Julie, Ryan, Noah, and me about an hour after Noah's birth
This time I want to reflect on what it was like working with a doula, having Dr. Soper as our OB, and giving birth at Methodist Hospital. I remember when we were considering working with a doula, my only hesitation was the it would take away from Ryan's and my experience of going through Noah's labor and deliver together. I was worried that Ryan would be forced to take a back seat role and that a doula would be more of the primary support person. When we first met with Julie (http://birth-by-design.com/index.html), I shared that concern and quickly learned that Ryan's role during labor and delivery could be as hands on as his comfort level would allow. After this entire experience of being pregnant and having a natural childbirth, I would DEFINITELY work with Julie again!!! Her services cost $600, and like Ryan said, it was worth every single penny. After having our initial consultation to see if we were a good fit, Ryan and I scheduled our first prenatal meeting, where we paid Julie the first $300. She talked us through the stages of labor in a much different way than how I had read about it in books. That talk was VERY helpful to me when we were in labor because it really did match what I experienced. I can't actually remember everything we covered during our two prenatal sessions, but I do remember it including our birth preferences, a discussion of our fears, a relaxation session, a simulation of pushing positions, instruction on counterpressure, etc. All of those things and many others that I am forgetting truly helped prepare my mind to endure a natural childbirth. I know it would have been MUCH more difficult without that preparation! Julie also accompanied me to one of my prenatal appointments with Dr. Soper where we shared my birth preferences. We also knew that we could call Julie at any time if we had questions about the pregnancy, which is really nice! Once I was in labor, Julie came to the house around noon and stayed until well past midnight to help with breastfeeding. She took pictures at our prenatal visits, throughout the labor, and during the delivery and then complied them into the birth story that she wrote. It is such a great gift that I will get to enjoy for the rest of my life! Julie called often in the days and weeks following Noah's birth to check to see how I was doing, how Noah was progressing, etc. Again, it's just so nice to have someone else to call other than your doctor's office. I always felt like a bother to make those calls, so I loved having Julie's support for answering my questions and finding out what was normal/abnormal. In sum, I know that I probably wouldn't have had a natural childbirth without with support from both Ryan and Julie! I would HIGHLY recommend working with a doula to all of my friends and family members who are planning to have children. It was just so helpful in preparing my mind for the big event!!
You all read about some of my issues with working with Dr. Soper throughout the second half of our pregnancy. Mainly, I felt like she lacked bedside manner, and the prenatal appointments were about 3 minutes long. I just didn't feel like she gave us much time or attention, which was frustrating for me. Ryan and I kept telling ourselves that we hired her for the delivery of our baby, knowing that her reputation was impeccable around Indianapolis for using medical intervention only when absolutely necessary and backing up the midwives in the area. I wondered who I would have deliver our next baby, even though I don't want any more kids for a few years. Well, after seeing Dr. Soper in action in the delivery room, I would most definitely want her to be there for any subsequent children we may have!!! I didn't at all expect to feel that way, but Dr. Soper was really amazing during Noah's birth! She was motherly, nurturing, encouraging, etc. during the last hour or two of labor, pushing, and Noah's birth. I was completely shocked and really happy to see her take that role! Dr. Soper respected our birth preferences completely. Babies heart rates drop when you are pushing during a contraction. It's completely normal and they typically will come back up after the contraction is over. At one point, Noah's heartrate didn't come up as high as Dr. Soper would have liked. Instead of panicking me in any way by announcing it, getting the vacuum, or talking about C-Sections, Dr. Soper simply had the nurse put an oxygen mask on my face to help Noah get the air he needed. It also reminded me that my breathing was still really important...that Noah couldn't breathe well if I didn't. The oxygen was just what he needed to pop back to the right level! She encouraged me throughout the pushing stage and really helped stretch out my perineum so that I wouldn't tear...one of the worst fears that every pregnant woman has. Because Dr. Soper worked so hard at that, I didn't tear, and my recovery has been that much better because of it!! On both Friday and Saturday mornings, Dr. Soper came to the hospital to check in on Noah and me. I'm pretty sure I even saw her smile a little bit each time! She brough Noah a "Dr. Soper's Sweetheart" t-shirt and did his circumcision, too. Overall, I was very pleased Dr. Soper's role during Noah's birth! Whenever we decide to have another child, we'll go back to Dr. Soper and just know ahead of time how she is during prenatal visits. Again, a doctor's biggest role happens during the baby's delivery unless you have issues that come up during your pregnancy. Since Dr. Soper was so great during the delivery, we'll definitely work with her again! If you are wanting a doctor who is great about using medical interventions only when they truly are needed rather than a first line of defense (which there are some doctors who are and who do intervene more than is truly necessary), I would definitely recommend Dr. Soper! Just know that you aren't going to get much nurturing throughout your pregnancy. That need will have to be met by someone else. :)
Crystal...our 2nd nurse at Methodist who helped with Noah's delivery
Last, I wanted to share my thoughts about Methodist Hospital. Because of all the negative press Methodist got when those babies died from high doses of Heparin a couple years ago, as well as it's location downtown, I really hadn't considered going there for the birth of our baby. Living on the southside of Indy, I just assumed I would go to Community South because it was the closest, and the current OB was seeing delivered there. A friend of mine is a doula and works in the network of community hospitals, which has given her a perspective on how many of the OBs and hospital staff operate during a natural childbirth experience. She encouraged me to check out Methodist if I was really considering natural childbirth because of their philosophy. My friend had a 10 lb. baby at Methodist NATURALLY!! Yeah, she's a superstar. :) So, I actually decided to do my search for an OB and hospital a little bit differently. Rather than just stick with my current OB because I knew that lady and go to the hospital where she is able to deliver babies, I decided to choose a hospital first and then choose an midwife/OB who delivered at that hospital. I toured both Community South and Methodist, and Ryan and I took a birth options class at Methodist. We were quickly sold on delivering our baby at Methodist since they were very open and encouraging of natural childbirth and the low use of medical interventions unless needed or requested. Here is an example to help make this make sense. A friend of ours is a labor and delivery nurse at St. Vincents Hospital. She said that almost every single patient has to have an IV, has constant fetal monitoring (which requires more wires, making it more difficult to move around the room), and must stay very close to the hospital bed. At Methodist, I didn't even have a port put in for an IV. We had intermittent fetal monitoring, which allowed for me to move around the room wherever I wanted to be (e.g., shower and tub). As you read in my birth story, I was ALL OVER THE ROOM. I had to have that freedom of movement in order to cope with my contractions. Had I been stuck in my bed having to deal with contractions, I am pretty sure that I would have had an epidural. It is just to hard to lay down and cope with contractions in my opinion based on my experience. The nurses were really respectful of our birth preferences and adhered to all of them. They were very supportive and encouraging throughout the labor and delivery. The nurse was great about letting Ryan help with Noah's first bath, teaching him how to do this or that. In our postpartum room, I was at first disappointed with how little we saw our nurses. Then I remembered Methodist's philosophy for postpartum, wanting to respect the new family and allow them time to bond. Anytime we needed something, the nurses were right there supporting us! Otherwise, they really left us alone. I think it helped make our transition home easier. In fact, we were so used to taking care of Noah by ourselves, we were confident and ready to leave Saturday afternoon, just 40 hours after Noah was born. Another WONDERFUL thing about Methodist is that they have a nurse/lactation consultant come to your house within a week after the baby's birth. This visit was PERFECT because you have been home for long enough to just start questioning your own body's recovery. Plus, you might have questions about the baby or about breastfeeding, so the visit from a nurse is great! She stayed for about an hour and a half to two hours. It was an invaluable experience! The nurse said that Methodist is one of the only hospitals in the area that does that. :) I received a card in the mail congratulating us on Noah's birth, and it was signed by the nurses we worked with during our stay. It was just a nice, thoughtful touch!
So those are my thoughts about working with a doula, specifically Julie, having Dr. Soper as our OB, and delivering Noah at Methodist. I really have nothing but good things to say about each one!