I stood in the hallway of the hearing clinic, waiting in line for my son’s appointment. I overheard another mother telling her birth story to a 19-year-old girl.
The young girl was slim and trim; her belly skin was so tight that her navel practically kissed her back. The girl responded with something between a scrinch and a smile–it was clear she was trying not to appear grossed out by the gory details, though the contour of her lips said it all. The mom continued to talk animatedly about her painful experience of pushing for 12 hours. She spared no details, explaining how her insides felt as if they had popped out of her like a jack-in-the-box on speed.
As I stood there beginning to fume, my inner chutzpah blurted out, “It’s not like that for everyone!” and I rushed in to share my story.
Before I tell you this, I will happily admit that I had a terrible birth with my first born ending after 12 hours of pushing and a vacuum birth that left me walking around for the next two years telling everyone how, “It really is possible for your body to rip into pieces all for the love of a baby.” But the second time? My time in labor was beautiful, liberating, and empowering.
I had a perfect birth experience with my twins. I was 36 weeks and a day and had spent the last four weeks on bed rest (including 14 days in the hospital) and felt as if I was bursting at the seams. I had marks all over my belly from the stretching. Finally allowed off bed rest, I immediately went shopping and sat down to some Indian food, hoping the spices would entice those babies out of my body. And then the cramps did start. I thought they were Braxton Hicks again, but went into the hospital to be sure.
When I got there, I was already 4 cm dilated. The doc said it would be soon, so I got my epidural, lay down, and turned on the TV. Everyone was so nice to me and very excited to deliver twins. While I waited for the contractions to come faster, the hospital staff got the operating room ready for us. Twins are often delivered in an operating room, in case an emergency Caesarean is necessary. In some cases, it is possible for the second baby to be in the wrong position. At the very least, the doctor needs to be ready for any complications. With a twin birth, they also have two of everything–two doctors, two nurses, it seems like two of every medical staff in order to be safe with each baby. It was like a scene out of my favorite children’s book series Jacob Two-Two.
One thing had definitely changed since my last pregnancy. Actually, many things had changed (including the shape of my hips) but one thing really stands out in my mind–I had awareness.
The first time you give birth, you know that there will be a baby at the end, but you don’t really know how it will happen. You can’t fully comprehend how the entire process of giving birth works. I didn’t really get the breathing the first time, and my preoccupied mind did not allow me to fully absorb what was happening all around me.
This time though, I was determined to be more present as the babies were born, and hyper-focused. This time I wanted just two healthy babies. I kept my eyes on the prize.
They wheeled me into the room. It was clean, spotless, and full of light.
In the operating room, there was small talk as the staff got everyone ready and my body and mind were at ease. I giggled as everyone told family stories around staff getting ready for my twins to enter the word.
Shortly thereafter, the most caring, sensitive female doctor told me to start pushing. One push, two push, three push, and I heard a cry. My little boy was out. I heard the cry and immediately broke into a fit of laughter. It felt so right, so soft, and there he was out after three pushes. I looked up and thought, “Is that it? Seriously?”
It felt so good and immediately energizing. My body felt overwhelmingly powerful. Could this be the same body that could not walk or sit up for the last couple months? The same body that cried every time the monitor touched my stomach? The same body that was forced to lay in the same position for weeks and needed help just to get to the bathroom?
The baby floated out of me, with no more than the sound of a little “pop,” like the cap on a jar of applesauce just after the seal breaks.
My face transcended with a lopsided smile, a giggle, and it was as if my arms were motioning to the universe–bring it on, I am ready for the next.
“We are going to have to wait a few minutes with the next one,” said the doctor.
I lay there, my legs unfolded, with a grin from ear to ear while I conversed with the two-of-everyone: doctors, nurses–everyone was sharing their own birth stories. Time passed and I nearly forgot that I was totally exposed and the entire room could see my lady parts.
When it was time, I offered a few more pushes (two rounds this time, if I remember correctly) and my little girl came out.
I laid back while simultaneously crying and laughing. My insides felt like they were vibrating, and everyone in the room took turns ooing and awwing over the babies. I almost felt a sense of disappointment that it was over so fast. I, too, wanted to feel some burn. Or maybe I didn’t.
Then after the babies were checked, they wheeled me back to my room and slowly lifted both babies to my breasts. I lay there cuddling with the new additions to my family. I was showering in the glow of the new pair of babies, reborn.