Saturday, August 31, 2013

It is magical...A birth story.

After 15 years attending births, a person develops a certain degree of expertise in evaluating the progress of labor without any internal exams whatsoever.  It's not an exact science, but has been proven true more times than I can count. There is a variety of signs and symptoms that fit together like a puzzle, one or two of them may peak my interest, but they don't really get me too excited until I see a number of pieces fitting together.  Upon arrival at T & T's house at approximately 12:40am on Friday morning, my interest was peaked right away.  Her particular puzzle included the following: Side lying position, quiet/dimly lit corner, vocalizing with contraction.  I called the midwife and told her that we were waiting for someone to arrive to take care of their older child and that we would need to move to the birth center as soon as she arrived.  The midwife asked me for a ten minute head start to allow her time to get there first and I told her that I would see what I could do. Within a contraction or two she added several more pieces to the puzzle, shaking, blowing with pursed lips...hard...and expressing an urge to bear down.  The childcare person had arrived and I was working on supporting her through contractions while also asking about logistics, clothes to wear to the birth center, supplies in the car etc. when her next contraction brought a grunt with it.  Hmm.
I called the midwife back and told her that the plan had changed, she was closer to us than she was to the birth center.  Home birth it is.  Now, I always carry an emergency birth kit with me.  I have never had to even break the seal, but knew that certain supplies were in there.  Basic first aid and newborn care.  Cracked that bad boy open and pulled out: Chux pads to place under T on her sectional sofa, sterile gloves and bulb syringe in case baby needed some help clearing mucous, etc.  The midwife was having difficulty getting a very understandably flustered Daddy to give her clear directions to the house while she was simultaneously driving and coaching me to get mom in a position with her booty in the air to try to delay the birth long enough for her to arrive.  Upon getting T turned over, I noticed immediately that the purple line was present and pointing straight up, in line with her spine.   Once the booty was in the air, with the next contraction a little burst of water signified the rupture of membranes, and the baby's head was visible very shortly after that.  This is the instant that time slowed down.  It was really happening in slow motion for me.
Reassure mommy and daddy, speak out loud, calmly telling what I was seeing, for the midwife on the speaker and for the family...and frankly, for me, thinking and processing.

I had one amazing midwife on the phone and another one in my head.

I was encouraging her to try her best to just breath through her urge to push, both to try to stall long enough for the midwife to arrive and allowing her body to do the work, letting the tissue stretch slowly.  Her body was pushing, she didn't have to.

Once the head was visible it was 4 distinct movements.  One push, a little head.  Second push, a bunch of head.

The pressure of the head filling my hand was indescribable.

Third push, her face was looking up at me.

I announced that the head was out.

Fourth push and she was in my hands.

She was accompanied by a  rush of fluid that I barely acknowledged in the moment.  Similar to the disregard I have to being splashed in the face when I am teaching a small child to submerge by jumping off the wall and into the pool.  The wellness of the human being in front of me eclipses even autonomous reactions to unexpected events that might otherwise cause me to turn away.  I laid her down on the chux pad behind where her Mama was kneeling.  She began to make noise right away, but I aided her by using the bulb syringe to clear her mouth a little bit.  She was pinking up immediately and so I changed my focus to getting her skin to skin with her Mama.  I was checking in with T, she was feeling great, so relieved to be done.  I asked her to sit upright on her knees and I pulled the chux pad with baby through her legs so she could see, and then helped her sit back into the corner of the sectional and brought baby up to her abdomen, covered them both with a dry towel and continued checking on Mom and baby until the midwife arrived.

I never realized what I was missing.  I never knew that receiving life into my hands would be so magical.  I have witnessed the birth of nearly 150 little human beings, and I know that I have spoken about the beauty and magic inherent in the witnessing of the first breath, the first cry.  The bewildered first tears of relief and joy and love.  But receiving life into my hands was an experience that I will not forget, it added a dimension of lovely magic that I don't have words to describe.  Welcome Little M.

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