The last part of my birth story involves pushing, delivery, and post-delivery things … blood, guts, etc.

So anyways. From 11:15am to noon I went from 7-8cm dilated to complete, and this is where I start remembering certain things very vividly. Up to this point, I’d gotten into a rhythm and was riding the waves, no end or beginning in sight or memory. After this point, though, there were actual things to do. At 12:20pm I started pushing, mildly surprised to find out what “feeling pushy” really feels like: it didn’t feel like anything I’d ever done before, not even taking a dump, but I still knew how to do it and felt—not an urgency, but an insistence. The train was coming into the station. Man, there are so many metaphors that are kind of apt but slightly awkward. Birth “canal.”

I was disappointed—in retrospect—that I didn’t feel the baby moving through my cervix (as someone once told me she had felt, during the birth of her son) … but I could feel her head in the birth canal, man. It was relieving, in a sense, to be able to do something with the pain & strength of these contractions instead of just riding them out, but only in a sense. Mostly it hurt like crazy. But the end was near, and suddenly zooming toward us, shaking me and the bed and the entire room, and I was trying to hit it as fast as it was going to hit us.

So it was irritating that pushing in a hunched-over type position seemed like it wasn’t getting me anywhere … and at 1:00pm I tried The Squat, which I’d heard could move things along faster (because of gravity). All this time my baby’s head and body are moving, and I could feel her making progress. Again, it was a fairly unbearable feeling, though it wasn’t just painful; there was this huge insistence, which at the moment reminds me of Poe’s “The Bells” as it accelerates through to the final stanza. I’m sure there was tons of adrenaline. She crowned at 1:45, and the nurse told me to quit pushing and hang on for a sec, which I was SURE at the time was because they had to run and get the OB (true), but now I think they probably wanted to slow things down so all the skin could have a few minutes to keep stretching over the baby’s head (possibly true) (still resentful).

In vain, however, as I did tear in a few places, first-degree. This was the second moment of fearful indecision in my labor—my baby is crowning and there’s no going back, she’s filling up my whole pelvis and I can’t stand her in there anymore, but the pressure of her head on my perineum is also hugely burning and it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better … I remember feeling like I was standing on a cliff, summoning the courage to just jump off. Just for a second. And I jumped. This is the only time in my labor that I yelled (if my memory serves). Man oh man. And the OB and what suddenly seemed like 16 nurses are telling me things (“great job”) and there’s a blur of activity and an enormous (not really—only 6 lbs 11 oz) gray baby with a very unpleasant look on her strange, puffy face is put on my chest. Her head had this conical shape, and she wasn’t crying, but she looked so confused and like all her feelings were hurt. I felt bad for her. And amazed that she could be so big. I wondered if I would have this “I already know you” feeling, but I didn’t. I felt like I was truly meeting her for the first time. 2:02pm.

Aaaaaand then other sudden and unexpected things. Blood had pooled and clotted in my uterus, and the OB had to go in right away after the clots. This might have been the most traumatic part of the whole birth story, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t even know it was something that sometimes had to be done, or that it would hurt like fucking hell. And then I got a bunch of numbing shots down there, and then endured many minutes of being stitched up, some of which I did feel, very keenly. I’d torn in a couple places—not sure how many, as I was warned by KG “not to look down there” once I got home (or at any point, until healed)—and it really felt like the stitching-up took forever, even though I could tell Dr. Shoutko was being very quick and efficient. Medical professionals tend to amaze me.

This tearing thing was something I’d worried about, pre-labor, quite a bit. Since I went into labor so early, I hadn’t gotten to do any perineal massage (which according to my birth class teacher helps mentally more than physically, anyway), but my baby’s head really wasn’t that big, and I did push for an hour and a half. I’m still investigating why this happened. Maybe it would have happened no matter what.

So that’s the end of the birth story, Blog Version. It’s a hugely important story, to me, partly because it’s an enormous job of work that I did, with all the accompanying feelings of empowerment and pride, and partly because it’s the story of the first time I saw my baby, Mary. My birth story had much more to do with me than with her, since she was so healthy and did so well through the whole thing, but now I’ll begin blogging about life with her. And that will be a totally different story. And since the sleep-deprivation hath begun, I can’t come up with anything either revelatory or warm/fuzzy with which to end this post. Oh well—more of those later.

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