Therese Charvet told me she thought she was going to have a quiet 35 minutes to herself on the 1:10 ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle yesterday afternoon. Girl, was she wrong.
When an announcement on the intercom system asked for medical assistance, Charvet assumed someone was having a heart attack and stayed put. But fortunately for baby Lucy and her parents, Charvet happened to be sitting near the elevator where Mom was being taken up at the front of the boat. “I know what a woman in labor sounds like, and I was up there in a flash. The good luck piece was that I happened to be sitting near that elevator instead of the elevator on the other end of the boat,” said Charvet. When she explained to the group that she was a midwife, Charvet said, “Everyone gratefully stepped aside. Another older woman there was a labor and delivery nurse, and she stood by holding the mother’s hand during the birth.”
According to Charvet, “The mother was handling everything very beautifully. It wasn’t really really fast. It was about 20 minutes after I got there [that the baby came]. I think the boat was already docked when the head was crowning.”
Charvet explained that most of the time she was working to reassure the mother and father that everything was happening normally the way nature intended and to keep everyone calm. Once the baby was born Charvet cleared her mouth and wiped her off. “She took a big cry the moment after she was born,” said Charvet. “Then I handed her to her mom.”
When I asked Charvet, who is retired from midwifery, what the experience was like for her personally, she exclaimed, “It was totally a gift—a thrilling gift to be part of. . . . I haven’t delivered a baby in maybe 15 years, but I’ve delivered hundreds and it all came right back to me.”
Charvet now runs an eco retreat center off of New Brooklyn Road called Sacred Groves, which she described as a place to “reconnect your body, heart, and mind with nature and spirit.” Although she no longer practices midwifery, she told me she hopes more people will turn to it as a support for the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience.
- Baby Lucy Came Aboard Bainbridge-to-Seattle Boat!
- Poll: Name the Last Year a Baby Was Born on a Washington State Ferry
- Scratch the Baby Poll: Ferry Babies Galore!
Photo courtesy of Therese Charvet.