At last, at last, I have 13 days off work. I’m not sure if it is a good time to be absent as a major ‘shuffle’ is being hinted at with relocation plans being decided on Monday. Things are dire, and will definitely get worse before they get better. Midwives are leaving at breakneck speed, every week we hear that another colleague has handed her notice in, it’s scary, scary and infectious. Morale is slithering along, unable to drag itself out of it’s rut and, as the whispering and conjecture increases, morale sinks lower, and more midwives hand in their notice, it’s a rapidly progressing, destructive process. I’ve decided to put my blinkers on and not consider the bigger picture, if I broaden my vision it reveals a picture where so many elements are missing that it’s difficult to identify what the original image was, all there is are fragments.
Enough of that. I’ve been gardening, and it’s wonderful. One of my camillia’s is just coming into bloom, the garden is dotted with splashes of colour where little primulas are welcoming the longer days and rising temperatures, the pond is churning with amorous frogs and the red kite which glides over our house is no longer alone, there are two of these magnificent birds circling overhead nowadays. Spring is definitely in the air.
Last weeks homebirth. I was out in the wilds, just about to perform a stretch and sweep, when my phone rang, K was fairly certain that labour had started, 2 weeks after her due date. We had a chat (question and answer session), by the sounds of it things were still early on but as this was K’s second baby I was not going to be too laid back so I told her that I would finish this visit and make my way over to her, I got there within the hour. K was relaxed when I arrived with contractions coming every 5 minutes and lasting just under a minute, I relaxed and made us both a drink. K asked me to examine her so she would know how she was doing and confirm that this was ‘it’. After examining her I was delighted to confirm that this was ‘it’ as the cervix was over 6cms dilated BUT baby’s head was still high so I suggested that a few minutes marching up and down stairs, followed by some rocking on her birthing ball would be a good idea. Whilst on the ball K munched on toast and honey which her Husband had prepared and before long the contractions were longer, and judging by K’s reaction, more intense. I phoned the unit and asked them to track down the second midwife, no rush but if she could make her way over within the next hour it would be a good idea. That was at 1pm, 5pm the unit phoned and asked what was happening, had we got a baby yet? ‘Umm, well no. I’ll update you within the hour’, even though we are at a homebirth we are still subject to the angst of the obstetric unit! We had a little conflab and K agreed with us that an examination may be a good idea. The examination was slightly disappointing, and confusing. The cervix was 8cms dilated and the baby’s head was still high and way off the cervix and there was something next to the head. I froze, please, not a cord. Gently I investigated, no, not a cord, fingers. There one minute, gone the next. Was it fingers? Could it have been toes? Was this baby in fact a breech? I told K that I was unsure what I was feeling and would she mind if A, the second midwife, checked. A examined and said she was certain that baby was coming head down and said that she couldn’t feel the fingers (or toes). We discussed the situation with K and said that it would be really good if we could a) increase the contractions and b) encourage baby’s head to come down so it was back the stair marching and sitting on the toilet. The unit phoned and were not happy, in fact the consultant said we should transfer K in for augmentation. Unfortunately I had just put the kettle so I still had to make and drink my coffee, then pack my bag up, not forgetting making sure that my notes were up to date! I went to K and her husband and put my cards on the table, I could delay the transfer for a while, I wasn’t concerned, K was fine and baby was happy but things could change at any moment. Nipple stimulation, that may be a help. I left them to it! Twenty minutes later K was violently sick, and her waters broke, within 15 minutes we were seeing the top of baby’s head. Slowly, slowly baby pushed her way out, with her arm across her chest and her hand on her cheek, I had felt fingers and that was why her head stayed high for so long. Weighing in at 8lbs 6ozs she was 2lbs heavier than her sister but with her shock of thick, black hair was the image of her. I got home at 11pm, really hungry but happy to have been able to welcome baby into the world.