Friday, May 2, 2014
A Kind Birth Story…shared with with permission.
After a long labor, this Mama told me that she had only a few notes jotted down and that the labor was somewhat of a blur. I offered to use her notes and recollect some detail from my perspective.
The Birth of S
December XX, 2013. Your contractions began on a dark December evening, with snow in the forecast and a quiet, reverent, homebirth planned beautifully. Things don’t always go according to the plan, we learned that night. After having contractions throughout the night, sometime in the early morning hours, I came to join you. The snow was falling and no one knew how treacherous the roads may get. Your midwife arrived close to the same time and after awhile offered to do an exam. I know the news was less than desirable, after a long nights work, but as a couple you accepted the reality very quickly and as a team we decided that the midwife would go, and I would stay. Your contractions were strong, frequent and quite long, which might have indicated that we would turn a corner soon and things might change quickly. We tried to use the time wisely. At two centimeters dilated, we needed to get you some rest. After your midwife left, you and R. curled p together in bed and took a nap. As a doula, attending some of the most intimate moments in the life of a family, I want to tell you that from my experience I believe that you have an exceptionally precious way about you, as a couple. Do the work you have to do to sustain it; it is as special as you both believe it is. I curled up on the floor with your pup, and we had some bonding time. After your nap we worked together to try to get the contractions to be as efficient and effective as possible, standing and leaning against your bed (with your sweet dog laying underneath you, holding vigil), hands and knees to encourage proper positioning, some time in the leu, sitting upright, and around the circuit again. At one point while you were lying on your side on the floor…or hands and knees…hard to remember, but R played a song that I can only imagine that he wrote for you. It was the most lovely, authentic, romantic moment I have ever witnessed at a birth. I tried to make myself invisible and hoped that the memory of that moment would be vibrant in the story of this birth. The day drew on, the snow stopped falling, but there was still a light dusting covering the rooftops and yards. Your midwife and her assistant returned in the evening and at 8pm you were 5 centimeters dilated. Again, I’m sure a disappointing number, but it was good news because it signifies the shift into active labor, we were able to add the tub into our routine and spend some time laboring in the room that would belong to this little person you were working so hard to welcome. Things did pick up some speed and between 8 and 11 pm you made big changes, from 5-8cm. We kept changing positions and helping you to manage the discomfort. You were amazing; I don’t recall hearing you complain, at all. I don’t recall hearing you say any of the things that most women say, I can’t do this anymore, I want a break, I don’t know how long I can do this, etc. You may have been thinking it, but from the outside you were open to the process, focused, present, tough and soft, confident, and unyielding. R. was ever present, both physically, rarely leaving your side, and emotionally, knowing and meeting your needs with no visible effort. Your midwife and her assistant were taking vitals periodically, and with increasing regularity as you continued to labor through what was the beginning of your transition. After a few more hours, another check showed that there that here had been some swelling of the cervix, keeping you dilated at 7-8cm, and during a routine set of vitals it was discovered that baby was not much enjoying this process at that moment. Due to a somewhat alarmingly low fetal heart rate reading at 70, it was determined that it was necessary to transport you to the hospital. We called the ambulance and you made your way downstairs to be by the door and ready. The baby liked a side lying position best, so that is where we kept you. Your transport was a little chaotic, the EMT’s did not seem to know exactly how to get to the intended hospital and while some were getting you settled in the aid car, others were trying to find an address and convey their route for us. As I was standing next to the ambulance trying to work it out, a whole group of late teen/early twenties young men approached me asking what was going on. They were all dressed like gangsters and I know that they were thinking that something bad had happened. I held them off for a minute while I figured out the transport and then as I headed back to my car I told them that there was only celebration tonight; that a baby was going to be born. It was so cute to see these boys’ faces shift from serious, and kind of dark, to being lit up, one even jumped up and down. They asked me to wish you well and congratulations on the birth. I’m not sure if I ever passed that on.
Once at the hospital, you both impressed me so much. Made me proud, to have been your teacher. You asked the tough questions, waited for clear answers, you weighed the risks and benefits of treatments proposed and you made wise choices. You opted to have an epidural to allow you to get some rest, and later for a saline bolster to decrease the pressure on the umbilical cord that was causing the heart rate to fluctuate more than was desirable. You rested, and R. rested in the ridiculous sidecar chair/bed that was available. We all rested. Your midwife and her student sat in some other chairs and I curled up on my coat on the floor for a while. Time in the hospital is like living in a vacuum, no idea where all the time goes, but after what seemed like a short rest after arriving around 3am, your cervix was complete and after worrying that it was going to end in surgery, it was so joyful to have the chance to push this little one out! You opted to turn off the epidural. After that, push after push, with the added feeling that you were recovering, your pushes became stronger and stronger. During your pushing stage you both negotiated a first at that hospital, leaving the cord intact AND drawing cord blood for donation…or storage. The doctor had to leave the room to go learn how to do it! S. was born at 12:50pm on December XX, 2013 after 41 hours of total labor.
I hope that my account of the birth of your baby will fill in any gaps in your memory, along with some of the photographs taken throughout the birth process. Even though the birth did not happen at home, I am thrilled that you were able to labor there, experience the candle light, the comfort of the warm tub, bonding time with your beloved, his serenade, your puppy’s presence, and then the knowledge that you made safe choices for yourself and your baby. It was a beautiful birth that is, in every conceivable way, a love story between the three of you.
Kind Birth Education and Doula Services