Below is a letter written to Raylee by our doula, Ashleigh. During our labor and delivery process she was carefully taking notes, documenting each moment for us. We absolutely LOVED having a doula, and were so blessed by Ashleigh specifically. She was such an encouragement to me throughout labor and a big support to Matt. Enjoy :)
If you are interested in an unmedicated birth, a doula is a huge support in your birth team. Ashleigh was wonderful and was one person who helped make our desire for a natural delivery possible. I would love to forward you Ashleigh's information if you are interested!!Dear Raylee Joy,I wanted to write to tell you how about blessed I was to be present when your parents met you for the very first time. Their faces were so full of joy and love and I know their lives have been forever changed because you are a part of their family.Your mom had initially contacted me about two months before you were born to ask about doula services after a friend recommend me as a supportive person for moms in labor. I met with your mom and dad to talk about their plans for the birth. Your mom was confident and excited as she told me of the childbirth classes they had been taking and the other ways she had been preparing for your arrival. Your dad told me that he knew natural birth was the right choice and that his goal was to advance his wife: her interests, her desires, and her health. I knew from that meeting that they would be a great team, both when working toward your arrival, and later as your parents.On the day of your birth, your mom sent me a text message at 6:00 am to tell me that her water had broken. I suggested that she call the midwife office and reminded her to drink plenty of water and to rest as much as possible, because we knew it could be a long day ahead. Your mom and dad ate breakfast and rested, then went for a walk to help contractions get going a bit faster. Around 11:30, your mom had a turkey sandwich. Your dad was making sure she stayed hydrated and drank plenty of water. He reported to me that her spirits were really up after the lunch and that contractions were close to three minutes apart so they were ready to go to the hospital. We all met up there to check in around 1:30.When we got the area for maternal observation, one of the nurses asked your mom when her water had broken. She told them it had been broken since around 6:00 am. The nurse was surprised that she was just getting to the hospital. Your dad said something about being calm and cool. As it turned out, they did not have any available rooms in the maternal observation area, so they asked your parents and I to stay in the waiting area. Your mom was very upbeatand determined not to allow the wait time and hospital check in to break her stride in labor progress. She never sat down in the waiting area and instead did a few squats and lunges, hoping to help you into perfect position for delivery.Around 2:15 pm, we were escorted to labor and delivery and introduced to your mom's nurse, Gina. Gina confirmed that the water was broken, then check your mom's cervix and told us that she was 90% effaced, and dilated 3 cm. We noticed that the room we were in did not have a bathtub and since that was really important to your mom for labor comfort, we requested a different room and the hospital staff found an available room with a tub very quickly. Your parents' friend Meagan, came in to visit and took a few pictures. Your mom was laboring really calmly and even ate an apple and drank some water, knowing that she would need energy to keep working to get you out. Between contractions she would talk and laugh with the three of us and during contractions she would close her eyes and breath deeply. Your dad was always near her. He would hold her while she moved her hips side to side and put pressure on her back when she asked for it. I noticed that several times right after a contraction would end, theywould stay close to one another and laugh. Your dad whispered in her ear and your mom threw her head back and toss her hair laughing at a silly thing he was saying. Meagan and I talked about how your parents were made for one another and how those kinds of interactions were setting a great mood and attitude for bringing a baby into the world. Your dad was still concerned about the time between contractions and was keeping up with it pretty consistently. Once, he helped your mother to the bathroom and back to the bed. When he came out of the bathroom, he announced to Meagan and I that she had two contractions while in the bathroom. Then, he said, "we had the sweetest, most romantic slow dances during those two contractions". Their love for one another and pleasure at being near one another was evident and I know that you will see this demonstrated by them towards one another throughout your life.Around 5:30, contractions were coming closer together and your mom began to feel them much more intensely. We talked for a bit about fear and how it could impact labor and how itcould impact the pushing stage of birth. Talking about it seemed to ease your moms concerns and your dad reminded her of 1 John 4:18 and the promise that perfect love drives out fear. Around 6:00, the nurse came in and checked and found that your mom was 100% effaced and 5 cm dilated. Contractions were getting much more intense so Meagan left the room and your mom decided to get into the bathtub.The water eased her pain and made it easier for her to cope with each contractions, but she was having a lot less recovery time between contractions so she needed more support than ever. During each contraction, I pressed against her hips and your dad used the shower spray against her lower back and sometimes on her belly. Between contractions, your dad still talked and laughed a bit, but mostly your mom was resting and recovering in preparation for the next one, so we made sure she had water and juice to drink, warm water, and pillows to rest. Around 6:45 pm, as contractions got stronger, your mom began to get discouraged and expressed that she did not know how long she could do it. Your dad told her that he was so proud of her and that all the nurses and staff were proud of her and that he was confident she could keep it up. After he said this, she stood and held onto the shower bar on the wall and said, "I can do this."The next time the midwife, Candis, came to check on her, around 8:15 pm, your mom was dilated 8 cm. However, her cervix was a swollen a bit. She felt the urge to push during contractions and while pushing she was dilated to 10 cm. About 10:00 pm, she decided to get out of the tub and try to position on the bed in a way that would help totally open her cervix. She pushed on the bed for about 30 minutes with the midwife and nurse helping to open her cervix. By 10:40, she was almost 10 cm and the midwife and nurse left your mom to get out of bed and work for a bit more until you could be born., Your mom leaned over the bed and your dad stood behind her, rubbing her back. She was discouraged because she had hoped the earlier pushing would have led to your birth. She said that she was afraid she couldn't do it. Your dad reminded her again of their verse for you and the knowledge that perfect love drives out fear. He also encouraged her to be patient and let go. He reminded her that the two of them had just a few days earlier been anxious and eager to meet you and only when they released control and relaxed to wait for your perfect time, that was when labor had begun. Then, she sat on the birthball and leaned forward. Your dad rubbed her back and I sat in front of her brushing her hair from her forehead. Your dad prayed, thanking God for for you and your mom and asking for strength, perseverance, and safety for you both. Your mom began slowing saying, "i can do this. I can do this." She had renewed strength and confidence and she stood and put her armsaround your dad's neck.At around midnight, the midwife and nurse came back and your mom asked to lie on the bed. She was completely dilated at 10 cm and it was time to push you out into the world. Your dad and I each stood on either side of her and encouraged her as she pushed through each contraction. Candis moved a mirror down so your mom could see your head beginning to show. We could all see your dark hair during every push. As your mom continued pushing sheand your dad were both so excited. Around 12:45, your head began to come out and we all saw your forehead for the first time. Your mom knew it would take time for you to completely enter the world and she rested between contractions. At 1:00 am, you came out past your eyebrows and you were fully born at 1:01 am.As your mom held you, your dad looked to see that you were a girl and announced it to the room. He also announced your name, "Raylee Joy". Your mom and dad were so overwhelmedwith love for you and for one another. I know that the love they felt that night and the effort they took to make choices that were best for you, will impact you for years to come. I hope this letter gives you a glimpse into what your parents experienced in welcoming you into the world. I was blessed to assist and to have been witness to the strong and determined way that they worked together.