As the one-year mark approaches, I can’t help but look back and reminisce. As you may remember, Clay was born on a hot Saturday evening following a long, mostly boring labor. After arriving at the Birth Center around 6 a.m. at 6cm, I apparently felt so comfortable and relaxed in the Jacuzzi that my contractions came to a grinding halt. That was fine by me (at least at first). I was determined to walk and squat this baby out. By my own inclination, I got out of the tub to pace the Birth Center. My contractions were steady, but not as strong as at home. Sadly, I knew they needed more “oomph.”
All these thoughts to “fix” my labor went through my head, “I need to relax more,” “I need to walk more,” “maybe I should take a nap,” “never mind-false labor,” “these contractions are just loosening my pelvis, stretching my muscles, softening my cervix,” “he just needs to rotate,” “AGHHHHH!” After trying my hand at a little of everything, I mentally decided I was done. I definitely had the F*** it attitude. It was the afternoon by now and I was still 6-8cm.
“What can we do?” I asked Beth. I was frustrated and wanted to be done.
“Well, I can always break your water, but you know what that means,” she stated. I knew; it started the clock. If my contractions didn’t buck up and come on full force to get this baby out, I would be taking a trip to the hospital. I was resigned. I really didn’t want to deliver at the hospital. It reminded me too much of work. But, I also knew first hand that people have wonderful, beautiful hospital births every day. At that point, everything was coming into perspective. I was avoiding the hospital because I had such a great home birth with my first, but I had finally realized that this baby was different. He was going to come in his own way and make his own birth story. I decided that if I needed to go to the hospital, although it wasn’t my first choice, then so be it.
“If my water breaking doesn’t help my contractions, I think I’m going to need to go to the hospital and get some Pit,” I said, letting Beth know I understood the situation.
Beth stayed silent, only nodding. Shelley looked at me with those all knowing eyes.
Ten minutes later, I was back in action. “Now this is more like it!” I thought to myself, reveling in my body’s new found strength and power. “It’s really gonna happen!”
And it did! Only a short time later, I was at 9.5 cm, with a swollen anterior lip-just like with my first son.
“I’ve been here before,” I thought. I don’t know what it is about my anatomy, but I always end up with a fat anterior cervix. They’re gonna have to reduce it. Damn!
Beth must have been on the same wavelength as me because that’s exactly what she suggested. Only problem was that in order for her to be most effective, I was going to have to do the most dreaded: lay on my back, during a contraction, while pushing! Despite my absolute disgust of lying on my back and pushing, I decided to give it a shot. But man! Was it difficult! I was so distracted by the fact that I didn’t want to lay on my back, that it made it really hard to push.
And that’s when I found myself pushing Beth away. (I’m sure many obscenities were involved). I knew what I had to do: get back to squatting. I hobbled to the floor between contractions, everyone scrambling to move the towels, blankets, and instruments closer to me. And I did what I love best about every labor: I pushed. The strength and power that I felt pulsating through me was exhilarating. I watched Clay’s head begin to emerge after a few contractions.
“Control it,” I thought. “Not too fast.” Slowly, slowly his head came crowning out. The rest of his body followed easily.
At last! I relaxed my back on a pillow propped against a wall. He was here! He was screaming and wet all over my chest. I had him in my arms at last.
“I LOVE YOU!” I thought as I began rubbing his back and kissing his head.
As usual, the rest was a blur. I remember my placenta being stubborn and an OB down the street being called. I vaguely remember Shelley giving me a couple doses of miso. But I’ll never forget Clay’s newborn smell. I’ll never forget his itty-bitty cry. And, I’ll never forget those first couple of suckles at the breast.