My water still hadn’t broken so Christy, our midwife, asked if we would like her to break it and we agreed. This was 6pm. By 7pm Benjamin’s head was still tranverse and the contractions were still out of this world but I didn’t have the urge to push yet. But due to being able to labor all around the room and get things opened up, he was finally able to maneuver his little head into the right spot! Hooray! Once he was good to go Christy told me I could start to push. And pushing him out was easy peasy. Well, not easy peasy, but pushing is great because you get to work with the contractions. I delivered him in a squatting position, holding onto a rope thingy to hold myself up. I don’t really remember a rope thingy, but Daniel says there was one and I was incredibly loopy, exhausted, and sleep-deprived by this point so I trust his memory over my own. I would rest sitting on the edge of the hospital bed and then pull up with the rope to a squatting position when a contraction came along. I spent really all of my laboring to this point in silence. I talked a little bit between contractions but mostly just to ask for “fisticuffs.” But with pushing it was different. Primal grunting sounds escaped my lips. I was WORKING. Benjamin’s heart rate dropped some at this point so they put the fetal monitor into his head just to be safe. It only took about 10 minutes to get his head to crown. They set up a mirror so I could see him come out but…I’m a fainter. My dad and I are both fainters. We faint. A baby coming out of me just didn’t sound like something I needed visual confirmation of. I could feel that baby quite well, thank you very much, so I mostly closed my eyes and worked hard to push him out. After his head crowned, it felt like he TUMBLED out, elbows and knees. This was 7:47pm.
He gave a good strong cry and I was able to hold him right away and begin to nurse him. Then Daniel held him while they were stitching me up and sang, “Be Thou My Vision” to him, the hymn we sang to him everyday in the womb. Well, we didn’t sing it IN THE WOMB, but he was in the womb when we sang it. You know what I mean.
He was perfect and alert and deeply resented his first bath. Pink and chubby with a full head of black hair. He was 7 lbs 10 oz and 20 inches long with two 9s for his APGARs. The excitement wasn’t quite over. I fainted a half-an-hour after delivery (I told you I’m a fainter) but was quickly revived. Once Benjamin was in our arms, I realized I was STARVING after almost two days without eating hardly a thing. My sainted mother found us some sandwiches because the hospital restaurant was already closed. Apparently these ham and cheese sandwiches were out of some sort of vending machine but they tasted like the food of the gods to me. At this point, I was keyed up to spent the next few hours staring at my baby. Daniel said with relief, “Now we can go to sleep.” After getting set up in our room Daniel immediately nodded off while I unadvisedly slept not at all, enthralled by the sight of my little one. This is not to say that Daniel wasn’t excited about being a father, but as a general rule, exciting events don’t interfere with his ability to sleep. But babies do interfere with your ability to sleep. A couple of months ago we said to ourselves, “hey! I think we finally caught up on sleep from when Benjamin was born.”
I feel like I can take a lot of the credit for our little guy’s birth but I could not have done it without our amazing midwife, Christy, whose patience and expertise saved me from the c-section I would have had due to the transverse position of his head and long labor or without Daniel who coached me through every minute of labor with encouragement, calm, and love. My mom was my doula during the birth and brought ice chips, blew up birthing balls, put heating pads on my back and cool cloths on my head, and a million other vital tasks. So I had a good team for which I am grateful.
So, Febuary 8th, 2009: Thus began months of exhaustion, continually having vomit on the shoulder of my shirts, and seeing/touching more poop than I thought possible. And thus began my transformation into a mother and falling in love with Daniel all over again as he learned to be a father, relearning the words to lullabyes my mother sang, soaking in the smell of my baby’s head, laughter in the bath tub, and a million other beautiful events of inexpressible joy and boundless love. Picking a best day of one’s life isn’t easy. But it’s hard to beat the day you meet your first-born son.