It was July 2nd when I first began having very mild contractions. We went down to Bull Creek Greenbelt to float in the water and to try to ignore these mild contractions. That night we met up with friends to enjoy some Mexican food and I guess that bumped me to the next phase because those mild, spaced out contractions turned uncomfortable but still pretty spaced out. That night I got about an hour or two of sleep before I was woken with every contraction, yet still trying to ignore them, hoping that when I woke up the next morning I would be further along. I had an appointment with my midwife early that morning anyways. Turns out I was only dilated to a 3 so I went back home and at this point the contractions were painful and I was pretty tired from lack of sleep. The contractions were too close together to get a productive nap in. We let Drea know where we were at and she advised us to keep doing what we were doing, just waiting, moving when I could but also resting when I could.
The day had passed and 5 o'clock was approaching and there was no progress, just irritability from lack of sleep and lack of progress. Drea checked in with us and offered to come over to check in and help move things along and of course we said please do! Once Drea came over, things began to move, thankfully. She helped me into positions that would help move our baby boy down, because at that point he was just seeming to hangout in a comfortable spot and in no rush to move progress. I remember doing deep squats, stairs, and a few other positions that were painful but I knew were working which gave me the energy and mental strength! I remember very specifically her giving me an amazing massage to help me relax (knowing that I had not had good sleep in over 24 hours) and put counter pressure on my lower back since I was having terrible back pain. She helped my husband to do the same so they could take turns! The counter pressure was a game changer! At 10 pm we finally got to the point where contractions were close enough together and Drea suggested we head into the birthing center.
Once we arrived I was dilated to a 7 and soon later hopped into the tub. Then we progressed and I felt like I entered a battle with my body because I was just SO exhausted at this point. I felt like I didn't have any physical strength to press on. I was falling asleep in between contractions so taking 1.5 minutes cat naps. I was thankful to feel so supported in that place though because I felt as if I couldn't support myself any longer. Drea talked me through every contraction, and I remember coming out of sleep at the rise of every contraction and finding just enough comfort/peace in her voice to get me through. I remember looking directly at her sometimes as I would "ride the wave" looking for something, but I wasn't quite sure what that was in the moment but now I know I needed someone to stand where I couldn't. I had gotten to a very weak place physically but also mentally. I couldn't speak life and light over myself, my body or my baby anymore. I couldn't understand the pain that I was feeling any longer, or talk myself through the contractions, I needed someone to lift me up to where I couldn't get to by myself because I just wanted to give up. I thought I would be one who wanted silence. I had even told my husband to maybe not try to coach me thinking I would just be irritable and want silence. Haha- but I was definitely wrong. I was dependent on that vocal support and comfort. Though I will never view a "wave" the same ever again! I got out of the tub at some point to empty my bladder and apparently my water broke. Everyone heard it, except me, who was clearly a little out of it at this point. I got back into the tub and it was time to start pushing. Once we got to where we could see our son's head, we knew the finish line was near, that we would soon get to meet our baby boy and that gave me the last burst of energy I needed to push through.
Within 30 minutes he was in my arms and our whole world has changed for the better!
Drea and the midwives were so INCREDIBLY supportive. They were patient with us, knowing that we were first time parents and graced us with their knowledge! Our son was born at 1:30 am on July 4th and has been the greatest blessing to us. We are so thankful for the family and team that we had at his birth because although it started out long and exhausting, it's the story of how we got to meet our baby boy, and every person that was there is a part of his beautiful story! And of course once he was in my arms, I had an insane amount of happy hormones/chemicals flowing through my body and the exhaustion was out the door and I was wide eyed ready to stare at him forever!
After visiting the ER on a Friday night for abdominal pain and then being sent home without much help, the following Sunday morning I was suddenly hit with extreme pain in the same areas. I was almost 36 weeks pregnant.
Up until this point, I’d had a healthy pregnancy with the usual weird symptoms, swollen ankles and nausea, but this was different and scary. I was rushed to the ER and admitted immediately. The doctors gave their best guess that it sounded like kidney stones but because I was pregnant they couldn’t run any of the usual tests. By day two or three I was receiving surgical level pain meds and I was so dehydrated that my veins were shrinking and the nurses had to restart IV lines several times.
My doctors finally decided it was best to induce labor so our son wouldn’t become addicted to the pain medication I was on. After delivery, they would run needed tests and I would go into surgery to remove the suspected kidney stones. None of this was part of my birthing plan and I was crushed.
My husband and I had planned to have a natural birth without any pain-reducing medications. I’d had about every pain medication you could think of and I felt like I’d failed. I remember Drea walking into our room and her presence being so sweet and reassuring that all would be well. She encouraged us that the best plan was the one supporting a healthy mama and baby, and though plans change none of it equals failure.
Drea jumped into our world that day and advocated for us when we needed clarity from nurses, quiet time from family, and even made space for moments of joy. She brought peace into our room with her and it resonated throughout when our baby’s heart rate spiked, when I was too exhausted to lift my head, and when my husband needed comfort as he comforted us. Almost 24hrs later we’d delivered our beautiful baby boy, Blaise, and it was beyond a dream. I went into surgery for kidney stones and was home a couple of days later. Drea checked in, gave us all the wisdom on how to heal as naturally as possible and was still my go to for postpartum care.
I will always recommend Drea as a doula. I will always ask her to step into our “baby world” again for the ones to come. Drea has an incredible gift and it’s a true blessing to experience.
I kept thinking that this boy would come early. I prepped my mother and MIL and had them on overlapping schedules to be present to care for our two older boys. So why when labor started a week before his due date, did I try to sleep it off?! I don’t like labor overnight, so when small contractions started at 10pm I just tried to fall asleep. By 2:30a I realized it was pretty serious and I should go into the birthing center. I think standing up to go to the car kicked things into high gear because it went from regular pinches, to me thinking we would have a car baby!
I was put straight into a room and my water broke as I tried to pee. The midwife checked my cervix and I was at 8 or 9cm dilated. I told her I was ready to push and she said it wasn't quite time yet. The contractions were so strong. I was hopeful that this third baby would come out in just a few pushes like my second baby had. No such luck.
I quickly was at 10cm and 100% effaced ... it was time to start pushing. Drea arrived and immediately helped hold my legs back and offered encouragement. My husband is amazing, but not intuitive with labor and gets distracted easily. I cannot emphasize enough what a support Drea was. She made me feel like I was not alone in this fight to bring this child into the world. I pushed on my back in the bed almost the whole time. I cannot explain why, but my body wants to be in that position.
After pushing for an hour, I began to get tired and discouraged. The midwife kept saying that he was right there, but stuck. I began the head game of doubt. I kept looking at Drea in between contractions for hope that this would end.
Soon, the baby’s heart rate began dropping with contractions and it became more critical to deliver. I didn’t know what else to do. I was already pushing as hard as I could, curled into the best position I could, every time. I began to need oxygen between pushes as well and had to roll onto my side after each round of contractions stopped. Drea would hold my top leg up to prevent whatever movement the last contraction had gained from slipping back. My husband would, with Drea’s kind but insistent reminders, press on my lower back as searing nerve pain hit me. I would just breathe and hold on to Drea until the next round started.
I think it was two and a half hours of pushing total. I tried getting up once and using the birthing stool, but my body wanted to be in that bed! I was exhausted, discouraged, afraid for my baby and afraid for myself. I could tell the midwife, who had probably 20-30 years experience, was concerned. I knew if it became any worse, they would transfer me. So in utter desperation, I kept pushing. Pushing beyond what I had strength for, and finally, his head descended past whatever was blocking him and I was able to push him out.
Relief flooded my body but quickly turned to fear as I watched the midwife work over my son who was making no noise and remained quite grey. As soon as he came out it was like my body quit. I couldn’t lift my left arm and my eyelids had so much swelling I couldn’t see my son well. Thankfully he did start breathing and pinked up. It was just a slow start to his life instead of the robust birth and cry I was used to.
He was beautiful. Chunky cheeks and sweetness. He slowly perked up while laying on my chest and we began to nurse. I was so relieved he was safe. I was so relieved I was safe.
Amazingly I didn’t tear at all and the placenta came out easily. Drea was giving me the best care possible with a homemade electrolyte drink and bites to eat. Still, it took about 30-40 minutes before I could move again. I was shocked at the body soreness I had with this birth. My perineum was fine and healed well - but my arms, back, and legs remained extremely painful for two or more weeks. Having Drea give a massage on a postpartum visit was the best gift possible.
I’m not sure there is a more amazing moment in life than the birth of your children. For me, it’s like a magical light covered the room as I met and held my new son. This odd moment of holding someone you both already know, and yet are meeting for the first time. Getting to be skin to skin finally, after waiting months to meet them. The sweetness of their sleep on you and the feeling that nothing else in the world matters.
During my first pregnancy, I experienced a severe case of Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (more commonly referred to as PUPPPs) - essentially horrible hives all over my body. My midwife said it was the worst case they’d seen in their careers - and her with over 25 years experience. This developed around 36 weeks, and I have never known such physical misery. This rash is not treatable during pregnancy, but typically clears upon delivery.
After only 10 days with the severe PUPPPs, my midwife referred me to an OB to consult about inducing labor. I had planned and prepared for a birth center delivery with no interventions. The idea of inducing labor, at a hospital, with an OB I had only just met, was terrifying. But, I was also in such misery that we ended up deciding to schedule my induction for 2 days later. We called Drea and talked with her extensively about how this would change my birth plan, and what ways she could still support me during a hospital delivery. I knew that during labor without interventions, she would be able to give physical support with counter-pressure, positioning, etc, but the idea of a hospital birth was so foreign. Speaking with her about how it would work, how she would still be able to support us, really helped put my mind at ease, and knowing that she would be my consistent factor (along with my husband of course!) was so comforting.
That evening, after speaking to Drea, we prayed about the decision to induce and gave it to God entirely. We went to bed scared but knowing that God was in control. And, in control he was! About 5 hours after going to bed, at 3:30am, my water broke! My husband looked me in the eye and said “what do you want to do?” (Implying, hospital or birth center?) Without hesitation, I said to call my midwife.
My midwife recommended to try to continue to get sleep and call back when the contractions were getting strong and close together. I remember saying “but how will I know when it’s a real contraction?” And she said “oh honey, you’ll know”. About 30 minutes later, I grabbed my husband’s arm and said “I know what a real contraction feels like!!!”. We started timing them and very quickly, my contractions got to the “411” window. We called Drea and everyone headed to the birth center.
By around 5am, we were all in the room and laboring was progressing fast. I had not slept well during the night leading up to my water breaking, and I was tiring out quickly. After around 2 hours, I threw up, so they checked my dilation and I was only at a 5. The pain was starting to overcome me, and I was so incredibly disheartened by the realization that I was not yet in transition (or even close, in my mind). Drea was helping me to control my breathing (& anxiety), but I was losing it. I decided to get a shot of Nubain in order to help me calm down and get control back by easing some of the intensity of the pain. Once that kicked in, I was able to rest between contractions, and ride the waves (rather than battling every single one). That rest for my body and mental state was crucial and after it wore off, I was checked again, and I’d dilated to an 8.
We moved to the tub where I felt my body able to relax somewhat, and when the time to push came, I decided to stay in the tub where I felt safe. Drea continuously spoke encouragement and direction that broke through my pain-induced fog, allowing me to safely make progress. My husband got in the tub behind me to give me leverage (I was a bit too small for the tub) and after pushing for around an hour, my baby girl was born at 12:47pm.
In the fog that comes after the hardest physical pain you’ve conquered in life, I recall Drea giving my new little family some space, offering to go get us food, and generally making sure we were taken care of. My husband acknowledged later what a huge help she was, as they switched off/on the physical support aspect. My mom, who was in the room during the majority of the labor, later said “I don’t know how you would’ve gotten through that without Drea!”. Having someone dedicated to us, who could explain everything, and who knew my preferences (& personality!) was so crucial. I leaned on her suggestions from when to change positions, to pain management techniques, to whether or not to accept the Nubain offered to me. Drea was an incredible support for our whole family and I know I was able to deliver my daughter the way I wanted to in large part due to her support.
Also, the PUPPPs did clear after delivery! :)
*Chelsea is also mama to Eloise
When we got pregnant with our second child, our first decision was an easy one: we knew without a doubt we wanted to have Drea as our doula again. This time, COVID was a factor, and I was limited to two support people. My husband was a non-negotiable, so I had to choose between my mom, Drea as the doula, or a birth photographer. We ultimately chose to have Drea, due to her incredible support with our first, and knowing that, while we have been through this before, it doesn’t necessarily get any easier, and that her support is what allowed us to have such a positive birth experience the first time.
My second labor & delivery was about as opposite of my first as possible. Where my first was fast and furious, my second was more drawn out yet controlled. My contractions started in the early morning, almost imperceptible. As they recommend in birth classes, we tried to go about our daily activities and let them progress naturally. I knew they would increase, but it’s hard to not focus on what feels like a lack of progression. I let Drea know it was going to be baby-time soon, but it was almost 6 hours later before my contractions were strong enough to head to the birth center to get checked. We decided to let Drea know what happened before she drove down, since things were not feeling urgent. I was only dilated to a 3, so they sent me to get lunch and walk around. As we waited for our tacos, the contractions were getting noticeably stronger. We went to a park to eat them, but by the time we arrived, I couldn’t handle it, so we went back to the birth center and I had made progress and was now in active labor. (I never did eat that taco…)
Once Drea arrived, she helped me find positions to labor in and kept me present and focused. Labor was just as intense as the first time, but with the benefits of experience & Drea, I was in much more control when the contractions rose. This time, I was able to focus on my body and helping it do what it needed to during that time. After about 4 hours, I was dilated well but my water had not broken. We tried several positions to encourage it to break, but (as my midwife said) it was just bulging - not breaking. We decided to have the midwife break my waters, as my body was growing weary.
After my water broke, things sped up exponentially. At that point, the pain felt so similar to my first birth (where my water had broken first thing) and I knew I had to make a choice to overcome it rather than let it control me. Pushing started quickly then, and it only took around 20 minutes for my son to make his debut at 8:13pm.
I was exhausted by then - the whole process from initial signs of labor to delivery took about 6 hours longer than with my first - but I felt so proud at having handled the process with a clear headspace. Drea met me where I was at and never let me give in to the pain or grow too weary - like a coach who doesn’t let you slow down when the finish line is in sight, but literally runs the final stretch alongside you. She was right there in the midst of my battle, and I was so thankful to have her with me again.