“You know how on all those birth shows they have people standing over the mother yelling at her to push?” I said and they nodded.
“Don’t do that.”
“And you know how they’re always counting to ten through the pushing?” I asked and they nodded again.
“Don’t do that either. I can count and I know when to push. I’d appreciate just being left alone.”
One of the nurses left the room altogether and the other one stood by the monitor while I pushed. I wasn’t sure of the protocol for this manner of pushing, so every time I felt a contraction I’d announce to the near-empty room, “I’m going to push now.” And when the contraction was over I’d announce, “I’m done.” And Jay would look to how things were going in my nether regions, and the nurse would come over and clean up that which needed to be cleaned up. It became clear after a few pushes that Joshua wasn’t enjoying ride. His heart rate would bottom out during each contraction, so the nurse suggested I push on my side. It wasn’t the most comfortable position, but I managed, and Joshua seemed to appreciate the change. However, when I changed positions, the contraction monitor at the nurse’s station went haywire since I had to contract my abdominal muscles in order to move. The doctor came running in to find out what was going on since he thought they were blasting me with Pitocin to spur on contractions. Once that was cleared up I was left alone again to push.
After about an hour Jay checked “down there” and said to the nurse, “Maybe it’s time to get the doctor.” She took a peek and agreed. After that things are a blur. The doctor came in, broke off the bottom half of the bed, rolled out his impressive array of instruments, allowed himself to be dressed and gloved by the nurses, asked if there were any residents who wanted to watch (Hello? Does anyone care if I want residents to watch?), called the pediatric team to the room (Joshua pooped in utero, which is common in overdue babies, so he had to be checked right away), and calmly gave me final instructions.
“OK, push with the next contraction, and then push again immediately after that.”
Pretty soon he announced that there was a head, and a whole body attached. Jay describes it by saying, “His head came out and then he kept coming and coming and coming.” Joshua began to wail immediately. He was perfectly pink with a big pile of black hair. And he was whisked away to be checked by peds. It took me a minute to remember that I didn’t even know his full name yet. We had decided on Joshua months before, but I left his middle name up to Jay. I turned around to ask Jay what his name was. Through tears he said, “Joshua Christian.” Joshua is the name of one of my very best friends from seminary. Christian is the middle name of Jay’s grandfather. It was perfect.
I delivered the placenta, which was very pretty as placentas go, and the doctor pulled out his suture kit. It took me a minute to figure out what he was doing.“Oh,” I said, “Is it bad?” My doctor also knows me well enough to know that certain information will just make me a basket case. He smiled and kept stitching.
Soon after, the head of the peds team came over and introduced herself. She explained why they had been called down and informed me that Joshua was perfect, with two 9’s for his Apgar scores. She thanked me for letting her team provide services, packed up, and left.
Joshua weighed 9 lbs., 5 oz. and was 21.5 inches long, pretty big as far as newborns go. Because he was so large the nurses needed to conduct some blood tests to make sure his blood sugar was stable. After what seemed like ages, they finally put a squirmy, naked Joshua on my chest. He proceeded to poop all over both Jay and I before any of us remembered that a diaper might be a good idea. Joshua and I tried out nursing and discovered that it wasn't so hard after all (although by the time a week had passed I was good buddies with the local lactation consultant). And then we went up to our room to get to know each other.
It's hard to believe that I've only known this kid for a year. It seems like he's been around my whole life.