Wanting To Go As Natural As Possible, Cindy Delivered At Home
My due date passes, May 14, 1996. On May 15, I wake at 4:00 am with contractions every 3 to 4 minutes. They don't hurt much, just feel like a mildly crampy, buzzy feeling just above my pubic bone. I get up, eat breakfast, run some errands and go for a walk on the beach.
At 11:00 am, I call Lori and tell her I'm having contractions and one little pink spot on my underwear. I walk to a nearby restaurant to meet my husband, Eddie, for lunch. I wish he would come home with me, but I figure these mild contractions could go on for days, so I don't ask. In the afternoon, I take a nap. The contractions stop while I'm asleep, then resume in the same pattern when I wake up.
Eddie comes home from work at 6:00 pm. We eat dinner and take another walk on the beach. As it gets dark out, the contractions become stronger and my memories become fuzzier. By 11:00 pm, the contractions are strong enough that I am afraid. I haven't seen any more bloody show, so I think that I haven't made any progress.
I call my midwife again, and she says, "Why don't you check your dilation?" I reach into my vagina, but can't feel anything but mush. My fingers come out covered with bloody mucus. Ahhh, yes, I can do this, as long as I'm making progress. Lori says it sounds to her like I'm dilated to about 3 or 4 cm. I ask her not to come yet. I hang up, and go to kneel in the dark of my bedroom, placing hot compresses on my abdomen when the contractions come. I wish I could ask Eddie to help me with the compresses, but it seems too hard to find the words.
At 1:00 am my midwife calls and Eddie answers the phone. I can't talk to her. She tells Eddie that she wants to come to our house. He asks me if this is okay, and I agree. Eddie fills the bathtub and helps me into it. The relief is immediate. Thank heaven for the water.
My midwife arrives at 2:00 am. I am kneeling beside the bed, saying "Ah, ah, ah... " She says, "Cindy, keep your voice low. Ooooo." Moaning feels great! What a wonderful idea. I can feel the vibrations from my voice go down to the pain and soften it. I can't remember how to talk. I can't think or see. Lori checks my cervix at 3:00 am and finds 7 cm dilation with a bulging bag of waters. She goes to the living room and lies down to try to get a little sleep.
At 4:00 am, I tell her, "I'm scared." She asks why and I say I don't know, but I do know. I am afraid that the pain is going to get worse. She says, "Everyone gets scared. It's okay to cry." With the next contraction, I do cry. She checks me again, and I'm dilated to 9 cm. She goes to call the midwife who will assist her.
I get into the bathtub again, which helps with the pain, but lying down makes me vomit, so I get back out. I begin grunting and pushing with contractions. The urge to push grows stronger, but pushing causes a new pain in my sides. At 6:30 am, I have been pushing for more than two hours, and Lori does another exam and finds an anterior lip of cervix. My cervix is not yet fully dilated.
The midwives have me try different positions to try to lessen the pushing urge and to blow through the urge to push. I hate this. I want to push harder. Lori tries to push the cervix over the baby's head. The pain from her manipulations of the cervix is overwhelming. For an eternity, she pushes against the cervix and I alternate between agreeing to let her continue and begging her to stop.
At 7:30 am the lip of cervix remains. Eddie tells the midwives that they are making me nervous. They agree to leave me alone for a while. In my chart, they write, "Refuses help with anterior lip. Wants privacy." Eddie lies down and goes to sleep. I lie on my side to sleep between contractions and get up, kneel and push during contractions. I am not tired. I just want to push as hard as I can. I don't care about the lip or about damaging my cervix.
Now I can feel the baby's head, like hard rock, moving down. I feel bone scraping against bone. At 8:30 am, the midwives come back and check me again. No lip! The baby is coming, and I want to kneel, but Lori asks me to lie on my side. The midwives say, "Reach down, Cindy, feel your baby's head." I say, "I can feel it!" The assistant laughs and says, "I guess that's about all you can feel right now." But I do reach down and touch the top of the head with my fingers. I am amazed that it feels soft, while inside me it feels like a rock.
The baby is slowly born, and the sensation is excruciatingly painful and orgasmically pleasurable at the same time, an intensely sexual feeling. Eddie, Lori and I together lift the baby onto my belly. I am amazed that the baby feels burning hot and wet. Ecstasy! I have never felt so good in my life. All the pain is instantly gone.
Eddie asks if it's a boy or girl and I check -- a girl. Through tears he says, "She's so beautiful." The midwives give her Apgars of 10 and 10. She weighs 8 pounds, 6 ounces, born at 8:47 am Thursday, May 16, 1996.
We name her Sylvia. Sylvia nurses, gazing at me with deep, black eyes. How can it be that she is here, and not inside me? It feels so natural, like she has always been with us, and like such a miracle at the same time. How can I love someone so much, someone so pure, so alive and so real? I want to hold her and look at her forever.