The Birth of Lucy, Part 5: The Afterbirth (because when I was pregnant, I always wanted to know more about this part...)
So, Lucy was finally here...but there was still work to do.
We snuggled for a few moments and then I was encouraged to try pushing the placenta. The absolute last thing I wanted to do ever in my life was push again, but I obediently attempted a few pushes while still leaning against Justin before we determined gravity was, indeed, my best friend. So, clutching my newborn child to my chest, I hoisted myself back up onto my knees and mustered one final strong push while my midwives gently tugged on the cord, and then it was over.
I delivered the placenta 12 minutes after I delivered Lucy. The tub filled with blood, my placenta was caught in a metal bowl and allowed to float next to us while it finished pulsing, and we resumed our family snuggling.
For all you expectant mamas worrying about this part, I will reiterate what was promised to me: a placenta is infinitely easier to deliver than a human baby. It is soft. It does not have bones. YOU CAN DO IT.
Justin cut the cord while I comforted our daughter.
When it was time to get out of the tub, Justin emerged first. He changed into dry clothes and then Lucy was handed to him for the first time. Immediately he collapsed back onto the bed while he held her, and I was ushered off to the bathroom where I was once again forced to urinate.
I was guided back to the bed where the midwives did a full examination, including the dreaded uterus squishing I'd read so much about.
Lucy was placed back on my chest and she immediately began to breast crawl. She latched almost instantly and presented with a strong, determined suckle. Mirra marveled at how unlike a 37 week baby her suck was, and while we didn't know it at the time, I see now how completely iconic of Lucy this was. My daughter has been determined to do life on her own terms from the start, and she wasn't about to wait another three weeks to begin her legacy.
While Lucy and I tried to figure out nursing, our midwives rummaged around in the kitchen and presented me with a plate of snacks. Sourdough toast, apple slices, and mixed nuts. Literally the best meal I’ve ever tasted in my entire existence. Justin still talks about watching me inhale that food. It was the first time in nearly 9 months that I'd sincerely felt hungry, and since I hadn't been able to keep my toast down earlier, it was also the first food I'd eaten in almost 24 hours. I have never felt so famished in my entire life.
The midwives busied themselves draining, sanitizing, and deflating the birth tub. They popped a lasagna in the oven and started a load of laundry. They examined Lucy right there at the end of the bed (and even then, asked if I felt comfortable having her "so far" from me).
They gave us a head's up of what to expect that night, and reminded us they would be back in the morning for the first postnatal visit.
And then, approximately 4.5 hours after they had arrived, they left.
We finally texted our family to announce her arrival just before 5:15pm. They had been patiently waiting with zero updates since my earlier text just before noon! Per our midwives suggestion, we declined visitors for that night and settled in as a family of three.
I leaned my head against Justin and said, "I can do anything. I just did that. I just delivered our daughter. Here. In our home. I can do ANYTHING." I was riding such a high. I’d never felt so strong or so sure of my identity and my purpose in life.
(Those of you who have been following my journey know this all changed within a matter of months as PPD/A sunk its ugly claws into my psyche, but for now I choose to reflect on that blissfully unshakeable sense of assurance immediately following the arrival of my daughter because THAT was the gift of home-birth to me.)