“Mandy Delivers”

Mandy Delivers
by Fully-Dilated

My floral sundress tangles around my legs as I move around in the bed, trying to find a comfortable position to ride out the contraction. “Mmmmmm… ahhhhh… mmmmm…. ahhhhh….” I breathe steadily, propping myself up on several pillows so that I’m half-sitting, my uterus contracting firmly. “Ahhhhhh…” I breathe the last twinges of the contraction out, relaxing back into the pillows and reaching for my stopwatch.

Ten minutes, twenty-one seconds.

Frustrated, I toss it back onto the bed and try to relax enough to doze. I’ve been having steady contractions for nearly twenty-seven hours now, but I’m stalled out at the ten minute mark, my labor refusing to progress. I’ve tried standing, sitting, walking and squatting, but now I’m too tired to do more than lie back and let the contractions wash over me.

The afternoon sun caresses my face as I grab the TV remote and turn the station to the “Baby Story” marathon currently airing in hopes of giving my baby some motivation.

“See…” I tell it, resting my hand on my hugely-swollen stomach as I nod at the laboring woman on the screen, “That’s what you’re supposed to do.” Glancing down, I compare our bellies. Hers is tight with contraction, making it bulge out, but mine’s still bigger. Being twelve days overdue will do that.

I nod with satisfaction as she refuses an epidural. That’s the way it should be, I think. What’s the point of delivering a baby if you can’t feel anything? I’m determined to wait as long as I can before going to the hospital to decrease the possibilities of medical intervention. Birth is a natural process, and I trust my body to handle it. After all, I managed to get my labor started without having to be induced as was threatened. Onscreen the woman’s husband coaxes her through her breathing exercises, and I mimic them, feeling a contraction of my own starting as she begins to push.

“Ahhhhhhh… ahhhhhhhhh….” I breathe as the onscreen woman moans softly.

“Here comes the baby. Here it comes.”

“Ooooooo…” I exhale shakily as the contraction fades and the woman groans, her face contorted with effort.

“There’s the head. One more push.”

She bears down again and the baby slides out easily, given over to her waiting hands.

“That’s going to be us,” I tell my baby, “If you’d hurry up already.”

I glance at the stopwatch and roll my eyes. Ten minutes, forty seconds.

I have three more contractions during the next episode, strong enough that I have to concentrate and breathe to get through them, but none closer than ten minutes and thirteen seconds.

“Oooooooo…” My next contraction feels a little more intense and I switch the TV off, impatient with the distraction. I splay my hands over my bulging belly and spread my legs. “Come on, baby… come on, baby… oooooooo… that’s it…”

My back twinges, and I realize I’m going to have to find a new position to deal with the next contraction. I rest for a few minutes, then roll over onto my hands and knees, my back bowing under the weight of my heavy belly. When the contraction comes, I’m ready for it, leaning back on my haunches and breathing deeply, “Mmmmmmm… ahhhhhhh…. owwwwww.. Owwwww… Owwwwww!”

Ten minutes, seven seconds.

The next one hits hard, and I moan through it, groaning loudly at the peak, “Uuuuhhhhh…!” They’re definitely getting more intense, but when I check the stopwatch, I see that nearly eleven minutes have passed since the last one.

“God, why won’t you come?” I ask the baby, receiving a hard kick to the ribs in answer. I hang my head, breathing hard as I wait for the next contraction to begin.

“Ooooooo… Oooooo…” I moan through the opening stages of the next contraction, throwing my head back with a cry as my belly tightens brutally. “Ohhh God!” It keeps going like that, hard and deep, and I groan desperately, willing myself to stay strong.

By time it ends, I’m shaking “Ohhhhhh…” I moan weakly, collapsing onto my side with my knees drawn up, I reach for my stopwatch, blinking in surprise to see that only seven minutes have passed this time. My labor is finally starting to progress.

“About time,” I rest my hand on my swollen belly and talk to the baby, “Two weeks overdue and now this? I thought you were never coming out.”

The back kicks me solidly in reply and I laugh breathlessly, running my hands over my big belly to soothe it. In a surprising short period of time, another contraction seizes me and I double forward with a groan, “Uuuhhhhhh…” I take slow, deep breaths trying to gain control over the pain. “ahhhh… ahhhhhh…”

“Ohhhhhh!” I cry out as the contraction peaks and wrap my arms around my heaving belly, feeling pressure deep in my hips. “Ooooooo… Ooooooo!”

The contraction releases me and I collapse onto my back, panting and groping for the stopwatch.

Four minutes, fifty-three seconds.

I shake my head. That can’t be right. It can’t be. Less than twenty minutes ago, they were ten minutes apart. I can’t have gone from ten minutes to less than five in two contractions.

Nervously, I push myself into a seated position and place my feet on the floor. The weight of my belly forces my thighs apart and things are definitely lower now than when I lay down.

“Uhhhhhh!” One hand goes to my belly and the other goes to the small of my back as another contraction rips through me. “Oh my God!” I can’t breathe properly and find myself yelling through the entire contraction, my voice rising into a scream when it peaks, “Aaaggghhhhh!”

I grope for the stopwatch even before I regain my breath. Four minutes, one second.

“Oh God, why are they so close?” I ask in panic, pushing my dark hair off my face with a shaking hand. After twenty-nine hours of labor, the baby has apparently decided that it wants out NOW.

I push myself unsteadily to my feet, relieved that I put my bag in the car earlier when all this started. For a moment, I consider calling an ambulance and decide against it. It’s only a ten minute drive to the hospital, my water hasn’t broken yet, and I don’t feel the urge to push. I can do this on my own.

I make it as far as the top of the stairs before another contraction hits me. Grabbing the bannister post, I sink into a squat, breathing frantically. I manage to keep control for only seconds before the contraction intensifies, making me groan, “Uhhhhhh… Uhhhhhhhhhhh…”

The deep groans seem to relieve some of the pain as I lean into the surges of the contraction. Even so, I scream as the contraction peaks, “Ahhhhhhh!”

Moving as quickly as I can, I descend the stairs, desperate to make it to the hospital. A fresh contraction begins as I reach the bottom and I stagger forward, supporting my belly with my hand as I brace myself against the back of a chair. “Uhhhhhhh… Uhhhhhhhh… Owwwww… Owwww… Ohhhh! It’s time! It’s TIME!” I cry out even though there’s no one to hear me. “It’s time! Oh my God, it’s time!”

By the time the contraction ends, I’m panting. I shove my feet into sandals and scramble to find my purse and car keys. Another contraction hits and I have to sit down. Holding my huge belly, I sink into a kitchen chair, groaning as the pain washes over me. The baby thrashes inside me as my muscles lock down viciously, the contractions having grown far more intense in the last half hour. “Oh… God…” I moan weakly, “It’s too much…”

I face the facts. I can’t drive. I can barely walk. Groping for the phone, I call for a cab, biting back groans of agony. Ten minutes, she tells me, and as the latest contraction peaks, I wonder frantically if I can wait that long.

Sanity returns as the contraction ends. The contractions are close and they’re hard, but my water bag is still intact, and I still don’t need to push. I have plenty of time. Slowly I make my way to the driveway, having to stop several times to sit or lean against the wall as my belly tightens fiercely. Finally I make it to the car and brace my hands against the trunk as a contraction tears through me, making me groan.

“You call for a cab?” A gruff voice behind me asks and I straighten up, one hand holding my hospital bag, the other supporting my belly.

“Yes,” I say, waddling painfully to the cab and sitting down hard, “St. Joseph’s ER please.”

The next contraction is already starting and I breathe harder, biting out, “Quickly.”

“Shit, lady, you all right?” he asks as he starts the engine, speeding away from my house with urgency.

I brace my hands on my knees, hunching over my contracting belly. I press my lips together, trying not to cry out. “Mmmm! Mmmm!” I grunt in short bursts as I feel pressure building in my hips. “My… baby’s… coming…” I grit out.

“Right now?!” he asks in panic, slamming on the breaks. The jolt breaks my control and I groan loudly, my body undulating with the intense contraction.

“Uuuhhhhh! Uuuuggghhhhh!” The contraction peaks and I again cry out deliriously, “It’s time! Ohhhhhhhh! It’s time!”

“Jesus… lady…” The driver undoes his seat belt and turns around, resting his hands on my knees as I writhe in pain. He presses a careful hand to my belly, mumbling, “Shit, it’s hard as a rock… Do you have to push?”

I pant as the contraction eases, wiping the sweat off my face. “No. It’s not coming yet. We have time.”

“You sure?” The driver’s face creases with worry, “You were pretty gone.”

“I’m sure. It’s just…” I flap my hand at my overstuffed belly, “…labor.”

“All right…” he turns around and puts the car back into gear. Striving to be cheerful, he asks, “So, you’re having twins, right?”

I shake my head with a faint smile. I’ve heard this question before. “No, just one.”

“You sure?” he asks again, looking at me in the rearview mirror. “‘Cause, no offense, lady, but you’re big as a house.”

“None taken,” I giggle, “Trust me, I know I’m huge.”

“Looks good on ya,” the driver says staunchly, “All pregnant women are gorgeous. You’re still a fox.”

When he winks at me, I burst out laughing, a sound he echoes. My smile dies away as I feel another contraction building. I slip into my breathing pattern. “…ahhhhhh…. ahhhhhhh…. ahhhhhhh… contraction….” I warn my companion.

“We’re still about seven minutes away. Can you hold on?”

“Yes…” I murmur, still breathing steadily, “Mmmmm… ahhhhhh… mmmmm… ahhhhhhh… mmmmm… oooooooooooo…” I moan unhappily as the contraction intensifies. The baby squirms inside me, drumming its knees against the outer wall of my belly to express its displeasure with the current situation.

“Oooooooo…. Ooooooooo…!” My moans grow louder as pressure starts to build deep inside my pelvis. I wrap my arms around my bulging belly, rocking myself back and forth as the contraction develops. “Oooooooo…! Ohhhhhhhh! Owwww! Owwwww! Owwwww!”

My deep groans fill the cab as the contraction starts to peak. I part my legs instinctively as I feel a hard head in my hips, pressing down firmly against my cervix. “Ohhhhhhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! The peak drives the head down further, and I throw my head back with a wild gasp, “Ohhhh! It’s time… it’s time… the baby’s coming…”

As the contraction releases its hold on me, I smile weakly at the driver through the mirror. “I’m okay. We’ll make it.”

He shakes his head with a sigh. “You keep saying ‘It’s time’ and it’s makin’ me nervous.”

I lean back against the seat, feeling drained. “It is time,” I say softly, “But I promise I won’t give birth in your car.”

“You look tired,” he observes, picking up a little more speed, “How long you been in labor for?”

I try to do the math, my brain feeling sluggish. “Almost thirty hours,” I answer finally.

“No wonder you look tired.”

I must doze off, because the next thing I know a contraction wrenches me awake. “Ohhhhhhhh!” The iron band of labor wraps itself around me, and I rub my quivering belly in big circles, trying to undo the incredible knot of pain. “Uuuuuhhhhhh… Uuugghhhhh! It’s time… oh God, it’s tiiimmme… it’s tiiiimmme…!”

“We’re almost there, lady! Two more minutes! Hold on!”

The head is grinding down against my cervix, so low that it almost feels like it’s coming now. I spread my legs wider, trying to make more room for it to descend. “It’s time… it’s time…” I keep groaning, “Ohhhhhhh… I’m having my baby… I’m gonna have my baby!”

I roll my head back and forth against the back of the seat, moaning deliriously as the contraction goes on and on, “My baby’s coming… my baby’s coming… it’s time… it’s time… it’s TIME!” My voice rises in a shriek as the contraction’s peak drills the head down, putting tremendous pressure on the narrow ring of tissue guarding my womb.

“Ohhhhh God… it’s time…” I moan weakly, “It’s time… my baby’s coming… I’m having my baby…”

“Come on!” the driver shouts and I look up to see us stopped at a congested red light, the hospital visible in the distance. He rolls down his window and shouts, “She’s having a baby!”

His words, unsurprisingly, have no effect and by the time we make it through the light, another contraction is starting to squeeze my huge belly. “Almost there, lady.”

“Hurry!” I gasp, already feeling intense pressure. “Ohhhhhhh… big contraction! Oh God, hurry!”

The contraction starts to peak almost immediately, and I double forward with a groan of agony, clutching my belly and feeling the sides draw in with the force of the contraction. “Uuuhhhhhh…!”

“Almost there!”

“Uuuuggghhhh!” I throw my head back with a yell as the head pushes down again, making my cervix feel like it’s about to give way.

“Pressure,” I grunt, wrapping my hands around the undercurve of my belly and pulling up, trying to get the baby off my cervix, “I feel pressure!”

“We’re here!” The car squeals to a stop and the driver throws his door open. “Let me go get help-“

“I can’t wait!” I gasp, feeling the pressure intensify as the contraction starts to peak again. “It’s coming! I’m having my baby! I’m having my baby!

The door next to me flies open and the driver takes my hands, trying to pull me out of the cab. I cooperate as best I can, feeling like I have only marginal control over my heavy body. I brace my hands on the roof of the cab, grunting in pain through the final stages of the contraction.

I cling to the driver’s arm as he guides me into the emergency room. He props me up against a wall just inside the door, looking around frantically, “Lemme find a nurse or something…”

I pant, relieved to have reached the hospital before the baby came. “Ooooooo…” I fight the urge to squat down and try to walk, desperate for help. The pain intensifies with every step I take and I call frantically, “I’m having my baby!” as I stagger forward, catching myself on a pillar as a huge contraction rocks my body. “My baby’s coming! Help me please! My baby’s coming!”

The driver reappears accompanied by an orderly with a wheelchair and I collapse into it, groaning in agony. “My baby… I’m having my baby…!”

The driver pats my shoulder with rough tenderness, “Good luck, lady.”

Some tiny, sane part of me issues a reminder and I grope for my purse, “Your… fare…” I pant out through the contraction.

He waves his hand dismissively. “Forget it. I hope you have an easy time.”

“Thank… you…” I manage before the contraction peaks, taking all of my attention, “Uuugghhhhh!”

When I come back to myself, I’m on an elevator. “First baby?” the orderly asks me and I nod, shifting uncomfortably in the chair.

“Water break yet?” he asks.

“No…” I murmur.

He pats the top of my tummy. “Won’t be long from the looks of it. You preregistered?”

I nod again. “Mandy… Vine… V-I-N-E.” I continue to move restlessly, feeling painful twinges deep in my belly. “I think I’m getting another contraction…”

“We’re almost there.”

I’ve been hearing that a lot today. “Uhhhhhhhhh…” I hunch forward in the chair, groaning as the contraction hits. The elevator doors open and I’m wheeled onto a busy floor.

“Ohhhhh…. Ohhhhhhh…” My entire body undulates with my deep groans, and I sense curious eyes on me. I try to smile at an obviously nervous pregnant woman when my belly surges, driving the head down further. I throw my head back with a cry of pain as I feel intense pressure on my cervix. “Ahhhhh!”

The head grinds against my cervix, trying to force its way through. I grab the arms of the wheelchair, squeezing with all my might as my belly goes rock hard, sticking straight out in front of me and straining against the thin material of my sundress. I bite my lip, trying not to scream at the force of the contraction. “MMMMMMMM!” My eyes are huge and wild, my face bright red with effort.

I relax a little as the contraction comes down from the peak, leaning back into the chair. I look around, seeing dozens of eyes staring at me. Before I can be embarrassed, my body surges again, another peak drilling the baby’s head down and tearing my water bag with a gush of fluid. “UUGGGHHHH!” Hot, sticky fluid gushes out between my legs, relieving the intense pressure only slightly.

“Oh God, my water just broke!” I gasp, unnecessarily because I’m soaked from the waist down. I shift in the chair, feeling the head descending impatiently, nothing left between it and the outside world except my tortured cervix which feels like it’s about to give way. “The baby’s coming!”

The orderly pats my shoulder. “Not in the hallway, it isn’t. Just stay calm.” As we pass a nurse’s station, he calls out, “I’ve got a woman in heavy labor; contractions are three minutes apart; she just broke her waters. Preregistered under Vine.”

“Suite C,” the nurse replies, making a note on a whiteboard.

I look around the bright yellow room as we enter, seeing a neatly-made bed on one side of the room and a tall birthing chair on the other with a small sofa in between for guests.

The orderly pulls the chair up next to the bed and helps me out of it. I manage to waddle the few steps to the side of the bed and sit down gratefully, exhausted by the effort. He places a hospital gown on the bed next to me. “Everything off, and it ties in the back. You okay by yourself or do you want me to send a nurse in?”

“I can manage.”

He takes the chair with him when he leaves and by the time the door swings shuts, I’m already contracting again. “Ohhhhhhhh…. Ohhhhhhhh!” I desperately want to lie down, but I know that if I do, I’ll never get back up again. I lean forward, spreading my legs wide and resting my hands on my knees, groaning as I feel the baby descending. “God… so much pressure… the baby’s coming… the baby’s coming… it’s time…”

“Uuugghhh!” The head pushes down hard, no longer held back by the amniotic sac. “Ohhhh God!” I grunt as the contraction peaks, gasping in relief when it starts to ease.

“UUGGHH!” I shout as it unexpectedly peaks again. I’m trembling with reaction when the contraction finally passes, barely able to drag my dress over my head and take off my bra and maternity panties. I sit drained for a moment, totally nude, then wail as another contraction begins. “Noooo… Not ready… not yet…”

The door open and a nurse walks in. She takes one look at me and crosses over to me hurriedly, taking my hands in hers and crouching down in front of me. “Breathe, Mandy… deep breaths… ahhhhhh… ahhhhhh…”

“Ahhhhhhh… ahhhhhhh…” I mimic her, feeling some semblance of control.

“Good… keep breathing…” She releases one of my hands and rests her free one on my quivering belly. “Breathe… contraction’s going up… going up…”

“Uuuuuhhhhhh… Owwwww… Owwwww….!” I groan as the head pushes down.

“Keep breathing… going up… here comes the peak….”

“Uuuggghhh!” I grunt explosively, my body doing exactly as she described.

“There it is… coming down… down…. ohh, I think we’re going back up again… up… here’s another peak…”

I clutch her fingers hard. “Mmmmmm!”

“There we go… and down… down… that’s it… all over now…”

I sit back, breathing hard, letting her dress me like a child. She fastens the gown loosely in the back, the hideous plaid fabric stretched tight over my belly. Next, she tucks my hair up under what looks like a paper showercap. “Let’s get you lying down,” she says, and I obediently draw my legs up onto the bed. “Good… I’m going to start an IV and then we’ll get you hooked up to a monitor and then we’ll see where we are. All right?”

I’m too out of it to answer her, but it doesn’t seem to matter. She inserts an IV into my left hand and pushes up my hospital gown, revealing my belly. She carefully places six sensors on my stretched skin and wraps two belts over them to hold them in place.

Briskly she connects the wires to a machine next to the bed and frowns at it for a moment as it starts to beep. “Feel like you’re getting a contraction?”

I nod weakly already beginning to moan.

“Breathe…” she tells me again, talking me through the contraction, her words giving me focus and reminding me there is an end in sight. When it is over, she rests her hand on my swollen belly, feeling the baby moving rapidly under her palm. “The doctor will be in any minute to check you,” she promises.

I drift in a half doze until the door opens and the nurse approaches a tall, dark-haired man in scrubs. They speak quietly for a moment, breaking off when the monitor starts to beep loudly, signaling the advent of another contraction.

I close my eyes and breathe steadily, willing myself to get through this. The iron band of labor is tightening around me, my belly warping under my hands as I hold it and start to groan. “Good, Mandy, good,” I hear from somewhere near my feet. “Breathe through it. Let your baby come down.”

Like I have a choice. The baby is descending no matter what I do, every surge of my body pushing it lower. The head is grinding against my pelvis and I jerk my hips, trying to dislodge it. If anything, that only makes the pressure worse. I pant through my nose, little grunting noises escaping my lips as the head presses against the narrow ring of tissue guarding my womb. “It’s coming…” I gasp, “Coming…”

The doctor puts his hands on my belly, feeling the contraction. He presses against both sides lightly, keeping one hand on the undercurve. “Excellent,” he pronounces, as I continue to groan in pain, “Nice and strong.”

Without warning, two fingers slide into me, probing my opening and I jerk, the nurse holding my shoulders so I can’t move anymore. “Seven centimeters.”

The contraction peaks, my muscles clenching down hard around the baby. I cry out, a guttural sound, “Uuugghhhhhhh!”

Then it is over and I collapse back on the bed, rubbing my belly to try and release the tension. The nurse pats my belly, smiling brightly. “You’re at seven centimeters. It won’t be much longer now.”

I nod, closing my eyes and trying to picture myself anywhere but here. All too soon, another contraction starts building and I pant shallowly through the opening waves of pain. The head is starting to push against me again, harder this time. “I’m feeling pressure,” I choke out. “It’s coming.”

It’s just pressure,” the nurse says soothingly, blotting my face with a cool cloth. “You’re not fully dilated yet. Your baby won’t be coming for awhile.”

If that’s supposed to be comforting, it’s not. The pressure is still building, the head battering against the ring keeping it from reaching the outside world. One push… God, just one push and it’ll be through. “I have to push!”

Pant through it,” the doctor orders, “You’re not ready to push yet. Pant, Mandy.”

I ignore him. I am ready to push, I know it. “I have to push!” I yell. “My baby’s coming!”

No, Mandy!” The doctor’s voice is like a whipcord. “Now, pant!”

I sit up, bracing my arms behind me and pant like a dog in the summer sun. The contraction washes over me, making me yell when it peaks, then fading slightly, then peaking again. By the third peak, I’m curled on my side in the fetal position, wrapped around my huge belly and screaming for mercy, for drugs, for death, for anything to end this horrible pain.

The contraction seems to break for only seconds before returning with agonizing force. I’m drenched in sweat, the hospital gown sticking to me, nearly translucent. The nurse rubs my back and says cheerful, encouraging things that I can’t understand. Nothing exists except for the pain and the enormous intruder inside of me who is battering against my cervix, trying to escape. “Hurts… It hurts…” I groan, doing what I’d sworn not to do, “Drugs. Epidural. Please, God, I need an epidural.”

Fingers inside me again, probing. “Eight centimeters. You’re coming along quickly.”

You missed your window for an epidural,” the nurse explains, “You’re going to have to do this naturally.”

I duck my head and shout at another surge of agony. My cervix is starting to give way. The head presses slightly through, then pulls back as the contraction ebbs for a moment. “It’s coming!”

Not yet, Mandy. Just keep breathing.”

Breathing. I don’t remember how to breathe. I don’t remember how to do anything except moan and scream and fight the unbearable pressure telling me to push down, push it out, push, push, push.

Another peak and the head pushes further through the ring. “I wanna push! Please let me push!”

Pant, Mandy.”

I writhe on the bed, rolling onto my back, my belly bulging hugely, pushing against the fetal monitor. I grab it, feeling the sides drawing in, my muscles turning into a sheet of steel as the brutal contraction peaks again and again. “Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhhhh! AHHHHHH!” I’m screaming like a banshee, my throat feeling like it’s shredding.

Let it come down, Mandy. Relax your bottom. Let your baby come down.”

I roll onto my other side, then onto my back again. I struggle to sit up, fail, and start twisting again, side to side, howling at the agony coursing through me. I try to sit up again and this time I succeed. Still yelling, I swing my legs over the side of the bed and stand up.

The baby lurches downward, so low that it feels like it will fall out if I just open my legs. I keep my knees together until another peak of the contraction hits me and my legs buckle. I drop into a squat, supporting myself by clinging to the side of the bed. The nurse steps behind me and slides her arms under mine, holding me upright.

Good, Mandy. Let gravity help. Just relax now and let the baby come down into your bottom.”

I release the bed and grab my belly again, holding it as the contraction goes on and on. “I can’t do this anymore!” I shout. “I can’t! I wanna stop!”

Can’t stop now, Mandy, your baby’s almost here. You’re in transition. Almost time to push.”

My legs are shaking, and I can’t hold the squat anymore. I get on my knees, spreading them wide, making room for the baby. “It’s coming down!” I scream deliriously. “I feel it coming!”

The baby twists inside me, the head scraping against my pelvis as it drums its knees against the outer wall of my belly. Looking down, I can see the momentary imprint of knees and feet pressing out of me. My belly is a hard, contracting ball of steel, ready to burst. I run my hand over the tight skin, feeling it ready to split apart if I don’t hurry and push the baby out. “I have to push!” I yell again. “I’ve gotta get it out! I’m gonna burst!”

The nurse laughs, “You won’t burst, Mandy. Women do this all the time. Now pant, Mandy. Don’t push, let the baby work itself down.” She applies pressure to my lower back which only emphasizes the agony in my red-hot, screaming belly.

I contract so deeply that I can see the outline of the baby inside me for a moment before the head grinds against my cervix, then drills through it, forcing the huge head fully into my narrow vagina as the battered ring of tissue gives out. I double over, screaming in fresh agony as the urge to push becomes unbearable, “It’s here! It’s here! I have to push! I have to push!”

Okay, Mandy, let’s get you back on the bed so we can check you again…”

I have to PUSH!”

My voice is an unholy roar. Fingers jam into me from behind, feeling for my entrance. “Well, Mandy, it looks like you’re right. You’re fully dilated and I can feel the head already. Very well done.”



There’s a flurry of movement, then I’m lifted my my feet, the baby dropping lower as they half-drag, half-carry me across the room to the birthing chair and seat me in it. I draw my knees up instinctively, and they strap me into the stirrups, holding me wide open. The position perfectly lines up the battering ram of the baby’s head with my opening and one good push is going to send it shooting across the room.

Push, Mandy!”

I drop my chin to my chest and push with all my might, expecting the head to come popping out at any second. It’s so close… so fucking close… I take a huge breath and push again, an inhuman noise coming out of my mouth, “Hhhuuuuunnnnggghhh!”

Good, Mandy! Push!”

I lean into another push, howling as the baby writhes inside me, twisting to find a way through my body. “Ooooooooooo!”

“Now, rest. Rest.”

I lean back limply against the chair, gasping for breath. The doctor takes my hand and brings it to rest against my swollen belly, just below my navel. “Feel that?” he asks, and I nod, feeling the baby pressing against my hand, “That’s his butt right there. That’s how low he is. It won’t be much longer.”

“Thank God…” I murmur, blearily watching the fluid from my IV bag drip down the tube. An indeterminate amount of time later, I hear the fetal monitor start to beep.

“Oooo… Ooooo! Contraction!” I warn, feeling the iron band of labor tightening my belly again, making it bulge out against my hand.

“Deep breath and push!”

I duck my head and push again, screaming as I feel my cervix start to burn like it’s on the verge of splitting. “Ahhhhhhh!” Instinctively, I tense my muscles, trying to hold the baby back.

“No, no! Relax!” The doctor puts his hand on the undercurve of my belly as I scream in pain. “Relax your muscles. Let the baby come down. Just let it come down.”

“Breathe… breathe…” the nurse is coaxing me as she wipes my face with a cool cloth. “Deep breaths, Mandy. Let your baby come down.”

“I’m gonna split in half!” I gasp, but I bite my lip and push again. My lips draw back in a snarl as I bear down hard, dropping my chin to my chest as I force the baby through my lower body. “Mmmmmmmm! Nnnnaaahhh!” I grunt as my cervix stretches wider around the huge cannonball of my baby’s head. I groan and push again, every muscle tense with effort as the head strains against my cervix, then suddenly pushes halfway through It, the entire head splitting my birth canal wide. “Oh, FUCK there’s the head! Ohhhh… the baby’s coming! The baby’s COMING!”

“Good job, good job!” The doctor praises. “Keep moving that baby down! Big push!”

I lean into a hard push, grabbing my knees and yelling as my cervix stretches wider, the head straining against me, moving my baby further down my canal. I cry out when I feel a bright shock of pain shoot through my womb and up my spine, “Yyyaahhh!”

“Push through it, Mandy!”

I grit my teeth and push again, losing my focus when the pain stabs me again. “It hurts! Something’s wrong!”

I pant hard, my entire body rising and falling with the force of my breath. The pain subsides as soon as I stop pushing, and I wait for the doctor to tell me I need a c-section. It will be welcome at this point.

Over my huge, heaving belly I see the doctor shake his head. “The baby’s pressing against a nerve; that’s why it hurts. As soon as you get past that, you’ll be fine. So give me a big push and let’s move this baby down.”

“I can’t! I can’t Ohhhhhhhh!” I throw my head back and bear down, screaming when the pain comes back, but this time I snarl and push through it, trying to push the baby past the nerve. “Uuunnngghhh!”

“Good girl! Keep it coming! Push!”

I grunt and push, every muscle straining to birth my baby. Inside me, I feel the head inching down, moving closer to my opening, but so, so slowly.

“Keep pushing! Keep pushing!”

Groaning and straining, I slowly work the head past the nerve, my entire body going limp with relief when that agonizing pain fades. “Ohhhhhh… I did it…”

“Rest now,” the nurse rubs my massive belly in big circles. “Lots of breath. Get your energy back. You’re not done yet.”

“Ohhhh… how much longer?” I murmur, half-asleep.

Through my nearly- closed eyes, I see the nurse shrug. “It’s hard to say. Could be minutes. Could be hours.”

Now, I’m awake. “Hours?” I ask shakily.

“The shoulders haven’t even cleared your cervix yet,” the nurse explains. “You still have a long way to go.”

The nurse stops rubbing my belly for a moment, feeling my stretched skin, the she tells me, “Here we go…”

Dimly I feel my belly starting to tighten, hearing the doctor tell the nurse, “Keep stimulating the contraction.” At those words, she tugs up my hospital gown to reveal my huge, squeezing ball of a tummy before she resumes rubbing my belly, her fingers pressing harder against me now. “Ooooooo… Oooooooo…” I moan at the pressure of the contraction and her hands force the baby lower, the shoulders grinding against my cervix.

“Push, Mandy. Hold your breath and push!”

I pant for a few seconds, trying to psych myself up, then I lower my chin to my chest and bear down.

“Harder! Big push!”

I close my eyes and obey, roaring as I feel the wide shoulders pushing against my cervix, ever so slowly starting to work their way through. “Hhhhuunnnggghhh! Uuuhhhhh!”

“There we go! Push! Push!”

I grunt and push again, groaning as my cervix stretches a little farther. I push until I run out of air, then stop long enough to gasp for more. I stop only for an instant, but it’s long enough for the baby to slip back up, the shoulders retreating once more into my womb. “Ohhhh… Oh God…” I moan weakly, writhing in the birthing chair. “Ohhhhhh… why won’t it come? Why can’t I make it come?”

“It IS coming, Mandy,” the doctor assures me, looking up at me over my huge belly, before returning his attention to my opening as I gasp and moan and push again. “Sometimes it happens slowly. That’s to be expected, especially with a baby as large as yours.”

“It’s big?” I ask fearfully, putting my hands on either side of my heaving belly and panting through the remainder of the contraction.

The doctor nods, looking like he’s sorry he told me anything. “When I felt for the head… I’m afraid it’s very large.”

I whimper in dismay as the next contraction hits me. I thrash my head from side to side, trying to fight off the urge to push, afraid of what the huge baby will do to me. My body surges again, the contraction intensifying, and suddenly I have to push. I grunt and bear down, some instinct telling me to put my hands on my belly and squeeze, forcing the baby down from the outside as I push with all my might. “Uuuunnnnggghhhhh!”

I feel it move only millimeters, but it’s progress and I close my eyes and push again, my hands slipping on my sweaty skin as I push on my rock-hard belly. I scream as I feel extra pressure and realize that the nurse has stopped rubbing my belly and has moved behind me, reaching over my shoulders to put the heels of her palms at the top of my belly right under my breasts and push with me. “Keep pushing, Mandy!” she orders. “Let’s get this baby out!”

“OHHHHHHH GOD!” My yells echo through the birthing suite as I fight to birth the baby. “OHHHHHH! UUUGGGGHHHH!”

“Yelling’s not going to make it come any faster,” the nurse tells me. “PUSH!”

My face is bright-red with effort as I huff and grunt and push again and again. The baby barely moves with each push and as soon as the push ends, it retreats to where it was before. “I can’t do it!” I cry in despair, “I can’t move it!”

“You are moving it,” the doctor tells me calmly. “The head’s in your canal. That means it only has to come a few more inches and it’s out.”

Another contraction slams into me with no warning and my belly heaves. “I can’t take it!” I scream, “It’s too much!” The pain is radiating through me, excruciatingly concentrated deep in my belly and my vagina. The iron band of labor squeezes my belly tight, even as I feel my birth canal expanding around the terrible width of the baby’s skull. Through it all, I push and scream, desperate for a respite from the agonizing pain.

Good girl, that’s right,” the doctor praises as the nurse removes her hands from my belly. “Keep pushing, keep pushing.”

I grope for something to hold onto to keep myself from flying apart and grab the metal handles on either side of the chair, squeezing them hard and pulling back on them as I bear down, every muscle in my body rigid with effort. I clench my teeth and throw my head back as I strain, trying to move that enormous head. Dimly I can hear long groans that sound like a cow lowing and realize the animal noises are coming from me, starting deep in my tortured belly and emerging from my snarling lips as I fight to birth the baby.

Uuunnnggghhhh!” I groan deeply as I feel the head inching downward, moving closer to my opening. The incredible pressure concentrated deep in my pelvis is unbearable and I can’t stop pushing even when I feel my canal stretching wider as the shoulders start to emerge from my womb.

Push, Mandy, push! It’s coming!”

I take a huge breath and bear down with all my strength, howling when the baby stops moving down no matter how much I strain. “Stuck! It’s stuck!”


Without warning, the nurse puts the heels of her palms on the top of my belly again and leans her full weight on me as I groan and scream and push, desperate to birth the baby. “Have to get it out! I have to get it out!”

Push down! Push down! Push down!”

Thrashing my head from side to side, I strain frantically, my yells echoing through the room as baby slowly starts to move again. “Oh God! Oh GOD! OHHH GOD!” I arch my back, bearing down hard as between my legs the doctor continues to bellow, “Push! PUSH! PUUUSSSHHH!”

Dragging the handles towards me, I push until I can feel my face growing red-hot, the edges of my vision starting to blur. The nurse lifts her hands from my belly, but I keep bearing down and the baby keeps moving, little by little. She presses a cold washcloth to my overheated face, then places an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. I stop pushing momentarily and suck in a huge breath of air that clears my vision and my head slightly.

Oh God…” I moan weakly, my voice muffled by the mask, “God… I didn’t know it would be like this…”

The nurse blots my hot face, something like sympathy in her face. “Every birth is different,” she tells me, “Some women have a very easy time.”

She pats my huge belly which is starting to tighten with a new contraction. “And sometimes it’s very difficult.”

Like me…” I say in despair, and she nods.

Look on the bright side,” she says as she lifts the mask away, “Maybe next time, it will be easy.”

Next time? “Never again!” I say emphatically, and both the nurse and doctor laugh.

Lets get this one born first,” he suggests as I start to breathe hard, trying to ride the wave of agony. “Deep breath in… push!”

“Oooooo!” The force of the push lifts my back off the bed, every muscle tight with strain. I collapse backwards, gasping for air as the push ends, then groan deeply and push again, trying to force the baby down. I grab the handles again and lean forward, watching my massive belly quivering with the contraction and my forceful pushes. “Ooooooo! OOOOOO!”

Keep it coming, keep it coming! Push!”

I am pushing! I want to scream, but every scrap of my being is focused on pushing the baby down, the animalistic noises tearing themselves from my throat completely beyond my control.

“That’s it, bear down! Really strain. It’s coming!”

UUUHHHHH!” I bellow, throwing my head back as the baby suddenly lurches down, the intense pressure overwhelming me. “Ugh! Ugh!” I’m grunting loudly and pushing in short bursts as I writhe in the chair, trying to spread my legs wider to make room for the baby.

“I can see the head! Push! PUSH!”

“Hhhhhuuuuggggghhh!” I bellow, pushing hard as the nurse and doctor divert their attention to the stirrups, changing their position to spread my legs wider and push my knees back closer to my chest. The new position moves the head closer to my opening and I lean into a huge push with a howl, willing the baby to come quickly.

“Push hard! Push hard! It’s right there! Big push!”

My body trembles with effort, sweat pouring off me as I scream and push, each surge moving the head lower, but in the mirror, I see nothing.

“Get ready for an posterior birth,” he tells the nurse as I gasp for breath and she nods knowingly.

“I thought so.”

“What’s that mean?” I gasp in panic, pushing even as I ask the question. “Mmmmm!”

“It just means your baby is coming out face up instead of face down. That’s one of the reasons it’s taking so long. But everything’s fine. It’s just sunny-side-up.”

“Uuuuugghhhhh!” I groan, my belly quivering with the force of the push. I can feel tremendous pressure deep in my pelvis as the shoulders work their way through my lower body as the baby descends.

“That’s it… Big push! Big push!”

“GOD!” I grunt, clenching my teeth and pushing again with a wail of agony until the contraction ends. “Ahhhhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhh…. Ohhhhh God, why is this so hard?”

“We’re getting close now, Mandy,” the doctor reassures me. “Every time you push, the head comes down a little more. I can see it. Now, with this next contraction I want you to push like hell and we’ll see if we can’t get this head to crown. Okay?”

“I’ve been pushing like hell,” I moan, and the doctor and nurse both laugh.

“You’ve been doing great,” the nurse tells me, adjusting the monitor belt, She pauses and rests her hand on the side of my belly, “Ohhh, here we go…”

“Here comes a contraction. Deep breath in…” the doctor waits for me to obey, “Let it out…” I exhale shakily, feeling the contraction building rapidly.

“Deep breath in… and… push!”

The nurse pushes my chin to my chest, forcing me to put every ounce of effort into moving the baby down. My birth canal throbs as the baby slowly moves through my lower body.

“Good girl…” the nurse whispers, “Now… harder!”

The head is a bowling ball lodged in my pelvis. I grunt, straining around the huge, hard thing stuck inside me, feeling it inching down with each strong push.

“Harder! Bear down!”

“Uuuugghhhhh!” I groan, tapping into strength I didn’t know I possessed to bear down harder, forcing the bowling ball lower.

“Harder! Big push!”

Nnnnuuuugggghhhh!” I bellow, leaning further into the push, feeling my every muscle go rigid with effort.

“It’s almost crowning!” the doctor crows in triumph and I open my eyes to look in the mirror, seeing my vagina bulging hugely with the baby’s head, looking like it’s about to burst. The lips are an angry red and tightly closed, not letting any part of the head be seen.

“FFFFUUUUUUUCCCK!” I scream, grabbing the metal railings and squeezing hard as I push, trying to force that huge thing out of me.

“Keep it coming! Keep it coming!” The doctor chants, and my lips draw back in a snarl as I obey, pushing with all my might.

My entire body shakes with effort as I work to deliver the baby. My gaze locks on the mirror, watching my labia quiver but remained furled, the head refusing to emerge. “Uuuuuhhhhh!”

The doctor runs his fingers over my vaginal lips, feeling the head just behind them. “It’s right there, Mandy,” he tells me unnecessarily, “Push it out.”

“I’m trying!” I groan, leaning into another huge push. I can hear the blood roaring in my ears as I bear down, trying to move the bowling ball lodged between my legs. “Hhhhuuunngghh!”

“That’s it,” he says, pulling his hand away, “Big push! Big push!”

“GGGOOOODDD!” I strain hard, my thighs trembling as I feel the baby move a little. In the mirror, I see myself bulging out further, my vagina looking and feeling like it’s about to explode. The pressure is unbearable, and I thrash my head from side to side, screaming at the force of the contractions. “Ahhhhhh! Ahhhhhhh! AHHHHH!”

“Bear down now! Push! Push hard!”

“UUUGGGHHHH!” I push again, feeling like the head is on the verge of bursting out me, ready to tear my vagina apart. The overwhelming urge to push has hold of me, and I can’t stop bearing down. “HHHNNNGGG!”

“Here it comes!”

Between my legs, I can feel myself starting to burn and I close my eyes with a cry of pain, focusing all my energy on pushing the baby out. My vagina is on fire, red-hot with agony, and I push harder, feeling the head passing through me. I’m stretched wide-open, the sensation a torment beyond words. I howl in agony as I push, reassuring myself that it’s nearly over. The head much be nearly out.

“Ahhhhhhhh! AHHHHHHH!” I howl as I feel my vagina stretching further around the baby’s head. The nurse takes my hand and guides it to my opening letting me feel the quarter-sized bit of hair and scalp bulging out of my bursting vagina.

“Feel how close the baby is, Mandy,” she tells me. “Just a few more pushes.”

“Ohhhhhh God!” I sob. I keep pushing, feeling the head press harder against my fingers. My vagina feels like it’s being torn apart, but only a tiny bit of the head is out. I stop pushing in despair and grunt as the baby slides back inside me.

“You’re getting really close, Mandy,” the doctor tells me as the nurse brushes back the hair that has escaped from my cap to stick to my sweaty face. “It’ll be here before you know it.”

I gasp as I feel another contraction starting to build, and the doctor asks, “Are you getting a contraction?”

“Yes!” I gasp as my belly locks down around the baby, pushing it down without my doing anything. “It’s coming!”

“All right. Push, Mandy, push!”

“Uuuggghhhhh!” I grunt loudly as I push, feeling the head moving down, pressing against me again. This time, when I feel the burning stretch, I duck my head and push harder, desperate to birth the baby. I shriek as I feel myself stretching wide, but keep pushing madly, forcing the baby lower.

“Good girl! Push it down! Push down!”

The nurse puts her hand on the back of my neck and forces my chin to my chest as I bear down, agonized noises tearing themselves from my throat as my baby emerges further, stretching my opening out of shape.

“Hard pushes, Mandy! Big hard pushes! Come on!”

I grab the metal railings and squeeze, dragging them back towards me as I push with all my might. I open my eyes long enough to look in the mirror and see a dark teardrop between my thighs. I stop pushing for an instant to gasp for breath and cry out as the head retreats inside me.

“That’s it! That’s it! Hard pushes! Big breath and push! PUSH!”

“Uuuuuuggghhhh!” Another mighty shove brings the head down again, my vagina stinging and burning unbearably. “Mooootheerrrrrfuuuuuckerrrrrr!”

The nurse snickers at my curse, and the doctor grips my calves. “Yeah! That’s it, that’s it! Get mad! You don’t have to take this! Let’s pop this big baby right out!”

“Hhhhnnnggghhhh!” I snarl, grabbing my knees as I lean into a hard push. In the mirror, the teardrop widens, and I feel the burning intensify as the head pushes lower. “Uuuuuuggghhhhh! Son of a BIIIITCH!”

“That’s right, really hard! Get this baby out of you! Push!”

“Ohhhhhh GOD!” I grunt as the teardrop widens into a perfect circle, the top of my baby’s head bulging out of me. “FUCK! It’s coming! It’s coming!”

“I know it’s coming! Push!”

“MMMMMMMMM!” I curl around my huge, squeezing ball of a tummy, howling as my labia stretch wider. I throw my head back, pushing with all my might, feeling that huge skull splitting me apart. My hipbones groan as the head forces it’s way through my lower body. “JESUS! I’m gonna split in half!”

I’m crying and screaming and pushing, my labia burning intensely “Oh my God! I can’t do it! I wanna stop! I can’t push anymore! I can’t!”

“It’s coming, Mandy,” the doctor says firmly. “You’re having your baby. The head is starting to crown. Push out your baby. Have your baby, Mandy. Have your baby!”

My head thrashes from side to side in denial as I feel another violent surge overtaking me. “I can’t! I can’t I- Ohhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhhhh- Here I GOOOOOOO!” Another push brings the head down farther and I see my labia go white around the massive head. “Ohhhhhhh GOD! It hurts! It hurts so bad!”

“It’s almost over, Mandy. You can take a break if you need to, but this baby’s almost here.”

I try to relax and give my labia a chance to stretch to accommodate that terrible breadth of skull, but as soon as I draw breath I find myself bearing down again and again, my body completely out of my control. “Ohhhhhhh! Ohhhhhhhhh I can’t stop pushing! I can’t stop pushing! I can’t stop!” My labia start to crest, paper-thin, around the head, red-hot with agony and on the verge of splitting. Through it all, I keep screaming and pushing, knowing I’ll surely tear but helpless to stop.

“Here we go! Here we go! Here comes the head!”

The head stretches me to my widest point yet and my entire body spasms. I collapse back against the chair, bellowing, “Uuuugggghhhh! Baby coming out!”

“That’s it! It’s really coming now, Mandy. Push!”

“Hhhhhrrrrruuunnngghhh!” I arch my back, pushing my belly towards the ceiling as I try to force the head out. I’m stretched way, way past my limits, but the head keeps coming, opening me wider and wider. “Ohhhhhhhhh Gooooodddd! Uuuggghhh! UUUGGGHHH!”

“There it is! You’re fully crowning, Mandy. The top of the head is out!”

“Ahhhhhhhhh! AAAAHHHHHH!” As I push, I feel the head inch forward, and the baby kicks frantically, so long that I can feel its feet just under my ribcage. “OHHHHHHH FFFUUUUCCKK!”

There are the eyes… Let me see this cute little face. Push! Come on! The head’s half out. Push! Push!”

“UUUGGGHHH!” With an explosive push, the nose pops out from underneath and I collapse backwards, gasping, staring in the mirror at the half-born head sticking out between my legs, looking impossibly huge. “Oh my God…” I moan weakly, “Oh God, it’s coming…”

“It’s here,” the doctor corrects me. “One more push and we’ll have a head. Come on, Mandy! Bear down!”

Taking a deep breath, I clench my teeth and lean into a massive push, trying to free the chin. “Hhhhhrrrrgggghhhh! Ohhhhhh! OHHHHH!” My body spasms as the head finally pops out with a huge gush of fluid.

“The head’s out!” the doctor calls out as the nurse presses me back against the chair.

“Rest. Get your breath back. You’re not done yet.” She swabs my hot face with an cool cloth as I strain my neck to try to see the baby’s head. Sticking out between my legs, it looks like it’s the size of a cantaloupe.

As the doctor runs his fingers around the baby’s neck, I feel my belly tightening again. “Contraction!” I gasp, putting my hands on the sides of my overstuffed belly. “Here comes the rest of it!”

“Don’t push yet,” the doctor commands, resting his hand against the undercurve of my belly, feeling the intense contraction for himself.

“But I have to push!” I exclaim, as every fiber of my being commands me to bear down and push the baby out. “I have to push!”

The nurse puts her hand on my shoulder and forces me back down. “The cord’s around its neck,” she tells me, “Doctor has to get it loose before you can push again. Now blow. Like this- hoo… hoo…”

My brow furrows with concentration as I purse my lips and blow, fighting the unbearable urge to push. “Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!”

I reach out and the nurse takes my hands. Squeezing hard, I stare into her eyes and keep blowing. “Hoo! HOOOOO! Hoo!” The contraction intensifies and my eyes go wide as I feel the shoulders grinding against my opening. “Hoo! Oooooo! OOOO- baby! Baby’s coming! Gotta push!”

“Lots of pressure,” the nurse agrees, looking over her shoulder to see what the doctor is doing. “Keep blowing.”

I squeeze her fingers with all my strength, my eyes wild as I blow frantically. The desperate rushes of air lift my head and shoulders off the chair with every exhale. “HOO! HOO! HOO! HOO!”

“Keep blowing. We’re getting there. Just don’t push.”

The contractions keep coming, fast and hard. My belly bulges out against the monitor belt so hard that the band looks like it’s going to burst off. My surging body drives the shoulders down until they’re pressing hard against my opening, feeling like they’re going to tear through my skin. The urge to push becomes all-consuming. “Oh JESUS, I have to push! Let me push!”

“Real soon. Blow!”

“HOOOOO! HOOOOOO! Baby! Baby’s COMING!” Inside me, the baby squirms, looking for a way out of my body. The movement pushes the shoulders down more and I groan loudly as I feel myself starting to part to let them emerge. “HOOOOOO! GOD!

Mercifully, I hear the doctor’s sigh of satisfaction before he tells me, “We’ve got it now. Go ahead and push.”

Before the words are out of his mouth, I’m leaning into a huge push, bellowing as the shoulders push down further, “Ohhhhhhhh God! Here it comes!”

“Thatta girl! Push! Push hard!”

Between my legs, the doctor is tugging on the baby’s head, shifting it from side to side in an effort to free the shoulders. “Big push!”

I push with all my might, wailing as he pulls on the baby, the shoulders pressing excruciatingly against my opening. “Oh my GOD!” I throw my head back with a shout, arching my back and pushing my belly into the air.

“Bear down! Keep pushing!”

The shoulders are grinding against my opening, creating tremendous pressure, but not coming through. “I can’t do it! It’s too big!”

“I know, I know,” the doctor says soothingly, “Baby’s got some wide shoulders. But you got the head out; you can do this. Come on, Mandy. Big hard pushes now. Big push, big push!”

“Oooooo! OOOOOOOO!” I lean into a hard push, my face contorted with strain. My vagina is burning unbearably, on the verge of splitting, as the first shoulder starts to emerge.

“That’s it; it’s starting to come. Keep pushing, keep pushing. Pushpushpush!”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh… God…!” I groan through my clenched teeth as I continue to bear down. I grunt as I stretch a little wider, the baby still not coming nearly fast enough. “Ohhhhhhh God! PULL IT OOOOUUUUUT!”

My roar reverberates off the walls as I collapse backward, grinding the back of my head against the thin cushion. “Get it out of me! GET IT OUT!”

“It’s coming out, Mandy, but you have to keep pushing! Push! PUSH!”

“I can’t! I can’t!” I’ve been pushing for days… years… and the grueling work has left me beyond exhausted. I’m gasping and crying as the baby squirms inside me, trying to make its way out. “I can’t push… I can’t… I… I… I’m pushing! Ohhhh God- I’m pushing! I’m PUSHING!”

The shoulders grind against my opening and suddenly I have to push. I throw my weight forward, grunting deeply from my belly as I strain around the baby, forcing the shoulder out a little more. “Uuuunngghhhhh! UUUHHHHH!”

“it’s coming, Mandy! Your baby’s coming!”

“Mmmmmmmmmmm!” I grit out through my teeth, as I feel my tortured opening stretch a little more.

“There’s the first one!” The doctor beams up at my over my heaving belly. “First one’s out, only one more to go! Now give me a BIG PUSH!”

“Ohhhhhhh GOD! Come on! Come ON!” I scream to the baby, my face scarlet with the strain of birthing the wide shoulders. I’m pushing so hard I can feel the tendons in my neck standing out and still the baby won’t come. “UUUUUUGGGHHHH!”

“Push! Harder! PUSH!”

I grab my belly, feeling the rock-hard muscles under my hands, and strain hard. I’m bellowing in agony as the shoulder tortures my already-overtaxed opening. I’m going to die here in this chair, I realize in despair. The baby’s too big; it’s never going to come out.

“Mandy,” the doctor is standing between my legs, resting his hands on my knees and looking at me seriously, “This baby needs to come out. It needs to be born. Now, when I tell you to, you are going to take a deep breath and give me the biggest, hardest push of your life. Ready?”

I nod weakly, moaning in contraction as he sits back down.

“All right… deep breath in…. PUSH!”

“MMMMMMMMMM!” For long moments, the shoulder grinds in my opening, making me want to howl. I fight the urge and put every ounce of concentration into pushing, oblivious to everything except my straining belly and tortured vagina. I run out of air and keep pushing, little by little feeling myself opening up to let the second shoulder through. “HHHMMMMMUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!”

“You did it!”

I gasp and fall backwards, panting for air

“Okay, Mandy, take a deep breath. The shoulders are out. Your baby’s almost here.”

I gasp for breath, staring at the unbelievable scene in the mirror. The baby’s head and shoulders are sticking out of my body, looking impossibly huge.

“Now… PUSH!”

“MMMMMMMM!” I groan through clenched teeth as I feel the baby coming faster now, watching as one arm pops out of me, then another, the baby flailing in the open air.

“One more big push!”

“HHHUUUNNGGHH!” The baby slides down further, wide hips straining at my opening.

“Here it comes! Oh, big baby! Big baby!”

“UUUUNNNGGHHH!” I push again, my vagina throbbing as the hips slowly work their way out. “Baby coming out!”

I feel a wet slithering and a gush of fluid before a sudden rush of emptiness. I collapse backwards, totally exhausted, as the pain disappears.

“Here he is, Mandy! Here’s your boy!” Distantly, I hear a baby squalling and the doctor and nurse exclaiming over the baby.

“My word, he’s a monster!” I feel a weight on my chest and automatically cradle the baby against my breast, finally managing to open my eyes to look at him. I find myself gazing at an enormous baby boy, his fluffy curls not disguising the pointed shape of his head. I look up at the doctor in concern, to see him wiping off his face and stretching his arms.

“His head will come back to normal in a couple of days,” the nurse reassures me, “It’s because he spent so long in the birth canal.”

“And no wonder,” the doctor adds, “He weighs eleven pounds, five ounces. No wonder you had so much trouble. I’ve never delivered a baby this big before. I’m worn out!”

You’re worn out,” I mutter in disbelief and both medical professionals laugh.

“Yes, we know who did all the real work,” the nurse acknowledges. “Was it worth it?”

I look down at the baby lying so trustingly in my arms. “Yeah,” I say softly, “he is.”

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