It was 3:30pm when I got the call.
"Um, I think my fucking water broke."
I was a little shocked, but so excited! It was my friend and doula, Erinne on the other line.
I can't speak for all doulas, but I think many will agree, that the second you're pregnant all of your knowledge about pregnancy and birth, goes right out the window.
It was only 25 minutes later when she called back and asked, "How much water is too much water?!" I giggled and reassured her that there is no such thing as too much water.
We texted back and forth as cramping began, and then as contractions set in. She eventually asked for me to come and I arrived to her home at 8:06pm. For as long as I had known Erinne she had always planned to have a home birth. Erinne had hired two doulas! Lisa, her other doula, would arrive shortly behind me.
After watching Erinne, Lisa and I decided to call the midwife and have her come as well. Erinne was having contractions 3 minutes apart lasting about a minute long. She was concentrating through them and eventually needed some help to cope with the pain. Lisa and I would take turns caring for Erinne and helping her husband Jim navigate the birth as well.
Erinne was still her funny self though, at one point screaming at the top of her lungs, "Why do we tell people to sit on this stupid ball? This is awful. Fuck this ball." and she tossed it across the room. Every time she would empty her bladder she would update us on the state of the toilet paper and say, "I want more blood!" and then talk to her stomach about letting the baby out.
The midwife arrived around 10pm and the tub was almost full. Erinne then began to vomit, she stopped wanting people to touch her, and she was falling in and out of sleep in the tub. At 12:15am there was a change in her sound. Her breaths and moans became low. She said she was having some pressure and said that she couldn't stop getting the urge to push.
At 1:15am she began pushing on the toilet and then started self pushing in the tub. She appeared to be cranking right along and we were all encouraging her to keep trusting herself. At one point she self checked for a head, but couldn't feel anything.
We tried having her switch positions, did some counter pressure, and after 3 and half hours of pushing, the midwife decided to do a cervical check. The baby was nice and low and there was still some cervix left. Erinne was a champ. She was doing so insanely well. She was an absolute warrior.
I sat up with Erinne all night as Sera and Lisa took naps on and off. Erinne was starting to get a bit annoyed but was still coping very well. We were 15 hours out from when her water broke.
At 6am after another couple hours of pushing, there had been some cervical change, and there was just a cm or more left in the front. We started encouraging positions that would help to move the cervix away from that spot. Erinne had been pushing for almost 6 hours and there wouldn't be any change about 90 minutes later. Erinne felt a bit defeated.
Erinne got back in the tub and at this point was sleeping on and off for longer stretches. Her contractions had spaced out, her body was tired, and I was worried. While the path to birth never is a straight line, I had a gut feeling that something was wrong. I've always felt a very strong to connection to Erinne and couldn't shake the feeling.
At 11:56am, 11 hours into pushing on and off with a bit of cervix left, there was no change in babies position and no change in the cervix. Sera and I went into the kitchen and both looked at each other knowing that something had to change and soon.
At 2:30pm, we encouraged Erinne to purple push while Sera tried to move the cervix away. We tried this for an hour with no positional change in baby. All of us wanted the same thing for Erinne that she wanted, but it was time. There was something going on.
Sera brought up transferring to the hospital. Erinne wasn't happy. She cried, she got angry, she cried a little more and at 5pm she agreed to transfer to the hospital. The entire time, Erinne and Jim's baby had been happy as a clam, Erinne was coping well, but something wasn't right and it would be the correct call.
We arrived to Vidone birth center, inside of St. Raphael's hospital at 5:50pm. We were greeted by a midwife that I had only met once before. She was crass. She pushed me out of the way at one point, and she didn't acknowledge anyone else in the birth space, but Erinne.
An obgyn, a resident, the midwife, a midwifery student, and 2 nurses were all in this space. The obgyn standing in front me said to Erinne, "If this baby has to come out from above, then you'll be ready to go." Erinne was confused. The midwife then said, we think you should get an epidural. They hadn't introduced themselves yet. They had casually mentioned a cesarean section, and she didn't even know their names.
I was pretty taken aback. I had never had a bad experience at Vidone, but this was certainly working out to be the first one. Erinne however, hadn't had any experiences here, and so she wasn't expecting anything special, in the same way that I was. Sera was shocked and having a hard time holding back, but there was so much going on, I didn't think any of it mattered.
I just wanted my friend to be loved and cared for and if Jim and I would be the only ones to do that, then that would have to be enough. I did agree that Erinne needed an epidural. Our bodies are really smart and sometimes if you're too tired, it will slow everything down. We were now 27 hours since her water being broken and she hadn't gotten much rest. I was hoping she could nap through the epidural and that her cervix would open right up.
They checked her cervix before the epidural placement and Erinne was still 9cm. They placed the epidural at 7:20pm and eventually Sera and I moved into the waiting room hoping they could get some rest.
I also felt that Erinne needed some space. There was so much tension amongst the hospital staff and Sera that I knew Erinne just needed a little peace. At 11pm Erinne texted me and asked me to come back in. We talked through everything in a really calm manner just Jim, her and I. She asked me if I thought a section was going to happen and I tried to explain what would happen in the event that it did.
I didn't confirm that I thought that's where we were headed, but I couldn't imagine it going any other way at this point. At 11:36pm another midwife came in and said, "I'm sorry to tell you that if I check and nothing has changed, we are heading to the OR." The cervical checked confirmed, no change.
Erinne asked for one more hour. The midwife decided to have the obgyn come in and when Erinne asked her she responded with, "Darling, this baby won't be coming out vaginally." It was so bizarre to me. No one had any empathy for this situation. We were now into an entire other day and had been stuck for all of this time and because of provider wars, everyone had lost sight of what we were all there for: ERINNE
Erinne asked for 10 minutes alone with Jim and everyone walked out. Jim texted and asked me to come back.
As I walked down the hall back to Erinne's room an OB resident was standing guard at the door. She said, "if she's ready now then I'm going in too."
I couldn't believe what was happening. I didn't want Erinne to feel anymore of this. I wanted to make sure she was at peace with what was going on. I wanted to encourage her that this was the right choice and that wasn't going to happen, with other people in the room. I asked the resident to please give me a few minutes. I explained that at this point, I thought I was the only person Erinne trusted and if there was tons of noise, I still wouldn't be able to connect. She said "Fine. 3 minutes." She walked away and I watched a nurse at the desk roll her eyes as I entered.
I reminded myself that I couldn't do what they were doing either. I wouldn't let them change my open heart. My focus would still be on Erinne and Erinne only. At 12:48am after crying together, Erinne asked me to tell them she'd like to have a cesarean.
They rolled Erinne down the hall and I helped Jim get dressed for the OR. I held him while he cried and then it got worse. A nurse came down the hall and told us that the surgery would now be under general anesthesia. Erinne couldn't get comfortable enough with just the epidural and was still feeling everything. This not only meant that Jim couldn't be present for the surgery, but that all of us, would meet her baby before she did.
It was a massive gut punch. I have never felt as defeated as I did at that birth. It still is the worst feeling that I have ever had while supporting anyone. My dear friend was having so many things taken away. I was heartbroken for her.
At 1:24am Miss Cora came earth side, entirely tangled in her cord, via belly birth. She would have her first skin to skin with her daddy, Jim who would talk to her the entire time, asking every minute where Erinne was and if she was ok.
At 2:23am they would bring Erinne back to us. She was out of it and I again watched someone take something away from her, as her baby was latched without her participation or permission, while she was virtually passed out. I then forcefully said, "Let's give her a minute please!". Erinne came to in the next 10 minutes and she locked eyes with her baby for the very first time.
Erinne would not be ok for awhile. She would work hard over months and months of time to mourn all of the things that she never experienced, to mourn the things that were taken from her, to forgive her baby and body for what she saw as failure, and to forgive all of the people who played a part in the days of her labor and birth. Erinne is an exceptionally strong and determined human being, who I am so very lucky to have as my friend.
This cesarean, was necessary, but so much damage was done because of egos and lack of preparedness. Erinne discusses her feelings here, on her own blog.