Thursday, August 19, 2010

Everest Base Camp

I have had one hell of a week. In a good way.

I had a job interview on Monday with a publicly funded homebirth program, one that has led the way for their model of care, one that has been replicated across the country. It has always been my goal to work for them, when I had enough experience. I was encouraged to apply. I applied with my fingers crossed. I thought 'well, if I get an interview I'll be pleased, and I might be a chance, but I will be hysterical if I truly get it'.

I got the job.

Yep. You read it right.

I got the job, my dream job.

And now the climb, the steep learning curve really begins.

I am skipping with happiness.

I wrote my resignation letter, and handed it in person to all my managers. Then I howled on and off about leaving all my lovely workmates that I have shared so much with. Each day since, I have broken the news to a new set of people. Its very exciting.

And then, yesterday to top it off, and just when I was lamenting that I would not catch another baby at my hospital, one of my women on the ward went into precipitate labour while I was at tea. I returned to hear her distressed behind her curtain in the shared 4-bed room. She nearly clawed my arm off and it was clear she was nearly ready to push. Which was a bit of a shame ... because only 2 hours before she had signed for a repeat CS, especially if she laboured. I notified the coordinator that we needed to move, like NOW, and returned to her with a pair of gloves, just in case. She was in the throes of another contraction. She clung to the coordinator, who talked her through it, then she allowed me to examine her - wa-hey! Fully dilated and a breech close to the world. Seemed a shame to waste a perfectly good CS on a baby who had plans for exit via an alternate route.

We ran with her on the bed to LBS and shanghaied a passing consultant as we skidded around a corner. I found the first empty room and we pushed the bed through the curtain, pulled a warm baby blanket bundle out and threw it on the heater. Then I changed gloves and returned to the woman still on her ward bed and peeked under the sheet - and there was a breech on view. She crawled across onto the birthing bed. I waved my ward coordinator goodbye, and volunteered to stay as the only other midwife around was having her first day at work. The LBS coordinator assembled a team of paediatricians and spare hands, and I urged her to ignore everyone else and focus on me, which she managed really well, and I spoke quietly and encouraged her to go for it, and praised her to the eyeballs. The consultant stood next to me, and talked me through the birth, giving a small hand here and there. And so . . . . I caught my second VBAC breech baby! All pretty textbook. This one was close to term so the maneuvres were harder than last time, but it all went smoothly. I would have preferred a hands off approach, but in that setting it was never gonna happen, and honestly it was an excellent result.

I was utterly thrilled! The woman was shocked but delighted. I handed over to the afternoon staff and tottered back to the ward to pick up the threads of my day, after a very adventurous 90 minutes away! The staff were all agog, it was the talk of the hospital that a midwife had done this birth! The young doctors were high-fiving me, and were delighted to have seen a vaginal breech birth. My manager came back from lunch and told the tale, only to find out it had happened to one of her ward patients with one of her midwives! She then got the full story straight from the horse's mouth.

I saw the woman again today and she is glowing, just radiant that her body worked and that she could give birth vaginally, and that she could be up and about and so well, rather than recovering from surgery. Baby was in nursery for a day or so, but he is nearly ready to come up to the ward! 2.35kg nearly 36 weeker. We congratulated each other on our cleverness, and had a big hug. She is such a darling, and was so brave during her 'amazing experience'. My sixty-ninth baby. Her second. Unforgettable.

I'll miss this place, but I'm looking forward to exploring the big world outside and I know that whatever the setting....I love being a midwife.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

And the winner is Syd-dnee! (now with added dugong)

Uh-oh. How did it get to be August already?

Somehow I have not posted since June. Oopsie. Its not that nothing has been happening. Shall I recap? June 23 - we all headed to Sydney. We bagged a superb apartment that we all wanted to move in to permanently, right near the town hall. It was drizzly but we didn't care.

We wandered out to Darling Harbour in the dusky gloom along a street that somehow contained all the hiking shops, every chain, every supply you could want, holding our umbrellas against every pissing awning - and there were plenty of 'em!

We walked across the Pyrmont bridge and into the Aquarium which we essentially had to ourselves. It was wonderful. Much bigger than when I had last been there in 1988. The displays were enchanting, and really easy to photograph too if you had a steady hand.

There was a special dugong exhibit, with a pair of dugongs lolling about quite mournfully at one end of the pen and slowly crossing the tunnel above our heads and returning to the wooden pier where they would try to hide in a corner. There was nowhere to hide. Yet it was still entrancing to watch these creatures, even though I had a clear impression that I was intruding on their privacy. Excuse me, maam.
Another tunnel contained a shark pool where the toothy crowd were a bit more lively and numerous. Nothing scary, just ...Establishing Respect.

The upstairs exhibits were fantastic, but the big tanks really were stunning! When I say big I mean BIG! HUGE! probably about 5m deep and at least 15m in diameter, all landscaped and populated with reef fish, or deep sea fish, or sharks or rays, Nemos and Dories, just fantastic and surprisingly entertaining. Great big fish looking mournful. It was wonderful, I'm so glad we went.
We then walked past the damp World Cup Soccer Village all the way to the other end of Darling Harbour and into China Town where we had dinner in a very chaotic restaurant. I have no idea what we had but it was delicious, and there seemed to be a LOT of Taiwanese people in there, enjoying a ridiculous gameshow on a big screen. Fascinating place. Couldn't for the life of me tell you what it was called, sorry, but it was popular.

Slept like logs in our sumptuous rooms. The apartment had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a laundry, a full kitchen and a huge living and dining room, big TV, all brand new and modern, with 2 balconies overlooking the rooves of churches and in eyeline with skyscrapers. We were on the 27th floor! It was brilliant.

The next morning my cousin arrived. Katharine is my youngest cousin (of 23 first cousins), I was 17 when she was born. She is living in Sydney now after being brought up between England and Perth. She is just lovely, and I wish I could see more of her. We stayed with her Mum in 2007 in London. K is very arty and has recently directed her first short film. She works heaps in the arts scene and we were delighted to catch up with her and be shown around the Sydney Opera House backstage - we even had coffee in the Green Room, and saw the Sydney Biennale on Cockatoo Island. The art was thought provoking and really evocative, and often really out of left field. There was a plywood model of the Hubble Space telescope, that seems like a steampunk had had a hand in it! I also enjoyed the piece with a car flying overhead in a shower of sparks. Cockatoo Island is the site of old naval shipyards and the buildings and spaces made me feel the presence of my Dad, who was a mechanic. The smells of oil on a dirt floor, and the industrial spaces and the rust. Being with his sister's only child. I'm sure he was with us as we wandered about that fascinating site, or maybe, just remembering him makes it seem that way. It was a gorgeous day and the free ferry ride was an added treat. Stephanie saw where Dance Academy was filmed, we went under the bridge, it was all good.

I've never spent long in the Circular Quay area before so it was such a treat to really see it, and wow what a place. It deserves the reputation as one of those locations where if you sit there long enough, the whole world will walk by. It is not only physically beautiful, in the sense of water and coves and clean air, and buzzing atmosphere but the man-made environment (i.e. the Bridge and the Opera House) is also gob-smacking. I hadn't expected to enjoy it so much but it truly was superb.

K also works at the Museum of Modern Art, right on the harbour, so we had spent the day in her environment. It was so enjoyable. She joined us for dinner back at our place, where we waited for the slowest Indian food delivery I have ever experienced. It was a bit average, but we talked and talked, and it was nice to just hang out with a family member I hardly ever get to see.

The next day - Taronga Park Zoo! Stay tuned!