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I think the first time I showed up at home from work with someone else’s baby was about 21 years ago. I had attended a woman’s birth who had no family whatsoever just 2 days before. In the middle of the night, I received a panicked call from her husband that they needed to go into the ER because mom was in severe pain. Could I take the baby? I went as asked and retrieved this tiny baby girl from this man I barely knew. The woman required surgery and was in the hospital for days, and I cared for her daughter as my own until she was able to come get her again.
Tonight, my real estate agent, Diane, stopped by to talk to me about an upcoming, much smaller house purchase I am considering. She was able to meet my latest newborn acquisition. We were followed at the knee by a little guy in a walker who has been my “roomie” for the past six months. Just as Diane was getting to the list of all the things I needed to get together, my other little 2-year-old roomie, Ella, kneeled face down on the floor between us and proceeded to throw a level 7 tantrum, which she continued with surprising energy and volume until Diane eventually gave up and left. I think Ella has always known beyond her years what is really happening when grown ups are talking and how it might affect her. The first time I noticed this was when little 18-month-old Ella calmly got the phone and held it on speaker for her mother when it became apparent that her baby brother was going to arrive before her daddy or midwife were going to. She calmly held the phone near her mother as she birthed with an attention level not usually demonstrated by a toddler. I was able to hear a baby’s healthy cry and assure her mother that she was very strong and brave, and that everything was going to be ok.
A couple of weeks after this baby’s dramatic entrance, my sixteen-year-old daughter was texting me, asking when I was ever going to be home from work. I told her that I was going to be a little later, but also that I was going to need her help getting things off of a moving truck. We were going to be having some houseguests, two of which were too little to help, and one that was still healing from very recent childbirth. This same mother’s living situation was no longer suitable.
Its not my usual policy to keep the babies I catch, but sometimes I do hold them for safe-keeping if times call for that. These days, I see very little evidence of the bachelorette pad that I thought I had nearly secured by way of an almost empty nest. My fancy carved tiki bar no longer hold tropical libations, but rather serves as a place to keep things out of reach that I still like. My fur rug now is the favorite place for little Ella to lay next to her brother on his play blanket. My TV table now has whatever size diaper one could ever need, but not a TV on it because that would be dangerous. We have a chalkboard wall that has cute little knee-high chalk scribbles, and I have been late for work more than once because I needed to read a story before a morning nap or give one more hug or kiss. In the early days, I would get up and help the mom when the kids would tag team her at night. It is not easy on this little family to be displaced in such a way, but we make it work the best we can.
Having another mom around the house has been good for my daughter. She is a good big sister and helper and has enjoyed having company when I’m coming home late many times. I have enjoyed having another grown-up around myself, even if it came at the expense of my once enjoyed luxury of sleeping through the night. Little tiny socks find their way into my laundry basket, reminding me of just how quickly they grow up. I now use the bathroom while little fingers reach under the bathroom door demanding attention and a hasty end to whatever it is I was doing, and I wouldn’t trade this time for the world that we have had to make me re-appreciate the tremendous responsibility I place in a mother’s hands every time I hand her a new baby.
I have been reminded. Babies will turn your house upside down, but they will also fill your heart so much that you won’t even notice.
If you feel like you are not safe in your current home or relationship, please get help for you and your children. Words can also be abuse. For more information about whether what you are experiencing is normal, go to this link about the signs of an abusive relationship.
Wendy Pinter (CPM) is a Certified Professional Midwife in southeast Michigan who has practiced traditional home birth midwifery since 2008 catching hundreds of babies. In 2017, she finally decided she was tired of trying to ride her bicycle to births and opened Nine Short Months Birth and Community Wellness Center, now located in Southfield, Michigan, where she brings her expertise for home birth into a very comfortable facility setting.
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