Yesterday I went to my Monday “job”, putting on my cleaning/nanny/organizer cap for the day. I was there long enough to grab clothes for a little one, and load the dishwasher, when my phone rang. I heard the midwife’s voice crackling through the bad reception on the other end. “Well, I think O.M. is in labor. Actually, she’s not really sure, but she couldn’t sleep well last night. She’s had some bloody show, but not really any contractions to speak of. Oh, and I think she’s 6-7cm dilated.” With that bombshell, she gave me her schedule for the next couple of hours, and asked if I would go ahead and come over. Sure, no problem. My sweet friend told me to quickly GO…and I headed down the road.
I traveled the hour-plus into Ohio, listening to podcasts I had previously downloaded. With so much time on the road, it helps to find ways to pass the time and enrich my mind. On the way, I saw an unusual sight of a very long row of ambulances, lights blazing, and cars with their lights on, sandwiched between more ambulances and fire EMS vehicles. Come to find out, it was the funeral procession for an EMS personnel. I had never seen anything like it!
I headed straight to the midwife’s house, where she has a birthing room set up for her clients. An interesting thing about the Amish is that they keep their pregnancies very secret. The children are told nothing about pregnancy, birth, or babies. If expectant mothers are questioned as to why they’re “getting fat”, they will tell their children, “I’ve been eating too many donuts!” Once, I was actually told just that when being given the news about someone in the community, and a child was present. “Did you hear about So-and-So? She’s been eating too many donuts!” It was rather funny! Those with large families especially appreciate the use of the midwife’s birthing room, knowing they will have more privacy and less questions from the other children.
I pull up to the house…and no one is there. I go in and make myself comfortable, working on my computer to get some projects accomplished. I was a little puzzled as to how I beat the midwife there, but knew they would show up sooner or later. Sure enough, about an hour after I arrived, the laboring entourage drove up…only there really wasn’t any labor happening! I got O.M. comfortable, doing vitals, listening to fetal heart tones, and the initial charting that goes with all of it. Upon exam, she was indeed 7cm, but couldn’t honestly say when her last contraction was. We settled in to wait, giving her some natural products to see if they would help her contractions get into any kind of pattern. She patiently waited all afternoon, having one contraction an hour….then two an hour….then three an hour. In her words, she was “disgusted.” She had never had a labor like that, and while she didn’t look forward to painful contractions, she just wanted her baby! In the meantime, we talked and visited, sharing stories and news, the most surprising of which to her was that I didn’t have any children of my own. I just smiled and said that I hadn’t had my chance yet, so I was content to help everyone else with their families. This whole time the baby’s heartbeat sounded great and movements were good. The baby’s head was up rather high, so we knew she’d have to labor him down. We enjoyed giving her a little childbirth education, complete with drawings out of books and a pelvis model I had given to the midwife a long time ago. I love watching the light go on in someones eyes when the mysteries of their body is explained. Suddenly, labor made sense to her, for the first time in eight births.
About 5:30pm, she grimaced with a contraction. “My, that one was stronger.” Five minutes later, another grimace and tightening of her hands. 15 minutes later…another. Then five…and five…and five…and we have a pattern! The poor dear went from 0 to 60 in no time, so it was a little hard for her to cope with the suddenness of it, but she did wonderfully. I busied myself with rubbing her back, soothing her shoulders, explaining how it would help her if she didn’t clench her jaw against the intensity of the contractions. I vocalized with her, watching her body relax every time she quit fighting against the strength of what she was feeling. We applied warm compresses to her perineum, preparing for the soon arrival of her baby.
Another exam…”complete!”…the water broke with a whoosh, and we saw meconium in the water. The baby had had a bowel movement at some point, most likely due to the fact that he was 12 days overdue, so we prepared for possible respiratory problems, and had the bulb syringe ready to make sure there was nothing in his mouth for him to aspirate. Meconium is very slick and if the baby breathes it in, it can coat the lungs so that they can’t get the fluid out of them when they take those first few breaths.
We quickly called to dad to join us as he was enjoying his magazine in the other room so much that he about to miss the birth! One mighty push brought baby all the way down and to crowning…then face…then head. One more push and out came a very lusty baby boy, at 6:45pm! Almost immediately he gave us his protesting cry, and we laughed at the fact that his vigorous crying made him wet all over the midwife! After a gentle yet quick suctioning, he was given to his mama. As soon as he was in her arms, he quieted, content to be where he belonged.
The other midwife smiled in satisfaction that her prediction of a boy was right, and after the little champ nursed and was weighed, I smiled in satisfaction because my guesstimation of his weight was exactly one ounce off. I love when that happens!
They named him Danny after his grandfather. He weighed 7lb 9oz, and was 21″ long, her smallest baby yet. Such a handsome fellow! I did a full exam, measuring him, making sure his reflexes were normal, his spine was straight, and all the other little details we get reassurances of. I got a print of his feet on the keepsake birth certificate we always give them – he was very cooperative and they were perfect. I gave him a bath in a basin by the bed so his mama could watch, and he went from fussing at me to relaxed and opening his eyes. It was so sweet. Afterwards, I got to dress him in the beautiful clothes that she had lovingly made, then settled him back into mom’s arms where he went blissfully to sleep.
She was feeling so well that by 3-hrs postpartum, she was wanting to go home and sleep in her own bed. I was happy to oblige and saw them safely settled across their doorstep. Two of his brothers had come over to the house to do chores and were all smiles at seeing the baby that Jesus had brought them.
In the meantime, the other midwife set off for a distant town to check on another possible labor….and I set off for home. I drove home with a smile and a yawn, wanting to shout to a sleeping world, “I just saw another miracle! I’m a midwife, and I love it!”