Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Strong Foundation

Everyone- everything- needs a strong foundation.

Yesterday morning, in the still of the 2 o' clock hour and in the depth of my deepest sleep- my phone rang. Startled, mentally disheveled with the confusion that your hardest sleep can bring, I answer it. It is the husband of one of my home birth clients. He tells me that Alayna's contractions are 2 minutes apart and that it's time for me to head over. My adrenaline starts pumping. "Do you want to talk to her," he asks? No...I know Alayna and I know it's the real deal. I need to get there. I tell him no, it's ok, I'll head over. Worst case, I say to him, I get there a bit on the early side and set things up and go back later.

We hang up, I get up and begin to collect my things. My phone rings again. I answer. It's my home birth client's husband, telling me that my client is contracting every 2 minutes and they think it's time for me to head over. I am utterly confused. Am I the one losing my mind or is it him? Did we not just have this same conversation?! As he continues to talk, I realize that it is not Alayna's husband, but Meggan's. One of my other home birth clients. I reassure him, I tell him that someone will be right over, but that it will not be me, as minutes before I had committed to another client that had called before him. This is not a scenario that we have not talked about. We have indeed talked about the "what ifs." My clients know that no matter what they will be taken care of. He knows the back up plan. Glen and Tish will go be with them. While he may have been reassured, I can still hear the disappointment in his voice. Just as I am disappointed about the prospect of missing Meggan's birth. I have spent 9 months with these women and this event is monumental for me. I want to be by her side.

I hang up. I am calm, cool, and collected on the outside, but my brain starts to fire, blasting off thoughts. I dash upstairs to wake Glen. My mind is dancing with thoughts and checklist of musts, my mouth seems to be moving in slow-mo and not keeping up with my brain. It dawns on me that it just simply does not make sense to send Glen and Tish to Meggan's house. Meggan has only been a client of mine. She does not know Glen. Alayna, on the other hand, had her last baby with Glen and they have a very good relationship. We decide that Glen and Tish will go to Alayna and I will go to Meggan after all, and call another midwife to assist me.

I get to Meggan's house. The house is so calm, so quiet. I sit on the living room sofa as Meggan sits on the comfy recliner. We chat. I ask her about what she's had to eat and drink, how long her contractions have been happening, if baby is moving....the array of intake questions. But in the quiet and dim living room, mostly I just observe. She says her contractions are terrible, but they seem from my perspective to be but a minor discomfort. She is handling them beautifully. I listen to baby. I take her vitals. Then I ask if she would like to be checked. She says yes. Her husband, Matt, asks me if I would like him to turn the big light on so I can see better. I tell him no, it's ok...there's nothing I need to see...just feel.
I check her right there as she lays on her living room sofa and I find that her cervix is central, thin, and a nice, stretchy 7cm. This is great, I tell her! She goes to get in the shower and I go to text Glen to give him an update. My phone dings with a text message from him. Alayna is 7cm. I find the parallel between these two women- who do not know each other and likely never will- amazing. Two women, connected by the same birth team, doing the same monumental work, at the very same time.

I consider my options of midwives to call. I know that the midwives of Mat-Su Midwifery have clinic in a few hours. They are all very busy themselves. I've never worked with any other midwife other than Mat-Su Midwifery. Though I've never worked with Stella, I decide I'll give her a call. She seems to be a very competent midwife and she seems to bring a very different style than I...but in a good way. I'm curious to see her in action. I call her and she agrees to come assist.

Later, as I carry up the supplies to the bedroom where this sweet baby girl will likely be born, I turn the corner from the stairs leading to the bedroom, and hanging on the wall is a painting of Jesus. It stops me in my tracks. I pause and breathe. It is calming. I feel a sense of relief.

Religion or spirituality had never come up during mine and Meggan's visits. And so seeing that painting reminded me (not just of Jesus...;) of one of the many beauties of home birth- I am in their home. I am a guest in their space. There is much I may not know about them, and so much to learn.

Meggan moves from the shower to the bed. She is getting close. Glen texts me to let me know that they just had a baby- born in the water by candle light, caught by his daddy- and all is well. He asks about Meggan. I tell Meggan, "Glen let me know that the other mom just had her baby. Him and Tish are thinking of you. You are close behind..."

Soon we too had a gave birth to a 9 lb. 5 oz. baby girl, in the comfort of her own bed, over an intact perineum, caught by dad.

After the immediate postpartum period and the newborn exam, I thought of the events of the busy morning. I was terribly disappointed in missing Alayna's birth, but so very happy to have gotten to be with Meggan and witness such a beautiful, peaceful birth. I felt in my heart the beauty of when everything works out the way it is meant to be- each mom got the birth team that was meant for her. We each were where we were needed and meant to be.

I thought of the team I have behind me, supporting me, supporting these moms...How much good this team of ours is doing and how much it matters. I could strive to do all of the good that I want, but without my strong birth team and team at the office, I could not do it. Together, we can build on this and continue to grow.

As I did my morning drive to the office, I made my morning ritual glance at our property as I zoomed down Trunk Road. The foundation was set! Ah, the foundation! My heart ached for the significance of that. When someone looks at the foundation do they know how much work and sacrifice went into making it a reality? Do they know what that gray innate concrete symbolizes? It is the foundation of where so much HEART goes into the work that will takes place much life will happen- literally- on that foundation.

It feels so good to have a strong foundation. The sky is the limit.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Birth of Eli, a Cesarean Birth After 3 Cesareans

Mary came to me desiring midwifery care, but knowing that because she was high risk, she could not ultimately deliver under my care. Wanting the personal care that midwifery care brings, she chose me as her midwife, knowing that I would ultimately turn into her doula for her repeat cesarean birth.

Mary's story is unique, and simply not one for me to tell. It is hers to tell and hopefully share with us someday. At the heart of the story is a mother who had previously experienced three cesarean births resulting in three sick babies- all, simply, born too soon...A cascade of the misuse of technology and intervention, and the foreverness of 'shoulda, coulda, wouldas.' Her previous experiences and her instincts told her that this baby simply needed more time.

Today, at 41+4 weeks, she gave birth via cesarean section to her 4th baby boy. Though this was her 4th c-section, it was a very different experience than her other births.

This is the photo story of her birth.

Filled with emotion, patiently waiting.

Her birth team.

That doctor of hers...
Happy Mary...
Matt joins us.
Baby Eli
Eli goes immediately over the drape and into his mother's hands.
Mary holds him for the very first time, before anyone else.


A perfectly designed pillow.
Eli opening his eyes for the first time...and seeing Mom and Dad.

Right where he should be. THIS is how it should be when cesareans are, gentle, respectful.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Birth of Aria- A Home Waterbirth

I met Ashley during my first year as a student midwife. She was one of my first "continuities,"- meaning, I saw her throughout her pregnancy and then saw her through her labor, birth, and postpartum period. As with most women and most births I have attended, I learned a lot from Ashley and having the privilege of attending the birth of her first born. We have quite fond memories of her labor with Ryder (most comically told through the storytelling of her mom, Jeffrey), and we can now laugh at the story of how she passed out cold on me (literally, on me...) while going to the bathroom. And through that special and exciting time, we made a connection. She took care of my children on occasion afterward. Glen and I attended her wedding. We kept in touch. Such is the beauty of midwifery care- Personal. Sometimes forever bonding.

I was thrilled when she told me she was pregnant again and wanted me to be her midwife. Just 2 days ago she gave birth to her 2nd baby, Aria.

Here are the photos, telling the story of her home waterbirth...

Laboring in the tub. Ashley was the first mom to use our new portable tub. When she got in for the first time she said, "Just so you know, this feels SO much better!"

Listening to heart tones as mom labors in the water.

Big brother Ryder was around for the entire labor. He got to see the normalcy of birth and what it looks like to see mom work hard, surrounded by her support team.

Laboring mom holding mom's hands.

Hard, strong, exhausting work!
All of the excitement wore the big brother out!

We all get to lay eyes on Aria for the first time.

I love all of the hands in this photo, welcoming beautiful Aria.

Hello sweet baby!

She had such a short cord!

So relaxed.