Huntress of the Lens


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yesterday was a holiday I think is only celebrated in our house, it's called Eye of the Storm. It's the day between Paul and Andrew's birthdays, July 31. It's the day of Ninja Turtle and face painting birthday parties, with guests that are both two and four, eight and ten, or any other two-year-apart demographic. It's a day of great excitement and resentment rolled into one. Paul is the oldest, born first; yet always doomed to wait an extra day for his birthday party. Andrew, the youngest always got his birthday party a day early. At 25 Paul can still give an impassioned speech about how unfair this is. As a parent of two small boys born in this configuration, Eye of the Storm was the only logical way to handle this. In their older years we don't have balloons and dinosaurs any more, but we do mention it, and it is still celebrated with bragging and hangovers.

Andrew was my second-born, my second planned home-birth. I had already done it once and thought I knew just what to expect from birth: Bearable contractions, a gathering of friends at the house to wait it out and make food for the celebration that happens right after I'm done working and have a shower. Paul was coming up on two years old, and very verbal and savvy enough to know what was going on, and until he actually had a baby in the house he was very excited about it. It was totally planned that he would be in the bed with us as his new baby came, and be a total part of our family growing. We were kind of save-the-world hippies and it was a communal birth I had envisioned, and in the long run actually had, although that was about the only part of the experience that went as planned.

Although Andrew was my biggest baby (8 pounds 4 ounces) I only gained 14 pounds total during my pregnancy. No chemo patient has thrown up any more in a day, every single day for 40 weeks than I did with Andrew, or all three pregnancies if I tell about them as a group. I never once ate a meal that I didn't go throw up halfway through and come back to see if I could eat some more. In the interest of my male readers I won't make a list of all the things that were in there with all 8 pounds and 4 ounces of him, but it accounts for all but a pound or two of the weight I gained. Jim used to say that I made him out of myself, that I simply sprouted or cloned.

Some facts about his birth that can be mentioned quickly and are relevant are: He was born 17 days after his due date. He was due on a day in the sign of Cancer with Scorpio Moon, and was actually born on a day in Leo with a Gemini moon, which reflects an entirely different personality to say the least. I went into labor in the wee hours of Monday morning, and stayed there until Friday a little after noon. I was in labor, real labor for five days with Andrew. Paul's birthday was on Wednesday of that week, and I thought I was going to have two children with the same birthday. I walked the halls of the South Coast Plaza mall on each of those five days, trying to speed things up, stopping to hold my belly and breathe while window-shopping. I also broke down in the car I was riding home in, on the day of his birth. I was with a friend that time so it wasn't quite as traumatic and I didn't have to walk for the phone myself, but somehow the labor I had with both boys was enough to cause malfunction in two different cars.

So Monday, the first day of labor everyone gathered at our apartment for the joyous arrival. And we waited. This was my second birth, and those are usually a little faster if not easier. Midwife and all my friends gathered around, talking and joking and keeping vigil with me while I waited for him to get here. By late that night my midwife said "I don't think it's going to be today after all, I'll come by in the morning to check on you, call me if anything changes in the middle of the night."

Tuesday was the same. Wednesday was Paul's second birthday, his party that year was all grownups, counting contractions, talking and joking and still keeping vigil. I'm sure he got presents that year, but that particular birthday for me is kind of hazy. All day I told him I was going to give him a baby for his birthday.

By Thursday only Kelly's mom Lynne, my friend Leslie and the midwife were there with me, everyone else was worn out from the 3-5 minute contraction counting party I had been having since the beginning of the week. They all said "Call me when this baby is actually coming, ok?" I had stayed a steady 2 cm the whole time (a statement that once again in the interest of my male readers' comfort I won't elaborate on) Everyone seemed to think that this baby would never actually be born, and I was becoming prone to fits of crying, declaring that I would just be pregnant forever and I was really ready to be done.

Friday morning came, and I was still right where I had been on Monday when the birth party started. Paul was restless and cranky, he had been THE kid for two years and the allure of this new baby he had been promised forever ago had totally worn off. He had his nap early that day, mostly because he was manic and driving everyone crazy. I was alone in the house with Leslie at around eleven, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that I really wanted to push. "Les? I really want to push, like now." This was before she became a registered nurse, and before she had done her own second home-birth and felt like an old-hand at it.

"Wait though, we have to get Jim and the midwife here!" a little panic around the edges of her voice. She hopped on the phone to get those two crucial players on the scene, went next door to get Lynne, checked on Paul who was still asleep. "No, but really, I want to push!"

People started arriving, and in the quick check the midwife did she said "You're ten! You can go any time, let me break this bulging water for you." I had been on my hands and knees and felt like I wanted to deliver like that, but my surgery knee was hurting so I flopped onto my back and made much the same sound a man ripping a tree stump out of the ground with no help might make. Two pushes and there was Andrew, MY baby. Five days of labor, then two to ten and done in about one hour, if you count the part where I wanted to push but was trying not to because I had no midwife and Paul was sleeping in the next room.

Paul woke up eventually, and came scuffing into the room to meet his brother. He slept through it, and maybe thought that someone brought him over and left him there. He was a cool baby, sure, but when were they going to come and pick it up again so he could be the center of attention like he was supposed to be?

We had chosen the name Scott Everett if he was a boy, the middle names of both his grandfathers. That was his name for about three hours, until we realized that it just wasn't his name. Maybe Scott Everett was that baby who would've been born as a Cancer with the Moon in Scorpio, I don't know. Paul called him simply "That baby" which was his title till he was a year old or so. "Hi Scott! Little Scotty! Scotty Dog!" we tried them all out, and were perplexed to realize that the name was nowhere close to who he was. "What name are you getting for him?" "It's weird, and I know we didn't like it because it has a nickname, but I'm getting Andrew for some reason." "That is so weird, that's the name I see too!" In the middle of his arrival party he became Andrew James, his real name.

The one off camera character who was there almost 24/7 for the whole week was Mary Jean. She was in the kitchen cooking. By the time I had my post-birth shower (a tradition I have kept even in the hospital for Molly's birth, the only one that took place in an official location, much to the dismay and displeasure of all those nurses) and came out to the couch to join my friends for the birth party and some food (which I was beyond hungry for) my Big Daddy was arriving; Armed with his flowers and his amazement at how I go about the business of birth; his watering eyes (not crying, just watering, allergies at this time of year you know) to meet his second grandson, the baby his baby had just brought forth. We had a lovely party that everyone but Paul loved and was entranced with. As I remember someone brought him a present for the birth, scant recompense for that birthday party that didn't really happen, and in no way making up for "that baby" hogging all the attention.

He looked just like me. He still looks quite a bit like me. He is left-handed like me, and shares my love of deep and mystical thought. Where Paul had an immediate preference for his dad, this was MY baby. I think I held him for the first two years of his life. "That Baby" was bigger at birth, and is still bigger today than his brother. He's gone farther and seen more places in the world than anyone else in his family. He is just about the only person who can outsmart me, or best me intellectually. I've already written a whole blog about who he is today,
so I won't go very far into that here, this is not the department of redundancy department after all.

Happy Birthday Andrew, Dundy (the way he insisted his name was really spelled for quite a while) my son, "That Baby", the most amazing man I may ever know. I love you all the way to Kmart!

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