A Birthday Remembrance : Your Birth Story….

Daddy and Joel had gone down to the pool to fish, I remember watching them go out the door at dusk, fishing poles and a lantern, and me thinking about how much I loved them and our house and the home we made and the coming of you. I thought about how hard we laughed at dinner when we were discussing baby names and it turned out your Dad was seriously considering Effie after his Aunt and I was seriously thinking never gonna happen and then Joel, laughing hard, described his picture of you, Effie, as having red hair pigtails and freckles on your nose and glasses I think … At that we all laughed and decided maybe not Effie but maybe Micah Kate, Kate after your Dad’s Grandmother, who so kindly had lent us some money to buy our house.

Since this day was actually your due date , I had made a pot of beet borscht that could be served cold with sour cream and French bread so no one would have to cook if you decided to make an appearance. That done I headed into the sun porch to sit awhile. Right before I took the step down I got the strongest, hardest pain in my belly I ever remembered having felt, ever. It stopped me in my tracks for a moment and then it was over…. I didn’t know what to think so I continued on to the porch, picked up a book I was reading, and settled in to wait for the night fishermen to come back up from the stream .

Shortly thereafter they arrived, fishless I think, and then after that, light labor began and quickly after that we called Jeanne to come over, and we called the doctor in Woodstock, as it would take a little while to get here and we settled in to see what would happen. Oh, I also got the The Emergency Childbirth Manual I had ordered early on, from the bookshelf where it was kept next to Ina May Gaskin’s, “Spiritual Midwifery”. It was this book that had convinced me that a home birth was what we wanted to do. Also, by the way, your name ‘Micah’ came from a birth story in that book.

And so we waited, downstairs on the sun porch couch for things to begin. Jeanne arrived shortly and we talked and waited for the doctor. We had asked our close friend if she would be at the birth so, as someone who knew Joel well, she could take care of him if she sensed he was unsettled or just tired by the birth process. We decided to call the doctor again and his girlfriend or assistant assured us that he would be there. By this time labor was clearly happening and we were timing and breathing and talking and,each on their own, quietly wondering where the doctor was…..

And so we still waited for the doctor, but the labor didn’t wait. It was clearly full steam ahead. You’ll have to ask your Dad how he and Jeanne handled things by this time because I had only one thing on my mind and that was how soon was that next intense pain starting. They may have called the doctor one more time then and they may have realized he might not make it in time and I bet they realized they were going to be delivering a baby, by themselves, alone, with no doctor. I didn’t realize much at all but did want to go upstairs to the bed, so at the end of the last labor pain, supported by your Dad and Jeanne we hobbled to the stairs and I prayed I would not have another contraction until I was at least upstairs. No such luck, so there we were, trapped on the stairs until I could hobble again. Once in bed I figured we were home free, I can not imagine what Jeanne and your Dad figured but whatever their concern they did not once mention it to me. I had by this time forgotten about the doctor and just knew we were doing this and let’s get on with it. Joel had been taken to bed several hours earlier and so slept soundly throughout.

When the urge to push was clearly starting I think I mentioned they might want to get that Childbirth Manual that we had left downstairs . Next I remember,seems I was so exhausted I was drifting off between contractions, your Dad was behind me supporting my back and Jeanne was looking for your head or something to show up. She also had the Childbirth Manual open and beside her on the bed and every once in a while she would turn a page or a few pages while looking back and forth between me and the book. I remember I was pushing, your head was crowning and when I couldn’t push anymore and stopped, your little head would disappear. I do remember after this happened about three times I got a little upset with Jeanne like she had something to do with that. Like maybe she hadn’t followed the instructions in the manual or something…..poor Jeanne and your Dad was quiet as quiet could be, just standing behind me and holding my back, probably communicating with Jeanne somehow and supporting her as well he could.

At last, sometime between 3:55 and 5:00 am you fully presented yourself, cried not so much but some after Jeanne cleared your mouth and such and wiped you down a bit and then placed you on my chest for all of us to see. You were a marvel I must say, prettiest little baby ever. About that time we heard a car driving across the stream so Ed went downstairs to see if it was the Doctor. It was.. I think Ed was quite angry at this point and was all ready to let the Dr know that when, much to his surprise, the car door opened, the Dr. slowly stepped out, stood up and as he said hello to Ed his pants fell to the ground, all the way to the ground and if I am not mistaken, you can check with your Dad, Micah those were the only pants he had on…

He picked them up, tied the tie, and your Dad and he and his assistant and her small daughter, maybe 3 years old,marched upstairs to see you and me and to cut the umbilical cord and check you over. About the same time all this was happening, I think we had just wakened Joel and had gotten him up to see his new little sister but first the Dr’s assistant began asking him (he was only 6 years old and sleepy and confused by all these goings on and people he did not know) to get her some crayons and something to color on and saying she would be busy helping Dr. Q.Lude take care of me. I think she wanted him to babysit… I think Jeanne straightened that out and then came back in time to see the Doctor trying to cut the cord. As we all watched somewhat mesmerized, he fumbled and dropped his instruments and kept tugging on the cord and seemed unable to complete the process. Jeanne apparently had had enough. “Get your hands off her and get out of here now! “ she yelled. He said he would leave but first wanted Ed to cut the cord and your Dad did a fine job and you were free and borned at last. He quickly gathered up his things, (Jeanne glaring at him the whole time)his assistant, and her 3 year old and left saying he would come back ‘tomorrow’. Jeanne gathered up Joel and introduced him to his new sister and we all just finally felt great. I have pictures taken with you in my arms and your Dad standing next to me that show a woman holding a baby with a smile on her face and looking so happy and relaxed after this birth, but when you look at your Daddy, he looks exhausted and very much like he was the one that just gave birth. I guess in some way he really was….

Just a note on our lovely friend Jeanne…..she was a quiet, kind, understanding person. Never an unkind thing to say about anyone and never, ever was she a confrontational person. When she stood looking at that Dr. and his fumbling around I guess she just wasn’t having it. She had worked too hard to deliver this baby girl and no one, not even a Doctor, was going to come in here and hurt me and or the baby. And she told him so in no uncertain terms and while totally surprised by her scaring the Dr. and whatever away we were all forever grateful. Jeanne went on to have home births of her own, train as a Douala/midwife assistant and has helped deliver many more babies at home. we love you big Jeanne, we love you big….!