It was finally time, the part in labor that people both look forward to and dread that the same time. The part in the movie where you see the woman in a gown on a hospital bed screaming and sweating and grunting and everyone is yelling at her to PUSH PUSH PUSH.
It was nothing like that for me, and for that I am so thankful.
I took a second to prepare myself and then I slid off of the couch, into a squat, and pushed. It felt so good until it didn’t and I told myself, “ease off.” I’m so glad I was able to feel everything because it helped so much while I pushing. I could feel when it was time to stop, so I didn’t go too fast. And pushing felt so good after the constant contractions that felt endless. Pushing felt like progress, pushing had a definite end. I was determined to do it as fast as I could. I vaguely remember the second midwife, Jeannie, come through the door and get things ready to assist. It was as if one minute it was just the five of us and the next minute she was there, gloves on, putting plastic sheets on the floor, setting up equipment, getting more hot towels. I find it kind of funny that the first time I met Jeannie was as I was squatting, naked, in my living room giving birth. Unfortunately Hannah, our second midwife, was still at that other birth so she was unable to make it to ours. She was greatly missed, but Jeannie was awesome. she came in as if she already knew us and she fit in just fine.
Cynthia knelt in front of me as I pushed and let us know what she saw. “I can see the head already, about this much!” she would say, and would show us with her hands how much was visible. At first it was the size of a dollar and I thought oh no that just won’t do. I have to get this baby out! Kourtney and my mom each supported me by holding me up in the squat as I pushed, and my sister was taking pictures. At one point I was feeling fatigued and I shouted, “I have to stand up!” and up I went! My mom came around so I could lean against her and I just said, “Hi mommy, thank you mommy” over and over because I was so glad she was there to hold me as I got through these last few moments of intense labor. We have a couple of pictures of that moment which are perhaps too intense to share (again, I was not wearing any clothing at this point), but are quite beautiful, and I’m glad I have them. When I was ready I got back into the squat and continued to push. Cynthia encouraged me to feel as the head emerged which I initially declined (I was very focused on pushing) but I’m glad she got me to reconsider. It was such as strange and wonderful moment to feel my baby “between worlds”.
And then all of a sudden the baby was earthside. Cynthia brought the baby up into my arms and we saw each other for the first time. It was so surreal to suddenly have a baby in my arms, who had only moments before been inside my body. I did it! I’m pretty sure I actually said that out loud. I passed the baby up to Kourtney who said “I think it’s a boy!” to which Cynthia replied, “No, that’s a girl!” Kourtney and I had a long term bet on the sex of the baby, and I lost. But it didn’t matter, because I was so glad she was finally in my arms. I was no longer fiercely vocalizing, I was no longer riding waves of contractions. Delivering the placenta was a breeze (I got pictures of that, too). My immediate postpartum care (and really all the care I received both during my pregnancy and postpartum) was top notch. It was so nice to be able to get right into my own bed right after giving birth. When things died down, Cynthia told me I had only pushed for about 30 minutes, and honestly it felt like only 10, but time has very little meaning during labor and birth. After a few hours, everyone said their goodbyes and the three of us settled in as this new family unit, two mothers and a baby.
And that’s our birth story.