At our first meeting with Susanna, I knew I had called the right woman for the job. She was so warm and so supportive – not assertive and dogmatic like some birth attendants can be. She just wanted to help me make the labor and birth what I wanted it to be. She was also extremely helpful in moderating between my husband and me. I am very “natural” (as in “granola”), and my husband is more, well, mainstream. So, Susanna helped us both understand each other’s point of view and helped us rationally and reasonably (with all the facts) come to some decisions about tests, procedures, etc., that we could both live with.
Susanna went above and beyond my expectations, treating me as a midwife treats her patients, even though I had just hired her to be my doula (since I was to give birth at Kaiser). I felt that it was good to have a second opinion – another care provider checking the baby and me at each visit. I also was thrilled to have someone who could answer all my questions. I had picked Susanna out for several reasons, but one important reason was that she is so much more experienced than most doulas and even midwifes. I needed someone I could rest assured would know what to do in any situation during the labor and birth process; and I was never disappointed.
A week before Eleanor was born, I called Susanna and told her that I thought I needed to go to the hospital. I thought I was in real labor, and thought I should know since I had been through it a couple of times before. Susanna wasn’t so sure, but she drove to Kaiser to meet me. It was a false alarm, and we all went home after a few hours at the hospital. I was grateful that Susanna never made me feel bad about making her drive to the hospital for a false alarm.
Susanna was also very good about answering questions I had about my contractions and physical sensations (pain, etc.) and concerns as I approached the due date. She was always accessible and easy to reach by phone. This was reassuring to me. It was so good to have an expert to consult at any time!
The next Friday, it really happened. My husband, my mom, and I drove from our home in El Cerrito across the bridge to Kaiser in San Francisco. We had called Susanna, and she was on her way to meet us there. I hid out in the bathroom in the triage room, waiting for Susanna to get there to help me avoid any unnecessary vaginal exams. I labored on the toilet there for 20 minutes or so until Susanna arrived. I felt like she was a guardian angel, and I was able to relax as soon as she got there.
My labor progressed quickly, but the hospital was out of birthing rooms, and I was going to have to deliver in the operating room. My husband, my mom, and Susanna had to get into scrubs – and only one of them could come into the room with me. The other two would watch from the hall. At first my husband went in with me. I was ready to push as soon as I got into the room, but the OB/GYN checked and noticed a “lip.” She told me to wait until it went down. This was torture. (As planned, I had refused pain medication.) My husband tried to help me through the contractions, during which I had an extremely strong urge to push. I was having such a hard time, and the minutes were ticking by so slowly – I was watching the clock the whole time. After a few minutes, my husband went out into the hall and let Susanna take his place. Susanna got me through the rest of the half hour or so I had to wait through the contractions. She had me focus on looking in her eyes, as she told me that I could indeed make it through. Finally, the lip was gone and I could push. Eleanor was born a few minutes later, 9 pounds, 6 ounces. At this point I was moved to a room, and Susanna prepped it and made sure that everything was comfortable for me. She brought me juice right away, answered the nurses’ questions, got me anything I asked for, tucked me under the blanket, and even fed me my food! I felt very well taken-care-of. But, most of all, I was grateful for another safe VBAC and a birth experience as good as it can be in a hospital setting.