The first baby is such an adventure. By the time I had Lulah I had traveled a lot, to many continents and faraway islands and mountains. I had spent time in the company of people with whom I shared no common tongue. I had suffered exotic ailments and weathered great cold and great heat, seen wonderful vistas, all that. But pregnancy was still one of the greatest adventures of my life.
I also love this about the first baby – we had no idea what was about to happen to our lives. No matter what people tell you, you can’t know until you arrive in parenthood. I could say more about that, but I won’t. People who have children already know what I’m talking about.
The day before Lulah was born was busy. We were working with some of our neighbor’s cattle, and had a cow loose on another neighbor’s farm. He has several hundred acres, and a lot of cattle, too. Finding one yellow cow in the midst of it was a job. I woke feeling kind of funny. It being my first pregnancy, I had no idea what that might mean. It was a pretty day and we had some things to attend to, so I didn’t pay too much attention to it, and we set off in the truck to look for a cow.
That is to say, we went four-wheeling. There was a sack of feed in the passenger side floor board, to tempt the cow to follow us, should we see her. So, I had my feet up on the dash, kind of in a squatting position. We rolled and bumped over fields and streams and never saw our cow. I think we did a good job in promoting Lulah’s labor, though.
After that nice ride, we had business to attend to. We had just made arrangements to buy our little homestead and as part of the contract, we had to have insurance. So we went to town and I waddled into the Farm Bureau office. After we signed papers, the agent thanked me for not having the baby in his office.
My mother’s birthday was that day, so we followed work with pleasure and had a nice dinner with my folks and grandfolks. By that time, I was feeling sort of intense. There were these waves of sensation now and then. I put on my watch before we left the house, and at dinner, I noticed that the sensations were regular. In the back of my mind, I knew they must be contractions. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want people to fuss.
On the way home, I told Paul that I was having contractions fairly regularly. He was unalarmed. Everyone thought I was going go past due date with this pregnancy. Ten out of twelve people thought she was a boy, too, if that tells you anything.
At home, I was restless. I wanted to walk around, to take a shower, to fidget and move. Paul called the midwife and told her that I thought I was in labor, but we weren’t ready for her to come yet. Surely it would be awhile.
It was. I tried to lay down. Paul was so tired and was sure (the way a man can be) that if I just laid down I could go back to sleep. I was too fidgety. Eventually, I let him sleep and got up to walk it off by myself for awhile.
I lit some candles and proceeded to walk for four or five hours. Time seemed an endless continuum, but there was only one direction I could go, and only one place I could be. Here. Now. Around five in the morning, something shifted. I woke Paul and he got on board with my changed energetic condition pretty fast. He called the midwife again and alerted her that things were really moving, called my folks to let them know, and then settled in with me.
We found places on my back that felt really good to touch, and then suddenly, they felt just awful to touch. I found that I needed to make noise during the thick of contractions. After awhile I felt like I was roaring like a lion. It felt good to do that. From within my memory now, I don’t recall pain as the dominant feeling. My memory is more of HUGE sensation.
The sun rose through the hollow. I was kneeling on the bed, looking out the window. Three wild turkeys ran by and made me smile. Paul asked me if I was pushing. I hadn’t thought I was pushing, so I got Socratic and asked back – “Does it seem like I’m pushing?”. I was enveloped in instinct, but the pressure of her head descending was distinct. Paul saw the change, too, and ran for a towel.
Lulah’s head emerged first, and she opened her eyes. Paul was there to hold her as she quietly slipped out into the world. She did not cry. She was quiet and alert and breathing just fine. She was a beautiful perfect rosy infant. A love bomb exploded in our lives.
About the time the midwife departed, some guys from the Nestle Corporation (one of our neighbors) knocked. They weren’t bringing baby gifts. They were drilling a test bore hole across the way and just wanted to let us know.
Thanks – bye bye.
Well. A few minutes later they were back. They had hit a pocket of natural gas and were bringing in some instruments to make sure it was not dangerous.
Thanks – bye again.
Next thing we know there are a dozen men in our yard from the Sheriff’s Department, Forestry and Wildlife, and Nestle. Word has circulated that we have a new baby in the house and they are concerned for our safety. That’s nice, but if there was cause for concern, we’re pretty sure that the one’s smoking cigarettes out in the drive way would begin to get peaked-looking first. When then figured out that we had really just given birth to a baby a couple hours before, in the comfort of our home, they sort of freaked out. Surely we needed to go to the hospital! They would bring in a helicopter and air lift us out! It’s the least they could do.
While all this is going on, Lulah (that was not yet her name) and I were upstairs, receiving updates from my mother (who was slightly concerned) and my sister (who was pretty sure we needed to stay right there). Paul would come up to look at the baby, lay down on the bed for a minute, and then go back down to deal with the crowd.
Eventually, it became clear that if he didn’t agree to evacuate us – he politely refused for us to be removed by helicopter – he, at least, would be forcibly removed. He agreed that we would leave the premise, but first he needed to move our milk cow to a place she could stay for a day or two without our attention. While we was running down the hill with the cow on a rope, a specialist for the Nestle Corp arrived from a remote office. He was the one with the special equipment for reading gaseous output from wells. He went to the test hole and read his little dials and meters, then assessed the situation in our yard and let everyone there know that he would let his daughter play here (hence, they should all go home and leave us be). Five minutes later, all the strangers were gone. Our other neighbor, who let us board our milk cow in her orchard, intercepted Paul in his run down the hill and let him know that we didn’t have to go. He ran home and we stayed there, so grateful, so happy to be just we three.
We’re no less grateful now.
Happy Birthday Lulah! You are still one the greatest adventures I’ve ever had.