Abeba came to the hospital as soon as her waters broke at home. This was her fourth baby, and her longest labour in her previous births was 3 hours. She felt confident birthing and she wanted a homebirth with her three sisters helping her, but as she had newly arrived in Australia from Ethiopia, funds were very tight and she could not afford an independent midwife.
As her Midwife at the hospital, I listened to her babies galloping heart beat and watched unobtrusively for a moment. I felt that at that point of time there was nothing I could do for her. She was very connected to her birthing body and was deep inside her self. I dared not break her space. I did not speak after that initial introduction until she called for me to be with her, right near her babies birth.
She laboured well, and powerfully. With each contraction she would swerve her hips and stamp her feet. She would roar loud Ethiopian words and turn and face her face to the sky, eyes closed.
She stood for her entire labour, which lasted about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
The Midwife-in-charge came storming in at one point 'just to check if everything is ok', and 'is she going to deliver soon?' I told her she was not needed at this time and I reassured her I would get her if need be. She looked at me as I was squatting on the floor behind Abeba while her body started to push.
“You will get a sore back if all of your deliveries are like this” she said as she scurried out of the door before I could reply. Abeba's husband looked at me and said 'is that a problem? Her standing? All her babies are born this way'. “No problem” I smiled. The next wave pulsated through her body and her babies beautiful head emerged at once. Lush, thick, wavy black hair and eyes that opened, wide and awake, staring at me, upside down.
“Welcome” I whispered
I felt Abeba push and her amazing baby slid into my arms. “Abeba, bebe” I said softly as I passed her to her mother. She kissed her baby and held her, still standing. About 10 minutes later she said ever so softly 'I’m finished', as her shiny, nourishing placenta was out, no longer needed for Abeba. She wanted to lie down to breastfeed. I didn't interfere, I just let baby attach herself to her mothers breast as I went to get Abeba a warm blanket and a hot cup of tea.
I felt empowered by Abeba's confidence and trust in her birthing and I will carry the story of Abeba and her bright eyed baby with me forever.