She was breathing her short little panting Lamaze breaths.
The nurse’s head emerged from between her legs.
“You’re doing great, Lilly. Not much longer now!” Lilly gave a small, sweaty laugh and sank back into the pillows behind her head. Then another one came.
“Oh!” Her eyes rolled and she grunted as she bore into the contraction.
“Push her knees up! Push them up! ” I had her left knee. I pushed that knee as high as it could go. Caroline was right knee, and we locked eyes with each other as she pushed along with me.
That one passed, and another came right behind it. They were in rapid, rolling succession now.
“Aaaaaaaaaah,” Lilly’s face went red, she dug her chin into her chest, her torso grew tense. I knew this growl, it came with the birthing push.
Sure enough, a head crowned, then emerged from her body. She pushed again. At this point, Caroline and I had her knees up to her ears, her nether regions were front and center.
The doctor walked in and deftly worked the baby’s shoulders out, which allowed the body to spit itself onto the bed.
“It’s a girl,” the doctor said matter-of-factly, clamping the cord and clearing the airway. He held her upside down by her tiny feet, she let out a lung inflating squall. Then, like a fish on a dock, the doctor flipped her up onto Lilly’s chest. Lilly grinned and scooped the tiny girl against her.
The nurse looked up at us from her work. “Ladies, you can release the legs now.” We hadn’t realized we still had Lilly in position. We laughed and put her legs down on the bed.
That night was many years ago, but I’ll always remember being there. It was my birthday, and probably the most heart-swelling birthday I’ve ever had.
And she made it look so easy.