A week and a day ago Jami had a rough night, having been kept up by some minor cramping, which later that morning turned into mild and irregular contractions. It was a stormy day, so I called and checked on her while I was hunkered down in the greenhouse out of the rain. The lights had gone out at the house, so J had scrounged up an old telephone that took power from the line. We both figured they were just warm-up contractions, or false labor, since J's due date was still three days away, and we'd been practically guaranteed that the birth would be late.
During my lunch break I called her up to check on her again, and suggested that she call the midwife (Cherie, who I've know since I was a kid) just for fun, since we'd payed all that money after all, and they may as well know about the contractions. J called, specifying that it was probably just false or pre-labor, to which the midwife responded that she'd "turn it into real labor." I left work and picked up some things for J on the way home, dodging downed limbs and traffic accidents. When we arrived at the birth center we were told that she was at three centimeters, and that we should go for an hour-long power-walk. By the end of the walk she'd had two real contractions about eight minutes apart. Upon further inspection she was found to be at four centimeters, and during that further inspection her water broke, all over Cherie's hand. We were promptly sent home to get our things together, the midwife saying as we left that we'd have a baby around midnight. This was at about 4:30 pm.
By 6:45 we were back at the birth center, where J immediately jumped in the bath. About two and a half hours later she was in transition, and then hanging off the bedpost pushing. And pushing. By the very end, a little before 11:30pm she was so worn out that they gave her a Dr. Pepper "for medicinal purposes." She certainly needed it. Her uterus quit contracting right as the baby was crowning, so they gave her a shot of pitocin, and then it was a real team effort to get the baby out. Cherie pulled on his head with a suction cup, Beverly the nurse attendant pushed on the fundus, and the rest of us held Jami's feet back. We tried that twice. Between the first and second times the scissors came out as though for an epiosiotomy, but then go back down for one more try. The second time out came a bumpy little head. The umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck, which may have prolonged the pushing stage somewhat by pulling him back up between contractions. Despite that his heartbeat was strong to the very end, never giving us any reason to worry for his sake. Once Cherie had unwrapped the cord from around his neck, I pulled him the rest of the way out, placed him on J's chest, and cut the cord. And there he was: Rhus Guy Larsen, 7 lbs 4 oz, 20 inches long.
After Cherie and all the rest tended to Jami a bit they weighed him and measured him. Later on I got to give him a bath, and then we all slept for about two hours before filling out some paper work and going home around 6:00 the next morning.
Since this was our very first child, neither of us quite realized that it was actually a difficult delivery until well afterward. Nothing was as hard as we thought it would be, and certainly not as hard as it's made out to be on TV, with women screaming for epidurals, snapping at their husbands, and swearing to high heaven. Jami was definitely somewhere else while she was pushing, somewhere pre-verbal. Cherie would tell her to take a deep breath, but it wouldn't happen unless I took one with her, coaxing her along. But once Rhus was out she was fully present, and smiling as though nothing much had happened. Now when she looks back at the photos all she can remember is how much fun it was.