Denise has herself been a student midwife, and now holds a bachelors degree in holistic health care. The first birth I attended with her occurred in Massachusetts, outside of Boston. I flew up close to her due date, and stayed for a week. She usually carries her babies to 41 weeks, so we were sweating it a little when 41 week mark came and went, worried that I would have to extend my trip and buy a new plane ticket, but labor came at 41 weeks and 2 days.
Denise had invited two of her friends from midwifery class to attend, as assistants/doulas and it was actually the first birth I ever attended with the help of an assistant (which was bliss, and I have never attended one alone since). This was her fourth child, first homebirth. Her labor started slow and easy, progressed in a textbook manner, she felt pushy, climbed on the bed and pushed a couple of times and out slid a beautiful baby girl (if you ask her son, who was around 4 at the time, he will tell you that she just JUMPED out of his mom's crotch). The only thing even slightly out of the ordinary was her partner Pete, who was slightly squeamish passed out shortly after the placenta delivered. I still give him a hard time about that. The birth was perfectly textbook, about 12 hours from start to finish. Lovely, normal postpartum, lovely normal newborn in the 7ish lb range.
About 4 months after after that sweet baby girl, Nova, was born, Denise and her family moved south to the city I lived in, with plans that when her baby was older, she would begin to attend births with me. Denise and I had been great friends for a long time prior to that birth, I think we knew each other when we were planning the births of our now 10 year-olds. Before she could get Nova weaned and be ready to work with me, she became pregnant again.
At precisely 40 weeks, a little earlier than Denise's norm, labor began. We expected things to progress along the same lines. While the early and middle parts of the labor went very much the same way as the first, transition this time was hard. Denise spent hours at 9 centimeters. I have no real understanding of exactly why it happened, but it was hard. Hard for her, hour after hour, being told "I know it hurts" and "No, I don't know why it is taking so long, but you both are fine". Hard for me to see my dear friend suffering, knowing there was little I could do to help her, but to trust birth and trust her strength. She never gave in, she kept fighting the hard transition fight, until finally, after 6 hours of incredibly intense end stage labor, with a roar and two hard, unexpected, spontaneous, pushes, another sweet baby girl was born, caught by her mother's own loving hands. This baby DID actually jump right out of her crotch. I didn't even have time to put on gloves. She had a very short cord, and I suspect this was the reason for the slow descent, but we will never really know. Lola was almost a carbon copy of her sister, a bit heavier, but they could literally pass for twins at birth.
This last birth was an exercise of shooting from the hip. This was a surprise pregnancy, She has moved, and I have since relocated my midwifery practice to Southern West Virginia, so we have a considerable distance between us. Denise is nearly 40 and not was feeling as fit or healthy as she has in the past. Certain health issues created minor hiccups in the course of prenatal care, and all along, Denise considered the strong possibility that she might have this baby in the hospital. Part of it being realistic, and I think part of it was her fear of transition. The stars aligned, and I found myself nearby during the holidays. Denise was still not 100% committed, but willing to see what happens, the plans were made for me to hang out, and for Denise, her partner and her beautiful 19 year old daughter Amber to rock this last birth out. The thought of Amber catching the baby made us all excited and proud, proud of the deep trust that this young woman has now in birth and the power of love and life.
The labor began at 41 weeks and change, and was relatively quick, judging by her earlier patterns. About 4 hours of active labor, and about 6 pushes, and handsome little David slipped into the world, with a blonde fauxhawke and looking as adorable as his older sisters. Things got a wee bit hairy at the end, but the family performed amazingly. Over all, this birth was perfect. A perfect end to an era of creating wonderful little people to populate the earth with their wit and wisdom, the wisdom passed on to them through their mother and father, their loving brothers and sister, their connectedness as a family. I am proud and honored to have been a part of the creation and evolution of this family.
I love you Denise and Pete You are great parents.