Tuesday, November 07, 2006

13 years ago

13 years ago in the wee hours of the morning, this is what I was doing... I was labouring to bring my son into the world. It started in February of 1993 when I was reading an inspirational magazine about a couple who had served in a third world country and had done some amazing work with the people there. I thought to myself how I wished I had not had children so young and had done some of those things before I became a parent.

A voice came into my head and said, "That is not your mission. This is your mission - to be a mother and it is time to have another baby. It will be a boy and his name will be Andrew Philip." At the time I had undiagnosed thyroid disease and I hadn't had my period since getting pregnant with Kaetlyn. Yet within the week (Feb 7 to be exact) I became pregnant. I trusted that moment that I had and I knew that it was him. People would pat me on the head and say of course I wanted a son after 2 daughters - that really bugged me - what would be wrong with having 3 daughters? All the baby stuff I had was pink anyways... but I knew it was him. During my pregnancy I went through tremendous evolutions. I call 1993 my anti-institution year. In researching birthing possibilities in Winnipeg, I discovered that birthing rooms were rare (they were the norm in Victoria where Kaetlyn was born) and that they still routinely gave women episiotomies and demorol during labour. I was detirmined to not have a repeat of the experience I had with Erin... So I went to some information meetings on midwifery and knew that this was what I wanted - to have him at home with a midwife.

And an angel came into my life. Marla Gross refused to take my power in the birthing experience. She continually returned it to me. I devoured books on birthing (Immaculate Misconceptions comes to mind). Her kindness, her love, her gentle soul was exactly what I needed. I healed from wounds I didn't even know I had. I took my power back from the medical community. Here she is with Andrew just minutes after he was born. Thank you, Marla. I won't ever forget you. She was also the first homeschooler that I got to know really well. She pointed me in the direction of great books about homeschooling and I began homeschooling Erin just 7 days before Andrew was born. I took my power back from the school system, too and even though Erin and Kaetlyn eventually returned to school, I have never given them (schools) the power that I once did.

After Andrew was born, I went to church only twice. His blessing in church was the last time I went. I loved his blessing. A motley crew of men who were on the fringes of the church because they were judged. A great man who had wore an earring and so was shunned. A simple man who never learned to read and grew up in the northern bush of Manitoba. A gay man who stuggled to reconcile his sexual orientation and being a Mormon. Great men, all - men who had never been asked to participate in a blessing. They stood around my son on the day he was blessed. They cradled him in their large hands as his father gave him a name and a blessing. I love this image still and surely it was prophetic of his life - my non-mainstream boy.

Then just as surely as I knew it was he that was coming, I knew that I did not want to raise him in this church. I knew I did not want to have these ideas of patriarchy - I did not want him to grow up with these ideas of being a man - in a church where women are often (routinely) silenced and marginalized. With the idea that having power is having 'power over'. His blessing was the last day I attended church. My dad sometimes brings up how Andrew should be advancing through the ranks of the priesthood, etc. I always laugh and I know this upsets him and I don't mean to be disrespectful of his beliefs but he doesn't realize that this is exactly why I left - I didn't want my son to be involved in any of that.

Andrew's conception/pregnancy/birth was a huge turning point in my life. My heart is full of emotion as I write these things. I am so grateful to those experiences, to Marla and to others who have supported me in my journey. I know this will be hard for some of my sisters to read. But I wanted you to know that I did not 'fall away'. I left on my own terms because it was right for me. When I was a mormon, I was a mormon fully. And then I left.

But back to my boy Drew... His birth was a family affair. Erin and Kaetlyn were both there. My friend Gudrun Owens came as well to look after them. I laboured and birthed in my bedroom - which was the largest master bedroom I have ever had in a house. I had my old futon on the floor covered in a shower curtain (that is on the bottom of my linen closet and I won't let Dean throw it away) and a sheet. I walked and paced and hung on the door - that felt the best and then I pushed him in 3 pushes without doing any of those breathing exercises and without counting to 10 while I pushed (which popped all the blood vessles in my face with Kaetlyn...) Just 3 easy pushes while on my hands and knees and out he slid onto the futon. I wanted to be the first to touch him but I couldn't move my arms from the strain of pushing and so he landed on the futon before I could 'catch him'. He weighed 8lbs 14 oz. And he was beautiful. The most wonderful thing about having him at home was getting into bed after the midwife cleaned us both up and nursing him in my own bed and I fell right to sleep (I could never sleep in the hospital...)

Erin and Kaetlyn adored him. Here he is with Kaetlyn the next day. I couldn't find her anywhere and then I found here here, in bed with him, singing him songs while he slept. Her baby brother.

And here he is with Erin and Jasmin a couple of days later. Jasmin, although only a kitten herself (Erin's 7th birthday present two weeks earlier) bonded with Andrew. Kaetlyn brought her into the room when I was birthing the placenta and I think those primal smells triggered something in her. Most of the pictures of Drew as a baby have her somewhere in it. She used to sit and lick his head. I could see her confusion as his hair got longer... (how can my baby have long hair? I'm a short hair cat...) After his birth, she attacked strangers who came to our house (I had to shut her up in a room). She settled down after she got spayed...

Here is my photo essay on my boy growing up...

Early signs of his musicianship?

making us all laugh...

His first steps (and that is his dad, Phil)

An accidentally over-exposed photo but I love it - him sleeping with images of his naked bike ride earlier that afternoon.

My playful boy... throwing leaves at his mother taking the picture...

With a friend at a homeschooling activity - learning to build a shelter.

Sitting on the ice sculpture he designed and helped carve (its a dragon)

With last year's birthday present - his first guitar.

this summer

I love having a son. I am so proud of the young man he is growing up to be - compassionate, kind with the strength of his convictions. It is impossible to put Andrew in a box. He insists on being true to himself no matter what. It is an honour to be his mother. Thank you, Drew.


Dragonflydownunder said...

Happy Birthday to Drew!
I love how you have celebrated his life. I too have one son and 3 daughters. Boys ARE special!

bum.by.the.sea said...

so very inspirational, you can feel your strength, reading this. thanks so much for sharing it. I feel inspired on so many levels!

Chick said...

Thanks Marty. And thanks, Pea! That means a lot to me!

Mary-Sue said...

Wow! what a beautiful story. what a wise boy to have chosen you for his mother! I, too, feel very inspired... thanks, Andrea.