Wednesday, October 12, 2011

into the valley

When I asked Juniper what she wanted to do for her birthday, she looked up from her lunch plate and said, "Fishing."  
It's a little strange to have Juniper's 2nd birthday right around the corner.  Last year I was so reminiscent and nostalgic over Juniper's birth one year earlier.  It's a big day, for a woman to become a mother.  But this year is so different.  I am all forward-looking, trying to prioritize tasks by the order in which they will unfold...Juniper's birthday, house-guests, baby.  I will be full-term in just a couple of weeks.  That's *crazy*.  My To-Do list looks something like this:
*Finish installing trim, stain interior doors, bake a cake, call doulas, hang pictures, finish unpacking, make 36 week ultrasound appointment, clean garage, get crap out of guest quarters, plant garlic, find dresser for new baby, buy microwave....

Those tasks are all interspersed with periods on the floor, my feet propped on the couch, trying to get the swelling down in my left ankle.  This baby sits super low in my belly.  The little chicken has been head-down for as long as Juniper was head-up.  My kickboxer has become more of a yoga artist, stretching and pushing, wedging little heels up into my ribs.  Juniper will lift my shirt and say loudly to my bellybutton, "HALLO??" as though she's answering the phone.  She'll rub her hands over my belly, telling herself, "Soft."  Then poke my almost-outy bellybutton and demand, "Come OUT!"  Then she'll poke at her own bellybutton and say, "Come out."  I keep trying to explain that only mama has a baby in her belly and that it needs more time to grow.

:: A couple of weeks ago, just as we were trying to move and settle in to our new house, we went camping.  And oh man, did we need it.  My father-in-law was visiting, which made it even better.  We were hungry for something that wasn't house-moving-packing-unpacking related.  We took four days and headed to our old stomping grounds, the same valley where we met and later married.  
:: I noticed two things on this trip: our first camping trip without Osa, and my first time in a tent without a nursing-down Juniper.  But Osa was with us in spirit, plodding down the trail.  And nights were so damned cold I was grateful to keep my abdomen warmly covered.  
Mornings and evenings were cold.  Bedtime stories were short.       

But when the sun crested the mountains, everything changed.

:: We hiked.

:: Played on a sandy beach shore.
Yeah, yeah, I know I've bragged about using cloth diapers even on camping trips, but we were way too disorganized this time, leaving a hamper full of dirties at home.  

:: Fished.

:: And I had a pronghorn antelope tag for the area.  We had brought our rifles just in case and me and my 7-month pregnant ass managed to "make meat", as my father-in-law would say.  I have to admit, even though this was totally NOT the kind of hunting I would normally engage in (I was 30 feet from a road; I'm normally miles from a road), after two years of no big-game hunting, it was still exhilarating, still primal.  I still had that moment where the world narrowed to just me and the antelope buck in my sights; where the weight of taking another life for the sake of me and my family hung in the air between us.
He is tender and delicious; the best tasting antelope I've ever had.  This valley has always been good to us.     

:: We had campfires and late dinners of trout and antelope loin.
:: And parted ways.

:: On our way home, we stopped at a private place special to my family.  The extra organ I grew both to nourish and protect Juniper when she was in my belly...has been in our freezer for almost 2 years.  We thought we should get one placenta out before another comes in.  But really, the timing is appropriate.  The physical bond between mother and baby has moved on.  Our connection, our physical touch, is purely motivated by emotion now.

We found the spot.

Dug the hole.

And said "bye-bye" to our placenta.
The only thing we didn't do was scatter some of Osa's ashes...since they're still packed.


  1. Gretchen,
    Your writing and observations are amazing and telling of a beautiful world and family's journey. The places you visit and experiences you so obviously enjoy are not familiar to me but I can see how important and lovely they are.
    thank you,

  2. Happy birthday darling girl, and holy amazingness Mama: you 7th months pregnant and that antelope! Enjoy that good meat!


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