Why I was led to be a doula.....


I found that when I became pregnant the first time, I was met with nothing more than fear and excitement.  I thought about all of the romantic things that involve pregnancy like names and nurseries.  That excitement led to fear.  Quickly.  I began bleeding soon after my pregnancy was confirmed by my doctor, and soon found myself getting hormone levels checked every other day to ensure that the pregnancy was still viable.  Hormone levels continued to rise, and I was told to not worry, and that sometimes that just happens.  The bleeding stopped and my paranoia eventually faded.  It faded for a while anyway, until a week before the ultrasound where we were going to find out the sex of our baby.  I woke up that morning, and instead of excitement, the fear was back, and I felt like something was off.  I paced at the Dr's office, and when I went back, I knew.  I knew without having to be told.  As the ultrasound was being done, there was just silence in the room, and I was told that they had to go and get the Dr. to speak to us.  I will never forget the statement that he made.  "Well, unfortunately I have some very ominous news.  There is no heartbeat."  My vision narrowed, my heart raced, and I felt paralyzed.  That was that.  I wish it was that easy, but it wasn't.  It took months.  I still think about it.  Miscarriage is not an easy thing.

It took about a year for me get pregnant again, and I spent a good portion of that pregnancy filled with worry and fear.  I probably called the Dr a couple times a week, and honestly, the pregnancy itself was pretty uneventful, however, I never allowed myself to get to swept away in the planning piece, as I knew how fragile this could be and did not want that devastation again.  My water broke at 32 weeks, had an epidural, and what I thought was routine.  My son spent some time in the special care unit of the hospital, and I spent time going back and forth via a tunnel that connected us to Children's Hospital in a wheel chair.  Yes, you read that right, a wheel chair.  It wasn't until the next day, when I could hardly stand, let alone walk, that I asked why all the other mother's on the floor seemed to moving around with a lot less pain and ease, and I felt like my bottom was going to fall out onto the floor.  The nurse just looked at me and said, "Oh, honey!  Did they not explain to you what happened?"  I remember thinking to myself, "What the hell is she talking about?"  She then went onto to inform me of the level four episiotomy that I received, the amount of repair that needed to be done, but sheassured me not to worry.  Whelp....I was in pain until I became pregnant with my second child.  Yes you read that right as well...10 months later, and cortisone shots where you can only imagine.

My second pregnancy was pretty uneventful.  I went into labor in the middle of the afternoon, and while my contractions were ramping up, so was my need to start arguments.  I started with a call to my sister, who was also pregnant, and she promptly hung up on me.  As any good daughter would do, I called my mother to bitch about how rude my sister was, and my mother noticed I was having a hard time talking.  She then says...."Holly, do you think you are in labor?"  Yep!  Sure was!  Labor progressed, and then there was shoulder dystocia, and forceps.  I was given my baby, and his breathing was labored.  I was all to familiar with breathing of an infant, as my first had to stay for a little while after my release.  I then brought that up as the Dr. was doing my repair.  I was assured that his breathing was fine, however, thank god for my insistence!  They decided that yes his breathing was labored.  He was then taken for observation, and several hours passed.  No word.  My then husband went to see what was going on, and he came back to our room as white as a ghost.  My son was very bruised from the forcep delivery. His breathing had returned to normal, and I was discharged.  Everything seemed to be fine until on November 21, 2004, when my son was 11 days old, I hemorrhaged in my kitchen.  No pain, just lots and lots of blood.  We called my Dr. who happened to be at the hospital for a delivery, and he directed us to get into the car and go to the hospital immediately.  We couldn't.  The bleeding was just that bad.  Ambulance.  I have to thank my neighbors at the time.  One stayed with the kids and tried to calm my husband, and she stayed with me.  I honestly don't have a lot of recollection of much more after that, except for some bright lights, someone yelling that my lips were turning blue, and my Dr letting me know that they would try one more drug, and if that didn't work, I would be urgently prepped for a hysterectomy.  The drug worked!  I received a blood transfusion of seven units, and was told I could leave if there was no more bleeding in the morning.  However, as I was counseled the next morning, I knew there would be more to this outcome.  They would send "things" to pathology, and I needed a follow-up appointment. However, there was one more thing,  I would not be able to conceive again, and on the off chance that I did, I would not survive it.  Or....so they thought.

Fast forward to twelve years later.  I had gone through a divorce, remarried, and my current husband did not have any children.  For a while, I was disappointed that I could not give him any children, but we just kept living, and I was grateful for the two boys I did have.  It was June of 2014, and man was I sick.  Throwing up all the time.  I still had a period, so pregnancy was the last thing on my mind.  I just kept thinking it was stress.  July came around, and we decided to have a barbeque.  We invited friends that we had not seen for a while, and my puking continued throughout the day.  I was talking to a friend when I needed to excuse myself yet again to go puke, and she says, "you're pregnant!"  I laughed it off, and put myself to bed at 7:30, right in the middle of the festivities.  I woke up in the morning to do the regular errands, and found myself at Target.  My husband states that he thinks it's a good idea to just take a pregnancy test.  Then at least we will know.  I think he is nuts, but continue to find the cheapest test that I can find, and one with a coupon no less, as I am convinced this is a complete waste of money.  We go home, I take the test and throw it on the counter, and continue to clean.  I pretty much forget about it.  About a half an hour later, I remember it.  I run to the bathroom to check it, and guess what?  PREGNANT!  At 42 no less.  Now I wish I could tell you all about the romantic way I shared the news, but nope.  Not my style.  I yell for my husband and as he comes up the stairs, I just state..."We have a problem!"

I call the OB the next day, and they ask me to hold.  I answered the usual questions, date of last period etc.   I get the token response which was we will see in about 8 weeks.  No you won't.  I then explain, look I'm 42, and have a hemorrhage history.  I'm on hold again, as they look up my file.  Ok, good luck is what is running through my mind.  She then comes back onto the line and states that they would like to get me in tomorrow morning.  She then says...."I remember you."  See my OB was a beloved Dr here in the Twin Cities, and truth be told, I loved him too.  I never got see him after my hemorrhage.   He passed away a few weeks after he saved my life.  My situation was pretty grim I was told, and since it had been so long since my last baby, they had to send someone out to get the actual paper file which was in some storage facility.  UMM, ok.  As you can imagine, I was pretty nervous for my appointment the next day, which was an ultra sound.  So, now here is where the story gets a little complicated.

We are called back, and I am prepared for grim news.  She then states..."Everything looks good.  You are 22 weeks and 5 days."  WHAT??  I am in shock!  My first thought was that maybe I could have been on a reality tv show, and I was the girl who had a baby in the toilet, and didn't know I was pregnant!  She then states that we now need our genetic testing done due to my advanced maternal age.  Let the games begin.  This was not fun.  We were brought into a room and told the 1000 things that would be wrong with this baby.  They pressured us about additional testing.  We were even told that there was a Dr. on staff that could terminate the pregnancy.  OK....I stated NOPE, NOPE, and NOPE!  We left.  I spent the next weeks at specialist appointments, researching, and really spent the whole time in fear. They had done what they thought their job was.  Convincing me that I was to old, I wouldn't survive it, and that there was still a laundry list of concerns over baby.  I switched providers.  Don't let anyone tell you it is to late to do that.  It isn't!   

My baby was a transverse breech.  My Dr was great, and assured me that I had plenty of time for baby to flip.  Well, my son decided he was way to comfortable, so no, he would not be flipping.  My water broke at 35 weeks, 5 days.  I got to the hospital, was scolded a little for eating pizza en route, and was told I was going in for an emergency c-section.  I'll let you guess what my reaction was.  You guessed it!  NOPE!  I wanted an external cephalic version.  This is a process by which the baby can sometimes be turned manually.  I was met with a little push back, and again told that they would try, but I would probably still need a c-section.  It worked.  Well, it worked for about 5 minutes.  He moved back to breech.  ( of course he did, now that I know his personality, stubborn like his dad, and determined like his mama) I begged for them to try again.  They were annoyed, but moved him again, and used a giant bandage to hold him in place.  I received an epidural, slept for 24 hours, pushed three times, and  had a perfectly fine baby.  I even lived to tell you about it!  

What I learned from all this is that not only is pregnancy amazing, but it also can be confusing and at times, scary.  The people that surround you need to be supportive. In all ways.  I learned how important asking questions can be. The importance of  being an advocate for yourself, and having someone, if only one person, tell you that this is going to be ok.  YOU CAN DO THIS!  I believe in being informed.  I hate fear mongering.  I believe that we have a choice in how we birth.   Information and comfort measures go a long way.  I also believe in miracles.  Do you want to know why?  Despite being told that I would never have another child, the danger if I did, the scare tactics and fear mongering that I unnecessarily had to endure, despite the cards being stacked against me, I lived to tell you my story and to prove them all wrong.  I'm allowed to serve people in their birthing journey as they need me to do, and for that I am ever so grateful.  I get to make a difference!