Friday, December 3, 2010

a day in the life....#1

Recently, I have been at the center for several 24 hour shifts. We are always scheduled for 24 hours, but usually are not there for the whole time, thankfully. I am writing about these two in particular because they were very different and exemplify the diversity of labor and birth....

Phone rings at 5am...time to get in to the center...a Mama is cooking. I arrive to be with Beth (names are always changed ;)) and her husband who are having their third baby. She is sitting on the ball, leaning over the bed working with her body and her baby. One of the old midwife sayings is, "first babies are hard work, second babies come fast and third babies are a wild card"...or some variation of that. So, I was prepared for that wild card effect with Beth. While we were all supporting Beth, my phone rang. Another Mama, Christie, who is having her second baby calls in labor...actually it was her husband who was on the phone, which usually means we are serious. They arrive shortly after their call.

Now, I have 2 Mama's working on their babies. Christie and her husband had a lot of great support...both of their Mothers, sisters and friends...and they were in the smallest room. Beth and her husband were on the other side of the center, just the two of them in our biggest room. Between the nurse and myself, we were able to be with both women and things went big concern was that they would both their babies at the same time! Luckily, that was not the case....

Beth's beautiful babe arrived first. When it came time to push, she had a difficult time...she did not want to do it. She remembered pushing her other children out and said that this time it hurt more and felt different. So, I did a vaginal exam and found that her babe was a little asynclitic, meaning a little "crooked", so I had her stand at the bedside and use the birth stick to "hang" and stretch out her abdomen for several contractions and the baby was able to right himself. After that, we had to do some talking through it and some coaxing through it and some laughing through it but in the end, Beth decided it was time to meet her new little one. He was born so sweetly and started crying as soon as his head came out...even before his shoulders were born! After her last baby, Beth had some heavy bleeding, so I gave her a little shot of pitocin and she had very minimal bleeding. The three of them, tucked into bed, babe nursing wonderfully and finished their recovery.

Next up was Christie. She had quite the audience with all the family members and friends present, but it was perfect for her and they were all amazing. Somehow, despite the crowd it didn't feel like a 'show' at all. She was in the pool and laboring beautifully. She started pushing on her own and soon was crowning. The baby's head emerged, but then stopped we quickly got Christie out of the pool and to the bed....all the movement was good because then her babe came right out. Christie had also had a lot of bleeding with her last babe so she got some pitocin as well and also hardly bleed. Christie and her husband are both brunettes, their oldest daughter is a cute little red head, so we were all curious about this new little girl's hair.....and it is red as well! They too, tucked into bed with a sweet nursing baby and finished their recovery.

Shortly after Christie's birth, another Mama and her family came to the center. Amy was a first time Mom and working hard, but well with her labor. She also had a large support network with her...multiple sisters (with their husbands and children), her mother and father. So, at this point the center seems to be busting at the seams...all three birth rooms full and two large family groups....somehow it worked out well. Then, a couple hours later, I get a phone call from another first time Mom, Jill. She is in labor and almost ready to head in! The birthday juices were flowing that day! Beth is almost ready to go home, so we set up our overflow recovery room and set her up there. Then we very quickly clean the room she had birthed in to get ready for Jill. Whew...a whirlwind of activity...such is birth!

So, eventually, Beth and Christie and their families all headed home...with a new addition each of course. The two first time mama's, Amy and Jill, remained to work on their little ones. As is normal, they both had some hard work to do. Again, between the nurse and myself we were able to be with each of them and offer support and guidance.

Jill's birth dance progressed beautifully. She spent most of her time in the birth pool and it was a joy to be present with her and her husband. They are funny, sweet people who worked so well together. They have been together for a long time and this pregnancy was a long time coming and you could tell they had such a great foundation of partnership. Jill welcomed her 8# cuddly, sweet baby girl to the world while squatting in the birth pool. We helped her to the bed, and the three of them all tucked in with a nursing little one and recovered wonderfully!

Amy's birth dance was more difficult and slow. She was an amazingly strong lady who worked so passionately for her baby. Her husband and family were wonderful and supported her through the whole process. Unfortunately, her labor just got stuck...we did multiple position changes and walking mixed with resting, herbs to encourage things and just could not move past the 7cm mark. After 16 hours at the center (and many hours before that at home) and a Mama who was exhausted we had to make the decision to transfer to the hospital. These situations are so hard and emotional for everyone involved. After several more hours at the hospital Amy and her husband were blessed with a healthy baby born via cesarean section.

So, if that seems like a jam packed, exciting and exhausting shift.....that's because it was! At the end, even though I was so tired, I was also so thankful for what I do. Ultimately, I feel blessed to be able to join these families during this most intimate event and to help support them through the transition.

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