It warmed my heart to receive a message from Kelsey sharing they were moving and could I help direct her to an OBGYN office because she was expecting baby #3. It always tickles me to hear one of my former Bradley Method® student couples are expecting, but especially exciting, because it was one of my couples from Charlotte, NC. Andy had accepted a ministry position very close to my own home town of Loganville. Kelsey had heard I was back in Georgia starting a new Doula Team. We planned a Doula Consult meet up at the Chik Fil A in Bethlehem. I had the privilege of seeing both big brothers, David who is now 3 (declined to join our photo) and Josiah now 20 months over some chicken nuggets and fruit. It's funny really to see how that side of town has grown. I shared with Andy in my 41 years of growing up in Loganville, Ga no one ever went out to Bethlehem except to mail our Christmas cards. May sound funny to some, but think of the significance of that birth. Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem to bring forth life in a manager to our Savior. The King of Kings! No doubt, we have it easier today when it comes to the conveniences of birthing indoors, free of animals, a clean bed, room, etc. and even have assistance by medical personnel in what is commonly known today as a Labor & Delivery suite.
However, those of us who understand God designed our body for "giving birth" often have an idea of how we would like to endure our labor of love as expressed in the bible in John chapter 16 verse 21... for when the woman is in travail/labor she is un-joyful (Really Lord I don't think un-joyful properly expresses our efforts when drug free), but as soon as the baby is born her heart is full of JOY and she can remember the pain no more. Much like the normality of the birth of Jesus, as healthy women carrying a healthy baby we should be able to experience the normality of birthing. It doesn't have to be a medical procedure to have your baby rid from your body. In fact, most educated couples who understand how the body works during labor and birth prefer quite the opposite. Its fear of the unknown that leads women to solely rely on someone to "deliver their baby" those of us who have properly prepared for birth and know what to expect and how to work with our body actually prefer the birth to be free of unnecessary medical interventions. Therefore, the baby is NOT quote "delivered from our body", we as strong supported women, "Bring forth Life!" Much like Mary in the manager, but with medical help available, should it be needed, however, unlikely.
On Thursday, February 15th around 2:06pm I was notified Kelsey was having some mild cramping. I encouraged her to eat well and try to squeeze in some extra rest just in case. Friday around 10:25 am Kelsey text me an update that she was still cramping but no defined noticeable contractions. She ended her text with "Baby Luke is still cooking!" LOL My next update was Thursday, February 22nd 11:37am poor thing was feeling as if her hips were going to pop off...she only had relief by full squats or straddling a chair... the things children put us women though. Bless! We talked about natural ways to relieve those poor hips. Kelsey said, "This must mean I will have a baby tonight right?" If only it worked that way.
Baby Luke's escape the womb story began early Saturday, February 24th @ 12:55am when Kelsey's bag of water burst. Andy was busy like Noah after the flood except instead of wrangling the animals up, he was wrangling all the wet linens! Yes, Andy excelled at his Labor Coach job and was ever attentive to her laboring needs.
He was just overly eager, now that the water had broken to arrive at their chosen birth place sooner vs. later because of Kelsey's unpredictable labor patterns.
They phoned me at 2:16am the contractions had started and were 45 seconds in length but 2-3 minutes apart with constant cramping in between. I encouraged them to get their sitter squared away just in case things picked up. I went ahead and dressed and packed my things because interestingly the day before I had a feeling another baby was coming and not knowing if I would be heading to Charlotte, NC or birthing here I had packed a suitcase just in case. Oddly, because I rarely ever dream just two nights earlier, I had caught a baby in my sleep. Some find what I call my discernment radar interesting, I find it to be quite accurate most of the time. Little did I know what was to come.
But first, a little history of how men returned to such valuable work in the U.S. In Denver, Colorado, Dr. Robert A. Bradley, an OBGYN fought long and hard back in the 70's to get husbands into the delivery room and for that often ridiculed he continued to fight for the normality of birth saving medical intervention for those clients who truly needed them. For that, willing supportive men like Andy, still thank him to this day and consider it a pleasure to assist their wives through such meaningful work. Dr. Bradley noted the Hawthorne Effect and how a supportive husband could do way more for his laboring wife than any amount of medication. No doubt Dr. Bradley would've been pleased that even to this day couples like Kelsey and Andy can find a local class and literally train and learn how to give birth naturally. I am fortunate to still teach this valuable class. Not only does it help couples bring their baby into the world keeping the focus on the natural process saving medical interventions for those who truly need them, but it helps strengthen marriages & family bonds and best of all produce healthier babies and healthier moms from valuable nutrition and exercise plans when if utilized even though we have variations they do not have to become complications. Interestingly, Dr. Bradley never wanted the class / method called, The Bradley Method®. He thought it should be called, "God's Way!"... he would say, What I applied with great success in my practice of 94% of couples birthing drug free was learned on the farm in which I grew up not in medical school. All of nature imitates sleep, pulls away from the other animals to a quiet spot where they can labor uninterrupted, the time in which many labor varies greatly and in an unmedicated labor things can be quite unpredictable. Relaxation equals progress... it is amazing when mom remains in a relaxed state of mind, assuming good positions what an unmedicated uterus can accomplish.
Here the couple is utilizing the stroking technique, one of my personal favorites. Andy uses his fingertips and by hovering over the skin or in Kelsey's case, stroking over her hair every so gently is one of the many useful relaxation techniques they learned years ago in their initial Bradley Method® childbirth training.
Andy and Kelsey are once again living examples of the John 16:21 journey. Kelsey was working hard, but trusting in both her own body, the support of her husband and by making good decisions following informed consent she stayed her path to achieve her birth plans for baby # 3.
Now back to Baby Luke's grand entrance, upon arriving Kelsey was 6cm dilated, after approximately 30 minutes of monitoring, we began our positions to progress labor. As in the popular movie line from Star Wars, "The force is with you" for Kelsey, Andy and I, it became quite literal statement. After several position changes and ever growing in intensity contractions she utilized the shower to best manage the pain of her contractions. Kelsey began grabbing the squat bar and squatting and rocking with each, Andy replied, this is what she does when baby is getting closer. Once she began having some vibrations in her voice, we took a warm blanket dried her off and we walked back to the bedside closest to the windows. The staff had shared the amniotic fluid had tested positive for meconium and there would be an extra nurse in the room from NICU just in case baby had any issues. 85% of the time it is a normal occurrence as baby is receiving oxygen through the cord not their mouth, about 15% of the time they can inhale the meconium and it cause respiratory issues/complications. It was there Kelsey began swaying her hips and we switched to using productive labor noises. She chose the word, "LOW" a few minutes later, the NICU nurse pointed and said there it is. Andy was standing on Kelsey's left side and helping support her. I had helped clean up mom a little, went to wash my hands, had just enough time to walk back around when I looked down and saw the head emerging. Immediately, I bent down and outstretched my arms calling out to the doctor - come come here is the head (her OBGYN was on the other side of the bed putting her gloves on), along with two other nurses. Remember, when I said "the force was with Luke"... well, literally it WAS! So much force, the he came barreling down, gravity assisted, into my hands, then rolled into the doctor's arms, his cord burst, I looked down and saw the blood quickly clamped moms cord as the doctor passed the baby over to the NICU nurse and they quickly compressed his cord to stop the bleeding. A cord clamp followed for baby and shortly after the surgical tech brought over a pair of hemostats to clamp off moms cord as the placenta has not yet released.
Kelsey and Andy both were rock star champs, as were the medical staff. And, allow me to this moment to publicly apologize to the sweet little housekeeping lady on behalf of Baby Luke and what appeared to be a crime scene upon his unexpected, unpredictable and rather "forceful" exit. May I also say, although my brand new tennis shoes washed clean as new, each time I wear them from here on out, I will giggle a little recalling the 8 pound 3 oz bundle of JOY that although fell straight into my arms. All Glory to God ~ welcome to the world Baby Luke! You are a special little man and both your parents and Northside Presbyterian Church will be blessed!
And, despite my Doula rule #2, I would've never let Luke fall to the floor. So, now, I suppose I will have to reword my Doula Rules. Maybe, now I shall say it this way from now on:
YBH Doula Rule #1
Dad does Dad's job - Pam does Pam's job- Pam don't do dad's job.
YBH Doula Rule #2
I do not catch babies- well, thats not exactly true, sometimes, I have to, because the force is with them and despite a room full of medical staff the baby chose me!
Special thanks to Doula Apprentice Charlotte~ here's to our next exciting birth @ 4am. Funny, I had my very first doula birth in Monroe and now caught my very first baby here. #FullCircle #SymbioticBirth #YourBirthHelper #AthensDoulaDreamTeam #Doula #naturalbirth #ClearviewRegional #BradleyMethod #HusbandCoachedChildbirth #forcewaswithhim #standingbirth #DoulaHelpedBornMe #BirthWithoutFear