Since Mid-December, I have been picking up night shifts on the maternity ward. We've decided to plan for one 12-hour shift a week. And to be honest, one is all I can handle while balancing my time with the kids and running my home business. I know I am not very old, but night shifts hit me differently than they used to, and it takes a couple of days to feel fully myself again.
All that aside, I love being back in the maternity-world of birthing and babies. Every birth is an exquisite miracle, again and again. I never get bored.
On my first shift back, we had a birth that started in tragedy. An older women, in her 40's, called in with some concerns. She had woken up to use the washroom and suddenly saw blood. Her due date was just around the corner, and she was starting to have mild contractions. Our triage nurse asked her to come in right away so we could make sure everything was alright.
About 15 minutes later, we received a phone call from an ambulance attendant. He reported that a car had slid on the icy-snowy roads and into the ditch. The woman inside was pregnant and afraid and said she was on the way to the hospital. She couldn't feel her baby moving and was in turmoil over the accident.
They brought her in immediately and she was sobbing. I received her into room 4 and quickly moved her into a bed. She kept asking over and over, "please, my baby. I need to hear my baby!" I grabbed the external fetal monitor to find a heartbeat. My hands were shaking and my heart felt twisted into a knot of grief. Tears were running down her face, her husband's face, MY face. It was emotional to say the least.
Suddenly, we heard it. The clear, cheerful tap of her baby's heart. She was perfectly fine, safe and secure inside the cozy walls of the womb, tucked away and kept from harm. The relief was audible as we let out pent-up collective breath and gave thanks in our hearts. And it turned out the blood was merely pre-labour preparation, and she was well into her 1st stage of childbirth, rounding the corner toward the moment when she would hold her baby in her arms.
In that moment of waiting, I remember thinking about the poignant promise held in the hope for a baby. There is nothing like it. The fresh spark that a new life is coming, a clean-slated soul, wide open to take in the world, to reveal once again, the grace-filled beginning of humanity. It is the first step to adulthood. The innocent other and sun-side of the cycle, the illumination of the shadow.
I read a quote once, "babies are such a nice way to start people". I love that. And I find that being in close contact with the "start" of us, keeps me hopeful about humanity. Somehow I am given these glimpses into how a crusty-cranky old man starts out. He is, inside it all, a suckling pinkness, soft and round, and the absolute fulfillment of someone's desire.
We are knit in love, strand by strand, in the pulsing warmth of womb. And then we enter, close-lidded and dramatic, in a heaving push of relief. There are no ordinary births. Just miracles everytime.