Tonight, I finished up an eight-part class series with six couples, several of whom are due with their first babies any day now.
In fact, one of those couples, who initially doubted whether or not they’d make it to their due date secondary to early labor signs several weeks ago, were in early labor while attending class tonight.
It really was a remarkable thing; it was remarkable not because the woman was in labor, and not because she’d made it to her due date (lots of us make it to and beyond our due dates much to our surprise or chagrin). It was remarkable because of how she handled things.
This woman, strong in constitution, smart, calm and prepared, who very easily could have bagged out on our final class meeting tonight, chose to come to class with her husband to keep her mind busy and stay engaged in normal activities. And, by making this choice, she avoided heading to the hospital too soon where she would have been much more likely to undergo a variety of medical interventions that the couple hoped to avoid, and even more importantly, she allowed herself–the two of them, as a couple–a nice, gradual start to their baby’s birth.
And here was the really cool thing: the other couples in the room were all aware of her early labor status as well. As calmly as she conducted herself (not reserved. not hiding anything. not masking. just calm) everyone else in the room was aware when she was having a contraction. Eyes gently meandered her way, observed her for a few moments and let it sink in: this woman is in labor and she’s doing fine. Her being there tonight was such a gift to every other person in that room. The other couples had the chance to see one of their cohorts entering the process they’d all spent weeks collectively preparing for, and see her doing it incredibly well.
At the start of the two hour class, the woman was laboring easily with contractions coming six minutes apart. Two hours later, she was becoming more uncomfortable with the strength of the contractions that were then four minutes apart. She was moving from early to active labor and totally rocking it!
By the end of class, the couple was ready to leave. She was ready to head home, soak in some of her own comfortable environment, visit her dogs, collect her belongings, and think about heading up to the hospital. She had already called her doula with the heads up.
I can’t wait to hear how things have transpired.
I hope, some day, this woman, this couple, will understand what a true gift their presence was for the rest of our class tonight (myself included). In my four years of teaching childbirth preparation classes, it was the first time I have had a couple in labor during class. (Did I mention a second couple looked as if they, too, were entering early labor by the end of class? Oh, the birth energy was flowing tonight! Anyone catch a reading on the barometric pressure?)