Written a week after the birth – the morning the grandparents headed home.
It was most pain I have ever experienced – more than I had expected. Don’t know how I did it for 12 hours – my sense of time was completely different – it passed more quickly than usual. Starting right when we got home from the walk (about 8am) until I started pushing at about 4:30pm, the contractions were steady and intense. The pain was in my lower abdomen – and into the creases of my hips.
I made a loud, constant noise/tone on each exhale, over and over through each contraction, the sound I made got louder and “truer” as the intensity of a contraction built – when I would hit the “truest” tone (exhale) of a contraction I felt like I was transforming myself into pure vibration for a moment. I had the thought that I sounded like a bleating sheep or those Bulgarian throat singers, that I sounded like I was discharging very early grief – my own birth? and that I was discharging (healing or resolving) the pain in the exact moment I was experiencing it. My inhales felt short like I was gulping air. I wondered if they were too short. I think the toning made me dehydrate quickly – my mouth felt dry and I drank a lot.
I kept my eyes closed and face buried, pointed toward something, the tub wall or couch cushion, most of the time – would look out once in awhile between contractions at Joe, Marci, Maritza, Raizy and Vicki. This way of coping was totally intuitive – making a vibration seemed to be the best way to make the pain bearable. The contractions came very regularly with what felt like short breaks (I wonder how many I had in total – how many it took for her to come out.) I could feel when a contraction was coming and it was a short run up (couple of seconds) until the pain was full blown.
My body was pretty tense during the contractions – I felt like I couldn’t move for fear it would make the pain worse. Joe was a great, steady coach throughout, his voice, counting my breaths and reminding me to relax in between contractions. His touch was the only one that didn’t hurt – the touch of others made my flesh ache – this surprised me as generally I love being touched. Marci and Maritza were near by, always there when I looked with relaxed, solid attention – I was impressed with their endurance.
While I was totally absorbed I was still able to know what was being said/happening in the room – like to say where the herbs Vicki had given us were stored. This made me wonder if the people in the room might think I was exaggerating the pain.
I didn’t look at the clock and only once asked what Vicki thought about how far along I was. I started feeling constant pressure in my pelvis in between contractions about 3 or 4pm – Vicki said she would examine me to see if I was fully dilated. I had to walk to the bed so she could and felt like I had to really totter from side to side to get there because the head was really wedged into my pelvis. She splooshed her hands way down in me and pronounced me fully dilated.
Pushing didn’t hurt. It took great effort and I was very tired by then (in most positions I had been holding myself up with either my arms or my legs) and I was afraid of tearing badly, but it didn’t hurt. Vicki and Raizy coached me on how to push – I had to bear down full out in my rectum which I pretty quickly got the hang of. I could feel the pressure increasing and the birth canal starting to give, her head slowly making its way down. Raizy asked me if I wanted to see her head starting to show and I was too afraid to look – worried that it would throw me off somehow. When her head actually came out it felt much longer that I expected and I wondered if more than her head had emerged. I could feel every single contour of her features as her head was coming out – the pressure was that great. Somehow the image of a building emerging fully formed from the ground came/comes to mind. And she was silent which worried me. It was odd to have to wait for the next contraction. It was reassuring to hear Joe crying and saying how amazing a sight it was.
With the next contraction she was out and placed underneath me. I was on my haunches and looked in amazement at this magnificent person before me. So glad to meet him/her as her legs were crossed and I didn’t yet know the gender. I was the one to discover first and to my surprised that she was a girl. She was alert and looking around and barely cried at all. For the next hour we just hung out welcoming her and introducing ourselves and everyone present and taking her in.
In the week since the birth, I’ve had these other thoughts:
Ideas for animations that express the movement of fluids and weight in the body during pregnancy and post-partum for bill plympton to realize. After conception the breasts quickly grow, then slowly the belly and the body fill up with lots of extra fluid, hands get numb due to constriction, ankles get swollen, face gets swollen, after birth the belly goes down and the boobs get big, harder than ever (engorged) and veiny, fluids are leaking in many places, out of mom’s boobs and vagina, out of baby’s butt, urethra and mouth (drool spit up) – other outlets (mom’s urethra and butt) are healing not working as well as they normally do.
My body needs to get like her body in order to make room for her body to grow and in order for our bodies to be able to separate – relaxant hormone, read that it stays in my body – my body stays like hers – for about 5 months after her birth. My flesh feels very squishy, my joints loose. A slowness is required for this business.
She seems to be giving feeding cues any time she is awake and seems to have moments of desperation – panting, angst even when she has fed recently – the nursing impulse is the substitute for the total connection of being in utero – her senses, suck, sight, touch are her only means to patch together the rupture of the total connection of being in utero. Its heartbreaking to watch her and imagine how fast and rough and crusty we relatively hardened adults must seem to her brand new tender soul.
The days are passing quickly so far.