Monday, April 7, 2008

Midwife = With Woman

6:30 today was no trouble at all. Apparently, Fr. E. was right when he told me that this would become habit. I have come to enjoy the quiet of the morning. My Darling does his crossword puzzle, I type away, and then we still have time together before he has to leave. It's....what's the word.....consoling. Maybe (MAYBE) I can progress to some actual activity in the mornings--a walk or some gentle exercise. We'll see.....I'm not making any plans just yet.


I can't believe it myself, but I am already at the point where I cannot fasten my jeans. If I'm to be spending the day at home, that's fine. I can wear my lovely comfy terry lounge pants with the elastic waist. But forget putting on actual pants to go anywhere. Nor can I zip up the Long Black Skirt, nor any of its more colorful counterparts from the closet. It's a good thing I bought the Twin when I did.

It's actually been about five days that I've been aware of this. So on First Friday, in preparation for Mass and the barn dance, I donned the Twin Skirt and a very cute blouse and headed out. Two Mamas commented before we rounded up our kids from the playground to go in for Mass. "You're actually looking pregnant already!" *BEAM* How can this not make me smile? (Well, I guess if I weren't pregnant, I'd be less than thrilled...however....) Then at the dance, several more people--some of whom I hadn't had a chance to tell yet--said the same thing.

I am now a believer of the wives tale (old or not, I don't know) that after your fourth baby, your body just lets go faster. Holy Moses, does it ever! Even when I suck my belly in now, it still retains the Poof of Proof of Blessing Number Five. It's lovely, actually. Being nauseous, being exhausted (beyond the usual fatigue), having to excuse myself frequently to the nearest ladies' room, and now actually appearing pregnant to people other than me and my family...I am totally into this.

Providence once again shone at the barn dance when I looked across the room and saw someone very familiar making an entrance. There were two or three women who came in, one carrying an instrument case. But the woman with the long brown ponytail came closer, and I knew I had truly recognized her--Chris, my midwife was there! The lady with the case was her mother, who was going to play fiddle with the family who does the music for these dances. The other woman was Chris' youngest daughter. Eventually, another daughter, Billie, joined her. Billie is also a midwife, and was along with Chris at my Monkey's birth (though all of our prenatal appointments were with Chris). Got all that?

It was so nice to see Chris. We've kept in touch since the Monkey's birth--every family she attends continues to receive her quarterly newsletter until the announcement of their baby's first birthday (which she lists in the newsletter). We've called at Christmas and sent our family update letter to her. And a couple of months ago, she called to ask permission to use one of my photos on her business card. What an honor!

When a midwife comes into your life, she becomes like family. Our prenatal appointments with the Monkey were spent at Chris' dining room table. The kids would go to the basement to watch VeggieTales. Chris and my Darling would talk and laugh. They have a fantastic rapport. We learned the names of her children and which ones they were in the many photos on the walls. We learned about her love of native wildflowers and actually using them in beneficial ways. We loved watching deer in the fields on the way to her house. In the little town just before the road to her house, there are three streets in a row, called (I am not making this up) Yankee, Doodle and that on the other way through town it says Dandy Doodle Yankee (my dad would have loved this turn on the words!). The kids laughed every time.

Later in our pregnancy, the visits switched and Chris came to us. Her gentle tap at the door was a cheerful sound, and even the dogs came to know her well enough to not jump at her like kangaroos.

When my Darling made The Call for Chris to come as I labored, her arrival was nothing like the trumpeted entrance of a doctor in a blue paper gown. There were no bright lights and stainless steel brought out with a flourish. Chris came quietly in with her toolbox and bag, and made one more trip out to get the emergency equipment she carries Just In Case. She sat quietly in the kitchen for much of my labor, knowing when to leave us alone and when to sit or stand with us or near us. She encouraged and suggested, she praised and prayed. We felt respected and honored. The whole time, she also took notes, so that I have a perfectly preserved reminder of how my labor was, what was said, how the time passed between being a family of five and a family of six. When he came, he was handed to me.....and after a long time of holding and loving my precious new baby, she brought warm towels from the dryer, wrapped him, and gently laid him in his Daddy's arms. Every cell in my body knew this had all been The Way It Was Supposed To Be. Chris and Billie stayed and cared for us for several hours after the birth. They cleaned up, did a load of laundry, made us a snack, and made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed--all the while subtly watching us stabilize and settle.

In the days and weeks after my Monkey was born, Chris made several visits to us, the first being the next day. My Darling had made the bed with freshly laundered flannel sheets (it was February, after all!) and tucked us in, and then he and the three older children went to Mass. The house was quiet and still. The dogs hovered, protectively. I was snuggled into bed with my beautiful, day-old baby, watching him sleep...smelling his head...unable to take my eyes off of the miracle we had been blessed with. When Chris called to tell me she was on the way, I simply gave her the code to the garage. She let herself in, came up and visited with us for about an hour, thoroughly checked out the little Monkey, took a sample for a blood test, fixed and brought me something to eat, tucked us back in, and let herself out. I'm certain this woman is at least part angel.

The last time Chris visited our home, my Monkey was six weeks old. She checked him out, played with him, and we talked like old friends. We had a friend who took pictures at the Monkey's arrival (nothing graphic, mind you--I wanted to remember, but not everything, for Pete's sake!) and we had a set printed for Chris. We had put them into a cute little photo book, and I gave this to her along with a copy of the mix CD I had made for my labor. It was a bittersweet visit, and we both wondered if we would meet again. I certainly hoped so, but after our long struggle with secondary infertility, I knew that nothing was certain. Each time we spoke, I'd want to say, "We'll be needing you in _____," but it was just never so.

When I knew we had been blessed again, my call to Chris was as thrilling as telling a best friend. "Is your calendar handy?" (It was.) "Are you busy in December?" Chris said, "It looks like I'm going to be, huh?" What a dear!

I can't wait to visit more with Chris, and get to know her all over again. She is, as I've told many people, absolutely unruffleable. I suppose having attended more than a thousand births can do that. Her wisdom has us so comfortable and confident that there was absolutely no question in our minds that she was The One For The Job when we were expecting the Monkey, and it was just natural once again when we discovered the newest Blessing.

The kids, when they saw Chris on Friday, were as excited as I was. "Mom, are we going to get to go to her house again? Are we going to get to color and watch VeggieTales and look at her flowers and watch deer and sit on the Amish swinging bench and go past Dandy Doodle Yankee? Is she going to bring that big pool again? Is she Mom?"

Yes, my loves, yes. To all of it. It's so nice to have Chris in the family.

No comments: