Wednesday, September 30, 2009
How about this:
Lis Williamson, musician, song-writer, cake-baker, sanity maker has discovered the craft of making ribbon flowers. These are brooches she has made and which you can buy on her Etsy shop. Go to her shop, monamieribbonerie at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=7791749 to see more of these beautiful works of art. She has brooches and hair ornaments. They are hand made by her designs and she uses vintage and imported ribbons and lovely, delicate beads.
Let me just tell you this- Lis is a craftswoman whether it comes to making heart-shaped biscuits, wedding cakes, songs, shawls or a guitar track on a CD. And with these ribbon flowers, she takes everything she has and is and sees and feels and creates art to be worn.
Go see her flowers. They would make perfect presents for someone who is highly deserving. I am thinking maybe....YOU.
Good-luck with your newest venture, Lizzie. I love you and as always, I am in awe of your talent, your eye for beauty, your ability to take a dream and make it into something we can wear or sing or dance to. Or eat.
Now I think I want to eat a pansy. And kiss you on the lips.
They say on the third day the mother's milk comes in and so do the tears.
Lily's milk was coming in yesterday but I saw no tears.
She settles down into motherhood like a bird upon a nest
She fluffs her feathers over her baby
And offers him her breast
And he takes it with greed and with vigor
He takes it as his due.
Yesterday I took him after he had nursed
And held him as he slept and I felt myself grow sleepy.
I stretched out on the couch with him on my chest
And we dozed together.
I woke up every few minutes to make sure he was still breathing.
Just as I had with his mother.
My arm fell asleep and so I turned on my side
And tucked his perfect bundle of a body
Right into my side
And we slept some more, my chest,
Rising and falling together.
When he woke, frantic for more milk
I took him to his mother who was sleeping on her own
Having taken the opportunity to fall into a fierce deepness
She doesn't know the extent of her exhaustion
She woke up and took him
"Don't cry, it's okay,"
As she opened her shirt to him, gave him what he needed
And that child who, minutes before,
Had been asleep in my arms
Acted as if he had never been nursed in his life
Would never, unless he fought with all his strength
Get the titty again.
Ah. But he did and he relaxed into chuffling sucking
And I left them there, that family
They have everything they need
And I drove off, knowing they had shared that bounty
Knowing they had let me hold their fortune
In my arms
For the sweetest nap of my life
Knowing that this is something
I had never known could exist
All paths of love leading to this moment
That moment of bliss
Feeling his small weight on my heart.
I am the grandmother
And on the third day
My milk did not come in
But the tears are ready to spring forth
Every time he cries
Every time he breathes
Every time his heart beats
Hot like fierce life
Tears of everything in my life
Which has led to this moment
Which has led to this life.
This small, sturdy life
So sure of what he needs
So apt to find it in his mother's arms.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
It's no secret that my preference for place of birth to occur is home. I had three of my children in my own bedroom. I have worked at a home-like Birth Center and that is a good alternative. And I have come away from Lily's hospital birth with my place-of-birth beliefs only more firmly held.
Let me say right away that our nurses, especially the one you see there, were terrific. We were blessed with that woman as our nurse. She was incredibly kind and patient and hard-working and she knew what our philosophies were and she did everything in her power to make Lily's birth as un-intervened with as possible in the setting we were in. I wish she had delivered Lily's baby because I think she would have done a fantastic job of it. She, like we, believed that Dr. Brickler was the best and when he was on the floor, she always announced that with sweet smiles. "Thank-you Dr. A.D.," she would say when he left the room. And when Dr. B. went home and residents appeared, she assured us that the head nurse on duty had been a midwife in Iran and had delivered thousands of babies so that even if a fumbling just-got-his-white-coat doctor was in charge, there would be someone looking over the resident's shoulder to make sure all was well.
I wanted to take that nurse home and baptize her in the holy waters of the Church of The Batshit Crazy because I think she would have fit right in. She worked 7 a.m. 7 p.m. on Friday and was back again at 7 a.m. on Saturday and was with Lily up to and through the birth. She was our touchstone and our comfort. I would look at her and say, "Elizabeth, what do YOU think?" when we would get to places where decisions had to be made. And she would tell us and we trusted her.
BUT, BUT, BUT- although I would personally love to have that woman with me or any of my loved ones when they gave birth, I would so much rather that she do that in a place other than the hospital.
I think it is harder to give birth naturally in a hospital than it is for a camel to pass through the damn eye of a needle. Everything and I do mean EVERY thing, is set up against allowing a natural process to proceed on its own.
Now a lot of things have changed in a hospital when it comes to birth. The family is allowed to be present at all times. There is great respect for the family and that means more than anything. Countless times one of us would say, "Here, let me get out of your way," and the medical person would reply, "Nope. You're fine," and then figure out a way to do what he or she needed to do from another angle. I not only noticed this fact, I was impressed with it. Tremendously.
But my god, there was so much going on. Lily was in the hospital to be begin with because of her blood pressure. She was monitored for that no more than any other birthing mother would have been and it never got so high that any measures had to be taken to bring it down. A midwife could easily have done the same.
Owen's heart rate was monitored for twenty minutes every few hours, up until she got an epidural and pitocin at which point it had to be monitored continuously. And his little heart (bless it! bless it!) did exactly what it was supposed to do, going down during contractions, coming right back up. Again, a midwife could have monitored those heart tones with a doppler instead of those darn monitors which are strapped on and slip easily and cause great consternation when they do. Her contractions were also monitored. In the picture above, you can see Lily looking at the screen to see when one was coming. This was after her epidural and when she was pushing so the screen gave her the information she needed to use the power of the contraction which she would not have had at home or a birth center but there are no epidurals at a birth center or at home. Contractions in those places are monitored by the midwife's hand on the mother's belly, by the mother saying, "Here comes another one."
And the thing is- if Lily had been allowed to go into labor on her own, I think she would not have had to labor for so long. Although the ultrasound doctor was encouraging her strongly to get a C-section three weeks before the induction because he believed her baby was so big and although everyone involved (except Lily) was so damn worried to get him out before any more time had passed, Owen did not appear to be a post-dates baby. And his size- although hefty- was not anywhere near dangerous. I have seen fat babies and Owen is not a fat baby. If Lily had taken his advice, Owen would definitely have been born early and Lily would still be recovering from major surgery instead of walking around like a woman who's never given birth.
So all that technology, all those millions of dollars worth of machinery and scanners and devices were not as accurate, in the long run, as the midwife's hands and if we had just been allowed to let nature take its course, I think Lily would have been saved days of agonizingly slow labor.
Another thing- although the hospital encourages walking during labor, there is no place to walk except the hallway. We made loop after loop after loop of that hallway during the dead of night and not one nurse or tech looked up from what she was doing to smile encouragingly. Not one. In fact, they looked at her askance, if anything. We saw no other mothers walking, no doubt because they all had epidurals going and were asleep while their bodies labored. When dawn broke and Lily's uterus finally reached its limit and labor stalled completely, Lily had no desire to get back out there and walk. She didn't want to see those same people, and say what you will- walking down a hallway in a hospital gown and having contractions is not something you want to do in front of strangers. It just isn't.
Which brings me to another point- Ina May Gaskin says that labor is not unlike going to the bathroom in that you really need privacy and to feel safe to get the job done properly. And in the hospital, you have no idea who is going to walk through that door, introduce him or herself and stick their hand inside of you. You may like the person or you may not, but it's not up to you to decide. The stranger's vibe and touch may be great and inspire trust or may not be. And don't you laugh and call me a mad old hippie because I KNOW for a fact that touch and vibe have a lot to do with feeling safe. So do you. The mind-body connection in labor is strong and we can pretend that it's not but that doesn't make it so.
When Lily's labor stalled, I thought back to a home birth I'd been to once where the same thing happened. The mother had been in labor for a long, long day and then through an entire night and at dawn, she stalled. I listened to my gut (I was not the midwife, but an assistant) and realized that we needed to turn off the cozy lamps, open the curtains, open the windows, let the new day's light into the room, and get things moving that way. It worked. The baby was born soon thereafter.
Lily's room didn't even have a window in it. It was like Groundhog Day. Time passed like in a movie- theater. The clock on the wall gave the hour, but one wasn't sure whether it was the hour of the day or the night.
And again, I think that if Lily had been allowed to go into labor in her own time, I don't think her uterus would have reached that point of exhaustion, causing the need for the pitocin, the epidural. She was so vastly relieved by that epidural and so was I. I had reached the point where I couldn't stand to see my baby in pain anymore, especially knowing that although the contractions hurt horribly, she was too exhausted to deal with them properly and they really weren't doing much good. And then, because she had labored for so long and because she'd gotten pitocin, after the birth she bled A LOT. I always bleed a lot after I give birth, too but it's never been a life or death situation. By my third and fourth babies, the midwife knew what to expect and had a shot of methergine available and ready to give me. Lily required a huge dose of more pitocin to get her uterus to contract properly and it's so easy to say- well, if she hadn't been in the hospital, she might have bled to death. But perhaps, if she hadn't been medically interfered with to begin with, she wouldn't have had the complication.
Same with Owen. There was some meconium in the fluid and they had to suction him before his body was born and because Lily's water had broken early in the labor (which she reported but which never got noted or charted) he had that fever at birth. But- if the process had been on Lily and Owen's timeline, perhaps he wouldn't have had to go through such a prolonged and stressful labor.
And the waste- my god, the waste at a birth! The amount of disposable stuff. Everything is disposable now and several large bags of trash were collected and disposed of during and after the birth.
Here's another thing- although family is encouraged to be with the laboring mother, there is nothing done to provide for their comfort. AT ALL. No place to lay down and rest. No place to get food except for the machines or the cafeteria which was a very long walk away in another building. Mothers are encouraged to eat and drink during labor but Lily was offered nothing except for juice and water. We were expected to bring food in. Which we did. But still- that's ridiculous! How is a woman supposed to labor for three days without food? What if we hadn't been there to bring her food? And after she gave birth, there was no food offered to her. None. Again, we had to go out and get her some. Same in the family care unit- the mother gets a hospital meal, the father gets a long walk to the cafeteria.
I think it all boils down to this: birth in our country is still considered very much a medical event. Yes, they do give lip service to the needs of a woman to be able to walk, to eat, to be with people she loves and trust during labor but no real considerations are offered to make those things easy. The staff was indeed considerate of the family but our presence was more tolerated than encouraged. Lily was told to walk but there was no real place to do that except for the artificially lit hallways of the floor. Lily was told to eat to keep her strength up but no nourishment was offered.
It was a beautiful birth. Lily and Jason learned more about their strength than they ever could have imagined, which is the perfect preparation for being parents. But this happened because of Lily's will and desire to birth naturally. No one, from Dr. Brickler on down, believed that she could do it. And I have no idea why. She is a strong, young, healthy woman and her baby was a reasonable size. She had unending support from her family and from kind nurses. Without all of this, she would NOT have succeeded in having a vaginal birth.
I keep thinking of how every time Lily got a contraction, Jason would jump up and be with her, to hold her, let her lean on him. She wanted HIM. The rest of us were okay, but it was Jason she wanted. How could this be anything but the best lesson their relationship could ever have? He was her main support, both physically and emotionally. He knew she really needed him and she really wanted him to help her. He was an integral part of the success of Owen's birth. He was there for his wife and his baby throughout the entire process. If Lily had gotten a C-section or even an epidural during an earlier part of the labor, he would not have this information, he would not know how much she truly loves and depends on him. As they danced together during contractions, it felt holy in that room. The three of them working together to bring Owen out.
And that's what I'm thinking about this morning. My brain feels a bit less mush-like and I am have so much to do. My house and my yard need attention. My chickens need their morning scratch and their crazy-chicken-lady love. I need to start baking bread, a cake, and to make that delicious salad which is going to nourish my daughter and her beloved, strong husband. I just called Lily but her phone goes directly to voice mail. I hope this means they are sleeping. I hope they had a good night. It takes a lot of will power not to jump in my car and go over there RIGHT NOW to see how they are doing, but I'm going to leave them alone. They are doing something very, very important which is being alone together as a family in their own home.
And it occurs to me that nowhere in this long discussion did I talk about the actual delivery. It's hard for me to do that because the resident did deliver and I do think it was his first delivery. The real doctor stood over him and advised him but it was a lesson in how it is the mother who delivers the baby- the attendant only helps guide and catch. I was mostly at Lily's head during delivery but part of my attention was down there and I saw some fumbling. I think she would not have torn if there had been a more experienced attendant. I saw the resident pull on the cord so hard that it broke, and blood spattered all over his face. This is the second time in my life I have seen a cord break- the other time was also in a hospital. I think there is a sense of panic during a hospital birth I have never seen in a home or birth-center birth. As if the whole culmination of this medical event is something to be scared of. At the very end of the pushing stage, it is difficult to get the fetal heart tones of the baby because he is up under the pubic bone. The doctor recommended that they put the electronic leads which screw into the baby's head to keep track of his heart and I had to laugh because Jessie, Lily, and Jason all looked up with alarm at these words and said, "NO!"
And really- at this point with the birth so imminent, what good would they do? The nurse, bless her, assured him that if she kept having trouble hearing the baby's heart, she would do that. And it ended up being unnecessary and Owen was born without tiny wires screwed into his scalp.
Ah yah. Owen was born through the power of his mother's pushes, through the determination and strength of her. The man who caught Owen will never forget that birth, even if he goes on to deliver thousands and thousands of babies.
And that's nice, in a way. He will remember our crazy family, the joy, the tears, the happiness, the support. He will remember that strong mother, that hefty baby boy.
He will also remember the way a cord can break and spew blood when pulled too hard.
I am so grateful for the way everything turned out because everything turned out fine. I still believe, though, in my heart, that if Lily had been allowed to go into labor when her body was ready, things would have gone easier for her AND for Owen.
And I think we can safely say that about hundreds of thousands of other mothers and their births. But until things change in this country, we'll never really know.
Until then- we have to keep asking the questions. We have to keep questioning the experts. And we have to keep trusting our instincts.
And we have to remember to bring food to the hospital because they sure ain't gonna give you any there.
A sleeping bag wouldn't be a bad thing to bring either.
And we have to keep being grateful for the people who are part of the process who have faith, who have patience, who are the ones who truly help the mothers in this greatest of all transitions- the nurses with the tender touch, the knowing eyes, the smart brains, the beautiful faces. The ones who, in the very midst of this very much medicalized event, keep it real, keep it human, keep it holy.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Aunty May finally got to see Owen today. She came up to the hospital while I was there and she held him and she cried.
And then Owen pooped while she was holding him. Lily was just saying he hadn't pooped in a long time and it was worrying her a bit and then, as if he was trying to be a good boy, he let loose. His face got all red the way baby's faces do when they poop and he had a look on his face like, "WHAT?!! Are you freaking KIDDING ME? I have to poop TOO?! GOD, life is so hard!"
And Lily changed his diaper and he settled right back down into a snooze. It's hard work, pooping. Everything is hard work when you're a newborn. Back in the womb there was no work at all. Just being was enough. Sort of like going on a cruise. All you have to do is let them pump the second dinner seating into your umbilical cord and you're good to go. "More lobster, Mr. Hartmann? Here, let me magically make it appear in your belly. Caviar to go with that? Shot of icy vodka? No problem. The temperature okay for you? Oh. It's always perfect. That's right. Comfy? Good. We aim to please."
But he's living on planet earth now and he has to work for his dinners (which is the name Mr. Moon's mama called nursey titties- "dinners" - and how much do we love that?) and work to poop and it feels so disturbing when someone tries to change his clothes or wipe his precious little ass or put socks on him. ARRRGGGHHHH! They're doing stuff to me again!
Anyway, so it goes for each and every baby born. They know what to do to make the milk come, they do know how to pee and poop and cry when necessary. Owen cries like this: "Nanananananana!" Like a goat, sort of. He's my precious little billy goat. He's easily comforted, though, and mostly what comforts him is ninny, also known as nurnies or nursies, also known as dinners, also known as chi-chi's, also know as the tit. Whatever you call it, he likes it, he loves it, he wants some more of it.
I went over to Lily and Jason's house after I visited them at the hospital and made up their bed and fed their cats and cleaned out the litter box and ran a few loads of laundry and went to the store and bought them food so they won't starve. And juice. Gotta have lots of juice when you're nursing. I remember when Hank was born and they sold giant cans of concentrated grape juice at the Co-op and I would make a gallon of grape juice a day and drink it. My favorite thing to eat was a patty melt. And I had been a vegetarian before I got pregnant. I'd fry that meat up and put cheese on it and eat that between two slices of grilled rye bread. Oh my god. That was food of the gods. And fruit salad. Patty melts, grape juice, fruit salad. With raw cashews in it. And I was 21 and nursing my hungry newborn and I was back in a bikini before the summer was half over. Ah yeah, those were the days.
Anyway, Jason and Lily came home with Owen and I took pictures
and I told them what I'd done and then I left. It was mighty hard to leave. Not because I don't think they can handle things on their own. I know damn well they can. It was hard to leave because watching them brings back so many memories of my new-mothering days. I remember when Hank was just a few days old and had such a fussy time and I felt so inadequate but something told me to get into the bathtub with him and I did. I held him in my hands and let his body float in the warm water and he quit fussing and his eyes opened up as big as saucers and I know he was thinking, "This feels so familiar. This feels so good." And he was happy. My baby, my instincts.
I told Lily and Jason today what I always used to tell my new mommies and daddies at the Birth Center when I worked there, which was that no one on earth has ever raised this particular child before. I would say, "Look at this perfect baby your body knew how to create. And you know how to take care of him, too. Listen to your gut."
And that's what I told Lily and Jason. That if someone gave them advice or told them something that their gut disagreed with, they should ignore that advice and do what their gut says. Even if I say it. And if they need to tell me to shut up and butt out, to do it. I may have raised four kids, but I have never raised Owen.
And that's the damn truth.
So I left. Owen had on a cotton diaper and nothing else and he had no heplock on his tiny arm, no monitoring device or clamp on his navel. Just pure Owen and a white cotton diaper, soft from use by his Aunty Jessie.
And I left.
I'll go back tomorrow with my favorite Mama's Post-Partum Meal: Steak salad, homemade Challah bread and prune cake. Don't you laugh about prune cake. That is some good cake.
What a great day. Owen came home. He is healthy and strong. His mama and daddy are fine, smart, and capable and they love him to pieces. Lily doesn't even look like she missed two nights of sleep, much less just had a baby. She is glowing like a sunrise.
And it's Billy's birthday, too. Happy birthday Billy.
Happy homecoming, Owen.
All is well and all is well and all is very, very, very well.
At least in my world. I have no idea what is happening anywhere else and for this moment, that is fine with me.
I hope all is well with you, too. I shall get back to reading blogs and answering comments soon.
Until then, know how much I appreciate you.
The World Has Changed For Me.
I found this image on Google last week and it is so powerful to me. I was looking for an image that represented the birth of something huge- a mountain from the earth, an island from the sea. And there you are.
The birth of Own has been like that to me, to my husband, to my daughter and her husband, to our entire family and this is as it should be. There should be nothing more earth-shaking and beautiful than the birth of a new child.
And so it is.
I have been alive for fifty-five years and I know from experience that listening to someone else talk about her grandchild is at best, uh, only mildly entertaining. A baby looks like a baby unless he shares your specific DNA or is the child of someone you truly love. There is nothing more common and expected than for children to grow up and have children of their own.
And yet, I understood from observation that this most common and expected event must be something that is monumentally huge to the grandparent. Really, no one would carry that many pictures around unless it were.
So what I want to say here this morning is that this blog is not going to turn into Owen's Blog but since it is my blog and since it reflects my own life, my own heart, my family, my home, and my thoughts about all of that as well as the world we live in from Lloyd to the universe, it is going to have a new slant. That's all there is to it. One would expect no less.
If there is anything I have been put here on earth to do, it has been to bear children, to love them, to raise them, to love my husband and my friends, and to write about it all.
And so I am and so I will.
I'm rather surprised I can write at all, my mind is so mush-like. Mr. Moon and I wander around the house, trying to find things right in front of our faces, finding that setting the table takes eight trips from the kitchen, finding that we can speak of little else than our grandson and his mother and father and how this has just changed everything. Oh, some things will not change- I do believe that Mr. Moon was trying to trade giving Owen to me to hold yesterday for some, uh, future favors, if you will. He may be a grandfather but he is still Mr. Moon.
I told him yesterday that we are the elders now. "We're the motherfucking elders!" I said and we laughed.
How can this be? It was only yesterday that we lay in bed together, me still hugely pregnant with Lily, feeling so tender and yearning with all our hearts to see this child we had created, to hold her in our arms, to look upon her face.
And now, here we are, looking into the face of her child.
The whole experience has made everything new, has laid an entire layer of more love, more love, more love over it all. As we shopped yesterday for things we needed I found myself holding his hand, wanting his arm around me. Owen has linked us in a way we were not linked before.
And now I have to go to town and wash Lily's sheets and go kiss my grandson. They may get to come home today which is the best news because Lily needs some sleep and by god, you cannot sleep in a hospital. That family needs to get in their own bed with their baby between them and know the peace and joy of being home with their baby. Owen's temperature has been normal for two days now, he nurses constantly. He is a big boy and he wants that milk to come in. I see that as a strong will and a strong constitution- nursing is hard work and it is his job to get that milk to come in. Lily needs to rest and eat good food and be at peace with her surroundings to do her part in the process and I intend to help her do that as much as I can.
And so I say, bless our hearts, all of us. It is just amazing to me that so many people around the world have sent so much love our way. This little boy is known to people who care about him whom I never would have imagined.
Thank-you all, you community of writers and readers. Thank-you all.
And now- off to town with my mushy mind, my overflowing heart, my tired feet and my strong grandmother hands.
I have to kiss my grandson. I have to kiss my daughter. I have to kiss her husband. I have work to do. The most joyful work of my life.
And I will try not to bore you to death, talking about it.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Aunt Jessie waiting.
Uncle Hank waiting.
Mr. and Ms. Moon waiting.
Family portrait. A few minutes old. Owen and the family he created.
September 27, 2009
Beautiful mother, beautiful baby. Twenty-four years ago today, the mother's mother birthed HER. Twenty-four years which seems about five minutes ago.
Beautiful father, beautiful son.
Aunt Jessie holding her nephew.
Grandma Mary and her angel grandson.
Yes, he can fuss. Yes, his mama can comfort him.
My two beautiful loves.
Do you want to know how happy I am?
I can't even begin to tell you. That's how happy.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
He Is Born
Owen Curtis Hartmann was born this afternoon at 4:35 p.m. of Lillian Rose Moon Hartmann and Jason Thomas Hartmann.
I left my camera in Lily's room when we left the hospital and these are the pictures I got off Mr. Moon's phone. There will be better pictures but really- these say it all.
A beautiful brawny boy- 9 lbs. 4 oz. - but hardly the ginormous child the ultrasound doctor claimed he'd be. And Lily pushed him out all on her own after over two nights and two days with no sleep and no relief until finally, stuck at 9.5 cm. for hours and hours, she relented this afternoon, got an epidural and pitocin with all my encouragement and then got the job finished up in less than an hour of pushing, which is amazing for a first baby.
And they said it couldn't be done.
They don't know my Lily.
Of course there is a long, long story but I, too, am exhausted. I didn't sleep that well on Wednesday night, went to the hospital on Thursday morning and haven't had more than an hour of real sleep since then.
I don't even know how I am feeling. I don't know who Owen looks like except himself. He has a bit of a fever and was having rapid respirations right after birth and so they have done blood work and placenta cultures and will start him on antibiotics but his color is pinky red, and when we left him and his mama and his daddy in their room tonight, he was nursing like a man born to the tit and was ready for a nap. He took every minute of that long, long labor in stride and he is strong and will be fine.
But oh, it was hard to leave him.
When I talked to him tonight and held him, he quieted down and looked at me.
"I love you," I crooned. "I am your best friend." (Which of my readers told me her mother said that to her baby?) "Your mama and daddy are your mama and daddy but I am your grandmother and your best friend. I am the crazy old chicken lady and I love you."
I think he knew what I was talking about.
He doesn't know it yet, but he was born into the best family anyone could imagine. Hank was there in the hospital the entire time and slept in the waiting room sitting up. Jessie was the sweet aunt, rubbing feet and getting water and walking laps with Lily and Jason, Hank and me, trying to get that baby to come. Tay-Tay brought Wattaburger. Whataburger? I'm too tired to care. Mr. Moon sat and waited and let Lily lean on him and kissed her and brought food and let ME lean on him and cry on him and was the man I leaned on when Lily was born. And May cried on the phone and wrote what will probably be Owen's best birth story even though she couldn't be there.
There were phone calls and visits and brownies and muffins and there was Lily. She walked, she labored, she cried, she laughed, cried some more, she rallied. She did not give in. She did not give out. I have been to many births and I have never seen ANYONE labor more strongly, bravely or gracefully. I swear that.
And when it came time to push him out, it was as if she'd pushed out ten babies. She was amazing. Tomorrow is her birthday. Twenty-four years ago tomorrow, I pushed HER out and how do you even imagine what it means to breathe with a daughter as she labors whose life you breathed into existence just five minutes ago?
And Jason was with her every step of the way, holding her hand, letting her lean on him, supporting her in every way possible. He danced through almost every contraction with her, quite literally as she swayed and moaned and hummed and sang Owen into place.
I feel like I have experienced the biggest honor of my life.
I feel like I have just met the man of my dreams.
He was born tonight and he is a beautiful baby.
And I am the luckiest woman in the world, writing this, trying to integrate this, loving him and the family whom he is so blessed to have blessed with his presence.
Welcome, Owen Curtis Hartmann. Now get all well real quick because we want to play with you and kiss those pretty lips and and fat little cheeks and hold your strong beautiful fingers and be in amazement at your long, lean legs which will run so fast and carry your so far, and your big baby feet that were longer than the form when they made your footprint.
Thank-you Lily and Jason. Thank-you, all the powers that be. Thank-you, all the grace and all the glory and all the light.
Owen is here.
Friday, September 25, 2009
The hospital is being lovely, Dr. Brickler is so patient and non-aggressive. Jason is a champ, Lily is my hero and we're all just wishing there was something we could do to help her.
Owen remains stable and happy inside with no signs of distress.
So all is as it should be, albeit slow, and all is well and all is well.
I'll let you know when we have that baby.
She wants her lavender oil.
She's at 3 cm.
She's well and truly begun.
Hank, May, Jessie:
I'll call you when we know what's happening.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
You go to Goodwill with your mama and your brother. Of course.
So today Lily and Hank and I went to lunch and then the Goodwill where we looked at books and other fun stuff. Lily got a plastic Superman chair for Owen. Jason loves Superman. And don't we all? Anyway, while we were there, I decided to try out this nice green chaise longue. The funny thing was, it didn't just recline, it went ALL the way back. So of course I made Lily take my picture with my phone.
"God, Mom," she might have said.
And then she definitely did say, "I think there may have been a recall on that one."
I laughed so hard I almost choked.
So there's the picture. "Do I look good?" I asked her when she was taking it.
"Yes," she said. Haha!
You can also see golf clubs, a bedside commode and some Christmas decorations.
Lord I do love the Goodwill.
Anyway, we had the best time and it occurred to me that no matter which combination of my children are together, they always have plenty to say and most of it's funny. We think we're funny, anyway.
So right now Lily is checking into the hospital with Jason at her side to start taking the cervix softening drugs. And tomorrow morning- GAME ON!
We shall be seeing that boy within a reasonable amount of time.
And get this- my mother told me today that her due date with me was July 10 and I was born on July 28 so... well, just saying. And I turned out okay. Sort of.
And in other news, Miss Maybelle is sick with what might be the flu and I am just sick about that myself. She is aching, has fever, and has slept all day and is getting congested. This is not a good time to be sick. Maybe, hopefully, she'll be making a miraculous recovery tonight. I sure hope so.
And HoneyLuna? She has a new post up over at her blog: http://findingthosedulcettones.blogspot.com/
where she plays a little banjo.
We just discovered that in her nursing classes in the big auditorium which is the same room I had my nursing classes in 25 years ago, she is sitting in the same exact spot I used to sit in! Now HOW did that happen? The older I get, the more I think it's all nature and very little nurture. Well, not really, but come on- is seating preference genetic?
All right. Life is about to get topsy-turvy over here. Let's all hold on and keep our skirts down around our knees, even when upside down.
Come on, Owen. Our family's heart is in your hands and we can't wait for you to join the party.
Because Owen Is Still Traveling Incognito
These chickens probably look about the same to you. But for me, they are my own dear chickens and I can easily tell the difference and I named them Lucille and Helen after my childhood best friend and her twin sister. That is Lucille on the left and Helen on the right. Naming chickens is something I've come to love. Some names seem to suit certain chickens best and some names are just good chicken names. You wouldn't probably name a chicken Tiffany. I don't know why. The old names are the best for chickens, I think. Sue, and Betty, Lucy and Penny. You know. Now my nephew named one of my chickens Sookie and my niece named one Shalayla and those names are not names I would have thought of, but I like them a lot.
I had had my suspicions from the beginning that Helen might be a boy. In fact, I named him Helen because my childhood friend, Helen, was, well, rather butchy. I still think Helen might be a man.
And then this morning, Lucille crowed, which means Lucille is not a girl at all, but sadly, a boy. I say sadly, not because I do not like roosters or men, but because I already have two very definite roosters in the coop and three will not do. Neither will four and I mention this because I think Helen will begin to crow any day now.
What do you do when your beloved chickens turn into roosters? I would just keep them all as beautiful pets but Mr. Moon is not sentimental like I am. He's not thrilled that I take them grapes and melon every day as it is. When I told him that Lucille had crowed this morning he laughed and said, "Hmmm. Chicken and dumplings."
How, I ask you, can you EAT an animal whom you have named after your childhood best friend? I'm pretty sure you can't. Well, I'm pretty sure I can't.
Kathleen just went through this with her chickens and she found her two extra roosters a home with a couple who were thrilled to get them for breeding purposes. This is excellent and she is happy for them and now her hens have begun to lay since some of the testosterone has been eliminated from the coop but it still broke her heart to see her little boys taken away.
Well. Just another example of not being able to control everything and indeed, not much of anything. And yet, one does like to think one can.
I am trying to remember that I cannot and frankly, I'm not even very good at controlling the things I alone should be able to control and so really, what right do I have trying to control anything else? Not much is the answer to that.
And so with this spirit, I am going into the future and specifically, Lily's birth, trying to remember that, trying to remember that I am Lily's mother, not Owen's mother. I am not her doctor nor her midwife. I am there for whatever she wants but I am not there to tell anyone what to do or how to do it.
There is some comfort in this. Actually, there is great comfort in this.
And I wouldn't want to take any of Lily's control away from her even if that were possible.
So there. And I think things are being handled splendidly anyway. Lily keeps knocking me out with her wisdom, her knowledge, her strength and her acceptance of reality and her determination, too.
Things may not always turn out as we planned them in our own perfect little minds, but that's life. You may not get eggs, but you may get chicken and dumplings. Or, as Billy mentioned last night, fresh-fried chicken.
I would wish that Lucille was a hen and not a rooster and Helen too.
Too bad, so sad, tough titties said the kitty and let us proceed with the knowledge that we do what we can, we need to butt the hell out when we should, and that you can name a bird Suzie or Lucille but it doesn't make them hens.
And that's all the wisdom I have to offer today.
Aren't you glad?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Still Not A Grandmama
Well, Lily is still not "ripe" and yet, they want very badly to get her baby delivered. Forty-one weeks is the new deadline which is just absolutely ridiculous BUT her blood pressure is up and well, if it must be, it must be.
We went over to the hospital and they did a non-stress test on Owen and he is fine, fine, fine. Lovely and fine. And then Dr. Brickler came in. Dr. Brickler is the head of this midwife practice and he's retired at least twice (he's eighty-something) and yet, he seems to always be in the hospital wearing scrubs and I worship at his feet. He's delivered 30,000 babies, and that is not an exaggeration, just the truth. Here's a picture of him that I snagged with my phone from a picture in his office.
He examined Lily and said that they could and they would try an induction although he's not sure the odds are very good. And you know, if anyone but Dr. Brickler had said that, I would say, "What the hell do you know?" but when Dr. Brickler says something, I really do have to pay attention. I wasn't in the room when all of this was happening (they only let Jason back, darn them) but Lily told me all of this and she, too, was grateful that Dr. Brickler had been the one to talk to her because she trusts him too. The only person I would trust more is Ina May Gaskin and well, Ina May is not here and Dr. Brickler is. I don't know that this is a case of "the best will have to do," but it will certainly do for us at this point and in this place.
So tomorrow night at eight o'clock, they will give Lily a drug to help soften and ripen her uterus and then after 12 hours, if that has worked and labor has not begun, they will hook her up to pitocin.
And there you g0- everything we wanted to avoid but you know what? We're going to get our Owen and he and Lily are going to be safe and when all is said and done, that's the point, that's the miracle, that's the blessing, that's the joy.
So maybe Friday, Owen will be born. That's our Shayla's birthday and so a very good day to be born on.
So we are home and the candles are lit and we're all feeling, if not thrilled, then at least satisfied that there is a plan and we are grateful that Owen is spending such a cozy time in his mother's belly and that he is doing so well in there.
And I want to tell each and every one of you who are going through this with us from far away and from right next door- thank-you. The love you have showered on us is palpable and real and we feel it.
Damn. Another miracle.
Light your candles if you do that. Send a thought up to the moon. Let's all think about Owen inside his mama, smiling and being happy and soon to meet us all.
What? More Chickens You Say? No Problem
Miss Bob, thinking about sitting on a nest.
Sam. And I have no idea why he's with the hens near the nests. But he is. Keeping an eye on things, I suppose. Either that or he loves Miss Bob so much he can't bear to let her out of his sight.
And now I am as clean and scrubbed as if I were going to be the one examined on the table today myself. I actually have a bag packed with a book and a magazine, knitting, toothbrush, a spare dress, just in case we get into that hospital and stay there.
I am nervous, I have to tell you.
And I have to tell you this, too- as I have always said, my children have been my greatest teachers and I have a feeling I am about to learn one of the most important lessons of my life. Even if Owen doesn't come today or get started, even, on that path, I am about to learn it and soon.
And I feel so humbled.
I ended up feeling like shit yesterday and so I took the opportunity to rest and elevate and ice my foot. I turned on daytime TV, which is something I never, ever do.
And you know what?
Daytime TV sucks donkey dicks.
I laid on the couch with the dogs all curled around me and watched a rerun of Curb Your Enthusiasm which of course was great and then...I can't remember. I honestly cannot remember. Emmy red carpet was in there somewhere.
I dozed and felt guilty for lying down in the middle of the day and woke up occasionally to hear what people completely unknown to me were saying about what other people completely unknown to me wore to the Emmy Awards.
At four, Oprah came on. I'd seen a teaser for the show with Mackenzie Phillips which was coming on at some point this week and so I thought maybe I'd watch that but no, it was an episode featuring a woman who got a face transplant because her husband shot her face off with a shotgun and a ten-year old girl who suffers from a very rare condition known as Mermaid disease or something like that.
I was just appalled. First of all, Oprah looked miserable and barely moved during the entire interview. And all I could think of was the tragedy in people's lives and how bloggers are accused of oversharing and yet, people will go on Oprah and discuss their children's colostomy bags with film.
I'm sure there was a message behind this specific show and I'm sure it had something to do with resiliency, hope, and strength but all I could think about was how the woman whose husband shot her face off hasn't divorced him yet and obviously is a little conflicted about doing that and also, oh, I don't even want to tell you what all I was thinking because it was not charitable.
And it seemed like Oprah was phoning this interview in. She repeated the same things about fifteen times ("And the doctors only expected her to live for 72 hours?") and I don't think she could have cared less.
Well. We all get burned out.
And then last night it had been leaked online that Mackenzie Phillips' secret is that she and her father had a "consensual" sexual relationship for many years, beginning when he raped her when she was in black-out mode from drugs he'd given her.
Well, that explains a lot about that little girl on One Day At A Time. I never did like that show. I'm not sure why. Valerie was too cute, the mom was too...something. That super was too stupid and Mackenzie was obviously in too much pain.
I think that was it. The girl playing a normal teenager with normal problems had a look in her eyes that was too frightening to bear. America watched as she got crazier and thinner. Her smile became eerier and eerier as her teeth seemed to become the biggest thing in her skeletal head. And then she got fired for drug use.
And as America criticized her for that drug use, no one had any idea of what that child was going through.
It's a fucking miracle she's still alive. And according to what I've read, she says, "Please don't hate my father."
Sorry. I hate him.
And I can't shake the horror I feel at what happened to her. She may say that her relationship with her father was consensual but it wasn't. She was fucked up on drugs he gave her, he was her father. Fathers are supposed to protect their children, not shoot them up with heroin and then rape them and try to convince them that what they're doing is out of love.
Yeah. This just comes too close to home. No, my stepfather never gave me drugs but he sort of gave me a Porsche. No, he never raped me but he did things no father or adult, for that matter, should do to a child. And that was bad enough and I know that to this day all of that affects me more than I even know.
How is Mackenzie Phillips alive? She's gone through addictions, divorces, arrests.
But she's still alive.
And she says, "Don't hate my father."
That woman whose husband shot off her face rushed to make sure that Oprah knew that although her husband had emotionally and verbally abused her for years and years, he had never physically abused her until he picked up that shotgun. Oh well, sure, he threw a microwave and a knife at her, but hey! you know.
And when he gets out of jail, he's going to need someone to talk to. Right? And he has no other friends. Besides her. The woman whose face he blew off her head.
Will I watch today's episode of Oprah?
No. I'm going to be at the midwife's office with Lily.
Look. My life could have turned out like either of those women. And it didn't. I ended up with a family that brings me more joy than anything I can imagine. I ended up with a man who is not only not abusive but who is, by any standard, one of the truly best and most loving. Who is a loving and nurturing father. Who has never hurt his children. Who is going to be the best grandfather in the world.
How did that happen?
It was a blessed miracle.
And here we are, waiting on this next miracle and today I go to the midwife with Lily and we shall see what's going on and one way or another, that baby is going to be here soon. A baby who has two parents who are loving and who are going to love that child his entire life. The right way.
I mourn to grief about the children who grow up thinking that love is hurt and pain and rape.
I give thanks with every breath I have that somehow, some of us make it through, not unscarred but able, with great help, with massive amounts of love, to let the buck stop there.
I tremble at that thought. Of how badly my children's lives could have turned out if I had just slipped a little further than I did- slipped too far to come back and realize how I could change the tide of my life and thus, my children's.
Owen is about to be born into all the love in the world. And Lily and Jason will make mistakes as parents because we all do. God knows I did. And do. But they will be normal mistakes. They won't be soul-and-spirit crushing mistakes.
There will not be secrets that are kept for thirty years and then spilled on Oprah to world-wide shock, horror and disbelief.
Thank-you, thank-you to whatever power there is for that.
As my heart breaks for all the children whose lives have not been somehow redeemed, I give great, humble thanks that mine somehow was and that my grandchildren will not know this aching pain and will know what love is and what love is not.
Such a simple thing. And yet- the most amazing thing.
There's no more to say. I am waiting. We are all waiting. For the simplest and most profound miracle of all. With clear hearts full of love that will never harm or cause pain.
This is what my life has meant. If nothing else, this is it.
And I cry at the thought of how it could have gone and I am brought to my knees with that realization. I look into Mackenzie Phillips' eyes and I see what my own could have looked like.
See how my body could have become a vessel for unbearable pain instead of a vessel for the lives of my children who love and who are loved.
How did it happen?
Blessed miracle. That's all there is to it.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Fresh Eggs From Happy Hens
Eight of those eggs came just from yesterday and today's gathering.
Oh my. My hens are gettin' busy.
This Says It All To Me. I Did Not Write It. Andrew Manis Did.
Andrew M. Manis Asks ‘When Are WE (White People) Going to Get Over It?’
For much of the last forty years, ever since America “fixed” its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, “When are African Americans finally going to get over it?
Now I want to ask: “When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?
Recent reports that “Election Spurs Hundreds’ of Race Threats, Crimes” should frighten and infuriate every one of us.
Having grown up in “Bombingham,” Alabama in the 1960s, I remember overhearing an avalanche of comments about what many white classmates and their parents wanted to do to John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Eventually, as you may recall, in all three cases, someone decided to do more than “talk the talk.”
Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk I remember from my boyhood.
We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent. Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did I read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassinations of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes. Call for their impeachment, perhaps. But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster
But elect a liberal who happens to be Black and we’re back in the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we’ve proven what conservatives are always saying — that in America anything is possible, EVEN electing a black man as president. But instead we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to “assassinate Obama.”
Fighting the urge to throw up, I can only ask, “How long?” How long before we white people realize we can’t make our nation, much less the whole world, look like us? How long until we white people can - once and for all - get over this hell-conceived preoccupation with skin color? How long until we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior? How long before we white people get over our bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non-whites?
How long before we get over our expectations that we should be at the head of the line merely because of our white skin? How long until we white people end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racist jokes in the privacy of our white-only conversations?
I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners? How long until we white people will stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do?
How long before we starting “living out the true meaning” of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that “red and yellow, black and white” all are precious in God’s sight?
Until this past November 4, I didn’t believe this country would ever elect an African American to the presidency. I still don’t believe I’ll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem. But here’s my three-point plan: First, everyday that Barack Obama lives in the White House that Black Slaves Built, I’m going to pray that God (and the Secret Service) will protect him and his family from us white people.
Second, I’m going to report to the FBI any white person I overhear saying, in seriousness or in jest, anything of a threatening nature about President Obama. Third, I’m going to pray to live long enough to see America surprise the world once again, when white people can “in spirit and in truth” sing of our damnable color prejudice, “We HAVE overcome.”
It takes a Village to protect our President!!!
Andrew M. Manis is associate professor of history at Macon State College in Georgia and wrote this essay. It first appeared in the Macon Telegraph.
Hey. You Just Have To Laugh Sometimes.
I believe I have peroneal tendinitis. Now of course this is a self-diagnosis made with the aid of my many medical associates who live on the internet. Before I began to consult with them, I thought the only thing which had a name like "peroneal" on or in my body was something farther north of the foot and of course is not spelled the same but is spelled "perineum" and no, I will not be posting a picture here of THAT area because, well, I love you. I do.
And here's another thing I just learned on the internet- men have perineal areas too.
For all the good that four years of nursing school did me I might as well have spent the time waitressing in a truck stop.
Nah. They probably taught me all of this stuff. I just forgot it.
Anyway, yes, back to my foot.
I noticed in yoga one day that I had a strange and new pain in my foot during the triangle and warrior poses. Huh. I figured it would go away. I have been figuring this about the pain in my hip for approximately twenty years and so far it hasn't but I have not yet given up hope. I did go to several doctors about that twenty years ago and none of them could figure anything out so I have learned to live with it and when it gets bad, I admit I have an Ibuprofen deficiency and just take measures to fix that problem and that works quite well.
But this foot pain. Hmmmm....
It kept getting, oh, how you say?
I knew I should be doing something like RICE. That's rest, ice, compression and elevation for those of you who are not in the know, who don't have your finger on the pulse of the medical world.
But did I?
Oh hell no.
I did things like go back to yoga, walk, and clean the porch for eight hours.
I did take the Ibuprofen, which helped tremendously.
So last night I got online and consulted with the experts and discovered that yes, I probably have this peroneal tendinitis and yes, treatment is RICE, not work-through-the-pain and take Ibuprofen and the occasional beer. It is more apt to happen in very active people, athletes, people with high arches and oh yes, the older person.
Okay. I'm pretty active, I am not an athlete but I do exercise, and I have high arches. And yes, yes, yes, I get a discount at Goodwill on Tuesdays.
So. Here I am. What do I do? I want to walk because dammit, I need to fit into my jeans by first frost. I really, really do. This is so damn frustrating.
Not as frustrating as what poor Lily is going through. She's taken the castor oil this morning. And as one web site I visited last night pointed out, DO NOT CONFUSE CASTOR OIL WITH CASTROL WHICH IS AN AUTOMOTIVE OIL AND NOT TO BE TAKEN INTERNALLY!!!!!
Phew. I sure hope Lily got that one right.
I feel certain she did. I mean, who in their right mind would go to an automotive store to buy something to drink to induce labor?
Oh wait. A woman who is 41 weeks pregnant is not, by definition, in her right mind.
So that's what's going on here. May is feeling better. We are hoping she does not have the H1N1 and I am gimpy and Lily is still pregnant but she will not be for long. Tomorrow is the day that if labor has not commenced, they in the REAL medical profession will begin to get more assertive and aggressive about getting things going.
Life is just so exciting right now! And I say that with not one shred of irony.
Here we go! Limping into the bright light of a new day with a new baby who will surely make his arrival soon!
Let us rejoice. Let us not google-image "Perineum" and let us all be happy and well.
You may wear whatever color you want today.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Doing Something Is Better Than Doing Nothing
So we went and ran our errands: we got Ibuprofen and a thermometer and a velvet coloring thingee for Miss May, we got audio books for Mr. Moon, and then we came back and let the guy stick needles in Lily. He let her lay there for maybe forty-five minutes and the room was so pleasant and that Chinese bamboo flute music was so soothing that she and I both transcended total awakeness, to say the least. She was laying down and I was in a chair in the corner, my head on the wall.
It was so relaxing.
Then we went and had some lunch and then I took her home.
And then Jason got off work and took her bowling. Yes, bowling.
Look- she is TRYING.
She is having the sex, she is taking black and blue cohosh, she is having the sex, she has tried the acupuncture, she has been walking, she is having the sex, she went bowling and tomorrow (I think) she is going to take castor oil, early in the morning.
There's only so much you can do with a deadline looming over you. And believe me- she is doing it all and Jason is certainly playing his part.
I love watching these kids growing up and becoming parents. Both Jason and Lily had a lot of ya-ya's to get out as teenagers and here they are- responsible citizens with a home loan and jobs and a room filled with things for a baby and that baby on the way, zooming down the exit ramp, whether it feels like it to Lily or not.
And they are being so gracious and so loving. I was reading some of the things in the baby book Lily has for Owen and there was a page for each parent to write down advice for the child. Jason wrote, "Always listen to your mother. She is very wise."
That made me want to cry.
He is obviously very wise, too.
Owen is a lucky boy. I can't wait to tell him that. And some day, I will show him pictures of Lily getting acupuncture and say, "Look there, Owen! Your mother wanted to hold you so badly she let a doctor stick needles in her EAR to get you to come."
Yeah. I'm gonna scar that boy for life.
I can't wait.
Monday. Or...Life Is Tough Sometimes
Lily is sick and tired of being pregnant.
May is getting sick.
Mr. Moon is wearying of the impossible difficulty of the car business and may have some new poison ivy breakouts. (I'm not sure how that could happened- all he did yesterday was CUT DOWN TREES AND CLEAR OUT BEHIND THE GARAGE!)
Me? I'm still lame but feeling fine. I'm going to town to get books on PlayAway for Mr. Moon's hopefully not futile trip to auction, get May some Ibuprofen, a thermometer and some Sprite and take Lily off on some adventure. I have no idea what that might be. I feel certain the library and the drug store will be involved.
I got three new eggs this morning. THREE!
And it's a lovely day.
Now- let's all get well, prosper, speak the truth, and oh, yes. I think we should all wear blue today.
For no reason.
Happy Fall Solstice! Although that may be tomorrow. I get so confused.
Which, as you know by now, is pretty much my permanent state of mind.
And one more thing- see that poor tiny lizard? The cobwebs have returned to my porch in such force that the poor little creature had to be freed from one on my back porch this morning. I believe he has hurt himself in the process. I have gently placed him outside on the jade plant, hoping he will be okay and grow up to be a big, bad lizard who can come back to the porch whenever he's ready and strong enough to fight his own way out of the spider webs.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
View From A High Horse
Do you remember this post?
The one where I gave the girl a ride who was from Turkey but who had been adopted by a mixed-race couple?
I had written the words:
I got myself so worked up over the old guy at the dump I almost went and told him off but I didn't and I don't know if I should be proud of myself or ashamed.
That's what I wrote and it was honest. I did not know.
Today, after cleaning out the chicken coop and doing some garden weeding I loaded up the trunk of the car with the garbage and the recycle and I went down to the dump place.
The old white guy was there.
The one who told the girl I gave a ride to that it wasn't safe to walk down Highway 158 because "black people lived there."
I popped my trunk to get my garbage out and the old white man came out of the little shelter to help me and he said, "I really appreciate your giving a ride to that girl last week."
"No problem," I said, heaving my trash into the proper receptacles.
And then something came over me. I wish I could say I trembled or that I felt moved by the spirit or something equally as spiritual but it was as pragmatic and cold as anything I've ever felt.
"I have to tell you something," I said, refusing his help in getting my recycle to the proper bin.
"That girl? She told me that you told her that walking down that road was dangerous because black people lived there. And I think that was so offensive and so ignorantly prejudiced. And not only that, her father is black."
I dumped my paper and cardboard into the blue receptacle and continued on with my tirade.
"And besides that, I have walked down that road many times and the only time I've ever felt threatened was when I was in a white neighborhood with bad dogs."
He looked at me and said, "Well I'm sorry if I offended anyone but you read about these things all the time happening in Tallahassee."
"I've lived in Lloyd for five years," I said, "And I've lived in the south my whole life and I just think that what you said was prejudiced and offensive and you don't know what you're talking about."
I looked at him cruelly. I did. And he's just an old white man in his seventies who has retired and who can't stand just hanging out feeling useless so who got a part time job at the DUMP.
And then he said it. He said, "My sister got raped twenty years ago by a nigger. And I guess I never got over it."
I didn't even hesitate.
"So if your sister had gotten raped by a white man, you'd hate the entire white race?" I asked. I did not stop to say I was sorry his sister had gotten raped. I just leaped into my argument.
"I don't hate any entire race," he said. "I have lots of friends who are niggers." (Yes. He said this.)
I don't hate them. I give them fish and venison. I do what I can for them whenever I can."
"And yet," I said, "You call them that hateful name. That is a HATEFUL word."
And then he went off on how the jails are filled with niggers. That is proof of his argument that black people are dangerous.
I didn't have time to go into the cultural reasons of why there are more black men in prison than white. All I said was, "Yeah, because if you're poor and black, you can't hire a lawyer to get you out of prison the way you can if you have money and you're white."
He wasn't buying it. "You read about it every day," he said. He was angry. But I was too.
"So if your sister had been raped by a white man," I repeated,"You'd be afraid of the danger of all white men? I don't think so."
"You don't know what you're talking about," he said.
I finished dumping my paper into the recycle bin. He was still talking to me.
I got in my car and I drove away.
And I didn't feel good.
And I still don't.
There is that part of me which says speak the truth and fear no man.
And there is that part of me which says that he's an old man and nothing I can say will ever change what he thinks.
So tell me. Did I do the right thing in confronting him? If so, why don't I feel better about it? Should I have approached him in a more loving way? A way that would have given him room to think about what I said?
I think so.
And yet, I didn't. I coldly and sternly told him what I thought. He said ignorant and prejudiced things. And then- he responded with a word that I can hardly believe anyone would use in these days and times.
And I should feel so self-satisfied that I confronted such prejudice straight-on.
But I don't.
And yet- this is the perfect example of racism- blaming an entire race for the actions of one. Taking one situation and making it into an excuse to hate and to call people loathsome names.
I don't feel guilty about what I did but I don't feel great about it either.
What do you think? Have you ever been in a situation like this? What did you? How did you feel?
Is it our jobs to speak up and expose the racism? Will it do any good?
This old white man always treated me with respect and helped me carry my garbage. And now he's going to see me in a different light.
But I see him in a different light too.
We both showed each other our true faces.
He was hateful and yet, I was hateful to him.
I don't think I helped a thing, even though I told him the truth.
So what? The truth is more than obvious. You can't judge an entire group of people with dark skin on the actions of one. The word "nigger" is obscene. He knows this. You can't be alive in 2009 and not know this.
So what did my words do?
Not only to him, but to me.
What did my words accomplish?
Did they let in any light or did they just close the lid tighter on his darkness?
Tell me what you think because I honestly don't know how I feel.
Sunday Morning Batshit Crazy Worship Services, 9/20/09
Omelets and venison sausage and toast. Now you can't beat that, especially when the eggs came from your chickens and the venison from your man's hunting.
The omelets had red pepper and tomato and spinach and red onion in them. Also some cheddar and a little goat cheese. Gourmet, gourmet, gourmet.
I could have made biscuits but I didn't feel like it.
We ate on the back porch and boy, that was like going to church, eating that good food in the white clean brightness. No music but the birds and the crickets, which is all the music I care to hear at this very moment.
Damn. I should have taken pictures. I guess I was too hungry to get out the camera.
Those hens are laying us some eggs all right. Two, three a day now. Feels like a gift package, every time I find one, all that protein wrapped in blue or green or brown. The shells are so strong I can put those eggs in my pocket and forget about them until I get back to the house.
Mr. Moon is in there washing the dishes, which is true love. I guess I'm going to rake up the chicken coop and put all that poop on the garden and the garden could use some weeding and the okra needs cutting. That's my plan for the day. Perhaps I should go to the store before I get completely filthy, though. We're out of orange juice and also bananas. And grapes. The chickens are suffering from lack of grapes although Harley came over and shared some of his yesterday.
Kathleen and Vicky also dropped by with two gorgeous bromeliads sent over by Katie, the woman in Monticello who did my facial back in July. She said she had some for me and there they are. I think one of them is a pineapple. There are some very, very fine and nice people in Monticello and by golly, I'm so lucky to know them.
Since it's Sunday, I took the camera outside to get a few pictures, which has become sort of a ritual here at the Sunday Services of the Church of the Batshit Crazy.
As I said the other day, the Confederate Rose is blooming. This is not a good picture but the blossoms are big, ruffly, many-layered confections of pink. Doesn't matter how often you cut that sucker back, it always grow up over the top of the porch every year and then gives us those flowers in fall. Can't beat that.
I am not sure what this is. I think someone said it was a clematis but I am not sure about that. Anyone know for sure? It grows on my front fence. It doesn't get enough sun but it takes what it can get and does its best for glory.
The lady banana spider is still on the front porch in her tidy web. I don't see her babies or her man. She seems lonely to me, but maybe she likes things this way. I understand if she does. After a busy life of raising children and dealing with the menfolk, it's good to have break in the fall of life to just meditate and wait for flies.
And here's the firespike I rooted all last winter. I'm going to root more this winter and in oh, ten years or so, it'll be growing everywhere in the yard.
There's something extremely gratifying about taking a yard and adding and giving and making it more than how you found it.
Well, let's face it- growing things is my favorite thing to do, whether chickens or children or flowers.
And speaking of, no news from Lily this morning so I guess Owen's still content to be inside. Today would be a mighty good day for him to be born in my opinion but obviously, he's not too worried about my opinion.
Well, it's Sunday and the Methodists next door are gathering to worship.
Over here we are doing the same. We are doing the same.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
This Too Is Love. Part 2
So when I signed off today to go clean the spider webs that were annoying Mr. Moon, I decided to just clean the whole damn porch. The idea had occurred to me last night around 1:30 a.m. so I was up for the task.
It took about fifty clean buckets full of water and vinegar, half a bottle of Fabuloso, an entire episode of Prairie Home Companion, three tapes of Dead Man's Walk and hours and hours but I did it. I scrubbed hard enough to reveal the whiteness my porch can be underneath the black dirt of Lloyd.
I washed the mermaid
and I Liquid Golded the wooden stuff
and I cleaned the tarpon that our friend Chip found in the garage of a house he either rented or bought. I can't remember.
I killed hundreds of spiders.
Sorry about that. I hated doing it, but really, the line had been crossed. It was time.
I washed the face of the Spanish doll who lives on the porch.
I set plants to root and hung them up.
I washed my hula girl.
I am blinded by the white.
It's rather nice.
And surely, Mr. Moon will know that this too, is love.
Fri, Aug 28, 2009
Obama/Politics, Perspective, Society