Saturday, December 29, 2012

The labor of sitting...

I'm sitting here, fingers numb and skin goose-pimpled, with my mind forced to wander aimlessly between the usual time wasters --- Facebook, annoying yet addictive games, checking email. The same sorts of things that I would (to be honest I have to admit this) find myself doing if I was at home right now ... Except I'm not.

And, of course, my eyes flit (as moths to a flame) neurotically to The Machine. Or, rather, Machines, as they are spaced strategically throughout the Birthing Center so that even if one tried desperately to avoid glimpsing them, it would be nearly inevitable. The Machine dictates the majority of nursing decisions it seems, often causing panic among providers not even involved with a patient's care; the ability to see everything that's occurring within a woman's womb from meters and meters away can cause a flurry of activity and a rush of footsteps to a laboring woman's bedside. At times this may be helpful - at other times, privacy is invaded, quiet moments of solitude shattered, and situations being managed calmly and appropriately are elevated to unnecessary proportions of stress.

So... I try to consciously remind myself to focus my attention away from The Machine. I'll let the screen-saver take over. I'll read, I'll eat (oh dear, considering the table laden with holiday treats), I'll train these fingers in my newly budding crochet skills.

Or - I'll look over there again... Log back in...

And then glimpse at the clock (another Device of far too much consequence in this situation). There's a curve to be followed, although to be fair we fell off of that curve long ago. I don't mind - progress is progress, though slow but steady - although the whispers that provide The Machines and Devices may have other thoughts on this. Is it time to consult? Insert some sort of additional tube or device (even though this mama has just about every other tube and line you could imagine already...)?

My mind wanders to the peaceful, joyful announcements of my midwife sisters delivering in birth centers and homes: "a baby girl, delivered strong and healthy after a long, hard day's work into her mama's strong arms" ... "After many hours of dancing, swaying, and support a baby boy welcomed into her fathers hands..." I can only wonder, is the emphasis on Machines and Devices at these birth days, or on mamas and babies?

{ { pregnant ----- very pregnant ---- pause... } }

A day later, a conclusion. Two hours of pushing, tears and four-letter words of frustration later - a big, beautiful baby was cradled into *her* mama's arms. Even with the reassuring picture The Machine showed for every one of those 68,220 seconds (roughly) of the day's work, hands rushed to pull a stunned but transitioning babe quickly from her mother's breast. A steady heartbeat, response to stimulation and mama soothed me that babe -- though initially wide-eyed and breathless -- needed not to be "cut and run" (to the warmer to be "checked out") but rather allowed to remain with cord intact, pulsing oxygen-rich blood to her strongly-beating heart as she opened her lungs and breathed in new life.

But - again - slave to Devices and cowerer of those who oversee them, I am freshly new enough in my role to not want to step on too many toes, piss off the "wrong" types of nurses, get "that" reputation. I  bring young babe to mama's chest, (hopefully, or certainly tried to...) soothed with quiet reassurance of her strong heartbeat and response to a rubdown by the nurse. The cord stayed intact, babe with mom gaining tone and crying lustily, before I fumbled a cord clamp on and gave a tearful dad instructions to cut the tough bond between the double clamps, and finally seeing the break for baby to be removed for "the things we do".

It was not the labor or birth that I imagine my midwife sisters in other settings witnessing... But in the same thread, not the same mama, the same support system, the same overhead model of care either. I long for the "just sit on your hands!" keep-out-of-where-you-don't-belong MOA that I've been taught, and yet haven't quite built up the courage to implement it in practice here. In the months and years to come, maybe there WILL be more tea, more swaying, more breathing and back rubs and foot massages; fewer epidurals and elective inductions, less fear if the "what if's".

And  - maybe - smaller clocks...

1 comment:

  1. I have been reading your blog over the last couple of days (not stalkerish, just applying to Frontier and wanting to read stories that can help mine!) and I just wanted to say that you remind me a lot of myself. Especially when I read the "it took 6 years to get an associates" part. I started laughing because that is SO me! Haha! I wanted to say that I think you are a pretty awesome woman, keep up the good work and I know you will fall right into the place where you belong. Thanks for sharing your story.