The Birth of Lucy, Part 4: Transition and Pushing (the action post!)

The contractions were mounting fiercely as I entered transition. Of course I didn't know I was in transition at the time. All I knew was that I felt so much pressure and there was little relief in between. I started to whisper, "no, no, no" as each new contraction came on, and my midwives were quick to remind me to breathe and keep my vocalizations nice and low. They located my birth affirmations and taped a few near the tub for me to focus on.

For some reason, I had stuck in my mind that Lucy wouldn't arrive until 8:30pm. I believe it was because Kaitlynn texted me to say she could come by then to take photos if I was still in labor, so I naturally assumed I would be. I glanced at the clock and saw that it wasn't even 2:30 and pictured another 6 hours of this intensity. I just wasn't that strong. I whispered to Justin, "I don't know how much longer I can do this."

I began to mentally prepare myself to say my codeword (signaling I wanted to transfer to the hospital) when suddenly I felt the urge to push!

So, first of all, I am living proof that the point in which you want to give up during labor is, bizarrely, just before you meet your miracle.

And second of all, another shout out for home birth! When I announced I felt like I needed to push, I wasn't asked to move locations or lay on my back. No one insisted on doing a cervical check first (in fact, I had zero cervical checks my entire labor!). No one second-guessed me at all. Instead, Brandee, who had been kneeling in front of me and offering words of calming and support during my last few contractions simply said, "Go for it."

And when I gripped her hands and let out an involuntary scream, she didn't hush me but rather cheered me on with an enthusiastic "YES!" In the periphery, I saw Mirra putting on gloves and grabbing her mirror and flashlight and I knew: this was it! No going back now, this baby was coming and she was coming at home, and that was all I needed to unlock my primal brain.

No longer needing to be subdued, I felt the freedom and power to completely let go because my birth team stayed with me. They didn't flinch or shy away. They didn't chastise me or in any way indicate my labor behaviors were anything other than exactly right for that moment. And in doing so, they encouraged and empowered me to access a level of strength I didn't know I possessed. I came absolutely to the edge of myself.

You can see from these images that our midwives were so incredible about involving Justin in every aspect of Lucy’s birth. Even through the all-consuming intensity of pushing, I remember them checking in with him to make sure he could see from his position behind me.

In between each surge, someone held a glass of pedialyte in front of my face and I obediently sipped from a straw (for all your expecting mamas, straws are basically the MVP of labor trinkets). While it logically made sense to me that I would need to stay hydrated during labor, I distinctly remember feeling (irrationally) annoyed when Justin was offered the same relief because it meant he wasn't immediately available to support me when the next wave inevitably came crashing down. (Make no mistake: my man was incredibly deserving of some water. I was an absolute labor task-master and he was with me every step of the way! He was completely dehydrated from the heat of the birthing tub and the exertion of so much counter-pressure. Labor just makes you kind of crazy...)

I can laugh about it now, and it's why I chose to include this blurry photo because even in the fierceness of pushing, I so vividly remember this moment. This picture is time-stamped less than 5 minutes before Lucy was born.
After enduring so many hours of allowing Lucy to take the lead as she moved herself into position, I was finally able to join her in the work, and together we made quite the efficient team.

Within a few pushes, I was convinced I must be crowning, and was crushed to hear Mirra excitedly call out, "I see labial separation." (I'm sorry, just labial separation? You mean there isn't a head yet?)

But it was only a few more pushes until I was encouraged to reach down and touch Lucy’s hair, and by the next contraction I was finally actually crowning. It burned so badly, I didn't think I could push anymore, and was given permission by my birth team to just rest. It sounds strange since I felt like I was being torn in two, but I palmed the top of Lucy's head for an entire contraction because I instinctively needed to savor that final moment before she arrived. In the background, I heard Mirra giving Justin instructions for how to catch Lucy when she emerged.  As the next contraction came, I was told I could just do "itty bitty pushes" if I wanted, but I was more than ready to meet my daughter. I bore down for one final push and Lucy shot out, head to toe, like a torpedo.

She came so fast, no one actually caught her at first! Then, Justin reached from behind and Mirra and Brandee from in front and they scooped her into my arms. I collapsed back onto her daddy in a blurry mixture of exhaustion and accomplished bliss.

Lucy turned pink and began hollering immediately. Her skin was covered in vernix “frosting” and downy lanugo from her early arrival. I held her to my chest, looked down at her little squishy, swollen face, and in my overwhelm could only muster a "hi." Then I looked up at Justin and noticed he was weeping and - I know this is cliche - but I just...I fell in love with him all over again.

Check out that impressive cone-head!
Our Lucy was born at 2:59pm on Sunday, September 18th, 2016. She weighed 6lbs 10oz and was 20 inches long. My labor consisted of approximately 10 hours of early labor and 4 hours of active labor - including 28 glorious minutes of pushing. (Pushing was my favorite part. Honestly.)

Her birth didn’t look exactly how I planned it would. I had intended to have an immaculately clean house, candles burning and soothing worship music playing, professional photos taken, and birth affirmations read and prayed over me (oh and I was going to be totally zen the entire time and just peacefully "breathe my baby into the world"); but none of that happened because Lucy wrote her own birth story and it was perfectly raw and beautiful (and blessedly fast!).

I know I wrote this story with a tinge of my typical sarcasm, but I think that's because I don't know how to really articulate how birth was truly the most empowering and beautiful experience of my entire life. I’ve never felt more in tune with my own body. I trusted my daughter to tell me what to do, and my birth team trusted me to bring her into the world in my own way.

When she arrived, I felt super-human. I had just delivered a baby, in my own home, without taking so much as a tylenol. Whimpy little me. I DID THAT.

Home birth isn’t a desire, or even an option, for some; but for me it was absolutely the right choice and I’m so unbelievably grateful to my husband and our birth team for supporting me in making this dream a reality.