Thursday, July 2, 2009

To support, not save

That's one of the biggest things I took away from my doula workshop that I took in April. My job as a doula is to support the woman in labor, not to save her. But, I have to say that its harder then it sounds.

I thought I'd be good at it, since I'm not super duper anti-meds. I'm okay with a hospital birth (especially since in AL, this is what I'll mainly be working with). I'm okay with an epidural if that's what a client wants. I'm okay with most things that come up if the client wants them.

However, I do have one weak spot. One spot that I get super passionate about. One that makes me tear up when I think about my clients going through it. Can you guess what it is? Those of you who know me personally can probably guess... A C-section.

This is my Achilles heal when it comes to being a support not savior. Because, if I could, I'd save everyone who came in contact with me from this. I really would.

So, when. after 35 hours of laboring with my client (she was 9 cm, but the baby was still at a -1 and her body had stopped contracting on the pitocin), the dr. came in to inform us that she would most likely have to have a c-section, I went into the hall and cried. Me. The doula. I went into the hall and grieved for my client. In that moment, I realized why they told us that phrase- support not save.

If I could've, I would've saved her.

Instead, I realized that no one else in that room could possibly be as good of a support as I could. While I didn't labor nearly as long, I know what it feels like when your body doesn't do what its supposed to do. When things don't go the way you planned. When you realize that they are going to "take" your baby from you instead of birthing it on your own. (And, for the record, I'm mainly talking about this kind of c-section. Not other situations. I'll explain what I mean later...) I have been there. So, I went back in, held her hand and basically told her what to expect. We talked about the c-section itself. We talked about recovery. We talked about how she'd have a baby in just a bit. We laughed about what color of hair we thought she'd have- and if she'd have any.

When we were finished, I went into the hall and called my mom and E. I asked them to please pray that something would happen between that moment and went he dr. came back in. I prayed like crazy. Asking God for a miracle.

You know the neat thing? He answered all of our prayers. He answered them through a nurse. The nurse that, only an hour ago, had written my client off as one who failed to progress. The nurse who told her that things didn't look good. She came back into the room and said- hey, lets try to push with this little contractions and see if I can get you to dilate to a 10. Then, the dr. will give you a bit more time.

This is where it gets cool. She pushed with her tiny contractions, (they turned off her pitocin and started her back again 30 minutes or so later. this helped with the baby contractions) and the nurse worked the cervix over and over again. A little while later, the nurse said she was 10 cm, with a lip. So, my client pushed some more, and the nurse worked some more. After a while, the lip was gone.

The dr. comes in now, checks her pushing, etc. and says "good work! lets keep it up". She pushed for 2.5 hrs. Good, hard, pushes, too! The nurse convinced the dr. to use the vacuum. Two more contractions and the baby was born!

It was such a turn around from 3 hrs prior, that it just took all of our breath away. I mean, we had packed up everything in that room to get ready to go to the OR. Everything! I can't guess what went through that nurse's mind, but I have to believe it was God breathed.

So, that was my experience for the last two days. It was tiring, it was exhausting, but in the end- so worth it.

Before my marathon birth, I had a sprint birth on sunday. I don't want to share too much, since I haven't talked with her about what to share. But, it was a wild and crazy birth! My client did great- got to 10 cm with out medication! Walked into the hospital feeling the urge to push. Baby wasn't really handling the contractions well, and it turns out the baby was breech! So, they did end up doing a c-section. From the time we got to the hospital until the time they did the section was just about an hour! Super fast! The baby was is sweet. Just a doll.

Here's where I'm going to explain what I mean about the c-sections. In the first situation I described, there was a lot of hard work involved. Mom made it to 41 weeks, had to be induced, labored, and was 9cm. So, the c-section would've been because of "failure to progress". That's what I hate. It just feels like its the mom's fault. Her body wouldn't do its thing right, etc. You "failed". I just hate those terms and that kind of c-section. It just makes me sad.

However, when there's an emergency, or breech baby, or other issues that directly link to the mother or baby's health- they don't make me so sad. A section is a good thing in those cases. (Maybe not desirable. I mean, I don't know many moms going in to have a natural childbirth who WANT to end up in a c-section.) I'm not even saying that in the first scenario, that it wouldn't have been necessary or that I think its wrong. It just has a different "feel" to it for me. Because its similar to what I went through, it makes me feel bad.

That's where I have to remember to support and not save. Its not my job to save. I'm just there to hold her hand...


Erin said...

I'm with ya, Tracey! I feel the same way!

d e v a n said...

I'm so glad that everything turned out well!

The Chit's said...

Ok, so I actually started crying as I read your post...very moving..from someone who had done both vaginal and c-section..I TOTALLY understand!

Photogrl said...

Beautiful post.

No doubt that God had a hand in that birth.

As someone who experienced a emergency c-section, I would have LOVED to have someone like you at my side. I bet I wouldn't have felt half as much guilt over my body failing.

Jenny said...

That is an amazing story!

I took a doula class years ago, but never finished the certification. I am like you, I am not anti medication. However, the thought of forceps or a vacuum make me sick!

theresa said...

Aw I can see where you come from. As a c-section mama myself I've come to terms with my body and my births and I don't feel like I failed at all. With James it was malpresentation/failure to progress and with Bennett I scheduled the surgery. I think the term 'failure to progress' just sounds awful IMO. That's a big part of where the guilt comes in. I'll probably have another section when hypothetical possible baby #3 comes along, but even though it will be planned I wouldn't mind a doula holding my hand. <3