The following Guest Post has been written by Jose Sanchez, an extraordinary Wealth Management Advisor and extremely happy New Life Client.
Men, Brothers in Arms, fathers and Dads to be! This message is for you. Doulas are for dads. Recently, my wife gave birth to twin boys. This was our second pregnancy. Our first was a girl born to us at home in 2014. As with any pregnancy, a lot goes right and a lot can go wrong quickly. With multiples, there are more complicated risks so it was necessary for us to deliver at a hospital. The following is my birth story and my first experience with a doula as our guide.
Its Go Time
“Jose! MJ! Jasmin’s water just broke!” This was the message that our fearless Nurse gave to us as we were changing into our blue scrubs. Just 30 minutes prior, Jasmin was resting peacefully (considering ongoing labor pressure) and MJ (my doula) and I tended to her. Things got exciting quickly! Our room went from peaceful to hectic in just a matter of minutes. It was real and chaotic. The doctors, nurses, anesthesiologist and more traveled in and out of the room like worker bees. The calm and peacefulness was gone and emotion set in. What is this Guy, this father to be, supposed to do? I was stunned but in motion.
I understood that things would change quickly, but I did not expect to be sheltered from all the “code” speak as we were. Really, I did not realize it until days after the birth that there was so much more going on which we did not realize at the time. Had we known or understood everything as it happened, we would have panicked and worried unnecessarily. Thankfully, so much also went right. I believe that, without a doula, we could have still had a successful birth. Yet, I would have been in a panic on my own. I would have been an uncomfortable pain in the neck for the doctors. While our hospital staff were absolutely awesome in many ways, our doula… My Doula (MJ), was our Sherpa. She guided us throughout the process as well as sheltered us from the hospital jargon and noise that we did not need to hear at that moment. In doing so, we could remain calm, focused and excited about the process which we greatly appreciated. We also knew that MJ would have certainly filled us in if needed. In this case, being on a “need to know” basis was much welcomed.
“Jose… contractions are within 7 minutes, Dr. Leeman said to go in when your contractions are within 7 minutes.” said Jasmin on Wednesday night. Using Jasmin's phone I texted our doula. I shared updates the first night as they sent us home to rest when the contractions subsided.
Now, Friday Morning, Jasmin was in active labor and soon our boys would arrive. Our doula arrived before the sun rose that morning and stayed by our side throughout the birth. If she was the Buzz Lightyear of Doulas, her superhero saying would be “Through Birth and Beyond!”
I had little rest since Wednesday from all of this pre-labor action. I needed just a few minutes to call my parents, give an update and hear their voice of courage and encouragement. I also needed to go outside and get some fresh air. MJ insisted on it. Even that short break may not have been possible without a doula present. Our doula became our friend long before our birth, and it was comforting that she was there for us now. Yet, it wasn’t until I took this break that I realized that she was there for me as much as she was there for Jasmin. Things were getting real and far more challenging than I expected or planned.
By now, you might gather that doulas are part personal assistant, part birth professional, and 100 percent there for you and your wife. To be truthful, when my wife proposed the idea of a doula 8 months ago, I did not know what to think. Really, I did not know what doulas did and how they could help. I read the list of services and how they could support Jasmin. This alone was reason enough to seek out a doula. Ultimately, it provided peace of mind for Jasmin and that made us happy. I had no idea that she would also be my guide in this process.
Can you go it alone?
Absolutely you can! Most births are without the assistance of a Doula. If you have a great support team, close family that can be on call, and a solid understanding of the hospital jargon, you will be golden. Even if you do not have any of those things, your wife can still have a successful birth. We had most of those things but having a doula still showcased value, more than I realized was possible.
Now We're in the Operating Room
After being in labor for hours, the doc suggested to break Jasmin’s water and see if that would speed up the labor process. They transported jasmin to the operating room to prep her for this. While we were changing into our paper blue scrubs, her water broke on its own. I didn’t think things were going to happen so quickly. Prior to this, the Doctors said we could expect a good 30 minutes. But now, MJ and I had to rush back there.
Our move to the operating room was precautionary. Because twin pregnancies are high risk, there was the likelihood of a possible cesarean section (aka C Section), so we needed to be close to every possible tool and medical professional needed. The room filled quickly with our medical team and students, as we were at a teaching hospital, but nonetheless Jasmin was the center of attention in that operating room. In addition, there were two teams of pediatric specialists in the event that there were any issues with either or both of the boys. This room was not empty by any means.
MJ was on Jasmin’s left and I to her right. Doctor Leeman said, “Ok Jasmin, just one more push”. He must have said “just one more push” at least twenty times for the first born. As our first baby crowned, Jasmin had a glow and a sense of immense happiness about her. She was beautiful and happy to be giving birth. I realized at this point, things were just too happy for labor. In the back of my mind, I asked myself, “what if I lose her, what will happen if she dies”? I got lost, even for a moment, of the thought of losing her. Our doula, did not miss a beat and completely assured Jasmin that she was doing great. Even though I was mentally not present for just a few seconds, Jasmin was entirely supported (tally up a few more points for doulas).
Our first boy is out and breathing. The doctor quickly hands him to Jasmin for skin to skin contact. Someone in the crowded room hands me scissors to cut the cord. We both noticed dilated blood vessels under his skin, throughout half of his entire body, but all else was normal. Our handsome young boy quickly latched on to mom's breast and immediately began to nurse. Then, they took him away for observation and an ultrasound to look at his left side as he had abnormalities to his skin near his heart. As they observed him, I kept him within sight as I tried to stay focused. Several hours later, the findings revealed that he has a rare skin condition called Cutis Marmorata Telangiectatica Congenita or CMTC.
The second boy would come out feet first several minutes later. He too got skin to skin contact and I was, again, separating the physical connection between mother and baby as I cut the cord. But, before he could latch on, he began turning blue so they too took him away into the connecting glass room where the first baby was also being observed. We never lost sight of them and I quickly followed to be with my boys while MJ stayed with Jasmin.
One had a rare skin condition, the other was given oxygen and needed some support taking his first breath. Amniotic fluid was partially blocking his airway, which can be normal for vaginal breech deliveries. At about the 10 minute mark, he himself cleared his airway with a grunt-like gasp. At that moment, we were all stable and OK. What a relief!
It was part of our birth plan that, if the babies were needing to go to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I was to not leave their side. Our second born was to be transported for further observation as he was still blue but recovering quickly. I left his brother and mom, holding his little hand as he laid in the baby transport unit, together we went.
Jasmin’s Blood Pressure went through the roof, but I did not know it until much later. She had preeclampsia unexpectedly develop after birth. Also called toxemia, preeclampsia is a condition that pregnant women develop. For reference, symptoms can include high blood pressure, high level of protein in their urine and often also have swelling in the feet, legs, and hands. This condition more commonly occurs during pregnancy than it does after birth. Jasmin had no symptoms prior to this random event to warn us. Nonetheless, our awesome nurse and our doula were vigilant and saw the signs right away. They quickly went into action and saved my wife. She also had excessive bleeding (medically defined as hemorrhaging), but this was a secondary concern. While I was not there to witness it, Jasmin was having a near death experience (although, she does not admit it). In my mind, it was too close for comfort, we could have lost her. She was immediately given a high dose of Magnesium Sulfate which acted quickly and stabilized her within minutes. If not caught in time, preeclampsia can lead to seizures, brain swelling, and even death. Because of this, she remained under medication for 24 hours and under observation for 3 days.
An Undisputed Champion
Throughout the entire process, our doula was there. She was our guide, our sherpa, and My Doula. She helped us stay connected to one another and make sense of all the medical jargon. She walked us through the tough decisions, gave me needed breaks, and archived the entire experience along the way with detailed notes and times.
While she was not the Superhero that day (that title goes to Jasmin), her service will always be the reason why I champion Doulas for Dads!