It is possible, I think, for something quite bad to be the first stone on the road to something very very good.
In a lonely childhood there was the germ of the effusive warmth that I now feel utterly blessed to be able to bestow on my own children. In my first, terrifying birth, falling from a high place and lost to myself, there was not only the perfect life that was to perfectly transform my partner and I as she joined us earthside, but also the seed, shuddering with impatience to shoulder through the soil, of a passion for birth, for beginnings, that can be beautiful.
My daughter’s birth was the beginning of many things; of our long and intricately woven breastfeeding journey, of caring for a baby who would not be put down ever for any reason, nor would she hang out with anyone but Booby Mother. A baby who slept for no more than half an hour at a time. Now, Small children time, has proven to be the most challenging and most awe inspiring and simply the happiest time of my life.
I always meant to breastfeed, that, after all, is how babies eat. I just had no idea that I would be turning my breasts over for so many indeterminate years. I didn’t anticipate breastfeeding through another pregnancy, or all through so many many warm fractured nights. I didn’t anticipate being relieved when a nurse reassured me that milk is made from blood so it was perfectly safe for my tiny voracious new daughter to be getting as much blood as milk from the slewed off ends of my nipples. I didn’t expect to persevere through pain and come out the other side still feeding. Always feeding. Such tiny person who needed me so utterly, so ceaselessly. I didn’t anticipate feeding her with her brother, three years on, in a tandem feeding relationship that healed so much, after a birth that healed so much.
I always meant to carry her in a sling, just didn’t anticipate that she would be nowhere else, or that I would go through such a surprising number of slings, carriers, hybrid sling / carriers, wraps and bits of fabric to wear her and her brother when he came along exactly three years later (minus a single day!). I meant to have her next to my bed in a delightful little wooden handmade rocking cradle (which I recently gave away having used it exactly no times as a cradle but lots as a toy / book storage unit), but didn’t anticipate how wrong it would feel that she should be away from my body, her world, her life, when she was on the skin side rather then the inside.
I didn’t anticipate still sharing my sleep now, with two beings, perfect warmth and perfect need curled against me, four years and counting.
I didn’t anticipate the love, or that it could only be this way for me, as a mother.
Life is a staggered planting. There is no one point where everything starts, no one seed that it all springs from. My parenting style, hands on and deeply involved with the joy and strains of it all, grows from my personality, from my own childhood, from the things that I have learned from other parents and other places, from the people and animals that have shared the journey with me, from the kind and patient folk who have let me call them my friends.
Right now we have our hands deep in the soil. We are working, all of us, towards having our own place, our own soil to plant trees in, where we will be around to harvest the fruit. A stack of old ‘Grass Roots’ magazines, from 1974 to 2011, passed along by a surprising neighbor, have reignited the flame of self sufficiency in me, in my kids. But it’s all self sufficiency really. My son’s home birth, all our breastfeeding and babywearing and cosleeping and cloth nappying, it’s all self sufficiency. It’s all just about claiming our own, our birthrights, my knowledge of what I need, what my children, grown in primordial waters in my belly, need.
It’s all about the knowing.
My daughter and I pored over the food producing varieties of my favourite heritage seeds online store last night. We ordered broad bean seeds for a staggered planting to grow crimson flowers through winter and to feed us come spring. We ordered a sugar plant, a cape gooseberry and the seeds of the Miracle Tree. It assured us that this tree really is easily grown from seed, and that it truly is miraculous in it’s powers to nourish.