"Push," the doctor said.
"I can't," I said.
"Yes, you can," she said.
I struggled to push until she pulled out a needle.
"What's that for?" I asked.
"Just in case I need to cut you," she said.
"I don't want an episiotomy," I said.
But as soon as the needle went in, my daughter's head came out. The tear in my skin burned.
My husband stumbled backwards from his position at the foot of the bed.
"My God!" he exclaimed, and sat down to take a few more photographs.
My daughter peered around as if trying to focus on something. The umbilical cord ripped, spraying the doctor with blood.
The doctor told me to push out the placenta and then started sewing me up. My daughter and I stared at each other. As soon as one nurse showed me how to get her to latch on to nurse, another lifted her away and said she would bring the baby right back after some routine procedures.
"Can I go back to work now?" my husband asked.
"We've just had a baby," I said. "Don't you want to stay?"
Reluctantly he called in to say he was taking the day off, and lay out on the pink plastic chair to wait. We waited. And waited.
I buzzed the nurses repeatedly.
"Where is my baby?" I asked.
"We're bringing her right now," a voice said.
We waited for three hours until finally a nurse told me to shower and come to the nursery to pick up my baby. Showering was hard because of the stitches. I hobbled to the nursery, and all along the hallway I heard a pitiful screaming.
"That's your baby," the nurse said. "She's going to be a good singer."