One of my favourite books as a child was a series of books by Elizabeth Enright, chronicling the lives of the Melendy family, a rambunctuous brood of four children in 1940's New York State. I loved those books for their simple idyllic portrayal of a childhood full of busy family games and adventures. As an only child myself I was captivated by their lives. One of their favourite games was to describe someone they knew, as a vegetable, fruit or food, and then challenge the rest of the family to guess who the person was.
From then on I often felt that a particular food item or even a colour or animal just seemed to encapsulate a certain person.
Yesterday was Tansy's 6th birthday. Before I got up in the morning I made a promise to myself that my priority was not to rush around getting stressed about making party food or organising twenty games, but to ensure Tansy could glide calmly and happily through her day. So I started to think about her, and feel her presence around the home. When I thought of Tansy I thought of a bowl of creamy porridge, warm, sweet and uncomplicated. Or a plump turtle dove, burbling softly on a spring evening. Of a yellow daffodil opening its shy, closed night petals to the sun.
Tansy was my first home birth and quite late to arrive. I spent the last weeks of pregnancy following the hypnobirthing program and doing daily relaxation exercises. Everything was calm. But the midwives had started to moot dates for me to be induced in hospital, so one Saturday, when I knew my favourite one was on duty, I ate lots of chilli, walked up lots of hills, drank lots of herbs and did all those things which we do when we need our babies to come out on their own, without medical 'help.'
As I cleaned my teeth that night I suddenly found myself on my hands and knees in the bathroom with a contraction, and an hour and a half later Tansy calmly emerged in my bed. My CD of birthing affirmations echoed around the room as with each contraction I dropped deeper into my well practised relaxation. My previous two birthings had been quick and straight forward, but agonisingly painful. With Tansy my contractions were strong but not painful and I could feel the presence of the inspiring mothers in my favourite birthing bible, Spiritual Miwifery by Ina May Gaskin, glowing all around me! Pain was the result of a tense body and my own expectations of childbirth, I was relieved that it didn't always have to be that way.
Minutes after the birth I was cosy in my own bed, toast, tea and beautiful baby in my arms, and Hugh ran a lavender bath for me next door. I felt blessed and elated to spend the rest of the night sleeping three in a bed, and to pass much of the following week five in a bed as we all read stories, made paper aeroplanes and cuddled a tiny Tansy.
Life was calm and easy then. Freddie and Lily walked across the road every morning to the village school, I cooked soup and nursed Tansy in the rocking chair in our big kitchen, and sat in the warm October sun among the autumn flowers in our garden. I remember those days with fondness and gratitude. The golden baby days of Tansy..
Happy Birthday love.