Mary Gillett, CD(DONA)

Certified Birth Doula

I wanted to give my clients and friends who had used doulas the opportunity to tell a bit about their stories.  It also gives me a chance to show off the charming young families and beautiful babies with whom I have the priviledge of working!

 

Rebecca and Jeremy's Story, May 24, 2013

Mary helped us with the birth of our 5th child. I decided that I was interested in trying a waterbirth this time around and that is eventually what led me to Mary. I am forever grateful for her help in our birth experience and will have her with me again if God blesses us with another child. I am 35 years old and I am an adult intensive care nurse.

Let me back up and tell you a little about my previous babies and their births.
 
My first child was born in a hospital in Colorado. I went into early labor 3 days prior to my due date about 5am and worked most of that day. My labor became more regular towards the afternoon and I left work. Then I was at home watching TV and feeling really nervous about what was to come. Close to 11pm that night, my husband and I headed into the hospital as my labor was now into the active stage. We had taken childbirth classes and practiced our breathing. We were typical first time parents. Nervous and mostly just doing what the nurses and doctors told us to. I had tremendous back labor. They had me get into the bed to be placed on the monitor and had me lay on my back. I could not tell one contraction from another due to the back labor. My daughter was coming down the birth canal in a posterior position. The only time I felt like I could manage my contractions was if I got up to sit on the commode. Oh how I wish I had had someone there at the time to help me find a better way to deal with my situation.
 
My husband was wonderful but he and I just didn't know what we know now. He didn't like seeing me in so much pain and unable to cooperate with the labor. My nurse and the OB pushed us to go for an epidural. I did. Turns out that I was going into transition as I was getting it and then progressed to being ready to push pretty quickly. I only had the epidural for about 45 minutes. I asked for a "light" epidural as I still wanted to be able to feel my legs. It did make it so that I could relax a little and participate more in the final stages of labor. My daughter was born healthy and beautiful but very sleepy. I do not really regret this experience or have hard feelings for it but I knew that birth could be better.
Then we moved and I started seeing a midwife. I have been under the care of two midwives that work together for my other 4 pregnancies and births. My second child was a precipitous labor and actually he was born on the way to the hospital, in the car, on the side of the road....with my midwife on the cell phone giving my husband instructions on how to deliver him. He was born beautifully and things turned out just fine. It was a whirlwind experience. My 3rd child was more like my first one. He was born turning in the birth canal. So he started posterior and then turned as he came down. I had learned a lot more about techniques for a natural birth at that point and my midwife was a wonderful advocate. She allowed me to labor and push on my hands and knees which helped tremendously with the back labor.
 
My experience was better. I used worship music, scripture, and yoga positions to cope. The gender of this baby was a surprise for us so that was a focal point for me (and we have continued this with each subsequent baby). My husband was by my side and reminded me that I could do this. My 4th child was born much faster. I labored at home for a while and then headed into the hospital. I walked and walked through my labor with her. We barely made it into our room before she was born. I stood out of the wheel chair once we pulled into the room and had a contraction. Then immediately I had another one and needed to push. Remember I was standing and had just gotten into the room. I was not on the monitor and had just had my nurse introduce herself. She asked if I could get into bed. I sat on the edge and my daughter was born right there. Another whirlwind experience. I also tore with each of these four births.
 
When I become pregnant with my 5th child, I continued to learn about natural techniques for labor. I pursued prenatal pilates and yoga classes for the breathing, focus and the strength training needed for labor. I became interested in the possibility of a waterbirth because I thought that it could help me deal with back labor, not to tear or maybe reduce the tearing and also add an element of "control" to our fast birth experiences if this one was to be like that. I took a waterbirth class that the hospital offered. It was put on by a doula. In talking to my midwife about it, she thought that it was a good idea and gave me Mary's name.
 
I met Mary and immediately felt great fondness for her. She is very kind and personable. She has a passion for birth and is a true advocate for moms, dads, and babies. My 8 year old daughter wanted to be at this birth and Mary was on board with helping us both with her and the birth pool. Jeremy, my husband, really liked her, too. He said immediately after meeting her that she was the right person to be there with us. I went into labor 2 days before the baby's due date. Late that evening, I progressed to active labor. We did not stay home long as I wanted to be at the hospital with plenty of time to set up the birth tub. So after waiting just over an hour of regular contractions that I could not lay down through but had to be walking or rocking on my hands and knees, I called both my midwife and Mary. We woke my oldest (the other kids were spending the night with my inlaws) and headed to the hospital. Mary met us in triage. Once we got to our room, she and Jeremy went to setting up the birth tub. She also made sure that I was drinking water. She help my older daughter get comfortable. She, along with my husband and the nurse, answered my older daughter's many questions so graciously. Mary seemed to have the perfect balance of being helpful and present through the labor but also giving Jeremy and I space. She helped me through contractions with gentle massage and back counterpressure. She helped me in and out of the birth tub as needed. 
 
We got out for a bit to walk the halls. She was with us constantly but just in the right way. My husband seemed more relieved than ever to have someone help him keep up with things. During the pushing phase, which for this birth was not long at all, she had my older daughter on her lap and Jeremy was beside the tub with me. Our 5th child, our third daughter, was born in an amazingly calm environment. I used the worship music and some memorized scriptures and position changes (like squatting and lunges) in the pool similar to my 3rd and 4th births. The water did add an element of "control" to the delivery. The contractions felt very different in the water and I did tear significantly less than any of the previous deliveries. Having Mary with us was like icing on the cake though. I don't think the experience would have been nearly as good without her. She stayed with us until we were moved to the mother/baby room. She helped Jeremy clean up the tub and she helped him take care of me and my daughter. She also visited us later that day at the hospital and then after we returned home. She is such a blessing! I would highly recommend her. I wish I could go back and add her to each of my previous birth experiences. Jeremy felt the same way and expressed how grateful he was for her presence with us.   

Cassie and Eamon, with daughter Aurora, born June 3, 2011

 

When my husband and I decided we wanted to become parents, we faced a major obstacle. I was terrified of childbirth. I am happy to say that the actual experience was nothing like I feared. In fact, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

 

While I was pregnant I stumbled on Hypnobirthing. While the name sounds pretty out there, it's actually a very simple, natural approach to birth. The basic idea is that the human body is designed to give birth and it can be a peaceful, natural event. I was taught how to relax into the contractions and allow my body to do what it was meant to do. I learned how to use visualizations and breathing to keep from tensing up my muscles during birth.

 

I was Mary's first HypnoMom and she was excited about working with me. I was thrilled to have her helping me prepare for my baby. She helped my husband and I solidify what we wanted from our birth experience and helped us put that into words for our birth plan.

 

The week before the birth, I was calling Mary often to update her on what was happening. Then on June 3rd, 2011 she got the call that it was the real thing.

 

My breathing and visuals were working well, but I got to a point in labor when it just wasn't enough, and I was worried about keeping my focus. It was then that Mary started applying pressure to my hips and lower back. That was magic! I couldn't believe the difference that made. For the next 10 hours I had Mary, my mom and my husband gently rubbing and pressing against my hips, feet and lower back whenever I had a contraction. It was amazing.

 

I was unable to keep any food down that day, so Mary made sure to keep my hydrated with sips of Gatorade, and kept my energy up with spoonfuls of honey. She helped me find positions that worked for what my body needed. When my baby had a very slow decent (turns out she had her arm up over her head) Mary kept encouraging me and assuring me that my body was getting so much accomplished, even when it felt like nothing was happening.

 

Aurora Jasmine Bryant was 7 lbs 3 oz born at 8:37 on June 3rd. About 13 hours after I had my first timed contraction. The birth was hard work and I was tired, but I felt like I had just climbed Mt. Everest. I felt like I could do anything. It was completely natural and I didn't even want the drugs! I'm so thankful that she helped me have the positive birth experience I wanted.

Ryan and Tracey at the birth of David, January 10, 2012
I won't get too graphic but I do have to post one picture that is worth 1000 words.On Sunday January 8th, I went to bed and was starting to contract.  I was contracting pretty consistently at 6 minutes apart but they weren't getting any stronger.  And then they stopped around 4 am.  I woke up in the morning and went to the bathroom.  My pants were a little wet and I figured I might be leaking a little fluid but since I was not contracting anymore, I let it go.  I went to work on January 9th and worked my full day until 2:30.  I came home and laid down on the couch and set Ainsley up with 2 Veggie Tales videos.  Everytime I got up I leaked a little more.  I knew at this point that my water was broken but I still wasn't contracting hard enough or consistent enough to be in active labor. 

I was super bummed.  This is exactly how my
hell of a labor started with Ainsley and I knew the road.  It led to pitocin and an epidural and an epic long labor.  I was so disappointed.  I actually waited until 7:00 to call the midwives and they asked me to come in to check if indeed my water was broken. 

Ryan and I decided to send Ainsley and Tucker to Grandma's house and do a few things around the house.  We put 7 boxes together for our business and I took a shower.  The shower seemed to spur a few more contractions.  My doula, Mary, arrived around 9:00.  After evaluating the situation, we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to see if we could get contractions moving.  It was a full moon and foggy outside.  It was so still and eerie.  I have to say that this walk changed my mood.  I was ready for whatever came my way.  We took a few minutes and prayed over what was to come.  What a gift to have a doula who loves the Lord like we do!

We left for the hospital around 10:30 and I finally got seen by the midwife at 11:30.  She quickly determined that yes indeed my water had broken.  But I was at 4 cm and so they were going to give me some time before putting me on pitocin.  She did strip my membranes though which apparently was the right thing to do at the right time.  I turned a corner and was in active labor.  We really wanted to have a water birth so I hurried Ryan into setting up the tub.
After an hour of contractions in labor and delivery my midwife, Virginia, checked me again and I was at 7.  I was beginning to shake and entering transition.  We moved positions and things got dramatically more intense.  My midwife asked if I wanted to be checked before getting in the tub.  I didn't.  I just said, let's get in there. 

For some reason I had it in my head that it was going to be much easier in the tub. Oops.  Not so much.  It was really hard but I knew there was no turning back.  There was going to be no epidural and this baby was going to be born in the water.
It was at this point that they wanted to get another heartrate check on the baby.  They used 4 different monitors and 3 different nurses and couldn't find it for 45 minutes.  While I just wanted them to go away and forget it, Ryan was freaking out.  I was in a bit of a different state of mind than he was.  Finally, 3 minutes before he was born, they found the heartrate and quickly got away.

And then the moment came when he entered the world.  He was born in the water and I grabbed him and flipped him over to realize he was a BOY!  You can actually see him under the water in this shot!
 
After 3 hours of active labor, baby David came into the world at 2:25am on January 10th, 2012.  He weighed 9lbs 2oz and was 20 inches long (which is a lot bigger than 7lb 10z Ainsley was).

I can't tell you how proud I am of myself for doing this naturally.  It was so hard but so worth it.  We are already so in love with this little boy.  I never pictured myself as a mother of a little boy but I must say that it is AWESOME!
 
 
Ryan and Tracey, with Ainsley, born July 6, 2008
 
"I wanted to talk about my experience in relation to having a doula, and her role in the birth of Ainsley.  For more on our everyday life from the perspective of a new mom, check out my blog at http://nccomputermama.blogspot.com/

For the first half of my pregnancy, I firmly stated that I wanted the epidural early. I didn't want to feel anything, I just wanted my baby. It was about the mid-point that we went to the child birthing class at the hospital. I began my journey of learning more about birth. At first I was frightened. I was still set on the drugs. By the end of the class, I began to feel differently. I was beginning to realize that this was what God designed my body to do. Birth was meant to be experienced and not just survived. I changed my tune. I wanted to be a part of the most important day of my baby's life.

I still had fear. I wanted to be able to give birth from a position of confidence, not fear. We began to think about doulas. We were given a name of a local doula who was early in her practice. Being who we are, we thought that this might be a more inexpensive way to go than the most experienced doula. God used that lapse of judgement for our benefit. I called Mary on a Sunday afternoon and she and I immediately "clicked". I felt as if I knew her from the start. She was such an advocate for God's plan. I knew she knew my Jesus and I knew I wanted her there for the birth of our daughter.

She met with us extensively before the birth. She tried to prepare us for what was to come. She encouraged us to read some great books. She looked up scriptures for me. She was giving me the confidence I needed to really be involved in the birth process. I felt good about what was to come.

The week I was in labor (I consider the prelabor that I experienced to be part of that week), Mary was never far. We spoke regularly on the phone. We emailed. We were very in touch. She coached me through the beginning contractions over the phone. She told me to rest. She just encouraged me. I felt very loved.

As the week progressed and it became obvious that this was "it", she was there. She came over at 3:00 in the morning as we were having contractions at home. She used many great doula techniques to help ease the back labor that I was experiencing. She regularly helped me keep my focus on our baby. She gave Ryan and I space to experience this process as a couple and stepped in when we needed more support.

At the hospital she did all those things as well. She helped us through some rough decisions. She helped me to read the signs my body was giving. She helped me decide the appropriate times to call for interventions. This was hard for me since I had the idea of doing this 100% naturally. She helped me to realize that taking Pitocin and an epidural isn't the end of the world and that I wasn't a failure for doing so. I was doing what was best to ensure a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

As we pushed for hours and felt like days with little progress, Mary encouraged both Ryan and I to continue to trust on Jesus. My body was doing what it needed to do. Our baby was just a short time away from arriving.

As Ainsley arrived, Mary was the one that captured the early pictures. She aided us in our initial bonding experience. I don't remember much of that time but I do remember that it was exactly as I wanted it. I remember feeling complete. I remember feeling empowered. I remember feeling like I had experienced this life changing moment and I would be forever bonded to the people in that room.

Since Ainsley's birth, I have continued to be loved by Mary. She is a member of our family now. Nothing will ever change that. She loves us and we love her. I know this for sure, the first call outside the family if I get pregnant again will be to Mary. I couldn't imagine it any other way.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Desi and Lubo, with son Victor, born February 14, 2008
 
I will remember my first labor experience as a positive, comparatively natural and beautiful event despite the complications that necessitated my c-section. I will be always tremendously grateful for the encouragement and support – emotional, psychological and physical – I received from my husband Lubo, and my doula Mary Gillett. I will be always thankful for their efforts and help that got me through the night and the following day when I greeted my newborn son Victor.
 
My labor began spontaneously with the rupture of my membranes at 1:29 AM on the 14th of February.  On my doctor’s advice we headed straight for the hospital, and once admitted, I was on the monitor continuously and unable to move from my bed.
As my contractions began, and as they got increasingly stronger, I found a lot of positive energy within my inner self and I managed to stay confident in my ability to withstand the unfolding events.
 
Since my baby’s heartbeat kept dropping during the contractions, I was not allowed to stand and move around.  After a sleepless night, and eight hours of labor without any pain mediation or the ability to move, I got really tired and requested an epidural. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to experience both an un-medicated labor and to receive pain relief when fatigue, stress and lack of sleep made it absolutely necessary to do so.
 
At one point I felt really scared that the c-section seemed unavoidable.  At that moment my doula offered excellent psychological help and coached me and my husband how to deal with and what to expect from the upcoming events. Thanks to her and to my husband’s support I overcame my fears and went to the operation room more confident, more positive and more reassured.
 
As the medical staff prepared me for surgery, I couldn’t help myself but experiencing a mix of strong controversial emotions. I never thought that I would end up with a c-section but I made my peace with it because it was thoroughly explained to me why I needed to undergo a surgery and why it was better for my baby. I forgot all fears about my body and my own self and quietly prayed that my baby would be OK.
 
I will always cherish the moment when Victor, my son, first looked into my eyes and held my finger in his fist!  He was all wrapped up in blankets and held by his daddy, he was shown to be behind the operating curtain.  For me to see him, kiss him and enjoy him for the very first time was the most thrilling moment of my life!  I immediately experienced these strong, exhilarating emotions of motherhood that last a lifetime, along with the need to protect and nourish this precious little human being.  From that moment on, the only thing I could think of was Victor's beautiful angelic face."