Nine years ago tonight, I floated in a rented birthing tub in northern Michigan, trying to relax and breathe. My husband hovered near the tub, along with my midwives. The Amish midwife held my hand, squeezing it tightly. The “English” midwife listened to the baby’s heart-tones with her stethoscope. My labor support people stood around, watching. (I felt like I had an audience, but my mind was so disconnected that I didn’t care.) By this time, darkness had fallen and I’d asked that the overhead light be turned off, but Lonnie pointed out that she needed the light for the video camera.
So, I squeezed my eyes tight and concentrated on not fighting my body.
And what do you know? At 10:42 p.m., my third son was born. He was the pregnancy the doctors said was “unlikely” to happen, the baby I was eight weeks pregnant with before I even took a pregnancy test. Weeks before I took the test, I told a close friend that I was either pregnant or dying from a terrible disease. And yet, after nine years of assuming the doctors were right and five years after adopting twins, the lines on the pregnancy test assured me that I was, indeed, pregnant.
I planned a home-birth. In our previous church, I’d met a midwife. We were waiting to adopt at the time and this lovely woman answered all my questions about birthing at home. Then, her grown daughter invited me to be at her home-birth. Witnessing the peaceful birth changed how I thought about birth forever. So, I never even contemplated a routine hospital birth when I became pregnant myself.
I labored for forty-three hours, most of them not difficult. The first twenty-four hours were humdrum, though at the time, I regarded the contractions with the serious contemplation of a first-time mother. I breathed. I knelt. I concentrated. Only toward the end when I struggled did I realize that the earlier contractions were nothing, mere blips on the pain scale.
The baby was born under water at 10:42 p.m. An hour later, I was tucked beneath my flannel sheets, my sweet baby boy inches from my face. We slept all night in the king-sized bed my husband and I had purchased in anticipation of the birth. In the morning, my 4-year old twins came rushing in to see their baby brother.
When a friend of mine came to see the new baby, she exclaimed, “Look at his crooked pinkies!” and sure enough, I noticed for the first time that my baby boy had inherited his daddy’s hands and feet. As the years have passed, this boy of ours resembles his father more and more and I finally understand why tear sprang to my mother-in-law’s eyes when she told me that my husband had been a joy to her all his life. My husband’s son, this “unlikely” baby boy has brought me undiluted joy from the day I knew he was snuggled into my womb.
And he makes me laugh. When he was about four years old, he once told me, “I know why they call it duct tape.” “Why?” I said. “Because,” he said, “It’s sticky and it smells like a duck.”
One whole summer, we had to call him “Thunder.”
Before he went to kindergarten, he insisted his middle name was “Dayba,” and only his kindergarten teacher could convince him that it was really “Davis.”
When he was three, he instructed me to make a hopscotch, numbered from negative 11 to 3. He has always had a thing for numbers. He knows his multiplication tables better than his 13-year old twin brothers do.
I love my boy. He has a soft heart, a goofy sense of humor and a sharp mind. I want to keep him here at home forever so he’ll be safe and secure and sweet. Today he is nine. Tomorrow, he’ll be nineteen and I already miss him.