I met my client and her partner through South Coast Midwifery. My client has a background of pagan spirituality. I was very interested in this belief system because I myself believe in the power of the earth and the animals living on it. Her partner is Catholic and her mother is pagan as well. I thought this was an intriguing family dynamic and I was happy to be working with someone so spiritual. For our first prenatal we met at a park to have a picnic to go over their birth preferences, labor positions, offer a guided meditation, and a loving touch massage. We got along great and my client asked for a second prenatal. Our second prenatal was thought provoking. We (my client, her mother, and I) sat right outside of the Birthing Center and discussed positive affirmations she could incorporate into her daily life before her baby arrived. My client discussed more about how she wanted to set up a pagan alter during her labor. I was fascinated by her belief system and told her that I'd love to help support her with setting up the perfect environment. During that prenatal we had three hawks flying above us and encircling us and the Birthing Center. We saw it as a very good sign and all of us left happier that day.
When I finally received the call to come to her house, it was late at night but I was ready for the hours of work to come. She had a special pagan candle lit in her room and all the other lights were off. My client didn't want to be touched during contractions but only spoken to and for me to breath with her. We kept cold compresses on her body because she was very hot and sweating a lot. She told me she didn't feel the surges in her abdomen like you are supposed to but only in the tip of her cervix. I stayed in close communication with the Midwife until we arrived at the Birthing Center. My client's bag of water had broken and her surges seem to express that she was in transition. Being two minutes apart and lasting a full minute long. The Midwife I was in contact with didn't think she was in transition and I couldn't understand why. My client kept telling me she was ready to go to the birthing center and felt it was right to go. Every woman knows when it is best for them to transfer to the birth place of their choice. When my client's surges became too uncomfortable we left for the Birthing Center. My client had so much adrenaline flowing through her that her whole body was shaking uncontrollably. We couldn't get on top of the shaking. I remember my client, walking up to the Midwife who was waiting for us at the front doors of the lobby, shaking so badly with her arms and upper torso. It was a sight to see. When she was checked she had dilated 1 centimeter in all those hours of being in labor. I was shocked since I thought she was in transition. What happened was that her cervix was swollen and would not be able to open without intervention. She had to be transferred to the hospital to be given an epidural to help reduce the incredible swelling that was taking place inside of her. She had to relax in order to reduce the swelling. I didn't understand how that could happen to a woman's body... The Midwife suggested that the baby's head wasn't laying completely flesh on the cervix but rather bumping up against it trying to make contact to help the cervix efface and open. This situation could cause the cervix to swell. That was her theory. It's hard to know why things like that happen to some women. All you can do is make an educated guess.
Once we were settled into Hoag Hospital, my client was able to calm down but her shaking didn't stop. We all rested as best we could as we waited for the epidural to take effect in reducing the swelling. I massaged my client's legs to help with circulation since a mother can't move with an Epidural. We drank hot tea, ate food, rested, changed her resting position in bed every hour, and chatted for hours to keep her mind relaxed. Later she developed a fever and she had to have a round of antibiotics administered to get rid of the fever. As she continued shaking I decided to give her jaw, head, and face a massage to help her teeth from chattering. Immediately my client's face and body calmed down. I should have been doing that the whole time! Because of the fever she devolved, the fetal heart tones expressed fetal distress. The pattern continued this way for awhile so the OBGYN decided that a cesarean would be the next step in delivering her baby. This was going to be my first cesarean client. I felt bad and her partner looked distraught. My client handled it the best. She was willing to accept these new circumstances. But my client had doubts that her body wasn't good enough or strong enough to give birth to a baby. I reminded her that each baby has their own journey into this world and that it isn't our fault for not being able to give birth the way we would have hoped for. All you can do is your best to prepare as much as possible before hand. The baby decides the rest. My client had prepared the best that she could all throughout her pregnancy. She had a successful cesarean birth to a beautiful baby girl!
When it came time for my postpartum visit, we had a pagan equinox dinner celebration! We shared food and stories. Afterward I spent several hours coaching my client on breastfeeding and how to swaddle and hold her baby. I had so much fun guiding her into the very beginning stages of motherhood. I had her partner pay attention to my guidance so that way he could help her once I am no longer there. I appreciate the bond we formed and the care I was able to offer her. It is a blessing that women have the care of hospitals and hospital staff for emergency and high risk pregnancies/labors. This birth begged for a reflection on my end. I judge hospital policy's to have women labor on their time clock. Normalizing labor to be a 12 hour process when in reality a normal labor could be several days long. But in this case I felt as though this was the right choice for these set of circumstances and I am grateful for the alternative care western medicine can offer high risk women or high risk pregnancies.