Baby was coming fast!
But that is something I am used to. I could tell by the sound in my client’s voice that this was a precipitous labor. So I was throwing on my doula T-shirt and shoes before she could get the words out, “I need you!”
It was about a 45 minute drive to Cleburne. I felt at peace with the calm back roads my route took me to get to the hospital.
I pulled up to the small parking lot and was out of my car and in the front door in a matter of seconds. A nurse checked my temp and sent me to the front desk for more information. I told her I was a doula here to serve my client. She looked a little unsure but got on the phone. Within just a few moments I heard the eager voice of the nurse on the other end of the line exclaim, “Send her up!”
I was directed to the elevators and I was off! I have been a doula for 5 years now so I don’t have many “firsts” anymore but this night I had a very pleasant “first”. A nurse was standing holding the door open for me to the maternity floor with a smile! Part of this was that the floor was not busy at all at the time but also it was a reflection of the very service minded spirit of the staff at Cleburne.
She escorted me to my clients room where we hopped in and I was greeted with friendly smiling eyes from every nurse. They knew that I wasn’t there to challenge their authority but that I was there as an aspect to the birthing team as a whole. I went straight to my client who was already pushing. I could see about a quarter sized portion of baby’s head.
Yes! The moment where I can assuredly tell my clients, “Your baby is almost here!”
Once I was at my client’s side and holding her hand I could begin to examine our environment. I noticed many things that made me smile.
Firstly I saw Dr. Glover. He was patiently standing at the foot of the bed with a seasoned stance of years of catching babies. I saw that there was no bright spotlight hanging from the ceiling. I saw the nurses chatting and prepping for baby’s arrival. I saw my client’s twinkle lights plugged in and laid out to soften the already soft room lighting.
Another contraction, my client expressed that fear that every mother has right before delivering her baby, “I can’t do this!” Dr. Glover has heard it many more times than I have. He calmly placed a hand on her shin and said exactly what she needed to hear. He told her she needed to stop giving in to these negative thoughts, that she could do it because she was indeed doing it and her baby was almost here.
My client’s demeanor changed, I saw her rally that last bit of strength and push her baby’s head out with the next contraction. And then the body a minute after that. It’s a girl! She was placed immediately on her mother’s chest. “When can he hold her?” mom asked looking at her partner. The nurse responded that they want mom to hold baby chest to chest for at least an hour but as long as mom wants.
As long as mom wants. Those are rare words in the modern medical world and it made my eyes mist a bit.
My client had chosen delayed clamping and had discussed it in prenatal visits but just to be sure Dr. Glover clarified with her how long she would like the delayed clamping to be. She said when it is done pulsing and turns white. And I watched as Dr. Glover observed the placenta be physiologically delivered with not pulling on the cord. I also saw him check the cord at several locations along it to make sure my client’s wishes were completely met. And then he showed her the cord and asked, “Are you ready for dad to cut the cord?” Again I got a little misty. I wish that wasn’t a rare sight in hospital settings for me but quite frequently I see requests disrespected or ignored. But not Dr. Glover.
My client had a minor vaginal tear. Dr. Glover turned on the light to his head lamp and kept his tone light hearted as he repaired the tear. When mom asked a question he answered but otherwise left them undisturbed. The headlamp is such a little thing to be excited about when you don’t attend births for a living. The giant lights that most hospitals use are very obtrusive and unnecessary. Midwives at home births and birthing centers don’t use them. And it really made me so happy to see a seasoned doctor show how it can be done safely and while respecting the new family.
After the tear was repaired Dr. Glover slipped out to let the nurses take over. Every nurse had bright and cheery demeanors. There was a lot of congratulating and oohs and aahs over the sweet new baby girl. They knew that my client had a doula so they let us talk and work undisturbed. They let me work with her and baby on breastfeeding. And even gave as many moments of privacy since mom wasn’t ready to have baby weighed just yet.
I was getting a little thirsty because I had left my water cup in my car in my hurry to get out the door. I asked the nurse if she could show me to the ice machine and she shook her head, “did I forget to offer to get you something to drink!? I am so sorry about that would you like water? or we have juice!” No let me explain that I have NEVER had a nurse offer to get me something to drink. And I have never minded because they are there for my client not for me, but this nurses servant heart truly touched me.
Not long later a nurse offered my clients something to eat. “it’s too early for breakfast just yet but we have some pre-made sandwiches I can bring you.” After getting their sandwich choices she turned to me, “Would you like one too?” Again I was floored because in 5 years of being a doula this has never happened either, “for me?” she nodded enthusiastically and replied, “Yeah! You’re working too!”
Again I don’t expect hospitals to budget food for doulas, it would be nice, but I don’t expect it. That’s why I always bring plenty of food with me. But Cleburne will always hold a special place in my heart, for the informed consent, for the soft postpartum, for the patience, for the smiling eyes, and for the sandwich.