Birth Matters Podcast, Ep 5 - Hospital Induction with Doula Support

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On today’s episode, Julie shares the story of struggles to conceive for 6 years and ultimately conceiving via IVF, and then goes on to tell her son Cian’s birth story. Her water breaks as the first sign of labor and she proceeds to have a 22-hour induced, but otherwise unmedicated, labor. This is a great birth story to learn some of the benefits of hiring a doula -- also known as professional labor support -- toward strategically avoiding unnecessary interventions. You’ll also hear the smart ways in which Julie advocates for herself to help get the kind of communication she needs to feel confident and peaceful along the way. 

Scroll down for more photos of Julie & Cian.

Resources shared in this episode:

julie+cian birth story

*I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase linked items on this page.

Definitions of Terms Mentioned in Episode:

  • Cervidil = a synthetic prostaglandin (cervical ripener) gel sometimes used to start labor (induce), especially if the cervix is not very ripe or ready for birth.

  • Triage = the room or space where they evaluate laboring folks to decide if they’re ready to be admitted or not.

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Transcript

Lisa:

0:00

You're listening to The Birth Matters Podcast, Episode Five.

Julie:

0:03

You know, I said to her at that point I was like, "Look, I understand it's probably not going to go according to my plan or my hopes, but at the very least you can explain to me why the decisions are being made that we're making. That would be really helpful because I'm kind of a talky person and just to be like, 'Okay, like this isn't what you wanted, but here's why we think it's the best move.' And so she was totally game for that and that was great.

Lisa:

0:36

Hey there, and welcome to the Birth Matters Show. I'm your host, Lisa Greaves Taylor, founder of Birth Matters NYC Childbirth Education and Labor Support. This show is here to lessen your overwhelm on the journey into parenthood by equipping and encouraging you with current best evidence info, and soulful interviews with parents and birth pros. Please keep in mind the information on the show is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose or treat any medical conditions.

Lisa:

1:04

Have you subscribed to the show yet? Please be sure to do that wherever you're listening to this so you don't miss out on any episodes.

Lisa:

1:10

On today's episode, Julie shares the story of struggles to conceive for six years and ultimately conceiving via IVF, and then she'll share her son Cian's birth story. Her water breaks as the first sign of labor and she proceeds to have a 22 -hour induced but otherwise unmedicated labor. This is a great birth story to learn some of the benefits of hiring a doula, also known as professional labor support towards strategically avoiding unnecessary interventions. You'll also hear the smart ways in which Julie advocates for herself to help get the kind of communication she needs to feel confident and peaceful along the way.

Lisa:

1:47

Before we get started, if you'd like to receive your free Pack for Your Best Birth checklist and my free mini course with some expert tips for your best birth, please visit birthmattersonline.com/pack, which you can also find linked in the show notes. Okay, let's jump in.

Lisa:

2:06

Hey Julie, how's it going?

Julie:

2:08

Good, how are you?

Lisa:

2:10

Good, thanks. I'm so thankful that you were willing to chat today and share your lovely birth story. I'd love for you to share what you and your husband Bob do for a living because it's a really cool New York City-specific kind of thing.

Julie:

2:23

Yeah, sure. So we both work in theater or at least we, we used to both solely work in the theater. I was a prop master and also am in the Stagehands Union and so I would sometimes run shows and then other times be like shopping for props or be backstage. I worked at the Tonight Show quite a bit as a stage props person, and then Bob is a carpenter. He's actually the shop foreman for a scene shop in Brooklyn. So we're kind of in, it's related, but we didn't actually work together very often. He was more in the shop and, but I am also a librarian. I went back and got my Masters in library science. So for a while before I had our son Cian I was doing a combination of the theater stuff and the librarian stuff. But now I've pretty much switched solely to librarian because there's only so much time in the day.

Lisa:

3:12

Yeah, sure.

Julie:

3:14

So that's a, that's -- we're sort of both kind of in the creative field, but yeah.

Lisa:

3:18

Tell us where you are in your parenting journey.

Julie:

3:21

So our son Cian -- turned-- well, he just turned 13 months. His birthday's April 6th, so today is May 15th. So yeah, he's just 13 months and he's great. He's really happy and healthy and just kind of, he's really smart. He's kinda -- it really confounds me how much he understands already, you know, you can tell even though he's not really talking, I mean, he says Mama and Dada, but he's just really clever and I, it's kind of fun to watch his brain work and realize the ways that he, his personality is similar to our personalities. It's also really fun, like as he's developing that personality, I'm like, "Oh, that's something that I do." It's really fun. So.

Lisa:

4:04

Oh, that's so fun. Congratulations on your first year of parenthood. Very exciting. Is he walking yet?

Julie:

4:10

He's pulling up to stand. He's cruising between things. He's kind of walking as you hold his hands. But -- he's just, he's in, he's, I've gone back to work full time, just three months ago I started full time.

:

4:22

Oh, wow. I didn't realize that.

Julie:

4:23

Yeah. At a library, actually at the same school of interior design that I was a librarian at before he was born. I was there before part-time and now I'm there full-time. So that's been a whole adventure. But anyway, he's in daycare a couple of days a week and he's just moved up to the next class. So he's in with like one to two year olds. So he's actually, I think he's going to be walking really soon. He's been army crawling for a long time, like the hip thrust as the army crawl.

Lisa:

4:48

That's awesome.

Julie:

4:50

And he's very dextrous with his hands as you might imagine coming from two, kind of creative, crafty people. And he's very good with manipulating balls and putting them into holes and pushing them and turning pages of books. He loves turning pages of books.

Lisa:

5:03

All right, well why don't we launch into sharing your birth story. Can't wait to hear all the details. I know you wrote an email to your class cohort when it first happened, but I'm sure there are a lot more details to be told.

Julie:

5:15

Yeah, right. I'll launch in and we'll see. Hopefully it won't be too longwinded. Well, first of all, it took us a long time to have Cian and we ended up needing to do IVF to have help. We tried for like six years and there were a few failed courses of IVF as well, or where I sort of had a miscarriage. And so that was sort of difficult. But then finally when, and you know, he worked -- he was actually a frozen embryo. But anyways, so when I was pregnant and it stuck-- you know, almost as soon as there was a heartbeat, I was like, "Okay, you know, where am I gonna go to have the baby?", you know, and I kind of, I've always sort of thought I might want to be in a birthing center kind of environment. I'm not a homebirth person. We've been renovating our house. So it really wasn't like equipped for a homebirth anyway. But, anyway, so, and I wasn't, I was unsure. I'm a little older, you know, I was 39 last year when I had him and I didn't want to necessarily go with a standalone birthing center. I kind of liked the idea of a birthing center in a hospital setting. So I was looking around and I ended up going with New York Presbyterian in lower Manhattan cause it looked -- at least online -- they had this really great birthing center and so I called there and they were like, "Well, the midwives aren't really accepting patients." And so I ended up with a regular OBGYN doctor from a practice that was at that hospital. So there was no option of being in the birthing center, but he was a very kind of hands off in his, you know, approach to, at least that's what we talked about. And I was like, okay, that's fine. So that was kind of like going into, you know, okay, I'm planning for the, for the delivery. And you know, it wasn't exactly what I thought, but it was close enough. And I, I liked my doctor. He was, he was pretty good through the whole pregnancy process and it was a really unremarkable pregnancy. I felt pretty good most of the time. I only had a little bit of nausea. My belly wasn't gigantic, you know, even at the end, although it was, I guess looking back at pictures, I'm like, "Oh, it was bigger than I remembered." But anyway, at the time I didn't feel, I was still very active and I was like, it felt really good for the most part, still working on the house on the weekends, right until the end. So anyways, so-- but because I was going to be in a hospital setting and not a birth center, I knew that I, I'd always thought I might have a doula, but I thought it was even more important to have a doula, you know, to have someone to be my advocate there, so I-- I got to.

Lisa:

7:35

How did you hear about doulas?

Julie:

7:35

Well I had a number of friends that had doulas, some friends who had homebirths and so, and it actually, the wife of a friend of mine is a doula herself. And so I'd kind of, over the years, I'd sort of gotten to be familiar with the concept, you know. It wasn't like, you know, I first thought, I was like, "Oh, do I really need someone like that?" But then I, I was convinced and then, and especially given the hospital situation. So anyways, so I had some recommendations from these same friends and, and my friends who had three homebirths, she had a doula named Sarah Pancake for her for her last home birth and said that, you know, she was kind of on the pricier side but was very good. And so we met with her and liked her almost right away. She's a little bit older. She had so much experience and so we hired her. So we knew that from basically we met with her I think in -- my, my due date was April 17th. We met with her maybe in January and decided that we were gonna hire her. So we signed the contract. So that was good. And so we checked in with her around, I think it was 36 weeks, she came to the house and had a big long meeting about, you know, everything. And then we developed a birth plan with her and sort of based on -- actually used the template from your class as a just sort of a guidelines to go over and be like, "Okay, you know, this is sort of what we're thinking." And, and talked through the list also from your class. Your class was very helpful.

Lisa:

9:01

Oh, I'm so glad to hear that.

Julie:

9:02

Yeah. Well you know, just sort of introducing some of like this, you know, some of the, "this is what could happen" sort of things and you know, not that I feel like in the moment we may not have remembered specifics, but it was at least good to have like a primer, you know.

Lisa:

9:16

Sure, and then to have a doula to remind you like the things that you learned, right? To be your brain.

Julie:

9:20

Yeah. She said, "Oh this is a very good list." And so we talked through the different things and whatever. So then it got to be, and I was, I was working at the library, I'd kind of stopped doing the theater work because it was harder as I was getting bigger, you know, it's more physical. So, but I was still working part time at the library and I'd scheduled myself right up until a week before my due date because I was like, "Oh, this baby's going to be late. We're still working on the house. We're not ready for him to come, he's going to be late, "you know, and all of the scans, you know, he'd been kind of, you know, he was pretty average size and you know, there wasn't anything that would say that he would necessarily be early. Anyways, so it was, it was-- let's see, he was born on the sixth, so it must have been April 4th. I was working at the library. It was around 6:00 PM and I went to the bathroom. Oh. And oh, and I should mention I'd had-- I'd had lower back pain and I'd had it a little bit throughout my pregnancy. And I tend to have a history of lower back pain, I'm quite tall. And I'd had like sciatic things earlier on.

Julie:

10:16

Anyway I started to have this lower back pain but I sort of thought, "Well you know, it's probably just him like the baby like being in a weird position or whatever and putting pressure somewhere." And so I, and I've been going to prenatal yoga and so I, let's see, what order was it? I think I'd had the back pain over the weekend before. I went to see the chiropractor you recommended, Dr. Vella, because he's in our neighborhood. So I went to see him for the first time. It was actually the one and only time, I think that was on Tuesday night and it helped a bit. And then already it was sort of starting to improve a bit, you know, the pain. And then on Wednesday morning I went to prenatal yoga before I went to work at the library and so it was around like dinner break like 6:00 PM at the library. I went to the bathroom and I wiped and there was this mucus plug and it was a very classic like, "Oh this is my mucus plug and I thought, "well,

Lisa:

11:08

All coming out at once.

Julie:

11:09

"That's interesting," because it was about a week and a half before my due date. But I was like, "Well!" And I, so I texted Sarah, my doula and I was like, "I'm pretty sure this is the mucus plug," you know? And, and she's like, "Well, this could mean, you know, that things are going to start happening or it could just mean that it regenerates and like nothing happens, you know, it's hard to say." So I was like, okay, that's fine. And so I, you know, finished my shift and worked till 9:00 PM I went home and then that was Wednesday. And then the middle of the night, or maybe it was very early Thursday morning, I got up to go to the bathroom and there was a gush of water and I was like, "Oh, I think this is my water breaking." Oh, I should mention, I also tested GBS positive, which was a bit of a disappointment. I had kind of, you know, hoped to labor at home as long as possible, but then obviously had been told to go to the hospital -- that I should, you know, if my water broke I should go. So then in the middle of the night when I wake up and my water breaks, I was kind of like, "Eh, like already this is not going according to plan," you know? So, I texted Sarah and she was actually in, in the midst of another birth at that point. So she texted back and she was like, you know, "Go back to bed, try to get some sleep. When you wake up in the morning, see if you have another incident of water, you know, breaking." There was no, it was very clear. It was just like water, you know, it was clear, there was nothing weird about it. So I was like, okay. So I went back to sleep. I don't think I really slept, but I went back to bed and I, you know, and then woke up at like something like 5, 5:30 in the morning and again, like got up to go to the bathroom and another gush of water.

Julie:

12:40

And so I actually spoke to one of Sarah's like coworkers or you know, fellow doulas ended up calling me cause she was in the midst of this other labor delivery and it was like, "Yeah, you know, it does, it sounds like your water's broken." And she was like, "Well there's a couple of things you can do here." You know. She was like -- first of all, you know, I wasn't having contractions. I wasn't in labor at all. And she said, "Yes, you're GBS positive, but there's two reasons that doctors tell you to go to the hospital when your water breaks. And one is that, you know, if you're GBS positive, they want to make sure that you get a round of antibiotics before, at least four hours before the delivery. But chances of you giving birth four hours from now are very, are -- not going to, it's not gonna happen." And you know, I wasn't in labor. And they're like, "The other reason is so that they can, because there's a risk of infection once the water breaks. But really," you know, she was like,

Lisa:

13:36

Very small.

Julie:

13:36

Yeah. There's such a small risk of infection because especially because no one had been up there to check how dilated I was. So now -- nothing can get introduced into the environment to be infected, right? So she was like, "If I were you, I would consider staying home and waiting and having a big lunch and finishing, getting your bags packed (because we weren't really quite ready yet, because it was a little bit early) and then going to the hospital in your own time and maybe going to acupuncture, trying to get things jump-started." And so we talked about it, Bob and I, and agreed that that was probably a pretty good line of thinking, and I really did want to avoid getting into a situation where we turned up to the hospital too early and then were stuck in their timeframe and nothing is really going on. So we basically did that. We cleaned the house, in fact finished packing our bags and had a nice lunch. I made an appointment for acupuncture. I'd been going to a place off of Union Square anyway, so it was kind of on the way to the hospital. So they could see me in the afternoon. So, we started off taking a cab and then the cab got stuck in traffic before we even got across the Queensborough bridge. And, also, I still was hardly having, I was having occasional contractions, but nothing painful. And then we were like, "Let's just take the subway." So we took the subway down to acupuncture. And then we went and got dinner at Le Pain Quotidien and then we hopped in a cab and went to the hospital.

Julie:

15:00

And so when I got there, you know, and I was discussing with Sarah, while I was in the cab, her birth had finished. So she was trying to get some sleep before she would come to the hospital for me -- but we talked about what should I say to the doctors, and, and should I be honest about when my water broke, broke or should I not? And I ended up sort of fudging it by saying it had broken at three, but I didn't say 3:00 AM, you know, I just didn't say. That kind of bought me some time. We ended up arriving at the hospital at like 6:30 PM and also, you know, various other things, you know, she sort of reminded me, which was very helpful. Like, I was like, "Well, isn't that wrong to like not tell them, you know, the right time?" And she was like, "It''s your birth. It's up to you, it's not up to the doctors, and they're just trying to cover themselves legally; It's up to you." And I was like, "Oh, right, okay." You know. So we got there and we checked in and -- unfortunately it was -- the shift change happened at 8:00 PM. They happened at 8:00 PM and 8:00 AM, at least in this hospital. So we got there at 6:30, but I was checked in by one nurse, but then I was in triage and there was a shift change and everyone was kinda ready to go home and they weren't that interested in me and I wasn't really in labor. And when they finally checked me for-- hooked me up to the monitors and stuff and checked me for dilation and I was, I think just maybe one centimeter or maybe 1.5, I think I might have just been one (cm) at that point, they hooked me up to the fetal monitor and the IV -- for the GBS and the pulse monitor and I had, part of my birth plan was I had hoped to be, to have intermittent monitoring instead of continuous. But when they checked my blood pressure, when I arrived at the hospital, it was high, which of course --

Lisa:

16:45

How could it not be?

Julie:

16:47

I'm here for my first birth...Of course it was going to be high, you know. And also at one point the fetal monitor, well at one point they couldn't detect the heartbeat for like maybe a minute, the fetal heartbeat. But that stupid monitor, it's an elastic band. It just slips all around, you know, it's the thing probably just slipped, but they were like, "Well, you have to be on constant monitoring," you know? And I was like,

Lisa:

17:06

"Oh!"

Julie:

17:07

And you know, and then, and then they tried to insert the IV and the one nurse who started to do it was doing it as a favor to the other nurse who was leaving, but she was also leaving and she was in a hurry and she ended up like blowing up a vein. It was very --

Lisa:

17:23

Oh! Ow!

Julie:

17:23

She was like, "I can't deal with this" and stepped away. But luckily like --

Lisa:

17:26

"YOU can't deal with this?"

Julie:

17:28

Yeah. I was like, really? Right. But then once the shift change happened, then you know, the night nurse was a bit more, at least she was a little bit more invested in me cause she was there for 12 hours, you know, so we got that resolved and the-- the physician's assistant came and talked to me and about, you know, what the plan of action should be and they recommended cervical ripener cervidil -- to sort of get things moving, you know? And, and that also involved, again, like if they put that in, then I was going to be restricted to the bed. You know, while it had to be, I had to sit, lay still for like, I forget how long it was, a couple of hours at least, you know,

Lisa:

18:08

It sounds like they administered it vaginally, not orally.

Julie:

18:10

Vaginally. Yep. Yep. And so I had to lay there for however long until it had sort of taken, you know, so that again, I was disappointed. I mean they hadn't really been willing to let me wander around in the hospital per se, but they might've been willing -- if I hadn't had the constant monitoring, and the cervidil -- to let me at least roam on the floor, you know, but, but so then again, I was kinda like, oh well this is not what I thought, but because they put that in and -- and I laid there for however long and then I was desperate to go to the bathroom. And so as soon as I could get up, I got up to go to the bathroom and as soon as I peed, the cervidil, it's like a tape, you know, that's all rolled, balled up and then kind of like whooshed out, right.? And they said that often that happens when your water's broken because it's kind of less fluids coming out then so that it's kind of, you know, so unfortunately that meant that they, we had to, they decided to put another one in, but I had to again stay in bed for whatever the chunk of time was while the second one was like, yeah. So I'm in triage. It's really uncomfortable. Poor Bob is there. He's like sitting in a chair, like laying over the foot of the bed at this point. It's like midnight and he's like trying to sleep. I'm trying to sleep. I'm having contractions now more regularly, but still not like anything crazy, you know?

Lisa:

19:25

And just to clarify here, this means you were stuck in, I think you said you were stuck in triage for like eight hours, right?

Julie:

19:32

Right. All the rooms were occupied, but it just was really uncomfortable in triage, you know?

Lisa:

19:36

Yeah. We're hearing of a lot of people being stuck either, usually even more in the waiting room than in triage, for like up to 10 hours, a lot of the time, depending if you get there really early, right?

:

19:48

At least I had a bed, you know? So that was one thing. Even though it was a triage bed, it was still not a waiting room chair.

Lisa:

19:57

Probably cramped, right?

Julie:

19:57

Yeah. It was pretty cramped with a curtain around and really it was like, poor Bob! I feel worse for him. You know, I was, yeah, well I was, it was uncomfortable with the contractions, but I wasn't in pain per se, you know, it just was kind of like, oh, every, you know, however long in between. But they still weren't particularly regular, you know, the contractions. Anyway, but I think it was around like 2:30 in the morning on, on Friday morning that we got moved to the delivery room, which was actually amazing. It was like a palace compared to triage. And also, that particular hospital, it's really nice because it's right by the Brooklyn Bridge. And so our room actually had a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. And so -- let's see, what happened then? I think I might've had-- I can't remember if I had...

Lisa:

20:38

Wasn't there a foley balloon? At some point?

Julie:

20:41

Eventually. Yeah. So I -- I feel like what happened somehow between 2:30 and 8:00 AM, I'm not really sure if there was another cervidil, like maybe the second, I think the second one might've come out as well, as soon as I could move. And then they were like, you know, just deciding if I -- I was very soft. They checked me and I wasn't much more dilated, but I was, my cervix was very soft, you know. And so at some point, right around the 8:00 AM shift change, another physician's assistant came in, another nurse came in, who was going to be my nurse, and you know, somehow I'd made it through all of this cervical ripener and got to 8:00 AM and so at that point the new physician's assistant....Oh, and I should mention that each time there was a shift change, I was like, "Hey, have you seen my birth plan?" Like I had a copy of it with me, but I felt like, you know, everyone was so annoyed that I had a birth plan or they were thinking about shift changes and whatever. And they just were kind of like, "Yeah, yeah, we've seen it." But I didn't feel confident that they were actually paying any attention to it. You know, especially because so many of the things, like at least three or four of the things on there, like about the monitoring and about moving around and stuff had we hadn't been able to follow. So that was frustrating you know, but with the 8:00 AM shift change -- the new physician's assistant who started then, I really liked her and I said, "You know, did you see my birth plan?" And she's like, "Yes I have." And you know, I said to her at that point I was like, "Look, like, I understand it's probably not going to go according to my plan or my hopes, but at the very least you can explain to me why the decisions are being made that we're making. That would be really helpful. Because I'm kind of a talky person and just to be like, 'Okay, this isn't what you wanted but here's why we think it's the best move.'" And so she was totally game for that and that was great.

Lisa:

22:23

What a great self-advocacy tip. That's so great.

Julie:

22:25

Yeah, just for me, for my own personal, you know, if I felt like things were happening and I didn't understand why, then that would freak me out, you know?

Lisa:

22:33

Sure.

Julie:

22:34

Especially while I was still in that, not really like at a place where I couldn't think about that stuff. You know? So that was great and I really liked her. And then also the nurse who started at the 8AM shift was sort of like a brusque, kind of eastern European-style nurse. And I was sort of like, not really sure about her, but she got called into an emergency c-section, and the woman who was covering for her, the other nurse was amazing and I loved her. And so anyways, the PA who started at eight was like, "Okay, look, here's what I think: your, your cervix is very ripe. Let's -- and I know that you want to have a, a vaginal birth, you know, if possible." She's like, "Let's do this mechanically. Let's put a foley balloon in and see if we can get you to dilate with a foley balloon." And unfortunately with the foley balloon, they start you on pitocin. And I also had not really wanted to have pitocin, but that was what they do. So I was like, okay. So they did that and they started me on the very lowest dose of pitocin. And luckily, blessedly, like within a half an hour of inserting the balloon and starting the pitocin I -- oh, and there was also the thing about eating food, that was part of my birth plan too, like, "Can I bring food to the hospital?" And the doctor had sort of been like, "Well, you're not supposed to, but maybe you can sneak it in." And my doula had been like, "I'll sneak some food in." But you know, there really wasn't a time when they would let me eat anything. You know, because...

Lisa:

23:51

They were never not in the room?

Julie:

23:53

Well they were -- in triage, it was awkward, right? But then once we were in the room, like yeah, they weren't, there were times they weren't in the room, but I just wasn't sure. And they were still like, "No, no, you really can't eat." But then the PA who started at 8AM was like, "Look, you know, here's a window before -- like, you weren't supposed to eat on the cervidil. You can't eat once we start the pitocin, but here's like a half an hour window. Why don't you have Bob go run out and get you something that you can, you know, so that you have something in your stomach.? "And I was like, okay, great. Then he ran out, he got me breakfast, he was like, "What do you want?" And I was like, "Scrambled eggs, you know, hash browns, whatever." And he brought it back and so I wolfed that down and then once I'd finished, they started the pitocin and literally within like, I don't know, 15, 20 minutes of starting the pitocin, I vomited, and I vomited up all the scrambled eggs I'd just eaten. But I had been constantly checking in with Sarah, my doula, you know, and she was like, "Let me know how things are going and like -- I'll decide when it's the right time to come." And so as soon as I vomited, I was like, "Hey, I just like, you know," and I said about the foley balloon. And she was like, "I think that's a great plan. That sounds like the right way to move." And then she's like, "Oh, you vomited. That means that your hormones are shifting." She's like, "I'm coming right now," and so, and luckily she was, she's in Brooklyn, so she -- was quite close by, so she got there within half an hour. So that was right around noon on Friday. It's -- time, time is a little witchy I guess -- within half an hour. But actually it was four hours later. But -- so basically she got there at noon and I had just been starting to have more regular contractions sort of right around the time when they put the balloon in and the pitocin. But they were, they weren't regular enough that she had thought that that was a reason to come. But once I threw up then she was like, "Okay, I'm coming." And things just seemed to go really quickly from there. So she arrived at noon and already the contractions were quite regular.

Julie:

25:43

I'm not sure how long between, but quite regular. And she kind of like jumped right in and she put Bob to work and they sort of, you know, I was, I ended up being kind of like bossy pants and I was like, you know, "Okay, this one's in the back," you know, and so she was like, "Oh, that means that he's moving down" or "That means that you're dilating" or whatever. And she sort of was like, "Oh this, these -- you know, when they're located at, when the pain is located in different places, then you know, it's sort of informative about what's..." And so she would kind of like push from the back and Bob's job ended up being -- he had two jobs. He would sort of, I ended up like mostly wanting to stand and kind of leaning over the bed for the contractions. And sometimes I was on the yoga ball. I was always hooked up to the machines, but I was within, I could, they let me move around within the range of the monitor and the IV stuff. So anyway, I was mostly standing up. He would kind of hang over the other edge of the bed, like counter-balancing me when there was a contraction and Sarah would be pushing from behind on my hips. And -- and then Bob would also feed me ice cubes and give me lemon ice and whatever else they, you know, to cool me off in between. But then also another thing, this is something that Sarah had recommended to me at like -- 37 or 36 weeks-- is a TENS machine, which is like a thing that you use for-- like athletes use it, right? For back pain. And it's like, it's like these pads that you stick on yourself that give like little electrical pulses that help with the pain and they're not, usually they're meant for muscle pain, but she was like, they're great for labor. And so I got one that had more pads than most of them do. Like the ones that were meant for labor are quite expensive. But anyway, so Bob's other job was to be the one to be in control of the, of the dialing up of the TENS machine. And they'll sometimes, I think sometimes in Sarah's experience, sometimes the woman is able to control her own level of like alleviating the pain with the TENS machine. But in my case, I didn't really do that. It was really more about Bob doing it, you know? So when I felt a contraction coming on, everyone kind of jumped into position. And Bob would dial up the TENS and then Sarah would push. And so it went quite swiftly and then....

Lisa:

27:50

And so those things were working for you, it sounds like?

Julie:

27:53

They were working. And I just kind of would focus through each contraction and at some point Sarah said to me, "You should get on the bed on your side." And so I did that and I, I wasn't really even aware of the transition. I'd been kind of worried about that, you know, it being like a really painful thing, but, but there was, I guess one contraction that just lasted a really long time. And then looking back on it, she was like, "I really think that was the transition -- right? Is that -- transition, is that, that's the word for it, right?

Lisa:

28:23

Right before pushing, mm-hmm.

Julie:

28:25

Yeah, so yeah, I don't remember it being particularly awful, except that the contraction just sort of continued, you know, for a longer time or like sort of one blended into the other for this short period. And then it was time to push, and I pushed I think maybe for 20, 30 minutes or so. Yeah. It wasn't, yeah, it could have -- must have been that way. It wasn't very long. It was maybe like 10, like eight or 10 rounds of, of pushing, you know, and-- and they were, you know, they were very encouraging and the doctor was there and the, and the nurse, the nurse Jerrica who'd started at 8:00 AM who I loved, was there for the whole thing and she was really fantastic and everyone just like worked together as a team and then he came out, and as soon as Cian was out, he peed right away, which everyone was like, "Oh, that's great!"

Lisa:

29:12

On you?

Julie:

29:13

Kind of off to the side. And then, you know, they started to wipe him off. And I was like, "No, no, I don't really want him to be wiped off, you know, it's fine. Just put him on." And he didn't do the breast crawl, but they put him right at my breast and he latched right on and it was really great. And, and Bob got a little bit of skin-to-skin time and, and they held off. They were able to hold off on clamping the cord they were willing to do it for, I think, was it one minute or two minutes? It was something, it was, it was, they let, they held off for a little bit. You know, they weren't willing to do it for very long, but it was like, you know, at my request it was a little longer than normal. Yeah, no, no, no. That was it. And it was just lovely, you know, it was all really good. And the doctor, even in the end he said to Sarah, he was like, which I feel like is hardly ever happens with doulas, but he was like, "You are amazing. You were so helpful." And it just, I felt like it was the right way to go with, with her level of experience. And then also, I had no way of knowing that it was going to be relatively easy, but it was relatively easy, you know. So he was born at -- what time was he born? I can't remember. I think it was 4:45(pm) on Friday, April 6th. So it was just 22 hours after we had arrived at the hospital that he was actually born. And so it was really only active labor starting at noon, you know, so it was just about five hours of active labor. So yeah, I feel really blessed that it went, you know, after, after kind of a rocky start, it really went pretty well. And then the other things that I sort of wasn't expecting or prepared for after he was born were, you know, we tried to get a private room but there were none available. We ended up in a shared room, which was very small and very awkward. And they come and check in on both mothers and both babies in four hour increments, but different four hour increments. They were constantly coming in, and I was in the bed by the bathroom. So anytime anyone came into the room, they were passing by me. And then anytime the other mother had to go to the bathroom, you know, and then my roommate changed for the second night. They wanted to keep me two nights because of the GBS. And my roommate changed for the second night and then this, I think the first woman just had the TV on all night long. And then the second woman had a huge family that came at like 11:00 PM with bags full of like Burger King and just like stayed and chatted forever. And like the first night it was great because Cian kind of slept. But the second night he was just cluster feeding. He wasn't sleeping. I wasn't really prepared for that, you know, I didn't really quite know what to do. So that was, that was difficult. So I, I slept a bit the first night, but I hardly slept much the second night.

Lisa:

31:57

So you were probably ready to get out of there and go home.

Julie:

32:01

But then we continued the, the almost the whole, like when we got home, you know, we'd had -- our house is an older house and the rooms are kind of small and so we don't have a lot of room next to our bed. We couldn't do like a co-sleeper next to the bed. So I have like a portable bassinet in the corner of the room, like opposite our bed in our bedroom. And-- and I kind of thought, "Okay, well great. I'll put them down to sleep in that." But it turned out that he wouldn't really sleep unless he was on one of us. Like, literally on us. And he wanted to feed every hour, hour and a half, you know, so...

Lisa:

32:33

Yeah, it's intense, isn't it?

Julie:

32:35

It's intense. And so I wasn't that,

Lisa:

32:36

But that's normal. Even though like, experientially, experientially, it's so hard to like hear that in a class prenatally and really understand the intensity of what that means.

Julie:

32:47

Because literally like I had him falling asleep on me but then I couldn't move because I didn't even have like a rail on the bed. I just, I had also arranged for a lactation consultant (IBCLC) at your suggestion and recommendation, you know, Annie Frisbie, and I had been in touch with her, you know, a bit before Cian was actually born. But then I met with her like when he was three or four days old and at that point she was like, "Look, you know, you can buy like a side rail for the bed and that'll make it safe to sleep and you can side lying, be feeding him and that'll be better." And you know, but she didn't recommend doing that until I had this side rail. And so basically there was a week where I literally was staying up all night long, like feeding him, letting him sleep on me, watching Netflix series, on end while Bob slept. And because Bob is a much heavier sleeper. And so I was kind of worried about him trying to stay awake in the night, but then as soon as it was daylight, he would wake up and he would hold Cian for like two hours while I slept. So I literally got two hours of sleep at night for that whole first week until we got the side rail of the bed and I could side lying nursing and stuff. But so it started in the hospital with that sort of like lack of sleep. But you kind of surf through, like it sort of worked out. I mean he's still even, even now, I'm still breastfeeding now-- although I'm starting to taper off, but he's only just started kind of sleeping through the night. He's been a really like a frequent nurser and kind of just not a great sleeper, you know-- for most of this this past year. But anyway, so it was sort of,

Lisa:

34:20

It's all temporary.

Julie:

34:22

It's amazing how little sleep you can actually function on.

Lisa:

34:26

Yes. Right. And yet it's still one of the hardest aspects I think of early parenthood is that sleep deprivation. Whoa.

Julie:

34:32

Yeah. Especially now like having gone back to work full time. So yes, going back to work has been, has been intense. Full time -- like going back to a full time job has been intense. I mean I'm, I'm very blessed to have had a pretty much like -- what was it -- at least a solid nine months. Then I started in February. So I guess it's more like 10 months of being mostly a stay-at-home mom. I'd been picking up a little bit of freelance work in the theater-- here and there.

Lisa:

34:59

Do you want to tell anything about the show you were having to do some hard manual labor on?

Julie:

35:03

One of the first things I went back to do is-- was being like a substitute stage hand-- doing props for the show Once on This Island, which-- was a great show actually-- at Circle in the Square (Broadway). But the, the props preset for the show involved -- it was a sand, it's a sand stage. And so the props preset involved like shoveling the sand. There's, at one point in the show, there was like a reveal where they pulled back some tarps that were buried in the sand to reveal like this pristine rug on the, in the middle of the stage. And so at the end of the show, in order to reset for the next show it involved like resetting the rug, resetting the tarps, and then shoveling wet sand over and then sort of grading it all. So it was all even, so it was an even surface for the actors who were all barefoot in the show. It was pretty intense.

Lisa:

36:00

And that was when, that was...how old was Cian when you did that?

Julie:

36:02

I, he was like five, four and a half months. Five months.

Lisa:

36:07

Yeah, pretty early.

Julie:

36:08

I was only doing it occasionally, but actually it was, it was kind of a thing because it turned out that he had a dairy protein, milk protein intolerance. Yeah. And the only way that I knew that or knew to ask about that was because he had some mucus in his poops. And I was, and I asked Annie and she was like, well, sometimes it can be, you know, reaction to dairy in my diet -- through my breast milk, you know, and I, and I took a diaper to be checked by the pediatrician to see if there -- sometimes when that's the case you can sometimes see blood in the stool. But sometimes the mucus is like a reaction, but there is actually microscopic blood in the stool, which was the case with his, with him. So the pediatrician recommended I eliminate dairy and also it could be soy as well as dairy. So I had to eliminate soy. So I not only was breastfeeding like constantly, but also eliminating all this stuff from my diet, which is my main source of calories and fat, you know, and my, I really love dairy, you know, so I actually, I lost the weight very quickly. The pregnancy weight. And I think probably because of the breastfeeding, but then when he was about a month old was when I started cutting out dairy and soy and my weight just really kind of plummeted. And then I was also like shoveling wet sand, you know, so-- so I'm still, I'm still thinner than I, I'm still at my thinnest. Well, I mean I'm not my thinnest now, but I'm still thinner than I would normally have been before, like probably about five pounds lighter.

Lisa:

37:39

Yeah. That dairy really makes a big difference.

Julie:

37:42

Big difference. I mean, luckily now that he is having, you know, when he started having solid food, it didn't seem to be-- you know, as much of a thing. But then I waited until he was like a year before I gave him dairy. But around nine months when I went back to work full time, or sort of the beginning of this year, the pediatrician was like, "I think you could start reintroducing dairy into your diet." And so I did. And so that's helped. It's at least helped stabilize. I mean, I was even thinner before, but -- it's helped stabilize and then, but since I'm still breastfeeding, I haven't actually been able to like put on significant amounts of weight. But -- and then luckily when he turned a year, I took him to the allergist and she was like, "You know what, he's still healthy. I don't even want to test him -- like, it opens a can of worms. Why don't you just start trying him with dairy and mixed?" She suggested mixing cow's milk in with my breast milk as like a gradual kind of transition. So I'm still doing that and he's been totally fine. Like no problems at all.

Lisa:

38:39

Yay! Oh good. Nice. Well you may want to go eat your dinner that just came out of the oven.

Julie:

38:47

But I should say while we're recording, what I said to you earlier about the, about the -- I'm really glad that you're doing this. Whatever you end up doing with these birth stories, I think it's a great thing and it was very helpful for me to read other people's birth stories on your, I forget if it's the website or the blog.

Lisa:

39:06

My blog, yeah.

Julie:

39:06

Before going into mine-- my own birth story. But you know, it just was just to sort of know the range of what could happen or how it might be was really helpful, and kind of more helpful. I'd also gotten the-- what was the book that you recommend?

Lisa:

39:22

Ina May's Guide, which is pretty much all unmedicated, out in the field, yeah, they're great, but...

Julie:

39:29

Inspirational, but not the reality for a lot of us -- at least not for me.

Lisa:

39:32

Yeah, great point though. Yup.

Julie:

39:35

That was really helpful just to hear of people who are also, you know, in the same sort of situation as me potentially from your website.

Lisa:

39:43

Yeah. I think those two things are good complements to each other. Either my blog or The Birth Hour podcast is one I also always recommend.

Julie:

39:51

Yeah. I don't think I did look at that one, but I, I-- anyway...

Lisa:

39:54

Yeah, it just depends on what people, if they want to read or if they want to listen, but I just like to give options, but yeah. Well, thank you. That means a lot and I, I'm so grateful that you were willing to share your story. It's a great one.

Julie:

40:07

I forgot to mention in the course of the birth story about the pitocin and the-- and that basically it, you know, once I, once I threw up and, and labor sort of kickstarted, like they actually ended up turning off the pitocin. They never had to dial it up much higher, it was at the lowest level. And then so it ended up being like a pretty much unmedicated vaginal birth.

Lisa:

40:26

That's amazing.

Julie:

40:28

Which was really, yeah, just kind of amazing.

Lisa:

40:31

Yeah. That's so great to hear. I love that they were able to just do the minimum amount necessary and that they were able to turn it off. Sometimes that happens. Yeah.

Julie:

40:40

Yeah. Because I responded so quickly and -- you know, that was, who would have known, you know, but also-- I do feel like God's hand was in it, you know?

Lisa:

40:50

Yeah, yeah. And helping you cope, it's often harder to cope with, with that pitocin.

Julie:

40:57

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That was a really...

Lisa:

41:00

Great that you felt that help.

Julie:

41:02

And I'm sorry Bob couldn't be here with me for this, for this recorded interview, but-- but he's actually, you know, you were asking how this is affected, like our relationship and stuff like that or you know, how it's been for us. And I have to say, we're both exhausted. He's particularly exhausted because he's working long hours at the moment. And now that I've gone back to work full time at the library, I was doing -- this semester has just ended. But during this semester I was doing a couple evenings a week. I'm working on Sundays from 12 to eight. So he's had to really-- take on the duty, the bedtime routine and getting Cian to sleep. And he's just been, he's really stepped up and he's been really great. And I know, even though he's exhausted, he really treasures the time with Cian, and Cian has gotten so that he goes down so easily for him. Much better than he for me, honestly. But -- it's just been really fantastic to see Bob like settle into this role of being a dad and we're just so in love with Cian, you know, that it's been tough to find time for just the two of us admittedly. But I feel like it's just brought us together in a much deeper way. Having a child now and having him be part of our family and appreciating how much the other is doing to like try to make it as smooth and, and happy as possible.

Lisa:

42:18

Yeah, that's great. It makes such a difference to have a partner who is willing to pitch in and, you know, make it work and sacrifice one's own self.

Julie:

42:29

Yeah, he wasn't, it's not a natural thing for him either. He's, he never really babysat or spent much time with kids or, you know, I think he sometimes feels a bit awkward and you know, he's a bit older so he's not always, you know, as, as physically -- feeling as physically able to, you know -- be hands on. But he, but he's stepped up and he has been hands on, you know, so.

Lisa:

42:50

Oh, that's great. Thank you for sharing that. That's so great to hear. And-- just, you can think about this, if you guys would ever want to share any of your IVF journey, I know that's something that I would really love to learn about and I'm sure others would love to learn about that. I feel like it's such an, it can be such an isolating journey for too many people.

Julie:

43:09

Yeah. And especially because I feel like a lot of people don't want to talk about it. I mean, there's a lot of feelings of failure associated with having infertility troubles and, and for myself, I mean, I sort of, I went through a period of being like, "Why me? Like, why is this happening?" And, and ultimately felt like maybe part of the reason that I went through that was so that I could share that with other people and help them somehow, you know, if they're going through that, especially, you know, some of the stuff, there's a lot of like spiritual questions tied up with IVF, too. And how much do you intervene and how much do you just let things happen, you know? And, and...

Lisa:

43:46

Oh, wow, yeah.

Julie:

43:47

I think that people just really, I feel like no one's talking about that, but I,

Lisa:

43:50

We need to talk about it.

Julie:

43:51

I'd be happy to share my experience in that vein, you know, if that would help people, or at least, you know.

Lisa:

43:58

Yes, yes. So many of my students, so many people who come to my classes have conceived via IVF and, and just the little bit that I've talked to students -- I've just started to learn about the struggles of it. So many, it's complicated, you know, lots of different ways. Like you just shared several different things. Yeah. So yeah, maybe we can have another future talk if you're...

Julie:

44:22

Yeah, just let me know. I'm happy to to help you out and you know, help others out. And. I'm happy to chat. I love chatting.

Lisa:

44:29

Yeah! Me, too. All right. Go have your dinner and tell Bob hi, and give Cian a hug. Hopefully I'll see you at church soon.

Julie:

44:35

Yeah, I'll see you at church soon.

Lisa:

44:36

Thanks again. Bye.

Julie:

44:37

Good night.

Lisa:

44:39

So there's Cian's birth story told by Julie. Before we sign off, I want to point out that it's very common for your blood pressure to be elevated upon arrival at the hospital. And this can bump you up into a high-risk category that might not be truly necessary or helpful. For most of us, it's simply a product of the stressful car ride and possibly also a white coat syndrome thing, too. So here's my tip. If you're giving birth outside your home, on the way to triage and once you arrive, you can do yourself a favor toward bringing your blood pressure down by taking deep breaths, doing visualization, meditation, prayer, whatever will consciously help bring it down. Then if your BP tests high when you arrive at your birth place, I recommend asking to wait a few minutes and then to retest. If you get pushback, just explain that the transfer to the hospital was stressful and that you suspect the elevated BP is just due to that.

Lisa:

45:29

Also, I wanted to mention that the GBS test is usually done between 35 & 37 weeks in pregnancy with a vaginal and rectal swab. They’re testing to see how high of a colonization there is of this meaner bacteria called Group B Strep. When someone tests positive for Group B Strep, there’s a small risk of a serious infection for the baby from being exposed to that bacteria in a vaginal birth. The standard protocol and aim here in the U.S. for someone who tests positive is for them to get at least 2 rounds of IV antibiotics in labor, spaced 4 hours apart, before giving birth. If labor continues beyond the first 2 doses, they would give another dose every 4 hours until baby is born. These antibiotics significantly reduce that small risk of infection

Lisa:

45:30

Thank you so much for listening to the Birth Matters Podcast. Please be sure to follow and reach out to us on social media @birthmattersnyc. Listen up for what we have coming up next week.

Ariel (Ep 6 teaser):

45:37

"There’s a lot that you don’t know. There’s a phrase, 'You don’t know what you don’t know.' But there’s a lot that you can know and a lot you can learn to be aware of. So I’d say just having an understanding of some things will make everything feel less overwhelming. If anybody asks me, I highly recommend your class."