Thursday, June 27, 2013

Welcome to the World Baby W

Baby W has completed our first season of births this year. My boss takes off part of the summer to rejuvenate so we all waited patiently for this precious babe. The last several births have been clients that  I have seen in the office so it seems a little lopsided but come fall most babies will be from the office Wendy and Courtney usually go to. I will get to learn our new electronic charting system. Now to baby W.

This couple came to the practice through extended family. We have loved this entire extended family. They are hard working, very creative, God loving people. The wives in the family are very special. They sure know how to birth babies! Baby W is the first baby for this couple.

When the call came I was invited to come early in labor to help with pain control. That is where the doula training is invaluable. Dad and I did counter pressure on her hips and her head to help with the contractions. Mama was so focused on each and every contraction, wanting to silently work them. When I checked her I could already feel the baby's head so she was making great progress!

Every contraction from the time I arrived was already a minute long. They were consistently 5 minutes a part, she and baby were making great progress. I was thinking at the time, this first time Mama is making such fast progress. I was keeping Wendy informed of her progress and when she was consistently 4 minutes a part she and Courtney arrived.

Mama was checked again and she was 7 centimeters and almost full effaced. It did not take her long from that point to go from a 7 to just a little cervical lip left. Now comes the interesting part. Lesson number 1, never assume things will just quickly progress to a baby flying out!

When it came time to push this new Mama pushed like a champ. There was only one problem, the baby  was going to come out slowly one centimeter at a time. I told Dad at one point, most Dad's never get to see their baby come one centimeter at a time. This Mama gets the award for pushing in every single position available to woman kind! All a long the heart rate for baby was perfect after each push. Baby handled everything so well.

Finally the baby crowned. Now in my limited experience once a baby crowns you are just about to cross the finish line. Not this time. This new Mama not only gets the award for the most positions to push in, she gets the award for the longest crown in history! That baby crowned for one hour and thirty five minutes. I didn't know that was possible! Poor Mama was so tired at this point. She had been up all night and was so very tired.

Mama had decided in the months leading up to the birth that she really didn't want the hassle of setting up a birth tub. So towards the end all 5 of us were in their bathroom encouraging Mama to finish strong. Wendy was kneeling in front of her sitting on the toilet. I am back to the side of her doing head squeezes and poor Courtney is having to move farther into the corner with all the equipment. When a Mama is in labor we take a tray of essential supplies with us wherever Mama goes. So if she is in the living room we move everything into the living room, in the bedroom or bathroom the same thing. At this point Courtney now has everything including the tray in with us. All the while Courtney is charting electronically (our first birth to go completely electronic) everything going on.

At one point I was getting nervous about the baby plopping into the toilet, not a very peaceful way into the world! As you can well imagine there is limited space with a laboring Mama on a toilet and a midwifes hand to catch a baby! The tub gets filled up for hopefully the final push to get this baby out. Picture a baby crowned with Mama having to move into yet another position! This lady was so classy,such a trooper! At one point Wendy told Mama to get just get mad and push that baby out. The next day when we went to check on Mama and baby, Mama told us she was thinking in her mind, I am already mad, I want this to be over!

Dad all the while is giving her soothing encouragement with his voice and his hands. I am kneeling to his left supporting the baby's head. At this point I feel like I am in a slow motion picture, centimeter by centimeter. I could feel the baby's eyes and then the ears. All the while baby is tolerating this so well. Never once did the baby's heart rate come down. Baby was almost there.....

A minute or two before the baby's head finally came out Wendy traded places with me. All along the three of us were thinking there is a reason this baby is coming out so slowly and sure enough the cord was wrapped not once but twice around the neck. Wendy quickly unwound the cord and brought baby up to Mama's chest. After some stimulation baby pinked right up.

Dad announced that they just had their first boy! Neither of them had cared if they had a boy or a girl. All they wanted was a healthy baby and they got the desire of their hearts. They sat together with baby and Mama in the tub and Dad just welcoming their new baby. The cord needed to be cut early so Dad got to hold his son pretty early. Courtney had already gotten the bed all set up and we moved her from the tub to the bed.

Usually delivering the placenta is a non-event. Not in this case. The placenta was going to take it's sweet old time to come just like baby. Mama was given herbs to help release the placenta and to stop the bleeding. This scene brought me back to my first hospital birth as a doula. In that case the doctor had to manually take it out piece by piece. I was hoping and praying that this would not be the case.

Finally the placenta came over an hour later. In spite of the fact that Mama had a crowned baby for well over an hour she did not tear one bit. We were all so thankful at that point. I think everyone felt like we had run a marathon with this one. Poor Dad and Mama, they were both exhausted. Once Wendy did all the newborn screening and getting height and weight we tucked them all in so they could finally get the rest they deserved.

This was the last baby of the season for us. So the three of us went out to a favorite breakfast joint and had a celebration. Our boss is now off call and can finally sleep through the night. As I reflect back I am so thankful to God that he led me to Wendy and Courtney. I feel so at home in this practice. I have now witnessed the miracle of birth 23 times this year.  In just a short time we will start the second season of the year and will be ready to go again.

Courtney and I went to the 24 hour check and we all shared the story of the birth. I asked Dad how he felt holding his first born son and he said it was a great feeling. His hopes and dreams for his baby boy is to grow to be a man of God. He shared that if he did that then all the other things like character, hard work and integrity would come. Mama told us that she wanted her little man to grow up to just love the LORD with his whole heart.

All that is left to say is AMEN!

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


The first look between Mama and baby girl is priceless. I was privileged to witness the birth of this precious babe on Sunday. This is the second Sunday I have not been in a pew but bent over a birthing tub.

I was able to watch this Mama through her pregnancy. We got the call around 5am Sunday morning. When we all arrived Mama was sitting on the couch with the children calmly playing with them. Wendy shared that what we were seeing was very typical of this woman. IN other words looks can be deceiving. Something that I have learned is not all women's faces show the real story. After Wendy verified what she thought, Mama was already 8 centimeters.

Mama had really wanted to have a water birth this time. The other two ended up out of the water and this time she was determined to have this baby in water. She didn't want to get in until she felt she was really close. So, she walked around the house, sat on the birth ball and just played with her two little beauties.

The children were so precious. They kissed Mama's tummy and telling their new baby to come on out. They read stories, they made pictures and they made each of us invitations to the birth. Just watching the rhythm of this family was wonderful. Mama never missed a beat all while laboring with this baby.

When Mama decided it was time to get into the tub the two little beauties went into their rooms and got their swimsuits on. Out came little bathing buddies for Mama, both with washcloths in their hands. They were asked to be gentle, no jumping up and down, no splashing so Mama could focus. So they take their washcloths and wash Mamas back, kiss her belly, telling little baby it was time to come out. They had so much fun in the water with Mama. If you hadn't known what was going on you would have thought this was a pool party!

Daddy had given the girls plenty of time to play in the pool with Mama and when it was time to get out they just jumped right into Daddys arms to get some dry clothes on. Things were really picking up at this point and it was obvious Mama was needing to focus. The girls came back dry and happy and ready to help again. Their oldest is around 4 years old and she went into the kitchen and made a banana and nutella sandwich for Mama. The littlest came back and rubbed Mamas face and just talked away.

At some point the beauties needed to be distracted so they were asked if they wanted to go outside and play for a while. They were assured they would not miss the birth. It was perfect timing because now Mama was ready to push this baby out. She did some powerful work bringing the baby down. By this point Daddy was in the pool and providing much needed sacrum support. With each push she brought the baby farther down the birth canal. I was checking on the baby's heart rate with the pushing and it was always right on target, baby was doing great.

To Mama it seemed like it was taking forever to push the baby out. Her other two were fairly easy to push out but this one seemed to take longer than she wanted. In truth it was not that long. She changed positions multiple times in the pool trying to find the sweet spot for her to deliver. The descent of the head was going great. She could not figure out why the baby was not coming out. We all assured her she was doing great and there was nothing wrong, she was pushing great.

It was always the plan for Dad to catch the baby but at the last minute she needed to have better leverage so Dad held her up barely on top of the water so she could get the leverage she needed to push    the baby out. Wendy was on one side of the pool and I was on the other, bent over the tub to catch the baby when she slid out. Dad said it was time for his other beauties to come witness the birth and right on cue the children came in. When the head was finally out Mama laid back and said calmly, "now what, what should I do?" She became confused because she had never had a baby's head out and not the body follow in a second! Dad helped her back up to give that one final push. The baby landed squarely in my hands at the bottom of the pool.  Dad eased Mama down, baby was lifted onto her chest and then after 9 short months Mama and baby met for the very first time.

They had hired the photographer Yamile Branch Photography that Baby S had hired. I just love working with Yamile. She is so sensitive to the parents wishes and she takes amazing pictures. She has this gorgeous accent and is a beautiful soul. The picture above was taken while I was to the left of Mama having just brought the baby out of the water. It is a priceless picture and I have to say I had no clue the baby came out with eyes wide open. Thankfully Yamile did not!

Baby girl was covered in vernix, which is a beautiful coating put there by God to protect the baby's skin while in the sac all those months. It has the most natural anti-aging properties and I was literally covered in it after bringing the baby out of the water. The baby pinked right up and made the first cry right on cue. She was so calm in her Mama's arms, snuggling with her. We all backed away so the family could have these first precious moments alone.

My gloves were literally covered in vernix so I got up and changed into clean gloves. It was wonderful to just stand back and watch the scene unfold. I went and checked the cord for pulsing after Mama said she was feeling it was almost time to deliver the placenta. The cord had quickly stopped pulsing so we all helped to get her out of the water and onto the couch. We have drapes and pads to put down so that anything we set Mama and baby on won't get wrecked.

Baby was started to nurse which is a great help in getting the uterus to contract and deliver the placenta. After the placenta was out it was once again time to step away. We covered the pan that had the placenta in so the children could come back over and sit with Mama and baby. We busied ourselves in the other room while they took time to meet their new baby girl.

The baby nursed like she had done it all her life, always a good sign. Her bed got set up and they all moved into the bedroom where the decided to burn the cord. If you don't know what that is about you can read about it here. After the cord burning we did the newborn evaluation and she was declared perfect.

Courtney helped with the herbal bath and afterwards it was time to head out. Today, on this Gratituesday I am so very thankful for the birth team I work with. They are patient with me and teach me the things I need to learn. I am also thankful for a healthy baby girl and for this family, for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful, crazy thing called birth!

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Singing A Baby Into the World

When I got the phone call at 4 in the morning that Baby U was on his way I jumped out of bed and headed out the door. While walking to my car I looked up in the sky and told the LORD I love my job and so very thankful that he had blessed me with this job. Little did I know this would be a remarkable experience that I would not soon forget.
This client and her family were seen in our Clarkston office so I had never had the opportunity to see them before their home visit a month ago. I was told I would just love them. Their nine year old daughter came to every appointment and became Wendy’s junior assistant. We go to each Mama’s home about a month before the birth and I did love them instantly. Their daughter was such a blessing and a loving young lady. She had set up a tea party so that she and Wendy could have some fun. We were served lunch after the appointment. I knew this birth would be awesome!

I got to the birth first since I was the closest. Dad greeted me at the door and said he was so thankful to see one of us. When I got upstairs poor Mama was lying on her side miserable. I immediately got Mama up off the bed and she had the next contraction standing over the bed with me doing hip counter pressure. She said she had no clue why but the combination of standing and the hip squeeze took away a good portion of the pain. It was then that she had asked me to start talking over her, praying over her and reciting scripture. She wanted eye contact and reassurance. I was happy to comply. I prayed over her and started sharing one scripture in particular.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. It wasn’t very long before Courtney arrived and I updated her and shared what Mama had asked for. Usually I would then go to setting everything up and Courtney doing the hands on work since she was Courtney’s client. She told me to keep doing what I was doing while she set up and got everything ready. We changed positions multiple times and worked together through each contraction. If Dad wasn’t getting something for Mama he took either her head or her hips and did the counter pressure.
It wasn’t long until she started to feel real pressure. We all took turns supporting Mama anyway that we could. At one point she asked us if we would sing to her. Courtney sings solos at her church and has an amazing voice. She was a tad nervous singing in the situation we found ourselves in but with lots of encouragement she started singing then Wendy started to sing harmony and then a solo. We would think about another song and we would start in. I remember singing the song Holy Ground which I thought was perfect for the situation. We sang three part harmony on some of the songs. This was surreal. We are helping a Mama give birth and we are singing to her and the baby. I know people who have sung a loved one into the arms of Jesus but never sung a baby into his Mama’s arms.
Once the pressure was intense Mama felt she was having the same contractions over and over.Wendy was then able to see her stand up and realized the baby was hanging over her pelvic bone. We quickly changed positions and Dad sat on the bed with Mama in front of him. Courtney and I traded off and on helping with counter pressure for her hips and head. Dad started to lift her belly up during the contractions. At some point Dad started to feel the baby twist and turn. His face was precious when he realized what was happening. He would put pressure on the top of her belly encouraging the baby to move down. The baby’s heart rate stayed perfect through the whole time. This probably lasted only an hour. The water broke while Courtney was sitting in front of Mama holding up her belly. We then realized she could deliver standing up and she has really pretty carpet and we didn’t want to mess it up so we quickly covered the floor. We sang some more, prayed, quoted scripture and encouraged Mama. She was so strong throughout the entire labor and delivery.
In the end she finished pushing the baby up on the bed. I stayed at Mama’s head and Courtney and Wendy tended to the delivery. It was hard work pushing that baby out. Little did we know this was not an eight pound baby. It took multiple pushes to get this baby out.
Their daughter had been up the last hour before the birth. She sat part of the time with Grandma who came from out of town to help. Grandma would explain what was going on and Wendy would also go over and talk to her. Everyone wanted to make sure she was comfortable. Several times she came over and rubbed her Mama’s back and sweetly told her she was doing a great job. Once the baby’s head started to crown she came back  over to watch. She was wide-eyed. There was lots of hair when the baby crowned. Big sister the told all of us “excuse me for a minute. I need a crying break I am so happy”. She ran over to the other side of the room into Grandma’s arms excitedly telling how much she loved baby brother. This scene will be forever in my brain, it was so precious. She cried for about a minute and then came back for the rest of the delivery, telling Mama she was doing so well, cheering her on. I don’t know the exact song we sang at the end but it should have been the Alleluiah chorus!

Courtney and Wendy caught the baby and slid him underneath Mama so she could see the baby. He was amazing and full of black hair. I was on the other side of the bed and wiped him off. It wasn’t until I picked him up the first time that this was no ordinary baby. I told Wendy and Courtney that this baby was at least nine pounds but could easily be ten pounds. Sure enough, when Courtney weighed him he was 9 pounds 15 ounces. His chest measured 15 inches. I have never seen a baby that big born naturally.
Within an hour Mama said the sweetest thing. “That was the most peaceful birth”. That is what we strive for each and every time. I am so humbled that we were able to be a small part and witness the birth. On reflection Mama said to me, “I had no idea that I was that strong!” You are that strong Mama was my reply. Her daughters birth eight or nine years ago was a heavily medicated hospital birth that left her feeling sad.
Here is a family of great faith. I prayed over the baby shortly after his arrival. We are all truly grateful for a healthy baby boy that came in the world this week. My prayer for him is that he grows into a godly young man who makes a difference in the lives of others.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Monday, June 10, 2013

Baby T And The Soaked Dress

Me and Baby T
 Baby T

I can hardly believe that this was my 20th birth to attend as a student midwife. My how time has flown by!

I was privileged to be a part of the team from day one. This Mama is smart, well informed, highly educated, fearless and a lovely young woman. She was serious about providing the very best for her baby from day one. She ate well and took such good care of herself. For her, this would be her first baby.

My weekend was packed full. Our youngest son was graduating from high school, all of our children were planning on coming to town, all but one of my grandbabies, a special worship service and hosting an open house with over 200 people. Baby T’s Mama was not far from my mind.

At 8:15 when our last guests had left we all sat down to enjoy some down time, the exhaustion hit me. Michael had left the house with my keys by accident so I was just going to lie down on the couch till he got back. He and his buddies were going to do a bon-fire and needed smores so it was going to be just a short run.

Just a few minutes later I got the call. Mama was in labor! I had no car and no keys!  The adrenalin kicked in and I was no longer exhausted, I was ready to jump in the car as soon as Michael got back.

Mama is almost an hour away for me so Courtney got there well before I did. She had already checked Mama and determined there wasn’t a whole lot going on. When I got there a bunch of their friends were all just enjoying being together, watching a movie. I was asked to check her and afterwards I laid out her options. She was in early labor so she could just go back to enjoying her friends and we could come back tomorrow when things had picked up. I explained the more people in her space the longer the labor. Courtney and Wendy had figured out that for every person you extra add an hour to the birth. When you have five or six extra people that is a whole lot of extra hours of labor. Either way was fine with us. Our job is to lie out the options for Mom and let her decide.

Mama was ready to get the show on the road. She wanted to have her baby now and would save the party for after the birth. Dad explained the decision with their friends and everyone said their good-byes. We wanted Mama to rest and so we tucked her in with instructions and Courtney and I went to sleep in another room.

In less than two hours the pace started to pick up. Mama had gotten into the “zone”. She was totally focused on her labor and nothing else mattered. It is amazing how quickly a birth can go when Mama can just focus on her and the baby. I describe labor as a dance between Mama and baby. If Mama works with the baby and not against things go so much better.

It was time to fill up the birth top and get the show on the road. Wendy had another Mama in labor so it was decided that Wendy needed to sleep as long as she could so she would be fresh for the actual birth. We would update her so she knew what was happening. Mama labored just like I thought she would, fearless and on the top of her game! We did counter pressure for both her head and her hips. Everyone tells us that alone was worth the price of admission. It can literally take 50-75% of the pain away just by giving counter pressure.

With each contraction the baby moved farther down. Dad was fabulous, encouraging her and helping work through each contraction.  It was a pretty quiet labor.  By this point Wendy had gotten enough rest so she was now with us. Mama started to feel pressure, which was great. Her water had not broken yet so the pressure was due in large part to the water bag bulging.

Mama started pushing when she felt the urge. We tried several positions. I was still in my dress from church and leaning over from my waist up into the tub giving support to the perineum so she wouldn’t tear. After each push we would encourage Mama to take a break and rest for a minute. My sleeves were rolled up to my elbow but water just got inside and drained down my dress. I couldn’t sit up fully during the minute rest or I would drench her carpet.

For part of the pushing phase she would grab my fingers to hold on. Did I mention this woman is strong normally but women get super strength when they are in labor and her grip was amazing. At one point my wrist was bent back so far back I thought it would break so I mentally prepared myself for the breaking. I told myself to not make one sound. After the birth it could be fixed! I laugh now as I think of that scene. At another point Mama had my second and fourth fingers but they were being pulled in opposite directions. Again I told myself a broken finger is worth it so when it happens just to suck it up and keep working.

Wendy was on the other side of the tub and could apparently read pain on my face. She thought I was pressing too hard on her perineum and couldn’t understand my lip reading. NO I was not pushing her perineum my fingers and wrist were being moved into unnatural ways. Later, we laughed about it.

Labor and birthing become very intimate. There is so much going on emotionally for Mama. It is an experience like no other. I tend to have a more motherly approach (imagine that) and I think the Mama’s can sense that. This Mama was just letting me hold her and rub her back or head when she was resting. There becomes a bond that is just hard to explain.

At this particular birth every bone in my body was working for this Mama. By this point I was soaked to my skin and the adrenalin was pumping wildly through my veins. Each push got her closer to holding this precious baby in her arms. Closer and closer, the final pushes came on her back in the water with Courtney holding one leg and Wendy the other. Into my hands came this beautiful little baby girl. I slowly brought her up and put her on Mama’s chest. We all rubbed the baby and she pinked right up and gave her first little cry.

With that, I let go and for the first time in several hours sat back on my heels and just watched this beautiful miracle of Mama and baby seeing each other for the very first time. Dad was wildly excited and was just amazed. Mama was so beautiful and calm, tenderly touching her baby for the very first time.

After a few minutes I had to get up and get out of the room. I quietly went into the bathroom and just sobbed. I was so thankful that Mama and baby were together and that it was over. Rarely do I cry let alone sob. I just could not help myself.  I was so very thankful for this beautiful baby. I was so proud of Mama and the amazing work she had done to bring this baby out. All of her hard work had paid off.  Wendy had come in and just put her arm around me and let me cry it out. I quickly wiped my tears and went back in with a huge smile on my face.

Mama decided to deliver the placenta on the bed instead of in the water. It is somewhat of a tricky thing to move baby and Mama while still attached from the tub and into the bed down the hall. When the cord stopped pulsing the placenta was delivered and Dad cut the cord. By this point Mama is really uncomfortable again and needs to get up and use the restroom. I go with her and stand in front of her with her head on my stomach rubbing her back. Come to find out that is a normal thing to happen. She passed a blood clot and instantly felt better. I got her back in bed reunited with baby girl.

Courtney did the newborn screen and all was well. Later we tucked Mama, baby and Dad into bed, turned out the lights and closed the door. It was time for a much needed rest.

Wendy had a doula birth to attend so we didn’t do our normal breakfast together. Courtney and I went out to an I-hop and relived the labor and birth. I was still in my beautiful long silky dress now drenched in everything birth.

After out tummies were full it was time to go home. Imagine, Courtney did not want to give me a hug! I on the other hand couldn’t wait to get out of the dress I had been in for over 30 hours! After a hot shower I was tucked into bed knowing that not far from me was an amazing Mama, Dad and baby starting on their life journey together. I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

I pray this baby girl grows up to be a joyful, thankful and loving daughter to the most amazing Mama! She deserves it.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Emotions That Are RAW, Gratituesday

My emotions are RAW. In the last 72 hours I have witnessed the launch of my last baby, I have welcomed home a son who has been living out in New Hampshire for the last year, only to have to say goodbye 36 hours later, watched three rows of Ropers leave the worship service right in the middle to pray over that son as he caught a plane, welcomed home a son and his family for the first time since moving to the Plain Community, welcomed home a son and his beautiful wife all the way from Texas, been totally shocked to welcome my treasure of a brother and  his lovely bride to the open house, fed over 200 people food that Serenity and I prepared with love, witnessed those 200 plus people rejoice with our baby, watched all my grand babies play together,  and witnessed the most wonderful birth with no sleep.  That is the longest sentence ever my friends! I have cried more in the last 72 hours than I have in the past couple of years.  So here are just a few of the pictures.

More when I can write coherently! What are you grateful for?

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".