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Friday, September 16, 2011

new chapter

no this is not about prenatal vitamins.

i've been up in the pacific northwest now for two weeks.

i'm getting settled in. i finished last school session which was great. IV's, catheters, suturing....

for some reason i think i can manage a shoulder dystocia, assuming i can keep my shit together in that situation. again. growth after coming back from classes. it really is amazing how two weeks intensively spent with a strong group of women and wicked teachers can have that effect. very happy i'm in this program.

i'm in a different land now and attended my first birth.

meeting a woman for the first time in labour is something new to me. being welcomed into another families birth space is an honour. as an individual you can have a lot of influence over outcomes, attitudes and the energetic spirit of the birth room.

i met this family and melted. they were the sweetest couple. a couple in their late thirties having their first baby. a military family. not what i had expected.

i got the message in the afternoon. "want to come to a birth tonight?" me: "yeah"

of course i did!

i hadn't been to a birth in about two months.

i knew this was going to be a difficult birth. or a long one. one where the outcomes were unknown. baby was sitting really high. hadn't engaged. this isn't a normal situation for a first time mom. usually baby drops into the pelvis and gets comfortable at the end of pregnancy.

when i arrived the mother was in great spirits, but was definitely feeling her contractions. she was feeling it in her back. i never had a real good feel for baby, but it didn't seem posterior even though she was having classic signs of labour of posterior baby.

it was late at night, mom and baby were happy so we encouraged rest and privacy. there wasn't any need for monitoring yet. she was just beginning to efface and only slightly dilated.

she laboured over night and in the morning there had been little change.

she was in and out of the tub. she got active. she was a great sport. she walked stairs for 45min two by two. we chatted. she laboured on the toilet without complaint. she went for a half hour walk. no change in baby's position, not much change in her cervix.

both mother and baby were perfectly fine, but little sleep had been gotten, she was labouring hard and her ctx were 2-3 min apart and seemingly strong enough. but why weren't we seeing any change?

so my first birth up on the peninsula ended in a transport.

we needed access to more options. breaking her water wasn't really an option. i've gone from having three or four high level hospitals within 5 minutes of most home births to being out in the middle of no where, with the nearest hospital 45 min away and it doesn't even have a nursery, much less a NICU.

so this is what was amazing. i have never experienced a transport like this before.

the staff. one nurse. one doc. were fantastic. they were kind, welcoming, supportive. there was no sort of power struggle. everyone was sincerely on the mothers team. the staff an extension of the care she had been receiving. we arrived. the nurse got the mother in the tub, monitored the baby with a doppler and she didn't have a vaginal check for over an hour after arriving.

the tubs. the envy of any birth centre overlooked the harbour where there was a wooden boat festival. across the water were the cascade mountains and in the distance, canada.


the doctor and nurse treated me with respect. me just a student was consulted with and informed of the status of our client as though i were their peers.

through this birth i was introduced to a new perspective on midwifery care. in this area ~20% of births are attended by midwives at home. some midwives (LM's) have hospital access.

there are open (somewhat) lines of communication.

it's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot different than arizona.

i'm so excited what the next year will bring.

oh and it can't hurt being back on the farm and being able to watch the sun rise over puget sound from our couch.



  1. There must be something in the water up there, every PNW birthstory I've heard or read ends in transport! But I'm glad mama was treated with respect. and the view sounds lovely. Miss you!

  2. i think some midwives may practice (or transport) more conservatively up here, because of the distance to the hospitals.