Simone asked me to share my experiences of giving birth with you. Because giving birth is one thing, giving birth to a colleague is quite another.
Before I go to a delivery, I go through everything in my head in the car. I think about what I have in my car: my trauma bag with all the essentials for the delivery, my "normal" bag, which includes my blood pressure meter and the baby's scale, and my doptone, to listen to the baby's heart. In my head, I check what is in the delivery plan (sometimes I quickly read it just before I leave). I also think about what possible risks might be and how I can anticipate them.
Not because I am afraid of the risks, but because it can help me act quickly and well, if I have done so in my head before.
So this time, too, I drove to the delivery in the dark night. I was aware of how important it is and how beautiful it is that I can make the birth of Simone and Jordy's baby beautiful and physiological. On the other hand, that's not entirely up to me either. Childbirth goes the way it goes. As long as I monitor this process well, we are at the mercy of how it goes.
All these things go through me as I drive to Simone's.
I was not surprised that contractions were now well underway. I had visited Simone twice that week to strip her. The first time it did something, but not enough. The second time was last night. I could see from Simone's face that this time it was more serious and I was convinced that labour would start shortly after this. Actually, I was waiting for the phone call.
On arrival, Simone is in the living room very quietly sighing away the contractions. The lights are dimmed and there is quiet music on. I put some things ready. And I see that Simone is managing just fine in the meantime. She is already somewhat introverted.
I listen to the baby's heartbeat. The heartbeat is fine.
Some time after entering the room, I ask Simone if she wants me to measure how much dilation she has. She hesitates for a moment, but decides she wants it anyway. I touch her as she lies in the delivery bath: 3 centimeters of dilation she has. And she has been having contractions for hours. Quite a disappointment for her I notice. But experience has taught us that dilation doesn't say much. Because it's just not linear. She may well be holding her baby in her arms in a few hours. The "bubble" of calm has disappeared for a while. But fortunately the focus returns. Simone quietly sighs away her contractions again. She does hint that it is painful, but also that it is going well. Occasionally I listen to the heartbeat. Other than that, I sit on the sofa. I don't do much because I notice that things are going well. That my presence is good. And that nothing else is needed right now.
In the early morning, the waters break spontaneously. Quickly I write down the time and see if I can tell if the amniotic fluid is clear, thankfully it is. I listen to the baby's heart, still good. The contractions are getting a lot more intense now, because the head is pressing on the edge of the dilation rather than the fluid-filled membranes. I can well imagine it's on her mind whether pain relief might be an option, because the pain is incredibly intense. But she doesn't want that, I know. So I coach her through it. She can do this and she is doing super!
Half an hour after the water breaks, she notices pressure sensation during the contractions. And soon after, she gets reflective urge to push. I help her remember that this is good, that the baby is really getting close now. In reflective pushing, it is the uterus itself that pushes the baby out. All you have to do is give in to this, work with your body. That sounds simple, but sometimes it takes some shifting.
When the urge to push starts, things move very quickly. Every contraction I see Simone giving in more to the urge to push. Standing in the bath, she is pushing with her body. I keep an eye on the heartbeat, but otherwise Simone does everything herself.
Exactly how long she pressed, I don't know. After about half an hour of pushing, the head is born. I keep my hands out of the water, because Simone knows exactly what she is doing. And the next contraction their beautiful little man is born, swimming into this world. In the safe hands of his own mother! How beautiful this is.
I got to witness a beautiful birth. A birth as I prefer to witness it, in her own environment and in the way she wanted. And even from such a special woman! What a wonderful profession we have. And what a privilege that I could be part of it.