off the side she was leaning. We attempted to slightly drain it…which was not working. Lisa helped scoop some of the water out with a bowl and Lucy continued to become closer and closer to the end. She mentioned she wanted to get out and try the birth chair, the chair that she had always preferred giving birth in. It offered her security, balance and optimal positioning. Joel got out to work on the pool, fix the cameras and change into dry clothes. In between a contraction, I came into the pool when she requested that I push harder on her lower back. Being in the pool was much more beneficial to apply pressure because I was at a perfect angle. She checked her own cervix and would attempt to feel the head of her baby. Eventually she decided she wanted on the birthing chair so we got out. I tried to pat myself off with a towel and went behind her waiting for the next contraction.
What seemed like a lifetime must have only been a few minutes but her labor had completely stopped. No contractions! It was if her body was telling her to get back in the water because she WAS going to achieve her goal of a waterbirth. She decided to get back in and I followed in with her. I can tell you from being in there, it felt nice. The water was warm and the pool was comfortable! I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I had been squatting behind her and Lucy sat on my legs. I could instantly tell it helped her feel grounded and she could focus on pushing, not searching around for what to grab. I supported her weight and continued to offer pressure. She had mentioned that she was having pressure from behind, so I looked for a washcloth and applied gentle rectal pressure. Most moms would never ask for someone to do that, it’s usually too embarrassing. I know… I was one of them. I also know how big of a difference it made so I could effectively push without worry that I was baring down in the wrong direction. I followed her subtle hints and decided to try it out, hoping it would ease her mind so she could focus on getting her baby down. So here I am with her on my lap, while applying pressure on her back with one hand and pressure on the backside with the other. A doula is support, in all forms. In whatever form that family needs us to be.
She started to bare down and I could literally feel the pressure and energy radiating off her body and skin. To be that close to a mother giving birth is indescribable. There are not words that come to mind that would accurately tell you how powerful and life changing that is. As she pushed, her energy became apart of me. She had leaned back, fully allowing me to support her body as she birthed the head of her child. Joel and her held hands and he also caught underwater footage!
Within the same contraction she pushed out the rest of the body and allowed Rainbow to swim up to her, offering Rainbow a gentle and easy transition into the world.
Rainbow was earthside. She did it! She had her waterbirth! Now, to find out after 41+3 days if it was a boy or girl…. A GIRL!
We had to get baby under the level of the placenta to allow blood flow and to get her oxygen going, so I lifted Lucy up. The midwives stimulated her and she let out a cry. Lucy and Rainbow sat in my lap so they could be above the water level and the new mommy nursed her sweet baby. While the big brother and sisters loved on her from the side of the pool, she stayed on mama’s chest.
At one point Rainbow had her tiny hand reaching back and holding my finger. It was such a sweet moment to connect with her. “Happy Birthday” I told her!
I left the birth feeling so inspired and honored! When I woke up that morning, I would have never guessed I would be in the pool when she was born, let alone supporting Lucy from such a close intimate distance. I don’t know that I will ever get to experience something like that again, so I am soaking it all in. What a cherished memory for myself, the family and for Rainbow to look back on!
Update: After much consideration, the family decided to name her Emersyn Lake.
I wanted to also add a big THANK YOU to everyone who has left such kind comments towards my support for Lucy. I truly appreciate it! I love being a doula and it’s nice having support from the birth community. I feel inspired and can’t wait for my next birth. Bless you all!
Photo credit: NHance Photography
Doula – Laney Sweet of The Birthing Tree
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