Tuesday, January 4, 2011

the eyes

Laura is a very sweet first time Mama. I had been able to see her several times during her prenatal care and really liked her and her husband, Tim. She had been on our "labor radar" for several days as she had been experiencing pretty difficult prodromal contractions. She had been up through the night for the last three nights and was very exhausted. The physical toll was also starting to weigh on her emotionally and she was definitely loosing her steam. We had tried all of our usual tricks to help ladies get some rest through these situations...and just couldn't get her any relief.

Finally, as a last resort, I called in a prescription of Ambien for her. She was able to take that and eventually get some sort of sleep during the day. Later that evening she called me and really wanted to come in and be evaluated. I was concerned about Laura and her ability to cope with hard labor after the long, long latent labor trip she had been on. When we met, she looked tired, with purple shadows under her eyes. I hoped to check her cervix and have really good news to share. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as I had hoped...but not horrible either. We decided to spend some time and re-check her in a couple hours. Then, literally 15 minutes later her water broke. It was like a switch went off in her tired body and she was flooded with energy. Her contractions steadily picked up and she started to smile and shine. I think the knowing that it was now really happening, that the "teasing" was over had given her a strong, hardy second wind. Never underestimate the power reserves of a Mama.

Eventually, Laura was in the birth pool and cranking away in solid active labor. She was on her knees, with her arms and head resting in her husband's lap. It was very peaceful with the flicker of candles and some gentle music playing. Suddenly, with a strong contraction, she opened her eyes and locked them with mine. The look was one of strength and vulnerability, beauty and necessity. She needed me to join her on the ride, together we climbed the hill, made it across the peak and came down the other side. In between contractions, she would close her eyes and just breath. The next wave would start, we would again lock eyes and traverse the mountain together. Without words, I knew that she needed me to be there, that when she opened her eyes, I had to be there waiting to walk with her. We did this all through transition, on and on, I was truly with her, intimately on the journey. I knew, as she did, when it was time to push. Five hours after her water had broken, Laura brought her gorgeous, 6# 9oz., daughter to the world.

I will never forget this labor. I feel that I was completely "with woman" as we worked so closely together and I was honored to support this family.

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