Devon, my first was born by emergency cesarean at 34 weeks. As a doula I have worried about how my client’s cesareans would effect me. I wrote about it in my post Emotional Aspects of Being a Doula.
It is amazing to see how the Lord has eased me into my client’s cesareans. The first was not an emergency and was actually the one I was most emotional at (well, after mom got into surgery). The second was an emergency, but I stayed calm and handled it really well. (I was nervous how I might react in a situation like that, due to the emergency situation of my first birth, would it all come flooding back?) Well, the last birth I attended hit a little too close to home.
But maybe the Lord eased me into that as well, in that I missed the emergency part. I didn’t actually think of this until right now as I was writing. I had been feeling so guilty I missed it, but maybe it was a tender mercy of the Lord that I did.
I taught Hypnobabies to J. and S. They are young and such a sweet couple. They hired me as their doula too. It was weird because I kept feeling like I wouldn’t be at their birth, I knew my DH was going to be out of town for a time over when they were due, so I assumed maybe it was related to that. I had a back up doula lined up that they had met and they were ok with that.
I was at a Father’s Day picnic, we were playing Baseball and having fun. So I didn’t notice I had gotten a call until I got home. If J. had been 37 weeks I would have had my phone in my pocket, but she was 34 weeks and the only mom I had due, so I wasn’t really thinking anything would happen.
Anyway, when I do check my phone around 9pm, after getting my toddler into bed and into my pj’s, I see I have a message from J.
She says, “I think my water broke, or it is a lot of bloody show. We are heading to the hospital.” The message was left at 7:30. No other calls. I have this sinking feeling in my gut. I call the hospital. The nurse says, “She is staying, she doesn’t need you anymore and there is no one for you to talk to.” That is all she will say to me. I tell her, “I am coming in.” In my heart I am thinking, Placenta Abruption, she is having a cesarean. DH tells me I am overreacting. But I just KNOW. All I can do is pray that she and her baby are going to be ok as I drive over to the hospital.
I get there by 9:30 and the nurse says, “You can wait in her room.” She won’t tell me anything else. So I wait in an empty room. I pray, I think about Devon’s birth and pray some more.
They get to the room around 10. Dad explains that they were playing video games and mom started bleeding a LOT. They came to the hospital and pretty much went into surgery about 30-45 minutes after they got there. Mom had time to get an epidural, so she was able to be awake. The nurse explained that there was partial placental abruption. J. is in shock.
I hang out with her while dad goes to make phone calls. I was glad I could be there for that. I love this hospital because mom doesn’t have to go to recovery room, she gets to be in her bedroom with dad and doula. Usually baby is in there too if they are healthy. I remember being ALONE in recovery, scared to death and so alone.
Dad wants to go see baby. But nurse keeps calling NICU and they say they are still working on baby. It isn’t until 12:30 that the Neonatologist comes in.
Parents were worried about possible brain damage. The baby’s strip looked good and baby came out crying and moving well. Dr says that he isn’t worried about that at all. Baby is intubated and having trouble breathing. Pretty typical for a 34 weeker. Dad goes to see baby and I hang with J. She is actually doing really well pain wise and is just a bit shocked at what has happened. Once Dad gets back, they say I can go home.
So I do. The experience hit a little to close to home. Devon was born at 34 weeks by an emergency cesarean. I totally know that empty feeling, where is the baby, he should still be in my tummy, etc. Shell shocked is a good word. Then the empty arms, being alone in a room while my baby is in a Box down the hall. The feeling of the baby belonging to the hospital and I am just visiting him, putting him back in his box when my visit is over.
I went back on Tuesday, I brought some preemie outfits. Baby was doing better, but ended up spending a few weeks in the NICU.
I felt HORRIBLE that I missed their call. In all honesty I may still have missed the birth, because I would have had to go home to get a different car and then get to the hospital. I may have made it in time, but I may not have been allowed in for the surgery. But still, I wish I had been there for them. Though, now in retrospect, maybe it was better for me and them I wasn’t. Would I have been able to keep my emotions at bay?
I was fine while I was there for them. But I have not accepted any clients since this birth, I just refer them to other doulas. I did have a goal to attend 6 births this year and they were my 7th birth, so I feel good waiting until next year to have any other clients. But if this had been a nice normal birth, would I still turn others away?
It was just a reminder of how unpredictable birth can be. I still Trust Birth and believe most births can be normal. But sometimes emergencies do arise and I have to be able to support moms through those births as well as the “easy” ones. In some ways I am blessed because I have a unique point of view, having gone through it. But in some ways this is a challenge, to clear my emotions for each new birth. To let parents have their own experiences and just be there to support and share their birth with them.