Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Two evenings ago Juniper, Osa and I strolled around the compound soaking in what was likely this Indian summer's last warm evening.  Juniper was half-naked and my pants were rolled up to my knees and we watched the sun set over the mountains--golden rays sifting through a hint of forest fire smoke and a cluster of cottonwoods--and I looked at the setting sun on Juniper's hair, all golden and red and nut-brown, and I thought about her middle name.  Autumn.
As laissez faire plans for Juniper's first birthday begin to loosely fall into place, I keep flashing to this time, one year ago.

One year ago, we were desperate for a boy's name.  We wanted the male version of our utterly *perfect* girl's name and we weren't finding it.  It wasn't coming to us the way "Juniper" did.  We watched movie credits, we bought several "The Perfect Baby Name" books, we asked friends, relatives, strangers for suggestions.  Statistically, we should have been expecting a boy; in the last fifty years the male line of my husband's family has sired all boys, cept one.  So, we were desperate.  (That said, I knew--from the moment we realized she was breech and I was far enough along for that to be a problem--I knew she was a girl.  Stubborn, you see.)  

One year ago, I was heavily grieving my loss at a chance of a natural birth, and at the same time, trying to plan the polar opposite.  I was wading through schedules, trying to line up our last-minute doctor with our midwife with the ideal nurse and an anesthesiologist who wasn't a known asshole.  I was trying to figure out how to get our doula in with a video camera, even if they don't allow doulas or video cameras in the operating room.  I was grappling with the effed-up politics that would ban my midwife, my trusted consort for the last nine months, from the hospital a week before my due day.  And after an entire pregnancy of our only plan being Not The Hospital, I was having to write a hospital plan.  My husband will announce the sex.  My husband will cut the cord.  Do not dry the head; I want to touch the baby's wet head.  Father and baby stay in the OR with me while I'm being sewn back together.  Breastfeed as soon as possible.  Skin to skin contact as soon as possible.  No bath.  Baby remains with mother or father, always.  And then, once again, I'd think about how my baby would have to be cut out of my body, and I'd get sick and cry.

One year ago, my midwife said, "Focus on the baby."  And so we did.
^My hand on "the baby's" head.^

And one year ago, I lay in bed on an autumn morning, my belly a round, hard pumpkin, cool air rustling outside our window, golden aspen leaves dancing across our rooftop, and having given up on boy's names for the moment, running potential girl's middle names through my came just like that: Autumn.  My season of seasons.  All things wonderful happen to me when aspen's currency freckles the air and falls to the ground.  And my man is a hunter, so I knew he'd be in.

I was born in late autumn.  I met my husband in early autumn.  I first moved to Wyoming, got my dog from the pound and have done most of my overseas adventures--from the Czech Republic to Italy & Spain to India & Bhutan, Thailand & Laos--during the harvest moon.  And the part of me that could remain a college student for the rest of my life will always and forever pine for crisp books and notebook paper.    

I killed my first deer in autumn.

But also, I lost my first parent in autumn.

In autumn, I became a mother.  

Gain and loss, birth and death, autumn is the end that promises the beginning.  Autumn is a woman becoming a mother.  

Autumn is a last, flamboyant good-night kiss.

Autumn is my daughter.

::     ::     ::
Oh, so much to post!  These last two weeks have seen firewood gathering, house hunting, deer hunting...AND...Senior Pato brought Grandpa and Grandma L to visit!!  More next time....


  1. what a lovely, amazing and poetic post. wow. love her name, her beautiful photo, your perfect belly and the way you told it all.

    well written. really.


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