I bet you thought I was never going to get back to this, eh? Yeah, me either! So, there are a few challenges with documenting the last part of this now. One of which being that my brain sort of went on vacation during the whole thing, and the other being that it’s now been almost eight months since the mighty occurrence. Side note to expectant Moms: Blog now, if thou bloggest, for thou shalt not get much time to blog after thy infant arriveth. Thy infant is DEMANDING. But, I shall do my best to finish the story and I’m sure you’ll get the gist of the whole thing. Hint, it ends with a BABY.
So, at the end of my last birth story post, I was on the toilet in our labor and delivery suite, gripping the bar on the wall with great enthusiasm and lots of animal noises that hilariously filtered directly through the HVAC system to the waiting room where my brother was likely slowly growing more and more pale. Oh, and I was starting to push a little, which felt so good against those pesky contractions. Ron and Tammy were in the bathroom with me, and Crystal was popping in every so often to check on The Colonel, whose steady heartbeat would indicate continued to have just a jolly old time with this whole experience.
At this point, the contractions were pretty much relentless. There was basically no break between them. Maybe long enough to take a sip of water, catch my breath, and then hoo-boy, it was time to deal with another wave of “holy cow, WHAT IS MY BODY DOING?” Was it pleasant? No, not particularly. Did it hurt? Yes, you could say that. Was it the most awful awfulness ever? No, probably not. Did I ever think, “I should’ve taken the drugs?” Nope, not for a second. Would I do it again the same way? Absolutely. Even given that, was there a point at which I literally thought, “This is too much. I want to run away?” Yeah, there was. Did I do exactly what Tammy said I might and actually vocalize at one point that, “I don’t think I can do this anymore?” Yes, I did. And yes, at that point, she gently reminded me, just as she promised she would, that I WAS doing it. And I had to give it to her that she was right. I totally was doing it. Running away wasn’t an option. Also, doulas are awesome. They should be fully covered by insurance, required by law, and given exotic flowers every day for the immensely important service they provide.
Oh yeah, and then my water broke! All over Tammy and Ron. If I hadn’t been dealing with pushing through a contraction, I probably would’ve laughed. It was fairly comical. I was just minding my own business, pushing into a contraction, and there was this audible “POP!” and I saw Tammy and Ron simultaneously look down at all the liquid that had just splashed out onto the floor…and them. Whoops. Sorry, guys!
By this time, things were just rolling. Truth be told, as inglorious an entry to the world as it would’ve been, I’d have been happy to have that kid right there on the toilet. I was, shall we say, DISINCLINED to move. But, the doctor had started hovering, and there was a pretty big push (no pun intended) to get me out of the smallish bathroom and onto the bed to actually have the kid. I really didn’t want to move. I knew moving was going to be uncomfortable, but I did it. I got onto the bed, they examined me and confirmed that I was “complete,” meaning I was fully dilated and effaced, and I really started pushing in earnest. I asked for the birthing bar. It was put up in a matter of seconds. I held onto it and squatted and started doing some of the most intense work I think I’ve ever asked my body to do. Pushing is not easy. And you start to feel things happening “down there” that are, frankly, more than a little intimidating. There was a lot of pressure, a lot of burning and stretching of an area that heretofore had not been stretched in such a manner. And, now that I look back, I may have been a little too enthusiastic. I remember some instruction from someone to try to do something just a little differently, without quite so much gusto, and I tried, I really did, but it was almost like I, meaning the me who was capable of rational thought, had gone bye-bye and I had just become pure instinct. So I pushed. Hard. I barely took a break between pushes. Every contraction, I gave it my all. And my birth team cheered me on — Tammy especially would give me lots of great feedback when a push had been really productive. So, I was feeling like a rock star, feeling like this would be done in a matter of minutes, and then, after one push, my mom chimes in from the back of the room that “you can see the very top of the baby’s head!”
Oh boy. That’s all the further we are? I was figuring The Colonel was moments away from slipping out. Cue the sad trombone music. Okay, *sigh*, let’s keep going.
So I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. And then, people in scrubs gathered around the foot of the bed. There were bright lights shining on my nether region. Ron was there, ready to catch our little Colonel. Everybody was super excited. I was starting to get tired and impatient and sent my kid a stern subconscious admonition to, “Just GET HERE ALREADY.” I finally pushed the head out, and they saw the cord was loosely wrapped around the baby’s neck. This meant Ron got moved to the side pretty quickly, his dreams of catching his firstborn child thwarted, but for good reason. I pushed again, and the shoulders came out and, just like that, all in a rush, our baby was born.
“It’s Jackson!” Ron said as they immediately moved the baby up onto my chest, residual birth goop and all. We had ourselves a boy! Little Jack James. I’d kind of figured as much late in my pregnancy, so I wasn’t surprised. But then a nurse decided it might be a good idea to actually confirm. “It’s a girl!” she exclaimed. Wait, what? Well, turns out a hormone-swollen vulva on a newborn baby girl can look an awful lot like a scrotum, especially to an excited new Dad who has never had to make that particular distinction before. Thank goodness we checked. We had ourselves a beautiful baby daughter.
She lay there on my chest, warm, wet, not bloody at all, smelling faintly sweet. I looked at her, she looked at me. She really didn’t cry. She made these little grunty dolphin sounds and just blinked at me, as if to say, “What the ever loving hell was all THAT?” It started hitting me that this was the little person who’d been steadily growing inside me for the last 40 weeks. She was finally here. This shit just got real. After a few minutes, I felt a cramping sensation in my abdomen, remembered the placenta had not yet made an appearance and said, to nobody in particular, “Um, I kind of feel like I have to push?” And Tammy said, “Oh yes, go ahead and push!” So I pushed, again maybe a little more enthusiastically than I necessarily needed to, and delivered the placenta like it was in a hurry to be someplace. I guess I don’t do birth half-ass.
So, the baby was out, the placenta was out, the champagne was on its way to being out. Little did I know it, but the tequila had been out in the waiting room already. And, as they started sewing me up from the moderate tear all my enthusiastic pushing had earned me, I couldn’t take my eyes off my daughter. I started falling hopelessly, completely in love, and something in me irrevocably shifted forever: I became Mama.