Laura had been having contractions for weeks; it seems to be her body’s way of telling her that the day is drawing nigh. But the contractions are only an uncomfortable precursor. With each of our pregnancies, it’s not until her water breaks that we know that the birth of the newest member of our family is imminent.
Such was the case this time.
One morning last week, my day had begun in the predawn hour. Laura, like many women in their third trimester, hadn’t been sleeping well and I’d quietly slipped out of bed unnoticed, allowing her to continue her fitful sleep.
But my day took an unexpected turn at 7:10am when Laura peeked around the corner of my home office and announced that “It’s time.” Not completely grasping the implications of her proclamation, I encouraged her to get back into bed for a few more hours of rest. She made it clear that we needed to get to the hospital.
I marshaled the kids to get the necessary farm chores done before heading to the hospital. The ducks and chickens were fed and watered, same for the rabbits, dogs, and cats. We skipped some of the other chores as those animals are a bit more self-sufficient this time of year.
Less than a hour later, I was driving our minivan down the quarter mile stretch of our driveway. I probably reached 40 miles per hour in that short runway.
We’re Off to See the Midwife
Under normal circumstances, the hospital is a 45-minute drive from our home. It took less time that morning.
Being a prepper and a father, I’d learned a little about birthing babies. Not as much as Laura, of course, but my perspective was a little different. In prior deliveries, I’d watched anxiously as the doctor or midwife had coaxed the baby into this world. I believed that I could help to do that if pressed into service.
But there was another alternative on this day. The hospital where professional help awaited was only miles down the road and I had a fast moving minivan to get us there.
When we got to the hospital, the staff quickly ushered Laura to Labor and Delivery. As the mother of many, they knew even better than us that Laura’s labor would be short and the delivery would come quickly.
Little did we know just how right they would be.
Using a Midwife
During our last pregnancy, we used a midwife rather than a traditional doctor for the delivery. What a world of difference!
The traditional doctors required Laura to lay flat on her back and would periodically check on her progress. Eventually when the hours of toil had produced its desired effects, the doctor would swoop in, catch the baby, congratulate everyone, and then leave.
An experience in midwifery is completely different. The midwife is there throughout the labor, coaching and encouraging the soon-to-be mother. She asks where the pain is most intensive and offers alternative positions to help alleviate as much of the pain as possible.
I highly recommend using a midwife. So does Laura.
“Do You Want to Catch the Baby?”
The midwife asked Laura a series of questions. “When did your water break?” and “Have you eaten anything today?” were a couple that the midwife asked to get a better feel for the situation.
Then she turned to me. “Would you like to catch the baby?”, she asked. She could tell by the stunned look on my face that I hadn’t expected that question. With traditional doctors, my role had been relegated to one of coaching support for Laura. Now I was being asked if I wanted to actively participate in the birth. “I’ve never been asked that. Sure!”, I replied.
That labor was thankfully short this time. We were in the delivery room for approximately an hour before it was time to push. And 5 minutes after that, the newest member of our family was in our loving arms.
She was healthy and active, however the rapidity of her breathing made the doctors a bit concerned so she was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where she spent the next 4 days. Thankfully is was just a matter of giving her body time to absorb the excess fluid in her little lungs.
We are all home now and enjoying another blessing to our family.