Party of Five

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.

  • So delighted to read this much awaited update. So very happy for you and your growing family.

  • Your words and poetry amaze me every time I read something you’ve written. This brought me tears, tears of deep feeling. Glad to hear of the new safe arrival x

  • Sounds like a very busy fall indeed! I think we’ve all shed more than a few tears this year, so know it’s a common theme to most these days. Enjoy your sweet little oasis and remember fog is just a tiny piece of heaven coming to earth for a visit. Hugs to you!!

  • Wishing you continued love as your family of five grows together. Your words always touch my heart and I so welcome them. Have a wonderful time with your family.❤️

  • Congratulations! There is something extra sweet about hearing someone’s new baby news during this time that is so filled with uncertainty and sadness. Life does go on!

  • so many good wishes and congratulations to you and your family!
    You wrote back to me years ago when I asked you about adoption, and this year we finalized the adoption of our son. Will he be an only? A big brother? We don’t know now, but we are open to whatever comes in the future. Cheers to the new big sister and big brother of Baby Lou :)

    • omg congrats, sonrie – what a beautiful adventure!!!!!!!!!! so much love and blessings your way.

  • Oh Erin, this is so beautiful and true and authentic, love your writing. Wishing you the best, whatever that may mean right now.

  • Oh Erin…. There’s nothing like those newborn days. They are grueling and gorgeous all wrapped up in one. Aren’t they?! Glad you’re writing your way through the fog. No matter what you write, it seems you always inspiree to keep writing!

  • Ahhh, congratulations, Erin and family! Thank you for sharing Baby Lou (what a sweet name!)’s beautiful birth story. Sending you so much love and light!

  • I just had my son in September, and feeling all of the feels reading this.

  • This post is pure magic- beauty and pain all at once. Your words help me remember. Congratulations to you all!

  • Reading your words is always a grace to my day.

    Blessings and prayers and the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to you and your little family as you navigate these newborn days full of wonder and wakefulness, fatigue and laughter, delight and overwhelm. The juxtaposition of joy and hard spots. The actual reality of life and emotions and physical bodies all mixed in with catching and keeping memories to treasure in our hearts.

  • It must be WONDERFUL to have a new little to create a new #thegoodlist of all the nicknames… What were Bee’s? And Scout’s?

  • Oh what a beautiful (and so poetic) post! So happy, as always, to read this update and everything you write. Blessings and love to you and your family. <3

  • Erin I loved your book and you always make me wish I could have a do-over with my kids or at least make me wish I’d written down more about that time. Thank for sharing your life with us “stranger/friends” It’s brave. Wishing you all the best in 2021.

  • I have been waiting for my world to quiet so I could visit and read about the beauty in yours.

    So happy for you all, Erin. So, so happy.

    Soak it all in–I know you will.

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