The car ride wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. Yes, I was uncomfortable, but it felt good to sit and recline a little since I had been bending over practically the entire day. About halfway there, I started tensing up like crazy during the peak of a contraction even though I had gotten pretty good at relaxing through each one. John gently tried to soothe me and tell me to release the tension in my body to which I replied, “But I feel like I have to push!” So John drove a little faster.
We arrived at the Best Start birth center at 4:15PM, walked into my first choice birthing room (no one else was there that day) and Ashley, the midwife, took one look at me and said, “Okay, let’s have this baby!” I immediately stepped into the bath she had prepared and it felt heavenly. I still felt like I had to push, but not as badly as I did in the car, so I got checked by Ashley and she said I was at 9 cm and had to wait a little before I could do any pushing. So instead of pushing through the contraction (like I wanted) she said to blow air out through each contraction… which was hell. It wasn’t too hard at first, but after a few contractions it got harder and harder to keep from pushing. Finally, I abandoned all pretenses of blowing through my lips and just pushed long and hard. Somewhere in there I said I wanted to get into a squat position, so John and the team helped me up so I could hold onto a bar and still be in the tub. After a few good hard pushes, I could actually feel the baby’s head with my fingers! Of course, at the time I felt like I had been working forever and said, “That’s as far as we are?” The next thing I knew, the head was crowning and I was told to stop pushing for a little bit and breathe out in short breaths so that I could give my tissues time to stretch. At the time I felt like I wasn’t doing it well, but I was reassured later that I did a great job pausing when I was supposed to. One big push and the head was out, so I reached down and felt my baby’s face, which was incredible. Then I was told to give one more big push so the rest of the body could come out, so I did… but nothing happened. That’s when I felt the midwife turning the baby a little more to get the shoulders out because the shoulders were really wide. After that, the baby slid out and was handed to me between my legs and I pulled him out of the water and onto my chest. I was helped back into a lying position on my back (still in the tub) and I just admired my little baby boy with John.
Henry “Hank” Robert Durso arrived at 4:58PM, about 45 minutes after I walked into the birth center at 9cm dilated. He weighed 9lbs, 4oz. and measured 21.5 inches long. Quite a big boy! Despite his size, I didn't tear a single millimeter and have only been slightly sore, compared to last time (which probably has more to do with it being my second time) and I experienced "birth euphoria" for more than 24 hours afterward. Right when I got out of the bath I was all smiles and completely high, which lasted until the next evening. It was an incredible feeling to have brought my child into the world naturally.
John was an amazing birth coach, doing all the right things so I never had to instruct him or snap at him; while I was pushing, he was encouraging me and never took a hand off me, making sure I always knew he was there. And now, he's being a great dad of 2, which enormous help from my fantastic mother-in-law, but that's a different post for a different day.
Thanks to everyone for all of their well wishes on facebook, email, phone, and texts!
Now here's Hank!