a birth story, part 3

“It’s okay, you can push. Listen to your body,” our midwife said.

And then suddenly our doula, Charlotte, was there, and Hubby filled her in. Meanwhile, the nurses had started to blow up the inflatable tub out in the hospital hallway, as I was hoping for a water birth. In between contractions, I remember saying to Anjli, “they’re not going to get the tub in time, are they?” and she said, “they’re blowing it up right now; it’s okay.”

I was also ready to get the monitors off me at that point, which was a mini struggle between Anjli and the nurse. Finally we ripped it off and I immediately got on all fours sideways on the bed. The nurse had also started an IV of antibiotics for the group B strep on me, but I had only received I think half a dose before the IV came out and I was dripping blood on the hospital floor. I stared at the puddle as it grew larger and the nurse continued to ignore it, until finally I growled, “Will somebody please CLOSE me up — I am dripping all over the floor!” — not that I cared about the floor, but I wanted them to take care of me.

Anjli asked me in between contractions to turn so I was longways on the bed, and so staying on all fours I did just that — with my arms draped over the back of the hospital bed. I was continuing to push through each contraction. The spontaneous need to push was incredible — it is true what they say that your body TRULY knows when to push…I can’t IMAGINE being coached when to push. My body knew just when to push and when I was in the midst of those contractions I HAD to bear down — my body had no other choice. If I had needed to stop to keep from a bad tear or something I’m sure I could have, but it would have been HARD.

The lights in the room were dim. The tub was being filled. Anjli at some point told me that it was possible that the baby could come before the tub was full, and I said that was okay. I just wanted her here. I felt hands rubbing my lower back between contractions; I think it was Anjli. Hubby continued to give me simple words of encouragement (at some point since arriving at the hospital I had asked him to say a little less — with the higher intensity shorter sentences felt right.) I remember Charlotte was up near my head, offering me sips of water between contractions and encouraging me to send me energy down to my abdomen and my baby. I could almost feel myself sinking into that feeling and allowing my tension and energy to shift downward where it needed to be, versus focusing on the pain and keeping it up in a tense upper body. I also was vocalizing during contractions, something I had wondered if I would be embarrassed to do — let me tell you, embarrassment flew out the window. The feeling was primal. I was doing whatever my body needed to do. Charlotte suggested making the sounds deeper (which is proven to make them more productive), and she made a sound I could imitate, which helped.

Pushing was the most intense part for me. I could so intensely feel the baby’s head — it felt large and hard coming through my vagina. At one point I remember screaming an expletive, but mostly I tried to moan deep and low, and Hubby kept telling me what a good job I was doing. His support meant the world to me. Hubby stayed back near the foot of the bed with Anjli, who was coaching him on holding warm compresses to my perineum to keep me from a bad tear. She was also coaching him on how to catch the baby, which he wanted to do. I remember hearing them talk quietly down there, and after one of my contractions ended I said, “what are y’all talking about down there?” to which everyone laughed and she told me she was telling him how to catch the baby.

At one point, Hubby told me, “She has hair, sweetie! I can see her hair!”

“What color?” I asked after the contraction ended. He said he couldn’t tell, but it was a lot of hair.

That was so encouraging! She was close. She kept slipping back into me a bit after every push, but I knew she was close to crowning. I told Anjli I felt like i was holding back from really pushing with all my strength because I was afraid of tearing or pushing too fast, and she said, “It’s okay — just do what your body tells you to. If you need to slow down, I will yell STOP loudly so you will definitely hear it.”

I felt so safe and protected by my three caregivers!!

With that encouragement, I began to really bear down during contractions. Finally, there was a contraction after which her head was crowning — resting on my perineum and at the entrance to my vagina…that was pretty intense. But it was good, and it helped everything to stretch between contractions…it was a hard moment though. I had to wait that entire minute or however long it was between the urge to bear down again with her head just resting there.

The next push and her head was out — Hubby told me later that she was just looking up at him with her eyes wide and only her head out. Another push and I felt her entire body slide out of me — shoulder, torso, legs. I heard Hubby begin to cry and I looked back over my shoulder. There she was, in his hands on the bed, wet, crying, beautiful, and covered in vernix. Our baby was born after pushing for about 30 minutes — at 12:37 a.m. on February 12.

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