The scent of candle wicks and sweat hung in the air as her newborn cry ushered out my last strained moan. Hot tears tumbled from my eyes, dripping down my neck, and onto the baby before mingling into the water around us. They were tears of gratitude, but if I’m honest, equally tears of relief. I conjured all the techniques I’d ever learned to survive the sensation of her head tearing through my birth canal. Finally, all the anguish was forgotten as I cradled 8 pounds of pure sweetness in the warmth of the morning glow now reaching through the heavy curtains.

The next three days seemed a blur of precious memories, nursing, afterpains and little sleep. My clumsy steps on the cold, creaking floor interrupted the midnight stillness of our small condo as I waddled yet again to the bathroom. My body ached, my back throbbed and I felt the kind of pressure I had felt days before as the baby got into position for birth. Except now, the baby was out. I pushed my concern aside, reasoning that surely this was all par for the course after a precipitous labor.

Concern turned into alarm when my bathroom trip revealed a small bulge amid all the passing postpartum blood. The next hour was a myriad of bathroom trips, prayers with my husband and calls to my midwife. Puzzled and concerned, my husband gently suggested I lay down on the bathroom floor. My eyes pleaded with him for another idea, but desperate for an answer, I sprawled on the floor at the mercy of my husband’s eyes. I have never felt more humiliated and tenderly loved at the same time in all my life. I felt like a bloody bundle of sagging skin and engorged breasts, only a shadow of the woman I knew as a ripe and glowing expectant mother.

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