Here's what I remember:
"The head is out," said my doula. At least that's what I remember but when I tell it to her now, she says, "I said that?" Maybe I said it to myself. The relief of feeling my baby born up to its neck may have stirred my own narrative. I was sort of squatting in the tub. One more push. More burning, gritting through my teeth, turning my head to the left, away from my midwife on the right, with my eyes closed and half-screaming, I felt the body slide out and felt immediate incredible relief. What happened next must have taken less than five seconds, but I remember more details than that. At least in my narrative I do. I went right back in to my resting position, still somehow thinking this was another break after another contraction and there must be more to go. Contractions and breaks were my life for the past day or two. But this time, I heard, "Tanya, take your baby." I had almost forgotten what I was doing and it didn't occur to me to look for any result of all of this, but just to rest. I was consumed with labor, pushing, crowning, the shoulders, and then . . . I opened my eyes. In less than a second, my head turned, my eyes passed my doula, my midwife, and there was this baby. . . blue, covered in vernix, with arms over its head as if crossing the finish line. We made it.
At the moment of birth, I met my baby and slammed the door shut on the past days of labor, weeks of waiting, and what I would come to believe were years of wasting without him. Such small words for a lifetime I can hardly remember now. But at that moment, I could attach no meaning to all of it. I just took the baby in my arms and looked at a face that instantly made total sense to me, and yet, I couldn't take my eyes off it. In the coming minutes, hours, days, and weeks our lives would irreversibly intertwine in a way deeper than I had ever known. I had no idea what was coming. How sweet it is.
If you are a parent, you know what I mean. If you are pregnant, I can't wait for you to find out!
With all I've got!
About the Author:
Tanya Wills is a graduate of the midwifery program at Yale School of Nursing, where she received her Master of Science in Nursing and also earned her R.N. (Registered Nurse).