The pain hits me after about an hour. Not nearly as hard as the first time, but pain none the less. "I think it's starting" I tell Michelle who rushes to my side along with Sara, a relative stranger. "It's not too bad, but it hurts" I explain. An hour later I won't be saying the same. My sister reads the monitors and tells me that was 10 minutes apart. Regular now, stronger nearly every time. I begin to wonder why I wanted to do this again, what had I gotten myself into? Maybe this was a bad idea. I Try and remember the quotes I'd meant to save. Maybe a bible verse to get me through the next few hours, but the pain hits me again, and I am off in my own world.
They are excited, my mom and sister especially. I want to be excited but I am busy. With each new rush of pain, Michelle and Sara rub my back, ask where I am hurting, what they can do to help, and then move me to another position. That's what we are supposed to do, Paige told me that. My husband and I spent 12 weeks with Paige, and two other couples preparing for this moment only to have him not be here. My sister is texting him, keeping him up to date on each new visit from the nurse. Three centimeters, then five. Five is when I should have been arriving according to Paige, but I couldn't fight the doctors any longer. They needed him out, they told me. As the pain becomes more frequent, my doulas begin working extra hard. I think back to the other woman I have witnessed giving birth. My roommate, my friend, and my sister. I think back to the first time I did this. It was four and a half hours last time. I wonder how long it's been this so far but I can't read the clock between contractions. I barely have time to move to a new position between them. This isn't helping anymore. Every position moves the pain until my whole body is sore and exhausted. I ask to go back to the bed, and tell my sister to call my husband.
"I'm going to ask for pain medication" I tell him "and if that doesn't work, an epidural" I feel ashamed. I want him to tell me no, keep going. When the pain gets so bad you want medication, you are in transition, the end is near. I know all of this but I want him to say it. Instead he agrees. When I ask the midwife for IV meds, she tells me that I may as well get an epidural because I'll want one anyway. She's probably right, but I don't like this one. I avoided her my whole pregnancy only to be stuck with her in the end. So I disagree with her simply because it is her. Michelle asks if I can get into the shower, and the midwife says no. "bullshit" I think. I was told I could. I want to ask her to call the doctor, but another contraction hits, and instead I yell at her that I would like to try the IV meds first. She returns with them soon after.
I am high now, my vision is blurry, contractions coming 2 minutes apart. Between each one, I want to sleep. The meds make me tired, but it isn't enough time to sleep. I sush my mom and close my eyes as another contraction comes on. Paige said not to yell, "reserve your energy" so instead I close my eyes, and go into my own world. "that really fucking hurt" I say when it's all over. I say it every time, but it's true. Words could not explain the pain I felt. I tell myself I'm in transition, just another hour. I still request an epidural. I am so disappointed in myself. After that I feel nothing. My legs are numb, they weren't like this the first time. I worry it's too much and ask the nurse to turn the epidural down. She attempts to tell me no. I was told no with Nora and will not be told no again. She turns it down a bit, and then again as she lets me know I will be ready to push soon. I request a mirror. I want to both see and feel what is happening. As we are waiting I tell Michelle I am pooping or maybe it's the baby. It's poop, I eventually declare, and Sara is the one who cleans it up for me. Sara is really starting to impress me. My husband is on skype now, ready to watch as his first son comes into the world.
The midwife spreads my legs and says "there he is". It was the baby after all, and maybe some poop too. He is crowning already. Later I will think how amazing my body is to have started pushing without me but for now I am told to push and I do. I tell myself not to push too hard, slow and steady. I don't want stitches this time. Two contractions, 6 pushes, and his head is out. I tried, I think. The midwife tells me to stop pushing. "I'm not" I say back to her and she continues to yell at me to stop. I can't remember what I am supposed to do to stop. I try and remember Paige saying it. I hear her tell me if the midwife says to not push, I should listen. I put my chin on my chest, or should I have lift it up? I don't care, I am exhausted and I can not feel what my body is doing. I am failing him already. I see the midwife is trying to suction his mouth out. He is sunny side up. "Never mind!" she yells at me as my son slides out into her arms. Six pushes was all it took, and there his is, being held up for his dad to see, and then laid onto my chest.
He looks just like his sister. I am in awe of him. Once enough time has passed the midwife asks who will cut the cord. "I will" I say. I want to be the one to sever our physical connection. All the pain, all the struggle has brought us to this place. I look at my son, and picture the man he will be one day. Stronger, I think for having be brought into this world surrounded by women, mothers. All of them having felt the pain, of childbirth, the struggle of endless shame and constant disappointments, the poop and the failures. It's all a part of motherhood. I think of his father, how much he would have loved to be here. How he only missed it by a week. This is our legacy. This is the mark we will leave on the world. When are bodies are long gone, a piece of us will live on in this tiny little boy and his sister. This was the best idea I have ever had.