This morning I was called at 1.52am to attend a friend's homebirth (as a witness only) with a mutual friend who is a homebirth midwife. I was invited way back in November, such a privilege!
I zoomed down the freeway to a far distant suburb and arrived at 2.30-ish to hugs and a household full of women. We began folding washing and preparing the bed for postpartum duty. The birthing pool was filling, the house was dimly lit and the labour was stopping and starting.
Around 4am she settled into a rythm of contractions and it seemed it would go quickly, so the second midwife and another friend was called. Naturally things went off the boil, toddlers got out of bed, the mother got chatting and lost her focus, but things came and went.
I worked yesterday and I had had less than three hours of sleep. We all snuggled up in various chairs during the quiet patches, but got no more shut-eye, while the labouring woman found her Zen space in the warm water, and then chatted some more. The contractions spaced out and went off the boil a bit. It was becoming clear many attendants were going to be late for their day jobs. No pressure! We made discreet calls to our co-workers as dawn appeared, the midwives agreed to the maternal request to break the waters to speed things up a bit. Cervical dilation was not as far advanced as we had expected. There was a bit of frustration on the woman's part as this was her fourth birth. The last two had been born quickly! We all had a cuppa and recharged our batteries by taking turns sitting quietly with the woman in the pool, on the loo, and in the shower.
Around 7.30am I felt I should make a move to get to work with traffic, but was reluctant to leave. This was not something one got to take part in every day! By this stage Mum was clearly transitional, but there was a stubborn anterior lip to clear. The woman was mobilising freely in the pool, the midwives tried other positioning but in the end the answer was an internal examination to push the anterior lip back over baby's head within the birth canal. Hallelujah!Fully dilated at last.
Back to the pool. By this stage Granny was getting the others up and ready for school. The six-year old was coming in for short periods and running out like a shot when his Mum screamed with frustration and splashed the water. He doesn't like yelling.
The baby wasn't descending readily - why not? Maybe try semi-recumbent as that position had worked for the lip push-back. Finally there was a bit of movement at the station, and gradually a little head appeared. The lights were low, a torch was being shone (by me, I was delighted to have a tiny job to do) through the side of the specialized blow-up birth pool, casting enough light on the area of interest to see the steady emergence of the head. It stayed there for another contraction. The midwife checked very carefully for excessive cord at the neck - no cord, but a hand covering the left ear! Ahah! The culprit revealed! Finally after a third contraction and a mighty push the baby slid forth, unfolded and starfished up to meet her mother, who scooped her up with a gasp of relief and a triumphant grin.
'Its a girl' she announced to the wide-eyed crowd, who all teared up with delight and a multitude of other emotions. It was 8.05am.
I don't know how much she weighs. It doesn't matter. I suspect around 3.4 kg (edit - 3.5kg) . I left 3 minutes after the placenta was out at 8.20am after a physiological third stage. The cord was still pulsating slightly, providing stem cells for the pink and perfect little girl.
The six-year old thought the baby was interesting, but it had all been a bit loud! The two-year old just wanted to hold the baby on her own lap - but we explained that it was still attached to Mummy's insides, but she could have a hold soon. The four-year old was quite blase about the fact that his Mum had just given birth to a new sister in a pool of water in his living room. Surrounded by three midwives, a student midwife, his Granny and Mum's friend. One thing was for sure - the kids trooped off to school with a very big story for show and tell.
I zoomed back up the freeway to my place, got changed, cleaned my teeth, and picked up my work car, went to work, got my co-worker and went out on my rounds to see 6 clients in a 97km circuit.
Now I'm home . . . and a bit tired to tell the truth. But it was a lovely night and day.
Welcome to the world baby Alira. Your birth was the first homebirth, and second waterbirth I have ever seen. It was so special to be a part of it, however small. Your Mum was brave and beautiful, and strong.
Birth as it should be. Spontaneous. Unmedicated. Responsive. Active. Magnificent.