Note: I started this post a few days ago.....I don't have nearly the memory I used to have and therefore you will see that there is a point where I shorten the story and, ahem, get to the point.
I finally made it to a birth. The last actual, live birth I was there for was my dear friend C.'s last baby boy born 7 years ago.
I watch a lot of birth videos. I see a lot of pictures. But to actually be there as one of God's new beings enters this world and leaves the warmth and comfort of his mother's womb is truly amazing.
I got the call around 3pm that my help was needed. The midwife I work with has two other assistants and neither of them were available. I made a bunch of phone calls to find someone responsible and suitable to watch my children and finally arrived at The Victorian House (our country doctor clinic in rural midwest, where the MD lives in the upstairs of the house with her family and the first floor is her office/clinc/birthing center, etc.) around 5pm to help with the delivery.
The mother, R., was so calm I wasn't even sure she was in labor. Her husband, E., was a little restless, feeling like maybe he should have stayed home to do chores. This was not my first experience with the Amish community, but it was my first birth with them. Eventually E ended up going out and push-mowing the lawn. We all, including his wife, found it amusing.
R's contractions seemed to pick up. I spent my time rubbing her lower back during them and then talking with her between them. We all had a good chuckle at E outside with the push mower. She told me about her other children. She had 6 girls and 4 boys at home. I saw in her chart that this was her 13th pregnancy and 2 of her children had been called back to God before she got a chance to meet them.
We were all wondering out loud if the baby would be a boy or girl. I have so far only helped with girl babies. All the newborn exams and home visits I've done have been with girls. My teacher, C., said that if R wanted a boy I better leave. :)
C decided we better get set up as it really seemed that the baby would be here soon. R's contractions were getting stronger and she was feeling pushy. I went outside to call E in. I kept rubbing R's back as C got us set up for the birth, bringing out a bin to catch the placenta, warm blankets for the baby, sterile sissors to clamp and cut the cord, absorbant pads to lay under R, the birth chair (should R want to use it), and some towels.
R decided to change into her house coat, which is like a robe, in between contractions. E was supporting her and holding her hand. C and I finished setting everything up and R was standing and pushing while leaning up against the wall. We moved some pads under her and thought maybe C'd catch the baby right there. But between the next two contractions, we all helped R move onto the birth chair.
The strength of this woman was really something to behold.
Long story short (this is where I am starting again), there is a new baby girl. She was out in 7 minutes flat. She is the 11th baby in the family, the 7th girl. Her name is Kathryn, and she has the longest and thickest hair I have ever seen on a baby. She is a strong nurser and is loved dearly by her parents. She has Down Syndrome.
My thoughts as I drove R home with her new baby daughter (C stayed behind to do paperwork and E took the buggy home a little earlier) were that God gave this family, and this baby, a wonderful blessing. He knew that if this baby was born to this family she would live and be loved. Her parents would accept her, their role in His plan, and her role in their lives.
Had she been given to a different set of parents, things could have ended differently. I'm not saying that they FOR SURE would have, but very possibly. If a "modern"-type couple had conceived this child and had opted for the most state-of-the-art testing now recommended for all pregnant women the chances of this baby even surviving past 20 weeks gestation in the safety of her mother's womb would have been around 10% (90% of parents who are told their unborn child has Down Syndrome choose to kill their baby).
And did I mention she is the cutest baby? Seriously. I could die from the big squishy lovefest that is her cheeks.