I woke up and went to prenatals on Tuesday morning, like any normal Tuesday, with no inkling that anything exciting was on the horizon. At 9 a.m. I was happy to visit with a mama who is having her third baby with Andaluz any day now, whom I met in this very room, the Lavender room at the Tualatin birth center, when she was expecting her first baby. Her grown Andaluz babies love to help with appointments and lay on the bed to show off their bellies alongside their mama. As her appointment neared the end of the hour, I was called by a first time mama who wanted to let me know she was having some early labor signs, a little crampy, no discernable contractions yet. I thought maybe she would be in sometime that day, maybe by the time my appointments were over that evening. An hour later her husband called to say she was having back to back contractions, and would be in in seven minutes! Our sweet receptionist, Rosie, helped me start the tub and get her room ready, lighting candles, turning down the lights. I will never forget walking into the Angel room in labor with my second baby and seeing how it had been made up this way for me and feeling such a rush of relief to be in a gentle, quiet place, after the car ride in labor. The laboring mama showed up with a smile on her face, though her labor was clearly very active. She slow danced though contractions with her husband and eventually made her way to the tub. Four hours after her first sign of labor, she caught her own baby in the water. After we tucked her into bed with her sweet baby boy, she had so many excited visitors, many talking about their own fast labors, as it seems to run in her family! A sweet new family was tucked into bed and ready to be pampered by our postpartum staff. Later that afternoon, I resumed appointments, seeing a couple more repeat clients (a theme right now!) and ending with a belly draw for a mama due the next day. She walked out of her appointment with her painted belly showing, which is always fun to see!
The next morning, I set out to do a home visit for a mama in the country. She was expecting her fourth Andaluz baby and planning her third homebirth. I really enjoyed the gorgeous fall drive though farmland. One of the things I love about being a midwife is these adventures we get to go on, going to people’s homes in various parts of our beautiful Northwest. When I got home, I sat outside and answered some phone calls while watching my children play. Some days are quiet, but some days the phone just doesn’t stop! I started getting early labor calls from two different mamas. Both were due that day, both were having their second babies, both had had their first babies two weeks early so were surprised to be pregnant closer to their due dates this time. I gave these mamas’ other midwives a heads up that I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out as far as me being at both births, so to be on standby as backup. Both pregnant mama’s were saying it wasn’t time yet, but I headed toward the birth center knowing that when it was time, it would REALLY be time. I ate on my way in to the birth center, anticipating things would get exciting soon, and not knowing when my next meal would be! The first mama was a repeat client of mine who labored gracefully and quietly at the birth center, resting until she felt like pushing, at which point she got in the tub. She birthed her sweet baby boy in water into her own hands. He had a triple nuchal cord that we unwound without a problem. He looked remarkably different from his big brother. It is so fun to see who these babies are when they come out! This mama’s other Andaluz midwife, Dana, came in to help with the postpartum, as I got a phone call that the other mama was in labor.
This mama didn’t think it was time for me to come yet, but I did. She was planning a homebirth, and in an unusual twist, had chosen to give birth at a friend’s house. She had hoped to labor in the friend’s picturesque backyard, but as it was nighttime, there wouldn’t be much of that. Still, she wanted to birth there so we made a plan to meet at the friend’s. I arrived at the friends house before anyone. The friend was taking out her garbage when I pulled up and had missed the calls from the mama saying she was coming. She and a neighbor helped me to set up for the birth as we awaited the arrival of the laboring mama, who was now having contractions every two to three minutes. The mama arrived and we helped her to get comfortable while the pool filled. The apprentices arrived and started to boil water so that we could get her a warm, full birth pool as quickly as possible. As soon as the pool was ready, labor intensified and progressed quickly. A sweet little girl was caught by her mom and dad in water that night.
Around 1 a.m. I realized that I had not sat down (except to drive and to chart) nor had anything to eat or drink since that morning, when I had headed to the birth center for a birth. It had been a full and lovely day, but now that the midwife’s work was done, I was starting to feel it. I sat down in a rocking chair and had the privilege to hold the sweet new baby who had just been born while her parents ate. My own baby was kicking the bundle that sat on top of my belly to say hello. It had been a full and exciting night. I was happy I would go home soon.
The drive home was fast as there was no traffic. As usual, my amazing midwife-husband got up when I came home. He made me scrambled eggs and toast while I showered. I peeked in on my sleeping kids, who always look shockingly beautiful to me when they sleep. Christopher and I sat in bed and ate together. It was a more romantic moment than I can possibly convey here. I was filled with gratitude that I get to come home to such an amazing family, after the rewarding and amazing work of midwifing is done. It was the best scrambled eggs and toast ever. I slept well that night.
The next morning I woke up for prenatals at 7:30 and was dragging a little. I told my kids about the excitement of the day before: two babies in one day! They always love to hear whether it was a boy or a girl. Not usually one to have coffee when I’m pregnant, I ended up having a mocha because I was just needing a little motivation, and because midwives aren’t perfect, despite what we say about nutrition. 😉 It worked! I had a fun morning of appointments at the Portland birth center. I painted the belly of a third time Andaluz client who was due in two weeks and had really been looking forward to her belly draw. Her whole family was there for the appointment, so one of her little ones had her belly painted with a rainbow by my apprentice, Jasmine. We ended up going over our appointment time and into lunchtime. We encouraged her to call right away with any signs of labor as her last two had been fast and she lives about an hour from the birth center. Four hours later she called to say her water had broken and she was heading in! We painted that belly just in time! I had another midwife come finish my appointments at the birth center while I headed to meet this mama at the Tualatin birth center. She hadn’t gone into active labor yet, but we were expecting it would be fast as her other labors had been. She had her mom, her daughters, her sister, niece, and nephew there having dinner with her at the birth center and preparing to get video and pictures of this birth. Her other babies had come so quickly that there hadn’t been time to videotape them and she had just been talking at our appointment that day about how much she wanted to capture this last birth on video. Coming in early gave us time to prepare everything and we were set to videotape. Our apprentice, Tzipora, had also been the apprentice at her last birth, which was such a sweet treat. Once her labor really kicked in she had a baby within a couple of hours. I climbed up on the far edge of the tub out of the way of the video camera to take pictures. Dad caught his baby boy in the water and lifted him up to his mama’s chest. His big sister immediately got in the tub and wanted to hold him. She was so excited. His other big sister had fallen asleep. When we got them tucked into bed for the night, the sisters went home with grandma and the family settled in to sleep with their new baby. When I got home that night, my kids had stayed awake to wait for me, and I was so glad to see them! It had been such a busy and full few days. Babies usually space themselves out a bit more than they did this week! It was a great adventure with these fast babies and a great week to be a midwife. I felt sure as I went to bed that I was going to get another labor call, but I slept soundly through the night and woke the next morning excited to spend a day with my children and husband.