Birth Story and Student Midwife

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My current student, wrote this birth story that I wanted to share. I have often thought about writing a book filled with birth stories. Everyone enjoys reading or hearing birth stories so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.......

"Pot Holes and A Pretty Baby"

"Ewwww gross!!" cried the chubby ten year old, Lizzie, as she came running out of the room her mom was laboring in. "Her legs are open now!" She threw her hands over her mouth and her eyes were almost as big as her belly. She looked at another girl who was much more mature and probably a couple years older, who looked my way trying to read what was going through my head, and then shot Lizzie a disapproving expression. I put down my "Midwifery Today" magazine and rushed into the other room. Elsie was a drama queen. Ever since my preceptor (who I will refer to as "J") and I had arrived, she kept telling her husband to "stop it!!!! You know I don't like when you do that so don't do it!" and "oww oww oww, EEEoooWWWWW. @*%#@!#" She flung herself this way and that, trying to find the most comfortable position to labor in. Her hair was mounted on top of her head in a loose bun, like a birth queen's crown, with wispy hairs framing her face and gently blowing to the breeze the fly swatter was providing. Yes, that's right- a fly swatter. The grandma had found her purpose in the chaos as the chief fly killer and she was good at it. Many a fly died that day for a chance to be the first to land on a fresh, new, human baby. Elsie's husband, Earl, was a wranglers man. He had his wranglers pulled up high with his shirt tucked in and brown leather belt fully fastened and ready to catch a baby. His big ol' muddy boots stayed on the entire time, even when he crawled into the clean bed with his wife and new baby. His hair was orange and he had a mustache that covered his top lip that moved occasionally when he decided to give his woman a little encouragement: "Good job girl. Girl you're doing good. You're almost done, girl." He was the only man, surrounded by 3 bustling midwives, 1 daughter yelling "ewww gross!!" at all times, a mother in law determined to wipe out the entire fly population, a couple of Elsie's friends who took on the role as the birthing cheer squad, and of course, a 41 and a half week pregnant wife, yelling "Sttoooppp it!!!" every time he tried to give her a little lovin' touch. Poor man. As I entered the room, J immediately told me to get the gel for the doppler so she could listen to the baby's heart. I actually ended up placing the doppler on her belly because J was busy holding one of Elsie's legs and coaching her to say "yes!!" instead of "no!" The heart rate dropped to the 80's for a few seconds, and Jane (the other midwife) whipped the doppler out of my hands so she could do it herself. J had told me before we went to the birth to not take anything personally with Jane. She was intimidating to everyone- no warm and fuzzy feelings when you're around her. She's 66 years old and was still just as limber as any 20 year old. Her skin was weather beaten and tan, and her hands proved she's been a hard worker her whole life. Her hair was in two braids pinned up on both sides like Ina May Gaskin's, and she wore clothes too big for her little body. She was a tom boy at heart and I liked her even though she barked at me a couple of times. The baby's heart rate came right back up to 140-150's, but this was still concerning to both J and Jane, because Elsie hadn't even started pushing yet and still had some cervical lip to clear up. I didn't think it was possible for everyone's blood pressure to go up any more than it already was, but it did. Jane and J had Elsie lay on her left side and administered 6 L of O2 through a face mask. Elsie's mom gave her a pep talk about how it wasn't about her and her comfort, but about the baby and getting the baby out safe and sound, and to obey what the midwives told her to do. Thank you Elsie's mom. Elsie stopped fighting the midwives on everything and stopped saying "no" to the baby and the pain...well, for the most part.:) The baby's heart rate remained stable after Elsie finally agreed to start pushing. I was the warm compresses and doppler gel girl. I handed Jane rags that had been sitting in a crock pot with hot water so she could apply them to Elsie's perineum to decrease the "ring of fire" sensation a women feels when the baby's head starts to crown, and I squeezed gel out on the doppler so J could listen in between pushes. I felt sweat starting to trickle down my back and my face felt really hot leaning over the steaming crock pot. One time I didn't hand Jane a hot enough rag so she threw it back at me and told me to make it hotter, I did but she grabbed it before I was done squeezing out the water and on it's way from the crock pot to Elsie, it made nice little puddles all over the floor and bed, along with the olive oil I generously lavished on Jane's hands right after she asked me to pour it because she's clumsy when she does it herself. With a few more pushes and "ewww gross!!" 's from Lizzie, a beautiful, pink and plump baby girl was born! Had to be a ten pounder, I thought. Brown curly hair, big blue eyes, the center of attention.. a true southern beauty. Ten minutes later, and grandma had already stripped the dirty linens, thrown them in the wash, and was on her way upstairs to prepare a celebration meal, which I'm sure was chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and lots and lots of gravy. After everyone cooed and admired the new life for a little while, everyone just stood around not knowing what to do or how to help with after birth chores. It was bugging me even though i didn't really know what to do either. I think it was bugging J too because at one point she handed the placenta in a ziplock bag over to Lizzie's friend- the mature one, and told her to put it away. The poor girl had probably never seen a placenta before- she held it at arms length and sort of looked at me desperately, as if to communicate she was walking the line between insanity and death and was about to choose death. I told her to just put it on the table, and a wave of relief washed over her face. I was her new hero. After the room had all been tidied up and mom had showered, everyone gathered again in the room to watch the newborn exam and to take pictures. As Jane was doing the exam, J asked Earl when he and Elsie had gotten married. Earl responded with a shaky "oh around December or January", Elsie responded with an offended: "AROUND December or January??" A friend piped in and said "it was January 8th". The tension only lasted a moment because then the baby was pooping all over the towel and everyone started frantically searching for wipes. A washcloth would have to do, I guess wipes didn't make it to the birth supply list. A thousand pictures and some sore smiling cheeks later, I began the process of saying goodbye. I thanked Elsie for letting me be there and she told me I had the perfect name for a midwife. That made me smile. I was grateful she was glad I'd come to her birth, since the decision for me to come was last minute and came as a surprise to her. As I headed out the door, one of Elsie's friends stopped me and asked if I could stay for dinner.. I hesitated and almost said yes, but decided I had had enough adventure for the day and had to head home, but was sure the chicken fried steak would taste especially amazing today. I thanked Jane and hugged her goodbye, and in return she slapped my back a couple of times. This woman was stick thin but had one hell of a back pat! As I buckled up and then strategically maneuvered my way through their pot-hole infested dirt road in my not-so-country SUV, I smiled. What a birth, I thought. What a family. What a life. :]