As this is my first post in awhile, I would like to reflect on the last ten days wherein I have experienced the most epic changes of my life in both my external and internal world. I would like to share some of the highlights of these last ten days from the peaks of the profound to the valleys of the most, seemingly, mundane as well as some of the challenges, the fears, the epicness and the vast beauty that is bearing witness to the birth of a human child and the subsequent care that follows. But as I write this I realize that each of these moments are so grand, that is, they take up such a vast space within me, that I am having trouble reflecting upon them with any semblance of brevity. I notice myself wanting to write a book about experiencing the first poop, or the way this precious baby reaches out to the world when sleeping, or the vigor in which their mouth latches to the breast and sucks so hard you can hear it from the other room.
Because of this, I will need to hone my focus or you will be reading for some time and I will be writing far into the future. Today, let’s focus on two major events.
Allow me to break down a few basic dates and times for you. Brittany started her birthing process at about 2:45 PM on May 19th. Ilya Greyfox was born at 2:45 PM on May 20th. As I write this it is about 2:45 PM on May 29th. The hours of the birthing process have not only been documented via video in the moment they occurred but also via audio a few short days later and both will be released in time. Although I may write my own version of reflections of the first 24 hours, for the purpose of this writing, the two major events I would like to focus on are as follows. The first, the initial hour when Brittany told me she was going to have our baby “very soon” and, the second, falling at the end of hour 23, when Ilya presented themselves to us Earthside, cleared the lungs, and cried, “hello.”
Brittany came home from Barton Springs here in Austin after a morning of ecstatic dance and went directly into the bathroom. Typically I would have joined her in our Sunday morning dance ritual but for some reason I felt an overwhelming urge to stay home and wrap up loose ends for our eminent birth. At the time, I envisioned our birth happening in maybe a few days and more likely a week as we were still two weeks away from our June 1 “due date”. None the less, I followed the urge to stay home and I hung light-proof curtains in our bedroom, organized the fridge, checked my birthing tub kit, did some basic cleaning and worked on a project I wanted to finish up before Ilya arrived. Brittany came out of the bathroom and showed me some toilet paper she had wiped herself with. I saw blood and I saw her smiling.
She said, “I think we’re going to have our baby very soon.” I responded by turning the color from my face from almond-brown to yellow-white, you know, the color before you puke, and swallowed the panic attack that was emerging in my throat like a sudden, late-spring, Texas flood. Over the next hour I set up the birthing tub, the extra bed, moved our floor mats, brought out all our towels, made Brittany a little food, and double checked our box of postpartum herbs and tools. Throughout this hour I began to zone in. I wouldn’t say I was relaxing but I was moving away from the initial shock into a place of strength and preparedness, ready and aware.
The next 23 hours were, for lack of a more accurate word, insane. As Brittany allowed the animal that is the birthing-human, carried on a wave of hormones, to grow and to become her, I continued to root myself to the earth in an attempt to be the ground beneath the wave and something for that beautiful, redheaded animal to reach out to and growl at, as the case became. There is too much to write about here for me to get into the details, suffice it to say we both have determined that time was the “craziest shit that’s ever happened” for us. Then, hour 24 came and in one of the strongest of primordial moments I had witnessed from Brittany, Ilya came through.
Brittany was in the birth tub, it was dark in our room with salt lamps glowing a low, rose-colored light, and the water in the tub was cast in shadow. I couldn’t see through the dark water but Brittany had her hand down below her and said, “I have their head,” and, “I can feel their ear.” In that moment, the ground that I had rooted myself to dropped out, became air, and I started to cry.
Somewhere inside of me I knew this was the moment for action. The one we had talked about. “Let’s try to get a video of them emerging,” we had said weeks ago. I took a big breath and found the camera and I turned it on and I could not for the life of me figure out how to make it work despite owning and operating this camera on a weekly basis for a couple of years. What is this thing in my hands? What is happening? Where am I? These thoughts were not conscious but I could feel them coursing through my useless left-brain.
Instead of turning on the video I accidentally took two photos that, later, we found one had captured a blurry head in occopito-anterior position, but in the moment was, simply, confusing. I finally realized I was on the wrong setting and I moved the little dial on the camera from photo to video and right when I pressed record, like a magic trick where the magician reveals something that was not there before, I looked up and there was a baby.
I completely lost my shit.
A couple hours later we were all laying together, naked, in our room, in the low, rose-colored light of those salt lamps, surrounded by towels, our bodies skewed half-way on our floor mats and propped up with pillows. Brittany and I just looked at each other and sobbed as our baby closed their eyes and slept between breast and arm and chest and warmth and love.
It is now day 11. Or perhaps day 10 and three-quarters is more accurate to note since every moment has so much meaning right now and a day feels like a lifetime. Additionally, everything, as you know if you have found yourself in the presence of a baby, takes a lot longer and what you set out to write one day will easily move into the next and who knows, maybe even the one after that. So, yes, it is day 10 and three-quarters. This morning Ilya and I took a bath and listened to The Microphones. I sang a bit and Ilya just rested on my chest. Now Ilya is laying their sweet little head in Brittany’s arm, ardently sucking from her breast and making snorting noises. Now, Ilya is peeing on Brittany and we are laughing about it. And here I am. Writing and thinking, this is just the beginning.
I am, in case it is not clear, the happiest, most fulfilled, and most in love I have ever been. I am so very proud of Brittany and Ilya and myself and I am completely humbled and raw and open to every moment that is now making up my days. Every moment has such importance and I want for nothing else but to be a part of this beautiful unfolding life that is Ilya Greyfox.