When Windy was about 18 months old, we decided we wanted another just like him. So, one dreary December day, I borrowed Daddy’s toothbrush and we started re-arranging furniture.
In the new year, when all was confirmed and the grandparents were informed (I love breaking the “rules”), I started hunting for a new midwife. I was worried. Would I actually find anyone who was as fabulous as my last two in the city? Would I actually find anyone at all, out here in the middle of nowhere?
I did. I found a group who served an ENORMOUS area, including mine, but I would be driving 40 minutes to my appointments.
Distance notwithstanding, I met several more fabulous midwives. Perhaps you have to be fabulous in order to be a midwife; or perhaps when you are certified, you are certified “Fabulous”. I don’t know.
Some juggling had to be done, so I had three midwives over the course of my care, but my primary was Shirley (I was lucky enough to have her again for #3.) Shirley decided that since I had had a fairly speedy first labour (7 hours), and we lived a little farther from town, then I should probably call as soon as the contractions start. It’s quite possible that this one would be quicker, and they would need some extra time to get to me.
(At one point, my second midwife gave me some advice, in case the baby decided to come before help arrived: ”Just bring the baby out onto the bed, keep it wrapped up warmly, and cuddle until we get there. You’ll be fine.” (It was very cool to hear she had that much confidence in me and in the process in general. It was enlightening. These few words are important because, after hearing them, I was NEVER afraid of ANYTHING in my life ever again.)
There was one more thing: in light of the previous hemorrhage, we discussed using “Active Management of 3rd Stage” to ensure it didn’t happen again. Someone yanked the needle from the record – what? What hemorrhage?
Apparently, the amount of blood lost after birth #1 was classified as PPH (postpartum hemorrhage). These words were never used to describe what happened, either in conversation or on file, yet the numbers were there for all to read – “Estimated Blood Loss – 600 ml”. (I’ve since learned that the methods for estimating and classifying blood loss in vaginal deliveries is much debated.) Anyway, “Active Management of 3rd Stage” meant that I would be given oxytocin immediately after the babe arrived, before the placenta was delivered. The midwives did not feel comfortable doing anything else. . .outside of having a hospital birth.
The magic word. . .
Active Management it was!
So my due date of September 10th came and went. I had been clear about not wanting to be induced, which was no problem. But on Sunday, September 11, at 5 pm, while I was knees to my ears on a little stool in the kitchen, sorting the harvest, I thought I peed myself.
I didn’t know what it felt like to have my water break, since it hadn’t happened for #1; all I knew was that the floor was wet and I hadn’t been able to stop it. So I called Shirley. There had been no sign of the slightest contraction, but it could start soon, so all we could do was sit back and wait for it to begin.
I woke in the morning, after an uneventful night, and wondered why I wasn’t in labour. Shirley called, wondering the same thing, and asked me to come in to see her. I went, we chatted, she checked everything out and told me my options. She could do a vaginal exam, which would confirm if the water had broken. If it was still intact, then there was nothing to worry about – we would wait for the baby to come. If it was broken, then hopefully labour would start in the next 18 hours. She could give me some homeopathic medicine to help kickstart things, if I wanted. So, what if nothing happened in the next 18 hours? ”We would have to go to the hospital for an induction.”
There was that word again. . .
So I opted for the exam and the homeopathics. She did the exam and was comforted by the fact that she could feel the membrane over the head. She said it was possible to have a partial rupture, but as long as there was still some protection for the baby, then there was no risk of infection. She could give a little encouragement and gently massage the cervix a little – sure! – then she gave me the homeopathics and I headed home.
I felt some twinges while driving and realized that the stuff was working. The twinges intensified into pangs over the next 24 hours or so, but were only slightly more intense. I half thought – hey, maybe it’s A LOT easier the second time around. . .
Shirley came out to see me the following day. She examined me again and said that I was at 3cm, 70% effaced. We decided to stop the homeopathics because although it had given the uterus a nudge, there hadn’t been any real progression. So, I was essentially back where I had been on Sunday afternoon at 4:59. We waited.
To make a long preamble short – too late! – just after midnight on the 15th, the babe kicked me awake and announced he was coming. I got up, went to the loo, and my water broke on the toilet. It’s the best way to do it, really .
There was no mistaking it this time, and I had contractions to match – 5 minutes apart – so I called Shirley. She said she would leave right away, but it would be an hour before she got there. By this time, Daddy, who was still up working, had announced the labour to our gaming friends and he started hustling.
We checked Windy, who was fast asleep in the very next room, and closed his door so we wouldn’t disturb. Upstairs, there were three other family members sleeping, so we kept the lights to a minimum and unlocked the door for the midwife.
I was pacing. Pacing and breathing and pacing and breathing – silently counting in Japanese, like I was still in karate class. At some point I stopped pacing and took position by the kitchen window, leaning on a bar stool, balancing a hot water bottle on my lower back. It was a be-yoootifully cool September night. I was in the skivs again and the heat on my back and the cool air on the rest of me felt GLORIOUS. I think the extreme hot and cold sensations gave me focus. (I later received a minor scolding for this from Shirley; she said it had been far too cool in the room for a newborn baby – but at the same time, she understood.)
I saw lights come up the driveway and knew Shirley was here. But I was not even on the same planet. I was discovering what “transition” meant. I had been singing Voices Carry (Til Tuesday) and I think my humming must have cracked – if humming can do that – because Shirley started moving double time. She had been there only 10 minutes, and was still laying out her stuff by the designated birthing area (the couch!) when I spoke:
“I think next time I’m going to have to push.”
She said, very nicely, “Please don’t; I’d really like to move you over here”.
“Nope. I have to push” and she knew by the sound of my voice I was already doing it. She and Daddy ran. I put my hand down to feel the baby’s head emerging and when Shirley got to me I heard her say in the friendliest voice, “Well, hello there!” She stood behind me and used her thumbs to slip the cord over the head (Daddy, who was suddenly there with the camera, snappin’ some real keepers of my backside, said it was ‘poetry in motion’). A second push, and the boy – as we discovered – slithered out and into Shirley’s waiting hands. All 8 lbs 6 oz of him.
It was 1:40 am on September 15th, 2005. How’s THAT for efficiency?!
The next few moments were a comedy sketch as Shirley held the baby, Daddy held me, and the three of us, held together by an umbilical cord, shuffled over to the ‘real’ birthing area and I laid down on the blankets. She placed the baby in my arms and went to work catching up. At some point she needled me some oxytocin – as discussed – and at at some point Daddy cut the cord again – “It’s still a @#$%^ to cut through! – and at some point, the placenta was delivered. I felt absolutely fantastic, even energized, and I figured the “Active Management” had something to do with it.
As with my first birth, I declined eye prophylaxis.
At 2 am, my second midwife arrived, and 10 minutes later, my third. They could see with a wink or two that we already had everything under control, and stated that, clearly, I was made to do this. Within the hour, I was nursing well but already feeling nasty afterpains.
The midwives stayed much longer than necessary, but as long as they were required. I was up and moving around (and voiding!) without assistance. They had hugs and kisses for us all and left as quietly as they had come. It was still dark.
Windy woke up shortly after and met his little brother. A moment or two later, Grandpa poked his head in; he had heard the front door close and came to see why the lights were on.
Then in came Grandma and my sister-in-law. We had had a full house that night, yet no one had heard a thing. What can I say? I deliver my babies ninja-style.
I read later: ”Estimated Blood Loss – 250 cc”. Yes. Sometimes a wee bit of intervention is good.