Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Pebble

Some people call it the "Butterfly Effect", others call it the "ripple effect". The gist of it is that a small event, even a seemingly insignificant event, can change and affect the course of lives far beyond what we even imagine.

I just had a birth two weeks ago. I was a bit concerned about this mom, who seemed somewhat fearful and tentative. I wasn't sure how she would respond to labor. Her first birth was a typical, horrible, hospital birth. Epidural, vacuum, 3rd degree tear, hemorrhage. Baby didn't nurse well, had severe jaundice, was under bili lights for several weeks.

Her mother (I'll call her "grandma" for clarity) was NOT in favor of the homebirth, having had two traumatic cesareans herself. Grandma watches all the medical birth shows and saw how emergent and scary birth still is. Grandma has never talked much about her first birth (my client) because it was so scary and traumatic. In fact, my client's birthday was always a somber day because it reminded her of the horrible experience. My client said that while her mom may be relieved when the birth is over, she'd NEVER be a convert or think homebirth was a good idea. She told me "She just isn't like that."

I was quite nervous about what the effect would be of having Grandma there considering her fears and her history. Initially at the birth, she was a little loud, talky, unsure. She asked us if it was okay for my client to be standing up "like that" during contractions and why did they make women in the hospital stay in bed? She asked MountainMama how we could tell how far along my client was and how we knew everything was okay. The labor progressed really quickly.

When transition hit, my client went to that "I can't do this, I'm scared" place. We were all talking to her, telling her the usual encouragements. Then Grandma stepped in the room. She looked at her daughter and said firmly, "You are strong. You are doing this and doing it very well! You need to reach inside yourself and grab ahold of that inner strength and go ahead and have your baby. You're okay, everything is going well and we are here for you. But you are the one who has to do it, and I know that you can."

Wow.......

My client had a sudden change. She got down to work, breathed her baby out sooooo gently into her husband's hands. No tears. Tiny, tiny amount of blood loss. Baby latched after 30 minutes and nursed like a champ. Total labor of 5 hours.

She told me yesterday when I called her for her "two week check in" that her mom now watched A Baby Story and says, "Why are they doing that? They don't have to do that!" She tells everyone how peaceful and great the homebirth was. She tells everyone how competent the midwife was and how she was really nervous but now she's a believer. She told her daughter if she ever had another baby, that she should have a homebirth and not go to the hospital. And she said now she is ready to talk about her own birth experiences and how they have affected her relationship with her daughter.

My client is a whole new woman. She is visibly, noticeably more confident. She feels great and is amazed at how much better she feels than after her first birth. She feels like she can handle what life throws at her much better than before. And she did it all on her own.

This. Is why I do what I do.

8 comments:

curdiemer said...

I'm crying. Wow

sophstar's mama said...

This brought me nearly to tears. This is why I want to be a midwife. Someday, I keep holding out for someday...

Ali said...

GOOD for you!

Alison Ashwell said...

A powerful story and very well told.
Tears came to my eyes when i read grandma's speech - what a healing day it must have been for her
Congratulations all round.

Sheridan said...

That is amazing!

Nicole Ryan said...

wow, just sends me back to sams birth. go grandma! and way to go mom!

Betsy said...

That is a lovely story :)

My mom had much the same reaction to my home births. She was very skeptical about it at first before my older daughter was born, but I knew she would be supportive at the actual birth (and she was). Afterwards, she remarked upon how peaceful and nice it had been. She had one hospital birth with epidural, one without, and three c-sections (one was a stillbirth...) and she was just amazed at the difference!

~B.

Kejanz said...

wow. i am a midwife student to be and, wow. i love not only the story, not only the grandma's speech, but your exact honesty and reflections of my own feelings in your simple final sentence. stunning, well done.