Kelly's Birth Story
A BIRTH THAT TAUGHT ME THE STRENGTH & RESILIENCE OF MAMAS
From each birth, you learn something new.
Birth always manages to teach us something either we didn’t know we had in us, or we didn’t think possible.
At Kelly’s birth, I witnessed incredible resilience and learnt the power of accepting change.
When I met Kelly, she was preparing herself for a home birth. This woman was unbelievably organised and highly informed. She knew exactly what she wanted and what aligned with her beliefs, values and hopes around birth.
I remember walking away from our initial meeting, thinking “wow, this mama should be so proud of the way she has prepared herself for birth!” I almost pondered why she felt she needed me as her doula, because she was so prepared and ready to meet head on the beautiful challenge that is birth. Trusting both our gut instincts that I was meant to be her doula, we continued our doula/client relationship to prepare for a positive, calm and confident birth.
Her due date came and went (like it often does), and Kelly begun to feel the beginnings of early labour. Often for first time mums, this part of labour can be confusing and tiresome, but Kelly took each step as it came, welcoming the progress (however small) that her body and baby were making.
9 days later her baby decided he was ready make his way earthside, and Kelly’s membranes released. Slowly but surely through the night, her body and baby begun the dance of birth. By the time I got to her in the morning, her surges were regular and strong.
In labour, Kelly looked confident, peaceful and ready. She took each surge in her stride, finding instinctively upright movements and low deep moaning the best way to cope. In between surges, he chiropractor friend helped adjust and align her pelvis, and me and her partner softly added words of encouragement and enthusiasm.
Finding it hard to drink or eat during her labour, Kelly continued on, deciding she needed the calm warmth of the pool.
By the time her midwife got there, things started to change. Her surges were a little irregular and we were confused by the baby’s positioning.
Making the informed decision to have a vaginal exam, Kelly was given the news that things weren’t progressing as “much as was expected”. A deflating thing to hear, for any mum during birth, Kelly again took it in her stride and followed her midwife’s suggestion to rest, eat and allow her body to continue what it’s doing.
That’s the thing about birth, sometimes it needs time. In fact, most of the time, it needs time to do what needs to be done. But unfortunately, time is always watched and monitored in labour. Especially when membranes have released (waters broken). The risk of infection rises, the longer you labour for, and this was starting to become evident in Kelly’s birth.
That afternoon, Kelly’s midwife offered up the option to be transferred, because of this risk and something holding back her progress (in hind sight, we think it was baby’s positioning). So Kelly, a mother with her mind set on a home birth away from any medicalisation, was suddenly left with making the tough decision to transfer. And this was the first act of resilience and strength I witnessed in Kelly. Not the calm and collected way she laboured in the beginning. She didn’t need resilience for that. She trusted her body and let it do it’s thing. But when things had to change, and change in a way that was so far from her original birth environment, resilience was needed in abundance.
Once at hospital, Kelly made the decision, with the guidance of her midwife, to go on Syntocin to help progress labour and get an epidural for some relief, as she had been awake and labouring for almost 2days. And here again was where resilience was needed. Not because she chose the epidural or the Syntocin. But because those things didn’t work properly. The epidural was patchy and none of the staff seemed to listen to Kelly telling them she could feel half her body still.
Resilience was needed throughout the entire time Kelly repeated that it wasn’t working (while also going through surges that she could still feel). Not to mention other equipment in the room was either not working or not stocked properly. And this is at no fault of the staff, our hospital system is under the pump and staff are overworked. But at what cost for the birthing woman’s environment. Although she chose to transfer, it was becoming very evident why Kelly had originally picked a home birth.
After hours and hours of saying the epidural hadn’t worked, finally Kelly was offered a new epidural. But not without having to make the tough and nerve racking choice concerning risk. By this stage Kelly had been through so much, and everything far beyond her control, so making decisions, and attempting informed decisions, was incredibly hard. But again I watched on, and saw Kelly muster strength which she probably didn’t think she had any left, and make a decision.
By the time baby was ready to be born, Kelly had been through a lot, and as her doula, I was determined to never leave her side. In an ever changing environment that was out of her control, I wanted to be that consistent thing, that steadfast support, that reflected the strength and resilience Kelly was displaying.
This birth was something that Kelly or I wasn’t expecting. It was challenging beyond belief, with so many twists and turns to navigate. But Kelly navigated them with strength and resilience, that most women would find hard to muster. All her preparation in her pregnancy was inspiring. But you know what was more inspirational. How Kelly dealt with the cards that she was handed.