Ever since Tai was born, I've been meaning to record his birth story. The details of that day swim around in my head, never far from my thoughts. Now that I find myself waiting on the steps of another birth, another baby, it seems like a good time to finally sit down and put our story onto paper.
I always find that birth stories start farther back than the actual day of the birth. As mothers, we circle around the event, weaving in all of the pieces of our lives at the time and setting the scene for the moment our lives change forever. So, like any good birth story, Tai's begins the day before his actual birth.
On Saturday, May 8th, I had my first day of"maternity leave." My due date had come and gone, but since I was feeling great, I decided to keep working. In hindsight, I think I stayed busy at work because I wasn't quite ready to let go of being pregnant-- I wasn't ready yet to bring Tai into the world. Saturday finally brought a day of rest, and I spent the day deep in thought and creation. I finished a painting I had started for the baby, and spent hours at my laptop, writing. I poured my soul out on paper-- recording my journey up to that point. My pregnancy had been very easy physically, but emotionally, a rollercoaster-- and all sorts of feelings were bottled up inside me.
After typing for hours, I finally felt that I had released everything that had been blocking me.
As I stood over the sink, washing dishes in the soft light of the early summer evening, I felt a question pour over me. Whether it came from my mind, my body, or a higher power, I don't know, but the message was clear--are you ready? And finally, I was able to respond with confidence-- yes.
I went out that night with three of my closest friends, and we spent hours catching up, laughing, and connecting over spicy red chile and mocha ice cream cake. I joked that the caffeine and chile would be sure to get labor started....and I was right.
The next morning, Mother's day, I woke up early and knew that I would meet my baby that day. I sent Alexis off to work because I wanted the house to myself-- I didn't want anyone waiting around for labor to start. I tidied up our bedroom, did some laundy, and asked my brother to take me to the grocery store, since I didn't feel safe driving. As I finished shopping, I noticed that the cramps I had felt in the morning were now steadier and stronger. I remember standing at the check out counter as a strong contraction washed over me--- I had to focus all my energy on listening to the cashier and smiling politely while my body tightened intensely. At 12:30pm, my brother dropped me off at home, and as soon as he left, the contractions picked up. I began to feel that I was slipping away--- into myself and another realm. I called my two best friends, the midwife, and Alexis, and crawled onto our mattress to wait. By the time my "team" arrived, I was well into active labor-- losing myself to the contractions and coming back into awareness briefly between them. I saw Alexis and my friend K rapidly trying to set up the birthing pool, until the midwife explained that this baby was on its way. Alexis joined me on the bed, holding me as I labored on all fours. I don't remember much during the pushing phase but I know that it was relatively short. I was somewhere deep inside myself, where time and reality didn't exist. The next words I remember came from my midwife, "stand back everyone, there's going to be a splash." Through the intensity, I remember laughing to myself, wondering if we were suddenly at Sea World. I didn't understand at all what she was talking about. And the next moment, 3:09, 3 hours after my labor began, Tai came into the world-- still in his amniotic sac.
<<I later learned that few babies are born in the water sac-- or the caul, as it's known-- and that many cultures consider this to be very special and auspicious. Since most doctors manually rupture the amniotic sac if it doesn't break on its own, babies born in the caul are very rare these days.>>
Tai was put on my chest as Alexis cut his umbilical cord, and after a few loud cries, he became quiet-- looking around the room. Within a few minutes he had latched onto my breast, and we lay in bed, as the room around buzzed with an incredible, excstatic energy. The midwife and her assistant worked on cleaning me up (I needed a few stitches due to Tai's quick arrival) while Alexis and I soaked up our baby-- high on endorphins and pure love.