If you've just started reading, click here for part one then go here for part two. Or just start here and be all confused. That's cool. I'm confused most of the time and have still managed to survive.
One of the things that always struck Tommy about my hospital birth experiences is that no one ever touched me except to put on or take off equipment. They didn't feel for baby's position, they didn't jump in and offer any physical help or advice for managing or minimizing the pain. It was always "you ready for your drugs yet?" and then "okay, we'll be back soon to check on you!". And I felt like a little island alone in that sea of uncertainty.
Because you do feel uncertain. Uncertain about whether or not what's happening is normal. Whether or not you're really capable of this. Whether or not everything is going the way everything ought to go. Sometimes all you need is reassurance. Sometimes you need a gentle hand. Sometimes you need someone to say "focus. Do this. Trust me." And you need all those things without having to ask for those things. Because holy mackerel, dude, you are in labor. You are bringing a whole new person into the world. YOU DON'T NEED TO BE ASKING FOR ANYONE TO PUT SOME DANG PRESSURE ON YOUR LOWER BACK!
Whew. Sorry. I have opinions.
And this time I didn't have to ask. She just knew. My sweet midwife knew just what to do when I mumbled some incoherent ridiculousness about my back and how I may or may not be about to die because of the flames shooting down my lower spine. She is so slight that I'm not sure how she managed it, but she put her hands in just the right spots on my back as I leaned forward on the bed and pushed with the perfect amount of firmness and didn't say anything or insist on turning on bright lights or checking me or even talking. It was incredible.
You know what else was incredible? My contractions never got closer together than 3-5 minutes. Never. Not even at the very end. So we had these moments where I wondered if this labor was just going to last for the rest of my life because things weren't going the way they were "supposed" to. Also, do you know what a too-much-thinker like me does when she has five full minutes between her contractions? She eats bananas, that's what she does. And asks lots of questions.
Me: I'm starving. I need something to eat. Maybe a banana...
Linda: Tommy, can you please go get a banana?
Tommy: Oh, are you hungry? We have other things...
Linda: It's for Dwija. She wants a banana.
Tommy: Really? Wow. That's weird.
Linda: I know. Now go get her a banana
"Have the girls taken out the goats yet? They should take the goats out."
"Did you call work, honey? Did you tell then you're not coming in?"
Yes. While sitting on the bed between insane (what I would realize later were transition) contractions, I said these things. Not during, but definitely between. Finally:
Me: Has Paul gone potty yet?
Me: Paul. He needs to pee or he's going to get super crabby.
Tommy: He says he doesn't need to.
Me: He's a liar.
And the other thing I would do, and you may not believe this, is sleep. I would literally doze off because I had been semi-awake for so many hours. So one minute I'm in a full 90 second contraction that feels like it's about to bifurcate my torso and the next moment, in the complete absence of any discomfort whatsoever, I'm slipping into a small, dreamless sleep in preparation for what's to come. It was amazing. A little terrifying but mostly amazing.
Then at some point in there I felt like my body was pushing. But it couldn't be time for pushing because the contractions weren't one minute apart. And I was thinking about my boy and his potty habits. And I said to Linda "If I have you check me and I'm only, like, 6 centimeters, I'll die. I'll just have to die right here because....I'll just die is why."
"Okay fine. You can check. Because I feel pushy but it can't be time so I don't know...."
She checked me.
"Dwija. You have no cervix. There's just baby, right there. Whenever you want, you can have this baby."
Pushing time? It's pushing time? Now? Like we can just do this...whenever?
I knew I couldn't push on my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad memory foam mattress (note: never buy a memory foam mattress unless it has a VERY long memory) what with it's super squishiness and crater-filled horribleness. So instead I sat on a pillow on the floor with my back against the bed. Linda was on my right, Tommy was on my left.
And I waited. Three whole minutes I sat there and waited for the next contraction. Then it came and I started to push.
Oh that's my very favorite part of the whole laboring fiasco, that first push. That push which takes all the crazy energy that so far you've just been managing and puts it to use. The pain becomes progress. You become empowered. And I did. It was fantastic.
Until it wasn't. She started crowning and I knew it wasn't right. In addition to the regular burning around the edges that's already excruciating, I could feel the top part trying to stretch. The part that can't, doesn't, shouldn't stretch.
She was coming out facing sideways and at an angle. The front of her body and face were pointing toward my right side, her head pointing toward my left leg. And as she started to come out, ever so very slowly, she was trying to turn....face UP.
Then the contraction stopped. And I had to just sit there and wait. Oh thank God for Linda. She sprayed her special sprays and poured some olive oil and massaged and encouraged, but not in a loud, obnoxious, movie-voice. No, in her sweet, gentle, hear-her-in-the-back-of-my-mind voice.
This was the only time, in the delivery of 5 children, that I have ever said "Help me. Please, just do something. Help me!". Which of course no one can. Not at that point. And I was still waiting. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back on the bed. Then it struck me. It was the first day in the Fortnight for Freedom. And as much as I had offered up my contractions for the intentions of my friends and loved ones, I had lost touch with prayer during this pushing phase.
"Lord, please help me. This...I'm doing this for all the babies who were never allowed to be born"
At that very second she shot out, her arm breaking free, tearing me exactly where four other babies had torn. She hit my left leg as her daddy caught her. She was beautiful. She was pink. She was screaming.
"Oh thank God. It's over. Thank God it's over! I did it. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee...." as I held her to my chest for the very first time.
Linda smiled. "Amen. Amen...."