Today is my birthday and my mom sent me a guest post about my own birth!
Molly’s Birth Story (33 years later)
May 3, 2012
At the time of Molly’s birth in 1979, we lived in a 10 x 30, un-insulated building – a shack, really – and were completely off the grid. We used wood for cooking/heat, and kerosene and candles for light. We hauled in drinking water, and bathed in rain water. We had no phone, electricity, or plumbing and shared a vehicle. Many people were appalled at our decision to homebirth (fortunately, they couldn’t call us to yell about it!). Midwives were completely hidden and underground. I had two dear friends, both nurses, who agreed to attend the birth.
I was very close to term, and we were concerned that I would begin labor at home (with no phone or car) while Tom was away at work, so I spent those final days of pregnancy hanging around at the homes of neighbors and friends. Labor began while with neighbors, and continued to progress throughout the evening. It was a wild night – raging thunderstorms, torrential rain, and incessant lightning. It became apparent that this was true labor, so Tom had to leave me alone in our tiny home to go find a phone to call our support people. They arrived by midnight, and I continued to labor throughout the night, culminating in 2 hours of pushing and the arrival of a beautiful, sweet baby girl! I’ll never forget the surreal feeling of contractions punctuated by lightning and thunder. Towards the end, I was actually falling asleep between contractions and still remember the dreams I had…..
Unfortunately, I sustained a large tear, and was unable to push to release the placenta. We had to pack up, borrow a 4-wheel drive truck, and slip and slide through the mud to a doctor who had agreed to provide postpartum care if needed. I was curled up on the seat with baby Molly – this was before car seats were in use! I lamented having to go out in such horrible conditions. The tear was major, and took 42 stitches, making my days of postpartum recovery very difficult. Nothing daunted, I went on to have 3 more children at home – still off the grid, still with no indoor plumbing, but some of the time with a car and a phone for the last two.
This experience – having my first baby – was a transcendent transformation. I became a mother at that moment, and being a mother is still a defining element of my personality and identity. Molly grew to adulthood altogether too fast, and even though she stands before me now as a mother herself, I will never forget the infant, child, and teenager that she was. We’re inextricably linked, and while I marvel at our sameness, I also celebrate our differentness.
I had 2 favorite books that I read to prepare for a very rustic homebirth – Spiritual Midwifery, by Ina May Gaskin, and Special Delivery, by Rahima Baldwin. These books are still being recommended to birthing women, and while the climate of homebirth is certainly in transition, each woman must find her own path through the labyrinth of birth.
Who knew, when I was planning a homebirth all those years ago, that Molly would grow to be the birth advocate and authority that she has become? Perhaps my decision to homebirth had some sort of deep-seated and profound influence on her!
Happy birthday to an amazingly intelligent, witty, loquacious, creative, generous, intuitive, compassionate and productive daughter. I am incredibly proud of the woman you have become, and I love you beyond all reason.
She also uploaded a photo of me at 11 months–we think Alaina looks like me 🙂
I also had this nursing picture already saved on my computer:
Happy Birth Day to both of us!
Today we had to take Alaina to the pediatric dentist in St. Louis to have her front teeth looked at. I thought the four upper front teeth all had decay, but it turned out to be a pretty best case scenario—she only had one actual cavity (some pitting and staining on three others, but not decay) AND the dentist said, “would you like me to just fix it now instead of you having to drive all the way here again from Rolla?” So, not only was the problem more minor than we feared, it is already ALL FIXED! Yay! So, I was able to go on and enjoy the rest of my birthday rather than fretting about her teeth or planning the follow-up visit for the “big work.” We did have a horrible 15 minutes while I held her on my lap and she screamed and cried and they did the work, but that is a tiny blip as far as things go and it was SO much better than the anesthesia route we did with Z (ambulatory surgery clinic admission, etc. Boo on that, especially because most of the work then chipped off—that’s what $5000 or so gets you!). After we got home she was extra clingy and very needy and mama’s girl-ish though, which makes me feel bad because I know she must still be feeling traumatized by the betrayal of being taken somewhere to, essentially, be hurt, trapped, and helpless 😦
After the dentist, we went to my friend’s house who lives in the vicinity. Another friend joined us and we had a little party with a nice lunch and cupcakes. My friend’s kids had blown up balloons and hung them up all over and there was also a great sign hanging in the tree:
On the way home we stopped at the pie shop for the Boston cream pie Mark ordered for us to enjoy with my parents:
My parents came over bearing gifts and my favorite dinner of beef stroganoff and we also ate the pie. I’m tired, but relieved. I was also feeling weird to be 33 now and said something along the lines of, what happened and is Alaina going to be 33 soon too?! My dad said, “this can never be a long time ago…” and then reminded me that it was a Laura Ingalls Wilder quote: “…They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago...”
Later, I laid in bed nursing Alaina to sleep and thinking about how my parents remember me as a baby—their baby—but I don’t remember being their baby. And, how this intimacy with Alaina will someday soon be only my memory, not hers (at least not consciously). How strange, because it is so total and so real and so right now…it can never be a long time ago.