Pushing, unfortunately, was a whole different ball game. I pushed and pushed and pushed, and that little baby noggin stayed right where it was. As a student midwife I had seen this happen several times, and I boldly insisted, “There is something wrong! This is not working! You know it shouldn’t be this hard!” And my midwives kindly and gently checked on baby, found he was doing well, and told me to keep trying. They supported my body, gave me honey and coconut water and herbs. They pulled out every trick in the book. They saw me stop joking and start getting really, really discouraged. And when it seemed like we’d truly hit a wall, they sent me to rest in bed with just Bryan and Julia to keep me company. With just those two wonderful people by my side, I finally worked that little baby down enough to make some progress. We rallied together, and with some very serious work and some very serious encouragement I finally, finally pushed that baby out! He came out! And he was so beautiful! I know that I laughed, because I’ve seen the video, but all I remember is seeing that amazingly beautiful chunky little fresh baby come up to my chest and looking up at Bryan’s face. The sight of him looking at our baby and crying was absolutely, amazingly, beautifully heart filling. We didn’t care if we had a boy or girl, that baby came out! I was amazed at my body and so grateful to the team that supported us.
Pushing out Owen had been so hard because his head was tilted to the right. This meant that a much larger diameter of his head had to fit through, and my uterus worked incredibly hard to do it. He also had a tight cord on his shoulder that broke as the midwives attempted to move it for his birth. He cried immediately and was absolutely great, but my uterus was very tired and I had a pretty impressive tear. This caused a lot of bleeding, and after some very skilled home care and discussion, we decided a transfer to the hospital was safest for me. One of the paramedics that arrived happened to be my CPR instructor from about two months prior, and the familiar face was extremely welcome. Bryan and Owen got some skin-to-skin time and bonded beautifully by my side while I received really compassionate, skilled care at Mad River Hospital, and we finally settled into a hospital postpartum room to rest and connect as a family. My first food was ice cream brought to me by a nurse, and it was AMAZING. She brought one for Bryan, and he graciously let me eat that one too. I earned it! While I was being treated for my tear I told basically anyone who would listen that it was the worst day of my life, which was true. My mom told me later that the nurses seemed a little worried that I wouldn’t bond well with Owen, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Little did I know at the time that the hardest and objectively worst day of my life was the first day of the most incredible, beautiful, serene and magical week I’ve ever had. After I was treated (yay, blood transfusion!) and on the path to healing we went home and laid in bed, eating delicious food and drinking coconut water and admiring this beautiful, perfect, amazing, and precious little child. He is a dream come true, and was the most incredible reward for my labors. The empowerment afterglow from the labor and birth was phenomenal; I had never before viewed my body with such pride and reverence. Giving birth and the immediate postpartum was hard, it seemed impossible, I had to face tough choices and be brave, and I did it. I DID IT. And it was great.
The following months were a slow process of celebrating our successes and grieving our losses; the ideal easy pushing stage, the beautiful post-home birth bonding, the delayed cord clamping. I let each wave come as it may, and talked it through with my midwives, Bryan, and other mothers. Now, at eight months postpartum, I feel so overwhelmingly positive about our experience. Birth is unpredictable, it is hard work, and it requires skilled and compassionate care. We got the whole package, and a healthy, happy, beautiful, and VERY busy little baby to show for it.