August 9, 2005
Hello to All!
When I last wrote, I was assuming I would not write again for another month or so. But then he arrived—Kai Evenson LaMothe—on the day of his due date—August 3, 2005!
Kai was born here at home on the farm, at 10:45 PM, all 7 pounds 15 ounces, 21 inches of him. He was immediately welcomed by brother Jordan and sister Jessica (Kyra was fast asleep).
The decision to give birth at home was one Geoff and I made after moving to New York. I had been planning to work with a group of midwives and give birth in a local hospital. Only after moving did I learn that New York permits VBAC births (vaginal birth after cesarean) only in hospitals with a 24-hour anesthesiologist. As Jordan was a C-section, despite the fact that Jessica and Kyra were successful VBACs, my options were to have a scheduled cesarean section a week before my due date or go into labor and drive over an hour to Albany Medical Center for a natural birth. Each option seemed to us to be laden with its own risks--“just-in-case” major surgery or a car birth.
How ironic it was, given that we moved to Hebron to cultivate a different relationship to nature, and given that I am writing a book on the challenges of trusting the wisdom of bodily being! I decided to do more research.
I found a wonderful midwife and herbalist who was willing, seemingly against all odds, to take us on 37 weeks into the pregnancy and assist us in giving birth at a home still under construction. Everything she said about birth was what we believe we have learned through the process of welcoming Jordan, Jessica, and Kyra.
The experience was more than we had hoped it would be. Beautiful. Arduous. Perfect. We had visited the midwife that morning, taken yet another trip to Hope Depot, and spent the afternoon laying tiles in the bathroom—crouching, squatting and crawling around with my nine-month belly. As we were cleaning up around 6, I started having some contractions. Mild ones. Semi-regular. We gathered around. The kids started to get excited. I so appreciated their energy and attention. Their very presence defused the fear and affirmed the value of the process underway. Around 7, we called the midwives and my parents. The birth was imminent.
As Geoff put the kids to bed, they insisted on all sleeping in Jordan’s room. I heard them demanding to be woken up for the birth. “Pinch me” said Jessica; “Pour cold water on me” said Jordan. I labored while listening from a neighboring room, still able to sink deep within the space of a contraction, find currents of bliss, and ride them through to moments of quiet between.
The midwives arrived and the contractions intensified to a place where I could no longer handle them alone. The self spills out, dissolves. Consciousness is no longer capable of mastering, negotiating, willing. I hung on Geoff and on every encouraging word of the midwives. I tried not to pull away from the pain but rather sink through it, dissolve into it, allow it to transform me into a conduit for the one to come. He did. Caught and welcomed into the web of loving care made necessary by the pain of the contractions themselves. The midwife gently unwrapped the cord from his neck and handed him to me.
Jordan and Jessica were there within seconds, witnesses to his gooey newness. Geoff held him as I cleaned up, and then the four of us gathered in the living room around Kai, and for the next hour and a half, watched him evolve from a water creature into a land creature. From ashy blue to a peachy pink. From wet to dry. From wrinkled and squeezed to awake and alert, with eyes-wide-open to his new world.
My parents arrived just before 1 AM, and the midwives, having examined, weighed, measured the little one, left. Kai nursed for 40 minutes, and then slept until 8 AM the next morning.
He embraced his name within a day. “Kai” is Welsh (for my mother’s family) and Scandinavian (for Geoff’s mother’s family). It is a derivation of “Kay,” meaning “happy, rejoicing.” Geoff grandmother, Katherine (called “Kay”) Evenson died in January of this year, before knowing that our little one was on its way. Kai also means “keeper of the keys” and “earth”—meanings that resonate for us with the role we believe he has played in bringing us here to the farm. Apparently, Kai is also a South African word meaning “beautiful” and indeed he is. His eyes are dark blue; his hair a golden brown. And there are times when he looks at me and I see the spitting image of Geoff’s father, Peter, who also died in January, months shy of his 70th birthday. Peter spent his early years on a dairy farm, and remembered those years as the best of his life.
Meanwhile he grows. Calm and alert, I could swear that he already smiles and cuddles. When he is not sleeping, he lies awake, blinking, looking around, seeming to take in and contemplate all the sensations appearing to him. A complete joy! And I am recovering well.
Love from all of us,
P.S. If you are interested in a recent study on the safety of home birth, check out the recent article in the June 2005 edition of the British Journal of Medicine.