On August 21st, an astrological phenomena will shoot through our green state. From what I am told, our humble region is expected to double, if not triple, in size. Locals are being advised to prepare as if this were Y2K on steroids. As I watch people load case upon case of bottled water into their carts at Costco, I do wonder if I should be a little more worried than I am.
There are many spiritual and physical aspects associated with this event which is why it is such a big, fat deal. Word around the water cooler is that women, who do not even live in Central Oregon, are planning on giving birth in the cities where the black out path is due to hit.
Central Oregon has only seven home birth midwives and three hospitals that have L&D wards, Bend, Redmond and Madras. Bend has one midwife run birth center where women and their families can have an out of hospital birth.
For those who live in the outer areas, they have to make the commute into town in order to see their care provider, which on a good day can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.
Traffic is expected to be horrendous with estimated wait times quadrupling what is normal, this can be a cause for concern for a woman who is expected to deliver around the 21st.
If you are in this group, I have come up with some ideas that can help when the time comes to have your baby during a solar eclipse.
-Plan ahead. Your nesting may have already got you packing your bags and having the car seat ready to go. For good measure, make sure your car is full of gas that week, that you have food and water either in the car or in your labor bag, and stash a blanket in there as well. If you get stuck in traffic, you might as well try and nap. You may also want to cover the passenger seat with a garbage sack or towel, just in case your water breaks en route.
-Know alternative routes and back roads that you can travel to get to your birthing location. If main roads are all you know it may be a good idea to see if there is a neighborhood or service road you can take to get to where you want to go.
-Watch birth videos. This may sound funny, but if this is your first baby, watching a variety of labors and births will help you familiarize yourself with what the different stages of labor can look and sound like. That way you can gauge when it's time to hit the road or call the midwife.
-Ask family or friends who live in town if you can stay with them. If you have this option available, it never hurts to see if you can invite yourself to stay for the weekend until things blow over or you have the baby.
-Don't go to the hospital too early. Always give your care provider a call when you think labor has started and see what they have to say. If you get there early in anticipation of what is to come and you aren't far enough along, they may send you packing. Then you have to find something to do until labor really kicks in or possibly attempt to go home.
-Hire a doula. Maybe this is a little self serving BUT having an experienced support person with you can help ease nerves, help you cope with labor pains and bring calm to a potentially crazy day.
-Patience and humor. I know this may be a really hard one to accomplish when you are having all the sensations that come with labor. The day may be long. Take it in stride and know that you are going to meet your baby soon and you will have a great story to tell at every birthday.
-Familiarize yourself and your partner (if available) in how to birth un-assisted. This is the "in extreme cases" suggestion. It is one that is plausible though if roads are backed up and you can't get through and an ambulance can't get to you. It might be a good idea to know what to do when baby's head is crowning, how to care for a fresh baby and how to abide your time until medical services are available. While I pray that this is not a scenario that any woman in Central Oregon will face, babies have been born on the turnpike.
August 21st may be one for the history books for our humble state or it may be a joke that we can all laugh about every year of its anniversary. But it never hurts to prepare. I wish you the best and safest of solar eclipse deliveries!