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I loved being pregnant. I loved my big, round belly and I loved feeling the baby move. Sometimes I’d even laugh as the baby tickled me from the inside. Ruben and I were really looking forward to seeing our baby for the first time.
Friday night we went to my parent’s house to celebrate my mom’s birthday. The family was all there and they’d greet me by rubbing my belly. As Ruben and I were leaving, my mom touched my belly and told the baby it was ok to be born now. She watched as I wobbled to the car and saw the full moon in the sky above me. She thought, “she’s going to have that baby soon.”
My memory of labor is like a soft watercolor painting. And the images in my mind look warm and golden like a sepia tone photograph. The details of labor, and even the sequence of events, are all fuzzy. I only remember moments.
It was wonderful to be in my own home. I could do whatever I wanted. I felt very comfortable, safe and happy there. Corina, my midwife, her student assistant Eunice, and another midwife Edna were all there to help. The midwives suggested different positions for labor. I tried laboring in the bathtub, sitting on the toilet and birthing stool, laying in bed, but all were uncomfortable. The best position for me, by far, was standing up. Standing was the only position were I couldn’t feel pain in my back or my leg from my herniated disc.
I was thankful for being at home, uninhibited to make as much noise and move as I needed. I made deep “oh” and “ah” sounds to help me open with each contraction. When I was close to being fully dialated, Edna suggested saying “open”. I repeated it at least a million times.
Contractions are like hearing a train in the distance and feeling its rhythm racing toward you. You can see its light growing as it gets closer, and although you brace for the impact, it’s always stronger than anticipated when the train runs you over. You don’t know how long this train is. As each car crashes into you, all you can do is wait for it to be over. And then the weight of the cars becomes lighter and lighter and it fades away. But you can hear the whistle of the next train in the distance.
I understand why so many women ask for pain killers. Handling one contraction isn’t that hard to do. It’s knowing there’s another one coming after it and not knowing how many more after that. After a few hours of hard labor, I really wanted it to be over already. But despite the exhaustion, I learned just how stubborn I really am. I never wanted medication. I wanted it to be over, but I was still happy with my choices.
Corina and Edna were concerned about my stamina. My contractions had been very strong and close together for hours and I wasn’t at 10cm yet. When I reached 9cm, Corina gave me the option of pushing and that she would move the rest of the cervix back over the baby’s head with her fingers. I agreed. I was ready. Corina was wonderful. She coached me on how, when and where to push. She was clear, and calm, and sweet.
Ruben was hugging me while we stood in our bedroom and I pushed. After 2 hours of pushing, this was it. The urge to push took over my entire body. I felt strong. I stood with my legs apart and bent my knees as the contractions rushed over me. I thought, I’m pushing in ballet’s second position grand plie. Funny thought, now that I write about it. I also thought I must be hurting my poor husband’s back! As each contraction gave me the uncontrollable urge to push down, Ruben held me up. He felt solid, like I was hugging a big tree. I felt we were powerful together. He made me stronger. I could do my work better with his support. He was also working hard to bring our baby out.
Corina sat on the floor in front of me. She told me she could see lots of dark hair on the baby’s head. She asked if I wanted to touch it and when I was able, I felt the baby’s head with my fingers. Corina said we should move to the bed. Another contraction came before we could move. Ruben held me up. Then as the midwives suggested, Ruben moved behind me, keeping his arms around me, and we sat on our bed. Another contraction started before we were on the bed completely. I was slipping out of his arms, but we held ourselves up. Ruben was wonderful.
We slid back to sit on the bed. The baby’s head was coming out, Corina looked me straight in the eyes and said “pant”. I took short, shallow breaths as she checked to make sure the baby’s cord was out of the way. When she said it was ok to push, the baby came out quickly, sliding right into her arms. I looked up at the alarm clock, 11:06am. Edna handed Corina a towel and she lovingly wrapped the baby in it. We laid back on the bed and Corina put the baby on my belly.
It was incredible. There was a warm glow in the room and the baby looked up at us with big, dark, open eyes. I can’t remember what I said, but I can see this moment clearly. Then I asked, “what is it?” Edna said look to see. I unwrapped the towel and I was so surprised. It’s a girl! While I was pregnant it seemed everyone, anywhere I went, predicted it would be a boy. I could hardly believe it, “a girl!” I said again. Then Ruben said “It’s Evaly!”
I switched her to my other arm so Ruben could get a better look at her face. She just looked up at us, wide awake and quiet. She looked around the room and we watched, completely amazed by her. I felt wonderful. I was so happy. Ruben and I kissed. Our baby is here. We are a family.
The midwives were truly spectacular in their work. I had no episiotomy and I didn’t tear thanks to their techniques to prevent it. Corina handled the baby with as much love as if she had given birth to it herself. They waited for the cord to stop pulsing, giving the baby all her blood, before they clampt it. Ruben held the baby while the placenta was delivered. The midwives carefully checked me and the baby without separating all of us. It was a great experience. I hope that we can have our next baby at home too.