Monday, September 20, 2004

Sukkah Birth (last night)

I was asked at the last minute to assist Gerri... love working with her, she and I being nice and hands off. She is the midwife that was at Donna's birth, too.

The woman's water broke at 9pm on the 18th, but no labor for about 12 hours. When Gerri went to check on her, she was still in very early labor, so she and her daughter (a new doula) came to the Reclaiming Birth Conference meeting we were having at Ama Mama on Sunday. Donna was coming to the meeting to help with Registration, so it was vital to have the meeting.

I'd been awakened by Gerri's daughter at 6am telling me to come now, but then, stepping into the car, Gerri said she was still really early.

The Con meeting was at noon.We had our long meeting (I talked to a couple of the women until 5pm!) and then napped until I was awakened at 6:15pm by my pager telling me to come up the mountain since it was still kind of light.

I woke up, gathered all my stuff together (I have been organizing my birth kit for a couple of days), and headed out. I wasn't going to make it before dark.

As I headed east and then north and then up this mountain, I saw what Gerri had warned me about; the cliffs that fell quickly if I took my eyes off the road for a second! I followed the directions very slowly, brights on, paper in hand and found my way to the steep hill upward that would then level off at their home that was in the midst of being constructed upon. If I gunned it too much, I would head either off the cliff on the left side of the driveway or into the embankment they were building to protect against mudslides in the rainy (*cough*) season. I didn't do either, so I must have found the correct gas pedal pressure.

Mom was in the hot tub (Aqua Doula, actually) and I quietly asked Gerri what she needed me to do; she said nothing, so I acclimated myself to Gerri's oxygen tanks (location), the med kit (by the O2 tanks), and other supplies. Gerri's daughter was her fetcher, so I grabbed my organizing Bible and sat in the livingroom reading. It was freezing outside! (60 degrees according to my car thermometer.)

I could hear mom's beautiful labor song... moaning, sometimes squeeking, and her 4 year old son (who is still nursing) talking to his mom and dad, being tended to by a beautiful teenager who had seen other births (her mama had had a baby with the midwife here in town who'd spent time in prison).

This mom loved the hot water. Periodically, I would open the door for the doula/friend as she carried giant spaghetti pots of boiling water to the tub and gently immersed the hot water into the tub with a coffee cup.

I love being in other people's homes. It is so cool to see how people live. I would say these were homesteaders, except for glaring paradoxes: only wooden toys in the house, but a state-of-the-art computer system; hundreds of books, many on simplifying, but a large flat screen tv in the living room; dozens of aromatherapy bottles, but an indoor toilet; only organic food in the house, but 2 cars of theirs in the driveway. So interesting!

Gerri asked me once to come and listen to heart tones as she charted, so I leaned into the tub to listen (after asking permission) and the baby sounded wonderful! Dad had gotten in the water with mom by now, too.

I was reading again and could hear her beginning grunts through her song and Gerri's daughter came in and told me she was starting to push. I smiled and said I was listening and thank you for letting me know, that I was right there when her mama needed me.

The contractions spaced out as second stage contractions are wont to do and as soon as she started pushing from the beginning of a contraction, I wandered outside into the cold night. It had started sprinkling.

The hot tub was tucked inside a corn stalk teepee sort of creation... like a sukkah Jews make during Sukkot (, but with much less substance. The sky was easily seen through the top and the rain sprinkled down on our heads gently. Stars peeked out when the clouds passed by. I don't remember the moon at all, but know it isn't full (despite it bringing 3 babies in our practice within 12 hours of each other!).

Mom could feel the baby moving down and she was on her hands and knees... a very small woman... she knelt her knees on her husband's thighs and she clung herself around his neck... nuzzling him as his face was pure bliss at his wife's sheer determination and focus at birthing their baby. The 4 year old was asked to come into the water by mom and he jumped in, sweat shirt and all. I watched quietly, finding myself pulling back against the teepee to offer them privacy and room; Gerri did the same.

We could see the head coming with the tiny flashlight, otherwise, it was dark except for the light from the living room window that was shaded. I took off my sweater and Gerri asked if I wanted to bring the O2 over (it was behind the teepee, behind me) and I said I could grab it fast, but I didn't think I would need it. (I didn't say it in that many words and it was said almost silently.)

Gerri asked mom to feel her baby and she kept shaking her head "no" into her man's shoulders; I could see her biting him. I touched dad's hand gently and reminded him that he could touch his child's head if he wanted and his face lit up even more as his left hand found his baby's head and he told his wife how wonderful it was that the baby was so close!

There was no talking between contractions and the closer the birth was, even the young child was more quiet. We couldn't hear cars, birds, bugs, or anything else but the birthsong. And it was perfect.

Mom's voice arched and we watched the head slide out easily... a baby with its eyes closed, facing up (mom was still on hands and knees) and the sibling came close and was hesitant to touch even as we whispered that it was okay to touch softly (so's not to stimulate the baby).

Instead, we watched with amazement and joy and waited for another contraction. As it began to build, mom reminded her son that he was going to catch the baby and, instantly and in slow motion, two arms popped out at the same time! All that was outside of her body was a head, shoulders, and two arms... reaching... and the baby's brother reached over and took the baby's arms in his hands and we encouraged mom to lean back so the baby could leave her body and she would be able to hold her baby... and simultaneously, she leaned, the son helped the new baby out (Gerri was close, but not touching) and right onto his mama's tummy and they all laid in dad's lap/chest/heart. I couldn't stop smiling!

I watched to make sure the baby was doing well. Her eyes were open, but she didn't make any noises for about a minute or so, but she was pink, her eyes open, and her cord, we could see (we didn't touch) was pulsing hard. Once she began breathing, she made one or two little wahhh's and then she just sat there and looked around. We didn't know she was a she for a few minutes, but everyone looked and verified that the new baby was, indeed, a girl.

The new baby closed her eyes after a couple of minutes and mom was worried, so I asked if I could feel her heart rate and mom said, "anything you need to do, just do it!" but it was important for me to ask anyway. (She doesn't know; we do.) I felt her chest (no gloves) and her heart was at least 140-150 and I put mom's and dad's fingers on her chest so they could feel and they were reassured... much better than if I told them blah blah blah... it is always better to feel than hear, don't you think?

We dried the baby's head off and put her warm hat on. No towels or blankets since they wick wet to the baby and make them even colder... better to keep them submerged. I took that coffee cup from earlier and gently poured water over the baby as mom, dad, and older sibling talked and spent time together.

About 15 minutes after the birth, mom wanted to move to the couch because she was getting cold. In the strategy (discussion) of moving a mom with a placenta inside that has its cord still attached to the baby that mom is holding and out of an Aqua Doula (that is pretty darn tall, especially since she was short), we choreographed it well and there was zero bleeding so no need for the Chux Holder between her legs either. There was one person on each side, one behind, me in front (hands near the baby) and we 10-legged walked into the house, putting our feet into the water bucket before entering to get the sand off.

Mom sat on the couch and began nursing. In time, she spoke of contractions and her back hurting (tailbone), but Gerri thought it might be from the birth (rotation). I have heard many women describe that sensation when the placenta is sitting in the vaginal vault, but not yet out. About 40 min after the birth, Gerri suggested we move her and I suggested a supported squat. Great idea, Gerri said, and we did just that... and the placenta plopped right out. The backache stopped immediately. smile

There was less than 200cc blood from this woman. Her uterus was tight and hard and 2 fingerbreadths below her umbilicus already! I wasn't needed anymore.

The baby was nursing great, had already had her first poops, and the family was enamored with their daughter... 7 pounds even, Gerri tells me today.

This beautiful baby was born 24 hours and 1 minute after mom's water broke.

Her middle name is Summer... and, what a beautiful birth to attend on these waning days of summer.

I am honored and blessed.

No comments: