Thursday, October 9, 2008


Five years ago today i was putting a few logs into the woodstove, when a splash of water fell to the floor between my legs. Like a mad housewife i promptly started scrubbing the bathroom floor. Had to make sure things were tidy, because my mother was coming. The midwives were coming. My baby was coming.

There was no rushing off to the hospital. This child would be born in the home where she was conceived -- our sunny A-frame in the Oregon coastal range. There would be no hospital orderlies making sure everything was orderly, hence me madly scrubbing the floor. I was going to be a mother and in spite of all my talk of being beholden only to myself, there were appearances to keep up.

We'd looked forward to the day all year -- imagining it would be a soft day, with the mists rising from the marsh out in front of the house. But the day dawned bright and sunny, and as i labored on our deck, a rainbow peeked out from the north. I cruised around naked on that deck, hanging over the railings when the pains came. My mother was supportive but slightly in shock about me parading about with not a stitch on. I wanted to feel it all; the slight shivers in the October breeze, the pain, not cut by any form of western medicine. I thought, 'this could be my only time to be in labor, ever,' so i wanted all the feelings to be there, full-force.

Our angel took hours and hours, making her way out kinda sideways, so that her head was bulbous on one side when she finally arrived. I was so determined in the final moments, i did not care about searing pain or unattractive positions, or whether that rainbow was still outside. Daddy caught her, with the guiding hands of our midwife, and placed her right on my chest. I was in shock and awe and immediately turned her over... "It's a girl!" i cried, my mom crying "It's a cheerleader!" at the same time. All this time of feeling a wild rolling alien in my belly and here she was. I had daydreamed for all those nine months about how she was going to be a boy -- because deep down i knew all i wanted was a girl. And here she was. She was so perfect, so snuggly, so like she is now, only so much smaller. We named her Independence. A strong statement from two parents who loved their sovereignty. Her middle name would be an amalgam of my two sister's names, my original two babe-in-arms, Amanda and Emily.

That night, in spite of my utter exhaustion over paring down my being from two bodies to one, i could hardly sleep. My dad brought pizza when he finally arrived, a couple hours after the birth. We ate. I drank a sip or two of beer, to stimulate the milk. The babe slept next to the wall, i curled around her on the bed and her father curled around me. We were a warm family in our family bed. Every half hour or so i would wake up in wild terror, making sure she was still breathing. She made little cooing noises, likely enamored by the sound of her own voice, not muffled by water.

Since then, this journey has been a beautiful one.

First off, there were decisions to make. We moved from the country, to another part of country, to the city to the country and back to the city. We moved to South Dakota so mama could get a Real job (whatever that is), and so she could be with her family. Then we moved back again, so she could be with our chosen family. And the trees. And the mists. And the liberals who did not work to abolish women's right to choose.

For two years she looked up at me with a half smile -- while she nursed at my breast. Once in a while when she's lying down she looks up at me like she did for those first two years -- her eyes turn up, one cheek visible, that mischievious smile... both of us in total surrender to the love between us. No matter how many of her birthdays i celebrate, to me she will always be that little baby with the upturned eyes, trusting me to guide her, love her, worship her.

A child's birthday is not just a day for pumpkins and pirate balloons and pinatas and too many presents that have a Hannah Montana theme. It's a big event for a mother too. I thank our babysitter Marguerite for reminding me that this is my day too, and that i deserve a hug for bearing her.

I love you, Indie Amaly.

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