Just after Granger begins breathing well on his own, I feel a contraction. It’s strong, but I figure that it’s the placenta coming. Mama had warned me that the afterbirth contractions are stronger the more births you have had. I bear down, but nothing seems to happen. My midwife pulls gently on the cord and a little more comes out. She says it seems to be stuck on something. I can now hug Granger to my body and I hold him skin to skin. He’s warm and slightly sticky and while I have a break from the contraction I look him over. He’s amazing. Tiny and beautiful and amazing.
Mama has left the room to be with Ava. The final moments of the birth were a lot for her to handle.
Another contraction comes and I can’t stand to sit on the side of the bed anymore.
“Oh, oh it hurts.”
I bear down. Still nothing happens. It’s a pain in the right side of my belly. Our midwife pulls on the cord. It’s not working. Oh God it hurts. A small amount of cord comes out.
“It hurts, it hurts.”
She tells Tommy to cut the cord as she’s trying to help me. I feel like writhing on the floor, but I can’t with Granger in my arms. He cuts and I hand Granger to Tommy.
The midwife. “Where does it hurt?”
I’m pacing the floor and yelling. I point to my right side “Here.”
The pain is so intense I can barely speak. Mama comes back in the room and I lean on her for support.
Midwife: “Bibi, this isn’t right. You should not be in this much pain for a placenta.” She feels my belly. “If this doesn’t stop we’re going to have to call an ambulance.”
Me: “Do what you have to do.”
“Tell your body to stop!”
Me: “Body stop!”
Another contraction sears into existence.
I yell. Mama is back by my side. I lean on her and we walk.
Another contraction beats down on me. It’s the other baby. The thought comes. Unbeckoned. Unexamined. I know I’m okay. I can tell that concern and worry has entered the room, but I’m strong. My feet are firmly on the floor. My legs are strong, and I’m consumed in what I must do. I cannot speak. The contractions come one on top of the other.
The midwife looks me straight in the face. Calling all of my attention for a moment. “You have to be very explicit with me. Where is the pain now?”
“In my bottom.”
She tells me to lay on the bed. She says Mama will stay with me for a moment while she quickly goes to wash her hands.
I lay back on the bed. I stare up at the ceiling and think to myself “If I push as hard as I can, this will all be over.” The intensity of the next contraction rises and I bear down with all of my strength.
“It’s coming out.” Mama yells out reassuringly.
“GOOD!” Is the midwife’s reply.
I feel release as I continue to focus on the ceiling. Mama yells out, “Oh my God, it’s a baby.”
“A BABY?!” calls the midwife
And then there is commotion all around…but for me there’s no one else in the room.
Mama places his squalling, kicking body on my chest. He is so tiny and red. He kicks against my abdomen and cries. I caress him with both hands, and his bottom fits perfectly in the palm of my hand. All the months of wondering had led to this single moment of elation. I laugh and tears stream down my face. I had been right. I’d known without knowing. Everything fits together with this second birth.
What feels like seconds later Granger and baby B (as we called him for a little while) are both in my arms breastfeeding. It’s surreal, but so right. Everyone is talking at once. Reliving what had happened moments before. The midwife had been in the bathroom washing her hands. Tommy had been in the doorway relaying messages back and forth and holding Granger. Mama had been at the foot of the bed, the only witness to it all. Ava had been lying on the couch in the living room. And now we were all together again in the birth room. Talk turned to naming the babies. We had debated the entire pregnancy about the name. Tommy was going to choose it, and we knew that the name would be Granger Finn if we had a boy, but we weren’t sure if we would call him Granger or Finn since we liked both names so much. Now it was obvious that we would call them Granger and Finn. Granger is Tommy’s middle name and goes back in his family for a few generations. I was thinking that it wasn’t fair that Granger should have such a strong family name and Finn not have that tie when our midwife remarked that he had a very pronounced Tommy look to him. “What about Finn Thomas?”
Tommy’s eyes filled with tears as they had so many times that day. “It’s perfect he said.”
It took us a few more days to come up with Granger’s middle name, but when it came to us we also knew immediately. He is Granger Francis. Sometimes people mistakenly think he is named after the pope. But we know that he is named after a very special woman who helped him come into this world.
I often think back on that day with a sense of wonder. And sometimes I still can’t believe that this gets to be my real life.
I’m so thankful that I am able to share this story with you, and thank you for reading. I have created a short resource guide for those who are interested in a home birth after birth trauma. You can get yours here.