Birth of a Doula Pt 1 of 2 – Hannah Gill
"The anesthesiologist gave me something for the pain and whatever it was, I began to doze off. The next thing I remember was hearing my husband Scott say, “Babe it’s a boy!”"
Going into my first pregnancy, I thought I was doing all the “right things” to prepare. I read all the books and blogs, took a hospital childbirth course, and played twenty questions with my OBGYN. The majority of my work experience at that point was in healthcare, so I favored a medicalized approach. I simply followed the mainstream checklist of what you should do for birth, unaware of all the options I actually had.
My pregnancy was rough and I spent the majority of the 40 weeks vomiting but still somehow gained sixty pounds. The only other “complication” was gestational thrombocytopenia which meant there was potential I would risk out of epidural criteria. As the end of my third trimester approached, I was ecstatic to finally meet my baby, not knowing that birth and postpartum would shatter my entire being and make way for a rebirth I never saw coming.
My labor plan was to be unmedicated and at the time and I felt more prepared than ever. It wasn’t until five weeks postpartum from a traumatic cesarean, drowning in breastmilk and feelings of failure, that I realized how unprepared I truly had been. To put it simply, I was naïve. The notion that I could end up with a cesarean never even crossed my mind because I thought, “That only happens in emergencies which only happen to people with unhealthy or complicated pregnancies.” I’m pretty sure I glossed over that entire section in my birth education workbook.
When labor began, I panicked. My contractions started out extremely intense and were only 5-7
minutes apart. That was not the gradual build-up I had read about. I was immediately anxious and overwhelmed. As soon as I got to the hospital and got the okay for my platelet levels, I asked for an epidural. I was disappointed that I gave in so quickly but the disappointment faded as my body relaxed and I was able to rest. The epidural was so strong I couldn’t even feel pelvic pressure and after four hours of pushing, I opted for a cesarean. I was speechless, trying to hold myself together while my mom cried and kissed my forehead. I had no idea what my body and mind were about to go through.
Surgery started and immediately I felt more than “just some pressure,” as they had described. I was in full-blown pain. The anesthesiologist gave me something for the pain and whatever it was, I began to doze off. The next thing I remember was hearing my husband Scott say, “Babe it’s a boy!”. I don’t remember my son Hudson’s first cry or meeting him for the first time. I spent the next few hours in the recovery room hypotensive and on the verge of passing out from postpartum hemorrhage. I was unable to hold Hudson but Scott helped him latch and feed while the nurses worked to stabilize me.
During the transfer to the postpartum ward Scott went home to shower so it was just me, Hudson, and my dad. Switching beds is the moment I remember more vividly than any other. I was flat on my back, looking up at the ceiling as they began to move me. Counting to three, they slid me over from one bed to another and I let out a scream I never want to hear myself make again. As tears poured down my face and I tried to catch my breath, I noticed my dad out of the corner of my eye. He was facing away from me – his hand on Hudson’s bassinet – wiping away his own tears. I had never felt so scared and out of control in my entire life. It was at that moment I knew I could never go through this again.
Shortly after, I began to research what had gone wrong and specifically, what I had done wrong. I felt that my body had failed me and my baby. Soon though, I realized it wasn’t my fault. I made the best decisions I could with the information I had but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Ultimately, this process helped me plan for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) and start my journey to become a childbirth educator. My goal became to create a birth course that truly gave people information about all of their choices when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
…Stay tuned for Part 2 coming next week!
Hannah Gill is a VBAC mom of two, birth and postpartum doula, birth educator, and owner of Ebb and Flow Birth Co. She has a passion for helping support women through cesarean and VBAC births and throughout the postpartum period. She believes women deserve to be respected and supported in their pregnancy, birth, and parenting choices. You can find out more about Hannah and her services at ebbandflowbirthco.com and over on Instagram @ebbandflowbirthco.