Fabrice, Jami, Leonai, and Tiemo
My good friends Jami, Fabrice, and Leonai just added a new addition to their family. Tiemo! Tiemo is just days old in these photos. I posted most of Jami’s birth story below the images. It is a fantastic one at that! Her and her son Leonai were alone for most of the birth. She is a rockstar mom! Tiemo was born safely in a cabin on Whidby Island, the family resides in the San Juans.
The contractions increased in intensity through the night as I labored alone (Leonai was asleep). I called Fabrice dozens of times and hung up on him nearly as many times, since I couldn’t talk during the contractions. At first, we were thinking he would take the first early morning ferry off of Orcas to join me. By 2am, it seemed clear that the baby was coming quicker than that and he should fly off. Fabrice began looking for a pilot, which turned out difficult that night. Nobody was available, or sober, and Fabrice wasn’t having any luck arranging a flight. Meanwhile, I was in the bathroom – moving from the floor where I had spread sheets and towels, to the toilet to squat during contractions, to the bathtub where the hot water was a small comfort. I counted every contraction, in the beginning because I was hoping against hope that they would show a pattern of receding. Apparently it’s pretty difficult to will-away labor! I counted the contractions all the way to the end, unnecessarily, but more as a focal point. It helped me keep focused and present, and also became a beacon for knowing when each contraction would recede – “this one is almost over!”
After one particularly intense contraction, I broke down and started to cry “I can’t believe I’m doing this alone! This wasn’t what was supposed to happen. I shouldn’t be alone!” But then through the sobs my more practical side kicked in – “Yes, you are alone. That’s just the way it is. Crying isn’t helping. Pull it together!” So I did, and started breathing deeply and went back to counting the next contraction. At 3:30am, I started to get the urge to push, and with the next contraction I felt the bag of waters emerging! Again, I was shocked – “I can’t believe I am doing this alone! This is really happening!” I was sitting on the toilet, and just then Leonai woke up to pee. He stumbled into the bathroom as another contraction finished and I realized I could start to feel the baby’s head! I said to Leonai “I’m having this baby! Go use the other bathroom!” Of course, that news was alarming to him, which I quickly realized, so then as the next contraction hit I was calling out through the house “I’m okay Leonai! It’s okay! Are you okay? It’s okay!” Double-duty mom – calm one kid and birth another…
With the next push, the head really was emerging and that’s when I called 9-1-1. Being alone in labor was one thing, but I did not want to be alone for the actual birth in case anything went wrong. The 9-1-1 operator asked what my emergency was. “I’m having a baby! I can feel the head!” I’d like to be able to listen to that recorded call – pretty dramatic! The operator insisted Leonai get a shoestring to tie off the umbilical cord if needed, and even in the midst of intense labor, I was able to roll my eyes at that archaic plan. What kind of out-dated emergency birth script are those guys given to work from? He was REALLY sure that having a shoestring on hand was REALLY important and he would not drop the subject. Funny. I guess we all need focal points to move us through these kinds of experiences…
The paramedics arrived quickly, which was a huge relief to Leonai – adults in uniforms meant he was no longer the only person in the house with me; whew! I continued to push, although the urge came against my will. I was trying to apply pressure to his head to get him to slow down and stretch, not tear! I pleaded “Slow down! You’re coming too fast!” But he was determined, and yes, I did need multiple stitches to repair the damage – ouch! The EMTs brought in a stretcher and I said there was no way I was transporting – “I can feel his head! We aren’t going anywhere!” I knew it was going to happen soon. They wanted me to move into the living room, but I refused. No reason to leave my labor-zone just so they could get a better view of the action.
I was still on the toilet and in just one more push all of the sudden the baby came whooshing out! I caught him in my hands (no, he didn’t land in the toilet), and I scooped him up onto my chest. I unwrapped the cord from his neck and marveled at what had just happened. Woah. He started crying immediately, and quickly turned pink. He was amazing in every way. Fabrice called again to say he was still struggling trying to find a flight and I said “He was just born!!!” Poor papa – stuck on the island. But he was a big support on the phone! The medics brought the stretcher back into the hallway, and again I said that I wasn’t interested in transporting. “He’s breathing and crying and moving and pink. Let’s just get the midwife here.” They had the bright idea of calling the hospital to get an alternate phone number for the midwife, which worked. She was shocked and concerned and rushed right over, just 10 minutes away. She was that close the whole time.
I birthed the placenta and Leonai cut the cord – very special. When the midwife arrived, I was sitting on the couch with my newborn son. She made sure his lungs were clear, spine and hips were good, checked our vitals, sewed me up, etc. He was 19 inches and weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces. Born Sunday morning, Oct. 7, 2012, at 4:07am. Fabrice did take the first boat and we were happily united as a family.
And that’s how it actually happened, despite what you might have heard! 😉 Wowie – it’s nice to start off life with a good story!!! Tiemo’s middle name “Tao” (rhymes with “wow”), means in part “the path”, and “the way”, and apparently this is the particularly exciting way he wanted to begin his life path!
We are healthy and happy and back home on Orcas, enjoying this island paradise and the amazing community here. Much love to you all, and welcome to the world Tiemo Tao Mitchell Van Putten. You are cherished.