She was always so considerate and polite, even in the way she entered the world 14 years ago.
It was Easter Sunday and Winnie had just turned 3 and Caton was 14 months old. We’d had some family in from out of town and spent the day together celebrating the holiday. In the early evening, Doug’s parents left to take their nephew back to the airport while Doug worked to assemble Caton’s “big boy bed” in his room (and I use the term “his room” loosely since Caton would spend another year in our room, welcomed, of course). The day was winding down.
Doug made enough progress on the bed for me to climb the stairs to the upper level of the house to check it out. It was three days past my due date. I was tired from the holiday festivities that day and, well, third child in three years and three days past my due date, enough said.
The bed was done except for the trundle drawers, so I laid down on it. I was having contractions. Finally.
We called the midwife since my labors are fast and she lived 90 minutes away. I was worried about interrupting her family time on the holiday. She assured me her celebrating was over and done with would be on her way shortly.
We filled the birthing pool in the bedroom.
Winnie came in and out of the room with cool washcloths and water for me to sip and Doug’s parents came back to our house and minded still-a-baby-himself Caton downstairs in the living room.
On a sudden whim, I called my next-door neighbor to come over and take pictures. What I was thinking, I’m not so sure. I figured my mom and mother-in-law would be wrapped up in the birth and Doug would be helping me so who would be taking pictures of my first homebirth?
My neighbor Betty Ann, that’s who.
(Funny aside, Betty Ann is now one of the students in my water fitness class. We moved from that house when Aster was 4 years old, but I still see Betty Ann all the time. And yes, all the time I think to myself “yep, you watched me give birth and saw everything I’ve got.” And yes, it’s a little awkward but you know what? It’s also one of the most awesome things too, to have that connection with one of your former neighbors. Love you, Betty Ann.)
Aster arrived after three hours of labor, my biggest baby (even still) at 8 lbs, 3 oz and just a few minutes before midnight, completing our family on Easter Sunday.
And in many ways, she completed me as a person as well.
My first two babies were not easy. Winnie suffered from painful reflux which made her sleeping spotty at best the first 9 months and even when she was awake, she was looking for comfort and distraction from the pain. I guess she’d be called “high-needs” in today’s lingo.
Caton was way worse.
(but that’s all resolved now so I’m not even going to go there, today at least)
So Aster, in her peaceful contentment, just threw me for a loop. I still vividly remember when she was about a week old, I’d fed her during the middle of the night and tried to rock her to sleep and she was having none of it. I was getting exasperated and also had to use the bathroom (not a great combo). So I set her down on the couch, fully expecting her to scream while I took care of business, but hoping to come back to her with renewed patience.
Instead I came back to the couch to find a sleeping baby. I swear that’s the first time ever that had happened to me and I was thrown for a loop.
I’d read about that kind of thing in baby books, but I’m telling you I always wondered what kind of mythical child they based those baby books on. My first two kids did not fit that mold in any way, shape or form. I was sure those books were a crock.
But Aster did.
She was the child who showed signs of getting tired, you’d lay her down, and she’d go to sleep (I wouldn’t have believed it myself unless I saw it with my own two eyes).
She was exactly what I needed at that time in my mothering life, after being raked over the baby raising coals the previous three years.
She was my redemptive joy (so fitting she was born on Easter, yes?).
And she still is, hands-down, the sweetest, kindest, most considerate person I know.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I look up to her in many ways and wish I could be more like her.
Yes, I covet her fashion sense, her design sense, her artistic talent and her quick wit. In our house we call her laser-sharp and hysterical life observations “zingers.” Aster is the Zinger Queen and she has impeccable comic timing.
But never, ever would she hurt someone’s feeling with her zingers. They’re always good natured and kind. Exactly like her.
I admit to wondering if at some point, the harsh realities of life will crush her sweet spirit and genuine kindness. Part of me, the most hopeful part, says no, people with her gentle heart walk a different path through life, spreading kindness and compassion in their wake.
The other part of me? That part says move away, big bad world, and make room for my girl. She’s 14 today.
Thank you sweet girl, for completing my mothering journey. May your heart overflow with the same love and kindness you show others, today and always.