“In and out like a fiddler’s elbow”

I laughed when I heard this expression on CBC radio this morning. It’s supposed to mean that you’re really busy. Well - that was me this week. It had started out quietly -

And then -

I attended three births in two days. But the crazy thing is that I didn’t get more than four hours sleep in 64 hours. People said I looked alert and I felt fine the entire time. 

I know that if I’d been at only one birth I would have fallen apart. But attending three births, each with their own special atmosphere, flavour, challenge and fun, seems to be what made the difference.

Challenging and fun it was!

It all began with another day of diversion at BC Women’s Hospital. It's a funny word, “diversion.” The dictionary definition is “an activity that diverts, amuses or stimulates.” Ha! Yes, it is certainly stimulating when the hospital is on diversion. In hospital-speak, diversion is when the hospital cannot accommodate a patient. That’s just fine when it’s a general hospital. You just wait. But labouring women can’t just wait. You get transferred or “diverted” to another hospital. On Wednesday, my client was sent to Royal Columbian Hospital. The next patient after her was sent to Ridge Meadows, the next to Victoria. It’s too upsetting to think about those other women.

Luckily, once my client arrived at RCH, she was given the top birthing room. She dubbed this “The Las Vegas Suite” because of the oversized bathtub smack in the middle of the room. Details aside, this was an amazing birth. She showed such strength and power, trusted me when I said “You are safe,” and pushed out a glorious 9lb 11oz baby boy.

When I returned home on Thursday at dinner time, I didn’t go straight to bed. I wanted to enjoy the evening. How silly of me. I was out again by 11pm, heading for a home birth. I was relaxed. I knew there would be no emotional struggle against the system, no worrying if there was room at the inn. We just had to honour the flow of labour.

Well, there was one moment of anxiety when my client worried that the baby might be born before her older child woke up. No need to worry, though - we had tucked her and the new babe into bed, cleaned up the house, and driven away before her daughter ran into the room. What a morning of discovery for the family!

Then, when I’d only been asleep for two hours -

Another call came in. A client needed an emergency induction. The self-described “pessimistic” obstetrician held out little hope for a vaginal birth. But, after only 9 hours of active labour, and “optimistic” heroics supplied by the family practice doctors, my client greeted her gift of a lifetime - a wide-eyed son. Not a small feat for a 43 year old single mum who had hardly dared to dream about this day.

I drove home at midnight. The nurses called out to me as I left the building, “Drive slowly!” “Be careful!” “Keep the windows down!” “Sing loudly!”

I thank them all for their care.