I can’t do this. I can’t do this. God, please take over. I can’t do this. No one can help me. Women do this every day. Every day. You’re strong, you can do it. Oh God, I can’t do this. I’m not strong. Please help. I think words, but I can’t say them. The damp rag on my forehead starts sliding on the right side only. I want someone to take it off, but I can’t talk.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I hope someone puts a straw to my lips soon, but I can’t ask. Here comes the next one…ohhhhhh. Blow…blow…blow…blow OWWWWWWW! Blow-blow-blow-blow-blow, blowblowblowblowblow! Okay, okay, okay. Blowwww, blowwww. Okay.
“You’re doing good, Mom.” They don’t know how much I need to hear that. I want to cry. I want to say–thank you, baby. I want it to be over. I can’t do this.
Stop moving around the room. I don’t like hearing people moving around. My eyes are closed, and I can’t open them. I need everything to be still and not change. Some hairs are pasted to the side of my face. The ends of the hairs flutter below my nose as I breathe. For the love of all things holy–no one sees those?! Please swipe them toward my messy bun. Any one of you.
What is that tapping? Why? Stop. Everyone please just don’t move. I can’t ask. I go as limp as possible, let my body float in the water. God, take over; I’m not going to do anything; I can’t do it. Just…make it be over. I’m going to relax and just let it happen, but I’m not going to do it. Ohhhhhh. Another one. Oh oh oh. Uhhhhhhhhhhh!
“Emily, don’t push.” Shut up. Uhhhhhhhhhh!
I start kegeling because that’s what I want to do. My shoulders are stuck to the plastic inflatable birthing tub. I lean forward just enough to peel them off, and my body slips further into the water. I don’t want this. I’m slipping in too far. I want my shoulders stuck back the way they were. I can’t ask. I press one heel into the pool floor to lift back out some.
Nooo! The movement brings on another one. I wave both hands in the air agitatedly. They know it means I want someone to grab each hand. No! I didn’t get a break. A neverending Charlie horse, but there is no way to stretch it. Just…try not to fight it. Breathe and wait. It does end…Uhhhhhhhhh!!
Keith is on my left. My three older daughters and my niece rotate who holds my right hand. I don’t ever know who it is. I don’t open my eyes. I feel Keith’s big strong hand in my left hand. I feel a small strong hand in my right hand. Uhhhhhhhhhh!
“Emily, don’t push unless you can’t help it.” I will do…whatever I want. Let me do this. Stop talking. Uhhhhhhhh!
A fan is buzzing. Buzz buzz buzz buzzzzzzz buzzing. Buzzbuzz. Uhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! AAAAAAaaaa!! I hate you, fan. Shut up. No…blow on me. Blow these hairs off my cheek.
“She’s down there!! Good job, Mom!! We see her head!!”
Okay. Okay. Slloooowww inhale. Slloooowwww exhale. Okay. Okay. There is a creased wrinkle in the plastic pool lining where my upper arm is resting on the side. My hips are slightly tilting. I want them to float level. I don’t care. I don’t really care.
I just need a few seconds to breathe, and then I will be ab-…Uhhhhhhhhhhh!!
“Counter-pressure!” My voice is so strained; there’s no way anyone understood what I said. My body is ripping in half. Cough cough a little phlegm in my throat. I don’t have time to choke right now. My eyebrows knit together and my light coughs turn into a slight begging whine. No. NO! Don’t let yourself cry. Just let it happen. It’s not me. This is a movie.
“Dad…switch me spots.” My midwife puts a hand lightly above and below. It helps so much. She had understood me.
“No!” I hold his hand tighter. I shake my head in quick, slight movements. I set my jaw. I don’t want anyone to move places.
“I will come hold your hand, Emily.” My midwife is calm and full of patience. I am not feeling like negotiating. I know we said we want him to catch. But no.
“Emily, I will switch spots with him.”
“No! MOM!” My mom understands. She takes my left hand. No turning back now. This is happening. Keith moves down there. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
“Blow blow blow! Easy! Slow down!”
“Aaaaaa!! Uhuhuhuhuh!!! It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts! Grrrrrrr! Uhhhhhh!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”
“HER HEAD IS OUT!”
My head falls back. Go limp. Go limp. I’m washed over with every emotion. I want to cry. I can’t. Oh God…the shoulders. OH GOD! Uhhhhhh…uhhhhhhhh…oh God…. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
“Lift her out! Lift her out, Dad!”
I grab my baby from his hands. Place her on my chest and press her against me.
“EMILY! That was amazing! You did so good, Baby! I’m so proud of you!” Keith’s eyes are saucers. I will never forget how overjoyed he looked.
“I’m done.” Sob sob sob sob sob. I hold her tightly. “I’m done. I’m done. Oh thank God.”
I see my mom crying. I see my girls smiling and crying. Sob sob sob sob sob. Her head in one hand, her tiny butt in the other. I’m done I’m done I’m done I’m done I’m done.
I give in to the crying. I have no idea what anyone else says or does for a few moments. But it’s all fine with me. It’s perfect. Nothing could annoy me. My shoulders slump and shake. That did just happen, right? I am done?
“She is a girl, isn’t she?” Oh I hadn’t even checked. Yes. A girl. Another perfect little tiny daughter. What are boys?
“Last one. I can’t do that ever again.”
“You said that last time.”
“That was fast!” No. That was an eternity.
Rebekah Ruby Kate, you are loved. You are so so so loved. Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss. My baby. My baby.