“I’ve followed BWF since we were TTC our second child in the fall of 2010. He’s here and now his story is too. It was a very grounding experience for me. I feel every woman should have the joyful birth I did.” ~Tonia
Dhev means divine, or “from God.” It’s short for the Sanskrit name Devdon, which means “gift from God.” We lost the -don, added our “h” and it was perfect. Pair it with his long-decided middle name of Everett (meaning wild and brave) and it was fit for a little prince. Five days old, he finally had a name.
8 weeks old, he finally has a story. A written one, that is. I feel like I need to apologize for not writing Lucy’s story first, but that one is something sacred between mama and daughter, firstborn. Maybe someday…
Dhev’s story, while just as sacred, is so in a different way. It needs to be shared. Perhaps I just need to share it for my own sake. My eyes are starting to smile just thinking of it.
I love being pregnant. I feel proud, at ease, alive. I feel connected. All at once, I’m linked to the legacy of the past and the potential of the future. Through the floating child inside me flows the blood of my ancestors. Through the same child flows untapped possibility. Who will this child be? Boy or girl? Mild or bold? Tough or soft? What will this child’s eyes shine like? Will they catch this spark or that one? Where will this child go? Who will this child be? These questions dwell in my mind for nearly a year, and I know from the beginning that one day they will be answered. My joy in imagining the answers is an unmatched feeling and a consuming pastime. A part of me wants the questions left unanswered because once you know, you know. There is no way to un-know something. No matter which splendid answer I get, it will be the only one, forever.
For this reason, I’m not ready to stop being pregnant. Since we made the announcement that we were welcoming into our family a new life, I insisted that I would give birth after my due date. If you know me, you know I don’t believe in late or early. Apparently my feelings toward timing are shared by my baby. On Tuesday, March 13th, 2012, thirteen days “early,” I wake up to the realization that today my questions will be answered, at least a few of them.
I wake up and check my phone for the time. It’s 1:30 am, and I just know my baby is ready. I’m feeling melty and wide awake and warm. I spend a few minutes in the restroom, my thoughts jumping. I see blood. I feel close to my baby and laugh a nervous laugh. I think of Illysa, my midwife, who is out of town, camping. I recalculate my days. I think of Maria in our guest room, in town for my shower but headed to the airport later this morning for her flight back to California. Did I really have my baby shower a mere three days ago? Am I really thirteen days away from my due date? We don’t have extra sheets or maxi pads. Is this why I couldn’t keep food down last night? I think of my mama who hesitated so hard when she left town less than twelve hours ago. My mind races and then pauses. Excitement takes over, lighting a slow-burning fire in my psyche and all over my body. I take my secret back to bed and decide to pretend that I’m not convinced if TJ asks me if I’m in labor. He sleeps. I sleep, a little.
Lucy was given a watch awhile back that has since broken. TJ tried to fix it but couldn’t and now it’s lost somewhere unseen in our room. It would be completely forgotten but for it’s innocent beep on the hour, every hour. I count the hours along with the small sound. A few minutes after 4 o’ clock, I wake TJ. I stumble over my words, not wanting to share my secret just yet. He picks up on it anyway, and it infects him just a little. We decide he will take Maria to the airport instead of me, just in case. I emphasize the “just in case” part. I lay back down, hoping that with the closing of my eyes, my eagerness will stop pouring out of me. It doesn’t. I realize my tummy is tightening, not just in my imagination. I let go of the thought of Illysa being at the birth. I begin to settle and surrender.
I hear Maria starting the shower in the guest bathroom. I want to talk to her, to see if she can feel it too. The water stops and a door opens then closes. Another opens then closes. I slip out of bed and into her room. We lock eyes and I rub my belly through a small contraction. She knows. We try to talk. We are distracted by the other voice in the room, the one in my belly. She gets the idea that TJ will be her ride to the airport. I hug her and leave the room. Then I knock and hug her again, tight this time. She is like the moon in the morning sky, knowing she can’t stick around for the day’s events. I know she’ll be back when I need her, with the most natural of rhythms.
I return to my safe corner of the soft bed. My sheets are golden. I wonder if I should wake Lucy. I decide not to because my girl is in tune. She will appear at the right time without my meddling. It’s 5:30am. I call Christy, the sweet woman who will now be the one attending my baby’s birth. I’m hiding a trickling panicked feeling. With the opening of my mouth to speak, it’s no longer hidden. Out it comes, along with the excitement, but it can barely stay afloat. Christy is tired. I wonder, while I’m asking her to come over, if a midwife feels the imminence of new life so constantly that it becomes normal. What an existence that must be. She tells me it could slow down or pick up. I know she’s not coming over now. I feel the panic struggling to remain. Still, it’s there.
TJ and Maria leave. Lucy sleeps. I work. My belly aches and my limbs ready themselves to move. I’m shaky and floaty and woozy. I forget time. I forget schedules. I forget towels, sheets, birth kits, and clothing. I remember water. The bath I run feels sweet and splashy. I sit cross-legged between my short contractions. During them, I plunge my palms into the water behind me and rock back and forth against the pressure. This is it and I’m doing it. I’m glad Christy didn’t come over and that I’m alone. TJ would want to make me feel better, but I can’t allow myself to feel better. I realize I won’t know easy again until I’m holding a baby. In those wet moments alone, I authenticate my ability. It’s real. Panic can’t compete. For a moment, I invite time back into my consciousness. A contraction begins and ends. I rock, then note the time. Again and again I rock and check the time. Three minutes, sometimes six between rocking. Timing keeps the panic alive and I decide to let it go. I surrender a little further.
The garage door creaks and I yell down the stairs. I’m hungry. TJ obliges with a whopping warm Pan Dulce. It’s yellow and he brings a napkin. It tastes sweeter and yeastier and more dense than the one I ate the day before. Three large bites refuel me. I leave bright crumbs in the tub. As they drain, I dry off and put on a pink undershirt and purple underwear. The thin spandex skin of the shirt matches my skin and the dark purple matches the shadows in my dark bedroom. I cover it all with a long robe. The excitement brews stronger. I text Christy to update her. Lucy wakes up and infuses the space with her boisterousness. I wonder for just a moment if she needs me, but then a contraction hits and I go back to work. Excitement, anticipation, energy, and a small drop of panic form a cocktail that swirls through the room.
I know I’m quickly dissolving. TJ and Lucy head out to pick up the birth supplies we planned on getting that weekend. Once again, I’m left in perfect silence. My belly tightens as I focus and listen. Movement comes naturally. Pacing between a window in my room and one in the playroom, I can still bear the bright light. I pace hard, my feet falling forcefully into the carpet with each step. I feel loose and rhythmic and powerful. Resting between the pain, I revive each time I’m beckoned to the path connecting the windows. The contractions grow stronger along with the fire inside, lit earlier by my anticipation. When the pain grows too strong for pacing, I find my spot – feet apart, standing, leaning over the edge of my bed, my hands firmly pressing into the golden fabric. My mind, my body, and my baby line up. I bend my knees alternately and sway my hips. I move with meaning. I’ve never swayed so hard. The next contraction tests me and I sway. Deep into myself, I disappear. I savor these painful moments alone with my baby because I know that, without them, my focus won’t reach the depths required to complete this work. The contractions continue to test me but I’m unbeatable, just barely.
TJ and Lucy come home. TJ speaks and I crave his voice nearer to me. I realize I need his warm hand pressing into my back. It happens and it’s heaven that makes me that much more unbeatable. He presses as hard as he can and I crave more pressure. I collapse into the soft gold between contractions, and actually sleep. I need darkness now. TJ gets started on phone duty, but his priority is that warm press as I sway. When I fall into the sheets, he picks up the phone. Soon the world knows our secret and there are far away folks cheering me on. The most important call is to Christy, who also surrenders and heads our way. Pen and paper find TJ’s hands. He presses, dials, speaks, looks at his watch, scribbles, hangs up, presses again, places towels around me, and checks on Lucy. I hear him call Christy and tell her my contractions are one minute long and one minute apart. I try my hardest to forget the solid, linear information and slip back into my work. The pop and gush of my water breaking assist me in forgetting. I love the warm, spontaneous feeling of it pouring onto the floor. One less thing between me and my baby. I feel it, too. Pressure follows. Perhaps I can push? Baby says not yet. My shirt stays on but nothing else.
Christy arrives to my swaying and TJ’s pressing. Her Doppler confirms that my baby is handling labor beautifully. Beyond that and a few comforting strokes against my back, she doesn’t touch me. She comments on my “labor dance,” and calls me a warrior. I feel like one. She works quietly while TJ works quickly. I hear her suggest I try getting back in the bath. I feel unguarded and anxious and in control. Water splashes with a familiar sound and I bolt toward the warmth of it. Not yet an inch full, the tub welcomes me back. I perch upon my hands and knees and beg the water to flow faster.
The pressure intensifies and I rock back and forth. I can’t do it anymore. My back aches deeply. Oh, it hurts. I say so, over and over. We listen to baby’s heartbeat through Christy’s Doppler, and it’s strong and steady. Contraction after contraction, I rock and oooooh, it hurts. The water is deeper now and spills over the side of the tub when I lunge forward. It soars up the wall when I pull back. The knobby plastic bottom of the tub gnaws at my knees. I can feel my baby’s little body moving.
Pressure finally overcomes me. The wait is over, it’s time to push. I try a little one and I get the reaction I was looking for. My baby is closer, it is time. The room seems smaller and darker. Christy, TJ, and Lucy are close and watching intently. I stay on my hands and knees and urge my baby down. I pick my head up, stick out my neck, and roar. I can’t do this…I have no choice. TJ and Lucy encourge me softly. My baby is thick against my body and almost here.
The next contraction comes and my roaring brings a crowning head. Christy softly reminds me to go slow. I do. Then a full baby head slowly rolls out. One more contraction and my baby is no longer pressing against my body. It’s a boy! He is snugly and supple in my arms now. His sleepy eyes do shine, like grey diamonds. I knew they would.