He explained that he had hoped it would happen that day, September 13th. So far, all of our significant events have had a little pattern to them. Our anniversary is on February 20th, Lucy was born on April 20th, and my birthday is June 20th. Pete is all alone on July 13th and thought it would be nice if our son was also born on the 13th. Once he pointed that out, I burst out laughing and said, "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED." Lucy chimed in, "Mama happy?" I said, "Yes, Lucy, Mama's very happy." She replied, "My happy too. Papa, ah luff oo." It took me a moment to realize she had just said, "I love you" for the first time. It was a sweet way to start our day, and I was practically buzzing with contentment.
Throughout the day, my contractions steadily grew stronger and more regular as long as I stayed upright and active. The moment I slowed down, so did they. I was able to eat and take a nap without much trouble, and otherwise puttered around and got things accomplished. Alex and Juliana helped so much by keeping Lucy occupied.
Pete and I were able to really connect. I relied on him so much more this time around, after reading still more accounts of natural labor in Ina May's Spiritual Midwifery. Last time I focused only on my pain and myself, but this time I was able to really see him and engage with him throughout the whole experience, and it definitely helped. In the afternoon, we walked to the library together in spite of the rain, and that's when I felt things move forward. And yet as soon as we got home and I sat down, they ground to a halt. So I went back to work, tidying up and getting everything ready. I made up my mind to hold off until Lucy went to bed so that I could leave knowing she was settled for the night.
As Pete put Lucy to bed, things heated up and I knew we had to get going. Once we were in the car, I suddenly became emotional about leaving Lucy's babyhood behind. I knew that nothing would ever be the same again and it frightened and saddened me. I suggested that we take a walk once we got to Cooperstown, so I would have a chance to calm down. I'd only had two contractions during the 30 minute drive to the hospital, so I thought we had the time.
And yet--as soon as I got out of the car, the most intense contraction hit me and I had to grab onto Pete. We had to go right up, even though I was still feeling a little raw emotionally. The short walk to the entrance of the hospital was punctuated with contractions, and I stopped to lean on the benches along the way.
We made it up to the birthing center at about 10 PM and they hooked me up to the monitors. Sitting on the bed was uncomfortable--I preferred being able to stand and lean on something through the contractions. We explained that we wanted as few interventions as possible. I remember telling the doctor to just catch the baby. The doctor insisted on giving me an internal exam during a contraction, which was pure torture and did not endear him to me. He told me I was at 7 cm, but I didn't hear him through the pain. Once he was gone, I began to get impatient and felt even more annoyed about the monitors, so we called a nurse and she detached me.
We went into the bathroom and shut the door so we could be alone again. I immediately began to feel better and more in control of the experience. They have these splendid showers with two shower heads in the birthing center. Pete got on his swim suit and helped me get situated in there. I was able to lean on the shower seat while he ran the water over my back. It was so relaxing that I began to yawn uncontrollably, and the contractions came on top of each other. As strange as it sounds, it felt good. I was completely at ease. But we knew it was time to call the nurse and transition back to the main room. They got me back on the bed, where--of all things--I had to sign some paperwork between contractions. The doctor broke my water and before I knew it, it was time to push.
I wasn't comfortable on the bed and wanted desperately to stand, but it was out of the question. They adjusted the bed so it was more like an armchair, which didn't really help. I had nothing to brace myself against. The nurse and Pete held my legs, but I couldn't push my feet against anything, or use my arms to pull myself up and curl around the baby. I was so frustrated. My legs were shaking uncontrollably. The doctor kept counting and making Pete count, which infuriated me. For some reason, between contractions, I kept cupping my vulva, perhaps to provide a little counter-pressure. Inexplicably, the doctor offered to numb it for me. I curtly told him no, and was astounded that he would offer it after I had made myself clear--and was so close.
I remember glancing at the clock. It was a little after 11--and if I wanted him to be born on September 13th, I would have to hurry. I remember yelling, "Get him out of me!" over and over. The nurse said, "You have to push him out," which made me switch to chanting, "Get out of me!" I asked for a mirror, but once they held it up, I was completely horrified at the sight of the baby crowning and averted my eyes. The baby's cord was around his neck, so the doctor had to clip it quickly. Then he was out entirely, with a gush of blood and a flood of meconium. I saw my stomach collapse, and suddenly missed having him inside--because I had forgotten to savor it. He was whisked away and I was convinced he couldn't breathe or had swallowed the meconium. I insisted the nurses tell me what was the matter with him. They told me he was fine--but I wouldn't believe them. "Just tell me--I can take it!" I remember saying.
I was so grateful to our friend Katia and her family, who visited and took these lovely pictures for us. And I was incredibly thankful that Juliana, Alex, and Anna were there to take such good care of Lucy. When it was time to leave, she was happy to go with her aunties, which was a tremendous relief for me.