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
I spent the afternoon editing in the big barn, then Hopie and I went and saw my Mom this evening for an hour. My brothers and my sister Candy were there. Mom was doing good and feeling well. It had been a good day for her. We were all thankful for that. Joey called me right before we left there. She was having a hard time at the house. I could hear something new in her voice. The strength and patience that she’d had all week was draining. I hurried and came home. When I walked in, she could barely look at me and was short and upset. I could tell she was falling apart. The baby hadn’t been sleeping well and Joey was exhausted, and to add to that, she had been reading some blogs and info online about Down Syndrome and it was hurting and scaring her. She finally broke down at the table and put her face in her hands. There were questions and worries and there were tears and apologies for tears. I told her she didn’t have to apologize and that it was normal and okay to be upset and confused, especially when she was so tired. I asked her to come in the living room and sit with me and I held her for a long time on the loveseat. It took a while for the fear to subside and for her tears to dry. Then like the woman of strength that she is, she smiled and asked, “would you make dinner with me”. I said I would love to. We made wonderful salmon salad’s and we drank pelegrino in wine glasses with ice. It was so fun. About the time dinner was ready, the baby woke up again. We took turns holding her while the other ate. Then we laid her on the floor and let her “play” for a little while while we watched her and thanked God for her and sang-wished her happy one-week birthday… and ever since, Joey has been trying to get her to sleep. It’s now almost 10 pm and it isn’t working. Joey’s so tired, so is Indy, but the baby is now the one that’s upset and we have no way to find out what’s wrong and don’t know what to say to make it better. God I wish I did. Maybe she’s upset about what Joey read too and it scares her because she doesn’t know what the future holds either? I’ve been sitting with them while Joey feeds her more and rocks her more, and while Indy fusses and cries. I wish there more was something I could do to help her. All I know to do is close my eyes…
Lord, it has truly been an incredible week. You’ve blessed us greatly. More that either of us deserve. With the birth of this beautiful little one, you’ve rewarded us for our faithfulness and also reminded us that you want us to have faith in you more. Father, we trust you. We know this is all part of your much bigger, greater plan. Please be with my wife tonight. Give her energy when she thinks she has no more. Give her courage, when she feels fear. Give her peace, when chaos seems to surrounds her. And above all, give her love, when she’s given all hers away to me and our little crying baby girl. Amen.
I was downloading some pics today to my computer that I took the last week and saw this one of my mother and Indiana. Mom had driven herself to our house that morning to see the baby. It was her first time to drive in about a month, since she’d had her stroke. She really wanted to see her.
I see so much in this photo. Mom was having a very bad day. The cancer in her esophagus was really hurting her and there were tears in her eyes most of the time, not because of Indy I think, but because of the pain. I can only imagine all that she was feeling sitting there holding our little one. Looking at this picture I’m reminded of the uncertainty of life. The scary beginning of life for one and the upcoming, potentially frightening ending of life for another. I see hope for a future that one of them never had… and sadness for a future that one them will never get to have.
Staring at them both, it just occurred to me that this is my mother’s last grandchild. Indy has come late in my life and even later in my Mom’s. The other grandchildren she has range in ages from 14 to 32. And then there’s little Indy… just a few days old, in the arms of a grandmother she may never get to know. Oh, we’ll all tell her stories about her Grandma Rita… about the life she lived.. and we’ll show her pictures. And we’ll get to this one. And I will smile and say this is the day your grandma got to look into your eyes and say “hello”. But inside I will cry, like I am now. Because I will know, on that day, at that moment, part of her was also saying “goodbye”.
We took our first trip out of the house with our new baby today, and it wasn’t a fun one.
We went to see a pediatrician in Columbia this afternoon to have Indiana’s dry skin and a few other things looked it. The doctor we saw was not kind, to say the least. I’d like to think he was having a bad day, but I don’t think he was. It was more than that. He clearly didn’t care for people who choose to birth their babies at home or question what immunizations your child should get. When we told him that we wanted to do some research about immunizations before we jump into having them done, he laid into us about how the internet is a bad resource, and how long he’s been in practice and “if we had a problem with our car, wouldn’t we trust the care of it to a professional mechanic”? Well, that was a bad analogy… seeing as how more times than naught, we’ve been ripped off by shady mechanics who were only after our money, and weren’t really concerned if the problem was fixed or not. I had my camera and was filming our Indy’s first doctor visit and at home point, and looking back on the footage, it makes me even more upset how arrogant he was. I think Joey thought a fist fight between he and I was about to break out. When he finally stopped lecturing us and got around to looking at our baby, he took one look and asked me to turn off the camera. Then he asked Joey, “how old are you”. Joey said she was 38. Then he said, “has anyone told you that your baby most-likely has down syndrome?”. We said yes, that’s part of why we were here. We wanted to see if they could do the genetic chromosome test for us. He then went into a new rant about how “if he had been the doctor and the baby had been born at the hospital, a complete heart test would’ve been done and what if she turns blue in the night, and we were already 4 days behind getting a full battery of tests done”, etc… All we could think was, yes… and because the baby was breech, you would’ve surgically taken the baby with a c-section, instead of the beautiful home labor and birth we experienced, and Indy would’ve been immediately taken from us and robbed of the chance to truly bond with Joey those first few minutes, hours and days. We love and trusted our midwife implicitly, and still do. We don’t regret anything, except that doctor visit. The one good thing that came from it was that he called Vanderbilt and got us an appointment that day to have Indiana’s heart fully checked…if we could get there in an hour before the cardiology dept closed for the day. We got Indiana dressed, said goodbye to that clinic forever, and drove to Nashville and rushed in with a screaming baby (it had been a long drive there, and she was starving from all, with no time to feed her).
When we arrived at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, our experience of the medical world changed. I mean, everything Joey and I’ve ever seen, or known about hospitals, doctors and medicine changed. We met incredible nurses who exuded love and caring and patience and doctors who were so sensitive to you and your baby’s needs, that you fell in love with them as well as their practice immediately. We had never seen anything like it. The first thing they had to do was give Indy an echocardiogram to fully check out her heart. I had read that many babies with down syndrome are born with a severe heart problem that requires open-heart-surgery right away. Though our midwife had checked Indy repeatedly since her birth for any sign of a heart problem (murmur, etc..) and hadn’t found anything to fear, it was important to get her checked out completely to be sure. They said that the echo took 45 minutes to do and that Indy needed to be as still as possible. That was almost impossible because she was crying so hard, starving. And though they were all about to shut down for the day, instead they told us to go ahead and nurse Indiana until she was calm and happy, and afterwards, they would do the test. What a blessing. It worked perfect and she handled the test great. After a few more tests, we sat in the waiting room waiting for the cardiologist Dr Moore to come in and tell us what they learned. When he came and sat with us, he looked over Indiana again very thoroughly and said, that she does have a whole in her heart, but it’s a small one, and not the serious one that they look for in baby’s with down syndrome. Her heart problem most-likely in time will heal itself and that we will all just keep an eye on it and come back and have her checked from time to time. Then, one last time, we asked him if he thought Indy has down syndrome. He said, “yes I feel sure that she does”. He explained why he believed so… her eyes, the single line in the palm of her hand, the bridge of her little nose. Though we’d heard the doctor at Maury Regional that first day tell us, then a nurse-practioner, then one of the midwives, then the rude doctor early today tell us the same thing… we just couldn’t really see it. It’s not that we were holding out hope for a different answer, we honestly had just fallen in love with our little baby girl and after 4 days of staring at her sweet little face and lips and eyes and fingers and toes… she just looks like a normal, perfect baby to us. But in that last time that we asked Dr Moore, Joey and knew that we didn’t need to ask again. We really don’t even need to get the chromosome test done (though of course we have to) to find out for sure. We know in our hearts. Our little one has down syndrome.
When we left the hospital, we were starving, so we called our oldest daughter Heidi, who lives only a mile or so from Vanderbilt and we drove to her house to be with her and her husband Casey. They live in the neatest little crooked house (the floors are so un-level, you have to walk uphill to get to the kitchen and downhill to the bathroom), and they welcomed us with open arms. While Joey fed Indy again and visited with Casey, Heidi and I drove to Koi, a nearby thai restaurant, and picked up dinner to go. Then we all sat in their crooked kitchen and had a wonderful meal and laughed and smiled and cried as we told them all we’d be through and learned that day. It felt so good to be with them, to have them to share our life, and this moment with. In another way, it was so strange and magical to me to know that we were sitting in Heidi’s kitchen talking about and loving on this new little baby, when only a short 27 years ago, Heidi was my new little baby that I was in love with and just learning how to take care. Isn’t life a crazy, beautiful thing?
Today they checked Indiana’s heart, and we learned that it is strong and she’s gonna be okay. And I think Joey and I also learned that our hearts are strong, and we too, are gonna be okay.