They said it would happen like this: The baby will come and you’ll never be able to imagine anything otherwise. She’ll just fit, they said. You’ll see.
(They were right.)
The labor itself was unyielding in the way that all labors are. Timing contractions to and from a haircut, Chinese lessons. Checking in with a birth team: 8 min apart! 6-7! Getting stronger.
My midwife arrives to our home at midnight after a fitful string of contractions and a phone call from Ken. I always know it’s time when the husband calls, she jokes, dropping a duffel at the door.
And so it begins. The breathing, the pacing, the timing. I know enough about home births to keep moving until I can’t, so by sunrise, I’ve looped the neighborhood three times and paid an early morning visit to the family chiropractor when Ken and I decide to take a drive to the local coffee shop for breakfast. 4 centimeters, I whisper to my favorite barista, and she does a happy dance as she slides an iced decaf my way.
And then: home, to scream into oblivion.
Baby Lou arrives around 8pm after a long and grueling day, in a birth tub under our dining room pendant, in a world where turmoil swirls. Hi, I say.
Her eyes are wide.
The days that follow are blurred, naturally. I remember the mastitis, the melrose oil. Heaps of grace. A grandmother carting kids to and from fall festivals, local diners, pumpkin patches. Nipple butter drop-offs. A pile of old tshirts soaked from fevers, timers set to administer staggered rounds of antibiotics and probiotics. A son’s song: You are my moonshine. Friends bringing take-out, breakfast casseroles, salads, muscadine, pot pies, weeks of dinners wrapped in foil. A daughter’s omelette. Tears, tears, so many tears.
The rest, I’ve gathered from a long and checkered Google history: normal newborn poop? how long do baby blues last? is ibuprofen safe for nursing? fastest way to clear a clogged duct?
And now, all is well.
Baby Lou likes to burp twice, not once. She wants her feet held close, Billy Joel’s Lullaby for bathtime. Bee helps her find her pacifier in the car; Scout whispers nicknames into her ear: Berry, Flams-Dams, Flops. Ken calms her during witching hour, covers the midnight feeding, trims every crescent-shaped fingernail.
The fog is still there, of course. Does it ever leave? But we’re feeling our way through it anyway.
Our eyes are wide.