My daughter was born in a log cabin on a snowy day in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. I had read every book I could check out of the local library, in order to be prepared for the big day. We had been growing marijuana and had the best of our stash set aside for the birth. My friends played instruments and drums and the plan was for them to all gather and welcome the child into the world with music and merriment. My water broke when we were in town so I called the doctor and told her that we were leaving for home, an hour drive. No contractions. Honestly, I had begun to have doubts that the baby would ever come. There is something that happens to women in pregnancy and thoughts one might not have at other times, become common and believable. For me, I was so ready to have this baby out of me and she had been showing no sign of doing so, that I started to believe that she might not come. When my water broke and I had no contractions, it was just another reason to think I may have made it all up. I had read a book in which the woman grew a belly as if she were pregnant but she never was. It was called an “Hysterical pregnancy”.
I did feel a bit hysterical.
We got home and started a fire and went to bed. About 5 hours later, my contractions started. I tried to wake up my partner, who said, “Just give me five more minutes” and rolled over. I got up and started to get my supplies ready. I had tie-died a sheet to hang in between the bed and the frontroom of our one room adobe house for privacy. Little did I know that all modesty leaves when you start to push a baby out of your vagina and everyone is watching! The sheet did not stay in place for long.
My sister was living in a house up the ridge and she came down to help me. The doctor arrived with her flute and many other members of the community arrived. They all sat around playing music and laughing while I was laboring on the other side of the sheet. My sister was guiding me through it. In fact, the picture in my mind of so many faces looking at me as she crowned, still brings me joy. It was short, only six hours. She was big. Eight pounds, 22 inches. She cried right away. So did my two year old nephew! He loved me and could tell I was in pain and he yelled out, “Stop hurting her!”. My step son thought she looked like a banana peel.
I had read that we should wait to cut the cord so that she received every bit of nourishment. She was so pink! She started nursing right away, which caused more cramping but helped to expel the placenta. My friends took control and started caring for us. It was the 70’s and it was popular at the time, to eat the placenta, the way the animals always did. It was full of protein that I needed after that exertion. So, my friend cooked it up and served it to me. It looked like liver and tasted just as bad. I asked for a hamburger instead. The placenta was later buried under a fruit tree, which was a way better way to honor it. Besides, the reason animals eat the placenta, besides for the protein, is to get rid of any blood that might draw another animal who would prey on them. My sheets were changed and I was helped to wash. I lay back and admired my baby, as did everyone else in the room.
Meanwhile, in the yard, my brother in law had brought the 4-wheel drive ambulance, just in case. He was an EMT down in town and it was winter with two feet of snow on the ground and we lived in a remote area. We had no electricity in the house and no clock, so his job was also time keeper. He had definitely gotten hold of the pot and was quite stoned. We picked a time that was as close as we were going to get from him. I liked the symmetry of the numbers. She was born on 12/22 at 6:22.