Yesterday, at 7:38am PST, we celebrated the arrival of Merrick Elizabeth Brunker Burden. She was born at home, measured 21 inches from tip to tail, and weighed in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce. Her Apgar scores were 9 at one minute and 10 at two minutes, and she currently has no known health issues. She was, as is typically the case, the result of 9 months’ hard work on the part of her mother and a few minutes’ investment on the part of her father.
I’ve already discussed where her first name comes from; her second name is her maternal grandmother’s. The third and fourth names she’s pretty much stuck with on account of her parents.
The aspect of the home birth was one that we considered for a long time. Our eldest child was born in a hospital, and we witnessed firsthand how little control one has over the birth experience in that situation. Our middle child was born in a birthing center, and that meant that our eldest was able to be there at the time and witness the miracle of his brother’s birth. This was very affecting for him, and I personally always thought it brought them closer together. A birth center was an option this time around as well, but in the end there’s quite a lot to recommend the home birth. You don’t have to worry about driving anywhere, which often saves you hours waiting around for something to happen, since you usually don’t wait to be sure that labor is progressing well before rushing off to the hospital. You get to pick your own CDs to play, and your own food and drinks to consume. You can have who you want there, and you don’t have to worry about strange people whisking your newborn away to stick them with things that you probably wouldn’t agree to if you really knew what they were. Best of all, when it’s all over, the mom can just crawl right back into her very own bed and roll over with her new baby and get some well deserved sleep. Ask any mom who’s delivered in a hospital how much rest they got in that crappy hospital bed.
So we decided to take the plunge and do the birth as births were done for hundreds of years before we decided we were too smart and “modern” for all that nonsense. When the time came, the mother had a midwife, a midwife’s assistant, a doula, and her mother. And me, I suppose, although at that point there wasn’t a lot left for me to do. I got accused of “hovering” a lot. Which I was, I’ll admit. Hovering around, trying to be useful, mostly. Or at least to be out of the way of people who actually knew what they were doing. It was a bit of a balancing act. I think I did okay.
It was around midnight when the contractions got down to around 5 minutes apart, and anyone can tell you that that’s well before my bedtime. So I never actually got to sleep; I lay down with the mother while she tried to get some rest for perhaps an hour and a half, and that was pretty much it until a nap later in the afternoon after it was all over. Our elder son is as much of a night owl as I am, so he hadn’t gone to bed either when things started to get exciting. For that matter, our younger son hadn’t been asleep that long. They managed to wake up for the main event, though. The eldest handled the video duties. The soon-to-be-middle-child mainly patted his mother’s face and waited to see the new arrival.
When she came, he was excited for a few minutes, then he was ready to wander off and play video games. We’ll see if this brings him as close to his sister as it did his brother to him.
Regarding fatherhood, Johnny Depp once said:
Having kids was a huge change for me. Becoming a father. But I think more than changing, I feel like I’ve been revealed to myself, I kind of found out who I was. When you meet your child for the first time and you’re looking at this angel, you start realising what an idiot you’ve been for so many years and how much time you’ve wasted.
Looking into the eyes of your child for the first time is indeed a complex emotion; I think it’s difficult to describe, and probably different for everyone. For me, there’s some of what Johnny Depp talks about. Less of feeling like an idiot, perhaps, and more that whatever else there’s been just wasn’t that important ... if not completely irrelevant, at least minimized, as if it was a story about other people, one which was very engaging and seemed important at the time, but finally you’ve realized it is, after all, just a story. But there’s also something else, something like a feeling of rightness, or perhaps purpose achieved. Like this was the point of the whole ride, and I just hadn’t realized it before. It is, of course, slightly different for each child, but still: there’s a lot of familiarity as well, a lot of clicking into place, a lot of “oh, yeah ... I was starting to forget, but now it all comes rushing back to me.”
It’s good to have those feelings renewed again. It’s good to have another round coming up—scary, of course, as I’m getting older all the time and I worry about keeping up—but satisfying. I’m very lucky to have the family I do, and I know it. I’m looking forward to getting to know this little girl, and teaching, and learning, and remembering, and sharing. Feels comfortable. Feels like coming home.
Today’s post title comes from a song by Dead Can Dance off their album Aion. It’s a pretty song, but in this case it’s the phrasing of the title that I’m primarily trying to evoke.