Monday, December 22, 2008

Birth with Two Snowmen

Birth is never what we expect. Even though we may say we don't have expectations...we do.

So, when I arrive at the hospital around 6am with a client who is 7cm and stretchy to full dilation...there's a part of me that expects her to be happy and nursing her baby by lunchtime. Admit it, Jacquie...after almost 800 births as a do have certain expectations.

Yes, I must admit, I do have some expectations. But, so do you. If someone told you the birth story later..."she had her beautiful baby girl at dinner time" might say, "I expect that she had an epidural (isn't that something that usually slows the labour?)" But, no, she had no epidural, no pain meds at all. Things just slowed down to 1 or 2 contractions every ten minutes for most of the day. She even managed to sleep.

What made things slow down? Probably not just one thing. Perhaps it was a combination of our collective expectation (totally subconscious), head position (asynclitic/deflexed), and/or compound presentation (hand or cord in the way?) Or maybe it was, as some cultures believe, the will of the baby. She might have just wanted to be born at dinner time..."I don't like breakfast!"

So, though I'm sure we all had the expectation of a quick and uncomplicated birth, that just wasn't this mum and dad and baby's story. This birth was our reminder to respect the need for infinite patience, and to respect each baby's journey, each family's journey together.

How else would we all have had such a special day to watch the snow quietly, honour the passage of time, and see their family gather, build two snowmen, and shed great tears of joy when the baby finally arrived. I don't think the day would have been quite so wonderful otherwise.

- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Recovery Effect

It's really odd. Whenever I'm recovering from an illness, all the births come easily and quickly. So, what's with that? In the first couple of weeks after I returned to work after my Uterine Fibroid Embolization, I laughingly said to clients that I could only manage a 6-hour labour. It was a joke! But, they all obliged.

No, I don't really think it's a fluke, because it's happened before. When I was recovering from pneumonia one year, all births in the recovery month were speedy, and I seemed to spend less than 6 hours with each. No kidding! (And, no, it wasn't that I showed up late and left early.)

It seems to be the same effect that occurs on a day when there's a nursing shortage(due to fabulous weather?) at the hospital. If I'm told by the assessment nurse that there are only beds for women who arrive "ready to push", then my client miraculously speeds to full dilation in no time at all.

The mind is a powerful and wonderful thing...

My only worry that I'm totally well and feeling great...will my clients have long births again?

Hmmm...a dilemma...

Anyway, here's a snapshot of the births that I've attended recently...

Eli - Ah, the beautiful boy who wanted to get here extra early. "What? They want to send you to Prince George to have the baby? I'll fix this!" And we fixed it. Phew! Now THAT was a whirwind birth...17 minutes from "I think the baby's coming", was it?

Eva - How can I be even more emphatic in future when I tell clients to get in the car (during what they think is early labour) and head to the hospital? "Yes, I know your first birth was long...but you had forceps! There's a wide open freeway available for this baby, and she's going to use it!" We met at 69th and Oak...and panted and breathed all the way to the hospital. I'm so happy that we have cell phones to alert the doctors and nurses that we're INCOMING! "We did it!" cries mum.

Noah - Another second baby who followed the "slow slow easy...BOOM!" entry to the world, thanks to a doctor who knows how to spin babies. I love these posterior babies with strong personalities. They certainly know how to make a grand entrance when they decide to come (4-10cm in 20 minutes)!

Ella - A first baby who wanted to pretend that she was a second baby... Ella made her mum dance and sway, then make a dash to the backseat of my car (funny memory of the concierge trying to focus on reading his paper while she laboured in the lobby). Zip up to Cedar at BC Women's...and voila! Ella came so quickly that it surprised pretty much everyone. The sun shone through the skylight...amazing.

Lauren - Wow...another first baby who wanted to earn the speed record (4-10cm in less than 2 hours, when you'd expect 6 hours). I just love mum's words as she started to push..."It wasn't that bad." ...and dad noticing that the baby sounded like a "baby pterodactyl". Just wonderful!

Oscar - He came so quickly for a first baby...unexpectedly born in the hospital, but home before bedtime. His mum laboured with grace, and his dad touched his head, a sacred act, just minutes before he was born. Sweet pea!

Amaan - A dark night...driving through the rainy streets...a long walk up a hill to the hospital entrance (stop, hug, pant, breathe)...then gentle care as the baby comes quickly. "I did it! I felt it all!" Welcome little one.
What a triumph!

What a joy and a gift to be able to be a witness these miracles.

- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula