Baby Sheehan © Angie Helwich

Sheehan’s Birth Story | July 3rd, 2014
Little Company of Mary Hospital | Dr. Sulkowski

            When I met Selena and Matthew, they shared their desire to have a different birth experience than the restrictive interventionist one they had with their daughter 5 years ago. Though Selena had a stroke in the early weeks of her pregnancy, she recovered well and had a healthy pregnancy. I met with them a few weeks prior to her due date to discuss birth preparations. In the weeks leading up to her due date Selena was dilated to 1 cm and all vitals looked great. Dr. Sulkowski and Selena talked over possible induction dates as her due date came and went, and it was decided to induce the evening of July 2nd.

            Selena and Matthew arrived at the hospital around 8pm, and the induction began with cervadil as she was still 1 cm. She had to lie flat for 2 hours, and afterwards was able to get a decent night’s sleep. After 12 hours, she was checked and was 2 cm. Jen, our nurse, tried to insert the foley catheter but stopped due to bleeding. Selena had breakfast and a shower and afterwards Jen started Pitocin around 9:15.

            I arrived around 10:15 and settled in. We got Selena set up with the birth ball to get her out of the bed, and she managed her contractions well while sitting. Matthew and I took turns eating lunch, and around 12:30 the resident checked Selena. She was 3 cm and the baby was high at -3 station. I checked with the nurses if we could get up and walking and they tried to set up the telemetry unit but unfortunately it wouldn’t cooperate. We set the bed up with the peanut ball so Selena could stand and lean over it. I’d noticed some more blood so I let Jen know and the resident checked again about 3:30. The report was the same, so Dr. Sulkowski came in from downstairs to check Selena personally. She figured the blood was from the result of cervical change and nothing serious. She discussed breaking Selena’s water to help baby move down and continue dilation. They decided to go ahead with that and all looked good. By this time, the Pitocin level was 22 ml/hr and Selena was tolerating it very well. She knew things would get more intense with the cushion of water gone, and she continued leaning or sitting with the birth ball while Matthew and I provided counter pressure. By this time Selena felt cold and shaky so we set her up with a heat pack and warm blankets. We moved to the bathroom for a while around 4:30.

            As it approached dinnertime, Selena focused more during contractions as the intensity picked up. Pitocin was now at 28 ml/hr, the highest it would remain the rest of labor. We moved back to our birth ball setup and Selena leaned into the peanut ball as we continued counter pressure. The Evergreen Park 4th of July parade went by outside the window and we listened to the sirens. Jen ended her shift at 7 and our new nurse Leslie came in. Another cervical check around 7:50 showed Selena was at 6 cm and -1 station and could feel the resulting pressure as baby continued to move down. Dr. Sulkowski proposed an internal monitor as the continuous monitoring belts kept slipping, but Selena preferred to wait. As the room got the beginning preparations for the birth set up, we changed position to hands and knees in the bed using the birth balls for support. Matthew and I provided counter pressure and massage as Selena vocalized during each contraction. Selena was handling things beautifully, so Dr. Sulkowski checked again at 8:20. 2 cm of change in a half hour! Selena was now 8 cm and baby was at 0 station. Selena took things a contraction at a time and I noticed she was starting to bear down a bit so I got Leslie to get Dr. Sulkowski. Sure enough at 8:50 Selena was announced as complete with a lip of cervix remaining.

            While Dr. Sulkowski and the nurses got prepped I had Selena pant through contractions as she labored the baby down. We got her onto her back and held her legs back. She did fabulously with pushing and not even a half hour later the baby emerged: it was a boy! Sheehan was born at 9:14 pm weighing the same as his big sister, 8 lbs 4 oz and 20’’ long. The nurses suctioned Sheehan while Dr. Sulkowski checked over Selena for any repairs (just a few stitches). Sheehan peed over all the nurses as his way of saying hello and cuddled on Selena’s chest for skin to skin. I helped with breastfeeding as Selena’s mother came to visit just in time for the Evergreen Park fireworks display to start.

            Even though her birth experience did not quite go as she’d pictured, Sheehan’s birth experience was still a very empowering one and I’m honored I was able to help in any way I could. Selena and Matthew should feel proud for what they were able to accomplish together!

Angie Helwich, Doula
[posted with permission]