I couldn’t hand the baby over to her parents yet because her umbilical cord was still connected to the placenta, which was still inside my uterus. I was comfortable for the time being, but I knew that would come to an end soon. In a few minutes, the cramps would start to pulse and rage throughout my uterus and would not subside until I delivered the placenta.
I dreaded that part more than I dreaded pushing a baby out. (This was true only once I’d already pushed the baby out. Prior to that point, I’m sure I’d tell you that delivering a baby was worse. It’s all relative to the moment you’re in the middle of in childbirth.) Although the placenta was smaller, softer and more flexible than a baby (there was no skull or collarbones to negotiate through my pelvis), I always found it more difficult to deliver. I’m not sure why, though maybe it’s because of the intense cramping and the delayed urge to push.
Or of course it could be the physical reticence of another foreign object having to travel the same path that the baby just did and the muscle memory of the pain from just minutes ago. I’m not entirely sure why but for whatever reason, the time between me getting the urge to push out the placenta and it actually evacuating my body are moments that are filled with panic and dread. Even the distraction of the baby, which I try to use to my best advantage, isn’t enough to overcome the mini-breakdown I’d always manage to have until the second that two pound mound of tissue finally plops out of me.