Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Great Idea

It seems like a great idea, at least at first. It is even my idea. We are all so excited!

We spend days planning: on the fourth anniversary of the day that our offer on this farm was accepted, May 15, we will celebrate by sleeping in the meadow at the top of the large hill behind our house in our beloved tent.

Camping, nine months pregnant? Oh yes! I imagine parking myself in front of the tent, gazing over a robust campfire, admiring the sun as it touches down over the mountains. Nothing to do but sit. No problem!

I forgot. I forgot how much stuff we would need to lug up the hill in order to feed and clothe and bed two adults and four children for a night. I spend the afternoon of the 15th assembling goods and baking bread. The kids adamantly refuse to drive our car up to the meadow. No way. They will take multiple trips, if necessary, all day and night. So Geoff and I pull out our hiking backpacks and load them up. Jessica will wear mine. Jordan will carry the tent.

We are there, on the hillside green, not long after six PM. Chores are done and the house to bed. First step: set up our campsite. While Jessica and Kyra roam for sticks, Geoff, Jordan, Kai and I gather round the tent. Despite our best efforts, it resists construction. There are too many poles of assorted shapes and sizes, supposedly clearly marked with little round stickers that disappear with a turn. After several cycles of trial and error, we finally figure out front from back and lift the roof. We decide not to put on the upper tarp, the better to see the stars.

By this time, I am tired. We sit--finally sit!--on our blanket in a circle and munch a delicious dinner. Pasta and salad, cheese and bread. It is magical—even better than I hoped. The kids collect more wood to burn; our fire starts easily. The kids are in heaven, happy and free.

As the temperature dips and the first star appears, the trembling begins. It is as if my body is cold, though I don't feel a chill. I can't stop shaking. Or cramping. I feel as if I am separating from my self. I try breathing, putting on more clothes, crawling closer to the fire. I finally crawl into a sleeping bag inside the tent. Geoff comes with me, extra heat. By then, the kids are eager to slip into their bags as well.

We all lie there, silent, listening to the night, watching the stars pop out, but I know. I can't sleep up here. Fear edges every sense. I am convinced that I am going to go into labor at any moment. And I am so far away from home—our very best nest. I try to hang in and hang out, for the kids at least. Then the words tumble out, without my consent.

“We have to go down.” My body knows.

I am grateful that resistance is light. I don't want to go either. Everyone rallies. We pull on clothes, close up the tent, bank the fire, pack up the food, leave the rest, and parade single file down the hill on a long narrow path in the dark towards home, with flashlights bouncing along.

So much for our camping adventure!

Actually it is perfect yet again. As the others tumble into their beds, I spend the next two hours getting ready for the small one to arrive. Nesting they call it, a sure sign of imminent birth. I finish washing clothes, arranging towels, putting together the car seat, sterilizing tools, and organizing supplies. I can't stop. By the time I plop between the sheets, however, the cramping and trembling have subsided. They pick up again between 1 and 2:30 AM, then, with a huge contraction at 4 AM, disappear. After that, nothing.

Labor began; labor ended, all at once.

The next day dawns, sunny and blue. Big belly, no baby. We are sorry not to be up the hill, and so happy to be home. The meadow calls again. After breakfast we walk back up to paradise and snap some “good-bye belly” pictures.

It will all happen, just as it should... in another two weeks.

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