Last time I had four babies due in one month it worked out perfectly. One birth a week with plenty of time in between for catching up on sleep and paperwork. I was hoping the four due in October would cooperate just as well. However, these precious ones (along with a fifth teaser) were all born in the same week. I’m not complaining—I truly appreciate that they decided not to all come on one day—but several times they threatened to!
Here’s how it worked out: In order of due dates we have Mama A, Mama B, Mama C, Mama D and Mama E. Mom E’s baby is due in early December but has been confusing us by growing really large for his dates and making us believe he might make an earlier appearance.
At Tuesday morning Mama C, having her first baby, called to tell me her water had broken and that she was having mild contractions every 5 minutes. I gave her the broken water precautions and told her to go back to sleep and I did the same. Hubby C called me back at to say ctx were more intense and closer together. I went to her home and sure enough she was working hard and things were moving along faster than they do for most first babies. A few hours into it MamaE called with complaints of mild pain and contractions. I asked her to drinks lots of water to see if things mellow out and to check in later (midwife equivalent of “take 2 aspirin & call me in the morning”). MamaC had a beautiful delivery about (really, this is just great for a first baby!) and my apprentice and I were home in time for dinner. I call these 9 to 5 births—it’s rare for a midwife to have banker’s hours. I checked in with MamaE that evening and all was quiet on the contraction front.
The next day (Wednesday) MamaA, having her seventh baby, called me as I was driving to work at The Bookstore. I’ve attended her 5th & 6th births and know she has very straight forward labors that don’t interrupt her regular routine until she’s in transition. She reports her ctx are pretty far apart but the ones she does have are very strong and with lots of pressure. She promises to check in again soon so I go on to the store and call a co-worker to come in and cover for me. MamaA calls back at and I set out to her home which is almost an hour away. When I’m about 10 minutes from her house, MamaB calls to say she too is having regular contractions. She lives about 40 minutes in the opposite direction. Ctx aren’t too close together so I ask her to check in with me when they get closer. I don’t want her to worry so I don’t tell her I’m on my way to another birth. I arrive at MamaA’s where HubbyA has just moved the airplane he built (not a toy, a real airplane that he recently took for its first test flight) from their front yard to the back shop. He helps me take my gear into the house and I tell him I have another mama in labor but I don’t tell MamaA. I don’t want her to feel rushed or worried. Soon after my apprentice arrives MamaA gets into the birth pool that she’s set up in her nice sized bathroom. She’s planned her first water birth hoping it will make her least favorite part of labor, pushing, more tolerable. She lays in the water without a sound while we set things up in the adjoining bedroom. I tell my apprentice that MamaA might APPEAR to be in early labor but that she’ll be pushing very soon. Apprentice looks skeptical but minutes later MamaA calls us in to catch her baby who was born into the water (she loved it). Mama’s only surprise was when HubbyA announced it was a girl—mama was just positive it would be a boy. She asked Hubby “Are you sure?” and he replied “I think I know how to tell by now!” This sweet family that I adore now has a lovely brood of 5 girls and 2 boys. As we’re examining the new baby, MamaB calls to check in. Contractions are a bit stronger and she would like me to come by and check on her. I let her know now that another mama has just delivered and that I’ll come by as soon as we finish packing up. MamaA is Rh negative so I need to bring a sample of umbilical cord blood by the lab which is, fortunately, about 2 miles from MamaB’s house. On the way there I get caught in rush hour traffic and have to call the lab to tell them I’m on my way and ask if they’ll please wait on me before they close (otherwise I have to bring the sample to a hospital that’s out of the way). They kindly agree. I drop it off and drive over to MamaB’s. In the meantime I sent Apprentice over to begin the 24 hour postpartum visit on MamaC who delivered yesterday.
MamaB is having her third baby and first homebirth. In the past few hours her ctx have spread out again to every 10-15 minutes. I listen to the baby who sounds perfectly content and tell her I’m going to join Apprentice at MamaC’s 24 hour visit and I’llcheck in with her afterwards. I head over to MamaC’s and find a content family trying to figure out their new life and routine. MamaC needs lots of breastfeeding advice and support but eventually all is well. I call MamaB who says things are about the same and ctx are mild so Apprentice and I head home arriving only a little late for dinner with our families. We end up getting another full night sleep after another banker’s hours birth (with slight overtime).
On Thursday morning MamaB says things are about the same but at in the afternoon HubbyB calls to report that things are picking up. I arrive to find frequent ctx but it’s still a bit early in the labor. We hang out in their home and get to know HubbyB’s mother who is baking bread, making dinner (smells like heaven) and quietly taking care of the household while MamaB labors. HubbyB is one of 5 children who were also born at home (and interestingly HubbyC was one of 8 children who were born at home)! Two of his sisters arrive for the event and it’s sweet to witness the family reunion. MamaB is completely at ease with her mother and sisters-in-law. They invite us to stay for dinner which is soooo delicious. MamaB had made the chicken earlier in the day and the meal is full of good humored sibling jokes and laughter. As we’re nearing the end of the meal I notice that MamaB is having to stop laughing or eating when a ctx hits—things are finally getting more serious. She and Hubby go for a evening walk and soon afterward she hops in the shower. HubbyB comes to tell me that MamaB’s water broke while in the shower (always convenient when it happens in the shower or on the toilet). Transition sets in and MamaB climbs into her birth pool set up in the immaculately cleaned kitchen. Baby is born (after slightly sticky shoulders) in the pool and then MamaB gets out and onto the bed in the next room. This mama had the worst immediate afterbirth pains I’ve ever seen with severe back pain that lasted until placenta was delivered about 30 minutes later. After a beautiful natural delivery MamaB got some much needed Tylenol for the post pain. Mama and baby were checked out and tucked in and Apprentice and I headed home as it approached . Wow, I was going to get another full night sleep!
When driving home late at night, or more commonly, in the middle of the night, after an experience that can sometimes be an emotional roller coaster, I usually have to put the windows down and blast classic rock ‘n roll to stay alert. I like the classic rock station that plays all the songs I grew up with—the songs that I usually know all the words too. I have a silly game I play with myself to see what song will be “the homestretch song.” This is the song that begins around the time I get off the beltway exit and drive the last few miles to my house. I always want this song to be a great one that I know the words to so that I can sing it really loud and then turn it off as I’m pulling in the driveway before a not-so-great song comes on. Anything Eagles or Fleetwood Mac or Led Zepplin etc. will be perfect. Coming home from MamaBs I get a great one—Heart’s What About Love. It ends one street away from my house and I click off the radio to end my day with the ideal song. As I’m unlocking the door to the house my pager (not my cell phone), goes off. I dig the dinosaur out of my purse and see it has just 2 numbers on the screen—not a whole phone number. I figure it must have been a misdial and go on in. I’m in my pajamas, brushing my teeth, when my cell phone rings. Oh my gosh, it’s MamaE! She’s in pain and upset and crying. Remember, her baby’s not due for another 6 weeks (or maybe not—he has been measuring big . . .). As she describes the pain I realize she probably has a bladder infection which can feel a lot like labor, but just to be sure it’s not labor, I tell her I’ll be right down to check on her.
MamaE lives another 30 minutes PAST where I just came from, almost an hour from my house. I get down there on rock & roll and a little adrenaline that comes from worrying if she’s really in preterm labor. She has the cutest little doll house right on the highway in Podunk, USA—very John Mellencamp Pink Houses except hers is white with Japanese lanterns strung across the front porch and a sweet little brook with a tiny waterfall right in her front yard. There’s a white picket fence on the street side and herbs and flowers growing between the brook and stone walkway to her porch. Her home always smells like rose geranium. Suspicions confirmed, no dilation, just a nasty bladder infection. Gave her all the tricks of the trade and headed back home to sleep.
On Friday I attend my usual prenatal visits and check in for MamaB’s 24 hour visit. BabyB’s big sisters (ages 2 & 4) are home and in love with baby. I get a little rest on Saturday and then that evening there’s a call from MamaD.
MamaD is not technically my client for this pregnancy. I was her midwife for her first baby and she was transported for a non-emergency surgical delivery. She asked me to attend her for baby #2 at home but ridiculous politics and new restrictions to our regulations say we can no longer attend home VBACs (aka HBACs). I referred her to midwives in the adjoining state. She asked me to attend her birth anyway in a support role because we have a nice connection and I’m honored to do so. And I was glad not to be the primary midwife this time because when I observed a labor pattern very similar to her first one I began to worry it might end similarly. But her more objective new midwife had complete confidence and after a short labor she delivered at home!! Mama and PapaD were ecstatic! Again I was home by and slept like a rock knowing that all the October babies had safely arrived—four fabulous females.
Throughout this week I was also arranging a huge fundraiser for our state midwifery organization. With the help of local birth activist we brought 2 screenings of The Business of Being Born to our city. Between babies I was visiting theaters, getting donations, making & distributing flyers, etc. (and working my other part time job). The following month we raised over $1000.00 to go towards our legislative funds!
November brought baby # 8 for another family that I also adore (ok, I love them all!). She was born literally 1 minute after I walked in the door. Apprentice was downtown at a pro basketball game and just missed the delivery. I teased Mamaof8 that this was the second time in a row that I didn’t even get my gloves all the way on before her baby swooshed out (# 7 was a swoosher too). Oh, and MamaE? Bladder cleared up quickly and baby arrived near his original due date in early December.