Amish America recently sent me a list of questions their readers submitted in response to an article about my book. Erik Wesner, the site’s editor, gave me permission to share a few here on my own site!
I thought I’d start with this one and fill in a bit more of the story.
“Are you ever too late and the baby’s already come??? I’m a volunteer emergency medical responder and once (I was called to a scene where) a lady’d just had a baby… I’ve never been more scared in my life! But considering I haven’t had kids of my own, I had no idea what to expect…”
It happens on occasion, though I work sooo hard to make it on time! I talk a LOT with my clients in regard to knowing when to call me as most missed births occur when the realization I ought to be called comes a mite late. But when I do miss a birth, it’s generally only by minutes and, thankfully, no one so far has suffered a poor outcome because of my tardiness.
Only once did EMS get called, and that was when another midwife’s client called far, far too late and in the midst of a wild March snowstorm. Being the other midwife’s client, she already lived a solid hour away from me on a good day. It took me two hours to get there, and then I discovered I’d been given wrong directions! I pounded on door after door before I finally stumbled through the right one, only to find the baby born and the mama ready to birth her placenta.
But EMS wasn’t officially called, now that I think of it—the paramedic who lived next door had been summoned. So, she was there, nervous and clearly relieved to welcome me inside. The paramedic went home, I received the placenta, tidied up the mess, and tended to the paperwork while mom and baby had a warm snack. Then I examined the baby, saw the mom to a shower and potty, tucked them away into bed, and fought my way back home through the ice and drifts.
Here’s what I didn’t put in my Amish America answer:
I actually had my son, Paul, then twelve, in tow that crazy night, too.
Brent, Paul’s dad and my husband, had died only seven weeks prior and we’d yet to learn how opposed he was to staying home alone. Hannah was away at a friend’s for the night and none of our near neighbors known to us were home or even close to home. Paul trailed me as I rushed to dress and dash out the door, begging me not to leave him.
Basically as a threat I said, “Paul, I HAVE to go! If you can’t stay home alone, you’ll have to come with me!”
“Okay, Mom! I’ll come!”
That stopped me in my tracks. “Whaa–?”
“I’ll come! What can I do? Should I take your stuff to the car?”
I blinked my eyes and shut my gaping mouth. The man on the telephone had told me his wife had been in labor forty-one hours already, and had been feeling like she could push for the last of those hours. They were Amish and I doubted they’d be happy to find I’d brought a boy along but, gosh, shouldn’t they have called sooner?
I smiled at Paul and said, “Yes, Honey, please take my gear out there. And start the van while you’re at it, will you?”
The next thing we knew, we were slipping along M-66 and Paul, fairly crackling with both relief and adrenaline said, “Okay, Mom! What are the prayer requests?”
I filled him in and he warmed my heart with a most thoughtful and sincere prayer, and then he kept me entertained with a steady stream of talk until we finally arrived in the right driveway.
I introduced myself to the Amishman who answered the door and said, “I’m sorry, but I had to bring my son.”
Paul brought in the gear and retired to wherever the Amishman banished him. When it was time to go, Paul repacked the car and talked to me all the way home.
When at last I’d slid and skittered back up the hill and into our driveway, I relaxed against my seat a minute and exhaled, worn thoroughly out by the excitement of the strange night.
And Paul turned to me, beaming, “Mom, wasn’t that just like a nice date?”
What a kid!
I had to laugh out loud at that, even as I began formulating a plan for remedying his fears.
Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
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