My phone rang around 2am and it was Courtney. She thought her water was broken and after a few questions, I agreed. I had prepared her for the possibility of this taking a while. While our favorite 90’s family films often suggest your water breaking in a restaurant, everyone running through a hospital door while you huff and puff and then you quickly push out a toddler sized being covered in ketchup, this is NOT reality.
In 2020 my first time birthing clients who had their water rupture prior to labor, didn’t have their babies in their arms until 44 hours later on average. Usually requiring lots of induction methods to get their babies out. (The longest in 2020 was 106hrs from water break to baby!)
However, Courtney’s birth wouldn’t fall into either category. Her lovely midwife would have her wait a few hours to see if things got started on their own. After some time Courtney would head into the hospital, to start induction methods. Courtney’s cervix was 1cm dilated and her effacement was less than 50%. They discussed a cervical ripener to help make some effacement change and had her order a meal prior to beginning the process. Around 11:30a the midwife came back to place the ripener to discover Courtney’s cervix had now thinned to 80% and pitocin would be a better next step. Courtney hadn’t felt any contractions and her midwife had a similar conversation with her letting her know this could take some time.
I told Courtney that I would start to head her way once she started to feel something or later in the day and she thought that was a great plan. However, birth is never predictable and the situation would change quickly!
Less than an hour later Courtney would tell me she was starting to feel something and then her husband would send a follow up text 10 minutes later at 12:38pm, saying the midwife suggested I come, and luckily I was already en route. I arrived to the hospital about 15 minutes later and the covid screening line had 40+ people ahead of me. ANXIETY!!! I slowly told each person why I was there showing them John’s text that the midwife had suggested I come to the hospital and they allowed for me to go in front of them.
I walked into the room at 1:11p and heard Courtney deeply moaning in the shower. She had been on the lowest dose of pitocin possible and it had now been shutoff as her own body had taken over. The nurse said, “well she’s either moving quickly or she’s going to need some medication to help her cope”. Courtney was coping beautifully from my standpoint and as I entered the bathroom she told me she was hot. I suggested coming out for a few minutes to cool down and her midwife set up a birthing stool. I mentioned to John quietly that I thought a baby would be coming soon and his eyes widened. Courtney nodded her head in agreement as she lowered her body onto the stool. John sat behind her rubbing her back and Courtney rested her upper body onto mine. The midwife tucked a birthing ball under me so I could be at her level. I whispered reminders of relaxation to her and she asked me if I thought she was doing well. She was doing amazingly well. She was trusting the process and her body in a time that could have felt scary for her. Oftentimes when labor moves quickly like this, it can feel overwhelming for the birthing person, but Courtney was calm and in the birthing zone.
Just a few moments later Courtney would begin to push while on the birthing stool and asked to get up. She climbed onto the bed and it was obvious that she was fully dilated and began to push more on her own. It was 1:44pm. The midwife and nurse began to give Courtney some pushing tips, but Courtney looked into my eyes with a bit of hesitation. I whispered to her that it was ok to take a break and not push if she needed a minute to adjust to the fact that her baby would be here soon. She grabbed my hand and nodded. She would breathe through the next contraction and block out the chaos around her. She needed to come back to the room first before engaging. She grunted through the next contraction and then, on her own time, began to bare down for the next one. The head began to crown and Courtney would bring her baby earth side at 2pm. A surprisingly short amount of time for a first time birthing person as well! (Average pushing time is close to 2hrs!).
John shouted, ‘It’s a girl!”. He looked at me, while his wife and best friend held their crying baby and welcomed her to the world and said “I can’t believe it”. I replied, “You’re someone’s Daddy now.” and he began to cry.
Courtney said just a few minutes later as everyone was discussing how surprisingly fast everything went, “I felt really prepared and knew what to expect during each stage and I’m so thankful for that.” A doulas dream response!!
Isla James was born on September 4th, almost 3 weeks before her suggested due date and weighed just a little under 6lbs. She is a little bundle of true perfection. She has no idea yet, but will eventually learn how lucky she is to have been born to the most adoring and loving parents that may ever exist.