I missed a birth. 😰
Let me start at the beginning; last fall I met two pregnant ladies in my prenatal yoga teacher training and was honored to be asked to be the doula for one of those sweet mamas.
Three weeks before that baby's estimated arrival, our yoga group met for a Mother's Blessing to celebrate the upcoming births for both women. We enjoyed delicious food, guessed birth weights, and imagined how much hair the little ones would have based on heartburn levels. Everyone made affirmations for the mothers to hang in their birth space to remind them of their strength and purpose in labor. As the affirmations were read aloud, the excitement to meet these little babies filled the room, and someone suggested everyone in the group could light a candle when the moms were in labor. The support and love in the room was palpable.
Little did we know how soon those candles would need to be lit.
As the night came to an end, the Mom whose birth I would be supporting went to use the restroom, only to discover her water had broken! She was immediately flooded with adrenaline and mixed emotions; "The crib hasn't been delivered yet... my family won't be here in time... the carseat isn't installed... this wasn't supposed to happen yet." - thoughts every Mother has in this very moment!
My first thought was that she needed as much sleep as possible before labor starts. So I drove her home and told her to call me if she started to feel contractions or experienced any other changes.
The next morning, Mom said she felt no changes (besides being extra tired from lack of sleep... the excitement of waiting for her baby to be here was too much!), so we made our way to the birth center to try a few natural induction methods. She used the breast pump, walked lots, squatted, took black and blue kohosh, got back on the breast pump, and walked even more. Even with all of this stimulation, she was only feeling mild, occasional, period-like cramps.
By late afternoon, Mom was worried about the long journey ahead, especially with how tired she was. She was also concerned about the increased risk of infection as more time passed.
Her midwife and I discussed with her the option of drinking castor oil, taking a nap, or both. Mom felt she couldn't make a decision without knowing how dilated she was, so she requested her first cervical check.
3:10pm: Mom confidently requested the castor oil to get things started. The midwife recommended she mix the oil with a little ice cream or peanut butter to disguise the taste and texture, but this Mama took her shot of castor oil like it was tequila at the bar. She finished off with one more breast pump session, then we headed back to her house. The effects of castor oil (intestinal cramping) are expected anywhere from 2-6 hours after drinking it, so the plan was for Mom to sleep until things picked up. I gave her a well-deserved foot massage before heading to my own house for some rest.
6:07pm: Mom checks in with me to say that contractions started a bit after 5:00. They're coming every 2-3 minutes, and lasting about 30 seconds. Great news! The oil is doing just what we wanted!
7:09pm: I read a text from Mom, inviting me back over. She says the midwife will meet us at the birth center around 7:30, so I make my way out the door. There is nothing like the high of heading to a birth! As usual, I'm jamming out to music in the car, but this time it starts to rain and traffic slowly builds.
7:18pm: My phone dings with a text from Mom but I can't read it while I'm driving on 35. Then, there's another ding. And another...
7:35pm: At the first stoplight, I open the texts and only process the main words I see - "feeling pressure" and "intense". All I can think is - holy moly, things are moving fast. I need to be there now! I quickly send a text back that I'm 11 minutes away.
7:48pm: I arrive at the birth center to find the door propped open with a wooden chair. I rush back to her room, wondering why it's so quiet. Did Mom make it here yet?
I walk into the room to find Dad grinning from ear-to-ear and Mom relaxing in bed with the sweetest baby girl on her chest. It was the most surreal feeling - how did this happen so fast!? Mom had felt her first contractions only two-ish hours ago! Does this mean she gave birth in the car or did she make it to the bedroom?
It turns out that Mom and Dad arrived to the birth center (with their 2 older kids) before the midwife. Mom described each minute feeling like a lifetime, as she resisted the urge to push in the car and reassured her kids that everything was normal. As soon as the midwife drove up, she escorted Mom to a bed where baby was born on the next contraction, at 7:34.
One of the first things Mom said to me was "I'm so sorry you missed the birth"! But after processing things as the night went on, she said she couldn't be happier with her birth story. She expressed how helpful my support was in the moments she needed it most - when her water broke, during the long hours trying to naturally induce labor, and when important decisions needed to be made.
Of course I was sad to miss the moment her baby was born and I wish I could have supported her precipitous labor, in person. But there's so much more to birth than those final moments when your baby arrives, and this birth is a perfect reminder of that!