It’s been a wild month at hospitals in Canada. At BC Women’s Hospital alone, there were 1000 expected births, with 500 being the norm. You could attribute the increase to the effects of the moon or the sun, or you could put it down to the NHL strike. Who knows! But on Wednesday of this week, all hospitals west of Saskatoon were on diversion, which means there were NO BEDS ANYWHERE!
There I was, early Wednesday evening, at a client’s house. She was getting deep into her labour, so I had called her doctor just to give her a “heads-up.” She told me something I didn't want to hear.
"Did you hear what’s going on at the hospital today?
They’re air-lifting women to Saskatoon! "
Yikes! I needed a game plan. We were facing minimal staffing at the hospital, no labour beds, and no postpartum beds. The most we could hope for was a bed to birth in if we arrived at full dilation. No epidural, no augmentation, no high tech. Luckily, my client had been hoping for a natural labour. Heck - there was no other option today.
I silently called for wisdom and calm.
It’s interesting what the mind and body can do when faced with clearly defined boundaries. Quietly, I told my client what needed to happen. She needed to be relaxed and open, and to fully surrender to the rhythm of the labour for it to proceed swiftly and easily. We envisioned a smooth, graceful birth. Lying on her side, with my hand circling her lower back to induce a trance, my client became totally focused. She listened to her body and her baby, moving to the shower then the bath, then to standing. She swayed and rocked and stayed in the moment. Her labour progressed so quickly that it was less than two hours before I knew that this baby was coming soon.
I called the doctor once again.
"The dust is settling. We may have a room. I’m working on it."
It was a beautiful night. We drove through the busy streets to the hospital. As we walked into the hospital I saw another doula who said, incredulously...
"You got a room?!"
We got a room. The only room.
My client pushed standing, then kneeling. That baby boy came so beautifully. So many joyful tears. Afterwards, I called my daughter.
"She had the birth I would wish for you."
Funny that when there are no options available, you must make do - and you do very well.
And we did very well again on Friday - another client, same scenario at the hospital - no beds, no meds - and another beautiful boy was born simply and gracefully. Wow - I love how women and babies are able to rise to the occasion.