18 April 2006

Now THIS is a Birthstory!

My midwife (now I consider her my mentor, idol, and friend) just emailed me a pretty amazing story that I just have to pass along. I'm editing portions to protect the innocent... well not innocent... just working where it happens to be illegal to catch babies as a foreigner.

Here's the story:
Two weeks ago I had a pretty amazing experience!

Three days before, I had received an email from "H", a Japanese man with a Thai wife, "B". He wrote


I am a Japanese living in Bangkok, and my Thai wife is expecting childbirth around Apr. 15 (now in 38th week). We have been interested in homebirth since the start of the conception and have been preparing for it. But we have not been able to find anybody giving us the professional technical assistance so far and are at a loss what to do. I am wondering if somebody has any information or local acquaintances that could help us. We take the regular check-ups at "X" Hospital, but mother and baby both being healthy, and we want to have the delivery either at 1) our Bangkok apartment (18sqm small concrete room), 2) my wife’s grandmother’s house in Petchaburi Province (big wooden house), or 3) any wooden house suitable for the image of natural birth.

Thanks in advance"

I emailed back and told him that I was a midwife, but legally not able to work in Bangkok, and that I doubted that he would find anyone who would be willing to help with a home birth (bearing in mind that I hear from them for the first time two weeks before the due date....) but that I would be happy to help them to prepare for (unassisted) home birth if that was what they wanted. Yes, they did - so I arranged to meet him at On Nut BTS on Thursday, and that I would teach them a crash prenatal course.

On Tuesday night at 11.30 pm "H" called to say that there had been "some blood, and contractions 15 - 20 minutes apart". I told him that she had a long way to go, and that it could be false labour. I also told him that I had heard that "X" Hospital, where they had been having prenatal care, had a good nurse in the labour ward. I didn't sleep much wondering about them, and felt vaguely guilty for not being more helpful - but I had never seen them, I did not know her pregnancy history - the baby could have been breech for all I knew...... (And you know that I only accept clients I consider to be 'low risk' for home birth.)

At 6.30am the phone rang again, and a very distraught "H" was saying "What do I do? What do I do? There is something coming out". Then I heard "B" scream and the phone went dead. I waited. And I got dressed and got my Goodie bag. 10 minutes later he called back, sounding pretty hassled. "H., would you like me to come?", I couldn't help myself from asking, with the response "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

Their place was hard to find. A long way from the main road down lots of little sois. [sois are Thai sidestreets] My lovely husband drove me, muttering on the way about his insane (but caring) wife. After taking a wrong turn and then reversing 50 metres down a narrow lane with no place to turn, we finally stumbled upon a Thai-style very basic apartment building.

I walked up three flights of stairs with my clobber, and entered an intense situation of a very frightened young girl about to give birth, and a husband who bowed about a dozen times with relief when he saw me. "B" was tiny and tight, but about an hour later, I caught her baby girl who cried lustily as she greeted the World. Her mother did not tear, did not bleed excessively, and was the perfect patient. We all cried.

After the placenta was delivered and the tiny baby (just 2.4kg - 5lbs 5oz) was suckling, we all introduced our selves, shook hands, bowed and wai-ed. [Wai is a Thai bow]

It was such a strange experience. As it turned out, they had prepared nothing. Not even a diaper or blanket for the baby, and no pads for the new mom. They live in an 18 square metre apartment, and you really couldn't swing a cat in it, (even if you wanted to...) - just a 3/4 mattress on the floor, a chair, a desk, a toilet and shower and basin, and, of course, a TV and computer! No kitchen, no sink, no stove.

But it really was a beautiful birth. I don't know why we have to make birth so complicated and difficult.

I called back to see them in the afternoon, weighed the baby and donated a couple of blankets and little shirts. "H" was effusive with his bows, and paid me more than I wanted. I gave him half back and told him to go shopping for his baby!

I love my life.

My favorite sentence of this whole story is: "I don't know why we have to make birth so complicated and difficult." This is so true. The body was designed to birth a baby. Why does society have to mess with it and make it scary, full of fear, and technical? Birth is such an amazing, spiritual event!

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At 8:26 PM, Blogger Sib said...

Great story...I enjoyed reading that! -Em


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