I love being on-call. Really, I do. I love when my doula clients enter into their "birth window" and I anticipate right along with them the imminent birth of their baby and the birth of their new family. It's magical, and transforming, and the balance of the world readjusts as babies make their way into this realm. The waiting can be fun, or nerve-wracking, frustrating or as expected. Ah, birth. The unpredictabilities of birth. (insert smug, nearly-naive smile here). So my next doula couple is due the end of November, and I'm actually NOT on-call for the first time in months. I wonder if I'll be called to the birth on Thanksgiving (which is fine, it's what I do, and I eagerly anticipate the chance to be a part of it no matter what day...), or if I'll be called to the birth on my son's 7th birthday, just one day before the couple is due. No matter, I'm ready! Ah, birth, the unpredictabilities of birth (same smile, here). As I'm preparing my last Birthing From Within class of the series during which we talk about how labor starts and what my couples can do to stay calm and comfortable, I highlight the question "When to go to your birthplace?" I prepare to tell my couples to wait it out at home as long as possible, to labor at home at least until their contractions are coming every 3-5 minutes for a couple of hours. At least that long, especially for first time moms. And I'm feeling pretty good about that piece of advice, knowing that if they go into the hospital to soon, they need to have quite a strong resolve against the medical support they wish to avoid. Also knowing that a 12 hour labor is average for first time moms, and I've had a tendency to attend rather l-o-n-g labors recently. Yeah, I'm feeling pretty good. **Ring, ring*** It's my cell phone, just minutes before I'm about to leave to teach my class. "Hi, Chris! It's Sarah. I'm holding my son!" Um, what? Wait...Sarah? My doula client, due the end of November? (It gets better....) "Yes, It's Sarah. My labor was so fast, I couldn't get to my birthplace in time! I had my baby unassisted at home. Labor was about 40 minutes long!" Serve me up slice of big humble pie! This client is proving me wrong as we are speaking! Wait, what happened to first time moms taking so long to labor? Like the ones I've seen, the ones I've attended, the ones I've experienced? What happened to contractions coming every 3-5 minutes for a couple of hours at least? What happened to being in labor for hours, waiting it out at home? Not to mention that this sweet baby decided to make his appearance more than 3 weeks early, not the one-week-past-due-date as most average first time babies do. I missed witnessing this babe's arrival. Baby and mama must have known that their first introduction was a special moment meant just for the two of them to revel in. I'm beyond thrilled for Sarah, and her voice glows as she recounts her birth story.
And as I listen, I'm reminded what an incredible learning journey this is, and I tell my mama how she is teaching me. All births are different, first time moms are no exception, and a mama *knows* how to birth her baby just as she knows when to go to her birthplace. I get out my eraser and immediately revised my teaching plan for the night. Ah, birth. The unpredictabilities of birth :)