Following in the steps of my dear friend, Sherry (Keltilass), I have decided to do a page for each of my children. This page is Arwen’s page. She’s grown up and married and will soon be a mother herself.
I lost my first baby in 1982. The ensuing D&C left me short three pints of blood and during my recuperation (thankfully, my OB/GYN did not believe a transfusion was necessary and ordered me to bed rest to rebuild my blood supply), I had a vision. I was mourning the loss of the family I thought I was going to have: the baby boy I lost (I was certain he was a boy but there was no way to know, just a mother’s heart’s knowing). I rolled over and I saw a baby on the bed beside me: fat little cheeks and breathing softly in the hazy dark of our bedroom. I could almost touch the child, but I knew if I moved, she would disappear. I knew she was a she. Shortly after that vision, I had another: a toddler, naked and happy, toddling away from me with a red bucket on her head. Then I saw her at age four, dressed in little blue overalls, skipping ahead of me, blonde pig tails bouncing.
So when I found out I was pregnant, I knew she was a girl and that she would be born. I knew what she would look like and I knew that I would see those mileposts in her life. I wasn’t certain what would happen after she turned four, but I was game to take what I could get.
Then Arwen was late. She was due to arrive on the first of May. But the day passed and not a twinge of anything more than Braxton-Hicks contractions. She pushed against my ribs and made me think she was going to break them. My bladder was bruised and sore. Mother’s Day came, and I walked the seven mile loop around Silver Falls State Park. Nothing. My sister’s birthday came and my midwife insisted on a stress test. The placenta was holding out, but if the baby didn’t come by the 21st, I would have to give up on a birth center birth with my midwife in attendance. When I went into labor on the 21st of May, I was thrilled: we were having a birth center baby!
Sometime in the middle of the night, when the baby’s heart dipped below 64 bpm, my midwife drove me to Oregon Health Sciences University where they hooked me to an IV and promised pitocin. I had a doctor and an intern attend to me all night, but they were so busy delivering babies they forgot the pit drip. When they were out of the room, Karen coached me on delivery. Don stayed in my face and kept me breathing. No one told me how serious the situation was. At 8:15AM, the doctor came in one last time to check on me. I was in the middle of a hard pushing contraction but I could hear the nurse ask the doctor is she was going to stay and deliver the baby.
“No, I am off duty now. The intern can do it.”
I had read everything I could before going into this and I knew I had the right to make a decision call. I came out of that contraction yelling: “OH NO HE WILL NOT DELIVER MY BABY! YOU CAN WORK OVERTIME! I AM AN INSURANCE PATIENT!” To my delight, the doctor actually lit up and smiled. She was more than happy to stay and deliver a baby. A normal baby. 8#1oz and fat. A little Cone Head baby. A baby that was tied up in the umbilical cord and almost blue, but not quite.
There were some moments: rolling over in bed and seeing Arwen sleeping beside me and having that rush of déja vu from the vision. The day she picked up her little red bucket and put it on her head and waddled off sans diaper. The day she skipped ahead of me in her coveralls, her pig tails bouncing. At that moment, I knew her life was in God’s hands and He would have her live for as long as was written in the Book of Life. I just needed to love her.
Because her name is unusual, Arwen had to forge her own personality. When she was little, I thought she would be shy because she liked to sit and think about any situation before joining in play with her toddler mates. Sometimes, I thought other children were more aggressive. I saw myself in her. How wrong I was! Arwen liked to think about the situation, but she was never shy. The first time someone handed her a microphone, she was in performance heaven. She had a presence about her and the ability to speak without stuttering.
She started life singing. Nursing in public grew difficult because she cooed. Loudly. MmmmMMM MmmmmmMMMM. She learned to sing along with the radio (her favorite song was “Jump!” with David Lee Roth). And by the age of four, she was telling me to “please don’t sing, Mom. You can’t.” She was right, of course.
Arwen had some hard times with an emotional wreck of a mother, but somehow she managed to rise above it all. She attended public school until the end of 6th grade. Why we started homeschooling is complicated, but I knew in my heart of hearts that it was the path God was leading me down, even if none of my church friends or family members walked down that path with me. Arwen rebelled. She wanted to go to junior high and high school, to dance at her first prom and to be a cheerleader. But I had a new vision, another dream that came in the night, and I knew she could not be allowed to go to public school.
I gave her a simple ultimatum: get on her own knees and find where God lives. If He gave her permission to go to public school, we could open the dialogue – provided He also spoke to me. She never mentioned it again. I revisited the subject several months later by asking why she never came back to me about it. She looked sheepish. “God told me you were right.” It was only the first time she sought God’s voice on something, but she knew His Voice and she knew we were on the right path.
She remains a rebel. When I tried to get her to take her SATs and college prep tests, she refused. She went behind my back and applied to a university as a transfer student from the community college where she had been picking up odd courses over the years. To my surprise, she was accepted and granted financial aid before I knew she had applied! No high school diploma and no SAT scores. She still laughs when she fills out a job application and it asks for the high school she graduated from: she didn’t. But she did get a diploma from George Fox University.
Arwen is approaching motherhood from my foundation: she has a midwife. She can’t afford birthing classes, so she is renting all the DVDs and videos she can from the library (including the entire 6-week lamaze course) and she is teaching herself how to give brith. She is coaching Sam through it. She intends to homeschool. She intends to be a stay at home mom despite the financial hardship: she’s already been there and been poor and had more opportunity come her way than some of her friends. Arwen knows in her heart and soul that God will provide.
She is an amazing inspiration to me: stubborn, opinionated, steady, self educated, determined, talented. And in February of 2008, she will make me a Granny.