Karli & Ryan were my very first doula clients, and the one precious birth I got to attend in 2020. They are FANTASTIC souls, and I felt so privileged and honored to get to support them as they birthed their third little babe – a perfect, beautiful water birth – at My Family Birth Center in Ogden, Utah.
Karli & Ryan hired me as their doula at 39 weeks, on the day they transferred care to the birth center. Switching to a birth center and hiring a doula was a last minute decision, but I’m SO GLAD THEY DID! Not only did I treasure getting to support them, but they felt safer (hospitals and COVID and all), got a supportive atmosphere for the unmedicated birth they wanted (after two previous hospital births with epidurals), and without visitor restrictions, Karli’s mama got to be there with her, too!
Both of Karli’s other babes came before 38 weeks, so she’d never been pregnant this long, and with prodromal labor for weeks already, she was ready for this little babe boy to come! The days before he actually decided to come were hard – contractions would come, start building up, and then slow down again. The day before babe boy’s birth day, they once again started up and slowed down again, and then started back up again around dinner time. But this time they kept coming, getting closer together, so around midnight, they decided to go ahead and get themselves to the birth center! I met her there amid a DOWNPOUR of rain, and we got ourselves settled in. Karli got checked – 4 cm dilated and mostly effaced, and with plenty of excited chatter between contractions, we were definitely in early labor. We worked for a few hours to help Karli shift into active labor – lunges, relaxation, squats. But, by around 5 AM, those contractions started spacing out again, and Karli was still in early labor (around 5-6 cm, though babe boy was a lot lower and her cervix was thinner) and getting tired, so we decided to all go home and get some rest.
After a day of rest and some solid food, those contractions built back up again – consistently 3-5 minutes apart, and increasing in intensity. Around dinner time, we all made our way back to the birth center, and I could tell this time it was baby time! Ryan was AWESOME, and with just a little direction, supported Karli through every contraction with hip squeezes and words of encouragement as she turned inward and did the work of opening. We put up words of affirmation, turned down the lights, and Karli labored – on the toilet, around the room, and finally in the tub.
A couple hours later, Karli was nearly complete – just a bit of anterior lip that Jessie (the midwife there at My Family Birth Center) was able to move out of the way so that babe boy’s head could slip past that cervix. With that out of the way, Karli got to work pushing!
And pushing was HARD (and a bit discouraging)! Where her last babe came flying out in just a couple contractions, this little boy seemed to be reluctant to come – but Karli was STRONG and got to WORK. She squatted, and lunged, and squatted some more. We surrounded her with support and affirmations, counter-pressure and guidance when she asked for it. Finally, babe boy’s head crowned, and with a roar, his head AND a little hand came out! (We’re pretty sure that nuchal hand is what made pushing so much work!) Another roar, and he was out and into Karli’s waiting arms, covered and kept warm by her and warm towels as he worked out a bit of extra fluid in his lungs. The placenta came out and was collected in the awaiting bowl, and Karli & Ryan were given some time to admire their sweet little new boy before helping the no-longer-pregnant mama and her boy out of the tub and into the awaiting bed.
After some precious snuggles with her little boy (finally on the outside!!), Ryan cut the cord and got his snuggle time while Jessie checked Karli for tears. The newborn exam revealed that this little boy was just over 8 lb – the biggest of all of their babes, and we admired his little features and fine, blonde hair. He was eager to get some of that precious colostrum, and with some gentle coaching from his mama, latched beautifully.
Karli’s mama was THE sweetest – there were tears as she watched her little grandson arrive, and she kept telling me just how grateful she was to get to be there, and how much she loved that her little girl was getting such personalized, loving support. “I wish everyone could give birth in a place like this!” is what she told me over and over again (and I couldn’t agree more!). The team there at the birth center is just FANTASTIC, and I’m always impressed with how much they take care of their clients – behind the scenes keeping towels ready and warm, monitoring vitals, and supporting their families through their most vulnerable moments.