As it should be

I think sometimes even the most beautiful and amazing things can be taken for granted or just go un celebrated. This is what I nearly did with the last birth I attended. It was so normal, I thought to myself, that it was not worth writing about, but a lovely friend reminded me just how amazing normality is in birth and how these birth stories need to be shared. Anyone can cite a birth horror story to you. The more graphic and dramatic the better and they nearly always end in “and she had to have a caessarian”, so with this in mind, I share with you, my normal old run of the mill home birth story. Of course no birth is any of these things……

I always believe that the first 48 hours of your new year sets a pattern for how your year will be, so how fortunate I was to spend it with loving friends and family and to finish off, a beautiful birth. I got the call at 10 past 8am on the 2nd of this month. Our lady had been contracting  on and off through the night and was now contracting 2 to 3 in 10 minutes. This was her 3rd baby and her last was had with my colleague 2 years ago, at home.They were a lovely family well known to us and just 15 min walking distance away from me.

After hanging up the phone I quickly got myself washed and dressed, sorted my birth bag out and was out the door. I knew this was her 3rd child and thought it could come quite quickly so I thought I might take a taxie, but found none on my way, so walked the short distance left, with the wheels of my birth bag clicking behind me on the ornate Barcelona tiled pavements. As I walked I thought to myself of all the people trying to sleep of the last party excesses and having to hear me passing under their window with my clicking wheels. Barcelona is usually a very noisy city, but at 8 in the morning just after new years, it was strangely quite, except of course for the loan midwife and her loud bag trailing behind her and the occasional granny off to get her shopping.

I arrived at the house 40 min after I was woken by the call and was greeted with a warm embrace from our ladies husband. The children were still sleeping but their grandfather was on his way to collect them and take them for the day, while we helped their new sister into the world. The room was warm and quite, the magic spell of labour could be felt instantly upon entering. This feeling effects all who enter causing them to slow their step, lower their energy and voice. No matter who you are a respectful silence falls over you as if you had entered a holy place, which of course you have. In this space our lady, on her knees on the sofa lent over her birthing ball, was deep in her labouring groove. A contraction had just passed as I entered the room and she looked up at me and smiled such a beautiful smile. These smiles only come from labouring women. These women who have, in the midst of their journey taken a moment to share their loving energy with those around them. These smiles are warm, open and let you know that she is happy you are there, but that she is not up for a chat or any other interaction that might worry her concentration.

I greeted her with a whispered, “happy new year”, listened into her baby and stepped back as another contraction was beginning. Shortly after this the bell went and grand pa arrived to take the children. I watched as he entered the room and was hit by the labouring spell. This kindly older gentleman, looked a bit lost in the moment as his sons wife rocked and hummed on her birthing ball, bum in the air barely noticing his presence. In a whispered voice introductions and salutations were made, grandpa received the labouring smile and our lady was quickly back to work as strong contraction took her attention suddenly. Grandpa was shown to the children’s room and 10 minutes and 3 contractions later our ladies children were standing by her side and saying good bye. A sweet kiss for the belly and cuddle from mommy and they were out the door, excited about the gift they would receive on their return.

Once the children were gone the contractions started coming stronger and faster. Our ladies sister, who had been sleeping in the children’s room emerged. She wanted to share this moment with her sister, it was the first birth she had ever seen.  After having a quick listen into baby, I made my way to the kitchen to prepare the infusions we use during and after birth. These consist of a tea, made from lemons, cinnamon sticks and lots of honey, to energise and revive mothers during the labour process. It is a tasty treat for the midwife as well. The second is an infusion of herbs consisting of; horse tale, and thyme. We use this as our antiseptic after birth for cleaning the perineum and make compresses soaked in the infusion and then frozen. This is soothing to the perineal area as well as antiseptic. The infusion is also used as a wash for the mothers to use each time the go to the toilet.This is amazing stuff. There has never been a case of infection of sutures or tears in the women who we treat, and I believe it is because we use this infusion. and it was decided by my colleague that she was 7cm dilated possibly more and so as she was doing well on her own, with her husband  so we went to the kitchen to prepare our instruments.

Within 30 min, our ladies sounds changed and she broke her waters, 30 min after this she began pushing with each contraction. Her beautiful girl was born, on her sofa, in her living room, with her husband kneeling beside her and her sister poised in prime position for the crowning photo. I had delivered all of the babies recently with my colleagues and I felt because of the history that it would be nicer if my colleague delivered this baby as well as her last. I positioned myself in front of our lady, as I knew she had torn with both of her previous births, and I thought I could held her to concentrate and ease this one out. As it happened, baby came with her hand on her face and mommy tore regardless. It was a slight tear which required only 4 sutures.

What struck me with this birth, was the look on the sisters face when baby came. A beautiful mix of tearful joy and amazement crossed her face and I immediately remembered my first time witnessing a birth. Such a wonderful gift to give someone, and to see one so well done, with such ease and grace. I think when her time comes, our ladies sister may be calling on our services, and I will be so happy to attend her. The birth story she will tell, will embolden many.

After the placenta was delivered I made our well known, placenta smoothie for mommy and daddy, (A small piece, the size of two large coins and some fresh squeezed fruit juice, usually orange, and some fruit, what ever the couple like.) Photos are taken when mom and dad drink the smoothie, as a grand finale and it is always a monumental moment.(

Traditional Catalan baguettes and tomato (pan y tomate) were supplied by dad and lovely cheese. We drank tea and ate, because it was only 10:20am and none of us had eaten our breakfast as of yet. Paper work was done by my colleague while I cleaned the kitchen and left a bottle of infusion in the toilet for easy access of our lady. Baby was at the breast as we left with our big birth bags clicking through the silent corridors of their flat and then we were on the noisy street. My colleague, who had just moved house the week before, still had time to get to ikea before lunch. As I walked in my front door, my family and friends had just woken and breakfast was being served, Of course they did not even know I had gone out or that a lovely little life had just joined us on our beautiful planet.

Two days later I visited our lady. It was a cold morning for Barcelona. Entering there warm quite flat, the magical spell of birth could still be felt, still in her pyjamas, our lady escorted me to the bedroom where she and baby had been snuggled down. Baby was lying in bed rosy and naked and mommy climbed back into place with baby, topless once again. Skin to skin, baby immediately went to the breast and was there through out my checks of mommy. Both mommy and baby were well, calm and a picture of perfection.