After third, fourth, and fifth tries with the vacuum extractor, it was clear that something else needed to be done. The baby was stuck. Dr. J told me that she thought I really needed an episiotomy. This was, of course, one of the interventions that I most wanted to avoid. It was an intervention that I'd read was performed much too routinely. In that moment I was so thankful that I had a provider who I'd had long discussions with about all of my options, and who I trusted had my very best interests in mind- my midwife, who was RIGHT there by my side. I looked her in the eyes and asked her if I needed it... and she said yes. It was decided.
After Dr. J cut an episiotomy, we tried pushing with the vacuum assistance again. It still wasn't working. She told me that she'd need to cut more. This time I didn't hesitate in telling her that was okay. It was around this point when I realized that more doctors were coming into my room. They were setting up around a warming bed. My midwives explained that when my baby came out, I wouldn't be able to hold him right away. They would need to check him first. I didn't panic. Again, I don't know why.
Instead of the minutes rushing by, now they were stalling, and I felt like I was on that bed pushing for hours on end. In reality, it had only been about 45 minutes. It seemed like Dr. J was working almost as hard as I was, and I know she was committed to helping me achieve the natural birth I wanted, and to letting me push for just as long as it was safe to do so. But some doubt was beginning to creep in. I could see the nurses on the phone in the room, some serious looking glances between Dr. J and the midwives, and I knew that we were only minutes away from discussing a cesarean section.
I gave myself a silent pep talk. I was so close. I felt like there was nothing left in me, but I forced myself to give everything I could to the next set of pushes. The nurse to my left looked me in the eyes and said, okay, we need to get your baby out now, and I know you can do it. I felt a contraction starting up and I took a deep breath in. I had a feeling that this was it, my last chance at doing this the way I wanted to do it. My husband and my nurses held tightly onto my legs and I pushed with every last bit of energy that I had left. After the first count of ten I looked down to see my son being born.
One smaller push and his torso was out as well, and feeling his body enter the world was one of the craziest and most amazing things I've ever experienced. Just as I can't put into words the intense pain that filled that day, I also can't describe the way I felt when I first saw my son. I have never felt such joy in my life. After thanking God, my first thought was amazement at how big he was! How had he ever fit inside of me?! As promised, he was whisked off to the warming table on the opposite side of the room immediately. Everyone around me was busy telling me that I had done a great job and that Finn was doing fine. There was some concern about his breathing at first, which he was definitely doing, but not with the level of gusto that everyone would have preferred. It was probably a minute later that I first heard him cry. Only then did I realize that he hadn't done so immediately. Again, I had this overwhelming sense that he was okay. Only looking back am I completely freaked out.
My husband was busy jumping back and forth between me and our son. Every time he came to my side I pushed him back to Finn, saying go be with him!, insisting that I was just fine, and confused actually as to why I wouldn't be. I felt great. On top of the world and truly never better. Dr. J and my midwives were stitching me up, which I found mildly annoying, but nothing more. As soon as he was born I had zero pain.
They brought Finn over to me before taking him out of the room for a few more tests, and I'll never forget that moment. He was wrapped in a tight little bundle, and I looked at his face for the first time and just couldn't believe that he was mine. That was the moment when it was all worth it. Every single contraction, every push, every single time when I thought I couldn't do it, and even the chaos that happened later.
My husband went with Finn and I stayed behind as Dr. J finished up with me, and I was joined my my Mom just a few minutes later. She had arrived at the hospital just as Finn was being born. I was high on adrenaline as I told her the story of the day and tried to describe how amazing her grandson was. It wasn't long before Finn was given a clean bill of health, and he and I were reunited. I got to hold him then for the first time. My husband and I couldn't get over how in love with him we were already. All this time that I had been pregnant, I was never able to really imagine what it would be like to have a real little person there at the end. Our little person. And now he was here and he was perfect and I couldn't imagine loving him more.
And just like that we were a family of three.