the details, part 2
Very early on labor, I put "A Ghost Is Born" on through the iPod speaker. We listened to it over and over while I labored. The songs will forever remind me of Hal's birth. Half of it's you, half is me. Listen while you read for full effect! Yay technology!
This is part 2 of my home birth story. Part 1 is here.
At 12:30ish I settled back into the tub and tried to let go of the unknowns. My midwife kept assuring me that even though I was totally dilated (minus that stubborn lip) I didn't need to worry about pushing or how long it was going to take, that I needed to relax and get through the contractions one at a time. And rest.
"Just listen to your body, Erin," she said, "you will know what to do." I halfway believed her and halfway thought that it all sounded like a bunch of BS and could someone please tell me exactly when the baby was going to come out and how on Earth I was supposed to know the baby and my body were ready for me to push if they hadn't gotten themselves ready in the last two hours of being complete? What exactly were they waiting for, anyway? What if they were never ready?
After a little bit of time in the tub and a little bit of Rescue Remedy, the contractions spaced back out to every two minutes, which was wonderful. I started relaxing deeper and deeper, and then I began to have the strangest most powerful feeling wash over me during each break. I would very nearly go to sleep, my thoughts blowing around until they landed on something or other of no importance at all. I would think very calmly and clearly about ideas and situations that had nothing to do with labor. In fact, I would often TOTALLY FORGET I was in labor. Totally forget. When a contraction would start up again I would blow and vocalize and sometimes lose control, yelling, "I don't know how much longer I can do this," and, "Baby, please come out already!" but the second it was over my head went down, resting and dream-thinking about life things.
At two o'clock, after hours of samesamesamesame, my body began doing something new. I started to get this sharp funny feeling at the end of each contraction, almost like shocks, and I would grab the side of the tub to brace myself. And then, out of nowhere, I knew I wanted to push. So I pushed. He was moving down, he was coming, and I knew it. I just knew it. The midwife said I should go to the side of the tub and lean back on Luke. I did, and then I pushed like crazy. I pushed right past the pain, right past the feeling that I was going to split into a million pieces, and then miracle of miracles, his sweet little head was out. I reached down and felt it there and then paused for just a moment -- the cord was wrapped around his neck and needed to be loosened -- and then, at 2:11, one more push. There he was. All of him. My baby. Sweet little boy. The best feeling in the whole world.
It turned out his head had been tilted, not applying pressure to my entire cervix. Without pressure from his head, the stubborn cervical lip just couldn't get the message that it needed to go away And it never did go away -- I pushed him over it when the time was right. Why the time was right at 2:11 and not earlier, when I had tried to force it, I don't know. But at 2:11 I instinctively knew what to do, just like the midwife had promised I would.
The funny thing is that I never had any urge to push with Alice. The nurses in the hospital coached me into pushing hard, scary hard, for two and a half hours before she came out with assistance from my doctor. I am so grateful that I spent the two and a half hours before Hal was born sitting in a tub in my bedroom, listening to Wilco, relaxing more deeply than I ever have in my life. I am so glad that the midwife knew that I would know when it was time. She didn't force anything. She checked Hal's heartrate (it was always perfect) and told me I was doing well, but that was that. And he totally came out. He came out! I got him out. It was amazing.