Before I share the story of Sallie Jayne’s birth with y’all, let me begin by giving you the highlights of Hassell’s birth. To me, without knowing those details, you don’t understand the full story–why I chose to use a doula + all the differences that took place, even though both babies were born vaginally…at the very same weight. I’m going into exact details during this blog post to document my experience for myself (because we all know I’ll forget with mom brain), but also because I have been asked so many questions about using a doula/midwife team and why I chose what I did! Please feel free to ask any other questions, as I am happy to share anything I missed.
Hassell’s Birth: The Big Picture
My prenatal care was primarily done with a mid-wife (who I loved)…at a big office with multiple OBs + a midwife. From the beginning, I decided I wanted the epidural with Hassell but still planned to use the midwife. My birth plan included the epidural, a preference for naturally tearing over an episiotomy (if either had to occur), delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, a delayed bath, and “rooming in”, along with a few other preferences. As someone who loves research and has a degree in child development, I felt as prepared as possible for my delivery. I hadn’t really given using a
doula any thought and (wrongly) assumed I would be fine on my own because I was sure there would be someone to coach me. To sum things up: My epidural wore off during pushing, Daniel and I had no idea what we were doing, my midwife wasn’t there to deliver so I had an OB I had never actually met, I had an episiotomy even though I didn’t realize it at the time and it was strictly against my wishes, my “delayed” cord clamping was delayed for about one minute, and I didn’t get to experience immediate skin to skin. In the end, I had a beautiful (large) baby boy….but not at all the delivery I had in any way hoped for.
Sallie Jayne’s Birth Story
Background info: In the middle of my pregnancy with Sallie Jayne, we found out that Daniel would be getting sent to Fort Rucker, AL, for flight school with the army. This meant we would be moving 7ish hours away when I was 32 weeks pregnant (with a toddler at home, too). After panicking a little, I convinced Daniel that we needed to hire a Doula for this pregnancy/birth. I mainly wanted to use a doula in the chance that no family was able to come down in time for her birth and to have someone who could recommend prenatal care/hospitals/etc…I honestly wasn’t fully on the “you NEED a doula” train yet. I had a phone consult with Danielle and immediately loved her. She sent me tons of info on the various doctors, midwife, and hospitals in the area + helped me create a much more detailed (and educated) birth plan for Sallie Jayne. Even though we hadn’t made it to Fort Rucker yet, she was there for text/e-mail/phone support any time I had questions! Once we arrived at Fort Rucker, I met with her (even before meeting my midwife here) to go over everything we had discussed and make sure I didn’t have any other questions. After my experience with Hassell, it was important to me to choose a doctor/midwife I loved and trusted over a “well-known” facility. I chose to use a midwife (Megan) at a smaller hospital here. Everyone online absolutely raved about her and after our initial appointment with her, I immediately knew why. I discussed my first birth with her and the birth I hoped to achieve this time around. I talked with her about the decisions I had made with Danielle (as a doula doesn’t give medical advice, only support and education about options!) and asked her a billion questions. With Sallie Jayne, I decided that I wanted to have as natural of a birth as possible. I did not want the epidural, I wanted freedom of movement and intermittent monitoring, I wanted to avoid an episiotomy if at all possible, I wanted immediate skin to skin, etc. After Megan assured me that all those things were very possible, I left that appointment feeling super reassured about my decision. Danielle met with Daniel and I a couple more times before I went into labor. She helped him learn some comfort techniques to use at home before heading to the hospital and answered all the thousands of questions I had.
Sallie Jayne’s BIRTH day…
7:15AM— I woke up feeling contractions (or so I hoped) about every 10-15 minutes. I was unsure if they were “real”, as I was at 40 + 2 and had been having prodromal labor for a few days. I decided not to get my hopes up but went to let my mom and Daniel (who were in the living room with Hassell already) know. I decided to get in the shower and get some cleaning done to see what happened.
8:16AM–After showering and hanging out a little while, I was pretty sure I was in actual labor. As agreed on before, I texted Danielle (my doula) to let her know what was going on. My contractions were uncomfortable, but easily manageable and I was able to walk around/start doing my make-up in between them. Danielle answered to let me know that she would be on Fort Rucker’s base meeting with other families until about 12:30 and to keep her updated. Ironically, I thought this would be perfect–I could labor at home and then she could swing by whenever she finished her meetings. Little did we know, Sallie Jayne would be born by 12:24pm that day! I agreed with Danielle that I would let her know when my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart.
For the next two hours, I tried to get ready to go to the hospital (aka finish my make-up and hair…never made that happen, haha) and make sure everything else was ready to go. I asked Daniel to have everything ready in the car, I arranged for my mom to go get our groceries I had ordered for pick-up at Walmart and to take Hassell with her, and I tried to listen to one of the “labor playlists” I had created on my phone. My contractions became more and more intense, super quickly. I needed to focus each time I had them and really couldn’t do anything besides sit on my exercise ball I had been using during pregnancy.
10:17AM–Finally, I decided I had to text Danielle because they were coming very quickly and I needed her advice. (In my mind, my pain was mostly in my back and becoming constant, much like the back labor I experienced with Hassell. I was unsure if I was tracking my contractions correctly because everything seemed to be happening so quickly). I sent her a text with my concerns and also with a screenshot of my contraction timer. At that point, I had moved to laying down on our bed and had given Daniel my phone. Danielle immediately called but I was in too much pain to answer, so I put Daniel on the phone. He described my situation as best he could, and she immediately said she would be right over. I tried to relax (as much as possible) and close my eyes.
10:23AM– Danielle arrives at our home–Thank goodness! She immediately came back and started applying counter pressure to my back. She asked if I wanted her to check me (she’s a former L&D nurse), and I said yes! She found I was already 5-6cm dilated and 90% effaced and suggested we head to the hospital. Daniel rushed to load everything into the truck and Danielle helped me get dressed…which took a little while between contractions.
At this point, my lovely husband (I really do love you, babe) runs in the house to tell me we have to stop and get gas on the way to the hospital….y’all. If you have ever thought you wanted to kill your husband, you can only imagine the wrath I felt. Soooo to all you lovely pregnant mamas out there, be SURE all cars have gas in them constantly from 36 weeks forward, haha.
10:37AM–We head to the hospital…all the while stopping for gas, where I can just remember closing my eyes and trying to not let everyone see that I was in labor! This felt like the absolute longest ride ever. When we were about 5 minutes from the hospital, I got sick in the car and was sure (in my head) that I must be in transition because I always read that people got sick during that part of labor….side note: I wasn’t yet.
11:03AM–We arrive at the hospital, check in, and head to labor and delivery! Once I got into a room, the L&D nurse checked me and found I was at 6.5 centimeters and 100% effaced. For some reason (probably the vomiting episode in the car), I thought I would be much farther along. When she told me I was 6.5 centimeters dilated, I got super discouraged and decided I DID, in fact, want the epidural. In my head, I was only able to concentrate on the pain. Daniel reminded me that I had planned not to have an epidural and Danielle began reminding me of all the reasons I had chosen not to get one…At this point, y’all. I didn’t care. I grabbed Daniel’s arm and demanded I get the epidural. Danielle reminded me that I would have to get a whole bag of IV fluids first and be checked again before I got one. My inner voice was telling me that I didn’t care what it took–just get me the medicine. What they all knew, but I didn’t realize is that my labor was going much too quickly for me to need or have time for it. The nurse began my IV and everyone focused on helping me work through the pain.
Danielle was watching the baby on the monitor during this time (along with the nurses) and noticed Sallie Jayne was still doing great. She asked if I could be taken off the monitor for a little while (this is something I had wanted in my birth plan) and the nurses agreed. When Danielle told me I needed to get up and moving, I’m not going to lie. It was the absolute last thing my body felt like doing. She had me sit on the birth ball she brought with her, and I realized she was right! THANK GOODNESS for her knowledge and gentle encouragement because this helped me speed things along + be able to focus on the contractions, not just the pain. She gently reminded me each contraction that I would be feeling “pressure” and had me match my breathing to hers. She also instructed Daniel on how to help and support me. Y’all, this was an absolute lifesaver and all things we didn’t have my first delivery!! Unlike a midwife or an OB, your doula is there with you the entire time!
–Danielle is applying counter pressure to my back, I’m sitting on the birthing ball leaning on Daniel, and Daniel is kneeling on the ground in front of me when my water breaks! I was checked immediately after and found I was at 9cm. The interesting thing is–I felt so much calmer and able to focus during this time (even though I was super dilated). I am 100% chalking this up to Danielle’s guidance and support. When my water breaks, I realize that there is no way I’m going to have time for the epidural. At this point, I could feel my whole mindset shift. I became much more determined and “ready”…which was good because my body was feeling like I was ready to push.
12:13PM–Megan arrives and gets dressed (she came in specifically for Sallie Jayne’s birth)! She has me begin pushing just a little while later…which felt like it took forever but I realized after that I actually only pushed for 10 minutes.
12:24PM–With one last push, Sallie Jayne enters the world. The coolest part is that Megan allowed (and even encouraged) Daniel to “catch” Sallie Jayne and assist in the delivery.
She was immediately placed onto my stomach by Daniel. We waited for the cord to stop pulsating (about 5 minutes), and then he cut the cord! I pulled Sallie Jayne onto my chest for skin to skin time, and she latched easily to begin nursing a few moments later.
Our baby girl was 9 lbs 12 oz and 21″ in length….the exact same weight as her brother.
This time, I was able to birth Sallie Jayne with no epidural, all my birth plan followed, and no episiotomy (which everyone previously assured me I needed because the size of my baby). I give ALL this credit to Danielle and Megan, Danielle for helping me through labor and Megan for being an incredible midwife–super knowledgeable and patient at every prenatal visit and in delivery. No matter what kind of birth you plan to have, I highly recommend using a doula and carefully choosing your medical providers. It truly can make all the difference.
Have other questions I didn’t answer or thoughts on this post? I’d love to hear them! Please feel free to reach out to me at any time!
**All photos taken by Danielle Sollars, my doula who is awesome and additionally does birth photography! Newborn squishy baby photos below!