Sunday, August 08, 2004


Second time mom, first homebirth after a very difficult hospital vaginal delivery for her first... lovely couple, 5 year old daughter... and mom is in labor. I hear noises as I run in from outside to see if birth is imminent and toss my stuff down, stethoscope on the dining room table that is laid out with food (grandma was there taking care of everyone).

Another midwife is there (again, I am second assist) and we sit with mom for a few minutes as we assess what is going on. The other midwife checks her and she is about 4cm, so we know we have time to get our equipment and such together and set up.

I smell something foul.

Wrinkling my nose, I walk out into the livingroom and there, on the dining room table, is my precious Littman stethoscope on fire... nearly fired in half. I slammed something on it (a plate of hummus?) to put out the fire and then shook my head at the stupidity of throwing something onto a table with no less than 5 candles burning. (The duck story after this blog story happened less than a week after this!) Dang, did it stink in there. We opened windows and fanned things (it was December) until we were freezing too much.

Labor progresses slowly and mom, a beautiful, sensual, big woman, decides it is pool time, so she climbs into the blow-up birth pool we sell and proceeds to make it her new home. As the hours pass, we continue our emptying and re-filling ritual I call Going To The River since it is removing water with pans and pitchers and refilling with kettles and pans of boiling water... walking to and fro, over and over, hours at a time.

We were tired and one midwife was dozing on the couch a few feet from us. The assistant and I were leaning close to mama and dad was also kinda dozing behind mom who was dozing between contractions, but moaning beautifully during her surges. We all kinda zoned between contractions.

The dog of the house had an itching fetish, so had to wear a cone around her neck at all times. We chuckled at first, but got used to it. The kitty thought we were nuts and kept coming around trying to see what mom and dad were doing (sis was sleeping with grandma during much of this). The cat sat on a chair next to the pool so she could watch mom in labor and, in a moment of impulse, the cat tried to jump into the pool! She missed. What she did get done was she got her claws dug into the top ring of the pool and it began leaking.

Suddenly, we were all bolted awake... looking for tape, talking calmly with mom who was laughing, too... covering the claw holes... and then looking for the bike pump to pump the ring back up. (Where was that patch kit that came with the pool anyway?!)

As things settled down again, mom was leaning her head on the pool and it slowly deflated. As her ear would touch the water, the assistant would use the bike pump to pump up the ring again. Mom's head would inch its way out of the water, up to the proper place again, only to have the experience repeated every 15 minutes or so. It was so funny to see... down, down, down... up, up, up! She wasn't bothered by the movement at all.

Easily, 2 hours of this go by and the dad pumped once instead of the assistant, and he took the pump hook-up out of the little pokie thing in the pool. Miraculously, the pool didn't deflate anymore! We should have just pumped up the pool and disconnected the pump... would have saved hours of pumping, mom's ear in the water, and laughter. Well, the laughter was a good thing. smile

During one time that mom got out to wander around, she was swaying during a contraction and a spider on a web dropped from the ceiling... right in front of her... dropped fast... and then abruptly stopped in front of her face! The spider swung there for a moment or two and then continue his/her descent. We looked at each other and laughed. This birth was getting to be rather amusing.

On cue, the dog walked in and we turned our heads sideways to figure out what was different. The cone was gone! Dad walked around the house and outside looking for the cone, but it had vanished. Maybe someone walking by took it off? We couldn't imagine the dog wouldn't have barked; it was only 5am.

Not long after dawn (we sent mom to dig her feet and hands in the earth to remind her Self of her basic connection to it... right up her alley of requests for us to do), mom had a giant little boy with everyone delighted and amazed at his beauty and enormity. Once everything was tended to, we left them to heal and bond.

I did the postpartum visits on days one and three. On day 3, I had an intuition to go to the corner of the yard and dig. Within two digs, I found the dog's cone. I debated taking it back to the owners (thinking how clever of the dog to hide something that annoyed her so much!), but she was scratching herself raw and that was worse; she would have to be medicated a lot for it and possible infection, so I returned the cone to the owners. I swear the dog stuck her tongue out at me.

Mom talked about all the signs she had that laughter was so important in this birth. She, usually happy and laughing, tended towards being kind of morose and somber during labor. The humorous things that happened brought much-needed levity.

I often use humor to remind people of the joy that is happening. Sure, labor is work, but it can be joy-filled work!

I have several new stethoscopes now (all Littman) and am very careful where I toss them.


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