A number of people have asked us over the last month if there’s a story behind us naming our new little girl Indiana Boon. Yes actually, there is…
Indiana: My first reason for the choosing the name is because of two of my favorite movies. No, neither one of them are about Indiana Jones. They’re “Hoosiers” and “Rudy”. I don’t just like those movies, I’m crazy about them. I think both films embody small town values that are nearly lost and also the power of ordinary people with extraordinary dreams. They moved me and inspired me when I first saw them, and they do the same each time I watch them now. Both films are set in Indiana. Besides that…if you look up Indiana, it means “land of Indians”, and Joey has lots of American Indian blood in her heritage, as do I, though the Irish in me is what’s visible most in the mirror. But honestly, the main reason we chose that name is because Joey is from Indiana. Alexandria, Indiana. She was born and raised in the same farmhouse where her mama still lives. Other than our house, where we live now… Indiana is where we call “home” when we make a trip home. I wrote the song below a few years ago about Joey’s childhood and how much it shaped her. When you ask her about growing up, she will quickly tell you that she had the greatest childhood and wouldn’t change a thing. I didn’t have that childhood. Most of me wishes I did. My mother struggled to raise five kids by herself on miscellaneous jobs, welfare & food-stamps…in trailers, and run-down houses in small towns and big cities. We lived in dozens of homes in nearly as many different states. Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa, Texas, Michigan, Nebraska… Joey has roots that I will never have. They are firmly grounded in her faith and in the simple values she learned growing up in Indiana. I don’t have those things naturally, I have to work at them daily. But I do have wings that Joey never grew. My tattered wings take us places I, and we, never dreamed. Together, Joey and I fly incredibly high, but still have roots that run deep in the vows we made to each other and God. We want that for Indiana and all of our children.
Boon: There is a small cemetery in the field behind our farmhouse. It is where Calvin & Sarah Hardison, who built our house back in the 1800′s are buried. Some of their children are buried there also. One gravestone is for a four-year-old boy named Orlando B Hardison. He died in 1862. When I bought this farm, the stone was already broken in half, laying pieces on the ground. On that stone is a poem written for their little boy. It is so beautiful. You can tell that it is hand-carved, partly because one of the words “pride” is mis-spelled “pried”. I love that. In the poem, they call him their “precious Boon”. We have no idea what happened to him or why he left this world so young. I would guess that he was born in our old farmhouse, or at least right here on this land. And to honor him and those who came before us, we gave our little girl the middle name “Boon”. Before Indy was born, actually right after we found out we were going to have a baby, we had decided that boy or girl, our child was going to be named “Indiana Boon”. The day she was born, I posted a picture online that had her name below it and I spelled her middle name Indiana Boone (with an e, like Daniel Boone, which I thought was correct). Joey reminded me that their little Boon, didn’t have an e, so she didn’t think ours should either. And so it doesn’t. I love that too.
“Beneath this stone in sweet repose
Is laid a father’s and mother’s dearest pried
A flower that scarce had wake to life
And light and beauty ere it died
God in his wisdom has recalled
The precious Boon his love had given
And though the casket moulders here
The gem is sparkling now in Heaven”
On Fathers day last June, after eleven years of marriage, my wife Joey and I found out that we were going to have a baby. We were elated (and nervous, and hopeful, all at the same time). Soon after, Joey watched a documentary about home-birth and midwives, and was even more excited about the idea of having our baby at home, here in the farmhouse where we live and dream and share our lives.
Nine months later, on February 17, 2014, Joey and I were blessed with a beautiful baby daughter named Indiana. She was born at home at 12:03 pm with the assistance of a midwife and the birth experience was perfect. She was delivered breech, naturally, with no medical assistance and with myself and our two older daughters Heidi and Hopie by Joey’s side. Joey says that giving birth at home was the single greatest thing she’s ever experienced in her life. A moment later, with Indiana’s first cry, we all cried tears of joy and hugged and celebrated and cried some more.
In the days that followed, there was some concern about Indy and through genetic chromosome testing done at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, it has been confirmed that Indiana has Down Syndrome. Although that news came at first as a surprise to us, Joey and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. During the pregnancy, we never did an ultrasound, or saw a doctor, nor would it have made any difference if we had. We trusted that God would give us the baby He wanted us to have… and He has. Out of all the parents in the world, He has chosen us to care for and raise this special gift.
The baby is healthy and doing wonderful and Joey and I are loving each and every minute that we have with her. We can’t wait to see where this new chapter in our lives leads us and what wonderful story unfolds in the coming years. We had already cleared our 2014 schedule and committed to taking this year off to be home and simplify our lives before we got this news, and now, we think it’s even more important to be here than ever. Joey encouraged me to start writing a blog at the beginning of this year to share our lives from my perspective, and so I have. It can be found at thislifeilive.com. In posts from this year’s journey so far, as well as this post and future ones, you can learn more about Indiana’s birth story, diagnosis and much more, from the viewpoint of a very blessed husband, father, and songwriter.
I got a call this afternoon from our youngest daughter Hopie (I mean middle daughter…now that little Indy is here) and she was out of breath and could barely talk. I was immediately worried, and even more so when she said she was over at Miss Joan’s house (one of Joey’s best friends who’s 77 years old and lives about a mile from us) putting out a big fire! Well, I jumped in my truck and took off. When I got there, Miss Joan and Hopie were arm in arm in the front yard. Hopie was covered in ash and grinning ear to ear.
Miss Joan said that she had been burning her asparagus bed, likes she does every year, and somehow the fire got out of hand and the grass around it started burning, then the hay field went up in flames and it was headed for the barns… Then Hopie said that she had been working at Marcy Jo’s, when they got a call from Miss Joan who was upset, and out of breath and in tears. She said she was hoping that there might be some men there who could come help her put out a brush fire at her house…that she’d called the fire department, but they weren’t there yet, and could anybody come help. Well, Hopie took off her apron, jumped in her truck and headed for Rutledge Lane, where Miss Joan lives. As soon as she got there, she started fighting the fire with water jugs and a garden hose. A few minutes later, when the local Berlin volunteer-fire-department showed up, they said Hopie jumped on the back of their truck and while they drove around the field, she sprayed the burning fire til they got it all put out! How crazy and awesome is that!
They asked her if she’s like to join their volunteer fire department, and said meetings are the first Monday of each month!
By the time I got there, Miss Joan looked exhausted and so did Hopie. But they also looked like they’d both been through quite an adventure together. As I watched Hopie walk Joan back to the house and up to her chair on the porch, it was so precious. I knew my girl was strong and tough and brave and tender. But I’d never seen her be all those things at the same time.
I was and am so proud of our daughter Hopie. As we said goodbye, Miss Joan said that Hopie had saved her house, or at least her barns from being burned down, and that Hopie was her hero.
When Hopie and I got back home, she stood in the kitchen and told Joey all about what had happened and Joey just smiled and hugged her and was so proud.
As a father, I sometimes like to think that maybe I’m our daughter’s hero. But the truth is, whether they save a neighbor’s house from being burned down, serve someone at the restaurant with a smile, or just wake up and face their day with hope and love… they’re my heroes.
We made some new friends a month or so ago that own the new “Muletown Coffee” shop in Columbia. One of them, Chris, along with his wife Brittany, brought us dinner tonight. He had called me a few days ago and said “we’d like to bring you a meal this week if that’s okay… I know you guys have been through a lot with the new baby’s birth and we thought one-less meal for Joey to have to cook might be a good thing?”. I wasn’t sure how to answer him. No one had ever brought dinner to us before. It seemed like something they did years ago, on tv, or in movies… I didn’t know people still did that. I almost said “that’s okay, you don’t have to do that”. But instead, I just said “that’d be great Chris, thanks so much for thinking of us”.
They have a newborn also. She’s 7 weeks old, and sweet as she can be. They got here to the house about 6 pm, and though they had planned to just drop the meal off and leave, we talked them in to staying and eating the dinner with us. It was a wonderful meal. When it was through, the girls went in the back room and breastfed the babies (that sounds funny just writing it) in rocking chairs next to each other, and Chris and I sat in the living room for more than an hour and talked about life and our pasts and our futures and about faith. He has a beautiful take on what a “sincere” faith looks like to him. It’s going against the urge to serve yourself and instead finding someone else to serve. It’s looking every day for some way to bless someone, whether you know them or not. For him, it’s not so much about studying, or praying… as it is about doing. I love that. I’ve been thinking the same way for a while now and working to fight that battle most days myself. Not very successfully most times, unfortunately. My selfish nature wants it to be all about me. About what I want and what I need. It tells me not to worry about others, they’ll be fine. It seeks to hold the light that’s in me up to a mirror, so that it can reflect back to me, and not shine on others. Chris’s stories of his small victories of serving others, even when he doesn’t want to, inspires me.
I hope Joey and I think, and act, to bring a meal to someone’s home in the future, when they could use a break from cooking. Tonight our new friends brought us a meal to fill our stomachs, but it was our hearts that were full when they left.
Joey loves her midwife. There’s a special bond between her and Pamela that has taken place over the last 9 months and even more so over the last two weeks. Pamela has inspired Joey and I think Joey has in turn inspired Pamela. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
Our midwife Pamela Hunt came again today to check on Indy. It’s a Saturday, and I think this is her 6th visit here in a dozen or so days. I don’t think she normally makes this many trips to check on babies, an hour each way, on a weekend… but for Joey and Indy she does.
Maybe she’s made these extra trips out to check on us because Indy is special. In the 30 something years that she’s been delivering babies, she said she’s never delivered a baby with Down Syndrome before. Or maybe she comes because Joey is special to her. Joey tried so hard to be as strong and positive and beautiful during our baby’s birth as Pamela was in the Birth Story documentary that Joey and I watched… and I think Joey was. But I think, the main reason Pamela has come to check on us so much, is because Pamela is special. She has a heart like no one we’ve ever met. She’s good, and wholesome, and genuine and real. And when you’re laying your life and the life of your unborn baby in someone’s hands… it’s soft and gentle hands like Pamela’s that make my wife look back on her home-birthing-a-breech-baby-with-no-drugs-at-all experience, and say “I love, love, loved having my baby at home naturally. Everyone should do this!”
For more information about Pamela Hunt and the midwives program at The Farm, please go to www.thefarmmidwives.org