Ivan had rung to say Penny had called her doulas and was ready for the midwife to attend. It was a cold May night, so it took me a little longer to get ready. I’ve always enjoyed wrapping my woolen cloak around me as I go off into the night to attend a birthing woman. It feels very medieval and I feel linked to all the other midwives down through the ages that have been woken in the early hours of the morning to the joyous call of a baby coming into the world.
Penny lives in a beautiful part of the city, away from all the noise and smell. Goats bleat their welcome as I pull up in the drive. The smell of hay and wood fire is in the air, and I cast a glance to the starlit sky, and thank those above for the wonderful work that has been entrusted to my care.
The house is warm, and the doulas are busy carting water to the birthing room. Penny paces back and forth singing her birthing song. How many times has this scene been played out across thousands of years? Women, helping women at the birthing time.
The birthing room is dark, except for a lone candle on the table, Penny, dressed in something loose, swings her hips back and forth as the sensations of labour come closer together with increasing strength.
Ivan is trying to help, but his touch isn’t required, just his presence. The doulas sit quietly just outside the birth room, and I sit on the lounge, playing with the paperwork. I listen to the baby’s heartbeat, it’s strong, but it’s taken me a while to find it, and I feel that I’m interrupting Pennys beautiful birthing rhythm.
Pacing and pacing, singing and calling out, Penny feels the strength of those increasing pains. “IT HURTS!” she yells, “It hurts so much…..’ in quieter tones……Soothing words are spoken from the women around her, encouragement.
I retire to the lounge, wrapped in my cloak my heavy eyelids close, the meditative noises of the birthing woman lull me to rest…..
Back and forth the water goes, back and forth Penny paces, louder and louder the song becomes, more and more strength builds in her body.
The tones change, and the midwife snaps awake.
From low groaning comes the occasional grunt, deep throaty noises from Penny tell the midwife the baby is low and nearing the end of the journey to the outside world.
Penny steps into the pool, a period of rest settles around the room. The sensations have eased for a short time.
The surges return, full strength and somewhat overwhelming. Penny begins pushing in earnest, Ivan by her side, and her doula close by. The second doula has gone to care for Penny’s firstborn, Christopher. The midwife squeezes into the corner to watch for the entrance of the special guest.
The room is dark; it’s hard to see what is happening. The midwife relies on Penny’s noises to tell her what is happening………suddenly Penny announces that the baby is here!! The midwife looks into the water; there is a dark shape between Penny’s legs, which Penny is trying to grab. Penny brings baby up to the air, there is cord wrapped around the body and neck, which the midwife untangles. A beautiful boy has made his way into the world, pure joy is etched onto the mothers face, and a new baby is held above the water. Slowly baby starts to take in air, turning from blue to pink in a gentle and unhurried way.
Excitement and welcome fill the room, the midwife steps back into the shadows; this is a time for family.
The pool is cooling quickly, so mum and baby are moved onto the mattress nearby. The room is heated and hot towels are brought for both. Wrapped together, not a moments separation, they gaze into each others eyes.
The cord has finished pulsing now, and is ready to come away from baby. Baby is asked for permission to have this done, and doesn’t seem to object. Ivan does the honors and mum and baby are able to have a closer cuddle.
Penny births her placenta, without drugs or pulling. It simply slides from her body and into the dish, to be wondered at later by the family as they explore the ‘tree of life’. The midwife takes it home and the placenta is made into medicine, so it can return to the body from where it came. Working its magic once again.
Drinks are given, food is offered. Penny showers and then returns to her birth nest to feed her new son. He attaches to the breast; Penny is such a wonderful mother, so in tune with her children’s needs.
Checks to mum and baby are attended by the midwife as the doulas take their leave. Stitches are done, and phone calls are made.
The midwife packs up her things, puts on her cloak, and drives off into the night. Totally in awe of yet another beautiful birthing women, and honored to be part of such a sacred time.