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CPR Series: Birth in the Time of Covid

CPR: Context, Purpose, Results

I had a baby girl in 2022. It was my third, so I knew the ropes, but it was different because of all the pandemic protocols. Every appointment, ultrasound, and ER visit, like everything else in life, was alone in isolation. I accepted it as a fact of life and took it with as much grace as a very pregnant woman is able. (Don’t quote me on that).

The one policy that got my fur up like nothing else was the expectation to wear a mask during labour. I don’t mean, hello how are you, lets get your health information confirmed, I mean, feet in stirrups, bearing down in a full-bodied demonstration of nature and miracle merging and GIVING BIRTH.

This spurred a “nuh-uh, no way, hold my breath until I am blue” tantrum that would make my four-year-old blush. To me this policy was an indignity in an extraordinarily vulnerable situation, and I was having none of it. I did have the presence of mind to know that it didn’t matter if I felt righteous. If I went in guns blazing, I knew I would conjure the less-friendly disciple of Nurse Ratched’s school of bedside care as my attendant.

Let’s pause for a moment. I’m sure we have all been there at some point where the voice of resistance is screaming ‘you can’t make me!’ so loud it overrides all logic and capability of having a rational discussion. What are we going to do about it? How are we going to get to the point where big-girl panties are on and ready to do some adulting?

I reached out to my friend and said, “I really really need a CPR.” And that’s what we did over tea on her porch. My results were all about the tone of the room. How did I want to be and express myself? I wrote that I wanted mutual respect in all my interactions with staff and that I was able to find moments of humour and levity. My context was ‘this is a sacred birth’. No matter the curveballs, the attitudes, the egos in the room, I was not going to forget that this was only about bringing my daughter into the world. The rest were details.

Once I had the CPR written down, a sense of peace and calm came over me. Instead of Nurse Protocols & Rules, I got Lacey, (called in on her day off) who was pregnant with her second child and within minutes after the intake she said, “you know, I don’t need you wear a mask for me.”

We chatted about motherhood. Adjusting from 1 to 2 children and a whole bunch of random topics. There were curveballs aplenty, but there was also laughter and levity and So. Much. Respect. At my lowest point when the anesthesiologist gave me an epidural, I repeated my context over and over and I got back in my heart in moments.

I have written too many CPR’s to count since I joined the Family of Women. Some were very strong and served the moment. Others were weak and I learned what to do the next time. This one fundamentally changed my experience and is etched in my CPR Hall of Fame.

My daughter’s was a very sacred birth.

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