Hyperventilating midwife, calm mothers
The day had been full: prenatal visits, pleasurable exchanges, feeling and measuring beautiful bellies; and trying with every blood draw to perfect a speedy, gentle and effective use of that miraculous vacutainer system; then hoping that the plastic duck speculum could be introduced and accepted so that women could look at their own cervixes with a mirror (a process rather like looking down their own throats) and view the weirdness of a pap smear as less ridiculously awful. Home to prepare dinner, I pull things out of the pantry, refocusing on my life, when the phone rings. Anna is in labor. She is planning a home birth for her third baby. She is calm, laid back, her sweet self. "There's no hurry. They are coming every 5 to 7 minutes, not that strong yet". But I have a feeling about Anna and I will change my dinner plans: "I'll make myself a sandwich and be at your house within an hour. Will that be OK?" Anna lives quite a distance from me. "Oh that's fine" she says. For some reason I am not sure and I begin to be a little anxious, particularly when I realize that I do not have the IV antibiotics I need to treat her group B strep in my home birth bag. I will have to drive the opposite direction to the birth center to pick up supplies. Instead of a sandwich, I grab a chunk of bread and a banana. That will do. I am a bit anxious. At the birth center, I grab supplies, I'm almost out the door but, .... my phone is dying! My car charger is in my husband's car. I plug the phone into the wall. I will have to look up directions on the computer and print them while the phone charges in the wall as my phone navigation won't work. A bit more anxious. And then the phone in the wall rings. Another labor. Breathe deeply like a laboring woman, Dinah. Jenny is also having a third baby. She will give birth at the birth center. Her contractions are "about every 7 minutes, less if I lie down". "Lie down", I say. "My phone might die. I'm on my way to a home birth. Can I call you when I get there in about half an hour?" "Sure" says Jenny sounding relaxed, calm. I am definitely a bit anxious. I can arrange for another midwife to meet her at the center, but I don't think I can call the midwife now because I might run out of phone juice and then the calls from the laboring women can't get through. OK, somewhat anxious. Driving along I635, going OK. Construction! An accident! Anna might be giving birth. I'd better use some phone juice to find out how she is doing. "Fine" she says, "It's OK". Really? I'm not sure and breathing heavier than I would like. You're kidding, I'm running low on gas. Ok, getting close. But where is the exit I was supposed to take? I'm leaving Anna's suburb instead of arriving. My heavy breathing is becoming intense and I do admit that I am anxious. I do not want to call calm, patient, laboring Anna and ask her for directions. Not a good move. No choice. I use a few moments of phone juice and ask Anna to speak to her husband to get directions. "He is at work, not here" She is alone! In labor! Calmly giving me directions. Not good. Hyperventilating but nearly there.
I walk into Anna's room. She is leaning on a tall chest of drawers, focused inwards, strong waves coming. Baby will arrive soon. I plug in my phone. I arrange for a midwife to attend the other laboring woman if necessary. I listen to Anna's baby's heart. Thunk thunk thunk. Although I fail to connect my computer to her network and pull together a paper chart, all is well. I am not anxious anymore. Anna and her baby are doing their thing in the perfect way that it happens. Anna's husband, John is an ICU nurse. He has been home for several days but back at work for his first shift in a while, they cannot find anyone to cover for him. This is the way that it is. Anna squats low. Her water breaks. My assistant arrives. Anna moans a little, moves across the room, climbs onto her knees onto the bed and in an intense surge her baby and a gush of fluid slide out into my arms. Baby, fluid, crying, perfection. Nine pounds nine ounces. A couple of hours later, John is home. I marvel.
After I leave Anna's house, fill up with gasoline and head onto the highway, the phone, now fully juiced, rings. It's Jenny. I meet her at the birth center. Her baby slides out as she stands up from the toilet. "There she is". A sweet baby. Also nine pounds nine ounces. I marvel.
Morning. Time for bed.