Okay, this is going to be intense—trigger warning—and I need to start with the end, the craziest part, because for some reason this makes the most sense to me right now. It is the moment my mind keeps looping back to, not caring about time or order, up and down, around and around, each time the memory becoming slightly less intense, like a knife becoming dull after days and days of whittling.
So here goes…After nine months of waiting, a week of being overdue, two days of prodromal labor, twenty-four hours of pre-labor, and six hours of active labor, my body was finally, finally, finally ready to push this baby out! The hospital’s midwife entered with a small team of nurses, and she peered over her spectacles with these grey, wise eyes and told me to push and that my body knew what to do, and I felt like the entire universe was thundering right threw me and gave it all I got, and when I hit the “ring of fire,” I thought about the movie 127 Hours and powered through it like a wild fucking animal, and then the midwife commanded me to reach down and pull out my prize—out of my very own body—and I screamed while I did it, and then I saw and felt and heard him squirming and squealing on my chest and knew that the wait and preparation and pain was finally all over and here we were together, at last.
Wow, I know that was graphic. And maybe it was weird that I shared this very private moment, but I can’t get over how crazy birth is—no matter how it goes down—this moment in time when finally your child comes out of your body to meet the world. How do you process that? How do you keep it all to yourself? How do you move back into ordinary life? We all have our ways, I suppose.
When I first started having random prodromal contractions at home, which involved me occasionally clutching whatever furniture was in sight and breathing like a crazy person, J looked at me and said in a serious voice, “I don’t know you, but I love you.” I almost cried at the sweetness of this statement and I knew he was right—I was being transformed right before his eyes into this birthing maniac woman/creature that he had never seen before. I’m sure it was a lot for a four-year-old to take in, so thankfully, when it was really go time (at 4am) my cousin rushed over to be with him, and we left with our doula for the hospital for the real craziness to begin.
At the hospital, I was offered nitrous oxide—yep, laughing gas. I was unsure about this at first—I had never heard of this being used during labor and I didn’t want to screw things up because I was laughing like an idiot. But then I hit back labor pains and I decided, why the hell not.
“Labor is nothing,” said the nurse assigned to me at the hospital, “it’s the next eighteen years that will kill ya!” Thanks to the nitrous oxide, I did laugh. And I actually felt slightly removed from the pain, which freed me up to think about other things—like how much I loved my husband and how unbelievable the world was. Really, I thought about these things. Between contractions. It was wild.
Three days after it all, I sat out on the porch for a long time watching the rain and crying. It was all so much—this beautiful baby boy who was so tiny and tender and lovable and innocent—the feel of his skin, the little squawks, his eyes taking the whole world in, the memory of our birth together and day one, two, and three already slipping away…
“Why are you sitting out there?” J barged out onto the porch wearing his fireman pants and wielding a knight shield. I followed him inside where it was warm and where I needed to be. “HIYA!” he yelled, jumping on his dad, starting a wrestling/tickling match. I cuddled up with baby C and laughed, feeling okay again, and decided that the next day I would force myself to write and that would be my way of processing this whirlwind of emotion and enter back into the ordinary. I would get these moments out into the world where they could be held and shared and understood. And somehow this would help me freeze and process and celebrate this birth—the wild unstoppable animal that I was and that beautiful, tender, innocent, baby-boy-creature that grew for so long inside my body and then finally, finally, finally came out—those unbelievable first seconds and moments and days. And now, I am released to move on from it all, with a sense of relief and bravery, towards those next eighteen years.