It will be replayed in my mind a thousand times. It will be rehashed at each birthday party every August 16th. The story of my Titus.
So before time dulls vividness, here's me writing it out.
Wednesday evening, August 15th, I sat at our kitchen table chatting over watermelon with my Russian student who had come by for a visit. That's when the contractions started...again. I didn't even mention it to my student, but just listened to her talk about her plans for the coming month. I did give Aaron our little signal that I was having contractions. This was the forth or fifth evening in the past two weeks that a whole series of contractions had come on, and every one of those nights, we had scurried around making sure everything was packed, everything set for the babysitter. Each of those nights I had gone to bed thinking, "This is the night." And each morning I awoke to two kiddos peering over my mountainous belly as they crawled into bed with the still very pregnant me.
So on this evening, I didn't want to get my hopes up or even interrupt the conversation with news of these contractions. They were so mild I could easily keep talking, although I did, perhaps, give my watermelon cube a stronger stab with my toothpick. Aaron knew to check on me and let my student know what was going on. But like the other nights, the contractions stopped after I went to bed. I was awake for a good chunk of the night, but again, this was not unusual for me in the third trimester.
Morning came. I groaned my way out of bed and set about getting the kids breakfast. I finally set the spatula down. "I don't feel so good," I said to Aaron as I made my way to the couch, ever so grateful that he was home that morning. He was anxious to know if "this is it." But I couldn't say for sure. They certainly weren't the gut-wrenching contractions that I woke up with the day Aiden was born. And we'd had so many false alarms this time...
And it just happened to be in the tiny three hour window that we didn't have childcare arranged for the kids. Our babysitter had left town at 7:30 that morning. My mom was flying in at 10:30. So, of course, that's when baby decides it's time. Aaron and Ellie were getting ready to head to the airport to get my mom, when I had THE contraction. The one that is sharp enough and strong enough to convince me that this is for the reals. That's when I told Aaron, "Start calling friends." So he did. We found someone to watch the kids and someone to pick my mom up at the airport. Thanks, Lord, for friends.
We called our dear Doula Rachel, and off we went to the hospital, reminiscing that this ride was a bit more pleasant than trekking to the hospital in the back of a taxi across the entire city of Beijing in rush hour traffic during Aiden's labor.
We got to the hospital at about 10:30am, and met our labor and delivery nurse, who just happened to be a jolly Thai woman. When we told her our daughter was born in Thailand, she giggled "Really??" as only Thai women can, and we instantly became her best friends.
My body seemed to have a pretty good idea of what it was doing this third time around. I focused on being in the most comfortable position possible and riding the waves of contractions.
This is where having a doula was simply wonderful, especially someone like Rachel. As terrifically supportive as my husband is and was, there is just a whole other dimension of support that comes from a doula. She anticipated needs I didn't know I had. A pillow here, a touch to my tense forehead to relax my brow, counter pressure to my back, and her empowering encouragement. In the midst of my mind-blowing pain, she compassionately whispered, "I know." And she did. She'd done this three times herself. I could feel her sharing my pain. Then she rallied me with her words, "You've got this."
And I did. Because by some miracle of master design, my body was made to do this. To conceive, to grow, to birth this child. Of all this grand earth's mysteries, this, to me is the greatest. That the Creator invites me and the seed of my soul mate to co-create with Him.
A human soul emerging from my body. A completely other person whose life will touch and change this world in innumerable ways large and small, makes its entry through the passages of my body. Though there's a familiarity to the process this time, the magnitude of it all only grows.
The pain reaches unspeakable peaks. I want nothing less and nothing more than to squeeze this person out of me. With the first push, my water explodes across the room. (Oh, the mysterious marriage of water and new life.) Two more pushes that feel like death and pure joy, and Titus Daniel enters the world.
A magical Saturday morning in December, the touch of the Maker's kiss, thirty-nine weeks of sheltering this soul, and now he is here.
"It's a boy!" Aaron breathes in wonder as the ruddy red 9lb. 3oz. body is placed on my chest.
"Ellie got her wish for another brother," we chuckle in amazement.
His cries quiver him, and I murmer into his thin thatch of dark hair, "Mama's here."
As he calms to the beat of my heart, the tones of J.J. Heller float through the air.
"How does someone so small
Hold my heart so tightly
I don't even know you
I love you completely
I get to be the one to hold your hand
I get to be the one
Through birthdays and broken bones
I'll be there to watch you grow
I get to be the one"
And I am undone.
Titus Daniel born August 16, 2012 at 2:19pm in Fullerton, California.