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
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.