Continued from Monday… Read Part One
I slept till Kerman awakened me just prior to dawn, Sunday morning, November 15th. He told me Armanda’s waters had broken when she “stood up” – Amish talk for waking up in the morning – and had been “walking” – or leaking – ever since. I hung up and sprang for the door. Armanda’s labors usually began with a breaking of her waters, and, aside from her first labor, were short. Armanda’s last labor had been an hour and seventeen minutes. I raced through a misty sunrise, arriving within the community just in time to pass streams of horse-drawn buggies clop-clopping along to church services. The sight and sound sent two decades of memories rushing over me, and I had an urge to pull over and snap a quick photograph, but I pressed on.
An hour after I’d departed, I made it into the driveway, grabbed up my ungainly bags of gear, and staggered toward the house, hoping with all my heart I’d arrived in time. I knew I had when Armanda herself greeted me at the door with her signature cheery laugh and an, “Well, Kim, What do you think? I just doesn’t seem to want to go on!” I was happy I’d made it, but surprised to learn she hadn’t had more than a few cramps yet. I was further surprised, and disappointed to boot, to discover the child within her was just as high as it had been the day before. But the baby sounded good, the only thing “walking” from Armanda was a trickle of clear waters, and we weren’t in the hospital, so we all together decided to be grateful for those things as we hunkered down to wait for Armanda’s labor to begin.
And then we waited all day long. Heather and I did our best to be invisible, reading and knitting and napping in various obscure corners, and even outdoors, but Armanda and Kerman are so wonderfully friendly that we wound up visiting through most of the morning. In the afternoon we slipped away to Centreville, knowing things were more likely to get going in our absence. We sat at the McDonald’s on pins and needles, every moment expecting a summons to return, but we expected in vain, and the wait grew increasingly stale. We returned to Armanda’s toward suppertime, and were happy to learn they’d been on the edge of calling. While we were gone the two had eaten, napped, and, upon arising, Armanda had decided to try a bit of nipple stimulation. Her cramps were just beginning to settle into something of a rhythm. We encouraged her to continue with the stimulation, and soon she was pacing the floor with ever-strengthening contractions.
And then she went to sit a spell on the pot – and she filled it with a fresh measure of blood. Armanda hopped right over to the birthing stool where I listened to the baby’s heartbeat and made an assessment of her cervix. The babe sounded great, but Armanda was a mere four to five centimeters dilated, with that little head nearly out of reach. Squatting in silence before them on the floor, watching the bright droplets form, hang, then splatter onto the pad. I felt certain in my heart all was well, and that all would be well – while knowing without a doubt I had to take them back to the hospital.
We made our return exactly twenty-four hours from our departure the night before, and we were grateful to find the same set of staff members in attendance. All was as it had been at home, minus contractions – those had stopped virtually the moment Armanda spied the swirl of scarlet in the stool – and, as before, the bleeding had ceased during the transport, and the baby was stable. In light of those happy facts, Armanda and Kerman expressed a desire to sleep a little while. The staff acquiesced, so Armanda tucked herself away in the bed, Kerman stretched out in the recliner, and I curled into a corner of Armanda’s room. Heather, exhausted and queasy with her own early pregnancy, and with a houseful of children needing her besides, decided she’d better go. Around midnight the nurse-midwife started Armanda with a light dose of pitocin through Armanda’s IV, then, every hour or so, she increased it a mite. At five-thirty in the morning, Armanda said, “Oh, I feel that!” She stood to her feet next the bed just as the nurse-midwife re-entered the room. Armanda had a contraction, then asked if I would fetch my birthing stool. The nurse-midwife said she thought I’d miss the birth if I left the room. Armanda said, “Oh, do you think so?” Armanda had another contraction, then said she thought she needed to use the toilet. I told her I thought she’d likely have her baby on the toilet if she went into the bathroom. Armanda said, “Oh my!” and laughed her endearing laugh. Kerman pulled a chair up behind her and helped her into a something of a squat, and Armanda pressed her hands upon her knees, had two strong contractions, and the nurse-midwife lifted a rosy, wailing baby girl into Armanda’s embrace. “Oh!” Armanda said as she clutched her baby to her breast and clambered back up onto the bed, “Oh, my! Oh, my!” and then she laughed and laughed and laughed until we all joined in her laughter.
The placenta came and was set aside, cord uncut, as Armanda and Kerman desired, and from there we were left to ourselves. I drew the sample of blood we needed from the baby’s cord – how we hoped she was disease free! And two hours later, when the sweet thing was finished nursing, I cut her cord and weighed her. She was only six and a half pounds, and looked for all the world like a 38 weeker. I examined the placenta, curious to see what I’d find, and, sure enough, discovered a thick clot of blood firmly attached to a full third of its rim. Yes, almost certainly a partial abruption. I felt all the more grateful for the wonderfully simple outcome we’d enjoyed, even if we were at the hospital instead of in Armanda’s home. I took my leave then, receiving a squeeze from Armanda and a hearty pump of the hand from Kerman. I stopped by Kerman’s workshop to deliver the blood sample to his father on my way from the area – he’d have it off in the mail within the hour – and it dawned on me as I drove, that this baby was the 500th baby I’d been able to help welcome into the light of day.
The baby was given a most beautiful name, I wish I could tell it to you, it was so beautiful and apt! The entire family was together at home by bedtime, and the next evening, the lab in Pennsylvania called to issue the child a clean bill of health.
Kim Woodard Osterholzer
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As before, the names of these precious folk have been changed, and the farmhouse belongs to another family entirely.
Photo taken by Kim Woodard Osterholzer
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Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
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