Ahh, its nice to be back at work.
I was hanging around home for the last few days, after a stressful and emotional week at home post-holiday, wondering if I was bored and ready to go back to work. The answer appears to be YES!
Its lovely to be back! Back with women and babies, and boobs, and most of all my fellow midwives.
I have been pleasantly busy, certainly fully absorbed, for two shifts now, with a great variety of women, from all walks of life. Women with prem babies, who are doing really well and come up to the ward (less than 35 weeks!!!), women with babies with unexpected birth defects, taking it all in their stride. Women having their second baby but breastfeeding for the first time, or giving it another go with the second after a less than stellar first time around the block. Brave women, loving their babes, or terrified of their baby, or hoping the baby stays in and gets cooked a bit more if they can stop bleeding.
The ward is being renovated currently which makes for a slightly smaller number of women to care for, but a bit more chaos and rearranging of Stuff We Need. Instead of the neonatal assessment area being in a central location it has moved to one end of a long ward, and today when workmen set off the alarm for the nursery we all rushed to the new location....but luckily it was an accident and the sheepish workmen were unaware that they had even had midwives running. As if we needed the exercise!
The breadth of issues being faced and dealt with by women and their midwives on a daily basis continues to impress me. Today I had a work experience student with me, a mature age one, so my every move was shadowed by someone. Sometimes she was able to join in and have a little bit of hands on - listening to a baby's heartbeat with the stethescope, gently feeling a postpartum abdomen to feel the contracting uterus as it shrank back into the pelvis, but mostly she watched quietly and asked questions in the corridor as we whizzed off to the next room. She asked good questions, and I hope she was able to get a feel for the range of a midwife's work. I had a gynaecology patient as well so she got a bit extra thrown in! As she'd had 7 children of her own I felt there wasn't much could shock her (not that I tried at all) and at the end of the day she expressed her appreciation of the new perspective. For all that she'd had 7 babies she had never experienced an epidural, or a caesarean, or a premmie, or a sick or disabled baby so there is always something to learn from every situation and she showed alot of empathy.
She asked briefly about drug addicted babies, and stillbirths and 'what happens' and I answered her questions as honestly as I could without going into too much detail. Our hospital truly does offer a wide range of experiences, and I'm very grateful to be seeing so much, as well as being able to teach students coming through.
I got a lovely surprise on my return to work. There was envelope for me with an excellence notation for my portfolio, and a beautiful email from a great couple I had been with for their birth in late March. I've just gone back and checked and I didn't tell you about this birth, but the commendation and photo they sent have reminded me what a fantastic day it was.
I remember they were a couple in their late 30s, their first baby, who had been together for 20+ years. It was a spontaneous labour, term or thereabouts, and they were so intune with each other. Just leaning and swaying together. She would look for him with each contraction, an obvious touchstone for her tranquility and there was no fighting or reluctance with the strength of each wave. It just came, was accepted and went away. She was a slightly built woman with long light brown hair and a lively face, and just so calm, it was a pleasure to be with her. I had a student with me that day too, and was really pleased to see such a spontaneous unmedicated woman - it was her first out of 5 hospital labours she had seen.
The room was dark, the monitor was off, I just listened in every now and then, baby was steady and gorgeous. At transition she got a bit shaky, and didn't quite know what to do with herself, but I suggested she go into the loo to be by herself, or with her hubby and regroup, and to come out when she was ready or wanted to push. So she did. Often women don't know what sensations to respond to - the pressure in their bottom caused by the descending head, the nausea and shakes of transition - for some it is the welcomed last time they throw up in the pregnancy! SO a change of scene will often do the trick. Additionally, the walking and sitting/squatting helps melt the last bit of the cervix away....
And so it was. She asked to be examined and she was fully dilated with a bulging bag of waters which actually popped shortly afterwards. The pushing began, she felt more secure on the bed so we positioned and positioned to help the descent of the head, which was slow but steady. The end of the shift was nigh, but the afternoon midwife was working with us, and after 30 minutes we spied a little head in the dark depths. Yay! And there it stayed for a tantalising 10 minutes, and then took another 10 minutes to crown properly. I was getting a bit antsy, and considering a rare episiotomy to release the head as I couldn't hear the fetal heart very well with the baby so deep within the canal. At last the head fully emerged followed quickly by the rest of the babe who lay there like a stunned mullet. I scooped her up and popped her onto her Mum, who announced the sex as I gritted my teeth waiting for the first breath...and waited...rub, rub....waiting...rub, rub...cut the cord... over to the resus warmer.... bag and mask, rub, rub c'mon sweetheart come and take part....heart rate good.....nil respiratory effort.....puff, puff.....getting pinker.....heart rate still good.......eyes still wide open and staring......come on little one, rub rub, still floppy....come and play. The afternoon midwife and I were both working on her as she was pretty stunned after that prolonged crowning. After two and a half minutes she gave a splutter, then blinked and sort of screwed up her face and let out a weak yell of protest, then started waving her arms and pedalling while taking deep breaths. Within 30 secs she was with her Mum and Dad, where she stayed skin to skin, pink and pretty (for ages I'm told), so calm and alert after a slow start.
Just one of those days....It was the second resus I'd done in as many days, after a few months without any. I recall being grateful again for my skills, our constant training and updates that allow us to just act without hesitation, and her pink perfection was a wonderful reward. I recall feeling sad for them that they were to be separated, by her staying in overnight in hospital. They hadn't been apart for a night in 23 years. How's that for a strong team? She was so amazing in her labour, so little fuss, so stoic and accepting of the process and I couldn't praise her enough, and made sure the student knew what a lovely birth she had seen - although she had seen 7 homebirths (more than I have) and was happy to finally have seen a gentle spontaneous hospital birth! This woman really was very beautiful and very clever and an absolute natural. So clever. So good at birthing. She should definitely do this again!
I don't recall the resus being a big deal or drama in the room, or any particular anxiety from the parents, they just happily accepted her back into their arms...but they may have reflected on those first few minutes later and wrote to the hospital expressing their appreciation to the three of us for our labour and birth care. It was a most welcome reminder of a great day.
I love being a midwife.