On Saturday afternoon, I was dropped off at a client's Co-op on the Downtown East Side. As I walked to their door, a nurse from the local InSite walked by and smiled at me, a man with a grocery cart full of his belongings rattled down the lane, and a siren began to wail.
Once I was inside the door, though, another series of sounds took over - the cry of a woman in labour with her first baby, the shouting and shrieking of children as they played in the Co-op playground out back, the unexpected rhythmic whirr of a push mower acting as sweet green music. I had entered a hidden oasis only a block from Hastings and Main. It was cool, calm and wonderful.
She laughed and asked if I could hear her from outside...
We added the sound of the fan to the mix, and helped her to move, rock, sway, stomp, go on tip-toes, shower. She became calm when I talked her through contractions. She was kind and gracious in labour, only snapping once as her husband came into the bedroom to ask if I'd like some lunch, while holding said food in his hand... "Out!" Yes, labour increases a woman's sense of smell!
With the sounds of children and the lawnmower and the woman and the fan blending together, all sense of time disappeared. We were outside of time. As the contractions became stronger, she became more and more calm, toning low and soft. She melted open.
One last time into the shower with the fan blowing steam out of the bathroom and cooling the air. Water spilled onto the floor. We heard her growling. We smiled. Her husband put his head down for one last moment of quiet.
Then we headed through the streets in my car, as she dozed in the back seat, head leaning on a homemade quilt which covered the birth ball. One contraction, two contractions. That's all she had in twenty minutes. She was in that quiet slow space before pushing...
Then, a hint of a sound like she wanted to push as we arrived at the hospital. 9+ centimetres!
And she rode upstairs and pushed and pushed and moved and worked, and never gave up, and then...more than 3 hours later...beautiful pink Josephine (named after her grandfather) arrived, head askew, looking up at her mum...born completely posterior!!! She called out in her sweet voice and cried to let everyone know that she had arrived.
What a day of sweet music!