My third 'trainee doula support' birthing experience, By Susan Emary
Lisa and Ian were planning to have a natural water birth at the Hawthorn Birthing Centre. On the night of the 14th of August l received a phone call from Lisa. Unbeknown to me Lisa's baby had been presenting in the breech position for sometime. Her obstetrician was optimistic regarding a natural delivery, providing the baby's head could be birthed within a few minutes. The problem was with Lisa's pelvic diameter and her ability to open enough to birth the baby's head.
After confirmation from an X-Ray Lisa's obstetrician recommended a caesarean section, which was planned for the following day.
The next day I meet Lisa and Ian at Masada Private Hospital. I couldn't believe how calm they both were. The admission process went very smoothly. Lisa was scheduled for theatre at 11.30 that morning. We spent what seemed like hours together, all three of us chatting. The thing about the whole process that really surprised me was how Lisa and Ian were able to let go entirely of the birth they had planned and be totally present for the procedure they were about to under go. Lisa and Ian were keen to have me present in theatre for the birth and both the midwife and the obstetrician promised to see what they could do.
The news came shortly after; Lisa was to head down to theatre a little earlier than expected. All gowned up and ready to go, the trolley soon came to pick Lisa up, however there was still no confirmation as to whether l was going to be present for the birth or not. Both Ian and I followed Lisa down to the theatre. We both stood there in the pre-op room while the theatre nurse did her checks. Ian was asked to follow one of the nurses and get changed in to theatre clothes. I was still with Lisa, when suddenly l was asked to get some theatre clothes on as well. I couldn't believe my luck l was going to be allowed to be present at the birth. As it turned out the theatre charge nurse wasn't on duty that day, and the staff were willing to bend the rules for us.
Ian and l were asked to wait in the staff tearoom while Lisa was given her anaesthetic. It felt like we were waiting for hours. Being in the whole theatre environment took me back to my previous experiences as a patient in an operating theatre; the smell, the isolation, the temperature, the green sterile clothes including the hats and booties. Moments latter we were asked to follow the nurse into the operating theatre, where Lisa was lying there all ready to go.
I couldn't get over how hustle and bustle the energy felt in the theatre. Staff preparing instruments, music playing, machines beeping monitoring Lisa's vital signs. Ian and l were placed on stools beside Lisa's head at the foot of the bed; a green screen obscured our view of Lisa's stomach. I sat there feeling so helpless. Thoughts running through my head including how can l support you like this, l cant even touch you, what can l do to help? Before long the procedure had commenced and l could see Lisa was looking a little unsure and overwhelmed. I reached out and touched her face and reassured her and told her it was okay and that she was doing great, just keep breathing and relax.
At 11.48am after lots of tugging, rocking and pulling little Samara Ruby was born feet first. She had a little trouble breathing initially so the
paediatrician had to do a little work on her. I encouraged Ian to go to her side and hold her hand and talk to her. What a moment.. One that l will never forget. There she was this beautiful precious bundle of joy, finally in the world. The poor little darling had no idea what was going on, all of a sudden she was pulled out of her mother and here in the world, being poked and prodded by strangers. Lisa was given a brief cuddle before the baby was whisked away to the nursery with Ian. Ian stayed with Samara the whole time. I was able to stay with Lisa in theatre until the procedure was over, offering plenty of reassurance. I was very disappointed that l couldn't stay with Lisa in recovery, l really didn't want to leave her.
Ian was sitting cuddling Samara in the nursery trying to get her warm when l got back from theatre. It was interesting to watch and listen to little Samara while she was in her father's arms. She was making this weird groaning sound. I was sure it was her way of saying where is my mum. I kept telling her that her mum would be with her soon.
It wasn't long before Lisa returned back to her room, and once Samara was in her mother's arms the groaning stopped. She took to the breast straight away with no problems attaching at all. When Lisa was more settled and comfortable and Samara was feeding okay l quietly left the family to do some bonding.
What a day.. I felt so privileged to be present through the whole caesarean section process and to be allowed to go into theatre even though it was totally against the rules. Even through the times of feeling scared, even terrified and especially helpless I know my presence really did make a difference to Lisa, Ian and baby Samara. This was an experience l know l will never forget.