At around 11:30am, I finally started the last part of my birthing journey…the pushing. Little did I know that this would be the most challenging part of the entire birth experience. At this point I had been up for nearly 28 hours with only one hour of sleep, my body was tired, my mind was tired, but I knew I had to push on (literally and mentally).
The front of the birthing bed was lowered and the squat bar was brought out. I started off my pushing in an upright squat, using the bar as support. The initial sensation was incredibly uncomfortable, awkward and new, but I knew there was no turning back. I pushed slowly at first getting used to the new sensation, reminding myself to use my core to push and reminding myself to take a breath in between pushes (well everyone else around me also reminding me that I needed to take a breath). At the end of each contraction I relaxed back, making sure to relax my entire body as I prepared for the next contraction and the next round of pushes.
After about 30 minutes of pushing in an upright squat I was getting exhausted so the midwives had me try a new position. A sheet was put over the top of the squat bar and I put my feet up on either side of the bar to put myself in a reclined squat position. Each contraction I would wrap the ends of the sheet around each of my hands, curl myself over my baby (thankful that Sarah kept reminding me to do so) and push with all my strength. The contraction would end and I would fall back, relaxing my shoulders, my face, and my body as much as I could as I waited for the next contraction.
I pushed in this reclined squat for awhile and then was asked if I would be interested in trying pushing on my hands and knees, the thought being that gravity would help bring the baby down. The back of the bed was put almost up right for me to grab on to the top and I got on my knees, when the contraction came I started to push down, but I quickly wanted to come out of the position. I was uncomfortable, it hurt more than the reclined squat and I just didn’t like it. The midwives and nurse encouraged me to keep trying it and at least finish this contraction. Reminding me that in each new position that I tried I would encounter a new sensation and that it would take a few contractions to get used to it.
I went back to my breathing and kept reminding myself that there was no turning back and that I was trying this new position to get our baby down and out as fast as I could. I pushed through a few more contractions in this position before I finally couldn’t take it anymore and moved back to upright squat for a few contractions before I finally went back to the reclined squat, which was the most comfortable for me.
At some point, I think about an hour and fifteen minutes, into pushing, Midwife Ellen checked on my progress and found that the baby was about one inch from crowning. This meant absolutely nothing to me. All I could think of was an inch? How long is that going to take? I knew there was no point in asking because I would either be given a time and be concerned if it didn’t happen in that amount of time or they wouldn’t be able to tell me anything at all. Instead, I focused on breathing, pushing and psyching myself up at each contraction to push this baby out. I reminded myself that it would take as long as it had to but that I need to make sure I took advantage of each contraction and pushed with all my might.
After another 30 minutes or so, I was told the baby was almost crowning. This is when I knew I was getting closer. I was looking forward to hearing that s/he was crowning and I kept in mind the “ring of fire” sensation that I had read about. After around four or five more contractions I started to feel the ring of fire sensation and I knew that I was close, this was the motivation that I needed to finish pushing.
Once the baby was finally crowning Midwife Ellen took over coaching/guiding me through the last few pushes. At my next contraction, I made sure to bare down as much as possible and pushed, took a breath, pushed again and five breaths/pushes later I felt this incredible sensation and my baby was out and on my stomach while Midwife Ellen cut the cord. After that she was quickly whisked away by the pediatrician to be assessed because of the meconium in my waters.
Neil went over to the warmer to reveal the sex of our baby (IT’S A GIRL!) and to cut (trim) the umbilical cord- we both loved this since he wasn’t able to cut the cord initially due to the urgency of having her checked. She held onto his finger as he watched the pediatrician check her out. He found that everything looked good, with no worries of her ingesting the meconium into her lungs. She was returned to my chest and I was ecstatic to have her on me. Neil then whispered in my ear that he knew which name he thought was perfect for her (at this point we had narrowed it down to two girls names and had decided to wait until the birth to choose a girls name). I looked at him and told him I had decided as well and asked him to share his choice first that’s when he said Edith and I was delighted because that is what I had decided as well.
We announced the name and honestly I don’t remember much else after this just that I had my first breastfeeding attempt after about 30 minutes and was able to hold my baby on my chest for the first two hours before she was weighed and given her first bath by her daddy (with guidance by Nurse Ellen). Then Neil had his turn at skin to skin contact with the baby- and I watched, falling more in love with both of them.
My Reflection on the Birth:
I had nothing short of an amazing birth experience. I attribute my amazing experience to staying active during pregnancy, prenatal yoga, hiring a doula, choosing the care providers that were right for us and having an amazing husband who was supportive through my entire pregnancy and the birthing of our daughter.