Posts Tagged ‘giving birth’

Dee Butterfly, cell phone photo of my oldest daughter when she was about eight years old, photo © 2003-2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

I gave birth to Dee on Labor Day thirteen years ago.

“Some Labor Day!” folks joked afterwards.

It was a beautiful birth. I had her in our bedroom, attended by Jim, my best friend, and our midwife.

For a while I didn’t think I could do it. I was on my back pushing yet nothing was happening. Finally my midwife, who up to then sat quietly in a corner letting me be in control of my birth, came to check on me.

“Ah, your water’s not broken,” she said. I had told her it broke before she got there. “Go into the bathroom and visualize your water breaking. Once it breaks, the baby will come.”

I sat on the toilet and stared at the circles on the linoleum tile. Open, open, open, I said to myself. I closed my eyes and could see a faint imprint of circles in the darkness. Open, open, open. Splash! It worked.

Dee came in to the world in the early morning. I birthed her crouched on the floor beside our bed. The air was cool, sunlight soft. Mexican sunflowers stood guard outside our windows.

Every human being brings with him or her into the world a bundle of traits. Some characteristics deepen with love, others are quashed from lack of support. New talents and quirks emerge based on home life and the world at large, but I know with certainty that every one of us arrives with something and not as a blank slate.

Dee brought with her a fiesty attitude, curiosity, and a natural tendency to question and challenge. She was expressive, sensitive, argumentative. She held her fork in her fist while she waited for her meals, refused to take a bottle, and cried every time she woke up from a nap. She was serious and at times stern. She was also compassionate and could break out crying at the knowledge that someone or something was hurt.

Using the words Brave and Face in a sentence, Dee’s second-grade homework, image © 2002-2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

Jim and I each grew up in homes that stressed respectfulness, courtesy, and good manners. Jim’s parents, especially, valued proper behavior in children. My parents did, too—Grandpa’s motto was, Children are to be seen and not heard. However, Mom’s tendency to rebel against anything conventional translated into exposure to many vices (poker and Black Jack games at any family gathering, smoking, drinking, cussing, etc.).

It was apparent early on that Jim’s ideas about the right way for children to behave would not set well with Dee. Although she was often quiet and inside herself, she never hesitated in voicing her opinions. If she didn’t understand something, she asked questions and always in a way that sounded like she didn’t quite believe what was being said.

Jim’s sister came to visit one day when Dee was three. We were at the kitchen table talking about something that happened when Dee insisted that Jim’s recounting of events was not right and began telling her version. Just as Jim was about to reprimand Dee for the interruption, his sister stopped him.

“Let her be. If you teach her to not speak up when she’s a child, she’ll have a hard time finding her voice as a woman.”

I joined Jim’s sister in describing how so many women I see at work are reserved and conditioned to neither debate nor question, how they let men dominate conversations and meetings. While courtesy was important, we said, Dee carried an innate respect for all humanity. If it came down to teaching proper manners, wouldn’t it be easier to learn good etiquette later in life than it would be to unlearn reticence?

To his great credit, Jim listened to the women in his life. In bringing up his daughters (because he was the one who had the most influence in their early lives) he has resisted the urge to constantly keep them in check. That’s not to say he is overly permissive; he still appreciates a well-behaved child.

For her part, little Miss Dee is a confident, newly annointed teenager. She can be quiet, especially among strangers—another one of those characteristics she brought into this world. But among her friends and family, she continues to speak her mind.

This morning Dee said that tonight she’s not going to cry over leaving behind her childhood. She’s ready for what’s next. (I, however, might be a different case altogether.)

Happy Birthday, Dee! You are an impressive young woman and human being.

[NOTE: I don’t normally publish photos of my family, but this photo of Dee was taken so long ago, plus with the face-painting, I decided it would be fine to share this one.]

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              Azul Stepping Gingerly, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reserved      
              Azul Stepping Gingerly, August 1, 2007, photo © 2007 by
              ybonesy, all rights reserved.

The girls are bopping around the house these days saying, “Azul’s a better mother than Eagle Eye.” Azul is the slate blue turkey who on Monday hatched a batch of 11 poults. Eagle Eye is the brown turkey who a few weeks ago brought seven baby turkeys into the world, proceeded to step on (and crush to death) one of them, lost two to something that looked like a virus, and let another become “disappeared.”

I hate the labels: good mother, bad mother. Yet, here I am, going along with them. Azul does seem to walk gingerly around her brood. She hasn’t lost any babies yet, and it’s true, she was a mama last year. This was Eagle Eye’s first round at mothering.

Azul’s Babies, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedStill, it’s a horrible judgment. Good mother. Bad mother. If you’re a mother, you know exactly what I mean. There is no role more scrutinized, criticized, revered and reviled. Who do we adults blame for our neuroses? Our mothers. Who do we make jokes about and love to hate? Our mothers-in-law.

I gave birth to my first child 12 years ago this September. I remember how nervous I was holding my newborn Dee. She weighed seven pounds. She cried and cried in those early days, and we often couldn’t figure out what it was. We ran through the basic stuff — nursing and changing diapers — before ending up fluttering all about her. Is it her ears, her tummy, what is it?? Most nights we just held her, swadled and bright red with fury, all of us miserable, especially me and Jim.

Azul and Babies, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedI do have to wonder what it is, if not differences in mothering, that explains Azul’s apparent ease with her babes. She does seem to be sure-footed, literally, with her 11 poults. Azul’s a different breed — lighter in color and weight — from Eagle Eye. Azul’s also older by a year. In turkey years I bet that’s something like a decade.

I was a more relaxed mother the second time around. Jim, too, was a more skillful parent. Em was independent, not so clingy. She stopped nursing at eight months, even though I wanted to at least complete a year. We doted on her plenty, but we didn’t freak out. Dee screamed and cried whenever we went somewhere in the car; she protested the entire drive, near or far. I remember one time pulling over on I-25 and letting my sister take over driving to Santa Fe while I climbed into the back and took Dee out of her carseat to nurse her just so she’d stop screaming. Never mind that I put us both in danger during that little episode. She stopped crying and that was all that mattered.

It’s been a tough lesson having our miniature farm. We’ve lost many animals — chicks and a baby duck, three rabbits, too many turkeys to count. Dee herself buried the last poult that died from Eagle Eye’s brood. We’ve taken extra precautions with Azul. Early on, Eagle Eye’s babies escaped their pen, got exposed to cool nights and hawks. As soon as Azul had her babies, we moved them into the most secure spot in the pen.

Azul checking things out, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reservedI hung out with all the turkeys for a while this evening. I wanted to observe them for myself. I shot a few photos of Azul with her 11 poults all scrambling about her, weaving back and forth between her feet. Eagle Eye seemed pretty easy-going with her remaining three babies. They’re getting big. Soon we’ll have to start finding homes for some of these babies. No way we’re going to get into the business of turkey farming.

I have to admit, Azul struck me as being the wiser of the two. It’s not a judgment against Eagle Eye, though. Azul just has a certain gentleness about her. She always has. She lets you hold her, and she doesn’t fret when you get close to her babies. Eagle Eye was raised under different circumstances. She’s a turkey’s turkey. There were lots of birds in the pen by the time she came around. But that doesn’t make her a bad mother. Nature is nature. No one ever said it was easy.

                         Eagle Eye on the other side, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reserved
                         Eagle Eye on the other side of the fence, July 2007,
                         photo © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

posted on red Ravine, August 1, 2007

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