Working as a birth assistant or a midwife is never easy under any circumstances -- long, unpredictable, irregular hours, limited sleep, births full of euphoria, births full of stress. It's a constant whirlwind of driving, sleepless nights, and extremes in emotions. It gets hard physically as I get older, and it makes me wonder how much longer I'll be able to do this job.
Just in the last five days:
Thursday AM, I was picking up carpool kids to go to our homeschool co-op (where I also co-teach two classes) when one of the midwives called and said we had a client in labor. I told her I'd send my partner Lori, since Thursdays are a difficult day for me, and also because I already had a car full of children!!! Just about the time I got to the co-op classes, the midwife called back and said, "I need somebody there now!! She's starting to push! Where are you?" Fortunately, I was only about 10 miles or so away, so I dropped off the kids, called Lori and told her to head back home, I was taking this one!! I arrived at 8:38 AM; the midwife arrived at 8:43 AM; the baby arrived at 8:47 AM!!! Wow......... followed by a hemorrhage and a baby who needed just a bit of help in getting started. All really was fine, it just was a long, tiring morning. And we still had violin lessons that afternoon and other errands to run..... a full, busy day.
Friday, I was supposed to take Morgan to college for her class. However, she woke up with a migraine and decided to stay in bed. Fine by me -- I needed some rest and a day without so much running around. However, that changed when my hubby called in mid-afternoon, said there'd been a change in work schedules, and he would be flying in that evening from Georgia. While it was nice to hear he was coming home, my house was a disaster, I had an already scheduled six-hour meeting with the midwives the next day (our annual training, OSHA review, practicing emergency drills, etc), plus I'd scheduled Morgan's appointment for the new hairdo -- AND Mackenzie was getting sick. Didn't matter -- Nelson still wanted to come home. So I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening cleaning house in preparation for his arrival.
His flight was supposed to leave Atlanta around 10 PM, arrive at BWI shortly before midnight. However, it had been snowing heavily up north all day long, and the previous leg of his flight had originated in Pittsburgh. His plane ended up leaving Atlanta nearly an hour and a half late. There was no way I could sit up and wait for him -- I needed to get up at 7 AM for my meeting, and at this point, he probably wouldn't be arriving home until 1:30 or 2 AM. When I woke in the AM, he was asleep. I gave him a quick hug, said goodbye, and told him I'd see him in the evening. I left for the meeting, came back in the late afternoon, swapped cars with him (got a quick hug!), and took Morgan for her 'do. As I was coming back, I got a phone call from my partner -- we had TWO clients in labor and we both needed to get going..... sigh........ I got home, swapped cars with Nelson again, and apologized for all the craziness -- but what could I do about it?
The birth I went to turned out to be long, slow, tedious. I arrived around 8 PM; the midwife, the student midwife and I took turns sitting with the client most of the night and trying to catch catnaps when it was our turn to rest. I got very little rest, because I was trying to curl up and sleep on a small love seat!!
By mid-morning on Sunday, I knew there was no way I was going to be home before Nelson flew back to Georgia -- his flight was leaving at 1:30, and my client was nowhere close to birthing. I had to call and regretfully tell him that I wouldn't get to see him, and I hoped he would have a safe flight back to Georgia. He wasn't too pleased, but what could I do?? Plus Mackenzie was now home alone and getting sicker..... sigh......
My client's labor just kept stalling, and by late afternoon, the decision was made to transfer to the hospital. The client, her husband, their extended family, the midwife and the student midwife all headed off to the hospital. I stayed behind to clean the birth center -- a long job, mostly because I was exhausted at this point.
I couldn't sleep in Monday AM -- had to take Morgan to college, so I dropped her off and went to Costco to buy a few necessary items (mostly dog food!!) and do some pricing on possible wedding foods. During this time, I got a call from the midwife that our client had finally birthed around 2:30 AM (Monday morning) and she'd had a TEN POUND, SEVEN OUNCE baby boy!! Wow!!! I also spoke with my client who'd birthed on Thursday about all the nursing troubles she was having. I tried to offer her some ideas and suggestions -- I hope something will help.
I came back home, did some school work with a now very sick Mackenzie and tried to get some things done around the house. Tired, tired, tired, moving too slowly. I took a short nap in the evening, which was the wrong thing to do -- then I couldn't get to sleep at bedtime!! I stayed up doing things around the house and finally told myself that this was ridiculous around 1:15 AM. I NEEDED to be in bed.
So of course, what happened? At 2:30 AM, one of the midwives called me. She had another client in labor and the birth assistant was sick -- could I come help? Uh...... yeah, sure, I guess.......... I'm DYING, but I guess that doesn't matter........!! I drove all the way to Falls Church, VA (nearly 50 minutes non-rush hour) and by the time I arrived, the "labor" had slowed WAY down. Thankfully, we only stayed a few hours before deciding this wasn't the real thing, and headed back home. I arrived at 7 AM, and was able to sneak in quietly enough that I didn't disturb the dogs too much. I just plopped on the sofa and went to sleep for two hours until the dogs and Mackenzie got up. Later I slept about another hour, and right now, I'm so tired, I can barely see to type!! I think I'm going to set Mackenzie up with some independent schoolwork and go take another nap......
And I'm back on call again at 10 PM -- pray for me!!! Oh, to be 25 again.......!!!