Perfection and Completion
by Sandy Griffin
Believe in yourself. The only ladder to the stars is woven with dreams. -Susan Parks
Two hundred sixty-six days after conception, I had my pink show of mucus. My excitement was dimmed only by the fact that a recent cool spell had ended and day dawned HOT and humid. I hoped that labor would not start until after sunset, and that the baby would be born before the July sun rose once more.
The first irregular contractions began in the afternoon. By early evening, they were mild but steady. After supper I asked my husband, Bart, to drive our sons (ages 4 and 2) to a babysitter’s for the night.
While he was gone, I lay down. The contractions slowed down nearly to a stop. I jumped back up and began sweeping floors. When Bart returned we took a long sunset-lit walk. My contractions resumed their steady rate, and I began to feel that labor had begun in earnest after all.
Back at the house, we spread a sheet on the livingroom floor. We hugged and rubbed each other, enjoying the quiet house and the cool night air.
It grew late, and Bart fell asleep. But there was no sleep for me. My body was now awash in natural oxytocin, and labor intensified. I sat up straight during each contraction, staring down at my swollen belly and visualizing the baby within.
Then I began making numerous trips to the bathroom. But I was dripping everywhere, and decided I’d be better off walking outside on the grass.
So I spent the next hour pacing a wide circle in our front yard, around and around, stark naked under the dim stars. We live on 14 acres, so there were no curious neighbors, only our three dogs, who looked more bewildered each time I passed them.
I began feeling trembly, and suspected that transition was near. The contractions became very intense, with little or no pause between them. After a particularly powerful one, I stopped walking and prayed aloud to the night sky, “God help me with this baby!”
At that, the contractions suddenly stopped. When they resumed, they felt entirely different. The pain was gone, replaced by pressure. Was this second stage? My question was answered by the beginning of an urge to push. With a silent prayer of thanks, I headed back inside.
Bart woke as I walked in.
“Better get ready,” I said breathlessly. “Things are moving fast.”
I squatted with the next contraction and the water bag broke with a loud pop. I spent each contracton in a squatting position, on my haunches and pushed. Between contractions I dropped forward onto my hands and knees, my head resting upon the chair.
Bart was in the kitchen, busy sterilizing things, but the water didn’t even have a chance to boil before I called him back to the livingroom. I could feel soft hair on the baby’s scalp as the head descended.
Bart sat behind me as the baby crowned. I pushed and felt the burning of tissue not yet ready to stretch. But when I stopped pushing, I could feel the baby sliding backwards. I decided that felt worse than the burning, so I resumed pushing.
The baby’s head was born and then there was a pause as the shoulders rotated to pass through.
Because of my position, I could see neither Bart nor the baby at that moment. But I could hear them and feel them, and will never forget Bart’s soft exclamations of, “Oh, oh, oh-h,” echoing the first sputtering cries of our third son.
I turned around and there was Paul, bright pink, crying lustily now, lying between his father’s hands and looking at us both with eyes fresh and wide.
Bart and I exchanged grins, and welcomed this newest child.