Both of my kids were born at home. Kami was the first. For her birth, Garth and I decided to bring our bed downstairs and set it up on the main floor. That way, after the birth, I’d have easy access to the kitchen and bathroom rather than having to walk downstairs to use them.
As it turned out, having such a manageable space after Kami was born was ideal. In fact, if I could have turned my home into a one-room cabin where I could see everything and everyone it contained -see it from one place -I would have done it. In the aftermath of my daughter’s birth, the world was suddenly frighteningly vast. And in giving birth downstairs, we’d sort of cast a spell on that floor of the house; it had become the contained space I longed for.
What did I think would happen if we “broke the spell” and moved the bed back upstairs? Whatever I thought would happen, I didn’t want to find out. At my one-week check-up, my midwife gently asked when I thought we’d move the bed upstairs. I answered vaguely. Really, was there a compelling reason to move upstairs again? The current set-up was so perfect.
I also found it hard to go outside with my new baby. The big-ness of the world was a problem, a threat. Our yard was safe enough, but the rest of the city? Forget it. Too much.
I think of this now as my deeper understanding of my own vulnerability, the kind of understanding that having a child often confers upon us. And if I was vulnerable, my baby was that a hundredfold. All that stood between her and disaster was me – flesh and blood and bones. How could I ever keep her safe when my own intactness could so easily be breached?
Every step back toward normalcy – pushing her in the stroller to the store or to pick Chris up from school or simply to take a walk – was figuratively accompanied by the sound of my whimpering. When the midwife returned for her last visit, the bed was still downstairs. She got firm with me. “You have to move the bed upstairs.” I began to cry. “That’s where the bed belongs. Who can help you move it? Can you do that today?”
Kami just turned 18, and today she goes to college. Garth and his brother, Banks, brought the bed back upstairs 17 years and 355 days ago. I don’t want to go back to that time, but it was so comforting having my entire world where I could see it. Now we’re moving through another transition. There’s nothing like having kids to stretch a person, and the world sure is a big place.