Early this month I had a real journey and experience of my abilities to be’ with woman’. Remember I have only been qualified for less then a year and most of my experience of birth has been as a student and under someone else s supervision. Even my last few months as a qualified midwife, I have felt very much still the student, but this birth has helped me turn that corner into becoming a midwife in my own right.
It was a first baby of a quite little woman who would not say boo to a ghost. Eight hours into her birth and with me soooo tired, as I had attended a birth just before her, in the early hours of the morning, she confessed to my colleague, she was frightened and could not believe she would be able to give birth. She said she did not understand how she could do it. We had a student with us who is a midwife here in hospital here in Spain, but is training with, my other colleague, to learn to do home birth. Both the student and my colleague had been doing most of the supporting during this birth, while I, tired and unfocused, did the quite work in the background. But now my colleague and her student were at a loss. They could not figure out how to support this woman any longer, as after eight hours, her dilatation had not changed. She was fighting each contraction and had no faith in her Body.
My colleague and her student sat at this woman’s table trying to sort out what to do. This woman was just NOT dilating and terrified. They were considering transferring her to hospital. But as I sat there listening to their conversation I knew this was not the right choice. During the previous hours I had felt a bit on the side lines of the birth as every one involved spoke Catalan to each other, which I barely understand, the woman was not my client, so I had not developed any real connection with her and I felt I was tired and had nothing to offer.
But when my colleague and her student began to discuss the possibility of taking this women into hospital, something just hit me. Then I thought to myself, SCREW THIS! we are having a baby here and this woman, who incidentally, gave me the creeps as she was soooo placid, you know the type, really shy and timid and gray. Well this women was simply afraid, and I know what that feels like. I know how it feels to be in the middle of birth and lost and terrified, I have been there. I felt she just needed to stop being polite, and quite and ‘in control’ and get ‘down and dirty with this birth’. So as my colleague and her student were debating what to do, I went to the room and sat in front of her and just laid it out for her. My Spanish is so crap, but I can be understood when I need to. I told her that being afraid was okay and normal and that NO, she would never understand with her head how she could give birth, it was not the job of her head to do this.
I told her that she was in the middle of the ‘Selva de parto’ forest of birth and was lost and afraid. I told her that I had been in this forest 3 times and I know her fear and doubt, but I have come out the other side, so I know my way through. I told her I would go with her, step by step, contraction by contraction until we reached the other side. She told me she was afraid of the pain so was trying to keep it under control. I told her, that when the pain came,to hold my hands or me and I would take it with her. She was not alone. When I finished, she had a whopper of a contraction and she squatted down, her eyes fixed on mine, she let go and waters broke.
We spent the next 5 hours; howling, screaming, crying, singing, and humming her baby out. It was soooo crazy and intense. Her partner was so moved, he was in tears, he had never seen her all at once so vulnerable and so powerful. From the bedroom, to the shower to the birthing pool, she and I took every contraction together and the energy that passed through us both was truly that of birth. Finally, on the birthing stool, she made it to fully. But this time I was so exhausted, that I had to let my colleague take over and deliver the baby. The decent took 40 min, and I was impatient and uncomfortable in my position. My colleague could see this and gave me a break.
45 min after fully, she managed to push her baby girl out! I crossed the room and held them both in my arms and whispered, “you did it, I knew you could, you are strong”. It was a real journey to what we call ‘planeta parto’ or birth planet. At the end, the student, who by the way has been a midwife for 15 years said my colleague and I were “artistas de parto natural” or artists of natural birth. That was nice. I really felt I came into my own with that one.