The other day I attended a birth.
It is the first birth of two I will attend close together. It was originally supposed to be birth #2, however baby has other plans.
So it is the other day and I get a call from the Mama. “I am at the hospital for my stress test follow up. They won’t let me leave. Fluid is really low. They want to admit me now and induce.”
“Ok.” I say. And I remind Mama she always has a choice on whether or not to stay or to leave, regardless of how the hospital presents it to her.
Mama is a thoughtful mama. She weighs the risks and the benefits. She decides to stay.
“Well,” she says, “I guess I am having this baby.”
And so we begin. The often long and unpredictable process of induction at 38 weeks. I tell Philly, “Get the coffee ready. Birth is coming.”
I say this but I know it will be awhile anyway.
And it is. Mama is admitted to the hospital and various methods are used to try to get her into labor. A good start is made but after a whole day she is stalling at 3cm. I get a call at 12:30AM. “They want to start the Pitocin now.”
And so they do. They start the Pitocin. Nothing much is really happening through the night which works out because I get to sleep. And so does Mama. I get a text a 5AM: Sorry! I fell asleep!
I text: Good!
A few more hours and things begin to change. Mama Husband texts me: Things seem to be shifting. I think its time for you to come soon.
I text: Ok! See you soon!
I have a coffee. I grab the Doula bag. And off I go. Since it is actually daytime and not the middle of the night I get to use the Valet parking service.
I walk inside. I hit the elevator button to go up to the 7th floor, Labor and Delivery. I push the button to be buzzed in and walk up to the desk to see what room Mama is in.
When I get to the door I knock and open it. I whisper Mama’s name.
“Hello.” she says.
Mama is sitting reversed on the bed so Husband can get to her back to apply pressure. I can see they have their groove going. Slowly I try to make my way into the room and the labor.
When I look at the Pitocin I see it is on 18! I think: Mama is doing very well for Pitocin on 18. Baby is not doing as well. Baby is having latent decels and Hospital Staff is concerned.
Time passes and things are getting more intense. We try different positions and counter pressure. But at some point Mama tells us, “I want the epidural.”
We have an agreement she will ask three times while not having a contraction for an epidural, just to be sure she really wants it.
She asks three times.
The epidural cart shows up and in 20 minutes Mama is hardly feeling her contractions. “This is weird.” she says. “After feeling so much, now hardly anything.”
Baby is still having decels. Labor Nurse turns the Pitocin down. Last time Mama was checked she was just 4cm. Next check is in a little over an hour. I say a prayer she makes good progress.
Midwife comes in and does the checking. “I don’t feel any cervix here. Not here either. Nope. You are complete.”
YAY! I think: 4cm to 10cm in an hour and a half. Amazing!
And I tell Mama, “4cm to 10cm in an hour and a half. Amazing!”
Labor nurse asks, “Are we ready to have a baby?”
This is always a funny question that tends to bring a look of surprise to the Mama’s faces.
“I guess so!” Mama says.
And so begins the pushing. We all get into position. Right away Mama has a very good pushing groove. Baby is already pretty low in the pelvis so she does not have far to go. Only about an hour of pushing and baby’s head is staying right where we can see it.
Baby heart rate is still not that great. Midwife calls in Attending Doctor and it is decided to use the vacuum extractor to speed up the birth because of the heart rate. Maternal Fetal medicine comes in to place the vacuum.
Because of the heart rate Neonatal Team ALSO comes into the room. I am not sure but I think there are over ten people in this room counting me and the Labor Nurse. Once the vacuum is placed things happen very quickly. It is only two more pushes and baby comes flying out. Eyes wide open. And a little stunned.
Because baby does not take a breath right away and cry, baby is whisked off to the warmer by the Neonatal Team. Mama is reaching down to catch her baby and begins to cry, “Is baby ok? I want my baby! I want my baby!!”
We reassure her Baby is ok. Baby just needs a little help breathing. The Team is rolling baby around, stimulating baby to breathe. And baby does. Still no big cry, but definitely breathing. Not too long and The Team brings baby to Mama. She is crying big rolling tears. “Are you ok? Are you ok?” she is asking her newborn.
The room slowly empties out. Baby is very quiet. Turns out mom and baby have a temperature indicating a possible infection in the fluid. I think: It is very good baby has come out when baby did.
In a while I begin to pack up to go home. I say goodbye to Mama and Husband and Baby. It is always a miracle. And always a surprise. You never really know how birth is going to go. I am grateful for all the people in the room today, all helping Baby come into the world, a little stunned, needing help. And they were all right there, at the ready.
I pick up my bag.
“Congratulations!” I say.
“Thank you!” they say.
And as I walk down the hall I think: I am so glad Baby is ok.
Yes I am.