Much like labor itself, this story may seem to have no end, and to some, it may even be painful. For that, I apologize. But if I could play the role of midwife to my readers, I would say: "Almost there! Don't give up! You've stuck it out this far!"
You would think that I would have many details to share, and that, being a writer by profession, I would have carefully chronicled, perhaps even videoed our planned home VBAC. But I didn't. I didn't want to. I lived every moment of it for myself. So while there were things that I do remember clearly -- the thoughts in my head that played over and over like a skipped record as I was in the birth tub, my lack of self-consciousness, my inability to tell time, my need for silence and the presence of those I knew I could count on -- there are some things about this story I just cannot recall.
I have no idea what my poor husband was doing. I know he was in the room but I did not see him once. My eyes were closed tight. When they were open, I was not seeing. I remember that in that moment, I was dissecting the pain, trying to understand it and get my arms around it. But today, I honestly cannot remember the pain. I cannot explain it. I cannot compare it to anything. Not because it was worse, but because I don't know what it was. I cannot say if I moved from my kneeling position. Ever.
However, I knew the end was near when my hips reflexively thrust forward, uncontrollably. I had read about this. Michel Odent, the French obstetrician credited with "inventing" water birth, calls this, well, something like the reflexive hip thrust! It is nature's way of opening the pelvis to expel the baby. I don't know how many times that thrust happened to me, but sure enough, I felt the head move down quickly. I absorbed the meaning of "ring of fire" and began a high-pitched chant of OW OW OW OW...
The head was out. My midwife reached in. She felt the cord wrapped around the baby's neck. But kept that information to herself.