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Archive for the ‘birth story’ Category

birth story 2.0

forgive my lack of posts around here lately…i’ve been a bit preoccupied. family has descended upon the nest and i’ve been ever-focused on learning the ways of a newborn once again. it’s been equal parts old hat and holyshitiforgotallofthis. anyway, zig is now 6 days old, and currently being held by someone downstairs. probably jude. [because no one else is allowed to hold him when she’s around. she adores her baby brother so. the rest of us are chumps in comparison.] since my arms are actually empty, i’m going to attempt to put ziggy’s birth story down in actual words. because i want to remember. and it’s a story i want you all to know.

but first, the reason you’ve stopped by the blog at all:

could he BE any cuter?

and now, to the story:

on monday, 20 september, jude and h and i took our usual morning walk around the neighborhood. i remarked that i was surprised to feel no contractions whatsoever. undaunted, we decided to spend the rest of the morning out of the house. we sojourned to the liquor store for the aforementioned bushmills black bush irish whiskey, and then wandered around the grocery store awhile. finally, we took jude to the park, and i swung on the monkey bars.

somewhere in the middle of this bustling activity, i realized that i was having contractions. they were slowish — about 8 mins apart when sitting, but they were much more intense and laborlike than any i’d experienced before. i took note, but didn’t focus too much on them, and just got on with my day, which, you may remember, went like this. i drank some raspberry leaf tea, and when the contractions were still present and accounted for at 8pm, i called my midwife. she told me that this was likely it, to eat some good protein, to have a glass of wine or beer and take a benadryl, and then to get my ass to bed. she didn’t want me to be exhausted for the big event. and so i had a porkchop, drank some oktoberfest, and caught up with some mad men with my love before going to sleep.

monday night’s sleep was restless to say the least. the benadryl kept me asleep till about 2 am, but after that, i was awoken with every strong, burning contraction in my back. when i began to feel all heartburny, a sleepy h made me a middle of the night glass of chocolate milk, which helped. of course, she went back to sleep after that, but i was awake; uncomfortable but not in pain.

i labored with jude throughout a day, and in the constant company of people. i’ve never labored alone, at night. and so i took that opportunity to center myself with the absolute awareness that i was on a sacred threshold. i lay still, hands on belly, and watched the moon from my window. as the contractions grew stronger, i steadied my gaze on it, unblinking. in those moments, i was unafraid.

at 7 am the next morning, i rallied the troops. midwife michele advised she’d arrive in the 9 o’clock hour, and sent apprentice midwives meg and genevieve ahead. uncle g’s mom (jude’s gabby) was summoned to come pick up jude. [we decided that jude should be elsewhere during the birth, mostly because she absolutely lost her shit the second anyone even touched my belly, and i found it very hard to focus on staying on top of contractions when i was so concerned about her. bonus? she had a whole night with her gabby and got to go shopping, as well as experience her first oreo. “you’d think she’d discovered america,” gabby said of that moment.] and uncle g himself arrived pretty quickly. soon, the house was bustling with excitement. h made breakfast tacos, as i ambled around the house, waiting for contractions, which naturally all but halted with the arrival of the midwives. to keep things going, h and j and i took our daily walk around the neighborhood, and j found a lucky green marble, to which she held tightly with great pride:

walking in labor.

of note: i was so full of energy and excitement after our walk that i vacuumed the living room and scrubbed the downstairs toilet, much to the amusement of all, especially the midwives, who had taken to their waiting stations, and were reading and knitting and snuggling our pets.

after michele arrived–with her sister, lisa, who is just becoming a midwife herself at age 50!–she did an internal exam, and told me that i was 3 1/2 cm dilated, about 70% effaced. i was on the cusp of active labor, but the contractions could easily peter out. and so off we went on another walk: michele, h, uncle g, and me. i had to stop and squat every three minutes. cars slowed and people stared as my entourage stood over my hunched over self. i was entertained.

and yet, by 1pm, i was still dilated to 3 1/2. contractions felt intense to me, and they were still coming 3 minutes apart, but michele said she thought i was a watched pot, and was stalling as a result. so. they left. all of them. the full house was suddenly empty, save for h and me. “call me when you’ve entered active labor,” michele said as she left. “how will i know?” i asked while gripping my contracting belly. “you’ll know,” she said and kissed my head.

i laid down with h and tried to nap awhile, but lying on either side was severely uncomfortable. i think i slept fitfully between contractions, but mostly, i felt like i was entering that hazy, time-free laborland.

at 3pm, i got up to pee, and was nearly struck down by a contraction. i sat on the toilet and called michele. “please come back,” i whimpered when she answered. “on my way,” she said, and i hung up. i sat down on the birthing ball and began to weep. i was not even halfway dilated, and i was already so tired. i was in so.much.pain. i was afraid. i could no longer do this. h held me and let me exhale everything i was afraid of.

michele et al arrived at around 3:30, and the next internal exam found me to be 4 cm dilated. “welcome to active labor!” michele said. and then she invited me to take a bath, which i did not want. just like my labor with jude, i wanted to be on the birth ball, leaning on my bed, with h’s thumbs placed firmly in the small of my back.
labor.
concentrating on getting through a contraction.

finally, michele convinced me to get in the bath, and once i did, she covered my whole body with a towel while i lay on my back. for the next 20 minutes or so, h poured water over me as i breathed through the mounting contractions. it was a lot more comforting than i thought it would be. once i got out, however, michele gave me the news that ziggy was attempting to get out of a prime, anterior birthing position and into a really not good transverse position. to keep him where he was supposed to be, she made me get on hands and knees for what felt like forEVER. and when i wasn’t in that position, i had to walk around, which was equally unpleasant. oh, and yeah, i was definitely naked by this point.

all of the midwives skirted around the issue of breaking my bag of waters for hours, and had i not been focusing on so many contractions, i would have found it humorous. but at the time, i did not want any unnecessary internal exams, i wanted my waters to go on their own; basically, i wanted to labor on my own without even midwifey sorts of interventions. and so it went for another hour: me on the ball, h at my back, midwives gathered on my bedroom floor, chatting about how much they loved my labor playlist and basically just keeping vigil with me. it was really peaceful.

oh but then 7 pm rolled around. michele did another exam, and found me about 5.5cm dilated with my bag of waters low. ziggy was still floating high, however. he was not engaged at all. she gently broached the water-breaking subject as a “well, you know, if you want to…it’s up to you” sort of proposition, just as meg pulled out the hook and readied it. it felt like peer pressure to me, and i panicked a bit. michele sent meg, genevieve, and lisa out of the room, and she listened to concerns and fears. i KNEW i would immediately enter transition, which is indescribably fiery and big as an ocean, and i didn’t know if i could normalize it. michele gave me the line about it not happening immediately, and i called bullshit. it happened before. i remembered it well. and i was suddenly feeling all my fear from the last time. it was a paralyzing fear, and i wanted to climb up the walls and escape. i asked michele to leave h and me alone while we talked about it.

i waddled over to the toilet and sat down. oh god, the toilet was my other favorite place to be throughout the whole labor. gravity was a godsend, and sitting upright off my suzy kept my posture straight and thus my back contractions bearable. anyway, h held eye contact with me a long while, and her gaze was my safety net. cheesy but true. she held my whole self with her eyes, and i felt contained and safe and one with her. she reminded me that transition would happen regardless of when my waters broke, that michele was only hoping to shorten my labor, which ultimately meant we’d be meeting our son in two hours instead of seven. she also reminded me that at the end of all of this, i’d have a shot of whiskey waiting for me. i told h that once i went into transition, the coherent me that was talking to her would be going underground, and it was likely that i wouldn’t have many or any words until all of this was over. she was okay with this. i finally nodded consent, and michele came back into the room.

before she broke my bag of waters, michele said she wanted me to try to walk after it was done. i said no. walking was too intense, i’d be wasting too much energy on fighting the panic, instead of drawing into myself to ride out the constant big waves. and she listened to me. whenever it was safe to do so, my midwife allowed me to lead the rest of my labor. and that freedom, that semblance of control in the big ocean truly empowered me to continue on.

7:15pm: michele popped the bag. there was no big gush, as there was with jude, only a satisfying warm pouring sensation, like peeing after holding it for hours. or 9 months. oh but i was right. here came transition. michele positioned me on my left side and covered me up with my super warm and fuzzy bath towel, where i felt myself go underground, just as i knew i would. i lay still for a very long time, learning to moan and relax and exhale each contraction. michele and h gave me a foot massage, and then struggled to put socks on my usually very warm feet. after who knows how long, one of the midwives checked zig’s heart tones and found them accelerating to a rate they were uncomfortable with. “he’s not happy with this position, annie,” michele said, concerned that zig’s umbilical cord was being compressed. “how about the birth ball? i know you like the birth ball.” and so i somehow became upright again, and sat on the ball, leaking fluid and constantly contracting.

with every transitional contraction, i found myself sitting upright with my best posture, hands folded together just below my belly button. i could feel ziggy enter my birth canal. it actually felt like relief, and not pain. i mumbled from underground at one point, “my clit actually feels kind of good,” which received giggles all around. i moved back and forth from ball to toilet, and did not really want anyone to touch me or talk to me, including h. at one point, however, i felt overcome by the power of a rather big wave, and genevieve took me to her chest like a mother and held me. i’ll never forget that gesture. it was pure compassion and love from someone i barely know. i fell into her and wept till it passed. she reminded me to tell someone if i needed to push. i remembered that the last few contractions did indeed feel kind of pushy. i also remembered that pushy contractions ended with a bit of a grunt, so i made sure to add a grunt here and there so i wouldn’t have to use words to tell the midwives it was nearing the time to push. oh, the mind of a woman in laborland.

i took one last trip to the toilet, and said out loud, without thinking, “i need to push now.” i was immediately ushered onto the bed for an internal check. and just like with jude, michele said “you’re complete, annie, with just a lip of a cervix. why don’t you give me a little push with the next contraction to get it out of the way?” so i did, and the urge to push was so overwhelming that my body shook. it was 9:18 pm. michele said, “h, i’d tell you to go wash your hands, but there’s no time! get ready to catch your baby!” all i thought in this moment was OH THANK GOD I DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS FOR A LONG TIME. seconds later, uncle g was in the room with a camera aimed at my suzy. in my labor with jude, i spent 34 minutes pushing double time to get her out quick as her heart rate decelerated due to her hand stuck to her head. with ziggy, i did the opposite: i spent every pushing contraction trying not to push, so i wouldn’t tear. copious amounts of olive oil were poured over me, and i was very aware of hands protecting my clit and perineum. and then suddenly, the ring of fire! and directions to feel my baby’s squishy head! and thoughts of this ring of fire thing isn’t as bad as i feared it would be (i was numbed last time) and then pop! a head! i looked down and watched and felt my son exit my body and slide into the world! and then a great big cry! and then he was on my chest, as sigur ros’ song, glósóli played. it was 9:30 pm. he was out of me in 12 minutes and 4 pushes. hot damn, i didn’t tear.

whew. i’m at 2500 words now, two days after starting to write this post. mr zig is waking from a nap, so i’m going to end this story with bullets:

  • his umbilical cord was magnificent: 35 inches long and thick thick thick.
  • i birthed his placenta at 9:35 pm.
  • his apgar score was 9.
  • he suckled with a perfect, hungry latch immediately.
  • i can’t believe that he is smaller than his sister.
  • i didn’t lose much blood this time, and was completely present and coherent for the rest of the night. there was nothing traumatic about his arrival.
  • omg he’s so cute and i’m in love.
  • for all my preliminary fears, i had the perfect birth experience. i gave my son a sacred entry, full of laughter upon his arrival. after all, isaac means laughter. it’s only fitting.

if you’d like to see more laborday photos, go here.

oh, and glósóli can be heard and viewed here. embedding has been disabled, but it’s a gorgeous video, so do watch if you’re so inclined.

whew. off to nurse my big mister, who gained 10 oz in 3 days.

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i’ve been meaning to write this post for days, weeks even, but that sweet little baby of mine seems to always be awake when i feel inspired to write, and it’s hard to type with one hand for very long.

as of now, my girls are napping together, and so i’m giving this post a shot. who knows how long it will take to actually finish it.

so.

the hours after jude’s birth are hazy for me, and after how peaceful and sacred my labor was, it is hard for me to think about what happened after. because it wasn’t peaceful. it was hard and painful. after jude was born, i began to hemorrhage, and though it was controlled with the pit shot to the thigh, i continued to bleed a lot. the moments of jude lying skin to skin with me were shortened by my midwife having to massage my still-contracting uterus in order to get the blood out. i didn’t see any of this, and tried not to pay much attention to what was going on. i didn’t want to go into a state of panic: i’d had my baby. she was fine. she was right in front of me. i tried to center on this reality, but then my midwives were talking about how many cups of blood i was losing. i felt like i was peeing every time michele pushed down hard on my belly. thank god i didn’t see any of it.

after awhile, the midwives began pressuring me to eat and think about sitting up. i had no appetite; i was feeling pretty woozy and wiped out. i just wanted to lie next to my baby, who was learning to suckle. but my blood pressure was low, somewhere in the 90s/50s, and i needed sustenance. i finally ate a hardboiled egg and some toast, and soon was helped to a sitting position, at which point i felt my organs drop and rearrange in my belly. then the room began to spin. i remember feeling like i had to pretend to feel better than i was, in order to stay close to my baby, who was in h’s or the coach’s arms. i could hear h’s voice, faraway though she was in the same room, saying “she doesn’t look good you guys. she’s really pale.” the midwives assured her that i’d be alright soon.

in this nearly passed out state, i was helped to the bathroom and plopped down on the toilet, where i was asked to pee. i was bleeding and bleeding and was too numb and swollen to will myself to do it. because i was so lightheaded, midwife v and apprentice s took turns staying with me as i sat there bleeding, but not peeing, into the toilet. meanwhile, everyone else was in the bedroom (which is right off the bathroom, thankfully). jude was being weighed and measured and given the vitamin k shot. i missed all of this. i heard my baby’s first cries of pain, and could not even stand up on my own to get to her.

i have no idea how long i sat on that toilet, but after awhile, s tried to distract me by showing me the placenta. finally, i could feel myself peeing, and begged to be pulled off the toilet. i was exhausted, covered in sweat and blood and olive oil and god only knows what else, and asked to take a shower. midwife v turned it on for me, and was going to stand guard, but i couldn’t stand on my own. i was seeing lightning bolts in my peripheral vision, and was pretty sure i was about to black out. and so i went back to bed and was wiped down a bit. my blood pressure was taken again, and it was still too low for their liking, and so the midwives threw together a concoction of emergen-c, orange juice, and other sugary, vitamin c-like liquids. they made me chug it, which i did without puking. lucky me.

despite the panicky overwhelming mamabear feelings of being separated from my baby for so long, i was sort of okay with all the eating and peeing they were making me do, as it prolonged the dreaded stitching of the tears. by the time michele started stitching me up, i was so over being poked and prodded. i just wanted my body back, wanted everyone to leave, wanted to be alone with my family. instead, i lay on my bed with my ass propped up on dr sears big baby book and legs on michele’s lap, as s held a flashlight on my suzy and v sat next to me, holding the speculum in place. michele mercifully gave me a few shots of lidocaine before she began to stitch my internal tear and then my torn perineum. h had the baby on her breast for some of this time, and then she laid a sleeping jude next to me.

after what seemed like forever, the stitching was done, and the midwives finally said goodnight. i think it was about 2:30 am. we got on skype to videochat with big jude, little j’s namesake, and then we passed out for a few hours.

***

i really thought i’d processed those first postpartum hours pretty well. they happened. they were painful and scary and surreal. i was sad that i didn’t get to have the ideal home birth experience of nursing my baby off to sleep and snuggling with my love, but i was grateful for my competent midwife who knew how to put me back together again. my body, however, immediately began to grieve.

i’ve been having a lot of nightmares since jude’s birth. they usually feature ghastly animals made of all teeth and claws trying to climb my body and kill me and my baby. i’ve dreamt of being shot in the stomach. i wake up nauseated and in a cold sweat. i tell h about the dreams, which steals a lot of their power. the nightmares are happening less frequently now, thankfully, and i’ve gotten to talk about them with my therapist, which further strips them of their scariness.

another thing that is helping me heal is the fact that my body itself is healing. after over three weeks of having to mentally prepare to go through the process of going to the bathroom, my bathroom routine is returning to something like normal. i may soon even be able to wipe myself with toilet paper instead of spraying my frankensuzy (thanks h for the nickname) with the sanibottle. i mustered the courage to look at myself for the first time last week, and the little cosmetic mirror tells me that i am still me, just with stitches. and after bleeding pretty heavily for four weeks straight, today is the third day of no more blood. i can’t articulate just how much more whole i feel without that constant reminder of blood. i seriously get teary-eyed thinking about it.

my body has felt oppressed by the aftermath of giving birth, and the oppression is slowly lifting. i hadn’t been able to write about this before now for that very reason: i was still very much living in the wordless oppression and grief of an exhausted, broken-down body.

if you’re still reading this post, thank you. i know it is a cobbled together ramble, but i hope it makes sense, and can serve as a small hope to a woman in a similar situation someday.

to sum up: it’s sometimes really hard to reconcile the beauty of a birth experience with the brokenness of your body that can follow. let your body grieve this. be gentle with yourself. and your body will return to wholeness sooner than later. i’m getting there a little more every day.

pee ess, i was only interrupted for one feeding while writing this post!

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birth story.

[note: m = midwife, v = backup midwife, and s = midwife apprentice.]

on june 18, i woke up with a craving for blueberry muffins. i’d been dreaming of them, freshly baked. and so i woke h up at about 7, and asked her to go for a morning walk with me. i envisioned us finding yummy muffin mix at the corner store. sadly, they had no muffins to speak of. fortunately, they had donut holes delivered by the krispy kremey people. so. nice consolation prize. and we got a 1.5 mile walk out of the deal.

incidentally, i had pretty regular contractions throughout our walk, and i could feel sparky’s head low against my cervix. i felt different that morning. the contractions felt similar to how they’d been all along, but i had a sense of this is all working up to something today. and so i called my midwife to update her with details of sparky’s whereabouts in my pelvis. upon hearing the news of sparky’s lowness, m said excitedly, “it looks like we’re having a baby today!”

h and i needed to make a trip to the grocery store later that morning, and since m’s house is in the neighborhood, she asked us to stop by for an exam. m immediately agreed that sparky was ready to come: she was -1 station, and i was 3 cm dilated and as effaced as i was going to get until i was completely dilated. she gave me an intense cervical massage to stir up the hormones, and recommended that i drink a castor oil smoothie when i got home, to push me over the edge from pre-labor to active labor.

h and i took our time at the store, and as we walked the aisles, my contractions were slowly becoming more regular, and more intense. finally, we came home, and i ate a lazy late lunch. i really was in no hurry to drink the castor oil. i didn’t want to do it at all. i knew that it would push me into active labor, but i also knew that i would probably have the worst shits of my life, and knowing my sensitive little system, i’d still be shit-happy by the time i was ready to deliver sparky. finally, at about 4 pm, h blended orange juice and castor oil, and i forced it down with much whininess and gagging.

castor oil is supposed to take effect within about 2 hours. 20 minutes after i drank it, i was on the toilet. the contractions quickly came closer together (about 3 mins apart after being 5 mins apart all day). m, v, and s arrived to our house at about 6 pm. m immediately checked my progress, and said i was now 4 cm dilated, and the baby’s bag of waters was right on my cervix. she offered to break my waters then, and get the party started right away, but i wasn’t ready. i was tired and was on the toilet every 10 minutes, and the thought of jumping into the big scary part of the experience so soon was too scary.

and so we drew a bath. heaven, heaven. hea.ven. i lay there on my side for a long, long time, as h poured water over my belly and my back and my legs. the contractions were coming in stronger, longer waves now. they weren’t crashing over me, so much as rolling by. i watched in awe as my belly turned into a rock every few minutes. i breathed deeply as my lower abdomen seized and my lower back ached with the worst mentrual cramps ever. the endorphins kicked in about that time, and i was able to find a peaceful place inside myself to just let these contractions happen and to bask in the relief of their passing. the midwives poked their heads in the bathroom every twenty minutes or so to check fetal heart tones, and sparky was a happy little girl. as i rested in the tub, with h so lovingly tending to me, i felt the presence of my dear aunt mh, who passed last summer. i felt her calmness, her stoicism, her fortitude. i smiled and told h.

finally, m told me it was time to get out of the bath for another internal check. it was a little after 8 pm, i think, as i could see the sun going down outside my bedroom window. i remarked that a walk sounded nice, now that it was cooling off outside. m checked me, and said that i was now 5 cm dilated, with a poochy bag of waters waiting for the perfect opportunity to break. she offered again to break the bag, or to leave things be and go to bed for the night. i was still afraid of getting to the point of no return so quickly, but i felt like it was fast approaching anyway, and so i agreed.

my waters broke with a pop and a gush. immediately i entered transition. the contractions took me over in a new, frighteningly intense way. they were no longer aches and cramps, but fire in my belly, wave after wave of fire. and those gifts of relief were much harder won. as i was coping with the adjustment to this new experience, m reminded me that i wanted to walk. i backpedaled with a “hellll no”. but she thought it would be good for me to try. and so i tried.

it took a few fits and starts to get me moving. i couldn’t integrate the contractions with movement at all and i was beginning to feel panicky. m looked me in the eye and said, “you’re experiencing fight or flight feelings now, and you can’t fight or flee this. remember, only your uterus hurts right now. let everything else go. let go of your arms, your jaw, your neck, your legs, your bottom. this is only happening in your uterus.” and so i focused on everything else i was holding tightly, and one part of my body at a time, i exhaled until the fire only remained in my belly.

somehow, we made it downstairs, and the midwives recommended i sit on the birthing stool for a bit. i did not like this at all, and politely told them exactly what i thought of their torturous stool. all i wanted at this point was to go outside, and suggested we go out into the backyard. i was wearing sexy mesh panties, along with a gigantic pad to absorb the leaking amniotic fluid. as soon we walked out the door, i remembered that we have four dogs, and they were all outside in the yard. naturally, they came flocking to me just as i had another huge contraction. i fell into a squat, with h supporting me, and another gush of fluid poured onto the patio. the midwives tried to push back the now very intrigued dogs, as i thought to myself, in any other situation, this would be equal parts nasty and hilarious. m decided to help me into a makeshift adult diaper, right there in the yard, as the pad was clearly useless against the fluid. and so it came to pass that i stripped and was put into a diaper made of chucks pads and tape. ingenious.

after the “let’s go for a walk” debacle, i was done taking suggestions for things to do. i wanted to be in my room, on my birthing ball, with h’s thumbs pressed firmly against my lower back. there was only the matter of getting back upstairs in order to make that happen. i have no idea where i found the strength to climb stairs while contracting, but i did it.

finally, i was in my room again. v dimmed the lights and lit candles. the midwives left h and i alone. this is the time when everything gets fuzzy for me. i sat on the ball for a long time, with my head leaning against the side of the bed. h stood behind me, applying constant counter pressure to my back. my labor mix played quietly in the background. so many of my musical friends were singing and praying me through the birth of my daughter. in my altered state, i was very aware of this fact.

i was in the most intense pain of my life during this time out of time. and yet, i was mostly silent. i moaned through each wave, and finally understood what is meant by trying to get on top of the waves and ride them through. i kept my eyes closed, and slipped deeply into myself. i’ve never been more mindful of remaining in the present tense. there was simply nothing else in the world other than me, the fire, h at my back, and my daughter descending. in fact, i forgot that h and i were separate people. she felt like the strong, standing part of me; my backbone.

i felt annoyed when the midwives had to come in and check sparky’s heart. i hated the interruptions, and mostly tried to remain silent and focus as they listened. m came in after what she said was 45 minutes and told me i had to try to pee. i was not happy about this change of scenery. i don’t remember if i was successful in my urination attempt.

another bath was drawn for me, but this time, it was not soothing. in fact, i fell into my most panicked state while in the tub. it felt angular and hard and i couldn’t escape and the contractions were coming so fast that i couldn’t change out of an uncomfortable position…i demanded to be freed at once.

and then suddenly all was quiet again. v recommended that i spend the rest of transition in bed, lying on my side with a pillow between my legs. she told me to try to sleep through the breaks, until it was time to push. everything around me went dark and silent, as h held me through the contractions, and i found my way back down inside myself during the breaks.

just as i was getting used to being in this place, m was in front of my face. “you smell like peanut butter,” i remember saying. she apologized, and asked if she could check me. it was just after 10:30. i was 9 cm dilated, with just a lip of a cervix remaining. h and v each held up a leg of mine, and m asked me to push. there went the lip. i was fully dilated now and ready to go.

i was right about the castor oil and its lasting effects. i’d told h as i bitched about drinking the smoothie, “i am going to shit all over m and not feel bad about it. she can wipe my ass and i won’t care.” and so it came to pass that the prophecy came true. “well, annie, isn’t that the sweetest poo you’ve ever laid,” m said as i pushed. i grunted and pushed some more.

once again, just as i got comfortable in this pushing position, m asked me to get up and try pushing on the birthing chair. the birthing chair is the assless chaps of chairs. it’s basically a chair without a seat. there’s room enough to hold your legs, but that’s it. your ass is left to gravity.

i pushed and pushed and pushed on this chair. things were going great; everyone was smiling. h supported me once again from behind. m told me to look down at my belly as i pushed, and wouldn’t you know it, my big belly was totally gone, except for just above my pubic bone. “reach up in your vagina and feel your baby,” m said. i thought i must be making fantastic progress, but i had to insert my finger a long way to find a baby head, and i briefly felt disheartened. i let the thought go and continued pushing.

and then the mood changed and the air was charged with urgency. sparky’s heart tones had dropped from 160 to about 90. she was stuck under the pubic bone and i was going to have to push double time to free her.

i was given oxygen, and taken back to bed. i held my legs behind my head, and pushed with my ass to the sky. there was a small part of me that felt panicked about the situation, but mostly i was back inside myself, concentrating on nothing but pushing. pushing, by the way, did feel comparatively awesome. it wasn’t pain anymore. it was just pressure. the contractions felt purposeful and helpful, and i worked together with them to bring my baby down. and i knew that i was a good pusher, too. i had no idea had such core strength, but i felt the sparky descent with every push.

meanwhile, m suddenly called for a shot of lidocaine, which snapped me back to the current situation. “are you going to cut me?” i asked as she numbed my perineum. i think she replied something vague like “we’re just helping you get your baby out”, and i knew she didn’t have time to properly answer me, and so i went back to following directions to push. i felt tugging and more pressure and her hands inside of me, helping me push sparky out. she asked me again to feel her head, and this time, a squishy fuzzy crown was poking out of me. i kept pushing.

there was no ring of fire for me. my perineum was numb, and the rest of me was well supported by hands and copious amounts of olive oil. i pushed as hard as i possibly could, and the oxygen mask kept slipping off my face, and then plop! her head was out. m yelled, “h, pull your baby out!” and with my next push, h had sparky’s whole body in her hands.

our daughter, judith marguerite, was here, after what turned out to be 34 minutes of pushing. she came out pink and screaming. and then she quieted down, and checked our her new digs. i’m not sure how long we all stayed that way, staring at each other, h crying and me staring in disbelief. but at some point, the cord stopped pulsing, and i watched h cut it. it was then that i delivered the placenta, which was mostly painless. it felt like i gave birth to a pancake.

jude got stuck because she refused to come out without her arm against her head. because of the distress, and having to push her out a lot faster than the ideal pace, i tore a lot. the pressure i felt after the lidocaine shot was m tearing my perineum to make room for my daughter’s head and hand. all that work with stretching and softening my perineum for months and it was torn on purpose!

i am so grateful for all the iron i’ve been taking. after delivering the placenta, i had an arcing hemorrhage, and required an immediate shot of pitocin in my leg. i bled a lot, “more than average” i’m told, and it could’ve been a lot worse…but i’ll save that story for next time. i’ve got a baby to feed now.

[next intallment: the afterbirth story.]

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