His birth was scheduled to be induced on Sunday morning, but like the good child of his punctual mom, his water broke early Sunday morning all on its own. Having spent the week preparing, the trio of his momma, poppa, and tia (that’s me) calmly broke our fast, picked up our bags, and moseyed to the hospital. Several hours of intense labour yielded little result in the dilation department, so an oxytocin drip and epidural ensued. Dealing with contractions had felt like a battle zone. The sharp contrast with the Land of Epiduria was bizarre. Now Tobi was lying in a bed instead of pacing, rocking, moaning, and we were sitting calmly by her side instead of coaxing, massaging, clenching hands. So oddly civilized.
Not long after, the nurses jested that we’d be on our own during the afternoon because Canada was playing USA during the final hockey game of the Olympics. Although not left entirely to our devices, supervision was scarce from 3-6pm; the nurses were huddled around the lounge TV, radios played elsewhere, and our student nurse would pop in to check on Tobi & update us on the game. As Canada won gold, we could hear cheers from all corners of the building.
Nearly 4 hours later, the baby was ready to be born. She pushed like a warrior, my little sister. I was so proud of her that I could hardly count – my job during the final labour. After 20 minutes, the baby came out in a whoosh of squirming body, flailing arms, wiggling fingers, blinking eyes, and audible cries. He was here. He was healthy. He was beautiful. And he was big! 8 pounds, 10 ounces. Hairy head, fuzzy back, long fingers and toes, perfect little face. They placed him on her chest and I cried and clapped and laughed as they met for the first time.
It was ‘Everything’, I later said. It was beautiful and gruesome, it was exciting and boring, it was ecstasy and it was agony. Fascinating. Also fascinating was the changes and experiences that Tobi underwent over the next few days as her body began to heal, and she began to learn to be a mother.
For my part, I tried to help. I did the laundry. I cleaned. I made Tobi sleep. I learned how to hold and comfort a newborn, how and when to change his diaper, how and when to feed him, how and when to burp him. I took pleasure in the age-old pasttime of staring at the baby – he was so funny! I loved when he’d fall asleep in the middle of the awkward process of burping a small creature who cannot even sit up. The simple pleasure of his small warm body in my arms.
In the days before Jakob came home, I spent time at my parents’ new house outside the Marlborough forest near Smiths Falls, Ontario. I worked on my paper, I watched birds and squirrels at feeders, skiied to explore the woods. I talked with my parents, and I took my dusk glass of wine as they did – watching the deer come out of the shadows.
I am back home in Seattle. It is unseasonably cold and I do not want to leave my house. So it’s back to work and to planning the garden and other dreams. I know I was a help to my sister and Peter, but I am more grateful. They were so generous to share this experience with me. I miss our little team!
Jakob falling asleep during a burp
About the title – it’s a line from the movie ‘Willow‘ – anyone recognize it?