Below is the birth story of Lucy May. I wrote it when she was less than a day old. It follows, exact, from my journal.
on March 28, 2007 at 11:27 PM, Lucy May Furber entered our home with much love, water & support…
At 3:00 in the afternoon of that very day I walked the back prairie field while listening to loud and wonderful music (Clap Your Hands & Say Yeah), while willing the cramps to turn like the tide. I was very overdue. At 5:00, a contraction brought me to the floor as we readied for our scheduled Midwife appointment. Betty told me, “breathe, Mama” at each contraction on the car ride south. Cynthia took one look at me in her office & our doula, who’d joined us after magically having passed her at a stop light, told us to journey home.
Back home at 7 centimeters and 4 to 6 minutes apart, Betty readied for her first sleepover, and left an only child, only 2 years old, only a wave and a kiss sent belly’s side for good luck. I crouched under the kitchen table trying to eat a bagel and cream cheese for energy, drink a glass of Recharge.
3 to 4 minutes apart Luke and I sat in the living room listening to a birth mix I’d made. Shelly, our doula, Midwife Cynthia & Apprentice Jennifer sat in the near darkness, music so loud as I leaned against the vibrating speaker, drowning out fierce contractions.
The balance ball worked for an hour, then the couch, then, finally, at 9:00 the pool and it’s festive lighting were perfect. Strings of lights capped in Airstreams, bees, vegetables: festive. Serene, it all was, as each contraction rippled the water at 8 centimeters. I floated on my back in the 90 seconds between and rose from the water at pool’s edge as you journeyed down. I soon got out of the pool to let gravity do it’s work, but with 6 seconds between contractions I bit down on a washcloth and thought about what your face might look like.
Soon, Cynthia stretched me to ten centimeters and by 11:00 I was back in the pool ready to hold you in my arms. I pushed, with pets beside the pool, for twenty minutes exactly, with help from our labor team. Daddy reached over pool’s edge to feel your brown hairy head beneath the water as your body still rested in my canal.
The water held us like jell-o and I can still remember how it felt for you to slowly leave my body. First head, then a right then left shoulder. The slip and turn of your little waist, followed by your butt and tiny feet. Then the emptiness of the water and your cord. I tried at some point to rest my back against the pool and your Daddy’s arms while I heard him say, “It’s a girl.” Straight I sat: joy, shock, & still, joy.
You slowly rose from pool’s bottom, pudgy, white and barely making a stir in the water. As I picked you up, barely a sound and brought you to breast, Daddy stroked your cheek and held your tiny hand. Minutes later, we left the pool to lay on the bed as a family & birth your home. Daddy held you close to his heart, shirtless in the quilt his great grandma made him as a boy.
The placenta took close to an hour to deliver, during which I stared into your dark eyes and chubby, chubby cheeks while eating my favorite meal since I was a girl: elbow macaroni, Hunt’s tomato sauce and extra sharp cheddar cheese.
My back hurt a lot; I broke my tailbone in delivery just like I had with your big sister. So, Daddy took you on a tour of our Victorian house’s upstairs and brought you to our bedroom for a nap. I showered with Cynthia’s help, then it was time to nurse you again. It was sunrise.
You fed with such conviction and force – it was a perfect latch from the moment you got on. Your tiny, long, long fingers like canned shrimp made their way to my collar bone as if a handle. Your left eye and above your top lip was very bruised from my pelvic bone. Your ears, the tops of your shoulders, your back and your thighs had the greatest amount of downy fur. In between your fingers and your tiny toes was the perfect mixture of vernix and amniotic fluid. When closed, your mouth made the most perfect pouty frown. We were rather unsure of your neck’s whereabouts, even counted 6 or 7 rolls under cheek’s chubb. It seemed you could hold your head up from birth so we called you our hockey player penguin, sweet like a cherub or a chubby chipmunk baby at over 9 pounds…
Still, she’s strong willed, independent, hilarious, kind hearted, adorable and so, so much more. Now, she’s three.
My oh my, March. Mastitis, twice. Migraine, Mono, vomiting toddler, 104.7 fever stricken preschooler. Twice. And the topping? An infant with RSV. Tiny Olive, gasping’s dreadful inhale with a tiny blue lip at 2 AM. Four days of steroids in a bottle, repeated doctor visits and calls, half the day coughing and half the day crying. Not sure who shed more tears, Olive or me. Who could sleep knowing your babe might drop in O2 counts and turn blue in the lip? March came and left in sickness, but couldn’t hold us down.
Seriously, sick since December has it’s perks. 100% alright to throw a tantrum, feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, step into the shower for perspective in tears. Public freak outs, too. Embarrassing? Yes. But you do find out who your good pals are, who offers a hug and love.
Only when the emotion comes out can you, really, clean up vomit and happily play Operation for the hundredth time, tired to the bone, with a smile. Only with a community like this could I find joy in the little things when all else seemed ill.
Thank you, thank you to all who have helped us feel better. We’re on the up and up.
A friend gave me a CD last week and I can’t get the first line of it out of my head (song by Elizabeth Mitchell:
I’m so glad I’m here, so glad I’m here, everyday…
And that’s my challenge, completely. Weary at 3 AM, child crying, thankful. Wanting to run out the door, so badly, but knowing if I looked over my shoulder, there’s no where else I’d rather call home.
On March 28, Lucy May turned three. Morning’s first glimpse gave her a tent filled with delivered gifts from friends and family. Although she loves tents, she loves opening presents more.
Daddy made three-shaped pancakes. Blueberry, too. Egg-free, all.
We ordered cowboy hats and bandannas as favors. Her signature two-year-old outfit has been cow pants, Thomas the Train shirt and Bogs. Ready for the party to start and with her new stuffed friend, she asked for a picture, outside.
We had a farm party fit for a girl who can call herself a big sister AND a little sister. We invited all her little buddies to our friend’s wonderful San Juan Valley farm for an absolute blast of an afternoon. Note: My allergies to grass and hay really interfered with my ability to take a lot of fabulous shots. I was sneezing too much to focus my camera while near bales, blades of grass. Thankful for Mama Kerry who took a lot of great photos.
1. Babies in Bandannas
2. Newborn Lambs on Leashes & A Whole Lot of Lamb Holding
3. Feeding Cows Hay & Just Hanging Out in the Hay Barn
4. Bottle Feeding
4. Dallas the Horse
Now, this horse is twenty-something years old. It has a VERY long tail, taped up in some fabric so it wouldn’t drag on the ground. Betty took one look at the tail and said:
Poor, poor horse. He got in a fight. Look, his tail is all hurt. Wow, I’d hate to see the other guy.
[The way the sky washes out in this picture makes me realize I need a new camera.]
5. A Little Sister Sleeps through the Party
6. The Greatest Hay Ride, Ever
There were so many good friends on the tractor, Farmer Rex had to keep downshifting to get to the sheep field. When we entered the gates, Lucy couldn’t believe how many sheep were there:
Oh, look Mama! These sheep are having a birthday party with all their friends, just like me. Which one is the birthday sheep?
7. Waiting for Cupcakes
Lucy couldn’t stop giggling while we tried to light the candle in the breeze. I heard her whisper:
it’s my birthday, it’s my birthday
One of the best decisions I made all month was to not bake 48 farm themed cupcakes. I took a nap instead – Mono’s calling. Mainland’s Safeway even topped them with cow, sheep and chick rings. Perfectly sugary, perfectly sweet.
Sometimes I not sure if Lucy is our kid. She thought the cupcakes were too sweet and only wanted frosting. Hmm?!?
9. Running Like Zip the Cattle Dog
10. Driving a Tractor for the First Time with Farmer Rex
11. A Second Tractor Ride
12. Olive on the Farm
We’re so lucky to know The Guards. True island family. Street named after them, the whole bit. Rex is Luke’s foreman at work. He and his wife, Lisa, have whole heartedly welcomed us to the island and to their Christmas Eve family sing a-longs. Now, we’ve hosted a party at their farm. Love, love, love.
The rest of our island family came to the party, although a few who had to miss it were there in spirit.
All the wonderful families who make Friday Harbor home: love, love, love.