I remember thinking I must be hitting transition. I had to do a lot of "thought stopping" and kept saying out loud "one at a time, just this one" and "I can do this" over and over again. My family didn't realize that what was going on was that I was fighting with myself -- I'd catch myself wondering how much longer I could do this -- which is when I started chanting "just this one," or find myself doubting that I'd could handle any more -- "I can do this."
Cristine checked me again around this time and although I didn't hear her say it at the time, I had only a lip of cervix left. My hind waters were still intact, and she told me that the baby just needed to turn slightly and that we could help that by breaking the waters, so despite that I had not intended to have my waters broken artificially it seemed like the right thing to do. The contraction that I went through lying on my back waiting for Cristine to break my waters made me understand why women find labor so painful. It was the only truly "painful" contraction I had. The rest of them were incredibly intense and overwhelming, but pain is the wrong word for them. Pain describes a broken arm or the surgery I had when I was 18, but doesn't *really* define what I was going through -- except for that one 3-peaked contraction I went through lying flat on my back. Man oh man that one was brutal and I was really glad to get upright again!
It was back to the toilet with me to let the waters drain a bit, and I had about 3 or 4 more 3-peaked contractions and started feeling a little bit "pushy." Cristine suggested I go back to all fours on the bed, and that did the trick. As soon as I was in that position there was nothing I could do except let my body do its work. I really feel like I was a bystander in the pushing stage. All I could do was keep supplying oxygen to my muscles and try not to interfere.
The baby crowned in 18 minutes and was out in 20. No tears at all (although for some reason I wasn't expecting the "ring of fire" around the FRONT. Somehow I thought that it would only be my perineum that felt that! Silly me), just a small scrape where he had his hand up next to his face (yup, I pushed out a hand along with the head). I reached down to touch his head as he was crowning and was so amazed to find that it was pointy .- I mean, we all know that the head molds but I think I didn't really understand until that moment how perfectly engineered this whole process is.
I gave everybody a good laugh though, they told me to stop pushing as he crowned and I said "he won't go back?" They all laughed and Anne Marie said no you can't put him back. I couldn't explain at the time that that's not what I meant, I was just damned if I was going to lose ground and let him slip back upward again. I was fully prepared to hold him there! But anyway the next push came and his head was out. The cord was loosely around his neck, and I was laughing while the rest of his body was born through the loop -. I've never felt such a physical "relief" in my life, it was incredible! The four seconds that it took for them to pass him to me was an eternity. And I was so thrilled to have him in my hands that Stephen had to ask me to check the gender (the cord was between his legs).
Shawna and Anne Marie had started a batch of muffins and some coffee as I started pushing, thinking it would be a while. Shawna says she had just got them into the oven when she heard her name called in a "serious" kind of way and she got sent to warm blankets in the dryer.
45 minutes later there were six of us on our bed eating hot apple-cinnamon muffins.
Our baby boy stayed nameless for about 4 days. Somehow it just didn't seem very important. He is now Samuel (because we love it) Stephen (for his dad) Guy (to honor my family surname) and will carry Stephen's surname.
He's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
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