A heavy question indeed for many people of faith which can clearly pull on every heart string. For those not familiar with the New Testament specific scripture reference, allow me...
John 16:21 KJV “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish for JOY that a man is born into the world.“
Our Your Birth Helper Doula Teams are proud to serve all families regardless of race, marital status, religious beliefs, etc., but we do ask our couples to invest in training. However, sometimes couples contact us very late in their pregnancy. The decision to add doula support is not always part of their original plans. If you find yourself in this situation, don't hesitate to contact us. If our calendar allows, we will make you our VIP... as in the birth story of Dave and Emily Hanegraaff.
Although, she felt Dave would be a fabulous labor coach, seeing as though neither had done this before, having an advocate there for both of them would be a great asset. And, the closer she became to her due date, the more concern she had regarding avoiding unnecessary interventions. She had shared almost everyone in her family had experienced belly births for a variety of reasons (nothing that appeared to be a bloodline trait such as unusually shaped pelvis, CPD, etc.). Therefore, I was encouraged we could help her meet her goals. They had previously chosen Piedmont midwives, giving birth at Atrium Health Pineville for best chances of avoiding epidural and surgery (Emily's two main goals). We had an in depth telephone consult to make sure we were a fit for one another and answer all of her questions. The couple had a consult and contracted the #CharlotteDoulaDreamTeam on Friday, September 13th. I brought to Emily's attention a full moon was on the horizon and to keep an earlier bed time. Little did each of us know at the time, what Mr. Moon had in store for Emily and her uterus.
Sometimes, the universe has a way of getting the uterus all worked up. Even if this action is only practice, aka Braxton Hicks contractions, it commonly wakes up mom or at the very least can disrupt her sleep. In Emily’s situation, it appeared it wasn’t just a practice run, her contractions had actually began Friday. She continued to ignore them and went about her day as usual. Around midnight Friday, contractions seem to pick up. She rested as much as possible in between contractions. All day Saturday, she wrote her contractions off as just feeling crampy, but could actually feel her uterus commanding more of her attention. She continued to distract herself all day Saturday until around 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning when her water broke. It was then she reached out and I assured her we would be having a baby...
I captured this amazing photo in South Carolina on my way to Charlotte. From the look of the sky you would’ve thought the universe was leaning towards a baby girl. But, only time would reveal the gender and for now the goal...
As contractions began to pick up mom and dad did their part to progress the labor naturally walking, changing positions often and having breaks to rest as needed. Since the labor began very early, there hadn’t been much if any sleep for Emily. In these situations, we must pace ourself as labor is a marathon not a sprint. We have no idea of knowing how long.
We continued our work assuming positions to help promote natural progress. Emily found dancing with Dave to be both comforting and noticed the contractions responded well in upright positions.
The two were still smiling in between contractions, even on day three of her labor. Her midwife made rounds at 7 a.m. and stopped by to say good morning!
The couple made their room more home like by having some favorite photos bedside and even one that hung on her IV pole. Very Crafty!
We made trip after trip including full squats as contractions progressed. We love it when our clients get some use out of all those handrails!
Her diffuser was a perfect compliment to be room and between the calming lights and her choice of scent, a relaxing environment it was!
Note to all you labor coaches: this is tiring, tedious work assisting mom into a variety of positions, etc. Especially with first babies and slow progressing labors. This was day three for both of them and little sleep for either. Depending on time of day, reality is Dad may need a nap too. Our YBH Doula team is happy to continue the necessary work while the coach gets some rest. As I like to say it, “We are going home after the baby is born, you are not and I promise we won’t let you miss anything.“ If you have Doula help, a great time for Dad to rest is when mom is resting also and the Doula team can tend to moms needs when contractions occur.
The “CHILL PILL” essential oil blend seem to work brilliantly for both of them! Sleep came in 20-30 minute increments, but we would take all we could get in between working Emily to help avoid augmentation with pitocin.
The contractions would start to pick up and then space out again as family visited. Sometimes, it is challenging for women to naturally progress with an audience. Although, Emily and Dave truly felt the love of visiting family and friends, there was much work to be done. No doubt, Dad, greatly appreciated the gifts of Food & Coffee to refuel him as the day turned into night.
A beautiful prayer time commenced bedside, via cell, as Grandpa proceeeded to lIft Emily up to the Father. As a Doula, these are precious moments of inviting your Savior to both fill the room and help you give birth. After a short rest of her feet, the contractions once again spaced out and slowed. We would try using the water to naturally progress the labor and Emily utilized the birth ball while nurse Cami taped up her IV.
Upon returning to the bed it was made apparent pitocin would be needed to create stronger longer contractions to finish the job.
The pitocin ended up being exactly what Emily needed to create late labor contractions and it wasn’t long until the contractions were powerful enough to get the baby ready to exit.
As the labor progressed, coupled with the fact Mom was growing very tired. Emily has a goal to avoid use of epidural, but that didn’t mean she couldn‘t vocalize her discomfort by occasionally “giving up“ and “asking for medicine“ as many do in transitIon. It is known as the surrender phase for this reason. At this time, I called for the laying on of hands. We had tried many positions, stretching hip flexors, IT band and everything we could to loosen those hip muscles and ligaments. It was time to ask for divine intervention to get this baby down and out. Dave’s mom seconded that suggestion and each of us, including nurse Lydia and Doula Sarah, laid hands on Emily as a second prayer was lifted to grant Emily the ability to release her baby from her body. The hospital staff proceeded to set up the nutritious gas to see if it could grant her any extra release of tension. It is imperative to let go and release the pelvic floor. Sadly, when mom is so exhausted some are challenged to do so consciously. No doubt, every muscle in her body had been working overtime for three days and her neck, back and hips needed relief.
Emily utilized nitrous oxide to help her get through transition with pitocin. It was very important to her to avoid epidural anesthesia unless absolutely necessary. This navigating process through labor hurdles is not an easy one. Dad strongly desired to support mom and stick to supporting her birthing goals as well. He found his mother‘s presence comforting to him during this challenging time.
Sarah Neri, AAHCC, YBHCE, performs counter pressure and gives TLC to mom’s sacrum as baby continued to descend toward the exit.
Midwife Eva Stover, CNM checks Emily‘s cervix and success it was time to push! Eva worked her magic and truly believed from her assessment Emily could birth vaginally.
Emily and Eva worked together to get this most work out of each contraction. As I assisted Emily into curling around her uterus through each contraction, Dad held one leg as his mom helped support the other. As the head began to emerge, I encouraged Emily to open her eyes and see her baby into her arms.
Dad was immedilately overcome with emotion and just like the scripture says, “both Mom and Dad were filled with JOY!“
As Dad announced the gender, “It’s a BOY!” the entire room celebrated as Baby Smush had finally arrived. It was a near 24 hours of challenging labor for all of us, but so worth it!
Mom gets her well deserved kiss and the first official new family photo was captured below.
Wide eyed and totally attentive to his mom and dad. What a cutie... now it was time for a real name for Baby Smush!
Emily shared, “I am so happy that I went with Your Birth Helper! I would not have been able to accomplish my goals without them. Thanks to the awesome hospital staff at Pineville. They worked so hard for me and a big thank you to my husband Dave who helped and supported me every step of the way, through my whole pregnancy, as well as, through labor and delivery! And lastly, praise to God for allowing everything to come together the way that it did so, that my prayers of a natural birth could be answered.”
Your Birth Helper & the entire YBH CLT Team, could not be more proud of these two! Together, they believed in the natural process, they executed their plans and with support, navigated through each hurdle. Both would tell you, if they could do anything different, they would have had more specific, in depth, birth training and not relied so much on instinct. Emily shared she would definitely do way more stretching, yoga and chiropractic care next time around. They both definitely had their faith tested a few times, but never gave up! When labor takes longer than we anticipated, when pushing is much harder than we anticipated, that is when it truly matters where and with whom surrounds you. Their faith and constant support (along with good coffee for dad and craisins for mom) sustained them through it all! So without further ado...
Meet the handsome Mr. Grace Davidson ❤️ born 11:32 p.m. on September 15, 2019. (Weighing 6lbs 2oz and 18.5 in long)
May he be a living testimony of the goodness and wonder of his creator, our Lord Jesus Christ 😇