9:45 pm Make myself go to sleep early because I know a client has been having irregular mild contractions through the day. She reported bloody show around dinnertime and we had a chat about what to do and what to look for. So I make a pile of my birth clothes and grab her chart to lay on top of my prenatal bag and then crawl into bed.
12:05 am Reach over my sleeping husband to look at a new text on my phone and respond that they are doing great but that its still early and to try and rest as much as possible until they can’t! I emphasize that although labor is exciting, it could still be many hours before active labor begins and its important to rest to conserve their energy.
I then roll back and try to fall back asleep as quickly as possible because even though I just told them to rest I know I’ll be awoken in the next two or three hours 😉
3:20 am Reach across in bed to read my new text and quietly get out of bed. I call the laboring family so I can really hear what is going on. Its so different reading a text that says a mom is contracting every 4 minutes. Sometimes that means she’s in hard active labor and other times it might still mean early labor. How do I know the difference? I hear the difference in the mom’s tone of voice, her level of consciousness and I read between the lines. I usually only need to hear her through half a contraction to know exactly what part of labor she’s in. Except if she did hypnobirthing…. then that’s a different story!
I close the door to my bathroom, and talking softly I chat for less than a minute with the partner and then ask to speak to the mama. Sorry partners- you are super important but I always ask to talk to the laboring person before I come over there! The mama is doing great and yes, she’s progressed to a nice active labor pattern. I ask questions to make sure baby is moving, that her bag of water hasn’t ruptured, that she rested a little, and that she’s eating and drinking well. Mamas need energy to give birth so its vital to mom and baby to continue eating and drinking through labor. I listen to how well she’s breathing through the contraction and find out what she’s doing during them. I make a plan to come over in an hour.
3:45 am I gather my clothes from my bedroom and go back into the bathroom. At first, I don’t want to turn on the light because then I can pretend I’m still sleeping but then my brain kicks in and I realize, yes in fact I need to fully wake up so I turn on the light, brush my teeth and get dressed. I check my phone for the time and start collecting the meds from my fridge. Its funny having a mom as a midwife for my kids. They know there’s a container on the fridge door that stays there and they don’t touch it. They also know sometimes they may open the fridge and find a bagged placenta waiting to be picked up by Kelley for encapsulation. They also know that sometimes they wake up and only their papa is in bed and they may not see their mama for the day. But they also get excited knowing a new baby is being welcomed into the world❤️
3:55 am I carry my homebirth bag, prenatal/postpartum bag, and the oxygen tank to my car. Then lug the birth tub and bag (if they don’t already have it) outside as well. And run back inside to grab my personal bag (I always bring an extra change of clothes because birth is messy!) and the client’s chart.
4:20 am I arrive to the homebirth to smiling faces, relieved to see me, knowing this is finally it! As I comfort the family and take in the scene before me I start setting up all our equipment/supplies. From here, birth happens! Mama progresses and we lay witness to the raw, beautiful, intense energy of birth. We clean up and tuck the sweet, happy, tired family in bed, promising to return the next day.
Being a homebirth midwife is a pretty crazy profession. It is not for the faint of heart nor for those needing routine and order! I have to be completely flexible yet 100% dependable. My family knows I may not be with them for a holiday or I might miss that family hike we planned Saturday morning. My friends know I may cancel plans 30 minutes before I’m supposed to be at their house- or they at my house! My east coast family knows not to text/call me before 7 am PST because I sleep with my phone and will wake up to their texts. I know I always need gas in my car, or at least know where the 24/7 gas stations are and that my phone always needs to be charged! I always have to keep a log of all the medications I have to make sure they aren’t expired and that I have enough newborn screen kits for all my clients that want them. I always make sure I have at least one clean outfit for a birth. And yeah, I can’t go more than an hour from my house if I’m on-call. And on-call is for all my clients that are between 36 and 43 weeks. Crazy, huh? It sounds crazy sometimes. But… I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I was called to midwifery at a younger age and knew that was what I was supposed to do. I can’t imagine sitting behind a desk or computer all day.
Its neat to be coming and going through the night… I sometimes feel like a little birth elf that comes in and slips away unnoticed to help new life into this world while all the neighbors continue sleeping! Its pretty amazing to witness sheer strength and determination from the families that I work with. Its humbling to support such strong empowered women!
So to all the families that I have had the chance to work with- thank you for including me in your intense and magical journey to parenthood ❤️❤️❤️