I had just dozed off when I got the call from Tracy. "It's time, the contractions are pretty regular, six or so minutes apart" It wasn't a surprise - I had received the warning call an hour or two earlier and I already had packed my little survival bag - extra socks and a long sleeved shirt ( laboring moms can get hot, so they often like to have the room temp pretty cool) snacks to stabilize my blood sugar, and gum, since we'll be in close contact. My midwife bag was always in the car, ready to go.
Tracy told me she wanted things low key and she wondered if I could come alone. I told her that since the closest medical help was an hour away, I would feel better if my both Deborah and Belle were there. I told her that we would only come into the room when she wanted us, or when necessary. I told her that she'd appreciate their help when it came time to birth the placenta and move from the pool to the bed with her new baby. And she was good with that.She just wasn't ready for the troupes right now. As we ended the call, I told her I was glad that her baby would come tonight.
I got dressed and went into the kitchen. The kitchen always seems extra cozy when just about all of the world is asleep. Even the horses next door were quiet. I called Deborah and Belle- they would be on their way.I made a cup of tea, and my husband came in and packed a few extras for me, as is his usual routine. He gave me a sleepy kiss and I was on my way.
I drove down the lane and under the cottonwoods, and onto the little 2 lane highway. Tracy lived in a nearby ranching community, and as I drove ,it felt like just me and the Arizona landscape that I love so well, all lit up by a big moon. I never really mind working at night.I reflected on the fact that Tracy had reported contractions six minutes apart, but during our 5 minute conversation she'd had 2. That would be just like Tracy to under play. No drama for her.
It was easy to find Tracy and Kenny's house in the dark. I passed only a couple of houses on my way, and their's was the first house with a light on.
I was greeted by the family's hound dogs- Kenny came out to hold Miss Sunshine back. He showed me into the kitchen where 3 cups had been set out on the counter. He didn't have to show me the coffee percolating in a blue enamel pot on the stove- the aroma led the way. But as I entered the kitchen, that scent mingled with the heavenly fragrance of warm ripe peaches. The kitchen island was covered with them , and with produce from the family garden - chiles, tomatoes, squash, mmm. It smelled wonderful.
I turned to take my bag into the bedroom, and only when I heard her voice softly say, "Hi, Paula" did I realize that Tracy was there, laboring quietly in the low light cast from the kitchen into the living room. I was happy that Kenny had quickly dropped the host courtesies to kneel beside Tracy as a contraction came on. She made no sound, but indicated the contraction by looking at Kenny, then looking down.He was rubbing her lower back with a ball, and it was easy to see that they didn't need to exchange words. They were completely tuned in to each other as they worked quietly together.
After a couple of contractions we went into the bedroom, and checked on Tracy's progress. She was 6 to 7 centimeters open - well on her way. And the baby's heart tones were strong and regular. "Can I get into the pool now?" Tracy asked. Kenny told me it was all set up, I only needed to turn on the water at the water heater. So I did that. She got into the pool, and I settled at the kitchen table with my paper work and a cup of coffee. I looked around at the country style surroundings and the animal skins over the curtain rod, the deer antler hat rack. It felt very comfortable and warm there-- unless you're a fox!
Tracy and Kenny had intended to send the older 3 children, Lena-May, Tucker, and Samuel, to her sister's home but had decided that they could stay in the tent that they had set up in the yard outside. Kenny was keeping a small walkie-talkie handy and periodically one of the children would report in, "Samuel is still awake." "Sister is awake." They were trying to be calm and doing a very good job, but that's hard to do when your baby brother is about to arrive!
All was quiet in the little house. After a while a car drove up. Kenny came to the door to hold onto Miss Sunshine, and then he went quickly back to Tracy's side. Deborah and Belle came in. I showed them how I had set the intruments and equipment up on the kithcen table, not wanting to disturb Tracy and Kenny. They peeked through the door to say "hi" to Tracy, and then we three settled around the kitchen table, quietly talking about our day. Every 15 minutes or so, one of us would go in and listen to heart tones. Although Tracy made no sound, even from the kitchen it was clear that what they were doing was working and that she was progressing well. At one point I heard a slight sound of a mom ready to be sick. I started into the large bathroom where the pool was set up, to help. As I opened the door, I saw that Kenney was on it. Tracy looked up and I read her eyes to tell me she needed her privacy more than she needed my help- Kenny had it covered for her.
After a few minutes I went in to check heart tones. Tracy said to me, "Paula I realize that I'm scared" I asked her what it was that she was most afraid of. She said, " I really don't like to push. I don't want to push" And I responded, "Well ,then, don't push." I told her that she didn't have to. That at home we don't need to do a lot of forceful pushing. The baby would come out by just the natural forces of labor, if that was what she preferred. Tracy looked at me like she wasn't sure if she bought it, but, okay.
I went back into the kitchen and a few minutes later I heard the first very slight hint of a labor moan. I felt that Tracy might be nearing full dilation. I waited until the next and when I heard another gentle moan I went in to listen again. Another moan and I walked around the tub. I thought I might see one of the external signs of complete dilation, such as a red line to the base of her spine, or a bit of blood in the water. I looked and uttered a very surprised, "Oh!" as I saw a large bubble of amniotic bag, which on closer look had a sweet little baby's head inside. I asked Kenny, "Did you want to catch the baby?" He said, "No I think I should stay here where she needs me." I believe he was surprised, too when I bent down and told Tracy she needed to birth the baby's body now. I said "One push, Tracy" And as she said, "I don't want to", her baby slid gently into my hands. At that very moment, Deborah and Belle quietly entered the room. The baby was still in the veil, covered to his navel. I lifted it off him and over his back- it was a strong bag! Belle and Deborah helped Tracy to turn her body over the umbilical cord and to sit, as she recieved her baby into her own hands. She smiled, and Kenney gave a little chuckle as Deborah and Belle and I backed a few steps away to give them some space. There were a couple of photos taken. This looked to be nice sized little guy with such a perfect round head and face! Beautiful Boy! Quiet, and taking it all in.
After Tracy stood to deliver her placenta, we tucked them in to bed with a snack. With mama all cleaned up, the rest of the kidlets were invited to meet their new little brother. Samuel, the next youngest, hid his head on Daddy's shoulder, looking pretty unimpressed. He was overwhelmed at the sight of 3 women in mom and dad's bedroom at 1:00 am. But he warmed up a little as we did the baby exam. The siblings enjoyed that part, and new Baby Kenney happily sucked his thumb.
Deborah and Belle and I gave our congratulation hugs to the new family and gave Baby Kenney our welcome to the world. It was a good night. We left feeling job satisfaction that I am sure is rare in this world. Coming home in the quiet of the wee morning hours, slipping into our warm beds, we each gave thanks for the gift of meeting new life.