Life

The Birth of Idris Masamune Hanaumi

We pull up to the empty parking lot and I wince, contracting. When it passes, Kent asks me if I want to go in. I don’t see Andrea’s car yet, so I opt to wait a bit longer, but then Michelle walks up to us and helps me out of the car. The three of us make our way towards Austin Area Birthing Center just as Andrea arrives. Relief sets in; our access to communication is here. Wait, another contraction. Oww. Okay, it passes. Inside, I meet my midwife for the first time, Victoria, and she shows me to my birthing room.

The night starts here, the night starts here
Forget your name, forget your fear
The night starts here, the night starts here
Forget your name, forget your fear

The room is spacious and there’s a full-size bed, a hot tub, a shower, chairs, and a laboring ball. Immediately, I head for the chair and sit, bracing myself as another wave of contraction hits me. When I open my eyes, Victoria and Michelle are there, kneeling and comforting me. I see Andrea standing in the background, ready to interpret if need be. There is no time to dwell on the fact that the one midwife I hadn’t gotten the chance to meet happens to be on duty tonight. Victoria, however, is the center’s most experienced midwife and her strong gaze tells me that I can trust her. And Michelle, who is a student midwife, had taught a class that Kent and I went to a few weeks ago. I had liked her and now, as she soothingly rubs my arm while taking my blood pressure, I feel grateful for her presence. Ah, a contraction is building. Oh, this hurts!

Tonight the
Tonight the hills are watching her
As she runs towards the sea
Yeah, she runs so she’ll be free

I am 3 centimeters dilated. Victoria tells Kent and me to hang out for a while and she will check on me again within an hour. If I don’t progress, she may send us home with a plan. The crew leaves Kent and I by ourselves. The contractions have been coming in at 2-3 minutes apart for several hours now and getting more intense. I cannot imagine going home. Lying on the bed, Kent holds me and says he doesn’t think we’re going to have to go home. “I’m pretty sure you’re in labor, baby,” he says with an anxious grin. Together, we ride out the next hour.

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can’t go back
Falling slowly, sing your melody
I’ll sing it loud

A dozen painful contractions later, Victoria returns to check my cervix. Smiling, she tells me that I am 5 centimeters dilated and officially in active labor. “You’re staying right here,” she assures me. She suggests taking a shower. The bed is useless and the laboring ball is becoming less effective with every contraction, so a shower seems like a good idea as any. I strip down and Kent gets in his swimming trunks. He holds the detachable shower head close to my belly and the warm water pressure does wonders. This is the best feeling ever. And it is immediately juxtaposed with a boa wrapping itself around my womb and squeezing the life out of me. I gasp, I moan, I whimper. It hurts so bad, but the water makes it barely bearable.

I want to live where soul meets body
And let the sun wrap its arms around me and
Bathe my skin in water, cool and cleansing
And feel
Feel what it’s like to be new

I’ve had enough of the shower. I need something more. The hot tub gets filled. Music is put on. Hearing aid is inserted. Lights are lowered. Kent and I get in together and every bone and muscle in my body simultaneously sighs in pleasure. A contraction hits and it is more intense than the last one, which was more intense than the previous one, but I can handle it. I am handling it. This tub is everything.

Fall in your ways so you can crumble
Fall in your ways so you can sleep at night
Fall in your ways so you can wake up and rise

DCIM102GOPRO

The second my contraction loosens its grip on me, I let my arms fall back in the tub and I slip downwards. My eyes flutter shut and all I can do is let go. Feel Kent’s hands caressing my feet. Let my ear be filled by soft melodies. These quiet moments in between the contractions are what get me through the next painful surge. I surrender in these gaps.

This is where I live
This is where I do my screaming
How do you say
I loved you in so many other ways

The Sandman is in the distance, approaching. In slow motion, he spins a spiked mace in each hand. The desert’s mirage dances. And then a wave of pain brings me back to the tub and I scream.

‘Cause I’m out of my mind
I’m out of my mind
I’m out of my mind
I’m out of my mind
I’m out of my mind
I’m out of my mind
I’m out of my mind
I’m out of my mind

DCIM102GOPRO

This is my Mount Everest. I cannot see the top yet, but I know every hill I climb brings me closer there. Just get to this hill, and then worry about the next one. Everything burns, everything hurts. Just keep going. The pain rises. Keep going. It’s swelling to the brim. Keep– FUCK!

Day’s dawning, skin’s crawling
Day’s dawning, skin’s crawling
Day’s dawning, skin’s crawling
Pure morning
Pure morning
Pure morning

Eight centimeters. Two to go before I can start pushing. But I need to push. Now. The contractions are surging beyond my pain threshold. “Break my water,” I beg Victoria. She thinks it is a good idea and I think I actually love her. But this means getting out of the tub and walking over to the bed. I dread this thought. In mid-transit, a contraction seizes me and it is the cruelest one yet. I am vulnerable out of the water, but there is no turning back. There is only forward. Getting past this contraction means less contractions left until the end. Onwards, onwards, onwards.

I feel so close to you right now
It’s a force field
I wear my heart upon my sleeve, like a big deal
Your love pours down on me, surrounds me like a waterfall
And there’s no stopping us right now
I feel so close to you right now

DCIM102GOPRO

My water breaks. A warm river flows out of me. This sensation relieves me of intense, searing pain, although only temporarily. Nonetheless, it grants me the strength I need to get through this hill and onto the next. Things proceed quicker. I think I get back in the tub, or maybe I don’t. Maybe I am confusing it with the wet washcloths of cool water that Michelle drapes my forehead with. I think an hour passes, or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it has been just three more contractions, but the next thing I know is I only have a tiny bit of cervix left before I reach that blessed digit: Ten.

And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

All I know is: Push. Crane my neck, raise my sacrum. Take deep breaths. Direct all my energies into this push. I follow every instruction. Voices from deep inside my belly escape in a roar. My every muscle, ligament, joint, nerve work together towards a singular intention: Pushing this baby out of my body. Nothing else of this world exists. And then I feel him. His head! “Is the baby’s head crowning??” I ask Victoria. “I’ll let you know when it is,” she replies. I understand that she means, Not even close. I’ve pushed with all that I have and I’m not even close. Oh Jesus fuck shit.

Forget your name, forget your fear
She runs towards the sea
Sing it loud
I’m out of my mind, I’m out of my mind

DCIM102GOPRO

I’m in a squat, pushing. And then I’m being led to the toilet. I push, crying. I’m back on the bed, pushing. “Yes, yes!” Victoria is cheering me on. “You’re doing it!” Michelle tells me. I’m doing it, I’m doing it. “I can see the head!” Kent exclaims.

And there’s no stopping us right now
I feel so close to you right now
Right now, right now, right now

A mirror is brought out for me. I see the head, crowned by the labia that I know belongs to me, but at the moment seems as alien as the fleshy object that is emerging from me. He’s coming, he’s coming! I push.

Fall in your ways so you can wake up and rise
Wake up and rise
Wake up and rise

I am looking at Kent. His hands are clutching my feet, wrestling them back as I raise my sacrum forward. We are pushing together. And his eyes are aglow, fixed at the tip of our baby’s head. He nods excitedly and finds my eyes, a tear escaping his. “I see him!” he cries. And I know he means that the hardest part is over, our baby’s head is out. Adrenaline rushes through my veins and I don’t pause. Another deep breath, another hard push. Another deep breath, another hard push. Push, motherfucker, push!

I cannot guess what we’ll discover
So brown eyes I’ll hold you near
‘Cause you’re the only song I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere

A body escapes mine. The face is bruised purple. The limbs–I gasp–are long and dangly. The hands and the feet, how can they be this big already? My baby’s body. All of him was just inside me? I cannot comprehend. He is crying, he is real, he is alive. He and his four long limbs and wriggly fingers and toes are brought over to me. I am holding him. He is flesh and blood, of Kent and me. I look at the only familiarity I have at the moment, Kent’s face. And the look on it makes me sob out of joy and relief. We brought a new life to this planet.

Beautiful dawn, melt with the stars again
Do you remember the day when my journey began?
Will you remember the end (of time)?
Beautiful dawn, you’re just blowing my mind again
Thought I was born to endless night, until you shine

img_5233

I barely notice the pierce of the IV needle. I am told to push the placenta out and I do so. It is nothing. The walk to the toilet is arduous, and yet I forget it the moment I return to bed. I do not flinch at the stitches. I have recently climbed Mount Everest and it was the hardest, most excruciating thing I have ever done. What are these minor discomforts but mere pricks of a thorn after swimming in razorblades? And I am holding little Idris in my arms, wondering at this new reality.

Beautiful dawn, lights up the shore for me
There is nothing else in the world,
I’d rather wake up and see (with you)
Beautiful dawn, I’m just chasing time again
But now I’m high; running wild among all the stars above

IMG_5258.jpg

Kent, Idris, and I awake after napping for several hours. It is morning. The sun has risen on Idris’s birthday, January 17th, 2017. When we had arrived this center, he was still unknown to the world, my womb encasing him. And now we leave–I emerging as a mother, Kent a father–introducing his fresh flesh to the air, the rays of the sun, the rhythms of the spinning Earth.

The songbirds keep singing
Like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you
Like never before

img_5256

Be it known to the Universe, Idris Masamune Hanaumi has made his entrance and I am never the same.

The italicized text in between each paragraph are lyrics from my birthing playlist. Photos taken by our interpreter, Andrea Rehkopf.

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9 thoughts on “The Birth of Idris Masamune Hanaumi

  1. Allison Heron says:

    Thank you for sharing your exquisite experience with us. Congratulations on your adorable son! I wish you many happy years as your son grows into a beautiful little person!

  2. Lala Roberts says:

    My tears for u all. Thank you for sharing. I loved your poetry and beautiful story about you all. Amazing!! Congratulations to u all 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼❤️👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼!!!

  3. Cindy Nobles says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. There is nothing better than being a mother. It brings couples closer than they could have ever imagined. Great job mommy and daddy he’s perfect…xo CN

  4. Paulette says:

    What a beautiful story! I loved it so much that I literally cried when reading it. Not only the birth of your son Isris but it s also the birth of parenthood. Thank you for sharing. Ox

  5. Jena says:

    Thank you for sharing! It brought me back to my birthing experience which was raw and magical. I was never the same, that is true 🙂 Beautifully written and congratulations!!

  6. Manny says:

    Thank you and Kent for sharing this painfully beautiful experience in such detail that makes us feel like we were there for a few fleeting moments. Heart touched.

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