Seriously, after I’m fully dilated, it’s like all my worries about labor and delivery are gone. I know I have pushing left, but every labor story I’ve ever read has described pushing as the “easy” part — the part where you’re so close to having your baby in your arms, you don’t really care as much about the pain. My midwife leaves for a bit, telling me to go ahead and practice some pushes with the contractions. And it’s by now 8 a.m. Which I know because Nurse Bubbly is back!
That’s right, I’ve now labored for so long, I’ve gone through a 24-hour rotation of nurses (and keep in mind that I started labor nine or 10 hours before we got to the hospital). Nurse Bubbly, if you recall, is the one who got excited because I wanted to use the squat bar for pushing, so while I’m in the bathroom, trying to empty my bladder and “practice push,” she and King Rabbit set it up. I don’t think the bladder emptying works—I’m pretty sure they need to drain my bladder with a catheter—but I don’t feel it, and I don’t care.
Ima’ bout to get this baby out, and that’s all I can focus on. KR supports me as I squat in the bed, holding onto the bar, and bearing down with all my might, and I think to myself that I’m not going to be able to push this way for long. My legs are killing me, and I keep wanting to sit back down with my knees up next to my ears. Which, it turns out, isn’t good for the baby.
For the first time during my entire labor, she’s showing some signs of distress, her heart rate dipping when I sit in the squat position. This makes sense, it turns out, since I’m probably sitting right on her head, but she’d been at -1 or 0 station the entire labor, including at my last check. I figure she’s still up there pretty high. So, it turns out, does my midwife, because she decides that I’m going to be pushing for a long time, and she wants me to do it on my back where she can get a good view of what’s going on.
She also tells me that she’s called for a pediatric consult, meaning they’ll be taking the baby away to be checked after she’s born. This statement barely registers with me—at least not consciously. Consciously, I’m pretty sure my reaction is something akin to “Oh.” We’ve already strayed so much from the original birth plan that this doesn’t really phase me—besides, the kid’s not here YET. I’m zeroed in on making that happen, and for some reason, I’m not even slightly worried about the baby’s health.
Subconsciously, I must have felt a little concerned—not about how Cricket was doing, but about that whole part where she’s whisked away from me at birth, because at my next contraction—the first one where I’m in the traditional, supported position you see on TV, the nurse holding one leg back, KR holding the other, me curling my shoulders up as much as I can so I’m not technically lying down—I push HARD. And the midwife suddenly goes, “I see a head! With a LOT of dark hair!”
Since nobody uses the term “crowning” I don’t actually realize how close we are. In fact, at my next push, when I feel a horrible, screaming, intense, miserable burning sensation that feels like I might just rip in half, I assume that this is just what pushing feels like, and think briefly to myself that (a) everybody who said this was the easy part is a lying liar who lies, and (b) there is NO WAY I can keep this up for two hours. Which is why I’m so surprised when the midwife tells me to reach down and take my baby.
But I do it. I get her under the arms, and I pull her to my chest, and she lies there very quietly for a minute, with her face all scrunched up. Then she lets out a little mew — not a cry, just a soft little kitten noise — and I love her right away.
It's 8:32 a.m. on September 16, 2010, and I'm a mom.