My Water Breaks
Hour Five: My water breaks in a big, nasty gush all over the bathrobe Jack put on me while I was going through a phase of sweats and chills. I realize now that it's dark outside. It takes enormous effort for me to stand up to get out of the mess but once I make it to the toilet I find that sitting upright is THE. BEST. THING. EVER.
Letting Gravity Help
All that time I was lying down, gravity was just politely waiting to help. Now that I'm in position it's gearing up to bring this baby down. I'm six centimeters dilated and Myrrh, the midwife-in-training who came to check on me, gives Jack the okay to start filling the birthing tub. I hadn't really intended to have my baby underwater, but I knew that the chances of tearing were almost nil after you'd been soaking your lady parts in warm water for a couple of hours. Jack runs a hose from our kitchen sink to the tub in the living room. Our hot water heater quickly empties and Jack happily begins boiling water in big pots on the stove, just like in the movies.
During my sixth hour of labor, something inside me changes gear. I start making these "WhoooAAAAAHHHahhhhh" sounds, like I'm on a giant roller coaster riding through big stomach-dropping dips and wig-lifting highs.
"Are you pushing?" asks Myrrh. I'm still squatting on the toilet and she's kneeling in front of me.
"I have no idea, but if it sounds like I'm pushing, based on your experience of what women sound like when they're pushing, then I must be pushing," I hiss. She tells me to stand up as I am still sitting on the toilet and no one wants this kind of water birth. All of a sudden, I have an unexpected sense that the baby has slid into a new place, deep in my pelvis, and there is no turning back; no sucking it in and staying pregnant for a few more months; this baby needs to come out right now.
Myrrh listens to the baby's heartbeat. It's slowed somewhat, and she gets a little anxious, as she has no back-up to deal with a newborn baby in distress. She runs out of the bathroom to call Alice and get her the heck back over to our apartment. She also tells Jack to abandon the birthing tub and come into the bathroom. The baby is crowning and my vagina is stretching and burning. Fortunately, midwives let you put out this highly specific fire by pouring fresh olive oil over the affected area. Oh, the relief.
A Crowd in the Bathroom
Now I'm hanging from the towel bar across from the toilet, pushing and breathing and taking direction from Myrrh. Jack hears a knock at the door and goes to find Alice struggling up our stairs with an oxygen tank. They come into our tiny bathroom just in time to see me standing there with a little head hanging down between my legs. Jack sits on the edge of the tub and lets the women work. One more big push and the baby slithers out into Alice's waiting hands. Myrrh is totally stoked, she shouts at me, "Hold your baby in your lap! Hold your baby in your lap!" And I sit back down on the toilet and I do.
It's a boy. It's a boy! My endorphin fog lifts instantly. I feel utterly and intensely awake. I look at Jack incredulously. Look what we did. Fingers. Toes. Jackson.
I feel great but Alice and Myrrh help me walk back into the bedroom carrying my boy. Jackson and I are still attached, his umbilical cord looping back up inside me. Within minutes Jack has cut the cord, the placenta is birthed, Jackson is weighed and measured and swaddled, I am stitched, and Jack is on the phone waking up relatives from coast to coast.
And, really, that was just the beginning.
Eden Marriott Kennedy is a freelance writer in California.
Originally published on AmericanBaby.com, April 2006.
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