50th Birth

Today I caught my 50th baby! She was born at 4:18 pm to a young woman from Puerto Rico who was absolutely thrilled and excited about her first pregnancy. She was an induction for postdates (per hospital policy, all women are induced if they’re still pregnant at 41 weeks); she’d actually had an incidence of preterm labor earlier in her pregnancy, but now, instead of the baby coming too soon, we had the opposite problem—a baby that didn’t want to leave. Because she was an induction, she was on pitocin, and because she was on pitocin, she pretty much had to stay in bed (again with the hospital protocols…). She was so strong and so tough, though, laboring in bed for the entire afternoon and refusing an epidural the entire time, through every single pitocin-induced, booming, more-intense-than-natural-labor contraction. The only thing she took for pain was a dose of stadol when she was around 5 cm dilated. I think her birth team made a big difference for her. Her mother and the father of the baby were at the bedside with her all afternoon, fanning her and bringing juice and ice water, putting cold packs on her head when she was hot, massaging her legs and arms. I couldn’t get over the father, in particular. He was such a young man (19 years old!), but his maturity was well beyond his years. He knew just when to be attentive, and just when to be quiet and not pester her with questions or ministrations or conversation (during transition, she didn’t want anyone to touch her). When she was pushing, he was so excited by the tiny glimpses of head we were seeing with each push; he couldn’t wait to meet his baby. He kept encouraging her to keep pushing, she could do it, soon she’d have their baby etc. etc. (I barely had to say a word of encouragement, he was doing such a good job of it all on his own). We pulled the mirror out after the first hour of pushing, and this really made a difference for her. Once she could see her progress in the mirror each push was better and better. The baby crowned in right occiput anterior, and she was able to breathe the baby out in between the contractions in such a way that she didn’t even tear her perineum (she did have a small laceration inside the vagina which required 5 stitches, but the actual perineum itself was intact). When the head restituted, the shoulders came out almost transverse rather than vertically. It was almost as if the baby were spinning inside her very roomy pelvis. The little girl (7 lbs, 2 oz.) started crying almost right away, and her beautiful family all burst into tears (especially the young father), which then made me tear up as well (seeing a family cry always gets to me, every time). The father cut the cord. Afterwards, the baby latched onto the breast like a pro and had a very tasty meal of colustrum while I did the small repair. There was no other midwife in the room with me (my preceptor was out at the nurse’s station, within shouting range, but minding her own business). The saying goes that somewhere around 100 babies, you start to get a clue as a new midwife. I guess that means that I have roughly half a clue, right now, but today, for the first time, I felt like…yes, I really am I midwife.

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