Week 27 ~ March 2, 2005
~ Doula or Don't Cha?
I had a good chuckle out of the title of this journal entry "Doula or Don't Cha?" because it's one of the things I've been particularly concerned about in this pregnancy: whether or not to hire a doula. My first labor can only be described as fast and furious. I felt as though it was an out-of-body experience, happening to someone else, only with very pointed reminders every 60 seconds from the wracking contractions in my body that no indeed, this WAS happening to me and I was unfortunately very much IN my body! I had had big plans for my first labor. I was going to refuse all medication (I wound up taking a half-dose of Stadol and then begged for an epidural - I dilated so fast I wasn't able to get one), I was going to walk to speed up the contractions (I never left the bed once active labor began), I would try the hot tub or shower to relax (see the last 'I never left the bed' point), I might sit on a birthing ball (again with the 'never getting out of bed'), and Tim was going to massage my back to help me out (ice chips on my lips and a cold washcloth on my back were the best we could come up with). Both Tim and I were so overwhelmed with the speed and ferocity of my labor, neither of us seemed to have a clue that we had any choice in the matter. And I thought I had planned ahead!
We attended a birthing class, took the tour of our hospital's labor and delivery area, and I even prepared a written birth plan. I felt a little sheepish about actually running off copies of my birth plan and handing them to the rotating nurses, and just left my birth plan at home when I was induced. Mistake number one was agreeing to be induced. Although I love my obstetrician and have since referred a bunch of friends to him, I've already let him know that I absolutely positively refuse to be induced with this pregnancy. More on that in a future journal entry. Mistake number two was leaving the birth plan at home because we were unable to adequately express our needs and desires when we were so consumed with the overwhelming physical and emotional turmoil of being in labor and actually giving birth to a baby. In hindsight, a written plan would have helped us to keep our wits about us, I'm sure. Mistake number three was that Tim and I also very much took the birthing class lightheartedly. We joked and laughed and made friends with the other couples, and in hindsight I wonder if we gave it enough of our serious attention. Although, in our defense, I did read everything I could get my hands on in regard to childbirth, talked to every mother I could find about her birth story, trolled bulletin boards like "StorkNet," and was more than a little obsessed with TV shows like "Maternity Ward," "A Baby Story," and "Amazing Births."
So that brings up the question of whether or not to hire a doula to help us through this labor and delivery. We met with one doula in our town and liked her very much. She gave us all the appropriate certifications, and interviewed well, handed out the necessary literature, and we were all set to sign up. And then Tim and I talked about it at home over the next month. Ultimately, we've decided to forgo the doula's services, not for financial reasons, but rather because we both think we're more prepared this time. The doula we spoke to was a mother of five, highly qualified, and someone we both liked personally, so those weren't the reasons why we chose not to go with her services.
In talking about it, we really have analyzed our mistakes from Norah's labor and delivery, and I am hoping that we'll be able to learn from them and insist upon what we really want this time. I also firmly believe that because I've put my foot down about not being induced, that this labor will progress a little more "humanely" than my last labor. As I mentioned in my introduction, my labor went from my water being broken to baby in my arms in 2 hours and 55 minutes. We literally didn't have time to think - largely because the effects of the pitocin on me was so overwhelmingly strong. Hopefully, with no pitocin this time, it'll be a bit easier for us. Tim is also more prepared to be a good labor coach this time, although I hate to imply that he was a bad coach last time. That's definitely not the case. We were both so consumed by the moment - neither of us was really ourselves.
So I'm interested to hear back from you readers: what's been your experience with doulas? With second labors? With the comparison of induced labor versus natural labor? Did we make the right choice? There's still time to change our minds, but as it stand now, I'm feeling pretty comfortable with the waiting game we've selected. Of course, until my next doctor's appointment, we won't even know if I'll even be having a vaginal or cesarean delivery, and the whole point may be moot.