06:27. It’s hard to hear the outside sounds, through double-paned glass. But if I open the window… and I do… there is the sweetest tuning-up of a spring symphony audible… and the sky is the palest rainbow of colour washing up from the hills…. but minus the green… as if the land has stolen it. Lavender, myosotis, lilac, rose, peach, gold… and then baby blue.
Baby blue… where does this saying arise? There is no baby-blue in a newborn baby… not in the eyes, at least… aha! What I said before is not true. Since new babies do come out, most often, with faces entirely… blue.
It was quite a shock to my husband, when the first one came. I was standing in a lion’s half-crouch in our bathroom, bearing down with my fore-paws pressed with all my might against the counter; I did not know what was happening, except that for one of the first times in my life, I felt completely connected with the earth, in the most primal way… and without any drugs.
My midwife was there, praising me… giving me the praise I needed… yes, yes, you are doing so well… yes, that’s right, you’re amazing, you’re amazing, your baby is coming, your baby is coming, it’s happening, soon he will be in your arms, it’s happening, yes, that’s just right, Nadine, just like that, keep going… yes, wow! you are utterly amazing (this being when my roar threatens to shatter eardrums)… yes, that’s it! you’re baby’s here, I’m catching him, yes! yes, oh, he’s beautiful, he’s beautiful – oh! –
… and then I sat down on the toilet, which had been just behind me, opposite the counter, before, and leaned back, and my body was not mine anymore, and yet it was, so much more so then, than before… and this little being was placed against my still-round but now-soft belly, and he began to push and push with strong, strong tiniest little legs, pushing to get what he immediately and instinctively needed… and I did cry and kiss and cradle him with shaking, shaking hands, as all the power drained out of me… but he would not get what he needed, for a long, long time yet.
I had not known, then, that the baby needed all those post-birth smells and feels to navigate his way to his future sole source of nourishment, comfort, immunity from many illnesses —
immunity from many illnesses. That’s what had sort of been in the back of my mind when I began this piece… that about two dozen other themes. I get so overwhelmed, when I face the page, just like in the old days.
Anyway… (off-topic meta-rambling deleted)… it took me nearly two months of challenges, to get my first baby to latch well enough to get milk from the breast… and the possible causes could be a thousand words essay in themselves, which I have likely already written somewhere a few times over, to various mothers, when I later became a La Leche League volunteer, and since then, as well…
…but in the meantime, I had to express my milk (first with a borrowed dual-electric hospital-grade pump, obtained for me by my midwife, and later with a portable hand pump, bought by me at the local pharmacy)… and give it to my first baby that way… at first by a needle-less plastic syringe (squirting small amounts into his mouth though the tiny plastic nozzle of the tube), then attempted by tube attached to my breast (it’s complicated), and when that didn’t work, by bottle. But eventually, at around seven and a half weeks, everything clicked, or rather, relaxed… and it was smooth sailing until (and for a few months after) I was pregnant with our next planned baby, just over a year later.
But the baby was blue-born, to come back to colour schemes, as I’d roared and half-all-foured on that similarly golden-blue morn, and it was a shock for poor T, who was there to help, and he’d thought it was still-born, as he’d later told me.
So many things we don’t know, before birth, since the old knowledge is no longer commonly known. But that is the natural colour of a newborn baby. It matches the face of the placenta… which is born not long after the infant, and on the placenta, is the pattern of a beautiful… Tree.
I don’t know how these strange creations come out of me, quite honestly. I just go with the flow… and let the flow grow in me. Thanks for bearing down with me, and my con-textual oddities.
Image: found via keyword search “Placenta tree art” – by Amy Swagman, via Pinterest
I do have pictures of the actual placenta – but I thought I’d spare you those – for now, at least. ;))
For further reading:
“As an intelligent woman, you are probably used to learning as much as you can before making major decisions. But when it comes to one of the most important decisions of your life–how you will give birth–it is hard to gather accurate, unbiased information. Surprisingly, much of the research does not support common medical opinion and practice. Birth activist Henci Goer gives clear, concise information based on the latest medical studies.”- Book blurb for a helpful book I was given to read, about 17 years ago: “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth,” by Henci Goer, 1999
“If someone who is breastfeeding becomes ill, it is important not to interrupt direct breastfeeding. The baby has already been exposed to the virus by the mother and/or family and will benefit most from continued direct breastfeeding.” – La Leche League International News Release, “Continuing to Nurse Your Baby Through Coronavirus (2019-nCoV; COVID-19) and Other Respiratory Infections” (news release), https://www.llli.org/coronavirus/, 19 February 2020
“One way breast feeding protects your newborn from illnesses is the immune molecules, called antibodies, that are present in human milk. Antibodies are made by your body’s immune system and are very specific molecules that help you fight each illness. When babies are born, their immune systems are very immature and they have less ability to fight illness-causing germs. Through your breast milk, you give your baby immunities to illnesses to which you are immune and also those to which you have been exposed.” […]
“Human milk is delivered without excess packaging or processing and thus contributes to the health of our planet.” – La Leche League International, “Importance of Breastfeeding“ (including global benefits), https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/benefits/, 2020
I occasionally work with Medicins Du Monde, in the local area. They help connect the most vulnerable members of society with the medical help they need, at the lowest cost. One of their latest articles is here:
“Protegeons-nous les plus fragiles.” (“Let us protect the most vulnerable members of society.”) – Medicins Du Monde, https://www.medecinsdumonde.org/fr/actualites/nos-combats/2020/03/17/covid-19-mobilises-pour-les-plus-fragiles, 17 March 2020.
I find their website (https://www.medecinsdumonde.org/en – for English frontpage) to be incredibly loud and confusing (lol), but their mission statement is a good one, and the paid employee at our local branch, whom I’ve had the good fortune to accompany, over the past year, on various consultations (I’m a volunteer), is very patient, kind and caring — perhaps the most important characteristic for a worker in this industry.
p.s. Yes, we are healthy, yes, thank you! – since so many kind folks have been asking, by email and otherwise – with the whole family, at home in the countryside, in Auvergne, France.
p.p.s. Yes, of course we have been following all the COVID regulations, as they’ve been implemented. And I bring groceries to anyone who needs them, nearby. And chat with them, from a two-meter distance over the fence. And while I believe in providing for my six-person household, when I go shopping, so that I don’t have to beg at the neighbours’ houses when the shiz hits the fizz (though I would certainly give food if *they* came to us – and already have – half of our remaining 12 eggs are gone, thanks to that – and they went to a one-person household)… I don’t ever take more than a reasonable-for-us share at the very plentifully-stocked local grocery store, and I do not at *all* understand the point of hoarding toilet paper, of all things (leaves, people! use leaves!. :))
In sum, please don’t worry. I’m not as much of a rebel as I make myself out to be. ;))
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Auvergne, France. Thank you for reading. ❤︎