* 8.14.14 * Ty Johnson Robert Ghali * 10#12oz * 21.5 “
That very first contraction began around 1:30am. We had a hunch tonight would be the night. Kaia and I had set up the birth tub just a few days ago with candles from friends, beads from my Mother Blessing, and birth affirmations all around the perimeter. For days now I gazed at these charms of good energy during my nightly bath, my water-pregnancy, my one place of comfort in a nearly unbearably uncomfortable long 10 months. I was beyond eager to meet him. We decided to take the castor oil Wednesday night after we got home from a trip to the hospital, showing signs of pre-eclampsia. This was never meant to be a hospital birth baby. This is a homebirth baby. This baby-my last baby I’ll ever bring into this world, my last birth, my last homebirth- was letting me know he needed to make his arrival sooner rather than later. And so, we take action. It’s 10:00pm.
I can hear my own words as a doula ringing in my head. “Sleep when it’s sleep-time. You’re going to need your rest for later.” And I can hear my own doubts. Will this work? Is it a bad idea to try to start labor at this time of night? I knew I needed some rest, so after watching a last pregnant episode of Impractical Jokers, I fall asleep, my last night of pregnancy ever. *Ever!!!* Bliss.
When that contraction woke me up at 1:30, I remembered that tonight was the night. I quietly got out of bed, still doubting and wondering if these light contractions would strengthen. I had weeks of pre-labor, contracting daily and always fizzling out. Would tonight really be the night? I sat on the birth ball with the breastpump to help create some oxytocin in my birthing body, watching Property Brothers alone, kids and husband sleeping, myself full of wonder. 5 minutes on one side, 5 minutes on the other, stopping in between when a contraction started. Pump, pump, contraction. Pump, pump, contraction. Contractions coming every 3-4 minutes, lightly. I lay down for a 15 minute rest and I feel a faint “POP.” Was that my water breaking? A light fear sweeps over me. Is this as it was meant to be? I get up and feel a trickle and decide to wake Mike. I send a message to my friends and fellow birth workers telling them my labor has started and ask to draw upon their birthing energy. It’s 3:00am.
While Mike tinkers with our air conditioner that happened to go out that evening, mid-August in Florida in the peak of the heat of the season, and I got back on the birth ball and back on the pump for just a few minutes. At some point I stand. A gush of water flows from me, and it’s strong. I clean up in the bathroom and get straight into the shower. Oh the sweet relief of the water! That hot, blissful water beating right on my back. Things started to get real from here on out. Contractions are coming with more intensity. I hear myself vocalizing through each contraction, moving my hips and body just as I need to. I ask Mike to let Sam, our midwife, know that things are just starting to get active, there’s no real hurry. It’s 4:12am.
The next few contractions are intense. Sam texts that she is with 3 laboring moms at her birth center and she needs a backup midwife before she can leave. I say that I just need to know she is coming. I can tell baby is on his way. I get in the tub while Mike and Sam text it out. Ahh, nature’s epidural! That hot, blissful bath, engulfing my entirety. We add some essential oils to the water. Mike lights a few of the birth candles before another contraction begins and I need his full attention and support. It’s 4:30am.
I’m on my hands and knees in the tub, vocalizing through contractions-loudly. Mike tells me to focus on my breath, slow down my thoughts, and directs me to what I am seeing, hearing, and touching, one contraction at a time. In my mind I am spiraling with intention, my head moving in circles, using the power of my mind to visualize spiraling outward to open my cervix. Sam texts that she is on her way at 5:01am. Mike offers me water. He leaves briefly to unlock the front door. Beyond that he never leaves my side. He reminds me to release, relax, open, melt. I am grateful for the reminders and for his constant voice, his masculine presence as I float in feminine birth divinity. I have two of the most intense contractions I can possibly imagine, and I really concentrate my mind on being present with each individual moment and feeling intensity that I have never felt in my life. I tell Mike that I really, really don’t want to do this anymore, and I meant it with all of my soul. And just like that, I feel completely open. Doubts rush in that maybe I’m not as far along as I think, maybe I have hours ahead of me still, could I possibly already be complete? My next contraction feels immediately different. My body is moving, my hips are back and moving to the side, something has changed. These next few contractions feel nearly psychedelic; I can almost see the energy of my baby moving down, I can feel an intense opening, I can literally sense a spark of energy in the birth canal, a powerful intensity that I can see and sense and feel. Baby is moving down, down, down. I tell Mike I have to push the baby out. He texts Sam at 5:23 to tell her. At 5:25 she texts, “Here.”
I notice Sam setting up her things in the bathroom. As I push with strong contractions I use my voice, loudly. Strong, strength, fierce, force…I notice Jace and Kaia talking to Sam and feel a wave of gratitude that they are awake and present for their brother’s arrival. Another contraction…Sam says he’s coming. I ask if he’s out…it sure feels like he’s out…not yet. They can see his forehead…he’s crowning now between contractions and I wait…It hurts…Another contraction and I make the decision, and puuuuuussshhhhh with all of my might, and then I do it again…His head is born, his body follows. Sam threads the cord under my leg and brings my baby to my chest. It’s 5:40am.
Thank God is all I say…Thank God. I hold him to my chest and marvel that’s he’s here. He’s perfect. He’s covered in vernix. His cord is long. It was draped around him like a necklace. I hold him close and am in awe. The world has changed. Sam asks if he has a name? I look into Mike’s eyes and say, “Ty. I think he’s Ty. Ty Johnson.” The kids are mostly quiet. The atmosphere is divine.
Crystal arrives shortly thereafter, perfect timing. I had told her weeks earlier that I didn’t want a labor doula, but I’d love her mothering presence for after the birth. While Mike is with the kids and Sam tends to her work, Crystal is next to me and Ty, still in the tub. The cord pulses out slowly and I feel it, the first time ever. Our lifeline, still attached. I thought I’d want to cut it myself like I did with Kaia, but I change my mind. Mike cuts the cord. Crystal snaps a picture. I lay in the tub in bliss, waiting for the placenta to be ready. The candles are still lit. I feel at peace. Ty is on my chest. I rub his vernix into his skin, and keep him warm in the water with a cloth on his back. Crystal gives me sips of water and orange juice. In time the placenta is ready and is born quickly. It’s saved in a bowl so Angela can encapsulate it. Crystal and Sam help me into the bed and literally tuck me in. I feel completely supported and blissed out in love.
Welcome to the world, sweet baby Ty.