Things have been busy this year. Babies coming, my girls finished 3rd grade (!!), my little guy really stepping into toddlerhood and lots of family adventures. And Knitting! I’ve been knitting for a long time but since I started my practice I’ve really kept my hands busy. Lots of satisfaction as things come on and off the needles and away to new little ones.
Besides knitting, I’ve got a couple new ideas up my sleeves but both are long term projects, not ready to reveal yet. Stay tuned.
In the meantime I decided to write down another birth story. I had one birth in mind as the backbone but really, there are so many similarities to other births, even as unique as birth is. Let me know what you think!
I get the call from my client that her bag of waters just opened. She sounds excited and surprised. I’m surprised too because it’s less typical for the bag to open first, before strong labor contractions begin. It has only been an hour or two after our appointment that same afternoon I have been home, thinking about her and her baby’s coming birth. Like many before her we had made plans for labor, discussed again when to call and what to look for. Cementing the strength of her mind and body to birth her baby. Now we were playing the waiting game of when labor would actually begin but I had a feeling it wouldn’t be long.
I began calling my husband and babysitters to see who could be at home with my kids first because I was anticipating a fast labor and lots of traffic between me and her. Babysitter secured I began to check my nervousness, the lump in my throat that happens when my attention is divided between dinner prep, hungry kids, double checking my labor bags, and thinking about my client. Soon I would be in the car and able to focus on what was to come. Before I left I told my kids that a baby is coming and we play our game of them giving me suggestions of baby names that I’m to pass on to the family (always hilarious choices). Like many times before they seemed happy but not too impressed yet – in our world a baby is always coming.
In my car I began my ritual of putting on the local classical station, for nice background noise, and just thinking about birth. I think about all recent births and births that happened years ago. I think about this client and the things that are unique to her and her baby. I practice maneuvers in my head and hands. I’m getting ready.
At her house nothing much is happening. We check in with baby who is chugging along, happy to let us know they’re well. I recommend that my client eat, drink and walk and I’d give them their space but stay in town (I do not want to sit in traffic again either). My client seems nervous but knows what she needs to do to help this labor really kick in. The anticipation of the unknown of labor is always daunting.
After about an hour, the next call I get is from her partner saying things were really happening now. The contractions are close together and she’s moaning and breathing through them, and she just threw up. This is a good sign! I’m at her house quickly this time and indeed, labor is in full swing, much to everyone’s relief. Some of the unknown has become known. Baby is still happy and healthy and I begin to set everything up. Like many labors before the room transforms into a mix of positive affirmations, art, new baby things, and midwifery tools, herbs, gloves, the emergency equipment. It all starts to blend together.
She’s really getting going now and I check in with my assistant midwife again because I know she has some miles to drive before she can get here. My assist is a little surprised too at how fast things have picked up but she’s on her way. Not too long after she arrives we can hear that the baby has moved lower and labor is moving into the next phase, the pushing phase. No need to rush this process, just like the first part of labor. It’s all just flowing along so well as this amazing woman works so hard while remaining open to what is to come. The reality of what this looks like is my client sitting on the toilet in case the intense pressure she’s feeling is not actually her baby coming down, all while throwing up into the bowl I’m holding. We’ve got a cool wash cloth on her back and trying to be as reassuring as possible that all of this is a good thing and it is in fact her baby causing the pressure. We won’t know until after the birth whether she believes us or not.
Soon her body is really pushing, whether she wants to or not. She’s side lying on her bed while my assist and I are kneeling by her legs waiting and encouraging. This is such a familiar space for me that sometimes in the longer breaks between contractions, I vividly remember the details of other births. I’m wearing the same birth clothes, the same kind of gloves, same dull ache in my knees reminds me I’ve been kneeling for a while. And the same feeling of excitement when we get the first glimpse of baby coming. This sacred space when a whole new person joins their family. It feels like the most focused and meditative of spaces I get to experience. Baby unfolds out of her mother and we place her on her mother’s chest where she’ll spend lots of time in the coming months. We see that baby is a girl on her way out but don’t say anything so her parents can discover for themselves, adding to the surprise, love, and relief of the moment.
Just a few hours later I’m packing my equipment back up, hugging the awestruck and tired parents who I’ll see again the next day, and back home to my own not-so-little babies.