That warm water was amazing. It was also amazing having the midwives and Joel at eye level with me. Laboring at the edge of the tub when Joel was outside of it was perfect, and then when he got in with me and being able to lock eyes with Michelle it was even more perfect. At one point during a particularly intense contraction that I was having trouble staying with, I remember her, almost sternly, telling me to channel the energy down and to contain it and it helped ENORMOUSLY.
Having her right there with me, knowing that I was losing it, she was like a finger in the dam. No, she was the mama teaching her child how to stop up the dam herself.
In between rushes I was still capable of some conscious thought, able to joke a bit, to check in with Joel. Joel. I’m not giving him enough credit for how absolutely, 100% integral he was to the birth. I literally could not have done it without him. All of my strength is his. All of his is mine. This is how it is all the time for us. We share everything. And in this, he was so strong, so selfless.
In retrospect, I am SO grateful that I didn’t know the progress of my labor. The instant I felt that burning and I consciously knew the baby was almost out, was when I came back to my head.
Things immediately looked and felt clearer. I knew, consciously, what was going on. I could tell that I wasn’t going to be able to breathe the baby out, and when I was trying pushing I wasn’t sure how to do it. I asked Michelle how to push better, because the ones I was trying weren’t feeling good. When I finally got the hang of it pushing felt really good. I had to learn over the course of a few contractions how to use my whole breath, and how to also push longer than I thought I could. I don’t remember pushing for very long. In between every contraction I was updating them on what I was feeling and if the baby was receding back into the birth canal or staying put.
The whole time I was pushing and feeling the stretching of my vaginal opening, my mantra (or only conscious thought during the pushing) had changed to “This really isn’t that bad.” And it wasn’t.
It helped to think that, and it really wasn’t that painful. I don’t remember any burning when the baby was crowning, or any pain at all. I was just so excited that our baby was almost here and that it had happened so quickly! The head popped out and I remember thinking that that must have been all of her.
Then the midwives told me it was just her head. Then a hand popped out with the next push. And then on the next push, I felt the rest of the baby’s body splatter out. It was easier than the head, and it did just feel like such a slithery, splattery entry into this world. The midwives put her directly on my chest and boy oh boy was she screaming!!! Right out of the water she was screaming, and all I remember saying was, “Oh my god!” Over and over. I was still sitting on Joel, and he held our baby with me. I think I remember that he had started crying when he heard that her head had come out, he was just so happy. We asked what the sex was but the midwives asked if we wanted to be the ones to look and so we decided to wait a bit to see if she was a boy or girl.
We got out of the tub and got onto the couch, me still laying against Joel, waiting for the placenta to be delivered. She was still wailing, and we started singing Joanna Newsom’s “Bridges and Balloons” to her to calm her down. As she calmed down, she started rooting for my breast like crazy! After what felt like half an hour of waiting, we decided to ask the midwives to tell us if she was a boy or girl. We were still attached, waiting for the placenta to be delivered. When the midwives told us that it was a girl we both started crying in happiness. Joel had super been hoping it was a girl, and I had thought the whole pregnancy, until near the end when everyone started dreaming of HER, our Joanna Linda Rose, named for her father, my mother, my grandmother, Joel’s grandmother, my aunt, and Joanna Newsom, the singer of her first song. We were both so delighted, tickled and grateful. A girl!
In retrospect, I believe that the “other place” I went to during contractions and during most of the birth was a direct – or as direct as I have ever come – connection to whatever you call source energy. I was so immersed, had so fully surrendered to the experience I was having. I was at once my most primal and also my highest self.
It felt so normal and unsurprising, safe, strong, sure, magical, unbelievable and so so right.
Joel gives me the ability to feel all of those things on a regular basis, and without him I never would have had them all at the same time and so strongly. Overall, I can sum up my birth in five words: so normal and so magical.