It was just past 1 A.M. when I rolled out of bed in the doctors’ on-call room and headed towards labor wing. As I walked through the door to the labor and delivery triage room, the familiar smell of alcohol and iodine filled my nostrils. The room vibrated with the low drumming of half a dozen fetal cardiac monitors, a soothing melody for those of us who worked on labor and delivery. The slightest alteration of any of those rhythms would alert us and send everyone running to handle the emergency.
I went to the desk where the nurse on duty handed me a chart and gave me a brief history of the patient who had just arrived.
As I walked down the narrow aisle separating the two rows of gurneys that lined the walls of the room, I heard an occasional voice coming from behind the curtains that shielded occupied beds. Most patients were there to determine if they were in labor. Others were pregnant, ill, and waiting for lab tests to come back. Some anxious women came to check on the well-being of a fetus who had been less active than usual that evening.
I opened the curtain to the dimly lit six-by-nine foot cubicle where my patient rested on a gurney. Long, narrow feet moved restlessly. Slender fingers convulsively gripped the edge of the blanket that covered an enormous belly. Two gray plastic cords snaked out from under the blanket connecting the sensors that were belted over my patient’s abdomen to the fetal monitor in the back corner of the cubicle near her right shoulder.
Enormous brown eyes stared at me from a pale face. A tentative smile crossed her lips only to be replaced by a grimace as the next contraction began.
The woman’s back arched and she reached frantically for the arm of the small, round, gray-haired woman who stood at her left side. The older woman gently rubbed the pregnant woman’s shoulder as she murmured soft, reassuring sounds.
When the contraction subsided, I introduced myself. The pregnant woman’s hand trembled slightly when she reached out to shake mine.
“This is my mother,” she told me in an unsteady voice. “She had to come with me tonight because my husband is out of town.”
Her voice broke and a small sob escaped her lips. She took a deep breath and continued.
“This is my fourth baby. I should be used to it by now, but this labor is much worse than all the other ones. He seems to be in such a hurry, this little one.”
She stopped speaking and reached out for her mother’s hand as the next contraction began. As soon as it was over, I examined my patient. Though her labor had started less than two hours earlier, she was already eight centimeters dilated. Two more centimeters and her baby would be ready to enter this world.
I alerted the nursing staff and we quickly rolled her down the hall to a near by birthing room. We had just gotten her settled in the room when she began writhing in the bed.
I said, “There’s no time for an epidural, your baby is coming too fast, but I can give you an injection of pain medicine.”
“No,” she gasped. “I had all my other babies naturally. I won’t take drugs for this Aieeeee…”
Unable to use any of the tools Western medicine had to offer to relieve my patient’s discomfort, there was still one thing I could do to help her.
After obtaining her permission, I laid my hands lightly on her swollen abdomen. The healing energy immediately began to flow through my palms. My patient gave a long sigh and her shoulders seemed to melt into the pillows. Her fingers slowly released the balled-up edge of the blanket. Looking at me through heavy lidded eyes, she mumbled, “Oh, I’m so relaxed…”
After a few minutes, her eyes closed. The energy continued to flow from my hands, and she appeared to sleep through the next several contractions.
Reassured that my patient was comfortable, I left her side and walked across the room to her mother. As we chatted softly about the various applications of the ancient hands-on healing art, I asked the woman if she would like to see how it felt. At her nod, I placed my hands at her temples and relieved the headache she had developed over the last hours.
Awakened by an intense pain, my patient looked at me and demanded, “I want you back here with me right now!”
I returned to her bedside and placed one hand near the top of her uterus and the other above her pelvis. There I remained, a living epidural, until she delivered her son a half hour later.
From Tapestry of Healing: Where Reiki and Medicine Intertwine
Copyright©2001 Jeri Mills
What People are Saying
Introduction to Tapestry of Healing
Excerpt 1 from Tapestry
Excerpt 2 from Tapestry