Most people have a “Testimonials” page for their business. I’ve decided to have a Bloopers, Flubs, and All-Around Mishaps page. I’m sure I’ll update this one often!
1) I chased a placenta down a hospital hallway. It was almost midnight and I hadn’t had anything to drink or eat since noon. The client asked me to take her placenta home so she could get it later. Staggering under the glaring lights, I walked into the hall holding my birth ball, doula bag, and odd tupperware-like container of placenta. I dropped the container which then rolled an enormous distance past the nurse’s station. I dropped my bag and ball and bounded like a toddler after the container much to the amusement of one OB and several nurses. Thankfully the container remained closed. Could have been a disaster.
2) I made up a story about marshmallows. I had a client who seemed to respond well to mental imagery during contractions. I was doing ok at first with the usual “Imagine you’re in the center of a field on a breezy day…” Then, after so many of those, I went blank. She was lying on white sheets with fluffy white pillows so I said something so embarrassing like “You’re climbing a mountain and when you get to the top, you realize you’re on the edge of a bowl of marshmallows. And you spread your arms and fall into them. Smell the powdery sugar.” And if the image wasn’t bad enough, the client followed a kosher diet and I couldn’t remember if marshmallows were kosher! It was awful.
3) I wiped meconium poop with one hand while eating chick-fil-a with the other. I was starving. And the glorious saint of a dad called his mother to bring me a chick-fil-a sandwich. It didn’t arrive until the mom was pushing so it got dropped in the shuffle. During the birth, my entire chest got covered with amniotic fluid. As soon as baby was breastfeeding, I grabbed my sandwich and started munching. Then baby pooped on mom’s hand. So, wearing a saturated shirt and with my half-eaten sandwich in one hand, I used my other hand to clean her up with wet wipes. A few years ago, that scene would have really bothered me.
4) At a homebirth, we ran out of ice so I threw a bag of frozen tater tots on the mama’s chest.
5) I called a client by the wrong name. Big oops. She was busy pushing, so I don’t know if she noticed. I’d never met her before. One of my clients birthed the night before this woman. A doula friend had two women in labor at the same time. So I agreed to rush to this birth. The mom was 8cm when I got there and moving quickly. In the excitement, I called her by the name of my client from the night before. I never addressed the mistake. She never mentioned it. If you’re reading this…I’m terribly sorry!
6) I dopped my phone in the tub while the mom was in it. And I had been talking to the midwife. I was trying to tell her to get to the birth quickly but dropped the phone before I could say that. Then I couldn’t find her number since I only had it programmed in my phone. The dad’s phone didn’t have it. Couldn’t find the mom’s phone. It was a mess.
7) I gave a woman poison ivy. When we realized she was going to birth in the floor instead of the tub, I ran to find something soft for the floor. I saw a fluffy comforter hanging over the stair railing. I grabbed it and threw it down under the mom. Little did I know, she had used that comforter to sit on for maternity pics in the woods. And little did I know, she was super sensitive to poison ivy. We all wondered at the itchy rash appearing on her legs postpartum. And spreading to the rest of her body. It took a few days to put it all together. Beware the postpartum poison ivy.
8 ) I took Cedar (22 months) to a postpartum visit. The mom was a repeat client and friend. She has a 2 year old. We thought it would be fine. A fun playdate. And it was. Until. Mom and I were talking all about home birth advocacy, changing the world, you know, the usual. Her mom senses triggered first. Where are the toddlers? We round the corner to find Cedar carrying the newborn. After mom and I recovered from our crazy adrenaline rush, we reconstructed the story from the 2 year old. He got the newborn out of the swing and then Cedar took the baby from there. I admit to teary eyes and weak knees after that mishap!
9) I showed up at a birth with my pants on backwards. I was at the couple’s home for several hours before I noticed.
10) I was the first to arrive at a homebirth. When I walked in, I noticed all the signs of labor: childbirth books open on the floor, half-eaten dinner on the table, hypnosis script playing, tub full of water. But I did not find signs of the couple. I searched every room in the house. Looked in the backyard and garage. Called out, “hellooooo?” Where were they? Ambulance transport? I called the midwife who was on her way and said, “What is going on??” She was as shocked as I was. Then the dad pokes his head down the stairs and waves. I hang up with the midwife and rush upstairs. And still couldn’t find them!! Turns out I was standing three feet away (twice!) but didn’t see them in a tiny space around a corner. P.S. she had her baby an hour after I walked in the house.
11) I found a placenta-of-unknown-origin in my freezer. At first, I thought it was a tiny roast. Then my six year old pointed out that it had an umbilical cord. Huh. And it was double-bagged. I don’t double-bag meat. Where did this placenta come from? So I posted on facebook (to my “birthy folk” list), “Is anyone missing a placenta?” Guess what? Within the hour, facebook had reunited this placenta with its owner. I had printed her placenta and must have been in a bit of a hurry during clean-up.
12) At a homebirth, the mom was deep in her hypnosis. I was pressing a warm rice sock on her lower back. I looked down to see rice spilling all over the carpet. It seems my stitches were less than precise. I had to use two ponytail holders to twist up the split seam. Thankfully, I remembered to remove the ponytail holders with their metal attachments before microwaving the sock. If I’m going to continue sewing my own rice socks, perhaps I should add a sewing kit to my doula bag.
13) In my Hypnobabies class, we were discussing perineal counter-pressure. At the end of the class, I reminded them of the birth rehearsal we would be doing the next week. I mentioned we would practice positions, techniques, and counter-pressure. Never noticing their uncomfortable faces, I continued on until a doula who was auditing my class (and had taken Hypnobabies for her own birth) interrupted, “What Julie means is we’ll practice counter-pressure on your lower BACK; not your perineum.” There was a collective, “Whew!” Right. Different counter-pressure altogether.
14) Not exactly *my* blooper but I can’t resist: A dad had been texting and calling to keep me updated about his wife’s labor progress. I was expecting to get the “come now” call any minute so I was dressed and ready. But the call never came. Finally, he called at the same time the midwife texted, “where are you??!!” Turns out dad had accidentally texted a different “Julie” on his contact list. He texted that “things are getting closer, filling the tub. You can come now.” Oh my! What that other Julie must have thought! Well, I high-tailed it over when I finally got the message and made it in time for the birth.
15) I attended a birth covered in itchy hives on my legs and torso! I didn’t have time to get my favorite chickweed salve Shoals Creek Farms and I certainly wasn’t going to take benadryl and try to doula. I did alright until the birth was over and then my mind went back to the itching!
16) I served a European family recently. I was deep in laborland with the birthing woman when she asked her midwife to get her heartburn medicine from the bathroom. The midwife had trouble finding it. Most of their products were in another language. After a few moments, the birthing woman murmured, “The name is Rennie.” I thought she was revealing the name of her soon-to-be-born son. Oh important moment! I said, “Oh I love it!” She said, “It’s spelled R-E-N-N-I-E.” I’m still daft and asked, “Does it have special meaning?” I’ll never forget the look she gave me. It hit me. It means “HEARTBURN.” Get the woman her heartburn medicine!
17) A couple wanted to welcome their baby with a specific song. This beautiful arrangement of “To Make You Feel My Love.” It was an amazing homebirth and baby was coming as the sun was rising. The timing was perfect. The couple welcomed their son into their arms with tears and I stepped back to just savor the moment. And then. And then the song ended. My ipod shuffled to the next song. And it was this song. I tripped over myself trying to get to the ipod to stop, stop, stop!!!
18) A witnessed blooper: At a homebirth filled with candles, a midwife apprentice lost her paper towel. Later, the dad, heading to the kitchen to refill mom’s water bottle, noticed the paper towel ON FIRE. He calmly scooped the fire into his hands and extinguished it in the kitchen. At that moment, the birthing woman reached for the cool cloth I had placed near her. She thought I had scented her cloth with some sort of campfire-smelling oil (and loved it!). And at that moment, the midwife apprentice smelled smoke. She stealthily searched the room for a possible fire. When she couldn’t find the source of the smell, she sat back down. Then the dad returned with a refilled bottle of water and the birth carried on. I was the only one who saw it all unfold and I could barely hold back the laughter.
19) I sleep talked. The dad called at 3:18am and I was deep in a dream. I answered the phone, “That is just the happiest sound to hear at 3am!” Um, ok. He proceeded to tell me that things were serious and I needed to come. I was still trying to figure out what was happening. I knew that I’d said something silly so I made it worse by trying to explain. “Oh so, when I answered the phone, I thought you were my parents. I was expecting a call from them to tell me to do something.” ?? He seriously doesn’t care because I hello…baby coming. Ok, I’m on my way. When I hung up the phone, my husband was like, “What in the world, Julie? Are you even awake?” Thankfully, this is the fourth birth call with this repeat client and he just rolled with it all.
20) I planned a romantic night with my husband at Embassy Suites. At 1:30am, a client called to tell me she was in labor. Um, I managed to forget to pack a bra. All I had was my pretty dress with a built in bra that I’d worn for the evening or a t-shirt and pair of jeans in my car. My house was in the opposite direction. So I roll into Walmart at 2am to buy the first bra I saw. I put it on in my car and it was a nursing bra! Oh well. Baby was born at 6am and I made it back to my hotel suite in time for the breakfast buffet.
21) I gave a three year old caffeinated jellybeans. It was a homebirth and an adorable three year old was curiously exploring my doula bag. She pulled everything out. And anything edible? Well, she ate it. My granola bars, my electrolyte gummies, my honey stinger wafers, and…it turns out…my caffeinated jellybeans. As we tucked the mama and her newborn in bed and said our good-byes, we were unintentionally leaving behind a caffeinated toddler. Oops!
22)I had a first time couple planning a hospital birth. Baby was in a terrible position and my client was having classic posterior early labor. Things had been intense for a bit and then contractions spaced to 10 min apart. I was in the area and decided to pop in to check on them. I was not prepared for a birth. I walk in and the energy shifted. It was very confusing. Did I mention she’d only been in labor a few hours, had a posterior baby, and it was her first? I called a midwife who lived nearby and asked if she’d come assess. Midwife was there in 7 min. My client was 9.5 cm! As I walked the midwife back to her car, I said, “um, I need your bra. I’m not wearing one”. Without hesitating, she removes her t-shirt bra…which I could only get on by taking my entire shirt off in this client’s front yard. I walk back inside and my client is full on pushing. She says she won’t make it to the hospital. I run outside and flag down the midwife. She comes back but says, “I’m gonna need my bra back.” Now it’s her turn to strip in the front yard. Inside the house, we evaluate and decide that we can probably get to the hospital in time. First baby and all. I walk the midwife out again…and well, gimme back the bra. For the third time, there’s someone stripping in the neighborhood. In the end, I got my client to the hospital in time while appropriately dressed. And birth is absurd and can do whatever the hell it wants.