November 25, 2010 Thanksgiving Day. I was rushing around, getting the turkey ready to be thawed…I had dragged my feet on this process for some reason (later I decided it was pure intuition.) I was planning my first thanksgiving dinner ever. My mother passed away in September and it seemed like a good time for me to start a new tradition. I was nervous about it. My mind was full and checking off things in my head…how was I going to have time for shopping for last minute items? The days menu was unraveling and emerging in my kitchen as ingredients were being organized, plans for perfect timing and hopes that I hadn’t waited too long to get started….and then came the phone call.

Marie had been to see her doctor and her fears from the previous few days had been realized. She had an episode of SVT with her heart, her blood pressure was climbing and they found high levels of protein in her urine, making preeclampsia a real concern. She made the difficult choice of letting them induce labor on Thanksgiving Day, also her own birthday.

I felt so blessed to have the support of my family that saw the change of Thanksgiving Day to Saturday perfectly fine…”no worries mom” and the turkey went onto a slower thaw as I prepared to be away from home for a day…or two.

After phoning the hospital at 5:30 am Marie was told to come on in. She called me, her doula, at 5:45 and we all made our plans to head to the hospital.

I met Marie and her husband Robert at 9:30 am. They had just begun Marie’s pitocin drip and gotten her settled in. She had been having light contractions while being monitored off and on for the past few days but nothing very strong. She was due on December 4th…still a week away.

Her contractions were quickly boosted by the effects of the pitocin. We were at North East Ga. Women”s Pavilion. Neither the Midwife nor the hospital made a routine out of “checking her” nor were any of us focused on timing between contractions. We simply moved gently into Marie’s journey, trusting the process. Monitoring was necessary due to the induction, but they hooked her up to a portable monitor giving her freedom of movement, the ability to get in the tub or walk the halls. She tried them all.

By noon her contractions had increased in strength, length and were obviously closer and closer together. By 2:00 a nurse checked her for the first time and found her to be 5 centimeters. Those next few hours as Marie’s very lighthearted mood changed to a much more serious focus so did her husbands. He really stepped into full presence to help guide his wife through this journey. One of the most beautiful things about being in the room as a child is born to a first time couple is the unfolding and emerging of a family. There is much more being born here than the baby. A family is born. A couple takes a new turn in their life together. It was beautiful watching Robert care for his wife and encouraging  her to keep moving forward.

The room was filled with the beautiful aroma of the essential oil blend…”Peace and Calming”, a stream of soft music flowing from the couples’ lap top…Marie, Robert and I kept moving through positions trying to find the ones that worked best for Marie. Standing, sitting or leaning on the ball…Marie kept settling to sitting on the edge of the bed leaning into her husband. I would periodically( as I saw her discomfort  levels increase and feeling progress stalling a bit) get her to stand with her arms around his neck and “dance” with him. She didn’t always appreciate this suggestion, snapping “NO” at us every once in a while…but once she was in the dance her body and baby seemed to work together to move her baby down.

I appreciated very much the staff at GWP, they honored Marie’s choice of very little intervention, they left her alone to labor, did not push for her to get an epidural when her contractions became vocal and constant. Both Marie and the baby were doing fine on the monitors and that gave the peace to the situation it needed. Even the pitocin drip was not being bumped up regularly since all was happening so smoothly. Marie was deep into her “labor land”, the place women go during the last stages of labor. That internal place where she is moving through the waves of contractions, lost in the sea of her own inner world. Learning about her strength and calling forth the warrior within.

Those last few hours were difficult for Marie, she was exhausted and like many women entering into transition she was  saying things like…”I’m ready to go home. I don’t think I can stay.” I asked her if she wanted me to take her somewhere, maybe take a walk down to the cafeteria or go outside with her…she declined with a light laugh and moved back into her labor land.

During the last hour Marie was so spent she had moments of doubt and confusion. She asked for something to take the edge off, we talked about her options and she chose to let them give her something mild. The midwife checked her to see where she was and if it would be possible. There was a consensus I noticed between the midwife and the nurse, some unspoken language that I realized they were not going to give her much. It was more a placebo to give Marie the mental strength to carry on. She was so close, the midwife told me later that she knew it wouldn’t really help that much.

She had been saying to me…the only thing that gives me relief is pushing and I encouraged her to surrender to her body and let it do what it needed to do. We had some time together, her in her dance with her husband, resting as she could in between…for her to follow the instincts of her body, to allow gravity to work…

Her midwife came in, a perky young girl named Kelly… and changed the direction of things, putting Marie on the bed, checking her cervix and instructing Marie to get in a position to push…the traditional position, the “C” position was the position Marie was in. Within just a few minutes and some very focused pushing little Nora was born. Amazingly only 12 hours after induction.  9lbs, 21 1/2 inches long and a full head of hair.

She was whisked away from her mama due to some lethargy and I followed her across the room. Her daddy was not ready to leave Marie’s side and I didn’t want her to be alone. Her big dark eyes looked up at me  as if she was taking me in, she even made a shape to her mouth that looked like a smile. She was awake and alert and checking everything out and holding on tight to my finger. When she finally got to go to her mommy she took to nursing as if she was an old pro.

Unfortunately her blood sugar check did not meet her pediatricians standards and she had to be taken to NICU. She had nursed and nursed well but at 9 lbs she was getting a lot of her mothers sugar from her body, to lose the source, I am told in these situations baby’s blood sugar often drops. If it isn’t high enough they will put them on IV’s. And if it still doesn’t go up they will want to introduce some formula.

An intervention Marie did not want. And so begins Marie’s journey as she learns to use her voice and stand up making  decisions for her new baby. I know her to be strong and courageous. I know after having gone through her birthing experience that she too knows of the depth of her own strength, at levels before unknown.