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I got up on my hands and knees and faced the back of the bed. I think I'd had that rock in my hand for hours. Suddenly, the intensity of the contractions changed. My body began pushing! I hadn't known what to expect when I had heard that happens, but it's true, my body pushed on its own, and I... pushed, too. I wish there was a better way to describe it! At that point, I felt the rock slip from my hand, down into the bed, and I knew I couldn't grab it, that the rock holding portion of laboring had ended. (Joe later grabbed it for me so that I wouldn't lose it.)

Now everything was different. When the next contraction hit, I clenched the bed sheets in my fists, smushed my face hard into the bed, and YELLED at the top of my lungs as I pushed for the first time. I screamed the loudest I've ever screamed in my life. I didn't consciously do it, and I was even a little surprised at the sound I made. But in the same way that Joe's counter-pressure helped my back, it was as if my yelling provided counter-intensity to the pushing. I didn't think about any of this, though. Fully in a zone, I just followed my instincts, doing whatever felt right, and that was it - screaming as loud as possible and crushing my forehead and nose into the bed during every push!



After what felt like a long time of pushing and screaming, I heard Joe next to me, heard his breathing change, and knew he was crying softly. I wanted to reach out to him, but couldn't, wanted to say something, but couldn't. I just mentally thought, "Joe..." with so much love. I heard someone hand him a tissue. And I kept screaming with every contraction. When I let myself relax down, and sit on my legs, they ached, so I pushed up onto my knees, but every time I elongated my body, a contraction hit me hard and pushed me back down, like being pummeled by ocean waves, and I screamed and pushed with all my might.

Then, I felt the baby move. He was so much lower than he'd ever been! He must be coming! He was coming! I wanted to say that, but what I said was, "I CAN FEEL HIM!" I expected to hear a team of people shuffle over and tell me, "He's crowning!" Instead, I heard... nothing. Someone might've said, "Yeah, you can," or something. But it wasn't a rush to action by any means. And that's when I realized I must be wrong about him coming right then and there! What I didn't know at all (since I still had my eyes closed), was that Ann was standing behind me already with a mirror and a flash light, watching the baby descend. She knew exactly where he was. I had no idea that she was totally on top of it!

I realized my legs were completely asleep and said I couldn't stay in that position anymore. "What do you want to do?" Tammy asked.

"I don't know. What... What's best?" I asked.

Someone said, "Do you want to try side lying?" and I said yes.

Lots of hands helped me maneuver my body, lowering down into the bed on my left side. I grabbed the rail of the bed, as pins and needles shot through my legs while they regained circulation. More contractions, more screaming, more pushing. Ann reminded me to breathe, and to slow my breathing. When she said that, I thought, "I can't," but then I did, which surprised me! At one point, my breathing was fast, my screams high-pitched, and Ann said, "Don't be afraid of this, Meghan," and I thought, "I'm not." But I was. So I took a deep breath and told myself I'd have to push through the pain, I'd have to make it hurt more before it could get better. And I pushed so hard. Ann reminded me to make low sounds instead of high ones, to focus the low sounds into pushing him out. It is weird and amazing what a difference that makes. I made the lowest sounds I could, felt the vibrations in my chest, through my torso, and down to the baby. Voices encouraged me.

"You're doing great!"
"That's perfect, just like that."

Joe said at one point he turned to look at me for the duration of a contraction, then when he turned back, the room had changed - there was a table with all kinds of supplies next to Ann, and a huge light now shone down from the ceiling. He said it was so crazy how fast that had happened and that he'd wondered, where did all that come from?!

Ann told me not to push between contractions and she said, "The pressure will remain, but stop pushing once the contraction ends." I'm glad she explained that. I tried feeling for when the contraction ended, but it was very difficult with the constant pressure. Ann listened to my breathing and knew the length I screamed and pushed and told me, "Okay, it has probably ended, just try to relax now." And I did.

Then things got really crazy. No one is fucking around with that "ring of fire" term. I kept thinking I was feeling it, and thinking that must be it. No wait, that must be it. But when it hit, I thought, OH THIS IS IT! Ann circled her fingers around and around, helping me stretch, helping make room for him. Tons of pressure, intensity, firey burning... "His head is coming!" they said.

"It is?" I think Joe and I both asked.

"Do you want to see?" they asked Joe, and he said, "Oh my god."

"Do you want to see, Meghan?"

"No," I breathed.

"Okay. We only have a tiny mirror anyway."

Ha!

Another push.

"His head is out!" and they encouraged Joe to look.

"Oh wow, oh my god," he said again.

"Okay, one more for the shoulders!" they said, which reminded me of the movies. The next contraction, I screamed low and pushed hard, and I heard, "There he is!" about a half second before this warm, wet squiggling body landed on my chest and belly. I opened my eyes fully for the first time in hours so that I could look at him. Towels came out to wipe him, and I just held on.

"Eeeeee!" my baby boy squealed. Everyone laughed. He breathed a few breaths, then repeated his scream. "Eeeeeee!" Then he fussed a few cries and I just held him, and laughed, breathing, feeling his cord still attached to us both.

"Hi! Hi!" I kept saying to him. I kissed his head a hundred times and held his little hand. It opened and then reclosed around my finger.

"Is he holding your hand?" Joe said.

"Yeah!"

"Oh my god," he said, with wonder and love, and leaned in to kiss us both. "Hi, baby boy! Hi!" he said to his son.

"Holy cow, what just happened, huh?" I asked our baby boy. "We did it! You're here!" I stared at him in wonder and relief, his tiny ears, his little fingers, and marveled at how small he felt. He was perfect. Completely perfect.

"Do you have a name yet?"

"Homer," Joe said.

"Hi, Homer," we all said. "Welcome!" and "Happy Birthday!" others said.

"Hi," I said again, staring into his sweet face. "We're SO glad you're here. Do you know how many people love you already and can't wait to meet you? Tons of people! You are so loved. So loved. We're so, so glad you're here."

Ann said the cord stopped pulsing, so they let Joe cut it.

"This part's easy," Ann said. "One small push for the placenta."

I grimaced and got ready to really push, but a small way into the push, the placenta just came on out. Ice packs and towels were applied to me immediately.

An hour passed in an instant, and then the eye ointment and Vitamin K shot were given. Homer screamed as though greatly offended by the shot but was easily soothed afterward. I'm fuzzy on the time frame of this, but I think this is when I handed Homer to Joe and I got stitches. Somewhere in there, Tammy gave me a banana and a turkey sandwich, which I scarfed down. We took a picture with Tammy, and Tammy got to hold Homer too. They weighed Homer and told us he was 6 lbs 14 ounces and was 19 and a half inches long. I was so happy he was small, just like I thought he was. Every time someone said what a big boy he'd be, I thought, no way, he is small. And he was!

"What time is it?" I asked. "When was he born?" They told me he had come at 8:06pm. (And I later found out he'd come out the right way, facing my spine! We had turned him!) His Apgar scores were 9 and 9.

Somehow time passed while it stood still and a couple hours flew by. Tammy texted Joanne, the lady I'd hired to do my placenta encapsulation, for me. We talked and chatted for a while about the birth, and remarked on Homer's cuteness. Tammy told us that in all her births she'd attended (and she's attended quite a lot), she had never heard someone say, "shit," and "Jesus" quite as much as I did, which cracked me up.

When things were settled, Tammy hugged us and told me again how awesome I'd done. I thanked her a ton before she left. It was so amazing and wonderful having her assistance! And she thanked us too before heading out and congratulating us one last time.

Ann gave me a big hug and congratulated me too, before she left. I thanked her and she said, "No, it was all you!" She said I'd done everything perfectly, which was awesome to hear.

The really sweet nurse, Tina, who had arrived without my realizing sometime during the nurse shift change, tried to take my blood pressure in 3 steps, lying down, sitting and standing, but when we got to standing, I got dizzy. She tried a second time and same thing, and they said I'd lost a lot of blood and that I should stay in bed for at least the next few hours. She got me an enormous cup of apple juice and ice which I drank in mere moments. It was the best apple juice I've ever had! Because of the dizziness, they didn't let me get up to use the restroom and I was too swollen to use the bedpan (tried though!), so I got a catheter, which was awful, but relieved a lot of pressure. Instead of putting me in a wheelchair, they slid the new bed up to the birthing bed and had me slowly slide myself over. Once I was settled, Homer was placed back in my arms and off we went to our new room.

Joanne came by and showed us the parts of the placenta before taking it away. It was pretty cool seeing that!

I called Ren and my mom that night, asked Ren about the kitties and if she'd been able to care for them (she had), told both Ren and Mom how awesome things were, and some stories from the evening. I had thought to myself, "I was expecting to be on some kind of endorphin high," not recognizing that I absolutely WAS. On no sleep, and almost no food, following sixteen hours of labor, I felt awake and excited, talkative, and ecstatic to have my little baby.

None of it seemed possible. All that night and the next day, when Joe and I looked at the baby, none of it truly seemed real! I knew it was. It just didn't FEEL real. Being in the hospital added to the otherworldly surreal feeling, I think. Lots of incredible nurses were in and out, checking on us, bringing me more apple juice and water, helping me to the bathroom (they told me not to go alone because of the dizziness and the blood loss). They tried to get Homer to latch on to eat, but he didn't want to. That first night, finally, around 2:30am, he latched for 20 minutes, then fell asleep again, exhausted.

I was exhausted too; sore, weak, with a very tender nose, forehead, and tailbone (from all the pushing I'd had Joe do, plus the pushing I'd done to get the baby out). And a sore throat from all the screaming. The second day we just hung out, recovering, getting to know each other as a family, and basking in all the love and awe we felt. Still, none if seemed possible. And I couldn't even really think about the labor process that first day. Every time the contractions I'd gone through entered my head, I fought off the vision of it, overwhelmed by the memory of the intense experience.

The second night, Joe went home to take care of the cats and get some sleep (there was nowhere to sleep in that room except a tiny bench, which would have meant zero sleep for Joe! And he needs sleep for his heart to stay healthy, so I told him he should sleep at home). Alone in the room, with just one low light on, I woke up at 3am and sat up in bed. Homer slept in his little plastic bassinet beside me, swaddled, and tiny and sweet. I looked at him sleeping and suddenly, out of nowhere, it all hit me at once.

I am a mom. I am HIS mom. He's here, really and truly. He's part of my life now. He's the SAME little person who had been in my belly, growing, that whole time. The one whose kicks I loved, the one Joe talked to and kissed so often, the one who I'd sung to in the shower, the one who I'd wondered whether he was a boy or girl when I hugged my belly as I sat by the creek in Idyllwild. It's him. It's really him! It's Homer! And we went through so much together. And I did it. Oh my god, I did it. I wanted a natural birth, I worked for it, I took it one contraction at a time, I hung in there, I pushed, and I DID IT!!!

I DID IT!!!!!!!!!



I grew and birthed a baby! My baby! Joe's and my baby! We're parents! We made him. He's here and he's ours. He's ours.

Suddenly, it was ALL quite real. The whole birthing day unfolded again in my memory, and this time, I relived it. I saw the contractions, embraced them, owning each and every one. It wasn't something that merely happened to me. It was something I DID! We created Homer, and I birthed him. I gave birth! I have a child!

I felt my worlds physically merge - the birth world and the real world folded over one another, melding as one. And I cried and cried and cried for the beauty of it all.

I looked at my tiny sleeping son and love flowed through me, like ocean waves. My heart stretched miles wide, burst into a thousand shimmering pieces. I had become a mother, and I was deeply, truly, forever changed. Forever grateful. Forever in love. Forever and always...

meg_homer_birth
just a few minutes after giving birth

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October 2014

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