On July 3rd, I met with Jamie at Bongo Java, a local coffee house. Jamie's doula was on vacation for this week and I was her back up. As Jamie has a midwife appointment in town, we decided to meet up to get acquainted.
She was a 20 year old first time mommy, 2 days past her estimated due date, had prepared with Bradley Birth Classes (another teacher), and was feeling achy. Her midwife appointment gave us an update of 4cm dilated and 'pretty effaced'. She said she had been having lots of braxton hicks until that day, and only had a bad backache on that particular Tuesday. I reminded her that backache can be contractions. She reassured me she was 'sure it was not'.
Once we parted, she headed back home (2 hour drive) and, as was conveyed at a later time, went for a walk, made and ate dinner, and began watching evening television. Her backache did not subside though, and only began to intensify. She arrived at the point that nothing felt better than to walk, stand, and 'sway' (she was labor dancing and didn't know it).
At a little after 9pm I received a call from Jamie's mom saying that her water had broken and Jamie was inconsolable, vomiting, and scared. Listening to Jamie in the background, I was able to time contractions at 2-3 minutes apart and lasting about 45-60 seconds. She was in transition and 2 hours from the hospital. I told her mom to pack her up and head out. We hung up.
10 minutes later, while I was getting into my car, I recieved a second phone call from her mom, they hadn't left yet and didn't have their midwive's number on them (they were away from home at a family members home). I told them that I would call for them, asked to talk to Jamie and asked her what she was feeling. She said a lot of pressure in her butt - she wanted to go to the bathroom. She was also still nauseous and 'it hurt'. I told her that I needed her to decide if she wanted to try to get to her hospital, but I didn't think she had enough time for that, if she wanted a homebirth, or if she wanted to go to a closer hospital. She opted for the closer hospital.
So, we met there in 30 minutes, roughly10:00pm. I had met her for the first time only 10 hours earlier. She was heavy into transition, laboring on her side. Her sister, whom I had given some tips to on the phone while driving to the hospital, was at her side, holding her hand, and talking reassuringly to her.
They assessed her at 7cm, and, in the next few contractions, which were 2 minutes apart, she increased to 8cm, and then to 9cm. Within 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital, she was complete with only a small anterior lip of cervix.
She labored on her side, with me applying counter pressure to her hip joints. Between contractions, I held the pressure constant while also giving her verbal encouragement and stroking her hair. Her sister made an excellent impromptu companion.
I continually reinforced that she was strong, her body was working perfectly, and her baby was going to be here soon. The anterior lip was difficult to get to move, and she had a few difficult contractions where she felt intense urges to push but had to wait. We panted through these difficult times, urged her to conserve her energy and make low open sounds instead of clenched and tense noises. Finally, it was time.
Jamie pushed fast and effectively. With sister holding her hand, myself at her right leg and her wonderful nurse at her other, Jamie sat nearly straight up on the bed and pushed her baby all the way down in 2 pushes. Then, the head was born gently in another few contractions. His body slid free on its own after that. Timothy Michael was born on July 4th at 12:15am. 7lbs, 8.5oz, 22 inches long.
Personal note to Jamie: You seemed to glean a lot from the mantra 'you are so strong' - but the moment he was out, you didn't want to hear that again! I am so proud of you. As a single woman, you made a great decision to have a midwife, a doula, and to seek for a less interventive, more natural approach to childbirth. You have given your child a great gift. Congratulations!
* names have been changed to protect identities.