Twenty-six years ago today, I held a brand new baby in my arms.
It was a dark and stormy night as they say. Really stormy. I was a week late and this was my first baby. I was beyond tired and surrendered to the fact that this kid was never going to come out.
Because of this, I decided I didn’t need to stay close to home and declared we should just go on with our lives. We went to a barbeque/party that afternoon and I ate chicken. I can’t tell you why that sticks in my head, but it does. By the time we got home I was exhausted, and headed for bed early, when all of a sudden, at about 9:30, they came hard and fairly rapidly. Contractions. Please God, (I remember thinking). Not now! I’m so tired. Please just let me sleep first! All I wanted to do was sleep and then we could get to the task at hand.
My midwives lived down the coast. After talking to my husband, David, on the phone, the one who lived closest, Robin, ascertained our timing was fine. She would put her own kids to bed, make arrangements for their morning care, get a couple of business things in order (she owned a café just down the steps from Nepenthe) and get to our place in about an hour. The one who lived the furthest, Peggy, lived way the heck down in Gorda and was a massage therapist at Esalen. She had been in a horrific car accident EXACTLY one year ago (and had a ginormous scar across her belly to prove it) so she was nervous about driving the coast in a storm. As I recall, her plan was to pick up my husband’s aunt on the way, who actually lived at Esalen (and also a massage therapist there). Char would be in charge of rubbing my feet and back. After talking to Robyn on the phone, they would arrive in about 3 hours.
They all made it and Peggy was feeling exceptionally triumphant for overcoming her paranoia of driving the coast at night in bad weather.
All of them were mothers and each had been through childbirth and homebirth more than once. They had a well-established background in baby delivery, even though midwifery was illegal in California in 1983. Luckily, there were a few great docs in that county who respected their work and agreed to be the back-up doctors should we need to meet at the hospital.
I knew we wouldn’t need to. Home is where the heart is and my comfort zone.
Ian was born at 4:42 am in a single-wide trailer (very cute) overlooking the ocean on 55 acres in Big Sur. Our only source of heat was from the fire going in our quaint wood stove. It was me, David, Peggy, Robyn, Char, and our dog, Brandy (an all black 1/2 springer spaniel and 1/2 golden retriever, all crammed into that little tiny space.
The next day (or maybe it was 2 days later) was one of the worst landslides in Big Sur history, closing Hwy 1 to the north and to the south of us. We were an island on a mountain top overlooking the ocean with a newborn baby as its little prince.
Today is Ian’s Golden Birthday: 26 on the 26th.
And even though it tore up my body parts and changed them for evermore, it was the most powerful thing I had ever done or would ever do to date, including the births of the next two. The unknown adventure of my first birth was a ride as dark, stormy, and exhilarating as the weather he road in on.
What’s your special birthing story?