Bean came into this world cooing and gurgling on Saturday 03 may 2014 at 1410. Weighing in at 6 lbs 4 oz, measuring 20 inches long, he had ten fingers and ten toes, a head full of dark hair, and a sweet face I love completely, hopelessly, entirely: so much so that my very soul aches.
Signs of bean’s coming began early Friday morning: I felt the distinct and demanding desire to poo.
Kicking A off the can, I sat and strained and finally admitted I was empty. Pondering, I realized I’d misinterpreted my discomfort: having eliminated the urge to poo as it’s source, I vaguely remembered the sensation from times long ago. Indeed it was a uterine cramp. (I had the same discomfort when I first began menstruating, the feelings so strong that I would become dizzy and throw up from the pain. Fun times for a young girl.) I excitedly explained to A that this may be the beginning of the end of our long journey. It was.
We went about our days: I off to school, A off to work, boom curled up on the couch for her post-breakfast nap. The hours progressed ordinarily, but in technicolor filters. I’ll always remember our car ride to fair oaks and our stop at the gas station, the Izze blackberry soda A ordered for me, our anticipation as we laid down for the night, excitedly squeezing hands.
My contractions continued into the night and by the wee hours of Saturday I was in active labor. The first hours seemed endless. We’d prepared for bean’s arrival by attending courses in husband-coached childbirth, and I knew how important it was for A to have his rest for the tough hours we faced. So I cuddled to boom as each contraction passed, imagining myself paddling like hell to catch each wave and letting myself free fall in he pressure until it subsided. Those hours held my greatest moments of doubt: I should have gone to the hospital. It hurts. I’m not ready. I can’t do this.
At 0217 I woke A, asking for his strength. With each contraction he drove his fist, his elbow, his head into the small of my back, providing a counter-pressure that helped me greet dawn. 0600: we called the midwife. Bidding boom adieu, we slowly made our way to the car, A supporting my full weight as the next contraction overwhelmed me. 0715: we arrived at the birth center.
Here my memories are wispy. The morning hours passed, and the terror I felt at home was superseded by excitement, then determination. I’ve never had such a purpose, such a mission, such a life worth fighting for.
Because bean sat low, I felt the urge to push from the very beginning. My cervix had other thoughts, and dilation occurred quickly enough but oh so slowly. I lived by the clock, willing myself one more hour, one more song inside my head, one more labored breath. Soon my groans turned to animalistic grunts, savage and throaty. They brought me to the water, wherein my own water broke. It felt like a balloon had burst and all of a sudden the intensity heightened and I truly began to push, cervix be damned. I focused on A. I held steady on his presence. I tried to tell him I was strong, that he needn’t fear; I tried to be fearless; it was not too hard, for there was little room for fear amidst the storm of pressure and pain and buffeting love. When I could feel the top of bean’s head just an inch away, they had me move back to the bedroom.
My path was through a never ending hallway that was less than forty feet long. I collapsed into a squat with every step: bean wanted to greet the wide world and he did not want to wait to do it in the bedroom. Soon we were halfway there; then, five steps from the door. I squatted and in the mirror the midwives held I saw black hair. Then I saw blood…I’d torn.
Suddenly the midwife was serious. She told me to stop pushing, to just stop. A dragged me the rest of the way and carried me into the bed, where I got on all fours. I was given permission to push again and so I did, and the bean’s sweet face emerged. One more push. He was born.