"I've tried to teach you well son,
all of everything I knew.
Of how to live this life, be true.
Don't bow your head to no one,
and no matter what you do,
if you start then see it through.
So sturdy up, sturdy up your heart,
for the road is long ahead.
I'll be with you even though we're apart,
but your road is yours to tread.
And so it goes, and so it goes"
From Charlie Grey's birth playlist, La Mar by The Beautiful Girls
My story of Charlie began with a text. On Feb. 20 Lindsay sent a picture of her + pregnancy stick and this caption: So . . . when were you planning on going to Africa?
Nothing like a little good news to rearrange things. I had already made the decision to suspend my midwife practice after July to travel. How cool to be all freed up for Stoyan baby #3.
This baby’s growing season was a love adventure. We didn’t worry about the logistics of prenatal care. It all fell peacefully into place, just the way it was meant to be.
My text log alone could tell the story. Here’s one:
Lindsay: I dreamt that you were listening for my baby’ heart and instead of beats we heard the baby singing Beatle songs. Not kidding.
Me: I looooove that dream.
Washington was the final destination of a road trip with Briana in the spring; my first opportunity to put my hands on Lindsay’s baby belly. On her living room couch, on her birthday, her little bitty one announced, “I am here. I am really here.“ 160 beats per minute and faint strains of “I Will”.
The big day of revelation, May 18. A brother or a sister? The whole family gathered at my office in Sugar House to see and hear as ultrasound tech, Phillip, shared his findings. Baby Boy! No doubt about it! It was fitting that we all celebrated at Tres Hermanos afterward.
Choosing brother’s name became an obsession. Lukey never deviated. His brother would be A. Hammy. It got crazy. Lindsay got desperate. Here’s another text:
“Do you like the name Max?”
“It’s Ok. Yeah. Maxwell Silver Hammer.”
“Paul Simon has a Harper.”
“I know. Tripper. Tripper Joe. Tripper Joe Palin.”
“NO. Jimmy. Jimmy Buffet Cliff Bingo.”
It was looking like Luc might get his way.
More trips back and forth. Babe growing. Sweet little clothes collected. Name list longer. Who are you in there? A gift of light, no doubt.
Finally. Li’l Red and I packed up and headed north. I planned to arrive 2 weeks before baby’s estimated due day. If he came early I would be ready. No running through an airport this time. If he didn’t come early, Lindsay and I would have the luxury of sacred days together in preparation for the birth. My return date? There was none. Peace would be an element of this story; time would not.
I had a room of my own at Stoyan house. First order of business, decorate. Off to the Octopus Garden we go. Peace flags, candle, pictures of my loves, my birth supplies in order, music set up. Perfect Midwife Mama Meditation Space. I had some work to do to prepare my heart and my hands to welcome this baby.
The magic calendar day came. No baby. We celebrated Andrey’s 30th birthday instead. The phone calls and emails started up. “No baby?” Uggh. Strangers in stores with their unwelcome offerings. “Just one baby in there?”
As a mama-grammy I felt at peace. As a midwife, I had to go through my mental checklist and felt I should offer Lindsay the bring-it-on list. She chose to do the important things and wisely let the rest go. I followed. I guided. The Spirit peacefully led us both.
*Friday, Oct. 22, full moon over the Columbia River. I paid homage. It was a beautiful night full of promise and love. I knew, really knew that everything would work out. We had done our part.*
Saturday, Oct. 23, a Baby-Come-Out Party, a whole family festivity. It was so wonderful, a houseful of love, music, good food and happiness. Around 9:00 when everyone left, Lindsay said that she’d had a lot of tightening during the day and the baby seemed quieter than usual. We gathered on my bed, soft light, beautiful mama and excited brothers in waiting. Baby seemed lower, nestled in the perfect spot, heart was strong, and all was well. This is where the pure joy of this experience etched itself forever in my heart. I stepped back to take it all in. My daughter, my trusting lovely Lindsay, belly bursting with light and love guarded by her boys. Lucas cradled her baby belly with his arms and put his ear close. Then he kissed it and said, "Come out brother. We are ready to meet you." Gavin followed suit with a big grin, rubbed his mama's belly and kissed it.
For 5 weeks I lived in Stoyan house. On this particular weekend, Chuck was in Pasco and we were staying in a hotel. I said my goodnights and left.
First text arrived at 11:30. “Luc just barfed.” Oh no.
I fell asleep. Deep sleep.
Next text at 3:13 am: “Contractions that hurt.”
Here’s where texting is so inferior to voice communication. My tired brain translated that to mean something’s starting. I responded: Great. I can come anytime.
As I moved toward awake I realized Lindsay would not have sent that at such an hour unless it meant something . I wrote again: I’ll take a quick bath and come now.
On a rainy, gray, early morning I entered the house around 3:45.
Lindsay was in it. Deep in it, laboring in the living room, on her knees. Andrey had set up the birth pool and I hurried to start filling it. I hurried to do a lot of things. There would be no time to formally set up a birth tray, a baby tray and all of the other orderly steps of midwife birth ritual. As I was dumping supplies out in the middle of the room, Lucas woke up. He sat wide-eyed on the couch. A minute later Gavin woke up. He was not going to sit on any couch. He howled Gavin style.
I called Amelia. “I need you.”
She replied, “I’m on my way.”
She arrived and knew we needed big help fast. She called Jeff to come and get the boys. Andrey was worried about Gavin and followed Jeff home. I took over supporting Lindsay. She was not getting any break between her powerful surges. I coached Amelia to set up essentials, start boiling water for the pool. She was amazing, working quickly. As soon as there was enough water, Lindsay got in the pool. I made a quick check for labor progress. Baby was so close. I made a hurried call to Midwife Ginger who was to assist me.
Where’s Andrey? He’s going to miss this birth! Another quick call to Chuck.
“Please go help Jeff with the kids.”
“Yes, now. I need Andrey.”
After that, everything that could be done was done. I settled in to welcome a baby. Lindsay was beyond awesome in her birthing power. Precipitous births as these fast ones are called, are not easy. It’s very challenging to stay present in your head as your body is zooming at hyper speed.
She asked “how much longer?” once.
I answered, “Before the sun rises.”
She wasn’t satisfied with that.
She said, “No. Now. He’s coming.”
Andrey arrived then and took his loving place at her head.
Amelia saw him first and softly exclaimed, “Lindsay, he’s almost here.”
Gently and quietly, our peace baby was born. As his father held her, his mother received him. 5:05 am.
Oh, and Ginger. She got lost enroute, arrived a few minutes later. It was OK. This birth happened just as it was meant to. It started with me in another place, allowing the birthing couple private space. The swiftness left no room for doubt or worry. When it was all calm as it should be, time ceased. Thick, sacred energy surrounded the four of us. We felt the honor that was ours to welcome this new life home.