We were so touched when our doula shared with us a written account on her perspective of our son’s birth. With her permission, we are posting her story here in three parts. This is part two, to see part one click here.
Babylady with her long legs carrying a heavy tote of birth supplies was way ahead of me. I struggled to keep up. We arrived once again at slot E20 at 1:30 a.m. She whispered hey to Jack, who was on deck. She handed over the tote and basket of essentials. I clumsily boarded with the heavy doula bag weighing me down. Inside tonight was a mood you could feel right away: the holy ground of a life being born. The lights were low, only that over the kitchen sink and a dim one on the deck. Marietta was in her bedroom, which was connected to the kitchenette. There Nicole lounged in the corner sofa wedged behind the tiny dining table. She had a look of excitement and fatigue on her face all at once. “How you doing?” I asked. “I’m about ready to have this over with,” she smiled. “I told you this one wanted to be cooked well-done,” I said. Each contraction Nicole had was so quiet, just a slight frown on her face and a movement of her waist. Marietta whimpered many times from her bed. “She knows something is going on,” Nicole said.
We set to work laying things out, plugging things in, organizing. Jack did a quiet whisper song and dance, “We’re having a baby, we’re having a baby, we’re having a baby!” Babylady used her newly honed massage skills on Nicole’s lower back. Nicole was amazed by how great the counter pressure felt during each contraction. I understood that, remembering full well the back labor I had with my son. I went back to the car, retrieved the oxygen and got a crash course on how to check it and turn it on. Babylady said it’s the same tank she’s had for years and hasn’t needed it since. Things were calm. I pulled out my notecards to study, Jack took a turn rubbing Nicole’s back. Babylady whispered that I was not to use the bathroom without supervision. She said there were printed step-by-step instructions for exactly how to go about it, but that if you messed up you could literally sink the boat. I decided I would hold it.
I was 20 weeks with my third child. Jack and Babylady kept remarking on being surrounded by pregnant ladies. Babylady took heart tones several times, always normal with good variability. As we took turns rubbing Nicole, setting up and getting her ice chips, we all squeezed past one another in the type of motion you do getting to the middle seats of a crowded church pew. “Do the boat dance, do the boat dance…” Jack said in a sing-song voice.
As things calmed and we all got settled, Babylady suggested I try and sleep. I did. Jack went to lay down with Marietta and pat her back each time she roused. We all rested, all except of course for Nicole who was strongly and quietly doing the work of ten men. Jack came in and put his hand on my head, then did a double-take and started laughing. “I thought you were Nicole!” With the ponytail and big belly and dim lights it was probably an easy mistake. Nicole asked “How much longer, do you think?” Babylady said, “It’s hard to tell with you quiet ones. By this point I’m usually screaming my head off.” “Me too,” I told them. “Really? What do you say?” asked Jack. “All kinds of things would come out of my mouth,” I joked.
Nicole soon started to get nauseous. Babylady explained to a concerned Jack that it was from the hormones and pain, but the good news was it meant she was getting close. They used a large plastic salad bowl to catch it. Jack took it and said, “Fish food! It’s the chum bucket!” I was reminded of how great this family is. Jack asked Nicole if she wanted to move to her cabin now. She told him she did not, but that she would move when the time came. “You just look so cramped,” he said. “We’re mammals,” said Babylady. “We look for the tightest, coziest, hardest to reach place to give birth.”
Jack laid back down and I took over for Babylady as she took a turn to nap. I sat beside the laboring mother, wedged between the table, Nicole, and the kitchenette cabinets. I sat in a trance with her, timing her contractions on the app they downloaded onto their iPod. We entered a rhythm of rubbing her back each time she moved from her side to her hands and knees to better handle each wave of intensity. “How much longer?” she quietly pleaded a couple of times. “Not much longer,” I told her. I spoke encouragement to her about how strong she was and each contraction was one more she’d never have to do again. I helped her to the bathroom and waited outside the door telling her to experience the contractions on the toilet and see how it felt. She said they were not bad and she stayed for a while.
Back on the couch, the fleece pj pants came off and with it her inhibitions. She began to get a bit more vocal. I could tell she was really progressing. Babylady woke up and demanded that I write down the brand of Nicole’s cute butterfly panties so that she could get some herself. Nicole was still so polite with each contraction, saying please for more ice chips and thank you after each massage during a contraction. Jack woke up and took my place. I nodded off by Babylady. At one point I woke up to a cute scene where Jack was trying to reach across the boat to hit the START CONTRACTION button to keep timing and rub her back at the same time. When she slipped from his reach for perhaps the wrong choice, Nicole called out, “I don’t care about that, Guapo!” He went back to his needed position of masseuse. When Babylady got up to take heart tones I took her place again on the couch. I could see it was getting light outside.