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June 9, 2010 - Kylie Saari
I spent my weekend at Hennepin County Medical Center with my BFF, in labor with her first child at 10 days overdue.
I was there to act as her doula, a birth assistant, and it was my first foray into this line of work.
As part of my doula duties, it was my job to help her through the process and make sure her wishes were met. For Ali, that meant a natural childbirth — hospital staff was asked not to even mention an epidural.
I arrived at her home on Saturday evening, after she had labored on her own for most of the day.
I drove her and her husband downtown to HCMC around midnight, were we were met by her extended family - her mother, father, sister, aunt, and MIL. Her brother came later.
After coaching her in focusing, breathing, and relaxing when she can for 18 hours — I remember being told empatically to shut up when I mentioned the sun was rising — the what we had feared since our first look at the fetal heart rate was confirmed. At 8 centimeters dialated, after shots of pitocin to help contractions become more productive, after an epidural to give her some rest (she hadn't slept or eaten for almost two days), Ali needed a get-that-baby-out-now C-section. His heart rate was dropping into the low 40s. A typical fetal heart rate is between 120 and 150. Owen William was born with his cord wrapped twice around his neck. Most likely, if we followed through with a "natural" birth, he would have been stillborn.
It was a wonderful experience. I saw my best friend become a mother, a family rally around their daugher/sister/wife, and the medical field do what it should.
Both my births were completely natural - no meds, no nothin. Which means I only knew what I knew about interventions from my reading, not from experience. What I saw was these medical interventions that get a bad rap from many in the natural birth movement used exactly the way they were intended. Not for convience, but for the life and safety of mother and child.
It was eye-opening. As I continue into my doula journey, I am pleased to have had this experience with interventions. Ali is happy she made the choices she did, and I am looking forward to a long life of spoiling that sweet baby.
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