As I reported in an earlier post, my double classes just finished a week ago, and I looked forward to a bit of rest from childbirth for just a few weeks before a new class starts. I had one couple out of ten who approached me about being their doula, but because of the project I had scheduled to work on full-tilt as soon as my classes finished through the end of the year (in addition to school with the kids, trying to keep up the house, getting ready for Christmas, and just breathing in the free minutes), I felt that I had to decline. Another deciding factor was that they lived and were planning to birth their baby about 40 minutes outside Lexington. That decision held until Wednesday, however, when I received a message from said couple who shared devastating news. The midwife that they’d chosen and worked with through 39 weeks of their pregnancy had suddenly lost her husband and would understandably not be available for their birth. With the doctor in the same practice being less than intervention-free friendly, the couple came very close to full panic mode. When they called me and asked (I wouldn’t go all the way to begging!) me to consider reconsidering, it was clear that they needed support. Todd and I talked about it and after looking through our schedules, realized that the only answer was yes.
That evening, we talked on the phone and discussed a few days that I knew I would absolutely not be able to join them if they were to go into labor–our homeschool co-op was one, and Thanksgiving was quickly approaching. Since birth (when it is left alone and allowed to progress on its own) can be very unpredictable, that was about all the planning we could do. It added one more thing to our already packed schedule, but I was also excited to have the chance to help out at my first birth since last December.
Early the next morning the far-away sounds of my phone beeping with a text message alert slowly woke me up. The message started with ‘her water broke’ and went on with other details. At 4 in the morning, my brain wasn’t working that well but even after a minute or two, I still didn’t recognize the number. “Surely not,” I thought to myself…. The mom I spoke to the night before had reported that she hadn’t had any signs of labor. “Surely not,” I repeated as I desperately tried to think of who else it could be. Sure enough, it was her.
For the next couple hours or so, we communicated back and forth and thankfully her labor started soon after her membranes ruptured. Spontaneous labor is such a good thing. I tried to get some sleep, but it seemed that every time I dozed off, I would get another text message. By 6:30 or so she was already complaining that they were close together and hard. It was obvious that baby day would be today and that it hadn’t even been 24 hours earlier that we’d talked about working together. Sometimes I wish I embraced spontaneity more than I usually do, but it was a good day from my selfish perspective to be away from the house and with them. I didn’t rush to get ready, but had breakfast with the kids and gathered my things to be ready to leave. As the kids got ready for their day, I tried to prepare them to carry on without me here and remind them of the many things they had to do that day. Todd was able to be at the house to help out tremendously, so that was a huge blessing, and now that Hannah’s old enough, she can also watch the brood if need be. Before I left, Chloe and I were talking and I said, “I’m going to go help a baby be born today!” She looked at me and asked, “Is there a baby in your tummy, Mommy? Is it YOUR baby?!” Laughing, I said no and tried to explain that it was someone else’s baby, thinking that was the end of it.
I left, and for the next 8 hours, was gone either traveling back and forth or helping a wonderful couple work through a fantastic birth with no interventions. It was hard work for all of us, but mom and dad were amazing. I won’t give details here, but I think I can sum it up in one word: “WOW.”
It was after 5 when I left the hospital and knew that Todd and I had plans to go to a play at Asbury that evening with a group of friends, so if I hustled, we would be in good shape to meet them by 6:30. After stopping for my first food of the day (which really didn’t occur to me until after sitting down in the van to drive home), I tried to jet home, which rush hour traffic impeded at various places along the way. Finally I arrive home at 6:10pm. Happy to see the kids after a long day, they all had hugs for me and different news bits to share. Then Chloe came up to me and looked very confused. When I asked her how her day had been, she asked, “Mama, did you buy a baby today?” Now it was my turn to be confused. “Chloe, I had to help another mommy have a baby today….” She dropped her head, looked profoundly disappointed, and said, “I thought YOU were going to buy a baby today and bring him home…. I wanted a boy…..” So sweet. Later, Hannah told me that she had been trying to explain the situation to Chloe all day, but that little three year old was convinced that Mommy would be bringing a baby home that night. Hmmmm………