When we were younger, both my husband and I imagined how we would love to be parents. We met each other in our mid 30’s and got married just a year and a half ago. We were delighted to find out that I was pregnant, and so our preparation started. We decided that we would like to try and go the natural route when it comes to the birth of our daughter (no interventions, no medication), so we decided to align ourselves with a team of people whom we felt we could trust to make the right decisions when it mattered most. When we heard about Colleen we immediately had a peace about her being part of the day we would become parents. We had an initial interview meeting and thereafter a meeting to discuss the birth and everything that goes with it so we could be prepared in terms of what to expect.
The day before Jani was born, I experienced frequent small contractions, but I put it down to Braxton Hicks contractions, as I was having those quite frequently. The contractions went on throughout the day, but didn’t intensify, so I didn’t give it too much attention. That evening I couldn’t sleep because of cramps and I let Colleen know what was happening. Around midnight she checked up on me again and she advised that we just go to the hospital to have things checked out…the worst they could say is that I’m not in labour and send me home. So, with our bags packed, off to the hospital we went.
At the hospital they monitored baby’s heartrate along with my contractions, and this soon brought up a red flag, as Jani’s heartrate would drop every time I had a contraction. To my surprise Colleen arrived around 1am to check up on me, and when the doctor arrived he also echoed the concern around the dropping heartrate. We agreed to let me rest through the night and to see how things went by the following morning, and that everybody else could go home.
I couldn’t sleep even though I was encouraged to do so. My husband managed to dose off in the chair next to my bed amidst all the check-ups and trips to the bathroom. The contractions had gradually subsided completely through the run of the night, but due to the concern about her heartrate there was no talk of letting me go home. My water broke at 06:25 that morning, and the nurse noted that there was quite a bit of meconium in the amniotic fluid, which is a sign that the baby is in distress.
The doctor was notified, and I let Colleen know that it was time to come. When she arrived, she immediately got me up to allow gravity to do its thing and hopefully get the contractions going again. My husband and I walked the hospital corridors and climbed the stairs - excited to know THIS IS IT! We will be meeting our daughter TODAY. We were called back to the labour ward when the doctor arrived, and after some more monitoring and an internal check, we discovered that I was only 2cm dilated…and that baby was definitely still in distress.
The tough news came when the nurse told us that the doctor would have to do an emergency c-section. It was disappointing to say the least…we weren’t going to get the natural birth we had hoped for. Colleen helped us to come to terms with the decision and reassured us that it is the right route to go in this case. It would be irresponsible of the doctor to risk the baby’s life by allowing me to labour through the day, not knowing how long it would take to get the contractions starting up and fully dilate. So, we prayed, and we cried, and found peace. We worshipped through the disappointment and God just settled our hearts in such a wonderful way. Colleen had lighted lavender scented candles earlier and rubbed cream on my feet…what a beautiful way to be so lovingly and sincerely served in such a tough moment.
The theatre was booked and they started preparing me for surgery. Everything happened very quickly from there, but we never felt anxious or scared. I was given an epidural and before I knew it, the green cloth divider went up in front of my face, like I had seen in so many pics and videos of moms having c-sections. My wonderful husband (in full scrubs on my right-hand side) stayed with me throughout and lovingly kept on encouraging me. Colleen was the constant voice of love, care and welcome information (on my left) and she stroked my hair as they made the incision. Johan’s face was right next to mine and he would occasionally peer over the divider, making sure not to see more than he wanted! Haha :) It was a wonderful moment as she came into the world. Johan and I were worshipping and I could feel them tugging and pushing (no pain) as they took her out. The next moment Johan’s eyes turned away from me and I saw the biggest look of amazement on his face. This was it! I asked “Is she here?” and he said “almost”. Soon after, I heard a tiny cry and I felt what could only be described as a tremendous peace and deep joy. God, the Creator of life and Miracle-maker, was in the room with us and had given us a daughter.
She was covered with meconium and more was pouring out as they cleaned her off briefly before putting her on my chest. After a couple of minutes they had to whisk her off to High Care where they would proceed to drain her stomach and administer a drip to the side of her head. Colleen encouraged Johan to go with her and to speak to her so she could at least experience some familiarity and comfort in her first hour in the world. It freed Johan up tremendously knowing Colleen would be at my side while he stayed with our daughter.
Colleen and I went through to recovery and eventually to the maternity ward. She helped me to stimulate my breasts as we didn’t get to do the all-important skin-to-skin and initial latching with Jani just after her birth. I eventually got to see my sweet daughter again that evening, during which Colleen helped me to latch her correctly and find a comfortable position to breastfeed in.
I think every woman should be assisted by a doula, regardless of who she is or the amount of times she’s given birth before! Colleen’s assistance before, during and after the birth of our daughter was absolutely invaluable. Even though nothing in our birthplan worked out the way we had hoped (except to have our baby at the end of it all), we can honestly say that our potentially traumatic birth experience turned out to be very positive and beautiful indeed!
With heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Colleen.
There are many things that stand out about the birth of my first child...and it would be really hard to put into words how I really feel about everything...but here's a shortened version anyway.
Jani was born on 27 Feb at 11:30am. The day before, my wife had experienced contractions. At about 12 that night, under good advice from Colleen, we went to Greenacres Hospital, where they immediately started monitoring both of them. I decided to catch a bit of a snooze at about 3, there was nothing I could do for them but wait by their side...so, to try and stay relaxed...I slept. I woke up a few times with nurses around...and just after 6am that morning her water broke.
Leading up to the birth we had imagined going through the motions of natural birth, the wonder and awe of bringing life into this world... naturally...but in one moment the rug had been ripped out from under our feet when we were told that it had to be a C-section. We were devastated to be honest…but…we took some time alone to pray and find peace to accept it, but I admit that I was sceptical about the decision at the time. Nevertheless, we tried to focus on what was best for our child...and I tried to stay relaxed, quietly doing some breathing exercises, and do whatever I could to keep my wife relaxed too. At about 11am we were on our way to the theatre.
I suddenly got excited at the prospect of wearing full scrubs and being exposed to all the latest technologies on display during this process. In a woosh we were there...my wife sitting on the table ready for the spinal tap...and our doula right there...just as she had been the night before. After some instructions from the doc on which area was mine and which was his, Merissa was prepped...and it suddenly hit me how beautiful she looked in that moment. I stared into her eyes and...I just started singing a worship song Merissa had lead in church so many times...and by the 2nd verse Merissa was doing what she does best...leading worship.
When the song ended curiosity got the better of me, and I started peaking over green veil blocking my view. Suddenly I saw an arm...or a leg...or something that belonged to a child...and with eyes wide looked at my wife. Our child was born...and when they presented her to us, she was clearly in bit of distress. She had some breathing difficulty and other issues...so as it turned out, C-section was the best option. Very shortly after birth, she was placed into an incubator and whisked out of theatre. For a second I felt torn in two, but Colleen immediately instructed me to go with our daughter. I looked back with slight concern at my wife, but Colleen had been there throughout, and I knew Merissa was in good hands.
Off I went to ICU where Jani was being attended to. I spent some time with her talking so that she could hear a familiar voice... The next couple of hours went by in a blur of paperwork and I felt as if I had abandoned my wife and child for a bit, but sure enough, whenever I checked in on Merissa, Colleen was there...
At about 5:30pm, after the dust had settled, and I felt that I could really do no more to help, I decided to go home to start preparing for their arrival a few days later. It was only once I got home that I managed to process everything...and I realized how well God had provided for us. We had indeed surrounded ourselves with the right people who made all the right decisions to ensure our child was safe. We have a healthy baby, and the knowledge, support and insight provided by Colleen throughout the whole process was invaluable.
As I mentioned before, there is so much to say about this day to explain it all, but having a C-section wasn't that bad after all. We still had an amazing and beautiful birth experience...something all parents should enjoy at least once in their lifetime.