Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Little Midwife

Every time I think my job can’t get better, it does! 

This afternoon I had the opportunity to catch a darling baby boy, but this time, I had help!  This mama had lots and lots of family support.  Daddy was there, the grandmas were there and the big sister was there.  We’ll call big sister “Sarah.”  Sarah is six years old and she was SO excited to finally meet her new baby brother. Every time I would walk into the room she would ask me if it was time yet.  At one point she saw a little bit of blood on my glove after an exam and was a little worried.  The grandmas were amazing and promptly reassured her that it was OK and perfectly normal. It quickly became obvious to me that the mom and the grandmas had already done a great job of preparing Sarah for what she might see during a birth.  Her mom asked me if it was OK with me if she stayed in the room for the birth.  I always feel like I’ve failed a little if they have to ask me something like that-it’s THEIR experience, not mine.  I told mom that I was supportive of whatever they wanted. 
Finally the time was here to meet the new baby brother!  As mom pushed, Sarah became very interested in the process.  She was fascinated with seeing the top of her baby brother’s head as he was about to be born. Sarah started out standing next to her dad, daddy was more nervous than Sarah.  At one point, Sarah said to her dad “daddy, you’re shivering!  Stop shivering, it’s going to be OK.”   She progressively moved from the head of mom’s bed to my side.  I asked mom if it was OK if Sarah helped me catch the baby-she said it was so we asked Sarah if she wanted to help. She eagerly said “YES!”  In no time at all we had her outfitted with gloves and a gown so she wouldn’t get her “I’m a BIG Sister” t-shirt messy.  I gave Sarah instructions that I would help guide the head out and once the shoulders were out it was her job to “catch” the rest of the body with me.  As the head began to emerge Sarah was very “hands on” I gently supported the perineum and Sarah’s hands were right next to mine the whole time.  Then, two contractions later the baby boy was born.  Sarah did exactly as we’d discussed and she caught the baby’s lower body and together we put baby on mom’s tummy.  She was SO excited and asked so many very good questions.  She wanted to know everything there was to know about babies!  Once the baby was on mommy’s tummy Sarah wanted to take her gloves off and climb up next to them-which she did!  She touched the baby and talked to him-she took ownership of him!! 
Sarah’s midwifery skills didn’t stop with the birth.  The nurse rubbed mom’s tummy and checked her bleeding.  Five minutes later I looked over to see Sarah sitting on the bed next to mommy, pulling up her gown and rubbing on her belly!  Once mommy and baby were all stable, Sarah and I both signed the birth certificate.
I’m sure some people think I’m weird or crazy but that’s OK, Sarah will never forget this experience-and I’m sure her kindergarten teacher will get a kick out of “Show and Tell” this week!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Amazing Melding of Midwivery and Medicine

Several weeks ago I caught six babies in a row in which mom used no medications, no interventions-they “went natural.”  I was amazed at each and every one of these amazing, strong women.  Over the past 24 hours I have been amazed by three more amazing women.
“Jenny” was one of the first moms that I saw for every one of her prenatal visits-from first to last!  Jenny was pregnant with her second baby. With Jenny’s first baby she labored for some time before having a c-section.  Many times during her pregnancy we discussed her options to attempt a vaginal delivery or schedule a repeat c-section, this was a difficult decision for her.  In the end, Jenny decided to wait and see if she went into labor on her own.  As her due date approached without contractions the thought of a scheduled c-section was becoming more desirable.  The experience of laboring for such a long time only to end up with a c-section was quite traumatic for Jenny-and an experience she didn’t want to repeat.  The day before her due date her cervix was still closed, long and firm so after much discussion,  we scheduled a c-section for the next day.  I assisted the doctor with the c-section and Jenny had one of the most beautiful baby girls I have ever seen!  I was again amazed at a strong woman who educated herself on her birth options and made a decision that worked best for her! 
“Maria” is a woman I had only met one time early in her pregnancy.  She had met my “partner in crime,” Susan, several times during her pregnancy but when complications developed her care was transferred to the physicians so she could get the level of care that she and her baby needed.  Maria’s complications worsened and it became necessary to induce her labor.  After many hours of labor and quite some time of pushing as well as an attempted vacuum assisted delivery it was determined by her physician that the safest route of delivery would be a c-section.  I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and had the honor of assisting with the birth of Maria’s baby girl.  As soon as I saw her I was convinced the reason she wouldn’t come out was a very scientific diagnosis that I refer to as “cheek dystocia.” This sweet little girl had the chubbiest cheeks I have EVER seen.  What a cute, sweet little (big!) thing!!  What a strong woman to endure the treatments that were necessary to treat the complications of her pregnancy, to try so hard to push her baby out and then to be so brave in undergoing surgery to bring her baby into the world in the safest way possible.
“Tina” is a woman that began her care with a physician but I was so lucky to “inherit” her when her physician retired from OB practice.  Tina is such a sweetheart.  She is always smiling and I always look forward to seeing her.  When it came time for Tina to have her baby, the little princess had plans of her own.  Apparently, when it was time for her to make her grand entrance, she wasn’t quite ready. Her mama worked so hard to urge her out into the world.  She worked at it and worked at it and worked at it.  I was amazed at the strength this woman had after hours and hours of pushing she still kept at it.  Finally, there came a time when her drive and determination began to outlast her physical strength. This little princess was SO close but just needed a little extra help coming out.  I called one of my physician colleagues (at 4 am no less!) who, without complaint, came in to help us out!  With just a little assistance from a modern medical device, this woman was able to dig deep inside herself and find that last little bit of strength that she didn’t even know she had to push the guest of honor out to the party!  Tina said over and over that she felt like a “wimp.”  Wow! She was the farthest thing from a “wimp!” She pushed for over three hours-her strength and endurance is amazing!!!! 
So, women of the world, whether you “go natural” or utilize modern medicine in some form or another-you are amazing!!!  I am so grateful everyday to have the great honor to work with such amazing women!!!!!