(Quick update after this week's appointments: I am still exactly 0cm dilated, to my ob's surprise and bafflement, especially considering the sizing scan at the antenatal specialist Wednesday morning put baby girl at 8lb 5oz.
Me, to sono tech: Wait, 8lb 5oz RIGHT NOW??!!
Sono tech: Yep.
Me: OH GOD BABY YOU NEED TO COME OUT SOON.
Sono tech, sympathetically: The meds they can give you are REALLY strong these days.
Fluid went down a teensy bit, putting me now at the very upper limit of "normal," which I'll happily take. Everyone - from my ob, to the sono tech, to the antenatal doctor - commented on my "cervix of steel" - having an 8+ lb baby consistently head down on the lady bits plus weeks and weeks of extra fluid should really have resulted in something going on down there. It's the whole reason I was at risk for pre-term labor in the first place! But all concerns turn out to have been moot, because cervix o' steel will not open up even the slightest wee bit to allow a baby out, apparently. COOL.)
I realize I just sort of casually tossed into a few posts that I was working with a doula, and since a few people in my Offline Life have asked why I chose to have one and how I chose this one in particular, (which were questions I had myself before picking one!) I figured it might be useful to share why I ended up with one, personally.
I've read and heard a lot of stories about women - first time moms, especially - who felt that their labor & delivery sort of got away from them, in one sense or another: they were pressured into a drug or a procedure (or even just a position, like staying in bed) because they simply didn't know they had other options, or that they were allowed to push back on the doctors and nurses. And I mean, why would you? I certainly will not be the most experienced person in the room when I'm trying to push a baby out, so why wouldn't I assume that the people who ARE the experts know what they're talking about when they tell me I need to start pitocin immediately, or whatever any particular directive may be? I don't know what I don't know, and I certainly don't know what my options are at any given time (and how reasonable those options even are, given how progressed I am or what complications might be present).
Basically, I am not confident that I can be my own best advocate in that situation. The thought of having someone else there who can be an advocate for me - who is also extremely knowledgeable about labor and birth - is extremely appealing. Because while Chris will of course be there, and extremely willing to advocate for me, it's not like he knows any more about this process than I do.
I want to make sure things are explained to me as they happen. I want to make sure I'm given all of my options, not just the one that a particular doctor or nurse prefers at the moment. I want to have someone supporting my labor, in addition to the excellent doctors and nurses who are working hard to get my baby out as efficiently and safely as possible. And if that person can also help physically coach me through labor? Even better!
(As one friend put it: you can always go to the gym by yourself and work out, and everything will be fine and you'll get exercise. But if you go to the gym and work out with a trainer, you will get a WAY better workout, learn a lot more, be confident you have the correct form, etc. I want a trainer!)
So once I decided on a doula, I was pretty lost on how to actually... get one. As per usual, google was my solution. I googled doulas in the area, read some reviews when I could find them, got some basic pricing info when available to get a sense of how much this would cost (incidentally: A LOT) and then reached out to two different practices to set up an intro call. The intro calls were all pretty similar, so I moved forward with one based pretty solely on feeling slightly more comfortable / friendly with her after chatting and after confirming that they offered a program that I thought would meet my needs.
The practice I went with actually assigns two doulas to each woman, so that you don't end up with a backup doula you aren't familiar with if two women go into labor at the same time, or whatever. They came by for an intro visit at the beginning of the process, then more recently for a few hours after work to talk through what to expect when I go into labor, how to recognize the various stages, how Chris can help, when to call them, etc. We also talked about my birth plan (such as it is) so they know my preferences and can help push for them, if possible, at the hospital.
Ultimately, it's probably just a way to help me feel a tiny bit of control in a situation where I have verrrryyy little, but I'm ok with that.