Room 8

Was it just this week that I attended two labours in Room 8 at BC Women’s? Was it just this week that my daughter came with me for the first time to attend a birth?

Midnight on New Year’s Eve came while we were in the assessment room, during a contraction. Nurses blew horns while my client laboured. The nurses station was laid out with food. It was surreal.

Throughout the labour, my daughter held the space like women did a long time ago - knitting, crossed-legged, low to the ground - bearing witness to this sacred event.

Eighteen hours later, after many challenges and hard decisions, Samantha was born - all 9lb6oz of her. The sound of her mother’s voice the next morning will remain in my memory - “She’s beautiful! I feel wonderful! You should see her!”

Then, the next day, another client, 4+ days after her water broke, agreed to an induction of labour. The telemetry monitor afforded her great freedom of movement - to the shower, walking, leaning, kneeling on the same mat on the floor where my daughter had been knitting - as she danced the baby through her pelvis.

After another day and a half of unflagging effort from mum, and the loving support of her partner, midwife, nurses, and doula, she decided that the obstetrician needed to help her baby find a way out. And 10lb Thomas was born.

Two bonnie babies - two cesareans. Two new mums who need to be reassured that they made the best decisions that they could on the day, that they used the tools at hand effectively and wisely, that they can still trust their bodies and their babies.

The cesarean rate at the hospital was 37% for this past month (December 2006.) Typically, my clients’ yearly cesarean rate is 10-15%. In the past month I’ve attended 6 births - 1 at home (8lb), 1 quickly at hospital (7lb4oz), 1 forceps birth (9lb6oz), 3 cesarean births (8lb11oz, 9lb6oz, 10lb.) Can we draw any conclusions from these numbers? You might think so, but I really don’t know. Each labour is so different. Each baby comes out exactly the way he or she is meant to - to fit their personality and life path. We can do everything in our power to keep birth simple, calm, and wise, but ultimately, we must bow to the baby’s wisdom and honour their messages.

As parents, listening to our children and respecting their needs can never start too soon.