Stage 4: Push
Eventually I asked them when it was okay to push – Aunt Joan said push whenever I felt like it. She also said if I wanted to, I could try to feel for the head. I felt something – round and rubbery – “that’s not the head, is it?” (I thought it would feel harder; I guess it felt soft because the amniotic sac was still around it.) “Yes, it probably is.” So Aunt Joan came to check, and said it was the head.
Contractions were getting more painful and I was ready to push. I had already started pushing during contractions because they had become more intense and it relieved the pain a little. But at this point they were actively coaching and helping me with pushing. Jason and my mom got on each side of me, and Aunt Joan was in front of me to see the progress of the baby moving down. Whenever a contraction would start, they would encourage me, “Push.” I was standing up and squatting, with my hands on my knees. (The position with most pressure on thighs – apparently a lot on your arm muscles, too, as I found out in the next few days 🙂 Jason and my mom were also supporting me from each side.
I was groaning loudly as I pushed, which I thought helped. Aunt Joan said, “Push.” They were all telling me that I really needed to push during contractions. I felt so frustrated – “I thought I was pushing!”
“It’s okay, you can do it.” Aunt Joan explained that instead of letting the air out in a groan, I should keep the air in and use it to help me push. (She explained later that a lot of women do that during pushing – let air out in a shallow groan – where they expend energy that doesn’t help.) My mom was saying to use the air to push down.
Soon I started holding my breath so I could push better – then my mom was saying “breathe,” but I was thinking, I have to hold my breath to push the right way. If I took the time to breathe I would just be groaning – which they told me wasn’t actually pushing. I did breathe after the contraction though.
“You’re doing good. That’s it.” Eventually, Aunt Joan said I could look down and see the head if I wanted.
Jason: “There’s the head. I see the head. I see the head!” (so cute)
It gave hope to see his head. I could only see part of his head, so it looked like his head was really small – too small for a body; it occurred to me – that is definitely not his whole head. We must’ve pushed for at least 30 minutes that way, because Aunt Joan said I pushed 30-45 minutes. Finally, Aunt Joan said to squat down (what she called the “high squat”? in her letter to Aunt Laurie). I knew I’d be more likely to tear if I delivered from that position, but I had also practiced that squat a lot during pregnancy. I knew I could stay in that position more easily… and I really wanted the baby to come out! It had started to feel like he would never come out (especially at the point where they were all telling me to push when I thought I WAS pushing). So I squatted down and pushed. Aunt Joan said, “You’re doing good. Just two more pushes.” That gave me hope!
A few more contractions/pushing, and Jonathan slid right out. I know Aunt Joan was holding and maneuvering him before she set him on the floor, but I didn’t notice any of that. All I remember is this baby suddenly in front of me, lying on his back, flailing his arms and screaming. I immediately noticed that his lip quivers when he cries. Among my numb first thoughts was, Please help him to get cuter. But I knew we’d have to love and take care of him anyway; and we would love him – he was ours. As it turns out, besides being all wet, he was just puffy from birth!
I stared at him, not sure what I was supposed to do. Then I guessed I should pick him up, so I reached for him. Aunt Joan: “Careful with the cord.” Oh yeah, he was still attached to the placenta. I held him against me. I tried to nurse him, but he was screaming too much and didn’t care about nursing then. His lip was quivering; I thought he was cold. Someone covered us both with a towel (his lip was still quivering).
After I held him a little, Aunt Joan had me set him back down so she could cut the cord. She asked Jason, “Do you want to cut the cord?” It was curly and a really pale shade of yellow, with some deep blue lines through it (looked kind of like an old-fashioned telephone cord). I only vaguely remember seeing Jason cut it – I remember hearing everything more than seeing it. Maybe I leaned back and closed my eyes for that part. Then Aunt Joan sat on the side of the tub, and gave Jonathan his first bath 🙂 Someone video taped it. After that, everyone left with the baby, except Aunt Joan. She coached me how to deliver the placenta.
Eventually Jason and Aunt Joan helped me get to the bed. I had a small tear so they brought Jonathan to distract me while Aunt Joan sewed me up. He was upset so it helped to focus on comforting my new baby. I finally could eat some soup and then slept. It was only two hours before Jonathan needed to nurse but it was the best two hours of sleep I’ve ever had!